Dubai: It’s that time of the year again when schoolchildren are excited to start a new grade, and parents are busy budgeting for school supplies, clothes, and books, making mental notes of things to buy. Stores around the country have started advertising back-to-school sales and deals. But, if you are not careful, you might end up overspending on unnecessary school supplies that seem to be on a discount. The solution? Start early and make a checklist before you start your shopping.
Starting early also gives you time to take advantage of sales offered in the weeks before school starts. Check out our list of '21 essential back-to-school supplies in the UAE, for 2022’ or visit a store nearby to get the best deals. But before you do, follow these top tips to make sure you do not end up overspending during the back-to-school season.
1) Make two lists - things you have and things you need
Keep an eye on your email from your child's school, listing the supplies your child will require for the new grade. These will be available in the school stationery.
Make a table of items required and how much they cost at the school stationery.
2) Time for a scavenger hunt
Before you add everything to your cart and check out, look through your child's existing school supplies from last year. Chances are that you already have many of the items on your list. School stationery and book shops often sell supplies in bulk. These don't always get used up and can be left neglected in drawers and cupboards. You might find unused things like pencils, erasers, colouring pens, highlighters, colour pencils, and craft glue sticks.
Teachers also send back old unused stationery when schools end, so check your child's backpack from last year, and you might discover some barely used supplies, including notebooks.
When it comes to the school uniform, check if your child's uniform in the next grade will be the same as last year's. Have your child try out all their uniforms to see if everything fits - including socks, sportswear or clothes for Physical Education classes, swimwear for school, and shoes. Discard or donate items that don't fit and put them on your list of things to buy.
Analyse the condition of things like your child's existing school bag, pencil box, and lunch box, to see if they need a new one and add it to your list accordingly.
3) Hand me downs and secondhand supplies
If your child has an older sibling, using hand-me-down uniforms, especially sweaters and jerseys, is a good idea to save money. Check places such as the Facebook Marketplace or websites that list secondhand items like books, tablets, and gadgets. Not everything has to be new. It will also help your child be environment-friendly and understand sustainability.
4) Take advantage of discount shops and back-to-school deals
When you step out to shop, keep an eye out for all the back-to-school offers around you. For example, Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) has announced discounts of up to 75 per cent on various school products as part of the Sharjah Summer Promotions.
Major retail stores like Carrefour, Lulu and Union Co-operative are also offering deals for the back-to-school season. Also, there are certain items that you simply do not need to spend too much on. Pencils, erasers, sharpeners, and paint are available in several discount shops in the UAE like Daiso, Discount Market or Day-to-Day. It is best to buy in bulk as much as possible, but do not get carried away and shop more than you can store or more than need. This is where adding quantities to your list in Step 1 can be extremely helpful in spending less.
5) Spread out your purchase
Go through your list to see if there are things not urgent and can be purchased later in the year. For instance, you can buy winter clothes closer to when winter sets in. If you wait a few weeks after school begins, you might find lunch boxes and water bottles costing less in clearance sales. Also look for seasonal offers. There are some items that you simply should not buy in advance or even close to the occasion. It is best to plan out and shop for items like Halloween costumes or Eid-themed gift boxes soon after the occasion is over as shops might be selling them on heavy discounts.
6) Compare gadgets required for school
Most schools in the UAE now require a tablet for online learning applications. Head to different gadget stores and check online websites to compare prices and features.
Most schools in the UAE now require a tablet for online learning applications. Head to different gadget stores and check online websites to compare prices and features. You can also check out our list of 6 best school tablets in the UAE for 2022, here. Before making a purchase, check with your child’s school about which applications will be used for the next grade and ensure that they work on the tablet you choose. Also, check the tablet display specifications to ensure that they will not adversely affect your child’s eyesight.
7) Know where you should spend
It is important to know which purchases are meant to last you a long time, and it makes sense to spend a little more on these items. For example, the right school shoe needs to be comfortable and durable. This can be a big purchase. The same goes for school bags. If the bag isn’t sturdy, it can put unnecessary strain on your child’s shoulders, back and neck. It is best to budget your expense to leave more room to spend on the big purchases.
8) Educational books for free
Every year, Book Hero in Oasis Centre Atrium gives away thousands of educational books for free to students and parents. This year the event will return from August 7 to September 4. Book Hero provides four free educational books per student as part of their drive to encourage reading and make educational books accessible for all.
To claim the four free books, all that the students are required to do is provide some basic personal details and proof of academic enrolment.
9) Use social media
You might not be a tech savvy parent, but that should not stop you from taking advantage of social media. Join Facebook parent groups in your vicinity or school.
Chances are parents are selling old uniforms, textbooks or additional supplies that could cost you a fortune at a store. If you are already friends with parents in your child's class, create a WhatsApp group to buy, sell or even swap items. You could also buy things in bulk or help each other find good bargains.
By following these simple steps, not only would you be able to spend a lot less every back-to-school season, but you will also reduce the stress of last-minute shopping trips.