Back to school – all parents of school-age children will dread those words. We first start to see them in the media before the end of a school term has even ended. Advertisements from Aldi to Marks & Spencer – all designed to hook you into spending money hand over fist. But why?
You might call me a tight Yorkshireman (and you would be correct) but I simply can’t abide spending money unnecessarily. But the whole back to school “season” has, for me, become as over commercialised as Easter, Halloween, Guy Fawkes Night and even Christmas. It’s crazy.
Back to school spending
Back to school spending is simply out of control. According to Statica, UK parents spent and mind-boggling £1.48 billion in 2017 and that is estimated to rise to £1.63 billion in 2018. That figure makes me need to sit down in a dark room listening to whale music!
Why are we spending so much money every year? It has to be advertising that sucks parents into believing that they must buy everything new, every time. There’s no doubt that school is important. But do your little darling really need new shoes simply because it’s September? If the schools they took off in July and got lost at the back of the cupboard still fit and are in decent condition – why replace them?
These are times that see some parents struggling to feed their children. Is it socially responsible for retailers to use these pushy marketing campaigns to such effect? I don’t think it is, no matter how cheap they puport to be.
The thurst to buy new
I’ve said before that I love buying clothes from charity shops. Clearly, I have no issue with wearing second-hand clothes. I have no issue with my children wearing them, and neither do they. So the first thing about school uniform is that you don’t need to buy new. We got the primary school age children a massive pile of branded school sweaters from the second-hand stall at the summer fair back in July for £1 each. Why would we spend upwards of £10 on the same thing? Yes, this year we’ve bought nice new white shirts from George at Asda, but that’s because the old were ones outgrown and very well worn (read: worn out).
This summer our uniform shop on new items came to £50, all done online from Asda. That’s £50 for 4 girls! We buy new where needed, not because we feel we have to.
Not just about saving money
Okay, we do like to save money. We’ve been brought up to be thrifty and that’s okay. But our attitude towards back to school shopping isn’ just about saving the pennies. By reusing, repurposing and recycling we are helping the environment and reducing our carbon footprint.
Additionally, buy buying second-hand uniform from the fund-raising summer fair means we’re giving back to the school as well. It really is a win-win.
Dealing with the teenagers
Teenagers are a different breed. There is so much peer pressure upon them that if they wear the wrong thing or use the wrong highlighter then it can be a disaster. But, we have teenagers that have a resilient “couldn’t give a sh*t” attitude. Their stationery shop was done as Wilkinson and not WH Smith. I could have likely saved more money at Poundland, but I wanted a quiet life!
Again, we’ve topped up their uniform where necessary. And again, why buy things we don’t need to?
Look, if you want to go out and spend money unnecessarily and buy all new each time your little ones go back to school – then good for you. Personally, we’d rather save that money and treat the girls on something a bit more exciting.
How do you handle the back to school season?