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Save on back-to-school essentials

Jan 18, 2021

Save on back-to-school essentialsWith the planned re-opening of schools some time over the course of January, parents are bracing themselves for the annual grudge purchase of back-to-school essentials. These including stationery, textbooks, sports kit and other required equipment.

Respondents to a recent Gumtree poll say that they expect to spend anywhere from R100 to over R10 000 on these purchases for the 2021 school year.

The majority of parents (41%) expect to pay up to R1 000 for each child’s school essentials, 36% will pay between R1 000 and R5 000, nearly 10% expect to cough up between R5 000 and R10 000, and interestingly, 13% will spend over R10 000.

“School stationery is an emotive subject, with many children bringing home unused equipment at the end of each school year – despite schools insisting that children need everything on the list,” says Estelle Nagel, brand marketing manager at Gumtree South Africa.

“Parents question whether their children really do need six large glue sticks in one year, at a cost of nearly R200 alone, or if there’s a significant difference between a pen that costs R6 and one that costs R48 – when both can get lost just as easily.”

These costs pile up on top of other school expenses like uniforms, textbooks, iPads, sport and other extra-mural equipment, which are in addition to school fees. While there is some peer pressure to have new, matching stationery at the beginning of each year, parents can reduce their costs by buying some items second hand.

Textbooks and literature setworks: save up to R1 000

The Matric CAPS Grade 12 Matric Maths learner book costs about R175 new, or it can be purchased second-hand on Gumtree for R60. Cry, the Beloved Country for English First Additional Language can be found for as little as R60, and Hamlet and the accompanying study guide to help navigate Shakespeare is available for just R150, for English Home Language.

To save time and postage or collections costs, search for bulk lots where you can get all your books from the same seller. Learners often sell their entire range of textbooks from the previous year.

iPads and tablets: save up to R2 000

Many schools require learners to use their own iPad or other tablet, an initial expense that could amount to as much as R12 000. You can pick up a decent second-hand tablet for around R1 700, with iPads available for as little as R2 000.

Whenever possible, ask to test the device before you take delivery, and inquire if it comes complete with relevant software licenses, to avoid any surprise expenses.

Sports equipment

Opting for second-hand sports equipment is a great idea because you don’t know if your aspiring sports star is going to stay with the game or not. If they don’t, you end up being stuck with expensive, unused sports gear.

Furthermore, regular growth spurts – particularly in the teenage years – mean that equipment is often outgrown after it’s been used for just a season ‒ two if you’re lucky.

For example, a brand new Wilson Ultra Tour v2 tennis racket will set you back R3 000, but can be picked up second hand for as little as R1 250. Again, looking for bulk lots is a good idea. You can pick up a hockey stick, ball, bag, shoes and a hat for as little as R550, or cricket pads, stumps, gloves and bats for R250.

Musical instruments

With so many benefits to learning to play a musical instrument, it often takes time – and several instruments – for youngsters to settle on their instrument of choice, which can be an expensive process for parents.

Looking out for second-hand pieces will help ease the financial pain of buying the equipment your child needs to start their musical career.

For example, a brand new violin for a beginner could set you back about R2 300. You can find a pre-loved one in good condition for around R700. New drum kits start at around R6 000, but used kits can be found for around R2 000. You may want to look out for some noise-cancelling headphones while you’re at it…

“While it often seems easier just to ‘buy everything at once’ on a specified stationery or sports equipment list, particularly if it’s for sale in collaboration with a company that partners with your school, buying second-hand items can help parents weather the January financial storm, saving hundreds if not thousands of Rands at the same time,” says Nagel.

“These savings all add up, and could help ease some financial stresses, particularly in the current challenging economy.”

This article was based on a press release issued on behalf of Gumtree.

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Maya Fisher-French author of Money Questions Answered

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