With schools opening over the course of January, parents are bracing themselves for the annual grudge purchase of back to school essentials including stationery, sports kit and other required equipment, respondents to a recent Gumtree poll say that they expect to spend anywhere from R100.00 to over R10,000.00 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 R1,000.00 and R5,000.00, nearly 10% expect to cough up between R5,000.00 and R10,000.00, and interestingly, 13% will spend over R10,000.00.  

“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 R1000 

The Matric CAPS Grade 12 Matric Maths learner book costs about R175 new, or it can be purchased second-hand online for R60Cry, 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, with learners often selling their entire range of textbooks from the previous year. 

iPads and tablets, save up to R2000 

Many schools specify an iPad or tablet computer, an initial expense that could cost as much as R12,000.00. You can pick up a decent second-hand tablet for around R1,700.00, with iPads available for as little as R2,000.00. 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 going to stay with the game or not, leaving you 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, or two if you’re lucky.  

For example, a brand new Wilson Ultra Tour v2 tennis racket will set you back R3,000.00, but can be picked up second hand for as little as R1,250.00. 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 R550.00, or cricket pads, stumps, gloves and bats for R250.00 

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 R2,300.00. You can find a pre-loved one in good condition for around R700.00. New drum kits start at around R6,000.00, but pre-loved kits can be found for around R2,000.00. 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,” Nagel explains. “These savings all add up, and could help ease some financial stresses, particularly in the current challenging economy.”