There’s plenty of articles about how to save money on school costs, but sometimes you’re caught unawares. We’ve put together a list of unexpected school costs, and what you can do to manage the impact!


Unless your children are home schooled, the chances are they’ll have to travel to get to school. These costs can add up, whether you’re driving them to the gate, or letting them sample the joys of public transport.

Free school travel- If your child has to travel two miles to school and they're under eight years old, or travel three miles to school and they're over eight years old, they could qualify for free travel. What's more, your child is also eligible if they have special needs or if you feel their walk is unsafe. You can find out more here.

Bus travel- your child can get discounted rates on bus services with School Cards and Boarding cards. These must be produced on every journey in order to get the discount.

Train travel- children aged between five and fifteen years old can get a 50% discount on most tickets.[]

Carshare- If you’d prefer to drive your kids to school, why not carshare? Either offer to take friends children and share the petrol costs, or you and a friend take it in turns to take the kids to school.


A cost which can quickly add up if you’re not watching is school meals, not to mention how to ensure your child’s eating properly.

Free school meals- your child could be eligible for free school meals. Read more here

Packed lunches- whilst packed lunches take some effort, they save money in the long run. By buying lunch ingredients as part of your weekly shop, and planning each week what to make for packed lunches, you can budget accordingly and make sure there’s no waste. We’ve also found some great lunch ideas here[]

School trips

It’s that dreaded moment when your child comes home with a letter about the latest school trip that all their friends are going on. Gone are the days when you visited the cardboard factory, kids today are going to New York and further afield.

Budget- Most schools will give you a couple of years warning if an expensive school trip is coming up, which gives you chance to budget and save for the trip.

Fund raising- If the trip is going to be expensive for a few families, why not organise fund raising events to help pay for the costs of the trip?

Part time work- If your child’s old enough encourage them to get a part time job to help cover the costs of the trip. They’ll learn about budgeting and how hard you work to get the money you earn!

Gifts- Why not ask family and friends to give money as birthday gifts which can then be used to pay for the school trip.

Legally, schools can charge for board and lodgings but not for activities during school hours. Also, schools are not allowed to make a profit on school trip fees. More information can be found here:


This one is especially for older children, who have more things to carry and need a suitable bag which will help them do this. There’s also the added problem that the bag needs to be the right kind of bag.

Older siblings- any older siblings who no longer need the bag could pass it down to your younger child?

Second hand- check out eBay, Amazon and second hand stores to see if they have the bag for a lot less. You never know, you might find a bargain!


From graphic design courses to science, kids will need more stationary as they go on.

Make a list- make a list of exactly what your child will need and then shop around for the best deals. That way you can get everything and save money in the process.

School second hand shop- does your school have a second hand or discount shop where you can buy essential school items? If so, check it out!

Older siblings- again any older siblings or friends who have these items and no longer need them?


Textbooks are another cost that can catch you unawares.

Free downloads- Are there websites where you can download textbooks for free?

Older siblings- look to the older siblings again! With a bit of luck, it may even come with some notes in it!

Second hand shops/school- speak to the school and see if they have any used copies which you can buy for less. Alternatively, look to second hand book shops to see if you can find the textbook.

Online- Sites like Amazon and eBay will stock used and new textbooks for less than you could find on the high street.

Rent- You can rent textbooks from sites like Textbook Rentals [] and Chegg [] let you rent text books for a small fee.

Printing homework

Some homework assignments may need your child to write reports and print them out, costing you more money.

Black & White- it may seem obvious, but printing in black and white is significantly cheaper than printing in colour. Where possible, print in black and white.

Doublesided- Save on paper and print on both sides, ultimately saving money.

Look out for discounts on paper- check supermarkets, the high street and online for discounts on paper so you’re not spending a fortune when you do need to replace it.

Sports Kits

You’ve bought the uniform but now you need a whole different set of clothes for gym time.

Shop around- sports kits can be easier to buy from supermarkets as they are more generic than uniforms. Shop around for items to save a bit of money.

Shop online- check online retailers to see if you can get some discounts. Remember to include delivery charges in the total cost of your item.


Shoes need to withstand a lot of wear and tear, especially when children are younger and running around!

Buy it cheap buy it twice- invest in quality shoes which will last longer and be more resilient to what your child throws at them!

Rubber toe- opt for shoes with a rubber toe in order to protect the shoes longer and avoid unnecessary scuffing.

Protection spray- cover the shoes in water proof protection to ensure they stay water proof for the rainy days of winter!

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