The best ‘back-to-school’ money saving tips

As every parent knows, the cost of getting the kids kitted out for the new school year can really add up, so we’ve rounded up some top tips to help reduce the cost of the back-to-school shop.

It’s also good to know that the credit union is here to help if you’d like to spread the cost of the things you really do need to buy. We’ve been supporting families with their back-to-school costs for 25 years and have a range of flexible options available to suit your needs. Our Back to School Loan is a safe and affordable way to borrow for any amount you need, starting from just £50. Or, our Family Loan is a way to borrow up to £1000 using your Child Benefit as repayments.

Our top tips to reduce the costs of the back-to-school shop

Swap don’t shop! Look out for local uniform-swapping events organised by parents or schools in your area. Kids grow out of uniform quickly and most items can be passed on and reused while still in great condition. Many schools have details of swap events listed on their website, or check out local social media group pages, or the National School Swap Shop Directory to see if there’s a swap near you.

Take a uniform inventory: go through the kids’ wardrobes and remind yourself what items you already have and what’s still usable. You don’t need to buy everything all at once. If a school skirt, jumper or pair of shoes still have even a few months in them, wait until then to buy new ones – it’ll help you spread the cost, and you may even find things in the sale after the back-to-school rush has ended.

Hunt around the rest of the house too– it’s easy to forget what items you already have around the house once you’re out shopping. In particular, things like pens, pencils, paper, sports kit & other everyday items. Have a pre-school shop spring clean and gather everything together first, to make sure you’re not buying duplicates when you spot those tempting offers in store.

Lookout for special buys and deals:  many major retailers offer good discounts on back-to-school essentials early in the school holidays and most of the budget supermarkets have ‘middle aisle’ value deals on school kit, and unbranded uniform items.

Size up: Yes, it’s an old tip – but a good one! Go the next size up where you reasonably can to get longer wear out of expensive items like blazers and trousers.

Get second-hand savvy: check out sites like eBay, Facebook marketplace or Gumtree for local listings of pre-loved uniform items and deals on equipment like laptops or tablets.

Find out if you’re entitled to any financial support or help with uniform costs
If you’re on means-tested benefits and on a low income, your child may qualify for free school meals. Check the Government’s website at: Free school meals are part of something called ‘pupil premium’. As well as providing free school meals, pupil premium provides extra funding of up to £1,350 to your child’s school. The school can then use this funding to support your child’s education through extra tuition, teaching staff or after-school activities, so speak to your school or council to see if you can get further help. You could get as much as £200 a year towards the cost of your child’s school uniform. There is more useful information on school uniform costs and legal guidance on affordable uniform that schools must follow on the Government website at

Make sure you’re claiming all the benefits and tax credits you’re entitled to: Billions of Pounds of benefits and tax credits remain unclaimed in the UK each year. According to research by our partners at InBest, up to 70% of credit union loan applicants are missing out on an average of £465 per month in unclaimed benefits and it’s most often working people on low incomes who are missing out. Use our Benefits Calculator to find out what you could claim. By entering a few details about your situation, you’ll get a free and impartial assessment of all the benefits and tax credits you are entitled to and what you have to do to claim them.

Have you got any top tips to save money on the back to school shop? Let us know in the comments below.