The Back to School Budget

Back to School

The kids are going back to school, and many families are feeling the pinch after splashing out for uniforms. Find out more about the real cost of going back to school…

You've seen the supermarket offers, school uniform is cheaper than ever. You can get a full set for less than £10. What a bargain! Or, is it? The thing is, it may cost £10 to kit your child out in school uniform, but unless you’re planning on washing it every night, you’ll need more than one! So, times that number by at least three. Then, you have the compulsory elements – school logo jumpers or blazers. And don’t forget the shoes, a decent pair will set you back at least £40-50. And don’t forget this is per child!

It’s easy to see how it all adds up. We asked parents to tell us the reality of buying school uniform and the impact it has on families. We also asked non-parents what they thought the cost of kitting out a child in full school uniform might be, find out later what they thought. First, let’s find out the real cost of back to school supplies.  

Hitting the Supermarket

It’s true that supermarket sales are one of the best places to get your back to school basics. For polo shirts, skirts and trousers and socks, you’re in the right place. And it’s a good job too, because it’s usually recommended parent’s buy 3-5 sets of uniform for their kids to get them through the week (depending on how often you can get laundry done).

Half of the parents we surveyed said they prefer to buy their children’s school uniform from the supermarket, and it’s easy to see why!

Top Tip: Buy online so you aren’t tempted to overspend, or panic at the crowds grabbing for the last pack of polo shirts in your kid’s size! And order to be picked up from your local supermarket for free delivery – much less stressful!

Specialist Suppliers

81% of our parents reported that they have to buy at least one item of school uniform from a specialist supplier. The most common item to buy from the specialists was the school cardigan or jumper. Coming in at around £15-20 each, these items aren’t cheap, and definitely add up if you have more than one child at the school.

Schools often dictate the supplier for these items, leaving parents with little or no choice in where they can buy them.

Top Tip: Check out whether your school has a second-hand uniform shop. It can be a great way to pick up the specialist items cheaply (which you’ll be grateful about when they inevitably get lost in week one!).

Feeling the Pinch

Over half of our parents reported that buying school uniform will have a negative effect on their family’s finances, with a quarter saying they would be borrowing money to fund the cost.

For families with multiple children, the costs can quickly become unmanageable. There is often a lot of pressure to fully kit your kids out for the new school year in brand new uniform.

Top Tip: Before you hit the shops, check out what’s still useable from last year and have the children try it on. A lot is probably reusable, and you can save yourself money by only replacing the bits that really need it.

The Real Cost

The non-parents in our survey estimated that school uniform costs less than £100 per child. In reality, our parents were spending between £150-200 per child. And that’s before the extra school supplies – lunchboxes, coats and stationary.

Even with all the back to school deals, school uniform is expensive. Do you have any top tips for saving money on school uniform? Head over to Facebook and let us know. And for more advice on managing your finances, why not find out how to start a savings fund, and save £1162.45 in 365 days…

read more

Warning: Late repayment can cause you serious money problems. For help, go to moneyadviceservice.org.uk. Representative example: APR 1270% if borrowing £400 for 4 months. Interest rate: 292% p.a. (fixed). Total amount repayable: £665.48 by four instalments of £166.37. Maximum representative APR: 1604