Tips: Back-to-School Shopping

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The first day of school is just around the corner and stores are filled with back-to-school promotions. Below are tips from the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) on how to teach your children about budgeting and saving, protecting your money and improving your finances before the first bell rings.

  • Ask for a receipt and save it. In New York City, you are entitled to a receipt automatically for purchases of more than $20 and upon request for purchases between $5 and $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.

  • 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 purchase.

  • Look for prices. Stores must post prices either on the item or on a sign where the item is displayed. It is illegal to charge more than that posted price.

  • Make a list and create a budget. Help kids make smart decisions when choosing which supplies to buy. Get the teacher’s supply list and then educate children about how to create a budget based on how much they have to spend and what they need to get. When you’re shopping, stick to the list and the budget.

  • Compare prices. Use websites, smartphone apps and social media to research products, compare prices, and find sales and discounts. Avoid entering your personal information to get a coupon—some scammers use the promise of discounts to steal your information.

  • Teach your children about credit and how it works. Explain that credit cards are not “free money,” and that what you pay for with the card must be paid back with interest. Teach them about paying minimum balances versus the full balance and about the consequences of using a credit card irresponsibly.

  • Be a role model and get financial counseling. Make smart financial choices when shopping – kids learn a great deal by observing adults. New Yorkers can get free, one-on-one financial counseling at one of the City’s Financial Empowerment Centers to help them reduce debt, build their savings, open a bank account, improve credit, and more. New Yorkers can book a free and confidential appointment with a professional financial counselor by calling 311 or online at