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Best back to school freebies & top ways to save money

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Editor's note: this blog was originally written in September 2016 and has been updated for clarity and with the latest information.

Back to school shopping can be an absolute nightmare.

Who knew kids can grow so much in a short space of time? And since when was a new backpack an absolute school necessity? 

Making sure your kids are prepared for the start of the school year is priceless, but all the costs can quickly add up. So how do you stick to a budget and find back to school freebies? Glad you asked.

Back to school written on wooden scrabble blocks, placed on yellow lined paper

How to get back to school freebies

There's a freebie for pretty much everything, including back to school gear. Before you shell out cash on new things, take a look online for all the freebies you can score to make back to school that bit easier on the purse strings.

Cashback apps like Shopmium and CheckoutSmart should be your first stop to snap up free food for lunchboxes. The offers change regularly, but previous food/drinks have been:

  • Walkers Poppables
  • Sparkling Ribena
  • Robinson's Refresh'd
  • Laughing Cow Cheese
  • Organic Fruit Juice
  • Hippeas Organic Puffs
  • Leibniz Chocolate Biscuits

...and that's just a small selection. Shopmium and CheckoutSmart also showcase lots of fab discounts, so be sure to download both and regularly check to see what's new.

Product testing trials are a great way to try out new products for free. As a parent, companies are particularly keen to get your opinion on new products for children and babies so it's well worth signing up to see what sort of things you can try out for free.

Companies like The Insiders, BzzAgent and Mumsnet are all faves here at Magic Freebies. As product testing trials are time limited the offers change regularly, but these previous trials are perfect back to school freebies:

  • Fruit Shoot Hydro Bottles
  • Quorn Frozen Mine/Crispy Nuggets/Cocktail Sausages
  • Persil Powergems Bio
  • Arm & Hammer Toothpaste

Sign up now and remember to check regularly to see what product trials become available.

Top tip!

Make sure your application is as detailed as possible. The more information you provide (and the keener you seem!), the more likely you'll be selected.

Want freebies now?

Find out how to get a free £5 voucher for kikki.K and a free £5 voucher for Paperchase. Perfect for back to school stationery!

Got an A-Level Maths student in your house? Why not order them a free Mathscard to help with revision.

How to save money on back to school stuff

Red apple placed on top of stack of books

Take a stock inventory around your house

What do you already have in the house?

Make sure you're not doubling up on items that cost you money this time last year and haven't been touched yet. Could that jumper last another year?

We've all had that sinking feeling when we buy a duplicate item and bring it home and find we have the exact same thing, so take a stock check before you go shopping for back to school essentials. It will save you both time and money.

Give yourself and your kids a budget

It's important to teach kids how to manage money from a young age. That way, they will eventually learn that if you're super-tight for cash, you can't just buy that pretty backpack or expensive football trainers.

Have a rough budget in your own head on how much you want to spend and give your kids a small budget so they can buy their favourite stationery and accessories. This will also help teach them to prioritise and value their items if it's come from our of their own pocket. 

Sell before you buy

If you do find yourself with duplicates that are brand new or even slightly used or outdated, they could be exactly what someone else is looking for.

Sell unwanted books and gadgets via online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay. That way, you can make a bit of cash before you splash out on new gear for your children. 

Save money on stationery

Collection of different back to school stationery, including highlighters, pens, scissors, pencils and more

Stationery is one of the unavoidable outgoings for back to school. While you may not need to get every colour of gel pen available, or a brand new pencil case every year, it's important that your little one has the right equipment to help their learning.

Buy on eBay and get Nectar points

If you fancy a break from the high street, why not check out online marketplaces like eBay?

A lot of sellers offer brand new stock or you can get a bargain on nearly new school supplies. Plus, with eBay you earn nectar points on your purchases.

The Pound Shop is your best friend

I'm not sure if pound stores still have the same stigma that they used to, but they definitely shouldn't. Their stationery aisle is an absolute life-saver and this is definitely the place to go for last minute items you may have forgotten off your list. 

Always be on the lookout for coupons

Pick up magazines and free newspapers which often contain free coupons for things like pencils, books, and computer accessories.

Does your child have a favourite cereal? Keep a keen eye on the cereal boxes, which often promote special back to school deals.

Save money on uniform

This is the most important thing. Your child needs a uniform, but it's pretty pricey and they outgrow it so quickly! It's not just a shirt and trousers. It's shoes, jumpers, blazers, a tie and even a PE kit.

Panic! 

Here are some ways you can cut costs when it comes to bagging your uniform. 

Look at the places you shop for groceries

It's not the first place you'd look, but plenty of supermarket chains like Asda and Tesco often have the best deals. This might seem obvious to some, but did you think of Aldi and Lidl?

They both have great back-to-school sections with amazing discounts on uniforms, stationery and (obviously) food.

Go to outlet stores

Clarks is a parent favourite for providing good quality school shoes, but they come at a price. If you're on a budget, why not try one of their outlet stores? Chances are you'll pick up a bargain. 

Label everything

I can't tell you how many times I've heard parents complain that their child's jumper's been stolen or a kid has picked up the wrong thing. Labelling your clothes will save you money replacing items in the long run. 

Host a clothing swap with other parents

If you're friends with other mums with children, why not host or co-host a uniform clothes shop with them? They may have clothes from older kids that you could use or vice versa and it will save you buying brand new.  

Save money on lunches

Are your kids bored of cheese sandwiches and an apple? Why not mix it up a little and take it in turns to make lunches for your kids and their friends with other parents?

That way they get a healthy, varied lunch every day and you get a break from the kitchen. It also works out cheaper! 

Hopefully these tips will help you save some cash this time around when shopping for back to school goodies. Let me know if you have any tips of your own!

Collette x