Below are tips from the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) on how to teach children about budgeting and saving, protecting your money, and improving your finances before the first bell rings.
“Back-to-school shopping is an exciting time for families, but with long supply lists and flashy marketing campaigns, parents know all too well the amount of money that can be spent during this busy time,” said DCA Commissioner Lorelei Salas. “With our tips, parents can create a plan and shop smart while teaching their kids about the importance of saving money and budgeting.”
- Ask for a receipt and save it. In New York City, you are entitled to a receipt for purchases of more than $20. Protect your personal information—by law, a customer’s receipt must not show the credit card’s expiration date or more than its last five digits.
- Check store refund policies. Stores must post a sign detailing their policy. If they don’t, you are entitled to a refund within 30 days of your purchase.
- Look for prices. Stores must have prices posted on all items to ensure that shoppers are not charged at different rates for the same products.
- Make a list and create a budget. Get the teacher’s supply list and then teach children how to create a budget based on how much they have to spend and what they need to get. When you’re shopping stick to the list and the budget. Help kids make smart decisions when choosing which supplies to buy.
- Compare prices. Use websites, smartphone apps and social media to research products, compare prices, and find sales and discounts.
- Teach your children about credit and how it works. Explain that credit cards are not “free money”, and that what you pay for with it must be paid back with interest. Tell them about paying minimum balances versus the full balance and about the consequences of using a credit card irresponsibly.
Be a role model and get financial counseling. Make smart financial choices when shopping – kids learn a great deal by observing adults. New Yorkers can get free, one-on-one financial counseling at one of the City’s Financial Empowerment Centers, to help them reduce debt, build their savings, open a bank account, improve credit, and more. New Yorkers can book a free and confidential appointment with a professional financial counselor by calling 311, nyc.gov/dca, or texting TalkMoney to 42033 (message and data rates may apply; check with your service provider).
DCA also offers student loan debt tips to help people learn what their options are, as well as for young adults to help inform them of their rights and responsibilities when enrolling in a school or training program, using a credit card, taking out a student or car loan, and learning about credit repair scams.