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Ways to save $$$

Rhonda A. Blackman

Ways to save $$$

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There are three words many children dislike hearing – back to school.
To them the lazy summer holidays have come to an end and they have to get back to a regular wake up routine, doing homework, new academic challenges, adjusting to new classrooms and in some instances a new teacher.
For parents, it is the time to think about shopping for school clothes and supplies and balancing finances.Due to the rising cost of living, some parents spend about $1 000 on an individual child. As a result, parents need to find ways to cut costs in these economic hard times.
Here are some suggestions:
Shop for bargains and look for sales: Try shopping at multiple stores to catch different sale specials. One store may have products “on special” that other stores do not have. The $2 and $3 stores are great places to look.  
Recycle last year’s supplies: Once the supplies from last year are still in good condition reuse them. Calculators, rulers, geometry sets, pencil cases, folders, sharpeners and crayons can be used and reused several times.
Allow your children to be creative and decorate the reused supplies with stickers, photographs, or magazine cutouts. Try also to source second hand books in good condition.
Reuse last year’s clothing: If the school pants, shirts, overalls or skirts are in good condition there is no need for new ones. If new ones need to be bought, parents could buy one and recycle the others. This is also good for school shoes; rub some good old shoe polish on them and they look as good as new. School bags from the previous year, if in good condition, could also be reused.
No Brand: Forget the name brand versions of supplies and gear. “No brands” serve the same purpose and sometimes last longer. Forgo expensive, novelty pencil and lunch boxes.
Buy reusable lunch boxes: Instead of packing the lunch in foil or clear wrap every day, parents can buy a reusable lunch box which will not only cut down on the money spent on foil and clear wrap but allow the lunch to keep cooler since many lunch bags are insulated.
Get Creative: Instead of spending money on fancy book covers, get creative with what you have at home. Old gift wrapping papers make great book covers at little or no cost. A plain cover also provides an area for your children to express themselves creatively.
It is amazing how much children do not need when it comes to spending their own money. Asking children to contribute to their school supplies from their savings, teaches them a lesson in money management and gives them a sense of accomplishment knowing they have made a contribution.
There is no question that shopping for back-to-school can break your budget. However with the recommended tips in mind it is clear that parents can save some money. 
• Rhonda A. Blackman is an educator, a National Development Scholar and former president of the Early Childhood Association of Barbados Inc. Email [email protected]