We went to hell today, otherwise known as a shopping
expedition with all of the children in tow. The sun shone much brighter than it
had promised to do resulting in hot cranky kids and even hotter crankier
parents. The adults traipsed from shop
to shop, without any semblance of enthusiasm, whilst the children resisted and
complained, and complained and resisted every step of the way.
It’s not that we’re martyrs to the cause, or complete
gluttons for punishment either – but taking all of the kids was a necessity as
there were feet to be measured and school shoes and runners to be bought. With
the summer holidays half over, it’s time to consider the return to school.
It’s a hugely expensive and pressurised time for parents.
With five in school here, including two in secondary and a sixth in Montessori,
the costs are scary and the need to make serious savings is real. So with that
in mind, I thought I’d share a few tips for cutting the costs involved with very
expensive, free education.
This is a great and easy thing to do
amongst two or, even better, a group of parents who have children of different
ages. Get out the booklist, set up a Whatsapp group and send out the searching
texts. In a time of every changing editions and book requirements, hoarding books
for younger children coming up the line is not necessarily the best course of action
as frequently the required books change. Some years you’ll manage to do better
than others in a book swap but even one book acquired this way is a saving to
No not the kids, the books. Many
educational book stores buy your old school books if they’re in good condition
and either pay you or offer store credit, which leads nicely on to tip 3 …..
It’s always worth checking a second hand
book store for the school books you need and the earlier in the summer that you
do this, the more chance there is of you managing to get several. Just be very
mindful of editions and always double check that you have the correct one.
Watch out for special offers.
Around this time of year, may outlets such
as Easons and schoolbooks.ie offer online discounts towards the cost of new
school books or the option of free delivery or free book covering. Heatons are
another place worth checking for back to school stationery as they often run a
3 for 2 offer, providing the potential for great savings if your numbers are
School shoes and runners are a very
expensive part of back to school. If there’s a discount outlet near you (such
as the Kildare Outlet) it’s worth considering a trip. There’s significant
savings to be made on shoes in Clark’s, which for me is a lot more than the
cost of the petrol involved! The many sports shops on site meanwhile can see
you make savings on runners and possibly even school bags.
And speaking of schoolbags. Before purchasing
new ones, double check if a quick wash in the machine with lots of fabric
softener is enough to make the bag look good as new and obliterate the pungent
yoghurt smell from last year! If you are buying a new one however, – shop around
and don’t forget to check stores online to compare value. Sports Direct can
offer great value too, but always double check the measurements. Pictures can
When it comes to uniforms, crested pieces
are usually the most expensive parts. Don’t be embarrassed to ask around. If you
have friends who cannot pass their child’s outgrown school uniform to a younger
sibling, ask them to pass it along to you instead. Sometimes people are afraid
to offer for fear of causing offence. Personally, I’m eternally grateful for
the amount of outgrown crested uniform pieces that are passed to this house.
And remember to share the love. There’s always someone who will happily receive
you own children’s uniform hand me downs.
Check on the school website just in case a
uniform or book sale due to be held ahead of the return to school.
Don’t assume that certain things can only
be bought in a certain type of shop and keep your eyes peeled - always. Book
Station for example, usually renowned for selling good value books, also sell
lunch boxes and good beakers for very good prices. The “smash” beakers have
stood the very testing, test of time, here.
Buy in bulk
Sounds obvious but list your copy needs and
stationery needs and buy together. If you’re trying to spread the cost over a
few weeks, spread by purchase type rather than by child. Copies bought in 10
packs work out cheaper and getting all stationery together lets you make the
best of special offers and avail of 3 for 2’s.