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JIS News

Planning, budgeting, making a list, shopping around, and spending wisely, are some of the recommendations that the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC), is encouraging parents to consider, when shopping for back-to-school supplies.
Communications Specialist at the CAC, Dorothy Campbell, emphasises the importance of parents separating wants from needs when planning and budgeting for back-to-school items for their children, in order to spend wisely.
“You should start from a planning point, you should start where you sit the children down and tell them exactly what the situation is, how much you have to spend to get the things that are needed, and what will have to wait,” Miss Campbell advises.
The next step, the Communications Specialist points out, is to “network with the school, teachers or parents, to find out what are the necessary items…the things that your child needs to have (on) the first morning of school. Make sure you understand what those things are, in order to determine the things that you can wait to acquire at the next pay cheque or the next few months.”
Parents, she advises, should make a list of what is available at the school, since the institutions will, more often than not, provide items at a lower price than on the open market. A list, she adds, also allows parents to practice controlled shopping and prevent them from depending on memory and overspending.
“Make sure that your child is aware of what is on the list, and do not allow him to manipulate you into buying things that you can’t afford or that are not on the list,” Miss Campbell warns, adding that once you have shifted the budget to the higher end, you might not be able to purchase anything else on the list that may be necessary.
Another option, she informs, is for parents to seek advice from other parents, whose child attends the same school. This, she notes, may result in a further benefit, as those parents may offer second hand books and supplies.
Miss Campbell also advises parents to pool with friends or other parents, in buying basic school supplies such as pencils, pens, art and craft items, and scrap books, in order to secure them at wholesale or bargain prices.
Regarding longevity of purchases, the Communications Specialist stresses the need for persons to procure items that are of a high quality that will last for some time.
“When you go out to shop for school items, make sure you understand the quality that you are picking up. Poor quality items only last a short time, then you have to replace it. It costs you more to replace these items than if you had just bought something of a better quality at a higher price,” she reasons.
Turning to textbooks, which are critical to back-to-school shopping, Miss Campbell says parents should entertain the various options available, and settle on the one that best meets their budget.
In instances where parents decide to purchase a new book from the bookstore, she directs them to the CAC’s Annual School Textbook Survey results, which will be available by mid-August at: www.consumeraffairsjamaica.gov.jm .
The survey will assist parents in “ascertaining where the best prices on new books are available, in their parish or town,” she tells JIS News. Otherwise, the Communications Specialist suggests that parents do comparisons, by calling or visiting bookstores in order to get the most competitive prices.
Miss Campbell urges parents to exercise proper money management, and spend wisely when shopping for textbooks.
“Try and find out exactly what the kids need for the term, and start with that immediate term. Do not try to shop for everything for the entire year and put yourself under unnecessary stress,” she advises.
She adds that parents should avoid purchasing the wrong textbooks, by taking a copy of the booklist when shopping, rather than relying on memory.
“It is important to match the author’s name, the volume, the book number, whether it is Book One or Book Two, (and) whether or not it is the revised edition. They have to check for these things, because each year, or very soon after one edition, you have a new edition being published,” Miss Campbell emphasizes.
She further says that parents should “ensure that textbooks are wrapped, kept in good condition, and that no permanent marks are made in them. This way, you can sell or exchange them next term, thus reducing next year’s back-to-school expenses.”
She also advises parents to explore all the possible options for sourcing textbooks, including the school book rental scheme, second hand books from family and friends, as well as from stores offering second hand books for sale.
“We want to encourage persons to be smart, work out what is necessary, what is needed, manage the amount you have wisely, and remember the miscellaneous costs that pop up in the middle of the semester…don’t spend on the things that are not important for learning,” she warns.
Miss Campbell suggests the following tips:. For school supplies, take advantage of bargains and buy multiple quantities that the child may need further in the year. If you purchase two pairs of shoes, pants or shirts, buy the second pair a size or two larger, as the child may grow by the time he or she is ready to use these items;. When buying notebooks, try getting those with hard covers as they tend to last longer;. Before purchasing new uniforms, examine those the child already has to see if they can still be worn, then decide how many additional ones are needed. (Some schools have ready-made uniforms available on sale to their students. This may prove less expensive than buying the fabric and accessories and having the garments made by a professional tailor or dressmaker). . When buying shoes, ensure they are of quality workmanship and fit properly. Avoid impulse shopping and ensure that you are getting the best quality. Check shoes for stitched or glued soles. Check to ensure that eyelets, laces and or buckles do not break or fall off easily. . Do not be fooled into thinking that ‘brand names’ are synonymous with better quality; the generic or not so popular brands may last longer. Insist on comfort and durability then incorporate style. . When buying ready-made clothes or having them made, ensure that buttons are sewn on strongly, zips work easily, there is a seam allowance, and that there are no loose threads to give the clothes an untidy appearance;. . When buying bags, you may be tempted to choose a stylish bag, rather than how practical and durable the design and fabric are. Remember these bags need to be durable enough for the weight of textbooks and other supplies.
The Consumer Affairs Commission welcomes feedback from parents, who are also invited to call 926-1650-2 or visit its website at www.consumeraffairsjamaica.gov.jm for further information.