16 realistic money-saving tips for parents


Rising prices and dire warnings from the Bank of England are prompting parents across the UK to look for ways to cut costs. With everyone from the Prime Minister to energy suppliers dishing out advice that few of us welcome, at Classlist we’ve tried hard to find things that could help trim parents’ budgets. We’re not promising that these will be life-changing, but the little things do add up. Of course, not all of these will be appropriate for every family. It’s a pick and mix selection box of savings tips for you to consider if you are looking for ways to save money in 2022.


Carpooling or lift-sharing

As fuel prices continue to rocket, finding someone to share lifts to school is a time and money saver. If the only way to get to school is by car, check Classlist’s map feature to see if there are families close to you. If you aren’t yet friends with the closest families, consider using Classlist to reach out and arrange a time to meet and discuss a possible carpool. You’ll want to be sure you trust the other parents to be safe drivers!


Bulk meal prep

If you have a freezer, use it! You can freeze most things before they go off, even fresh herbs! If your vegetables are heading towards wrinkly, chuck them all in a roasting pan, add a couple of cans of tomatoes, some seasoning and bake. Add chickpeas or lentils before you cook and you’ve got a whole meal. Freeze your super-easy casserole into batches so you always have a midweek supper ready.

Packed lunches by children

Packed lunches are usually cheaper and often healthier than school dinners. It takes time to create packed lunches and can get very boring when children get fixated on eating the same thing each day. Ham and cheese sandwich, anyone? Push your child’s independence by getting them to prepare their lunch in the morning as soon as they are capable. You’ll find they waste less when it’s been their choice.

Snack swap

Instead of dishing out expensive pre-packaged snacks at home time, go prepared with a few biscuits and a handful of raisins; wrap in a homemade beeswax wrap for extra eco points. This is not only good for the environment (use this argument if the children complain) it’s also so much more affordable. 

Free food

Get the Olio app to find food items given away by companies including Tesco and Pret. This respectful app is all about sustainability and no-waste culture. It also happens to help everyone from people in most need to those trying to trim their budgets.

Uniform and school equipment

Second hand uniform

You can save £100s each year by buying uniform second-hand. As we all know, children grow like weeds and often end the year with pieces of uniform that have been barely worn before being too small. Buying second-hand uniform is easy using Classlist’s Marketplace feature. Some schools also have schemes to help if you’re in trouble. It’s a good idea to put aside some money each month into a uniform ‘pot’ so that it’s not a shock when you have to fork out for more uniform. 

Declutter and sell

Do the full Marie Konda on your home. Declutter specifically to sell. Engaging the children with this exercise helps teach them about the value of the things they own. You can sell second-hand uniform, toys, books, instruments, bikes, pet equipment, sports gear - remember, one parent’s trash is another parents’ treasure!

7 Steps to starting up a PTA guide

Are you considering setting up a PTA for your school? We applaud you!

But the daunting task of setting up a PTA from scratch (or restarting a lapsed one) can feel overwhelming. Just follow our 7-step plan and you’ll be flying in no time!

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Free stuff

Borrow don’t buy

When it’s World Book Day or you need to use a power tool to fix something - ask around. Your friends are bound to have things to use. Another planet and budget saving idea.

Take things off someone’s hands

Join the Freecycle community for your area. It’s amazing what you can pick up and totally for free. You’ll find everything from scooters, to shelves, to BBQs and textbooks. 


Babysitting circle

The cost of babysitters keeps most of us stuck at home night after night. Consider setting up a babysitting circle with friends if you aren’t comfortable with asking for favours. You can formalise the arrangement by ‘paying’ in tokens, which are then redeemed when you get ‘paid’ further down the line.

Keep children entertained for free in the school holidays

If you are blessed with living near the seaside, check out the Blue Flag scheme to find free, clean beaches to keep your children entertained for the price of getting there. Throw in a bus ride to avoid paying for parking and you’ve made the whole experience into an adventure. To find free parks and open spaces, head to the Green Flag Award

Free childcare during the holidays

Consider using Classlist to connect with other parents, find out how they’re coping and share the childcare during the holidays. Your children will have playmates, you’ll be able to keep what you’re earning. Having the responsibility of other children during your days off does add to your workload, but it could save a lot of money.

Toys and presents

Toy rental

Look into renting toys for an affordable and sustainable way to keep children entertained. Toy rental companies like Whirli let you choose the toys you want, keep them for as long as you like, then send back and swap for the next craze.

Presents on a budget

Presents - the endless round of children’s birthday parties in the early years can be a real strain. No-one worth knowing is going to judge you if you can’t afford a gift. A hand-drawn card or thank you letter afterwards really is enough. If you want to give a gift, look for discount vouchers and cashback websites. Pick up deals on toys as you see them if possible and save them for when you need them (you will).

Financial education

Planet-first approach reduces bills

Think eco-first to save money on household bills. Your child is more likely to remember to turn off the lights, or want to put an extra jumper on if they relate it directly to the planet. Appeal to their sense of justice for nature and they’ll create good habits for life.

Teach children about money

They’ll appreciate why trips to the cafe are to be savoured not expected if they realise how long it takes to earn the money that pays for it. Bank accounts designed for children are expensive however, with monthly fees that soon add up. Starting a free current account for your child is more cost-effective. Check out Hyperjar for a free prepaid debit card and app for the over-6’s.

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