Money-saving Mo ey- av ng
bc-to school tips
SUMMER HAS COME to an end, which means the
start of a new school year. This can be a stressful time
as parents scramble to obtain school supplies and
clothing to prepare their children for school. The
shopping list appears endless, stores become packed
and the whole back-to-school experience can prove
overwhelming for children and parents alike.
The National Federation of Retailers expects
that parents will spend about $600 per family to get
their children ready for school. Back-to-school
shopping is the second-largest annual consumer
event, just behind the holiday shopping season.
The cost of folders, pens and pencils, backpacks,
clothing and lunch food can add up quickly. To
avoid overspending and to approach the process in
a smart way, try these helpful tips.
Start by making a list.
No matter what you are shopping for, the smartest
approach is to make a list. Decide what items are
necessary and budget accordingly. Begin by going
through school supplies and clothes from last year,
and list all of the items and clothes you already have
on hand. Come up with a realistic budget for supplies and clothing for each child in school. Work
with your children to decide what is important to
get, as this is a great opportunity to teach them how
to shop on a budget.
Shop in your own home.
Try to find as many items on your list around the
house before you hit the aisles. Chances are you
probably have binders, colored pencils and highlighters left over from last year. Once you’ve completed your search, gather everything to determine
where you can save.
Buy in bulk.
When buying school supplies such as pens and pencils, binders, folders, even paper clips, it is always
cheaper to buy in bulk. Once the school year starts
your child will likely burn through these supplies
and leave you needing to buy more just when the
deals are no longer being offered. Purchase enough
supplies to last the whole year.
Save money on school lunches.
A large amount of your budget for the school year
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will be spent on food. Buying lunch at school can
add up, and, unfortunately, many school lunches
do not meet children’s nutritional needs to begin
with. Save money by packing your own healthy
lunch the night before, and think ahead when grocery shopping. Though it may take extra time, preparing your own bag lunches will significantly cut
costs and help you make smart food choices for
Consider your options when buying textbooks.
Although many public schools provide books to
their students, private-school and college students
are frequently responsible for purchasing their own
textbooks. This can add up quickly as textbooks
can be very expensive, especially when they are
bought new. A smart option is to order books
online. You may be able to find them used or at a
significant discount on websites such as Half.com.
Remember, you can often resell textbooks
at the end of the school year to recoup
some of your costs.
Stock up for next year.
When the back-to-school rush
is over, clearance sales on back-to-school supplies begin. This
is the perfect time to buy
(papers, crayons, folders,
glue sticks, etc.) for next
year, as they are often
This time of year
can put a strain on your
pocketbook and may
feel like a mad rush, but
remember that it can be
an exciting time as well.
Plan, budget, think ahead
and include your child
when making smart
shopping decisions. By
following these tips, you
will be able to cut costs
significantly as you prepare to send your child
back to school. C
I WAS REVIEWING the
charges made from my debit
card last month, and found
two large charges that I did
not make. The charges were
processed by a website for a
business located in India. I
shop frequently at online
websites and am worried
my debit card has been
compromised. Because my
debit card is attached
to my checking account, I
am worried that I have been
defrauded out of my money.
What can I do?
Your bank likely has fraud protection policies that will apply to your checking account, though these poli- cies vary depending on the bank. Call your bank right away and inform them that you did not make these charges. They will try to cancel or reverse the charges if possible. You will be asked to file a claim, at which point you will be informed of the number of days it will take for your claim to be processed. Finally, they will freeze or can- cel your debit card and issue a new one right away. Familiarize yourself with your bank’s policy and be very careful when using your credit or debit card online. C
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David Horowitz is a leading consumer advocate. Visit his blog at www.fight
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