The opening of the school year is something families anticipate and prepare for every year. Families do not just save for the tuition fees but also for related stuff like uniforms, books, school supplies, and dorm fees for those who study far from home. There are as well unforeseen expenses which should also be reckoned with by the astute budgeter.
Yes, it takes the whole family to help in financial management when it comes to school-related expenses. It is practical to involve even the young ones in this understaking for them to understand why some things need to be cut back or why certain supplies have to be reused.
The dilemma is how families can save or get their money’s worth during these times prices of commodities are high and there is just enough leftover money after the tuition fees have been paid?
Here are a few ways families can stretch their budgets without scrimping on those that are important in the process of educating their children:
There are parents who consider buying used books that are still currently prescribed as textbooks. Thanks to social media sites like parents’ Facebook page groups, parents can tell other parents that books their children have used are for sale and show photos of how well these have been maintained. Manuals are not included because students write on them to do the exercises.
My youngest child has been using her kuya’s textbooks since grade 1. The volumes, after all, look almost new, since pupils are required to write down their answers on a notebook rather than on the book itself.
A word of advice though: Be sure that these used books will still be the books that the children will use for the next school year.
Our family is a believer in the mantra “Invest in a good school bag, one that will last for two or three school years.” The preferred bag doesn’t have to be very expensive. It has to be made of good quality materials and can accommodate everything that the child needs.
My youngest daughter used her sturdy stroller bag from second till fourth grade. The bag is still good and is now being used as storage for toys. My boy, an incoming 9th grade will still use his laptop bag for the school books, which he has had since 6th grade.
As with bags, we also believe in getting good-quality school shoes. Shoes are usually more expensive than other items. Children are actively on their feet, inflicting punishment on their footwear, day in and out. If they’re wearing a sturdy pair, they would not probably need another pair by the middle of the school year, which may possibly be outgrown after summer vacation, anyway.
Uniforms, like school shoes, are used everyday. It is very important that these are washed thoroughly to avoid looking old. Even if it puts a dent in their budget, it is a practice for some families to buy complete sets of uniforms that can be worn for the whole week to avoid too frequent laundering that would cause the fabric to look faded or worn out.
In the Philippines, particularly in the National Capital Region, people tend to flock to Divisoria to buy school supplies for their children. The reason for this is because the school supplies there are way cheaper than those that can be bought from the mall stores.
On the other hand though, there are news reports about the dangerous toxicity levels of some of these school supplies. Quality of products may not be up to par. Some of the complaints heard about these products are: Pencil leads break easily; sharpeners get rusty and dull after a few uses; notebook pages are thin and can easily tear; umbrellas’ wires are brittle; shoes get worn out after a few months; and bags not sewn thoroughly.
School supplies are consumables and these are the things the students need to buy again and again. Would you, parents, settle for low quality but less expensive or would you rather get better quality that will last longer? Is it ok for you to buy crayons, pencils or sharpeners several times because what you bought, though you initially saved some money, broke easily?
School supplies box
In our home, we have a school supplies box or what my children call “mini-bookstore in a box.” Inside it are materials that the children are likely to need during the school year. Sure, we have to shell out a substantial sum to put up the “mini store,” but when the time comes for a child to bring a ¼ size illustration board to school, we do not need to go out to make that single purchase. All we do is open our stash.
Here is a short list of the school supplies we have at home:
• 10 pieces each of short and long brown envelopes and folders
• Two sets of Math graphing papers
• Two sets each of 50 pcs short and long bond paper (we usually use A4 size for our printing needs)
• Two sets each of art and construction papers
• At least 4 extra notebooks and two sets of fillers
• A box of pencils
• A set of paper fasteners
• Extra erasers
• Extra scissors
• Plastic cover
• Pad papers
• A big container of glue to replenish the glue containers in their bags
• ¼ and 1/8 illustration boards
• Cartolina papers, one each color
Having those little extras do not mean the children are permitted to get reckless and wasteful about their school supplies. The little ones know our stash is actually a buffer – a contingency plan for when something unexpected is required in school.
Cutting down on expenses does not mean scrimping on quality. It is important for family members to agree on what should be given priority when it comes to purchasing school needs. As long as the previous supplies are still usable and looking presentable enough, then these can still be used.
Photo: from intervalhome.communitygiftshop.com