• Friday, June 21, 2024
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BusinessDay

Stocking up on back-to-school supplies can cost less

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The school holidays are here and your mind probably has gone to rest – well not quite, because you still have responsibilities for daily upkeep and perhaps a babysitter. Most parents have yet to think for a second about back-to-school supplies because the “holiday is until September”. However, you can save a lot of money on your purchases were you to start planning now.

What we are suggesting may not be very convenient. But it works. The usual thing for many parents is to start planning probably a week to opening day in September. The problem with that is, when everyone is doing it at the same time, it creates disequilibrium at the supply end and invariably influence increase in prices. Using time to your advantage gives you the ability to buy when the price is right, and you won’t have be tempted to buy things at full price simply to cross them off your list.

On the flip side, some stores offer discounts in September to attract shoppers. So if you do want to wait, the choice is yours. Nevertheless, an early start gives you the advantage of buying at your convenience, you have options to consider, no large crowd influencing retail prices and you are sure to remember every necessary item on the list because you are not in a hurry.

When it comes to stocking up on back-to-school, “Mom knows best” rules do not usually apply. Involve the children. They can help you identify the items that are necessary and those that are not. This way you only buy the things that they need. Do not just take them shopping, also show them the budget and assign the task of identifying the best deals to them. Do not forget they may know their way around the internet more than you do or they might have friends whose parents have already scored a better deal. In fact, it could create an opportunity for bonding with them when you involve them in the process of setting up the budget with you.   

To start, we recommend you go back and pull out your child’s backpack and empty it. Take account of what is left and which of the items are still in good shape for school. You will be happy to discover the items that still have plenty of life left. This exercise can save the expense on items like erasers, pencils, pens, crayons and notebooks.

When you decide to buy, do not buy all supplies from one store. At the same time, note that specialist stationery stores can sometimes be the most expensive place to source your supplies. If you need something specific and/or high quality that may well be the place to go. Check out the sales fliers from different stores and plan your shopping accordingly. A school bag could be sold less in one shop while stationeries will cost less in another shop. Starting your shopping early ensures you are not in a hurry to run off with the first price you are given.

Also consider the prices online. Be on the lookout for the big back-to-school sales and order early. A smart way to save while shopping online is to order together with other parents or friends to reduce the amount on shipping. You can also buy bulk packs of supplies to share.  Avoid paying for name brand items when you do not have to. However do not compromise on quality.

FRANK ELEANYA