CAC Offers Advice on Efficient Back-to-School Shopping


With a little more than a week to go before the start of the new school year, many parents are still busy trying to purchase school supplies.
If you are one of those parents, Communication Specialist at the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC), Dorothy Campbell has a few tips that can help you to make the process less stressful on the mind and the pocket.
One of the first steps is to create a budget, listing all the items that your child needs before the start of the new school term. “We suggest that parents do this with the children in mind so that everybody gets a clearer understanding of what the real issues are in terms of finances, and in terms of what the child can and cannot have for the new school year,” she explains.
One of the primary items that should be on the budget is how much you will have to spend on textbooks and uniforms. In addition parents should also make a list of all related expenses such as school fees and costs for back-to-school medical check-ups.
The number one rule of any good budget is to shop around. While this may seem time consuming and challenging you can cut cost by using the telephone. “Find out what the cost of the items is at different places, if you drive it will save you on fuel, and if you have to take public transportation it save you on bus fare and taxi fare, so do some calls.
Make a list, have a notebook or something to write down the various prices from each store,” she advises.
Once a budget has been completed parents should start checking alternate sources for the items on their list. “Very often schools will provide items that will be at a lower price than on the open market. Schools will offer books at a reduced price than the open market, so it is best if you check with the school to see what’s available before you go out and make your purchases,” she advises.
Another way to save on the cost of books is to shop at book fairs, most schools usually advertise their fairs in the newspapers, so keep a watchful eye for these bargains.
“Find out from the school when they have resale of used books some schools offer that and you can go and get the text books at very discounted prices. If it’s a workbook of course you have to purchase it brand new but if it’s a textbook of course you can take advantage by purchasing those books,” Miss Campbell says.
Additionally parents should take advantage of the Ministry of Education’s text book rental programme, which provides many of the needed textbooks at the primary and secondary school level.
The best way to get books however is free of cost, so parents can make contact with family members, co-workers and our church family and find out if they have any of the books you need before running to the stores.
She also suggests that parents talk to their children before reusing or getting second hand items. “There is no shame in it and I think if you sit down and have a frank conversation with your children about what is important about their school life they will understand,” she says.
In terms of the shoes children are often attracted to the more fashionable ones. Parents are being encouraged to shop for shoes that are durable and will last an entire school year.
“There are shoes out there on the market that look good but when the child wears it, especially if you have a toddler who is kicking everything around you will find that the shoes do not last. We have local manufacturers here of school shoes that make very sturdy shoes that look good and they last forever.we recommend you buy these rather than buy something that has some bling factor and does not last very long and goes down the drain,” the Communication Specialists says. Eileen Chambers is a parent who strongly believes that parents should try and save as much as possible while shopping for their children.
“For the little accessories like the ribbons the clips, the hardcover books and stuff, I find that the wholesales are a good buy because they have reasonable prices. It is to know though which ones to go to get the quality that you require and you know that when you go you need to know what you want, you are not seeing everything out so you need ask for what you want but there are some in particular that you can get the quality that you would get in the traditional book store and its cheaper,” she said.
As the school year approaches parents should ensure that their children have a chance at receiving a good education by ensuring that the school fees are paid, the child has the required textbooks, school uniforms and other school supplies.

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