Kay Sarlin/Abigail Lootens/Gabrielle Miller (DCA), (212) 487-4283
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS PROVIDES NEW YORKERS WITH PRACTICAL TIPS FOR SMART BACK-TO-SCHOOL SHOPPING
Parents Can Learn Additional Ways to Protect Their Money With Free, One-on-One Professional Financial Counseling at the City’s Network of Financial Empowerment Centers
With the new school year rapidly approaching,
Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz has issued
“protect your money” pointers for families shopping for their kids’
“Back-to-school spending is becoming increasingly costly,” said Consumer
Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz. “It’s important for families to keep
these money-saving tips in mind to make the most of their hard-earned dollars,
and in turn teach their kids to be savvy shoppers.”
Commissioner Mintz issued the following tips to help parents manage their
finances throughout the back-to-school shopping season and turn back-to-school
shopping into an opportunity to teach their children smart money management:
QUICK LESSONS FOR BACK-TO-SCHOOL SHOPPING
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.
Refund refresher. Shopping for back-to-school supplies?
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
Crash course in electronics. Many electronics stores
charge a “restocking” fee for items returned in an opened box. The fee, which
can vary, must be disclosed in the store’s refund policy.
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
Start 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.
Credit card 101. Teach your children about credit and how
it works. Explain to them that a credit card is not “free money” and that
charges must be paid back with interest. Tell them about the consequences of
using a credit card irresponsibly.
Compare prices to save. Help your children recognize the
importance of reducing expenses whenever possible by including them in
shopping or coupon-cutting. Take them along to buy school supplies or to the
grocery store and ask for their help in finding the best deal on a certain
item through comparison shopping. You can even let older children try to do
the shopping on their own while staying within a given budget.
Lead by example. Show your children how to make smart
financial choices. Kids learn a great deal by observing their parents.
Parents can download a copy of these tips at nyc.gov/consumers or
request copies of Back-to-School Shopping Tips and Smart Money Lessons for Your
Kids by calling 311.
FINANCIAL EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES
Buying back-to-school supplies can put a strain on working families and their
budgets, but now it’s easier than ever for parents to get help with their
finances. New Yorkers can access free, one-on-one financial counseling at one of
the City’s 18 Financial Empowerment Centers, administered by DCA’s Office of
Financial Empowerment (OFE). At a time when New Yorkers are finding it harder
than ever to make ends meet, the professional financial counselors at the City’s
Financial Empowerment Centers can help with money management, budgeting,
financial planning, credit counseling, negotiating with creditors, responding to
debt collectors, identity theft, finding affordable banking services, government
benefit screenings and referrals to other services and organizations. Counseling
services are offered in English, Spanish, and Chinese. Call 311 and ask
for an NYC Financial Empowerment Center. Visit nyc.gov/ProtectYourMoney for the Top 10 Ways to Protect
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 71,000 businesses in 55 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 (OFE) is the first local government initiative in the
nation with a mission to educate, empower, and protect New Yorkers with low
incomes so they can build assets and make the most of their financial resources.
Toward that end, OFE seeks to increase access to high-quality, low-cost
financial education and counseling; improve access to income-boosting tax
credits; connect households to safe and affordable banking and asset-building
products and services; and enforce and improve consumer protections to enhance
financial stability. The City’s free Financial Empowerment Centers can help you
take control of your debt, improve your credit, deal with debt collection,
create a budget, open a bank account, and much more. One-on-one financial
counseling is provided for free by professional counselors in person or by phone
in English, Spanish, and Chinese. For more information, call 311 or visit
DCA online at nyc.gov/consumers.