We know things will be a bit different when schools go back on Tuesday. But one thing that won’t have changed is the cost. Shoes, uniform, bags and PE kit, maybe even a bike to get there or a laptop for homework—it adds up.

Last year, parents spent over £1.7 billion on back-to-school purchases, with an average of £300 per child. Phew.

And while most of us won’t spend as much as that, making it work can still be a real worry. That is especially true in a year with plenty of financial uncertainty already.

It’s worth checking out our handy money-saving tips for ways to save, and some families in Southwark may also be eligible for a £45 grant towards school uniform costs. But the reality for many families is that even after stretching the pennies, they’ll still need to borrow..

That’s why we created our Family Saver Loan. It gives families with kids the flexibility to borrow flexibly throughout the year. It’s also much cheaper (and fairer) than rip-off high street or online lenders too.

With a Family Saver loan, you can borrow up to £600 at 3% per month (42.6% APR). You repay the loan directly from your child benefit payments, so budgeting is simple, and there are no worries about forgetting repayments. Most families with children under 18 receive child benefit, so unlike some of our loans, you also have a good chance of being accepted, even if you are on a lower income or not in work at the moment.

Representative example: £600 at 42.6% APR

How it works

  • When you arrange to have child benefit paid into a credit union account, you can borrow up to £600. This can increase to £1,200 possible on future loans. You can use the money for any one-off costs such as childcare, school uniforms or anything else. You’ll pay 3% per month interest (42.6% APR).
  • Anything left over goes into your membership account to save towards Christmas, holidays or another goal.
  • Once you’re signed up, you will be able to join our revolving loan scheme. This will allow you to apply for future loans quickly and conveniently by sending a text.

Other to save money on back to school costs

  • Hang on to old uniforms, which you can often pass down to younger siblings
  • Check out Facebook Marketplace, Nextdoor and other local groups for parents with children in an older year looking to sell on items like blazers and PE kit, which can be more expensive to buy new.
  • Basics like shirts, trousers and skirts are often the same whatever the school, giving you the opportunity to buy them elsewhere. At this time of the year, department stores, charity shops and even supermarkets have special deals, so you may be able to grab a bargain.
  • Shop around for a deal on technology such as laptops. You can often get a better spec for the same money if you buy a second-hand, reconditioned or ex-display item.
  • Prepare for the unexpected by building up savings when you can. Even if you are only able to put away £5 or £10 per month, it can be a real lifesaver to have an emergency fund of £100 or £200 nestled away in your Credit Union membership account.
  • Set up a Young Saver accounts for your child. These accounts offer a great way for them to learn how to manage money and help get them into a savings habit. Getting them their own account also encourages them to take greater responsibility for extras