Getting ready for the new school year

With less than a week to go until the schools reopen, South African parents are in a frenzy with preparations for the new school year. With seemingly endless lists of school supplies, that seem to get longer each year, parents are having to fork out a lot. Moneybags journalist, Danielle Van Wyk, looks at a few ways in which parents can ready their kids and save in the process.

Marketing executive at fintech company MyBucks, Kirsten Reynolds suggests that parents often misjudge their budget when it comes to the purchasing of stationery, books, uniforms and transport.

And following this she advises that parents rather adopt a policy of ‘how much can I afford?’ versus the common mentality of ‘how much will it cost’. This is especially important against the backdrop of the ever rising cost of living.

Reynolds further outlines tips for parents to cut back on back-to-school costs:

Plan ahead

Making sure you are aware of your child’s stationery and book lists well in advance is an essential, as it enables you to leisurely assess what can be re-used, as well as compare different store prices before purchasing.

In some cases items can be carried down from older siblings, especially uniform items.

Purchase as soon as you are able

Putting things off until the last minute is never advisable and Reynolds even suggests that in those instances parents tends to spend more money than they can actually afford.

“When it comes to school uniforms visit the school second-hand or thrift shop before school closes to see if they can assist with any of your uniform requirements. They usually charge a fraction of the price you would pay in clothing outlets and often their stock is almost as good as new,” adds Reynolds.

Shop online

Many retailers have online facilities making it easier for you to leisurely compare and shop.

“Also keep a look-out for two-for-one specials and bulk discounts and if necessary team-up with family and friends to save where you can. Some retailers also offer discounts to specific schools, so check to see if this applies to your particular school,” states Reynolds.

Another tip to keep in mind when shopping this year is to ditch the credit cards and make use of cash, “Paying for supplies with cash allows you to keep an eye on your funds and to stay within your budget,” explains Tembisan.

Make sure you also regularly check weekly retail circulars when you are getting your weekly grocery shopping done.

Getting your child involved in the process and experience could also be a great learning curve for them as it not only teaches them budgeting basics but also gives them a sense of the cost of living and the value of money, highlights the Germiston City News.

Another place you can score is by making use of all the store card rewards you may have accumulated last year and not made use of yet.

As suggested by Eunice Sibiya, head of First National Bank (FNB) Consumer Education, “various retailers have rewards programmes such as cash back or points that accumulate. Don’t forget to use your points or cash back to save on purchases such as white school shirts at clothing retailers or lunch boxes at home stores. Alternatively, if you have gift vouchers lying around for which you could not find a purpose, make them work for you by cutting down on your school supply spending.”

Kids can be very persuasive and it is important to note that giving your child the best is not necessarily synonymous with giving them the most expensive. That being said make sure you shop for quality as opposed to trendiness to avoid having to do another big supplies haul mid-year, suggests Finances Online.com.