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Back to school: at what a cost?

school stationeryNext week school summer term begins: and we are ready for it, with the homework done and the uniform already ironed. Fortunately, junior has not yet undergone a massive growth spurt: unlike many of his 12 year old friends who surely must be eating Miracle Grow on their cornflakes. He still fits the school shoes bought last summer though I’m sure a nicer (and richer) mother would be taking him off to Clarks to check they do actually fit. His school blazer is tight, but I reckon we can get away with it for another term.

However I did have to buy a new pair of trainers (£40!) as his toes were poking out of the old ones. And I’ve also had to shell out for a pencil case complete with all the gear. He seems to break a huge number of rulers/set squares/compasses and protractors – I can’t imagine it’s from too much geometry but probably from general year seven warfare. His schoolbag too could do with replacing as it’s obviously been used as a goalpost too often. But I might try to repair it instead. All in all, it’s a jolly expensive operation sending kids to school: just as well I’ve only got the one. Research from American Express says that parents spent on average £282 last year on school stuff: that sounds pretty conservative to me.

So how do I pay for it? We are going through a period of austerity in this household at the moment which includes finding hidden delights in the ice wastes of the freezer to eat. We have cut back on going out much – this is easier now the weather’s better and we aren’t confined to the house. Better weather also means cheaper heating bills and less long-cooked comfort food. It also means the washing can go outside rather than in the tumble dryer.

What I’m not doing is bunging everything on the credit card: all that does is store up the debt for another day. If we run out of cash (and work remains scarce, so this will undoubtedly happen) then I’ll dip into the savings. Of course, eventually the savings will run out: I’m trying not to think about that day. Hopefully, by then the boy will be out of school so I won’t have to shell out for any more stationery and shoes for him.


See our guide to debt here

When some things are too cheap
Charlotte is off for a week

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Saturday, 20 April 2019