JIS News

The back-to-school period can be an extremely stressful time for parents who are often left in a financial quandary. However, if they plan and prioritise, they can reduce the economic strain associated with the time.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC), Dolsie Allen, is encouraging parents to develop a list of needs and prioritise each of these, dealing with the most pressing items first.
Her suggestion is that textbooks should be placed at the top of this list. “We (the CAC) encourage you (parents) to go to the schools and speak to the teachers to see which of the books are most essential right now, as opposed to those that you can delay purchasing until the next term,” she tells JIS News in an interview.
Mrs. Allen also informs that several bookstores and independent persons sell second-hand books and this can be a cheaper avenue through which to ensure students are properly equipped for the new school year.
She cautions parents to ensure that the books purchased are the correct edition, and in the case of second-hand books, all the pages are intact. Mrs. Allen also advises parents to wrap books to preserve them.
In addition, the CEO shares that parents can join with others to enjoy lower prices, by buying in bulk.
“Times are hard and we need as mush as possible to ensure that we get the best for our money. For example, if you can buy things in bulk, such as the exercise books, the pencils, that kind of thing, you get better prices. Work with your community groups and your church groups, and you co-workers, come together and see if you can take advantage of volume purchases,” she tells the JIS News.
The consumer advocate also advises parents that it might be more advantageous to buy several sets of uniforms as they can last longer if they do not have to be washed several times for the week. She says parents should not feel pressured to buy brand name school bags and shoes for their children, as there are many cheaper alternatives that can be just as durable.
Mrs. Allen urges parents to keep an eye out for back-to-school specials and events from which they can benefit, such as fairs. She notes that many of these are free or have very low entry fees and offer specials on back-to-school items or free health checks and haircuts, which can help to save parents money during this time.
She reminds parents that the nutrition of their children should be a priority and that healthy meals can be affordable. She tells JIS News that parents should encourage proper eating habits in their children by preparing healthy meals at home.
“It may mean that you have to get up a little earlier, but you have to train your children to say ‘hey, this is more nutritious for you and don’t compare yourself with others who are buying the usual fast-food items’. Certainly nutrition is very important for our children,” she says.
The CEO says parents should also involve their children in the process of budgeting, so they will know how to properly spend their lunch money. She says this process would also allow children to better appreciate what they are given when they understand the family finances and the basis on which money is allocated.
“School should be fun for children, and we encourage parents to work along with the children, get them involved,” says Mrs. Allen.

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