As families shift gears in preparation for the Back-to-School (BTS) madness, Erick Macharia, father and Brand Manager for Stationery at BIC East Africa, shares his top five budget-friendly tips to help navigate the BTS panic and make it a little bit easier on the mind and the pocket.
1. Plan for school fee payments: one of the biggest challenges for most families in Kenya, and one that cannot be avoided. Most schools require families to pay school fee promptly to avoid any interruptions to the school year. Education doesn’t come cheap, putting a lot of pressure on most households in the country.
Pro tip: try to break the stereotype of leaving things till the last minute, and make sure you plan your finances early on. This will ensure that your kids have an uninterrupted school year and that they are not sent home to collect the fees – which can be discouraging for a student. If you can, identify any challenges related to payment, and communicate early on with the school to try and find a solution or work through a payment plan in a timely manner.
2. Bag your school supplies early on: BTS shopping can be a lot of fun, but it does also come with a financial burden. While BTS shopping cannot be avoided, there are ways to master it in a cost-effective manner.
Pro tip: invest some time in comparing costs of BTS products across various retailers. If you start early on, you can also take advantage of the sales a few weeks ahead of school. Remember to also visit the local supermarkets which often have discounts on BTS products. If you need further assistance, reach out to your child’s school or Parent Teacher Association (PTA) to get some support as they often have funds dedicated to covering school supply expenses.
3. Calendarize school activities and events: schools often organize fund raising events. If you’re not organized and save early on, your child might miss out on these events.
Pro tip: reach out to the teachers at school to get the events calendar early on in the year. This will help you identify which events your child should attend, depending on what’s relevant for them, as well as plan for financing the events in advance.
4. Outerwear for School: children grow quickly. That also means that they will grow out of their clothes at a fast rate. With BTS most families spend a lot of money on clothes in addition to school supplies.
Pro tip: contact your child’s school ahead of the term to check if there are any restrictions or requirements when it comes to attire. This will help you plan out your purchases. Check with your friends or relatives if they have children of the same age as yours who have outgrown their school clothes. Sharing and passing clothes on (if in good condition) could be a very effective way of managing a BTS budget.
5. Work through a list of required products: students in different years will require a different set of stationery material and products. Try to avoid a situation where you make assumptions around what’s needed or where you replicate what your older children used the year before.
While planning for BTS, check in with your child’s school for a list of BTS products required for that year. Working through a list will ensure that you only purchase what your child needs for that term or school year and will eliminate any additional and unnecessary costs.