Ready or not, back-to-school time is fast approaching
for New York City students. Before families begin to spend their hard-earned
money on back-to-school needs, New York City Department of Consumer Affairs
(DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz is providing pointers on how to be smart
“Back-to-school time means back-to-school shopping
first,” said Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz. “By keeping these
tips in mind and doing a little bit of ‘homework,’ parents can make the most of
their money and help their kids become smart shoppers, too.”
Commissioner Mintz issued the following tips to help
parents manage their finances during the back-to-school shopping season:
QUICK LESSONS FOR BACK-TO-SCHOOL
Receipts for beginners. 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.
Credit card curriculum. If you pay
for back-to-school purchases with a credit card, read the fine print, know
your credit limit and pay your balance in full. If you exceed your credit
limit or pay late, some interest rates can skyrocket to 30 percent or higher.
FINANCIAL EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES
Back-to-school shopping can put a strain on many working
families and their budgets, but now it’s easier than ever for parents to get
financial help. New Yorkers can access free, one-on-one financial counseling at
one of the City’s Financial Empowerment Centers, administered by DCA’s Office of
Financial Empowerment (OFE). At a time when many New Yorkers are finding it
harder to make ends meet, the counselors at the City’s Financial Empowerment
Centers will help with money management, budgeting, financial planning, credit
counseling, negotiating with creditors, finding affordable banking services,
government benefit screenings and referrals to other services and organizations.
Counseling services are also offered in Spanish. City residents can call 311 or
visit www.nyc.gov/ofe to set up an
appointment with a financial counselor.
DCA’s OFE issued these tips to help parents turn
back-to-school shopping into an opportunity to teach their children smart money
TEACHING YOUR KIDS TO SAVE WHILE THEY
Budget or bust. Creating a budget
and sticking to it is essential. Teach your children to recognize how their
“needs” and “wants” may differ. Tell them about the tough choices you
sometimes make to stick to your budget. Show your children how to spend
responsibly and include them in spending decisions that affect the whole
family. If your kids have a job or earn an allowance, teach them how to budget
this money through a spending and savings plan. This will help them make
better financial decisions in the future.
Stress saving. Saving is important,
even in small amounts. Save a little each month and eventually you will have a
large sum. Explain to your children why they should put money into savings
first, for a “rainy day,” before spending it. Though they may want
something now, they will probably need something later. If your
children do not have savings accounts, bring them to a bank or credit union to
open one and to make deposits to it, forming a smart habit at a young age.
Parents can download a copy of these tips online or
request copies of Back-to-School Shopping Tips or Smart Money
Lessons for Your Kids by calling 311.
DCA enforces the Consumer Protection Law and other
related business laws throughout New York City. Ensuring a fair and vibrant
marketplace for consumers and businesses, DCA licenses more than 70,000
businesses in 57 different industries. Through targeted outreach, partnerships
with community and trade organizations, and informational materials, DCA
educates consumers and businesses alike about their rights and responsibilities.
DCA’s Office of Financial Empowerment is the first municipal office of its kind
in the nation with a mission to educate, empower and protect New Yorkers with
low incomes. DCA’s OFE administers a citywide network of Financial Empowerment
Centers and other products and services that help these New Yorkers make the
best use of their financial resources to move forward economically. For more
information, call 311 or visit DCA online at www.nyc.gov/consumers.