School uniform is expensive. Whether your child is starting reception or moving up to secondary school, you’re likely to be looking at a pretty big bill for getting them kitted out. Having said that, there are some ways you can save money if you plan ahead, make the most of offers and consider buying secondhand. Here are my top tips for saving money on school uniform.
Buy Generic Where You Can
While schools will usually have a preferred supplier, that doesn’t mean you need to buy every item of uniform from them. In fact recent legislation requires schools to consider carefully the restrictions they put on where items can be sourced from.
It’s likely that the school will only insist that certain items have the school’s logo on or are of a particular design and those are the things that do need to come from the school uniform shop. For primary school, these are most often a school jumper/cardigan and perhaps a PE top and a tie if they wear one. For secondary school you’ll likely also need to purchase a blazer and possibly a skirt for girls.
Most other items can be bought more cheaply in supermarkets and other shops. If you aren’t sure about what you can buy generic and what you can’t, contact the school or see if there’s a school Facebook group where you can ask. These can be useful for asking other mums for tips about uniform for example we found out that it’s not worth buying swimming kit straight away as they don’t swim until the summer term so if you buy it in the autumn term there’s every chance they’ll have outgrown it.
Don’t Buy More than You Need to
It can be difficult to decide how much school uniform to buy but you can save money by not buying more than you need. Buy with your child in mind. If you have a very clean child who likes after there things you’ll be able to get away with a smaller amount of uniform. Consider things like how messy your child tends to to get when they eat and when they play. How often they are likely to lose things like jumpers? They usually make their way back but you’ll need others in the meantime. You can also consider what your washing schedule is like, you can buy less if you are willing to wash more often. While washing more often can wear clothes put quicker, it’s unlikely to wear them out before your child outgrows them.
Wait for the Offers Before you Buy
It’s good to work out early what you need but wait until the special offers to actually start buying. Sainsbury’s usually have a 25% off day in August and this is a great time to pick up the basics. Marks and Spencers also usually have a promotion on school uniform during the summer months. Aldi and Lidl have super cheap uniform in their “middle aisle” sometime in August, the quality varies but it’s a great option if you want to go really cheap.
Buy Uniform With Growing Room
Whether you are buying generic or from the uniform shop, make sure you buy with growing room. While you don’t want yours to be “that kid” with sleeves so long you can’t see their hands, allowing some room for growth makes sense. If you’re buying from a uniform shop, talk to the staff about what they recommend and what the exchange policy is if a growth spurt happens. Most will be happy to offer you an exchange. Keep your receipts for supermarket stuff and don’t take the labels off, that way you should be able to exchange them and if you can’t you will get the best price I’d you want to sell them on.
Buy School Uniform Cheaper Secondhand
You can save a great deal by buying uniform secondhand. Children grow so quickly that secondhand uniform is often available cheaply and in great condition. For generic items like trousers, skirts and shorts you can check eBay. For school specific items you’ll need to search locally. Your first stop should be the school to see if they sell secondhand uniform. Sometimes they just sell off the lost property to raise a few extra pounds sometimes they have much bigger uniform exchanges set up. Next you can check Facebook to see if there is a group for the school where items are bought and sold. If there is, turn your notifications for the group on, items tend to sell very quickly. The other place to check is charity shops as items for local schools often make their way to them.
Save Money on School Uniform by Teaming up
A great way to save money on school uniform is to find another parent with children the opposite of yours. So for example, I have an older boy and a younger girl, I have a friend with a younger boy and an older girl. She gives me her daughters out grown uniform for my daughter, I give her my sons outgrown uniform for her son.
If you have a friend with the same size children you can also share purchases of things like football shorts that always come in a pack of two but that you really only need one of.
Leave Buying Shoes Until Last
School shoes are one of the most expensive bits of uniform to buy. Feet are also the most likely things to have a growth spurt and the thing you can’t really buy with any room to grow. For these reasons I would recommend buying them fairly late in the summer. Queues can be big though so go early in the morning or use the booking service some shops now offer.
Some people prefer to buy expensive shoes because they last longer. Some people prefer to buy cheap shoes which don’t last because kids grow out of them so fast. It’s Sod’s law that if you buy the expensive ones they’ll have a growth spurt and if you buy the cheap ones they’ll stay the same size and you’ll have to replace them, so go with whichever you prefer.
Hopefully this post has given you some strategies you can use to save money on school uniform, whatever budget you’re working with.