Congratulations, children and parents, for making it through the long break away from classroom education! While parents should get gold stars for being home-school superheroes since nurseries and schools in the UAE closed early in the year due to the pandemic, the kids deserve gold medals for adapting to prolonged home study, and coping with being away from their classmates for so long. No doubt going back to school in September and the reunions with friends and teachers will feel even more special this year.
For parents who haven’t been able to travel and buy the staple school supplies from preferred stores back home, getting prepared may take a little more organising and thought than usual. Budgeting expert Susan Syrek of Dirham Stretcher has put together this guide to help parents find affordable, budget-friendly ways for getting the kids ready for school in 2020.
Shopping for school items in the UAE can be expensive without the proper planning, research and knowledge. Factor in going to shopping malls with children, and what may seem like a simple shopping trip can become quite stressful. With this dirham-saving guide, you don’t need to set foot outside of the house to get everything your kids need, from stationary to lunchboxes and water bottles.
Parents can follow this strategic list to effectively keep control of their back to school expenses:
Start by assessing the items you have at home
The long school holidays provide a great opportunity for you to go through all the kids’ (and perhaps your own) cupboards and see what you already have. You’ll also need to go through items such as uniform, shoes and socks to see if they have outgrown them. Collect stationary items like pens, pencils, books and paper and gather them together. Some of these items will simply need to be sharpened or cleaned to look as good as new again, while pens that no longer work and broken items can be thrown away for a good declutter. You may be surprised by what you already have.
Make a budget and list exactly what you need
After seeing what you have at home, you will get a good idea of what is missing. Make a list of all the items that you know you will need. Don’t be tempted to spend on unnecessary items that are not on the list – stick to the list and to your budget. You can compare prices in store and online, but it is no secret that online stores often have reduced costs, easy to find sales, and therefore better prices. By purchasing online, you also have plenty of time to put everything in your basket and review it again before proceeding to the checkout, so you can see exactly how much you’re spending (and saving). Don’t forget to factor in shipping costs which can be in place for orders under a certain amount, so it’s often a good idea to shop for items from just one or two websites.
Use discount codes
With the rise of online stores, the popularity and demand for extra discount codes has also risen. Many online stores often have extra discount codes if you know where to search for them, so make sure you look online before you complete your order. Such extra discounts can make a big difference to your overall spending on back to school items. Some discount stores such as Hema are now selling their items online through websites like 6th Street (you can receive an extra 10% off with the code YRX*) and Mumzworld (which offers an extra 10% off with the code DS10*). The Dollar Shop is also now available online through 6th Street. Some more of my favourite websites for stationary, lunchboxes and water bottles include Sprii (10% off with code DS10*), FirstCry (10% off with code FA35*), Namshi (20% off with code NAM44 or CD1031 – the latter only works for VISA cards*), Toys ‘R’ Us (10% discount with code DSGROUP*), and ACE (10% discount with code DSGROUP*).
*Codes and discounts are correct at the time of publishing.
Join the Dirham Stretcher Facebook Group
For the ultimate up-to-date back to school saving tips, take a look at the Dirham Stretcher Facebook group. Members post useful saving tips on a daily basis, along with photos to share. You will also find up-to-date online discount codes (like those mentioned), so you should make this group the first step for any of your online purchases. Also, if you’re looking for something in particular, you can ask the group to see if anyone knows where to get what you’re looking for.
Buy secondhand or tailored school uniforms
If you’re looking to save money, many schools have secondhand uniform shops. If your kid’s school doesn’t, you can look for secondhand uniforms on your school’s or community’s Facebook groups. If you don’t have these options, shops like LCT Uniforms in Karama or Bimbino make uniforms and can create yours (along with the specific logo), often at a fraction of the cost.
With school around the corner, we hope you found this advice from Susan helpful. Find more cost-cutting ideas with these dirham-saving stores in the UAE and discover more inspiring ideas for family life at home, only on Home Club ME.