BUDGETING is an important part of wise financial planning and a well thought out budget should be your road map to guide how best you utilise your income in order to get the maximum bang for the buck. Now, it's still back-to-school season, and this year especially is no ordinary time for parents, children and school administrators.
However, due to the global health pandemic brought on by the COVID-19 virus, majority of the island's educational institutions are not open for face-to-face classes but are instead hosting classes online in order to manage the spread of the virus.
With this new paradigm, back-to-school preparation will look different for parents as they shop for school supplies for their children — most notably is the need for parents to purchase the relevant gadgets to facilitate the online teaching-learning process.
But like any other back-to-school shopping, some core principles can be applied. Below, Sagicor Bank's Assistant Vice President – Retail Banking, Clinton Hunter, shares some practical tips to help parents budget for back-to-school.
Make a list of priority items
Putting together a priority order shopping list from the general list the school provides will help you to determine items that are needed versus wanted; meaning you will purchase items that you determine are essential versus those that you can possibly borrow or get at a later date.
Do an inventory of your resources
Examine what your child already has before making new purchases. Look around your house before going to the store; you would be surprised to find numerous items that you already have that your child can reuse. For example, arts and craft supplies like paper, glue, scissors, etc.
Prepare a budget and stick to it
After making your priority list and doing your inventory check at home, now is the time to prepare your budget by determining what you can afford to spend. Consider all your current financial obligations and be guided accordingly. Seek out special promotions and discounts that can help you save; also consider purchasing second-hand textbooks or rent them where possible.
Make smart purchases
As a cost saving mechanism, buy as many items in bulk as possible to limit the need to make several trips to the store to purchase reoccurring items on your child's school supplies list, such as notebooks, pencils/pens and folders, that are usually needed throughout a child's school career. Bulk purchases help you save in the long run by benefiting from the bulk discount, but it also cuts down on transportation costs to keep going back to the store, which adds up over time.
Increase your spending power
For large purchases like tablets and computers, use your credit card to offset the immediate impact on your pocket. The credit card acts as short-term loan that increases your spending power by giving you access to money to purchase needed items that you may not have the cash for.
This is also a good time to consider using your loyalty/rewards points to offset some of the expenses and earn while back-to-school shopping.