AS you have most probably heard by now, education this year will be free of charge, at least for primary and secondary school students, so this automatically marks 2014 as a very different year.
With the removal of school fee charges for all schools around the country, parents and guardians now have the luxury of focusing their spending efforts on stationery, bags and maybe even a new pair of sandals.
While you will have one less thing to pay for, you should still consider approaching shopping this year the same way you would any other year — with frugality and sharpness.
And Consumer Council of Fiji CEO Premila Kumar says budgeting is an important part of the process.
"What most parents would be spending on are uniforms, bags, school shoes, stationery and exercise books, but this does not mean that parents should switch to a loose shopping mode," Mrs Kumar said.
"Parents should remain prudent in their spending, for instance, before purchasing new items, run a check with the items bought in the current school year and what all can be reused or repaired in the new year."
She said preparing a school list of all the needs of the child was a good place to start as it allowed for an organised approach to shopping.
"Avoid purchasing stylish or trendy school supplies which serve the same purpose as the simple and cheaper items. Always go for good and affordable quality that lasts long.
"Supplies should consist of necessary and useful items rather than fancy and fun items."
She said the purchasing of uniforms, if necessary, should be done in a comparative way which did not force the parent to buy from the most expensive stores.
"Only buy school uniforms or exercise books from school recommended stores if the prices of the items in these stores are lower than any other store.
"Avoid purchasing all items under one roof."