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  • Writer's pictureKel Galavan

The Ultimate A-Z of Back to School Savings

Going back to school can be expensive, but it doesn't tie you up in knots of stress. Here is the Ultimate A to Z Guide of Back to School Savings to help you save money on back-to-school costs. Whether you're looking for ways to save on school supplies or get the best deals on clothes, we've got you covered. So read on and start saving!

August is when parents everywhere start to feel the pinch as they prepare to send their children back to school. Uniforms, books, travel and lunches can quickly add up, but there are ways to cut corners and save money. With careful planning, you can ease the financial burden of the back-to-school season.

After school activities

After-school activities can be a great way for kids to explore new interests, make new friends, and stay active. However, they can also be a financial burden for families. If your child is interested in trying out a new activity, see if you can find used equipment or supplies from family and friends. You might also be able to attend the first class for free before paying the full fee. This can help you decide if the activity is right for your child without breaking the bank.

After-school activities can be an excellent way for kids to make new friends, explore new interests, and stay active. However, signing up for an after-school activity can also be a financial commitment. Many programs require an upfront fee that covers the cost of equipment, uniforms, and other expenses. If your child is interested in trying out a new activity, it's important to hold off on buying expensive gear and equipment until you know if they will stick with it. Many programs offer a trial period or allow parents to spread the costs over a few months. This will let you see if your child enjoys the activity and is committed to it before making a larger financial investment.

Ask the school to help you plan for the year ahead.

Schools are supposed to be free, but there always seem to be additional costs that add up. Whether it's swimming lessons, music lessons, trips, or other extras, you can find yourself handing over a wad of cash to your school. It's a good idea to put a set amount aside each month to a fund, especially for these extra costs. That way, you're prepared when they come up. You can also ask the school to help you plan for the year ahead, so you know what to expect. Either way, being prepared for these extra costs will help ease the financial burden.

Back to school sinking fund

If you start planning and saving early, you can ease the financial burden next August. Begin by setting aside a small amount of money each month into a savings account. Then, when back-to-school shopping rolls around, you'll have a nice little nest egg to dip into. Not only will this take the financial pressure off, but it will also give you peace of mind knowing that you're prepared.

Anyone who's tried to save up for something knows that it's not always easy. Spending money when you have it can be tempting, rather than setting it aside for future use. However, even small amounts of money saved regularly can significantly impact over time. For example, saving just €5 per week will add up to €260 by next year's back-to-school costs. One way to make this easier is to give up something relatively small and insignificant, such as buying a morning coffee every day and instead put that money into a saving fund. Over time, those savings will add up and make a big difference when paying for school expenses. So next time you're tempted to spend, remember that every little bit counts when it comes to saving money.

Buy second hand

As more and more people strive to live sustainably, it's essential to consider how we can reduce our impact on the planet. One way to do this is to buy second-hand items whenever possible. When it comes to school uniforms, there are a few different options for finding pre-owned items. There are marketplaces on social media and other local selling pages where you can find gently used uniforms at a fraction of the cost of new ones. Another option would be to contact your school, as they often set up a school uniform shop that includes second-hand wear. By seeking pre-owned items, we can all do our part to reduce waste and live more sustainably.

Community organisations

Voluntary and community organisations can offer vital support to families experiencing financial hardship. One such organisation is the Society of St. Vincent De Paul, which provides a range of supports for people living on very low incomes. For example, they may be able to give some help towards the cost of education. This can make a huge difference for families struggling to make ends meet, highlighting the importance of these organisations in our community.


Many supermarkets offer affordable back-to-school clothing options. And while the school badges may need to be purchased from the uniform shop, this is usually a relatively small expense.

Label young children's clothes

Labelling young children's clothes may seem painful, but it can save you money in the long run. With all the moving and shaking little ones do, it's too easy for clothing items to get lost. But if you take the time to label each item, you'll be much less likely to lose track of anything.

There are a few different ways to label clothes, but one of the easiest is to use a reusable stamp. These stamps can withstand up to 50 wash cycles, so they're definitely durable. And if you're not great with a needle and thread, they can be much cheaper than sewing on labels yourself. So next time you're getting your little one's wardrobe ready for the season, be sure to Label everything – it could save you a lot of money (and headaches) down the road.

This could be a good option for absent-minded older kids too!

Get help towards back-to-school costs.

Do some research to see if you are eligible for help towards back-to-school costs with the following five schemes:

Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance

Book rental scheme

Exemption from exam fees

School Transport Scheme for Primary and Post Primary Schools

Remote Areas Boarding Grant

For more information on these schemes, visit

Home study desks

Home study desks come in all shapes, sizes and budgets. You can buy a cheap and cheerful one from IKEA or go all-out and get something made-to-measure. But, unless you have bottomless pockets. Home study doesn't have to be expensive – make sure you stick to the basics. Second-hand can be a great option here.

Make a back-to-school shopping list.

Make a back-to-school shopping list for each of your children, including items like books, stationery, uniforms, and any costs to be paid to the school. Prioritise your list and add up the total cost to get an idea of how much you'll need to spend. Remember to include items like shoes, jackets, tracksuits for physical education, and any arts and crafts or voluntary contributions the school may require. With a little planning and preparation, you can ensure your children have everything they need for a successful school year.

Personalised stationery

Personalised stationery can be a great way to keep track of your child's belongings, particularly if they are prone to losing things or leaving them behind at school. For example, having their name on their pencil case will be much easier to spot if it goes missing and will also help deter other children from borrowing or taking it without permission.

Personalised stationery can also be a nice way to make your child feel special and encourage them to take pride in their belongings. So while it may cost a little bit more upfront, it will likely save you money in the long run by helping avoid arguments and preventing lost or stolen items.

Plan a school essential swap

Before you start your back-to-school shopping this year, consider coordinating with your friends and neighbours to host a school and office supply swap. This is a great way to get the necessary supplies without spending money. Plus, it's a great way to reduce waste and recycle materials that would otherwise be unused. First, plan a time and place to meet with your friends and neighbours to get started. Then, everyone can bring any unwanted school or office supplies they have. Finally, people can trade supplies until everyone has what they need. This is a great way to save money and help the environment simultaneously.

Refurbished tech

Refurbished tech is a great way to get your teenager the latest gadget without breaking the bank. Not only that but buying refurbished tech also helps to reduce e-waste. There are plenty of places to find refurbished tech, from online retailers to your local electronics store. Older students will likely need tech for tasks such as research and writing when it comes to homework. A laptop is a good choice for older students, as it offers more flexibility than a tablet or smartphone.

Refurbished laptops can be found for a fraction of the price of a new one, and they still offer the same features and performance. So if your teenager insists on having the latest model, consider buying a refurbished one – it's a great way to save money and help the environment.

School Books

There are ways to save money on schoolbooks, like buying second-hand books or exchanging books with other parents. Just be sure to check whether your school specifies a particular edition of a textbook before making your purchase. You can also compare prices at different bookstores or online before you buy. So don't break the bank this back-to-school season, do your research and find ways to save on schoolbooks.

Start thinking about how to get rid of your child's old books. If you're looking to make some extra cash, you may be able to sell your child's old books if they're in good condition. To increase the chances of selling the book, teach your children to take care of their books and emphasise the importance of taking care of their belongings. If you have a social media profile, you could post your child's old books for sale and reach a larger audience. Whatever route you decide to go, remember that you may be able to sell your child's old books and make some extra money in the process.

School Lunches

School lunches are a necessary evil for many parents. On the one hand, you want your children to have a nutritious meal to help them concentrate and learn. On the other hand, school lunches can be expensive, and it can be hard to know if they are healthy. This is where packed lunches come in. Packed lunches prepared at home are cheaper than shop-bought lunches and are often more nutritious. A little time spent planning your family's weekday lunch menu before you do the shopping can reduce food wastage and save you money.

Plus, you can be sure that your children are eating a healthy meal that meets their needs. So next time you're struggling to justify the cost of buying school lunches, remember that packed lunches are a great alternative.

School lunches can be a considerable expense, but there are ways to save money. One way is to bulk-buy food. This can be expensive initially but will last several days, and many foods can also be frozen. However, do make sure to check the shelf life of what you buy. Another way to save money is to buy foods that are in season as they are typically cheaper. You can save money on school lunches without compromising quality or nutrition.

School transport

The cost of school transport can add up if you drive your children in and out of school every day. If you know anyone in your area with children attending the same school, it might be worth suggesting that you carpool. This will save you time and reduces your carbon footprint.

If you live near the school, consider cycling or walking – it will save you money and is also good exercise! Not to mention, it's a great way to get some fresh air and blood flowing before sitting down in class all day. So next time you're planning your child's school transport, think about how carpooling, cycling or walking could save you some money and help the environment too.

It's worth checking to see if they're eligible for school transport. In many cases, it can be more cost-effective than driving them to school yourself and most kids enjoy travelling to school with their friends. Eligibility varies from state to state and school to school, but students who live more than a certain distance from their school are entitled to catch the bus. So, if you're unsure whether your child is eligible, it's worth finding out. You could save yourself a lot of time and money in the long run!

See what you have already.

Stationary isn't the only area where what you have already can save you money! But before you head out to the stores, take a look around your house first. You might be surprised to find that you already have a lot of what you need for back to school. First, audit the wardrobe to see what can be re-worn and what might need to be replaced. There is no law saying that everything has to be new in September. Make a list of the clothes that you genuinely need, and then see what you already have that can fill those needs. You might already have a few pairs of jeans that need to be hemmed or some shirts that need to be ironed. A little bit of elbow grease can save you a lot of money in the long run. So before you head out to the stores, shop at home first - you might find that you don't need to buy as much as you think.

A good way to get reluctant kids involved is to try a little scavenger hunt at home? You might be surprised at what you can find. And if you need to buy some things, you can shop at home for sales and discounts. For example, a chocolate bar is cheaper than a new backpack! So get creative and see what you can come up with. Your kids will have fun, and you might just save yourself a few euros.

Set A Spending Limit And Stick To that limit.

When it comes to setting a back-to-school budget, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Decide on a specific euro amount that you're comfortable spending.

  2. Make a list of the items you need to purchase.

  3. Stick to your budget!

It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of back-to-school shopping, but remember that overspending now will mean cutting back on other things later. So set a spending limit and stick to it! Your wallet (and your kids) will thank you.

Shop around

There are a few ways to save money and get the best deals on back-to-school items. First, it's essential to shop around. Compare prices online and in-store before making any purchases. Second, take advantage of sales and coupons. Many stores offer significant discounts on back-to-school items the week before school starts. Finally, don't buy more than what you need. For example, just because a store is selling pencils in bulk doesn't mean you need to buy 100 of them ( unless, of course, it makes sense to do so, like if you are buying as a group with other friends or families to share the cost)

Shop the Sales

Before the school year starts, look for sales at your favourite stores. This is a great opportunity to stock up on bulk items like pencils, pens, lined paper, and binders. Also, once September arrives, the stores will have clearance sales on school supplies. So if there is anything you forgot to buy or you were waiting to get, now is a good time. So keep your eyes peeled and take advantage of the deals! Your wallet will thank you.


This is one of my favourite places to save money. So here is a fun way to keep those costs under control while also decluttering and keeping the kids happy:

1. Gather up all the stationery from around the house. I'm talking about checking every cupboard, bag, shelf, and box anywhere pencils might wander off.

This is an excellent time to break out the lovely pencil and colouring sets received for birthdays and gifts.

2. Put everything out on the kitchen table. (I'm always surprised at how much we have each year!)

3. Grab some sheets of paper and check every marker to ensure it's working. Sharpen every pencil and test every rubber and sharpener.

4. Once you have checked everything, the broken items can be cleared away, and the good things can be separated into piles—i.e. pens, markers, pencils etc.

5. Let the kids fill their pencil cases with what they need and store any extras in old jam jars. This way, they can quickly get a new pen from the correct jar if anything runs out during the year.

6. All left to do now is make a short list of the things you need to get.

Also, when it comes to stationary that you don't have at home already, you need to buy. If you can afford to do so, it's worth buying in bulk as it will save you money in the long run. However, if that's not possible, you can always purchase items one by one as you need them. Either way, ensuring you have all stationery your child needs is a necessary part of getting ready for back-to-school season!

Stick To Your Back To School Checklist

Before you start your back-to-school shopping, sit down with your kids and agree on a list of needed items. This might include new shoes, clothes for physical education or things that no longer fit.

Once you have determined what everyone needs, let your kids pick a few additional items they want within your budget. This can help them feel more invested in their back-to-school wardrobe and make the experience more fun for everyone. Plus, if your child knows you are only buying what's on the list, they will more readily accept you saying "No" to any extra items. So take some time to plan and stick to your back-to-school checklist!

Understand the difference between cheap and value

Knowing the difference between an item being cheap and an item of good value is essential. Something cheap might not be a good deal if it's low quality and won't last long. On the other hand, something could be inexpensive but be a great value because it's well-made and will stand up to years of use. You especially want to be careful when shopping for items that will take a lot of wear and tear, like shoes, coats, backpacks and jeans. Spending more upfront on these things is better, so you don't have to replace them all the time. You'll save money and aggravation in the long run by opting for quality over cheapness.


When it comes to new clothes, school supplies, and, for some families, uniforms to shop for, uniforms can be one of the biggest back-to-school expenses, particularly if the uniform is only stocked by one shop. However, there are ways to save money on uniforms.

Many schools have second-hand uniform 'shops' where parents can purchase gently used items at a fraction of the cost. In addition, some schools allow students to wear more casual clothing such as jeans or khakis instead of a uniform. By being creative and researching, families can find ways to minimise the cost of back-to-school uniforms.

Many stores offer discounts on uniforms in September or October so that you can stock up for the following year. Also, be sure to buy a few pieces in a larger size, so your child can wear them as they grow. With some planning, you can save time and money when it comes to back-to-school shopping. Also, keep an eye out for shoe sales around the same time.

Use back-to-school prep to teach kids how to budget.

Back-to-school shopping is also a great opportunity to teach your kids about money. Include your kids in every step of the planning process, from taking inventory of what they already own to making their own budget. For example, give each child a spending limit for their back-to-school budget and tell them that is all the money they have to spend on new clothes and school supplies. This will help them learn how to budget their money and choose what they need. As a result, your kids will be better prepared to manage their finances when they get older.

Water bottles

Every parent wants to send their young ones to school with healthy food that they will eat, but you also don't want to break the bank. One way to save money is to send them with a water bottle instead of buying drinks at school. This can be even more cost-effective if you buy a leak-proof water bottle they can refill at the water fountain.

Not only will this save you money, but it will also encourage your child to drink more water, which is good for their health. If you're looking for a healthier alternative to sugary drinks, you can choose to use orange juice or other fruit juice. These options are still affordable if using a reusable bottle and will help your child get the nutrients they need throughout the day.


It can be daunting to think about all the expenses associated with going back to school, but it's not impossible to save money. In fact, we've put together an exhaustive guide of ways for you to save on everything from clothes to textbooks. So take a few minutes and browse through our tips-we're sure you'll find at least a few that will help make your back-to-school season more affordable. And if you're still feeling overwhelmed by the cost of going back to school, remember that there are plenty of resources available to help finance your education. So don't let the fear of costs keep you from pursuing your dreams-just use our guide to make them more affordable!

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