Be aware during Back to School Shopping

January 14, 2019

The new primary and secondary school year heralds new opportunities for students to broaden their horizons and set themselves up for success. 

During this time parents will do back to school shopping in order to adequately prepare their children for the school year. Therefore it is important to note that your back to school purchases do not need to break the bank. 

There are numerous ways that consumers can save money during this time. One of the best ways to do this is to value the function of back to school products over their form. While some consumers may feel the need to purchase branded school supplies, it is important to note that non-branded items will serve the exact same purpose. A child with a simple backpack or non-branded stationeries can still do well in school. 

A good start is to look at the school supplies that can be reused this year. If school bags and school uniforms from the previous school year are still in good condition, consider reusing them. A simple wash can do wonders for these items. Even if your child’s teacher has not provided a list of school supplies, you cannot go wrong by sticking with the basics and taking advantage of back to school sales. 

Some advice to heed is to make a shopping list and ensure that you stick to the list. This will help you monitor your spending and stay within your budget.  Stationery, school bags, uniforms, sandals and other footwear should all be included in this list.  Once this list is made, consumers should carefully note what school supplies can be reused from last year and remove these items from the list. There should also be a rough price range for the items that you are willing to purchase. 

The entire exercise of back to school shopping can also be a chance to teach your children the basics of budgeting and saving money. It is also an opportunity to teach children how to discern the quality of certain back to school items and decide when to spend more on an item. 

Student consumers can also be taught to carefully inspect the back to school products and ensure that there are no defects such as faulty buckles on sandals or even poor stitching on bags and uniforms. 

Grouping the items on your shopping list into essential items and non-essential items will also help to ensure that you prioritise your purchases.

Budgets are a further important component at this time. There must be financial boundaries and limits set and this is another opportunity to teach student consumers about the value of money. This eliminates any form of impulse buying which both parties may regret later.

Many traders will offer sales on school supplies in January, however parents need to find out for themselves if these sales are genuine or gimmicks designed to lure consumers. 

Check weekly guides for great deals on exercise books, stationeries, lunch boxes, juice bottles, etc. and get your weekly grocery shopping done at the same time. Buying everything in one place will save time and fuel money.

It is also very important to note that there are instances where spending a higher amount initially on an item, will actually save money.  Leaky pens will cost you more in ruined clothes and pencil cases than a better quality but more expensive variety. In the event that a strap or a buckle falls off, a sandal with a warranty might be a good investment, even if it costs more. Not every costly item will last as long as you’d like and it is important to consider these purchases carefully. Take calculators, for example.

Math teachers advise that you not purchase one with more functions than your child will use so that she learns and uses those functions. But as she advances in math, your junior school or high school student will likely need to replace her scientific calculator with a one suitable for higher classes.

Read the labels of products to ensure you are aware of the contents, durability of the item, any special conditions, etc. Also, be careful of “Buy One and Get One Free” promotions. Sometimes such promotions are used to get rid of inferior quality products or products that are not fast moving.

Consumers should also shop at stores that offer honest deals. This may mean traveling the extra mile, but it may save money. You need to know which shops offer you best prices and good quality uniforms, books, stationeries and other essential items. And the best way to do this is to check the newspapers for their range of prices.

It is also important to ensure that you are not misled by back to school advertisements. The Council has recorded cases where products have been advertised at one price but are listed at a higher price in store.

You also do not have to buy all your supplies from one store. You could shop around and pick and choose items that may be better quality from a certain shop or better priced. However if the prices are just a few cents different it may not be worth the extra fuel or inconvenience doing this.

Finally when you are queuing up at the counter always observe the scanner so that prices displayed on the items you are buying are correctly recorded on the cash register.

 Many have been duped into paying more because of incorrect advertisements or scanning error of cashiers. Calculate your bill before you reach the counter, so that if it does not tally with the cashier’s figure, you can quickly alert them to the mistake.