How Kenyan parents can save on back to school shopping
Back to school shopping in Kenya can be a pain. The average cost of back-to-school supplies has skyrocketed over the years, and the costs continue to outpace the inflation, which is worrying. Multiply the amount you would spend by two or three kids and it easy to see why many parents and guardians start sweating when opening days come around the corner.
To your kids, back to school shopping may be the only good thing about returning to school again but it does not mean that it has to be daunting for you. With a little planning and organization, it is possible to take the heartache out of the process.
Whether your kids are heading off to a completely new school or going back to school to continue the year, here are some tips to help you save on back to school shopping:
Carve out some planning time
Quick question: Do you have an exact idea of how much you are spending on all those back to school supplies such as uniforms, notebooks, and backpacks on every new school term? If you do not have an exact figure, your expenses can easily add up and get out of control without a plan. First, gather any leftover back to school supplies and create a list of the extras that your child will need.
Then, you will need to carve out some planning time so that you can try and predict how much each of the items is going to cost. With this list in hand, it will be easier for you to set a realistic budget and saving plan. As parents, it is very easy to get surprised by expenses that should not surprise you, so planning, even before the school term ends, is essential.
Keep track of your spending
Between all the books, school uniforms, school supplies, and other gear, the start of a new academic term can be extremely hard on your wallet. During the weeks leading up to the first day of school, try and keep track of your spending so as to save smaller amounts as the holidays fly by. It can be a tedious process to track your spending but the extra effort will help you save some money towards back to school shopping.
Barter with other parents
If you know any other moms or parents who might have old items to trade, then you can organize a swap party or a swap meet where attendants can exchange items for free. Pick a suitable time, date and venue (at your house or someone else’s) and ask everyone to show up with gently used items. This strategy is great for shoes and uniform exchanges, but it can also work well for textbooks, extra supplies, or anything else that your kids might have outgrown.
Hold off on the cool stuff
Parents always want to give their kids the best. But if you are trying to save on back to school shopping, you might need to hold off on the cool trendy stuff. For example, rather than buy your daughter that expensive fancy Frozen Lunchbox or Ben 10 Pencil Case, purchase a regular case and replace it with a cool one later on in the year. Kids trends come and go very quickly; your child might be disappointed at first but when the trend changes later on in a few months or in the middle of the term, your kid will be begging for an upgrade and you can come through then.
Spread out your purchases
Try and stock up on essential supplies throughout the year rather than wait for the beginning of the term or school year to do it. If you have 3 kids going back to school for example, during the term, try and gradually purchase the obvious things that they will need such as pens, notebooks, exercise books, highlighters, pencils, etc each time you go out shopping. By stocking up on a few things here and there, you will avoid having to spend a huge amount of cash all at once.
Shopping online at reliable stores such as Amazon is one of the best things you can do if you want to buy back to school items in bulk. You can find anything on Amazon from the educational/STEM and fun toys to all types of affordable school supplies, many of which are unavailable here in Kenya. If such school supplies are available in Kenya, the prices of these items tend to be marked up because they are unique and unavailable. So to avoid overspending, purchase your cool items online.
Get your children involved
The back to school shopping season is a great way to teach your children about budgeting and financial responsibility. Give your children a budget and a list of necessities and plan out what they need with them. They need to know how spending works and that money really does need to be planned for.
Just say no
Going back-to-school shopping with your kids can be a fun experience but only if you know how to say no. If you cave to every single request that they have, the shillings will start to add up. If you are intent on taking them with you, be sure to notify them before you leave the house that the school shopping list must be stuck to and that you will not consider any extras. It will not be easy, but you must stick to your guns.
What not to do when trying to save on back to school shopping
Don’t always assume that the sale price is a bargain
Retailers can be extremely sneaky when it comes to pricing their goods. Since the back to school season is one of the most lucrative in the year, you should not always assume that the sale price is a bargain.
When there is a high demand for some goods, some retailers mark up the original price and apply it as the discount, which can make it look as though you are saving money, when you are actually not. To ensure that you do not get caught unawares, always do a little bit of research first to determine that you are actually getting a savings deal.
Don’t shop without cataloging everything you have first
Before you shop for anything, start by checking your inventory to confirm the items that are already in your home. If you look around, you may find that you already have the bulk of the back to school items that are needed on the school supply list-at least enough to service your child through the first few weeks of school.
Don’t buy everything you need at a go
If you are strapped for cash, you do not have to buy everything on the school supply list at one go. Instead, purchase the essentials first and wait until school is in session to get the rest. After the back to school, rush has died down, you may find that the prices of some items may have been reduced further.
Don’t compromise on quality
Even if you are really on a tight budget, you may be tempted to buy the cheapest things you can find- but don’t. Unfortunately, cheap items will cost you more money in the long run as they will need replacement sooner or later. For some items, such as shoes, school uniforms, school bags, and electronics such as laptops and calculators, it is more advisable to choose quality over price. If you really cannot afford a decent new item, check out second hand or mitumba items of almost the same quality.
Now that you are in the know, what are your best tips for back-to-school shopping? Let us and other parents know in the comments below! If you need any shipping assistance for your online purchases, contact us here to learn how we can help.