Raising children is getting more and more expensive, and one of the greatest worries we have is being able to provide for our kids. With recent announcements about the budget, changes to Child Benefit and Child Tax Credits and staggering news about the rising cost of education, it’s wise to think about other ways to save money for our children.
We’ve discovered a website which allows you to do exactly that, in a way which suits your lifestyle and doesn’t cost you a cent.
KidStart is essentially a very clever shopping loyalty programme – but rather than earning points towards a holiday, you earn cold hard cash for your child’s bank account or Child Trust Fund. Obviously this sounded much too good to be true, so we thought we’d sign up and give it a closer inspection.
1. Choose a child (or children), school or charity
Signing up is completely free, easy and will probably take you less than a minute. On the Profile Page, you can add details for one or more children, or a school, or select one of a small but growing list of charities. In fact, you can even sign up while you’re pregnant and register Bump with its due date instead of a birth date.
2. Shop with your favourite online retailers
Kidstart has a growing list of 400+ trusted retailers, including Boots, Homebase, Waterstones, The Body Shop, Gap, John Lewis, Boden, Jojo Maman Bebe, M&S, Argo, Mothercare, ELC, Tesco, and even eBay. All you need to do is select the retailer, click through from Kidstart to the retailer’s website, and do your online shopping as usual.
3. Watch your child’s bank account or Child Trust Fund grow
This is the best part, by far! You can check your Kiddy Bank balance to see how much you’re saving, and check it against your bank statements. The pennies will soon start to add up!
What’s going on in the background?
The website will look exactly the same to you, and you’ll be able to take advantage of their online offers, use your store loyalty card, etc.
Meanwhile in the background, a little cookie on your web browser tells the retailer that Kidstart referred you, and allows Kidstart to track the purchase and earn commission for it on your behalf. They set aside some of that commission to cover their overheads and for essential maintenance and site security, and the rest goes straight to your online Kiddy Bank, and on to your chosen bank account or Child Trust Fund.
Are they biased?
At the moment there is a bit of a bias towards the larger retailers – after all, many small businesses don’t have enough of a profit margin to be able to offer commission schemes! If you want to support smaller, independent retailers or even individuals, one solution is to KidStart to visit their eBay shop.
Do all the purchases count?
There will be a few exceptions, and KidStart should be able to provide you with details about any restrictions for particular retailers.
Unless you’re about to make a large purchase (like buying a washing machine or something), it’s probably not worth worrying about too much. Just buy whatever you like from whichever retailers you choose, and the vast majority of those purchases will be eligible for a commission.
How to earn the most money possible
If you want to maximise the amount you save for your kids, you can check their detailed list of retailers and choose the ones with the highest return. You can also invite grandparents, friends and family to save money for your children with their purchases too.
Unless you do all of your shopping online, you should take advantage of the option to register your credit and debit cards as well. By doing this you allow KidStart to track your in-store purchases with some of the larger retailers.
The best bits
- There are no surprises or hidden costs – if they advertise 5 % back, you get the full 5%. Everything’s recorded in your KiddyBank so you can see which purchases have cleared and when, and know exactly how much money to expect in your child’s account that month.
- They’re approved and regulated by the FSA (Financial Services Authority), which will definitely put Grandma’s mind at ease.
- They’ve got a cute logo.
Overall, KidStart is great way to do some guilt-free Christmas shopping and to get some added benefits from your family holidays. Not only that, if you use it for your weekly grocery shopping too the drip-feed of pennies into your child’s account will really start to add up.
Save a Million for UK Kids Campaign
Once you’ve registered, a great place to start is the Save a Million campaign. Essentially, KidStart are tallying up the savings from their members in hopes of reaching a collective total of £1 million by Christmas. No, you personally won’t actually get £1 million pounds out of it, so stop rubbing your hands with glee. The idea is to open our eyes to the fact the all those pennies saved really do add up to something and can make a massive difference to the next generation. Aside from the tally, there is an entertaining and incredibly useful Ideas Forum, full of great money saving tips from other parents. You’ll find all sorts of tips there from smarter meal planning, holding joint birthday parties with your child’s friends and installing solar panels. Our favourite is from Doug:
Dont buy any sweets or crisps into the house – if the kids want some then they can walk to the shops and buy something – amazing how often they will put up with healthy food rather than trek to the shops
We’d love to know your thoughts about KidStart, and any other tips you have for saving money for your children. Please leave a comment or review below!