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  • Writer's pictureHinton Magazine

Cost of living crisis: Tips to save money this back-to-school season


Buy second-hand

Opting for pre-loved items is not only kinder on your wallet but also the planet. Ask your school if the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) sells uniform second-hand or check your local Facebook group to see if you can pick up some unwanted stationary supplies. You can even find sites like Uniformly which are like eBay but specifically for school uniforms.

Download the OLIO app to find free pre-loved items

Check out the OLIO app to find free listings of school uniforms and lots of other back to school items in your local area. In a couple of clicks you can list any items that no longer fit or aren’t needed anymore, or simply request items for free from your neighbours and arrange a collection that suits you. The app is great for finding pricier uniform items specific to your school like blazers or PE kit, as well as other gems like pencil cases and lunch boxes.

Research local initiatives

With this back to school season being especially tough, local initiatives are cropping up all over the UK to help parents kit their kids out before school starts. Check out your local pop-up second-hand stores, free uniform drop-off and swap points and charities.

Check if you’re entitled to a uniform grant

Depending on where you are in the UK, you can access different grants from your local council. Some parents may be eligible for a uniform grant worth £200 depending on your income. Grant schemes differ across the UK, so check your local authority’s website and search your postcode to see what you could get.

Be wary of multipack buys

Multi-buying often helps us to save but they can also trick us into buying too much. Uniforms tend to be sold in multipacks and for items that kids wear every day like polo shirts, it can be a great saving. For other items, like skirts and trousers, try and work out the price per item. Using this method you can work out if you’ll save by buying more.

Two thirds (62%) of UK parents admit they are worried about the rising costs of back-to-school season, as it is revealed buying new items post-summer is set to cost an average of almost £300 per child.

Parents estimate they purchase 16 brand new items for their children at the start of the school year, throwing away an average of 13 ‘old’ items – despite admitting that the majority of these are still in a perfectly useable condition.

It seems that many parents feel pressured to buy their kids brand new items, with a quarter (25%) saying that pressure comes directly from their children, and a third (34%) stating they worry their children will get picked on for having old, worn-out items.

However, many parents could be missing a huge trick. According to the data, which was commissioned by the UK’s number one free-sharing app OLIO, sourcing second-hand items instead of buying brand new could save a massive £205 per child – yet 41% of parents were unaware that free-sharing services, where they can find and give-away pre-loved items, exist.

Tessa Clarke, co-founder and CEO of OLIO, is asking parents to think twice when they do their back-to-school clear-out and consider how they can help others by sharing their spare: “As a parent, I know the back-to school drill all too well, and it’s crazy to think that so many perfectly useable items are being thrown away each year when they could easily find a new home – especially when we are in the midst of one of the biggest cost-of-living crises we’ve ever seen.”

Indeed, the current economic climate is encouraging more parents to think about how they can support others in their local community. Two in five parents (40%) say they are now more likely to give away their unwanted school items, so others don’t have to spend a fortune. However, demand is currently far outstripping supply.

Tessa Clarke adds: “This back-to-school season, we are on a mission to get more people giving away instead of throwing away, and are calling on parents to share their unwanted kids items on the OLIO platform so they can reduce unnecessary waste and help others in their community. Starting today, we’re aiming to get 30,000 kids items listed over the next 30 days – and we need your help to get there.”

The most commonly replaced items set to break the bank for Mum and Dad include new clothing such as school shoes (38%), shirts (36%), trousers (38%) and sports trainers (27%), and accessories such as new lunch boxes (40%), pens (31%) and notebooks (28%).

A staggering 83% of UK parents say they will likely turn to charities and free-sharing platforms such as OLIO for back-to-school items in light of the cost-of-living crisis.

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