Back-to-school = pocket pinch
How parents cope with the high cost of school materials
While children look forward to the 'Summer' holidays, many parents anticipate it with some dread.
The Summer holidays for such parents mean finding lots of many to send one child or several children to school. And considering the difficult economic times, this is no easy feat.
Take for instance Sonya (not her real name) who gave us some approximate figures. Sonya, the mother of two, said she has to find $900 to buy text books for her older son who is a high school student. Further, she has to spend $120 for regular school shoes and sports shoes. Next, his uniforms will cost $400, socks, $20 and bag, $80. Books for her younger son will cost about $450 but the other prices will be just about the same.
For Sandra Leaford seeing her children move one grade up is priceless, but the prices of the long list of text books, uniforms and everything else required to adequately prepare her children to return to school can sometimes be burdensome.The Summer holidays are therefore bittersweet for her.
We decided to find out how parents handle the spending associated with the new school year, considering the sluggish economy.
"Its really hard. The schools keep changing the books every year and you can hardly find children using the same books all the time," Leaford, a mother of three, said.
Her solution is to put in some overtime work.
"What I do is that I work a little overtime. I ask my boss to allow me at least for three months to work a little extra for more pay and that works well for me. I buy books first and then shoes and bags. The last thing I buy is uniforms because they are available year round," Leaford explained.
We caught up with another mother, Celina Paul of Massacre, who said that selling her hot dogs and chicken on weekends helps to relieve the back-to-school expenses.
"I always try to buy second hand books as they are always cheaper. There's a bookstore in town that allows you to put your text books aside and pay for them little by little," she said. Paul also sells used text books.
"Some people have pride and feel ashamed to go by the road and sell their stuff. Not me. I will do what I have to do once it's legal to sell to fend for my young ones," she said.
One woman admitted to going on a begging spree in order to send her children back to school after the Summer holidays.
"I ask Ministers, friends, family and even strangers," she admitted, adding that it is hard raising four children all at once, especially as a single parent.
"One thing with me I don't lie to them. I tell them straight how it is and they give me help. Some might help me buy books, others shoes and sometimes now and then I getting money for uniforms. Government has also assisted me in getting uniforms for my children," she explained.
While some parents have to go the extra mile, there are others for whom it is easier with the help of relatives.
One mom described how she turns to relatives overseas for assistance.
"Had it not been for them I don't know how I'd make it. My salary is just able to take care of my bills and commitments. However where food is concerned, every year around Summer time, I get two barrels from New York. One with food and the other with clothes. It would last for a very long time," she said proudly.
Additionally, she receives cash from abroad to help her with school supplies.
Many parents also take advantage of fast, collateral free 'small' loans, some of which specially cater for the back-to-school expenses.
But while it is difficult to get their children ready for school, parents somehow manage and students are always spick and span on the first day of school.