Back to School Budgeting

Learning how to save money on back-to-school shopping is a life hack that you can’t afford to ignore. Whether you’re shopping for one child or several, the cost of uniforms, classroom materials, and other essentials quickly adds up and can financially burden your family.
Mathew Megens
September 6, 2023
min read

Learning how to save money on back-to-school shopping is a life hack that you can’t afford to ignore. Whether you’re shopping for one child or several, the cost of uniforms, classroom materials, and other essentials quickly adds up and can financially burden your family.

But when is the best time to go back to school shopping? Well, early to mid-July is a good time to plan for school shopping, as you can take advantage of discount holidays like July 4 and Prime Day to access some brilliant online savings.

It also makes sense to look for back-to-school bargains throughout the year, and you can build a supply of resources that will lighten the financial burden in the weeks leading up to the school year.

In the following sections, we introduce some top tips to help you save money on back-to-school expenses so you don’t have to eat away at your hard-earned savings as your kids prepare to return to the classroom.

How to budget for back-to-school

Before purchasing resources for your kids to return to school, you must stop and think – what is a reasonable budget for back-to-school shopping? This is a key first step, as it will protect you from frivolous spending and ensure you only buy what your kids need.

Given your current earnings, a good way to approach this is to think about how much you can afford to spend on your kid's back-to-school essentials. The sooner you can plan for this expense, the better, as you might need a few months to save up enough money to spend.

With your family’s back-to-school budget laid out, you can create a list of items you need to buy for your kids. Essentials include things like uniforms, shoes, and study guides. But to save money, look at things you can reuse from the previous year, including pens, pencils, and school bags – you don’t need to buy everything afresh every year.

Sticking to your budget is crucial – we recommend looking online for great deals for back-to-school items, and you can utilise each of the tips we introduce below. We can also help you spend within your means, so learn how the HyperJar app can help you stick to your back-to-school budget.

School shopping saving tips

Now that you understand the importance of creating a back-to-school budget, it’s time to look at some money-saving tips you can implement in the lead-up to term time. The following tips show you how to save money on back-to-school shopping and are extremely easy to implement:

1. Create a list of priority items

Prioritising your spending is key when putting together a list of back-to-school essentials. We’ve already touched upon this, but it’s an excellent idea to list the items your child needs before returning to the classroom.

Consider things like uniforms, shoes, sports clothes and equipment, scholastic materials, and books. Identify which items your kids can reuse from last year and which you need to buy before school starts.

You might realise that some items will be okay for the start of term but may need to be replaced by Christmas, for example. This gives you a few more months to save up and reduces the financial strain in the here and now.

2. What items don’t you need?

While every child likes new things to return to school with, there will be some items they don’t need. For instance, their school bag should last for several years, while buying a brand-new pencil case at the start of every term is also not essential.

As for the uniform and shoes, you only need to buy new items if your kids have outgrown the items they wore in previous years. Provided that their clothes are clean and in good condition, you don’t need to buy a fresh uniform for the sake of it. The same is true of their sports clothes, so don’t burden yourself unless necessary.

You can also look for non-essential items (new books or even new football boots) second-hand on eBay and other online platforms like the Facebook marketplace. You will be amazed at what you can pick up second-hand, and you will save yourself some money when it comes to items that your kids don’t urgently need at the start of school.

3. Buy the right items in bulk

Sometimes, buying items in bulk presents excellent savings opportunities. This is a particularly helpful strategy for items that are likely to get lost or damaged, such as pens, pencils, and crayons that typically don’t last for the duration of the school year.

You can head to a wholesaler like Costco or look for bulk purchases at online marketplaces like Amazon or eBay. It’s helpful to buy at least a year’s supply of these items so you don’t have to make another purchase once the school year is underway.

When you have the items at home, don’t give them to your kids all at once! For instance, if you have purchased pens and pencils in bulk, give them enough to fill their pencil case and to use for a month or so, and tell them to come back to you when they need to top up.

This is a good way to manage your bulk purchases and ensure you can monitor how well your kids look after their things at school.

4. Shopping vouchers and deals

A life hack that you can apply to your back-to-school budget is looking for shopping vouchers and deals. Shopping at the right time of the year can save you money, and we have already mentioned the 4 July sale and Prime Day in the summer.

Shopping on and around Black Friday in November is also a smart move, as retailers provide heavy discounts that you can take advantage of.

We also love this section of the Daily Telegraph website, as it offers voucher codes that you can use as you do your back-to-school shopping. They have voucher codes and discounts at several retailers, including Boohoo, Marks & Spencer, and WHSmith.

Another option is to take advantage of the cashback you can earn with HyperJar, as you can use it for purchases with online retailers as you buy back-to-school essentials. Learn more about the brands and rewards available and plan your back-to-school shopping accordingly.

Budget for back to school using the HyperJar app

We know that the summer months can be super expensive for parents. After the expenses associated with trips abroad and various UK-based activities, you must spend again as you prepare your kids for their return to the classroom.

But by implementing our back-to-school budgeting tips, there’s no reason why you need to burden yourself financially when shopping for your children’s back-to-school essentials.

If you want to get ahead and make smarter financial decisions throughout the year, we recommend the HyperJar app, which you can use for back-to-school budgeting and other finances throughout the year.

You can also improve your child’s financial responsibility with a HyperJar card, which they can use to spend money responsibly, save, and learn key financial strategies while still young. Our pre-paid card is the perfect way for children to learn about the value of money without risk. For more information, check out our recent piece on teaching your kids about money.

Furthermore, check out our budgeting template for more help managing your finances throughout the year and discover how much it is.

Mathew Megens

Co-Founder of HyperJar

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