Back to school – an expensive business!

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As the summer holidays draw to a close, it’s time for parents to start thinking about 'Back to School'. Amid the fun and excitement of preparations for the new school year is the very serious business of cost: in a survey commissioned by the government for the 2014/2015 school year, the average cost for school uniform and PE kit was more between £150 and £250 per child.

No matter what the age of your child, you can benefit from following our S-C-H-O-O-L tips for keeping your 'Back to School' expenses as low as possible:

S is for 'Shop smart'

Do you need to order pieces of uniform for your child, such as branded blazers etc? If so, leave it until as late as you can to have them measured up, to avoid the chance of them growing out of them quickly. The same goes for shoes…every parent knows that children seem to grow miraculously over the holidays!

For more generic items, such as white shirts, dark trousers etc, it may pay to leave shopping until the last few days, when big stores typically are looking to get rid of school uniforms to make way for their autumn clothing lines. Just make sure you have at least one full uniform to send them in on their first day.

C is for 'Check what you already have'

Sounds simple, but it really pays to do a ‘stock check’ before you go shopping. You may already have plenty of serviceable uniform, and perhaps certain items can be passed down to younger siblings. Also check with friends and family to see if they have any uniform that you could put to good use.

H is for 'Have a look on social media'

Check social media to find if other parents from your school are selling uniform they no longer need. You may also be able to sell some of yours!

O is for 'Only buy all in one go if you have to'

Try to avoid buying everything you need in one trip. This has the potential to be stressful and you may be tempted to spend more than you need to because you don’t have the energy to shop around. With more time you can not only check out all of the shops, from specialist uniform retailers to supermarkets, but also check online.

O is for 'Only buy school branded items when you have to'

Your child’s school may have a host of branded items available, from PE shorts to blazers. If you are required to buy them, then so be it, but if not, then you might want to consider generic items. They will certainly be cheaper and will save you money for expensive uniform items. If your school does have a strict policy on branded uniform, speak to other parents who may be happy to sell items which have hardly been worn and recoup some of the cost.

L is for 'List what you need - and cost it out'

This is true for everything you ever need to buy: you’ll spend less money if you make a list and stick to it. However, this is especially true with 'Back to School' shopping where you have the added pressure of pester power! It’s important to cost your list out so that you know you can buy everything on it within your budget. This will not only prevent you making last minute purchases, but will also help you to avoid any nasty surprises when it comes to working out how much your 'Back to School' shopping cost!

'Back to School' buying can also be seen as an opportunity to teach your child about the benefits of saving. It demonstrates that sometimes in life you will have big expenses that you need to prepare in advance for.

You can encourage younger children to start saving their pennies for an item they want for school – such as a new pencil or badges for their school bags. It’s best to start small to encourage them to see a quick return! You might want to get a jar especially for this purpose and let your child decorate it.

For older children, you may want to consider encouraging them to open a savings account. This will enable them to have a place to save pocket money, birthday and Eid gifts and, depending on their age, perhaps even their pay. Al Rayan Bank has a Sharia compliant Young Persons Notice Savings Account that can help your child start saving in the right way; if they’re over 14 they will have access to the funds.

A great introduction to the grown up world of money and savings is for you to have a conversation to decide how much you are happy for them to withdraw and what would constitute a good use of their money. A notice account will discourage impulse spending and they be encouraged to save more as they see their savings grow.

To find out more about Al Rayan Bank’s Young Person's Notice Savings Account, please click here or call our Customer Services team on 0808 231 6021.

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