Back to school money-saving offers
With the start of the new school year just around the corner, you're probably on the lookout for a few last-minute bargains.
Parents spend an average of £236 per child getting them ready for the school year ahead, according to research by Santander.
Uniform, PE kit, stationery and rucksacks all contribute to the bill. Uniform amounts to £40 on average, school shoes £31 and coats another £24.
And when other expenses - such as lunch money, travel, after-school activities and gadgets – are factored in, the cost of keeping a child at school is £52 per child a week in term time. That's a whopping £2,028 every school year.
The biggest regular expense is school trips, which work out at £10 a week on average, followed by extra-curricular activities at £9 and packed lunches at £8.
Parents whose children attend foundation or trust schools spend the most, at £375 on average upfront and then £93 a week. This is slightly higher than the £371 and £93 spent by parents of children attending private school (excluding school fees).
Grammar school parents fork out £329 upfront and £76 on a weekly basis. The costs for community schools are £226 and £49 respectively. At academies, they're lower still at £262 and £56.
Ways to save
If you're worried about the costs, the good news is there are lots of ways to save. Here's a list of some of the best.
1. Cashback sites
Websites such as Topcashback have lots of great Back to School deals, such as its spend £10 or more on Tesco F&F school uniform range and get £12 cashback.
2. Cashback credit cards
Reward credit cards offer perks including cashback on whatever you spend, wherever you spend it. For example, the Santander 1|2|3 Credit Card pays 1% cashback in supermarkets and 2% in department stores, though it does come with an annual £24 fee. The AMEX Platinum Cashback Everyday Card has a very compelling introductory offer of 5% cashback for the first three months. It reverts to 1% cashback thereafter and has no annual fee.
3. Loyalty card deals
Tesco Clubcard is currently running one of its popular Boost deals. You can exchange every £5 of your Clubcard vouchers for £10 of Boost tokens to spend at F&F online on all of the back to school range.
4. Supermarket deals
The supermarkets seem to be doing their bit to help parents balance their budgets and all are offering some great deals. For example, the George at Asda range has a two-pack of boys' white poloshirts for just £2.
5. Back to school discounts
Retailers are clambering over each other to win your custom. Argos has 50% off school bags, BHS 20% off all back to school items bought online (discount applied automatically) and M&S is offering £5 off full-priced school uniform when you spend £40 or more online (the code is SAVE5ONLINE).
These deals won't last for long so what are you waiting for?
Used by the holder to buy goods and services, credit cards also have a monthly or annual spending limit, which may be raised or lowered depending on the creditworthiness of the cardholder. But unlike charge cards, borrowers aren’t forced to pay the balance off in full every month and, as long as they make a stated minimum payment, can carry a balance from one month to the next, generating compound interest. As the issuing company is effectively giving you a short-term loan, most credit cards have variable and relatively high interest rates. Allowing the interest to compound for too long may result in dire financial straits.
Cashback credit cards
These reward you with a small percentage of cash back on your total spend on the card, either each month or annually. Cashback cards carry high APRs and ONLY work if you pay your balance off in full every month. If you miss payments and have existing credit card debts, leave these well alone.