How to handle back-to-school expenses in the UAE

back to school

The summer has finally ended and it is now time to send your little ones back to school. Unfortunately for most in the UAE, with a new school year comes another round of expenses.

And school costs don’t just stop once you’ve paid tuition fees; you’re still expected to pay for books, stationery, uniform and new shoes.

Happily, there are always ways to make a few dirhams back in savings.

School supplies

No matter how old your child is, they will need extra bits for the upcoming year. These costs are unavoidable, but if you’re smart about it then you could save yourself some money (even if it’s a few dirhams).

Before your child heads off to school, make sure you have a clear-out – don’t buy things that you already have. There’s no point in buying a top-of-the-range maths set when your child already has one stuffed away at the bottom of their bag.

If you want to try and save even more money, ask friends or family with older children if they could donate any spare supplies – there is nothing wrong with a hand-me-down, especially when it’s free.

RELATED: Top tips: Keeping up with rising school fees 


Every child needs a uniform but some of the prices can be extortionate. At the end of the academic year, shirts, trousers, PE kits, trainers and shoes are usually worn down and it can only feel natural to send your child into a new school year looking clean and fresh. But before you go spending your money, try sending the uniform off for a dry clean first – spending AED 5 for a decent wash will be a lot cheaper than spending AED 150 for a new school shirt.

If you’re really looking to save then there is a whole community of parents who are willing to offer hand-me-downs. Start looking on websites or talk to parents from your child’s class or school and you could end up finding yourself a complete set of shirts or sportswear for half the price.

Spread out the cost

It can be tempting to buy everything for your child straight away. But sometimes school rules can change or your child can grow two feet in a matter of months. Hold off on a few items until it’s completely necessary. Just because other parents have their child’s world book day costume ready plus the latest PE kit, doesn’t mean you should too.

If you hold off on buying certain items, you’ll probably find them at lower prices. Buying school items ‘off-season’ or during a sale (which Dubai is never short of) could see you grabbing a bargain on supplies, school uniform or even new school shoes. Buying items for the next two to three months is a safe enough option and it gives you plenty of time to find a better deal.

SEE ALSO: The best cashback credit cards in the UAE

 Credit cards

The bulk of your money will go to paying school fees. And seeing as UAE parents are among the world’s top spenders, paying more than double the global average, saving money on school fees will always be a welcoming offer to parents. Although paying with a credit card for your child’s school isn’t always the best option, there are ways you can save money when doing so.

When paying school fees with credit cards from banks such as Emirates NBD, Mashreq Bank and Standard Chartered, you can receive up to 10% cashback, a 0% fee installment plan or even a free smart device for your child.


Setting a budget for the school year can make a real difference when trying to save money. Work with what your child needs rather than what your child wants. There are plenty of shops that will entice children with the latest branded lunch box or technology, but if you start explaining to your child how to be smart with money then you could avoid spending extra in the future.

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