Do your homework on back to school costs

June 22, 2023

The summer holidays may only be starting, but it’s no harm to start planning ahead for the upcoming school year. Get top marks by planning your budget in advance.

Here’s a look at our top back to school money saving measures.

Work out your budget

Now’s the time to sit down and estimate how much you will need. Our budget planner will help you figure out how much everything is going to cost and what you can afford to spend.

Costs tend to increase when children transition from primary to secondary school. You’ll need to factor in additional expenses if your child is starting secondary. This applies particularly to books and uniforms, but can also mean extra money for after school activities, school trips and electronic devices.

Free school book scheme

The free primary schoolbooks scheme launches this coming school year 2023/24. It will ease the burden on families by providing schoolbooks, workbooks and copy books to children in recognised primary schools and special schools. Parents will not have to pay any contribution towards schoolbooks. The new scheme will not apply to secondary schools.

Many schools sell second-hand books, you can check your school’s website for details. There may also be a book rental scheme in operation which may save you money. Swapping books with other families is also a long-standing option, you could ask other parents or a parent teacher association about this.

If you have to buy brand new books, make sure to compare their prices in bookshops and online.


Uniforms can use up a large portion of your budget. Check if buying second-hand uniforms is an option. Find out from your school or other parents if there are any second-hand uniform sales near you. Keep an eye on social media and local websites.

Many shops run sales in advance of the new school year. You may be able to get special 2-for-1 offers on school clothes. Summer sales will kick in during the next few weeks so there may be bargains to be had on school clothing.

More uniform and money saving tips.

Financial support

If you are struggling with back to school costs, supports are available. People receiving certain social welfare allowances can apply for the back to school clothing and footwear allowance. There are also supports available for school transport and exam fees. Voluntary and community organisations such as the Society of St. Vincent De Paul also have a range of supports for people who are living on very low incomes and may be able to help towards the costs of education.

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