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With many families still reeling from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, many parents must now rethink how they budget for back-to-school this year.

“Not only will they have to think about how much they spend, but they will also need to consider what they buy,” says Michael Collins, ambassador for the JN Foundation’s BeWi$e Financial Empowerment Programme.

Shift in priorities

He noted that unlike previous years, the school uniforms may not be at the top of the list, as full or part-time online learning may continue to be a reality for some schools, depending on whether COVID-19 numbers continue to rise.

“Parents may need to invest in laptops or tablets, as well as, a comfortable work area, which includes a desk and chair, for their children if they will be attending online classes this school year,” he said.

Mr Collins, who is also Manager of the JN Bank Youth Banking Unit, noted that this does not mean parents should forego purchasing school uniforms, but rather they may be able to purchase less than in previous years. “Instead of buying five sets, they could possibly purchase three sets of uniforms and use the money they save to supplement another area of their budget.”

Purchasing textbooks

He said textbooks remain top priority, but if funds are tight and parents are unable to buy all the books at once, they should speak with their child’s teacher to determine which books are most essential at the start of the year, as opposed to those that can be purchased later.

He also advised that parents should shop around when purchasing textbooks.

“Do your research and compare prices. Use the telephone or go online, so you won’t waste time and gas driving around from store to store. Also, ask friends and relatives to help you source used textbooks.”

The JN Bank Youth Banking Manager also advised parents to buy quality products, so that they last a long time, thus reducing the need to purchase the same items each term.

“Items like lunch kits, school bags, shoes and igloos can last a long time once they are cared for properly,” he said.

Purchase bare minimum

Mr Collins also pointed out that to save money parents may consider borrowing or buying some items second hand. “You may be able to purchase a second-hand desk or chair from a friend or relative at a reasonable cost for online learning,” he said.

He also suggested that parents, whose incomes have been affected by the pandemic, should consider buying the bare minimum at the start of the school year.

“Instead of doing your back-to-school shopping for the entire school year like you may have done in the past, you could shop sparingly for what your children need to get started,” Mr Collins advised.

He noted that as the school year progresses, persons can supplement those supplies.

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