James Walker: How to ease the financial pain of raising children

So the holidays are over and the children 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.

Many parents sell or swap old school uniforms online.
Many parents sell or swap old school uniforms online.

Current estimates suggest it can cost upwards of £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 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 and what’s essential – and you can budget for the costs.

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◆ 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 children 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 children 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 children get in them.

◆ Children 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 stationery and other essential bits of kit? Plus you’ll avoid the oneupmanship with other parents and children over who’s got the best stuff.

◆ Why not 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 children 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 children so please get in touch on Twitter @WalkerResolver