Budgeting for back-to-school amidst uncertainty

September 14, 2021

Via Jamaica Observer

IF you're like most parents, you're probably having a hard time planning for back-to-school this year with so many uncertainties looming overhead due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. It can be even more daunting when you consider that the cost of many necessities has increased, and people are still operating on reduced income due to the pandemic. Where do you even begin to plan?

By making a budget, says Sagicor Bank Business Development Manager Natalee Wedderburn.

“The beauty of budgeting is that it allows you to take control of your financial life, even if other details remain uncertain. You know what you want, what you can afford, and how much you are able to spend, so it becomes easier to make decisions for yourself and your family,” she says.

Wedderburn recommends that you follow these simple tips in order to effectively budget for back-to-school.

1. Make a list of all the must-haves

While you may not be able to predict every expenditure this year, you know that there are certain things that will be required for back-to-school, whether it's held in-person or online. Tuition, medical exams, books and other learning materials are non-negotiables, so pencil those in first.

2. Set aside funds for 'maybes'

Nothing is wrong with deciding to hold off on buying five sets of new uniforms until you know for certain that you will need them, but ensure that you put some funds aside for any eventuality. Things change rapidly these days, so an emergency fund is critical when navigating uncertain times.

3. Window shop

Ensure that you shop around for the best prices. While the current health restrictions may not allow you to walk around and check out deals in stores, you can find great bargains online. Browse online for books, uniforms, stationery items, electronic devices, and more, then pay conveniently from your credit or debit card. Using your credit card also allows you to earn rewards every time you shop online.

4. Plan ahead

While your back-to-school needs are immediate, you can also use this time to put a plan in place to ensure that you spread expenses out on your calendar, instead of having to foot burdensome bills at the start of every term. Take stock of the condition of items that your child already has and keep an ongoing replacement plan. You can dedicate the funds from a savings account to cover these planned expenses.

5. Make your credit card work for you

Even with proper planning beforehand, back-to-school can be particularly heavy on the pockets, and sometimes you just need more money — now. Having a credit card is a great way to cover those immediate expenses and pay back later, while earning reward points each time you spend.

By prioritising necessities, planning for eventualities, shopping wisely, and putting your credit card to use during back-to-school season, you can rest assured that your child's educational needs are well taken care of.