Amidst the ongoing challenges posed by the escalating cost-of-living crisis, parents nationwide are preparing for the annual back-to-school shopping spree where they expect to spend roughly £100 more per child than last year. In a bid to support parents save money, a leading youth enrichment expert and mother of soon-to-be two is sharing practical and pocket-friendly tips.

Over half of parents will spend more on school uniforms and accessories this year with around one in three anticipating they’ll spend £100 or more per child than last year on back-to-school shopping. With the cost-of-living crisis having an inevitable impact upon families’ finances, to put this into perspective, over half of parents said they will re-use school items from last year in a bid to save costs.

Charlotte Russell, co-founder of Pawprint Family and mother of one (with another one on the way…) – has shared a list of money-saving tips to help parents prepare for their children’s first day back at school.

Charlotte comments:

“The back-to-school period represents an exciting, albeit sometimes nerve-wracking, start of a new year for our children. However, due to the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, inflation and rising costs, budgeting for the back-to-school shop is causing additional stress for parents.

“As a mother of a young child – and another little one soon to join our family! – I understand first-hand the challenges of balancing a full-time job and activity planning for the summer holidays all whilst managing a back-to-school budget. That’s why I want to share tips with other parents to help keep costs down and energy high as we head into a new school year.”

Tip 1: Set a budget

As parents nationwide continue to battle with financial challenges following the six-week summer break, during which many have had to spend a minimum of £1,000 on childcare per child, the task of budgeting for back-to-school expenses is set to add to this pressure. This is particularly evident due to the increasing expenses associated with school uniforms, which stand as one of the major financial burdens for parents.

Charlotte suggests: 

“Having a pre-planned budget in mind before the first day back rolls around will save you the hassle of stretching your budget that month for everything else. Having a rough idea of how much you want to spend on each item will allow you to adjust your spending accordingly.”

Tip 2: Check What You Have

Families with multiple children, particularly those in different school years, should prioritise checking what they already have around the house. From sorting through last year’s school items such as backpacks, pencil cases to clothing, savvy parents can effectively cut down on expenses by categorising items into two groups: items that are still in good condition and those that are no longer usable.

Charlotte shared:

“As a parent, I often have a million and one things to think about and sometimes forget what we already have in the house. Carving out some time to go through last year’s school items is a great way to not only find suitable hand me down items but also helps you create a list of all the items you need, providing a clearer picture of budget.”

Tip 3: Upcycle Where You Can

Find opportunities to upcycle whenever possible. The practice of upcycling old school belongings presents an excellent means of revitalising items and maintaining cost-effectiveness.

For many parents, particularly when managing work, planning activities during summer vacations, and preparing children for the upcoming school term, Pawprint Family, a family-run business co-founded by Charlotte and her husband, Jamie, are on a mission to support parents in saving both time and money as the new school term approaches.

Self-proclaimed badge experts, Pawprint Family produces a multitude of high-quality badges that parents can utilise to upcycle previous school items like bookbags, pencil cases, and PE kit bags, sparing parents the need to purchase these items brand-new.

Charlotte advises:

“I am a big advocate of upcycling. Not only is it environmentally friendly and cost-effective, but it also serves as a fantastic means to nurture your child’s creativity. When you involve them in personalising their belongings, it becomes an enjoyable way for them to add a unique touch to their items, allowing them to express themselves.

“With our wide selection of badge collections featuring family-favourite characters like Wallace and Gromit, The Gruffalo, Care Bears and Zog the Dragon, there is truly a badge for everyone! One badge I have seen being used to embellish school items is the Be Brave Pennant Sew On Patch set, which can help boost children’s attitudes as they prepare to head back to school.”

Tip 4: Buy and sell preloved school uniforms

With a recent survey revealing that three out of four parents agree that the cost of buying school uniform and supplies puts a strain on their household budget, utilising platforms such as Grown Out Of It and Old School Uniform can significantly alleviate uniform-related costs.

Charlotte added:

“Exploring platforms such as Grown Out Of It, which feature more than 25000 schools across the country, and Old School Uniforms, are fantastic way to get around those big school uniform expenses. We all know the troubles with growth spurts over the summer holidays so websites like these allow you to purchase pre-loved school uniforms, often in near perfect condition! What’s more, all the proceeds go back to the Parent Teacher Association, which helps towards making the school a better place for children to learn.”

Tip5: Involve Your Children

Involving your children in the back-to-school shopping process can be an effective strategy for cutting costs by instilling valuable financial lessons early on. When children actively participate in decision-making and budget-conscious choices, they develop a heightened awareness of money management. This hands-on experience can lead to smarter spending habits, a greater appreciation for the value of items, and a reduced inclination toward impulsive purchases.

Charlotte shared:         

“For parents, it’s a win-win situation. Collaborating with children on creating shopping lists and comparing prices hones their critical thinking skills. The experience develops their ability to differentiate between needs and wants, reinforcing mindful consumer behaviour that extends far beyond school shopping. This collaborative approach sets the stage for responsible financial habits that will serve them well into adulthood. So, while we may be trimming costs today, we’re nurturing future-savvy spenders and empowering them to navigate the world of finances with confidence.”

Centred around Pawprint Badges, Pawprint Family provides thousands of free activity ideas and resources for leaders, teachers, and parents. Complemented by a range of collectible badges that help young people develop skills for life: from reading and sports to outdoor adventures and seasonal celebrations.

For more information about Pawprint Family, visit – www.pawprintfamily.com

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