CAP Column – September 2020

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Lift the pressure of September spending

As well as the beginning of a new school year, September also marks 100 days until Christmas Day on the 16th. We know that both of these events can bring additional pressure when you’re living on a tight budget. Here are a few tips to help you save a little and spend less this month.

Reuse school uniforms if you can

Due to the lockdown, your kids’ school uniforms and PE kits may have had less wear than they normally would this year. If they’re in good condition and still fit, this could be a welcome money saver. Check before you buy new.

Swap and save with other families

If your kids have outgrown their clothes or shoes, how about organising a school uniform swap with other families in your area? There are loads of Facebook groups set up to do exactly this so check if there’s one in your area. If not, you could set one up yourself. You can bet there will be a lot of grateful parents.

Find out if you qualify for help with uniform costs

If you really do need to buy new uniform and PE kit, make sure you check what help is available in your local area via the council. Visit gov.uk/help-school-clothing-costs to check if you’re eligible.

Remember that you don’t need to buy everything all at once. Take the pressure off yourself and make a plan based on what you urgently need and what could wait a little while until you have more cash saved up.

Label it to keep it safe

Get yourself a laundry marker from the supermarket or online and label each item of uniform. This way, it will find its way back to you if it gets lost, and you won’t have to spend money on replacements.

Plan and save for Christmas

Once the school uniforms are sorted, it only seems two minutes before we start turning our attention towards Christmas. Thankfully, there’s still plenty of time to plan ahead and start saving towards the costs.

Think about what’s most important to you and prioritise your spending. Is it having a nice family meal and get-together? Or is it making sure that each person has a gift to open? Maybe it’s a combination of things. Either way, plan your budget carefully in advance so that you know what you can and can’t afford, and how much you need to save up.

Try saving just £1 per day – that’s £100 saved by Christmas Day. How many turkeys, spuds and sprouts could you buy with that?

Make a list to avoid impulse buys

To help you stick to your budget, it’s a good idea to make a list of what you need to buy and tick things off as you get each item. Then have a look at what offers are available in the shops. Maybe you could have a box, storage cupboard or space in the freezer to set aside and save any tinned, packet or frozen foods that are on special offer. Why not do the same with presents? Just remember where you hide them!

Spend time, not money

Let’s not forget that Christmas doesn’t have to mean splashing out. What do you remember most about Christmases when you were a child? Is it the presents or the memories? We can find a lot of joy in spending time with loved ones without having to spend money. Keep an eye out for events that your local church is planning over the festive season – a carol service could be the ideal opportunity to spend a few hours together as a family.

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Christians Against Poverty (CAP) is a UK charity which, through local churches, delivers debt counselling, money management, job clubs, life skills groups, and support for people breaking habitual dependencies. 

Visit capuk.org to find out more.