Already the dreaded ‘Back-to-School’ campaigns are in full swing and September will be upon us in no time. And with this comes the worries of back-to-school preparation and of course the cost that comes with it. A recent survey said €196 is spent in the average household on uniforms each year. Barnardos have recently said the “cost of sending children to school drops, but it’s still too high.” The Irish League of Credit Unions published figures in 2011 showing that the average Irish family spends

€400 per child for their return to school each year

€229 was spent on uniforms incl. shoes

€182 spent on school books

  €130 was the average voluntary contribution asked to be made by 75% of parents

So how do you cut corners without effecting education and development? Here are some hints and tips you may find useful to save:


Make a List

Writing down what you do have, what you can recycle from last year and what you actually need to get is always helpful. Check if the uniforms still fits, give the school bag and pencil case a wash, and the shoes a polish. If they still won’t suffice then put them on the list. Although it seems like common sense it puts your priorities in order and saves on doubling up. If you haven’t already got one, check if your school has list of requirements for uniforms and compare.


Stationary and Supplies

Check last year’s pencil case and arts & crafts boxes with the inevitable assortment of colouring back to schoolpencils and markers. See if they’re working and if not put them on the list. Keep things on point write down the exact colour of the pen or highlighter the child needs. For primary school children, their supply lists usual include colouring pencils, crayons and markers. This may be excessive. Parents can get carried away during the hype of the back-to-school rush so it’s easy to over buy and over spend.


Shop online

A survey completed by the website ‘Engage Customer’ showed that of the 1,154 individuals surveyed 29% felt they made fewer impulse buys online. Although this survey was asking specifically about grocery shopping, there is no reason that this will power cannot be transferred to school purchases.


Pre-packed and pre-prepared lunches, although convenient, are more expensive and usually less nutritious than their homemade counte
rparts. As we all know some children can be very picky, and if the pre-packed lunch only contains one thing the child likes the rest goes to waste. It’s important to watch trends to avoid waste.


School books

It is a well-known fact how expensive school books are. You cannot counter act the publishing of new editions but with books that haven’t changed try and buy second hand. Usually those in the best condition go first so if buying second hand try to get them as close to the book list coming out as possible. Fergus Finlay, CEO of Barnardos recently stated that “the voluntary code for publishers (to minimise reprinting) is being adhered to. This coupled with the introduction of more school book rental schemes in primary schools is encouraging.”paper-Shirt-SchoolBoy-425



Look at the low cost supermarket uniforms at shops such as Lidl, Aldi, Tesco or Dunne Stores and use iron on crest in order to save. Commenting on a recent survey carried out by Laura Haugh said “unfortunately government efforts to encourage schools to adopt a plain uniform policy earlier this year have not been successful”



Although sometimes costly, education is key, especially in the current economic climate and competition for jobs higher than ever. And it is good news for the Irish as according to a report published by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2013 “if current patterns of graduation continue, 89% of young people in Ireland today will obtain an upper secondary qualification in the course of their lifetimes”. This places Ireland above the OECD avgraderage of 39%. For people aged between the ages of 25-34 their education is now ranked behind only Canada, Japan and Korea.