Gayle Anderson was live in Commerce at the offices of ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions (CCCS) for "FINANCIAL FRIDAY- BACK TO SCHOOL" because ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions works with clients, AT NO COST, to create a helpful household budget and to prioritize spending obligations in the most-effective manner. This Back-to-School season, ClearPoint offers the following tips to ensure that you aren't burdened with debt:
  • Make a list -- Include the items required by your child's teachers or school (like gym clothes, books or art
  • Determine a limit and track your spending -- Figure out how much you can reasonably spend for back-to-
school and share this amount with your child. Explain the importance of using a budget. As you go, keep a running total of the you amount spend.
  • Year after year, clothing and accessories is the number one category for spending so take special care in
this area. If you have trouble meeting your budget, consider buying one new outfit for your child and shop for more in a month or so, after you've had more time to save.
  • Motivate -- Involve your children in comparison-shopping. With small kids, make it a game to earn something
simple like a dinner at Chuck E. Cheese's and with older ones, you can offer to pay him or her the difference between the budgeted amount and what you spend. This savings may also be used to buy items on the "wants" list.
  • Take advantage of "tax holidays"-- Many states offer sales tax holidays when back-to-school purchases are
tax-exempt. Search your state, "back-to-school," "tax break" and "2009" to see if yours participates. If so, shopping on those days will save you 5-10% on your purchases.
  • If your state doesn't participate, check out nearby ones -- it may be worth making a quick trip over the
border. Likewise, in some areas, sales taxes vary by municipality. For instance, in the Pico Rivera neighborhood of Los Angeles, sales taxes run at 10.75%. In neighboring Montebello, sales taxes drop to 9.75%. In Cypress, 14 miles south, the same items will be taxed at 8.75%.
  • Look for special offers and deals -- Check newspaper sales circulars. Also search for promotional codes and
coupons on the Web. By signing up for the email lists of large retailers--including office supply stores, coupons for back-to-school supplies will be delivered directly into your email box.
  • Buy used or refurbished -- If a computer is necessary, consider buying a refurbished or pre-owned one. Mini
notebook computers are much cheaper and convenient than regular laptops or desktops and will often serve kids' needs for word processing, Internet, and email quite well. Dell's online outlet store, for instance, is currently offers a certified, refurbished notebook computer for $229.
  • Consignment stores offer great prices on clothes in good condition. These stores have become more and
more popular and, in general offer higher-quality items than thrift shops. As a bonus, if you clean out your children's closets, and bring in nice pieces they have outgrown, you can receive store credit or cash.
  • Shop with friends -- It's worth talking with the parents of your kids' classmates. Buying in bulk at a warehouse