Helpful Tips For Back-To-School Spending "Avoid credit based purchases," urges the ICFE

San Diego, CA. "Back-to-school time is one of the major spending promotion times by retailers and credit card issuers alike," warns the nonprofit Institute of Consumer Financial Education (ICFE). "We are concerned with advertising aimed at consumers, promoting indiscriminate credit based spending for back-to-school supplies," said Paul Richard, executive director for the San Diego based ICFE, which is dedicated to helping consumers improve their spending, increase their savings and use

credit more wisely. "Because credit cards have the basic message of: SPEND, credit card use in this country continues to increase. So also has the amount of debt carried by cardholders and the various fees," said Richard.

Try these spending tips from the ICFE for getting better value when doing your back-to school shopping.

1) Make a list of what is needed by category ; i.e. clothing, books. etc., sports, or music.

2) Plan ahead. Start watching for store sale flyers, flea markets, garage sales, clearance sales, etc.

3) Establish a spending-plan and timetable for purchases over several weeks or months.

4) Comparison shop with at least five different sources for the best values.

5) Consider not buying all the needed clothing initially because if it gets even wear, it may all need replacing at the same time. Spread out these purchases over many weeks. Allow some flexibility so as to take advantage of sales and true bargains.

6) Avoid using credit cards to spend income not yet earned. They are too expensive (users either pay interest or an annual fee, or both, for the convenience). Some credit card issuers routinely promote indiscriminate spending, which so often can result in overspending.

7) When it comes to trendy items for school clothes or school supplies, encourage children to become independent and not "go-with-the-flow" demanding all of the latest product tie-ins, from the summer's hottest movies, for example. Fads often lose their steam after school starts, often because nearly every other child has them.

8) If there are several children in your home with back to school needs, you may want to consider setting aside money each month of the year for this expense to avoid having to divert money away from other expenses.

9) Use layaway plans for clothing, supplies, etc. whenever possible and practical.

10) Purchase previously used text books, lab tools and supplies, etc. when possible.

"People everywhere need to improve their spending practices. Otherwise, they fall victim to the forces in our society, so successfully getting people to spend, even beyond their incomes. Today's credit based spending decisions, however, may have a far greater negative impact on one's financial future than any investment decision one might ever make," Richard pointed out. "These decisions include how often to eat out (or entertain someone) this week, how much to spend on back-to-school needs, or redecorating a room, updating your wardrobe and especially those unplanned spending trips to the grocery store.

For information about "Mending Spending," monthly budgeting guidelines, and warning labels for your charge cards, visit the ICFE's Web page at: The site also includes helpful sections on increasing savings, using credit wisely, plus "How to set up and implement a spending-plan" (with a one page work sheet) for personal and/or family finances.

To receive the same information by mail, please send $1 and a self-addressed, 60 cent stamped envelope to: ICFE Money Helps PO Box 34070 San Diego, CA 92163-4070