Lungelo Dlamini 23yrs helping Nkazimulo Mabaso 7yrs as he was doing the last fitting of his Grade R School uniform at Gem Schoolwear Overport Durban. Photo: Sibonelo Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA)

JOHANNESBURG – A significant number of South Africans experience financial woes at the beginning of every year, after the festive season splurge, which is normally kicked off by the Black Friday sale at the end of November.

With December salaries paid ahead of the festive season, the temptation to spend it on travel, gifts and family gatherings has proven to be irresistible for some, leaving certain consumers feeling distressed during the back-to-school period.

Amid the school stationery and uniform requirements, consumers are still faced with day-to-day expenses and debit orders, among others making January a bleak and anxiety-inducing month. However, the Competition Commission has made efforts to somewhat ease the burden.

The Commission has intensified its efforts to ensure that school uniform becomes reasonable and affordable for parents through extensive advocacy targeted at parents, governing bodies, retailers and schools. 

In February 2019 the Commission signed agreements with several private schools following constructive engagements and remarkable cooperation by the schools which included Curro, Advtech and Reddam House.

Further, school governing bodies led by Federation of Governing Bodies of South Africa, an association of largely public schools, as well as the Independent Schools of Southern Africa made a public pledge to adhere to the school uniform guidelines aimed at curbing anti-competitive behaviour at schools.

Most importantly, the guidelines were intended at ensuring that school uniform becomes reasonable and affordable.

The escalating costs of school uniforms and stationery further adds to consumers’ financial woes especially against the background of the bleak economic climate, job losses and worsening social conditions.

Commentators from Momentum Multiply, however, also advise on other ways to take the worry out of January. “Instead of relying solely on life hacks, or the Commission to save costs, why not consider rewards programmes that can multiply your money during rainy days?”

The company said with rewards and cashback by retailers and financial services companies, consumers could accumulate points and cash rewards throughout the year, and use them to stretch their money for periods such as January.

Johan Kleu, Momentum Multiply executive head, said Multiply was one such programme. “It aims to encourage its members to lead healthier, safer and more financially savvy lives, and rewards them with cashback.

“We know that money issues can lead to high levels of stress, which in turn has a negative effect on health and overall wellbeing. This is why we promote a savings culture among our members by paying all cashback which earn 5.25 percent interest in the Multiply Money wallet.” 

Clicks is now offering customers in an exciting new affinity partnership with Engen, where they can fill up with fuel and earn cashback. “We have listened to our customers’ requests and are pleased to be able to offer them even more convenience,” said Rachel Wrigglesworth, Clicks chief commercial officer.