With the new school year set to start in just a matter of days, Rose Miller, grants manager at the JN Foundation, is advising parents who are behind with their back-to-school shopping to “try not to stress”.

“It is easy to stress when you are behind on any task, but stress and panic will only make the situation far worse,” she said.

Miller, who is also head of the JN Bank BeWi$e financial empowerment programme, said the key is for parents to get organised and to start the process immediately.

“Though you’re shopping in a rush, you don’t want to overspend or to buy what you don’t need,” she advised.“Whether you’re starting out early or late, the principles to carry out your back-to-school shopping remain the same.”

She also noted that while the last-minute shopper might be working with very limited time, they are still in a position to take advantage of deals, and save on the cost of books and other school supplies for their children.

“Your first objective is to prepare a list and prioritise them, dealing with the most important items first; a budget should then be prepared. Uniforms and textbooks should generally be at the top of the list,” she stated.

Miller advised that parents don’t have to buy everything new, simply because it’s a new school year.

“It may be advisable to examine the condition of the uniforms your child has now to see if they fit and in a condition where they can still be worn,” she stated. Based on this, parents can then decide whether new uniforms are required.”

She noted that the same rule can be applied to items such as lunch kits, school bags, shoes and igloos. “This is why it is important to not only buy quality products, so that they last a longer time, but to also teach children how to take care of the items, thus reducing the need to purchase the same items each year.”

As regards textbooks, Miller noted that if funds are tight and parents are unable to buy all the required books at once, they must speak with their child’s teacher to ascertain which of the books are most essential, as opposed to those that can be purchased at a later date.

“In this way, you will be able to ensure that your child has the most important books for the first few months of the school year,” she reasoned.

The JN Foundation grants manager added that when purchasing textbooks, parents should do their research, shop around, and try to access books, at the most affordable prices.

“Use the telephone or go online; and, you won’t waste time and gas driving around from store to store,” she advised. “Also, it is still not too late to ask friends and relatives to help you source used textbooks.”

Miller also recommended that saving for back-to-school expenses is critical, pointing out that parents should have started putting money aside months ago.


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