How to save money on back-to-school uniform and supplies

Paul Bailie, Lisburn Christians Against Poverty debt centre manager, on how to save valuable money with these simple steps when it comes to preparing for back-to-school

Paul Bailie, Lisburn Christians Against Poverty debt centre manager
Paul Bailie, Lisburn Christians Against Poverty debt centre manager

It seems as if the children are only just out of school when adverts start popping up for back-to-school supplies.

Whether it’s uniform, stationery or new lunch bags and water bottles, these tips will help you shop savvy to save pounds while getting everything you need for the kids.

Look at what you’ve got already

The kids were in and out of school so much over the last year, so what you’ve already got might still be in good nick.

If uniforms fit and there’s stationery in the kids’ pencil cases, then don’t feel under pressure to spend on new stuff just because it’s that time of year.

Get the kids involved too – teach them savvy shopping and saving skills to set them up for success in the future.

Outgrown uniform?

If your kids have outgrown their uniform and it’s still in good condition, consider organising a uniform swap-shop.

You can bet that lots of other parents will thank you for it.

Maybe there’s already something set up in your area – do a quick online search to see what uniform swap-shops may be available for your kids’ schools.

Alternatively, check out the new School Uniform Bank based at Trinity Methodist Church, Lisburn.

These are both great ways to get cheaper uniforms, especially if your child is moving schools this year.


Remember to check what support you may be eligible for from the council if you’re on certain benefits via

Make a list

Make a list of anything else you might need to get. Whatever needs updating, it’s always a good idea to write it all down in advance.

That way you’re less likely to forget something or be caught out by impulse buys.

Schools often provide new starters with a list of what’s needed, but try to get in touch with other parents before shelling out cash for every item.

There may be some things on the list that are nice-to-haves but aren’t essential.

Ways to save on stationery

Why spend pounds on notebooks, pens and pencil cases when you could spend pennies?

Often high street stationery stores can be costly and you end up paying for brands or fancy designs, so don’t be drawn in.

Budget stores often offer a wide range of back-to-school equipment at lower prices. Also, shopping online is a great way to avoid the ‘I want this and can I have this?’ conversations with the kids.

Label everything

Don’t forget to add a laundry marker pen to your list of back-to-school supplies. Label everything so that lost items will find their way back to your child and you won’t have to shell out to replace them.

Budgeting for school dinners

If you’re worrying about how to pay for school dinners for your children, consider packed lunches.

There are some great healthy recipes that you could use and if you plan ahead it could be a cheaper alternative.

Check out

You may be eligible for free school meals if you’re on certain benefits – you can find out and apply through your local council.

About Christians Against Poverty

Christians Against Poverty (CAP) is a UK charity with over 580 services across the country delivering debt counselling, money management education, job clubs, life skills groups and more. To book an appointment with the Lisburn CAP debt centre, phone CAP Debt Freephone on 0800 328 0006 or visit to find out more.

You can also contact Lisburn CAP debt centre manager Paul Bailie directly by emailing [email protected]