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Consumers’ Research Offers Back to School & College Tips for Parents and Students
Washington, D.C., Aug. 09 – It’s almost back-to-school time, which means parents will flood stores to find school supplies and clothes for their kids. Although this annual end-of-summer ritual can be stressful, it’s also a great time for parents to find bargains—as well as to help their children in other important ways.
“Back-to-school is a great opportunity for parents to exercise smart consumer habits,” said Kyle Burgess, Executive Director of Consumers’ Research. “It’s also an opportunity for parents to teach their children how to be independent and financially responsible.
Here are some unique back-to-school tips from Consumers’ Research:
- August Means Tax Free-Weekends: Parents can take a little sting out of back-to-school shopping by braving the crowds during their home state’s tax-free shopping weekend. Most states provide tax breaks on clothing and basic school supplies, but some also include computers – potentially a big money saver. Stores also often stack big sales on top of tax-free weekends, so parents should do a little research ahead of time to boost potential savings. To make things easier on parents, Consumers’ Research has compiled a list of every state’s tax-free weekend here.
- Use Back-to-School Shopping as Teachable Financial Moment: Back-to-school shopping is a perfect opportunity to teach children about the basics of money management. One way parents can turn shopping into a teachable moment is to discuss a budget with their children before heading to the store. This will go a long way in helping children understand the difference between the “nice to haves” and the “must haves.” Many financial institutions, community banks, and non-profit groups offer free personal finance calculators and resources to help facilitate the money talk.
- The End of Summer Doesn’t Mean the End of Safety: Parents should take the time to teach their children basic personal security tips, including reporting to suspicious behavior, such as a stranger offering a ride home from school, to authority figures. Having an established after-school routine is helpful for keeping parents in the know about where their children are or should be, though it is important to make sure guidelines are in place for those times when the daily after school routine needs to change. Increasingly, parents provide cell phones to their older children. There are numerous safety apps available today, but nothing works better than checking in with a phone call. Though, with the responsibility of the Internet at their fingertips, parents should talk to their children about what is and what isn’t appropriate to send over the Internet. Finally, it’s critical to ensure that children know HOW to use 9-1-1 and WHEN to use it.
- Book Those Trips Early: For parents of first-year college students, there will be football games, parents weekend and holidays which means booking flights and hotel rooms. Parents should book these trips well in advance, as prices tend to be higher around these times. To help with that process, consumers can sign-up for deal alerts with many airlines and travel websites, like Expedia and Trivago.
Founded in 1929, Consumers’ Research is the nation’s oldest consumer organization that seeks to increase the knowledge and understanding of issues, policies, products, and services of concern to consumers. For more information, visit: https://consumersresearch.org/ and follow Consumers’ Research on Twitter at @ConsumersFirst.
Kyle Burgess is the co-founder of two social enterprises and has worked in strategy, communications, and program management for a decade. Kyle received her Master’s degree in International Relations & Economics from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and her Bachelor's degree in Political Science from American University.