Strict new terms

Parents going through their financial documents as their children get ready for the school term.
Parents going through their financial documents as their children get ready for the school term.

The summer break gives many parents a welcome opportunity to spend some extra time with the children.

But it also means spending a lot of extra money, something which spirals even more in the final few weeks, with the shopping list of new uniforms, stationary, books and excursions.

In fact, a new survey from the Money Advice Service (MAS) carried out among around 1,000 parents with children aged between four and 11, found that while the average back-to-school spend comes to £180, a staggering 9% of parents think they’ll have to find £900 or more.

Naturally, this means one in five parents are planning to dip into their savings, 16% expect to use a credit card, 8% think they’ll rely on an overdraft and 2% will resort to taking out a loan.

It might sound overwhelming, but there are some ways of cutting the costs of the new term. One fifth of those surveyed used coupons, promotions and offers, while n early one third relied on good, old-fashioned hand-me-downs.

Jane Symonds, a money expert at the MAS, says: “Most parents enjoy spending more time with their children during the summer holidays, but after the cost of days out and keeping the kids entertained, the annual back-to-school spend comes at the worst possible time for many.

“We all want the best for our kids, but parents need to be realistic about what they can and can’t afford. Making use of special offers, vouchers and second-hand items can all help keep costs in check.”

The MAS, set up by Government to offer money tips, has a ‘back to school’ planner tool on its website, www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/tools/back-to-school-planner.

There isn’t much respite for parents’ wallets as the kids grow older either, with new research from Gocompare.com finding that three in five (61%) parents with offspring aged between 16 and 19 have offered incentives such as cash, clothes, holidays, driving lessons and even cars as a reward for achieving good grades. The average size of the rewards was estimated at £610 across the UK, ranging from £982 for youngsters in London to £363 for those living in the East Midlands.

A new report from independent estate agents’ network Move With Us suggests that if you want to sell up by Christmas, the average deadline day across the country is September 28.

Typical selling times are calculated from when a property is first marketed online to when it is sold subject to contract.

There are huge regional differences in how long a property is likely to stay on the market though, and the report suggests that home owners living in the North East would have typically had to put their property on the market by August 9 to sell by Christmas, while Londoners can potentially wait three months later and should have their home on the market by November 12. In Wales the suggested date is August 18 and in Scotland, September 10.

To be ready to sell, Move With Us suggests making sure you have all your documentation ready early on in the process as well as having a de-clutter to make sure buyers can see your home to its full potential.