I have no idea why the start of the school year coincides with the longest month in the year. I think the US are onto something with their school year starting well before Christmas. Even if you bought your kids stationery and uniforms at the end of last year, with Christmas shopping it does make a big dent in your budget.
If you are, like me, and wait until a few days before school starts to buy stuff (yes, even for my Grade 1) then maybe these budget beating tips and ideas will help. I have also been doing this school thing for a while and I kinda know how to get around things.
- USE YOUR POINTS! I can not stress this enough. If you are a Momentum client and have Multiply, then you can buy vouchers for Takealot and CNA. We get 40% off at CNA so all my kids stationery comes from there. If you aren’t with Momentum contact me and I will help you move over. JOKES! Then use your Clicks, PnP or eBucks! Everyone offers loyalty programs of some sort for you to use, make use of them!
- Check what you have first. This mainly applies to those of us who have kids returning to school. Even if they come home with a list of stuff, check what they have before you buy. My suggestion would be to do it yourself. Empty their school bag, their desks, the toy boxes, I guarantee you will find LOADS of stuff. (Or maybe it’s just my kids).
- You don’t have to buy EVERYTHING on the list. Your child is not going to use 8 sticks of Pritt on the first day. I know many of the Pre-Primary teaches want you to send everything with your child on the first day but honestly if you can’t afford to buy 10 HB pencils and 4 erasers buy what you can, send that and then buy the rest the next month. Try to make sure they have at least one of everything. If you have older kids, don’t buy everything they need. I bought a set of paint brushes for Cameron and Kiara that were never used 2 years in a row!
- Avoid brand names. Our school identifies a brand which also happens to be the most expensive brand. I only buy the pencils in this brand because they are better but seriously a rubber is a rubber, a ruler is a ruler, pencil crayons are pencil crayons. There is no need to buy the most expensive brand because the list says so. No teacher has ever sent our stuff back because of the brand.
- Keep stuff at home! I know they say send it all but if your kids are older than Grade 4 there is no need to send it. We stopped sending in Grade 5 and they never asked us for the stuff. If the kids had what they needed it was all good. Some schools do send what they didn’t use back so if you know your teacher will send it back then send but honestly, I wouldn’t. (You will also find that they don’t need 2668 sticks of glue).
It is exciting buying your child’s first set of school stationery, but times are also tough for many of us and even if they weren’t there is no need to be wasteful or buy things unnecessarily. I think schools have these lists and just send them out each year without ever doing a check of what they do really need! (Example: One of my kids has tissues on their list, there has never once been a box of tissues in any of the classrooms that child goes to. It is on the list we must just pay for, so it is not a case of no one buying and sending).
This isn’t really a cost saver but is a time saver – get labels you can stick onto their stationery. You can get pretty cheap packs and all you need is their name. This makes labelling their stuff SO much easier. If you have more than one child, trust me you are going to want to label their stuff because heaven forbid kid A finds a pencil he THINKS is his in Kid B’s room.
Do you have any budget beating tips for stationery?
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