Tackling Back to School Costs: Advice for a Stress-Free Start

As the new school year approaches, the excitement of starting afresh and embarking on new academic adventures can sometimes be overshadowed by the financial strain that back-to-school shopping may bring. At Central Liverpool Credit Union (CLCU), we understand the importance of equipping your children for success while staying within your means. This article aims to provide practical advice and guidance to help you navigate back-to-school shopping on a budget. Remember,
as a non-profit community savings & loans co-operative, we are here to support and empower you to make informed decisions for a financially secure future.

Take Inventory

Before hitting the shops, take a thorough inventory of what your child already has. Check their school supplies, clothing, and any other essential items from the previous year that can still be used. This includes backpacks, lunch boxes, stationery, and school uniforms. By assessing your existing resources, you can identify the items that are genuinely needed for the upcoming academic year, reducing the chances of unnecessary purchases.

Set a Budget

Establish a reasonable budget for your back-to-school shopping. Look at your current financial situation and determine how much you can comfortably afford to spend without straining your finances. Consider other potential expenses, such as school fees or extracurricular activities. Having a clear budget in mind will help you prioritise your purchases and avoid overspending.

Make a Shopping List

Create a detailed shopping list based on the inventory and the school’s requirements. Start with the essentials, such as textbooks, notebooks, pens, pencils, erasers, and rulers. Check if any specialised supplies are necessary for specific classes or activities. Additionally, include clothing and footwear needed for school uniforms or dress code compliance. Stick to the list to avoid impulsive buying and stay focused on essential items.

Shop Smart and Look for Sales

Keep an eye out for back-to-school sales and discounts offered by various shops and online retailers. Many stores provide attractive promotions during this season to attract customers. Take advantage of these deals to save money on school supplies and clothing. When shopping, consider purchasing generic or store-brand items, as they often offer comparable quality at lower prices than well-known brands.

Consider Second-hand Options

Exploring second-hand shops, charity stores, or online marketplaces can be an excellent way to find quality school items at a fraction of the price. Look for gently used backpacks, clothing, and textbooks. Some schools or local communities might also organise uniform swaps or sales, enabling you to exchange or buy second-hand uniforms from other parents. Buying second-hand can significantly reduce your back-to-school expenses while still ensuring your child has what they need.

Involve Your Children

Include your children in the budgeting process and educate them about the importance of making wise financial choices. Discuss the budget with them and let them know the limits and constraints. By involving them, you can encourage responsibility and help them understand the value of money. This can also be an opportunity for them to learn about prioritising needs over wants and making informed decisions.

Plan for Future Expenses

Remember to plan for future expenses that may arise during the school year. These might include field trips, school events, extracurricular activities, or unforeseen emergencies. Setting aside a small portion of your budget for these potential costs will ensure that you are prepared for any unexpected expenses that may come up during the academic year.

Explore CLCUs Services

As a member-owned credit union, CLCU offers a range of financial services designed to support you in times of need. We currently offer a School Uniform Loan, designed to ease the burden and ensure that every child can attend school with the proper attire. Our School Uniform Loan provides existing members with a convenient and affordable way to cover the cost of school uniforms. With flexible repayment terms and competitive interest rates, this loan option allows parents and guardians to access the funds they need without sacrificing their financial stability. For more information, or to apply for the loan, click here.


Back-to-school shopping on a budget requires thoughtful planning and resourcefulness. By taking inventory, setting a budget, making a shopping list, shopping smartly, considering second-hand options, involving your children, and planning for future expenses, you can navigate this season with confidence.

At Central Liverpool Credit Union, we are dedicated to empowering you with the knowledge and support to make informed financial decisions. By following the advice provided, we hope you can enjoy a stress-free back-to-school season, knowing that you have taken steps towards securing your financial well-being.

Remember, we are here for you every step of the way, offering the support and understanding you need for a brighter financial future.