James Walker: How to keep the books balanced now the schools are back
Can you believe it'sÂ September already?
Thanks to the joys of British weather we even had to put the heating on the other day!
Like many households across the UK, the Walkers are coming to terms with the fact that the holidays are over and the kids are back at school.
And that means taking a deep breath and looking at the accounts to make sure that the holiday spending is covered and there is enough cash for the months ahead.
Current estimates suggest it can cost upwards of Â£230,000 to raise a child to adulthood in the UK. So any savings you can find make a massive difference.
You’ve probably already forked out quite a bit of cash already on the usual back to school stuff.
But here’s a few tips from the long-suffering parents at Resolver on how you can manage the expense of the school year ahead.
:: Make a list of all the school essentials needed for each child
A simple spreadsheet is an easy way to do this.
You’ll be able to keep tabs on what needs replacing (they grow quick!) and what’s essential – and you can budget for the costs.
:: Keep on top of crazes
Don’t give in to pressure - wait and see what ‘the next big thing’ is. That way you don’t end up forking out on something that quickly goes out of fashion – and you have time to consider if it’s appropriate or a waste of cash.
No matter how much you try to second guess it, the next big thing will be totally random (fidget spinners anyone?!)
:: Lecturing kids on cash matters is either going to go right over their heads or bore them to death.
But there are ways you can encourage them to understand about budgeting and costs.
Set aside some money for ‘specialist’ school items. By this I mean the branded stuff that kids want.
Explain that they have this budget (or split it over each term) and explain that once the budget is gone, they can’t have any more special or branded items.
::School uniforms clothes don’t need to be purchased from the same shop
Read the school’s rules carefully and you will see that as long as you match the colour and type of clothing, you can source them from any shop you want.
It makes sense to track down something that’s competitively priced but has some wear in it.
Cheaply made uniforms are a false economy when the kids get in them!
:: Kids grow quickly, but that doesn’t mean you have to lose out cashwise.
All parents are in the same boat and many are swapping or selling clothes and school items online. In fact, you can often get new items if other parents have been able to transfer their child to a new school if a place becomes available.
Check out groups on social media and forums too.
:: Buy in bulk where you can
Why not club together with other parents to get stationary and other essential bits of kit.
Plus you’ll avoid the one-upmanship with other parents and kids over who’s got the best stuff!
Use online vouchers to save some cash
There’s loads of offers out there. And now the big rush for school supplies has finished, there are many discounts to be found.
No matter how hard you try, sometimes bringing up kids and dealing with unexpected costs means you can find you’ve slipped in to the red.
Don’t panic. Check out our guidance on the Resolver website, ask your bank or lender what the options are – and if they don’t help, make a complaint!
:: I’d love to hear your cash saving tips for the kids. Get in touch! Check out Facebook and Twitter. @WalkerResolver @resolvercouk www.facebook.com/resolveruk