EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


August 9, 2013

Cool savings for back-to-school


Another clothing tip – dump the drawers! Each year, we have a ritual in our house. All three children empty everything (everything!) from their dresser drawers and closets. We go through all of the clothes and take out anything that they’ve outgrown, and then put the clothes away. It helps me to know exactly what they already have that still fits them and what, if anything, we will need to buy. It’s got another added benefit, too: The kids usually discover some items that they haven’t worn in a while.

A new survey from Deloitte states that parents will spend an average of $428 on back-to-school expenses, down from 2012’s average of $600. I think that both of these totals are extremely high estimates, though they include college students in their surveys, too. Naturally, a college student will need different gear than a kindergartener. And, while I don’t often discuss the topic of credit in my column, I’m aware that some families may not be able to pay for all of their back-to-school expenses at once.

Using credit cards

Don’t fall prey to opening new credit cards at the register. We’ve all been in the checkout lane and heard offers like, “Open a store card today and you can save $25 off your purchase!” While these offers may seem tempting, they affect your credit score by opening an inquiry. These cards often have extremely high interest, rates too. While I don’t carry a balance on my credit cards, if you do, you’ll feel the sting of interest to the tune of 20 percent or more. This quickly eats up the “large” savings you enjoyed when you got your free $25.

Don’t “max out” your card. Make sure you know your balance and how much you can spend, as maxing out your card impacts your credit score. According to CreditSesame.com, even going above 30 percent of your available credit can negatively affect your credit score. They have a great list of more tips for using credit cards wisely at http://www.creditsesame.com/blog/back-to-school-credit-cards-tips/

Smart Living Tip: Not everything your child needs for back-to-school has to be new. My son has used the same pair of scissors each year for three years now, and he’s also reusing last year’s binder for the new school year. Reusing items helps keep costs down too!

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