Back -To-School

Shop Smart and Save this Back-To-School Season

Even though summer has just begun, pretty soon it’ll be time to focus on the school year ahead, and if your family is like most, you’re already thinking about purchasing school supplies for the upcoming year.

Back-to-school shopping is the second-largest consumer spending category after holiday shopping, according to statistics from the National Retail Federation and Research Now. An additional survey, conducted by Deloitte, found that 32 percent of families expect to spend more on school supplies this coming year, either because their children need more items, materials are increasing in price, or students need more expensive supplies.

Back-to-school expenses seem to climb every year and can be a strain on family budgets. In a 2016 survey conducted by the National Retail Federation, back-to-school spending has increased 55 percent over the past 10 years, with the average family spending $107.76 on school supplies. Combined with other expenses, such as clothing and accessories, electronics, and shoes, a family could end up spending an average of $674 on back-to-school shopping.

Despite rising costs, back-to-school shopping doesn’t have to be a budget-buster. A little pre-planning and early shopping can help you avoid extra spending. Nationally, 73 percent of back-to-school shoppers plan to shop a month to three weeks before the start of school.

Here are some ways you can shop smart during the back-to-school season:

• Timing Matters: Look for end-of-summer sales and tax-free holidays, especially on big ticket items where you’ll really feel the savings. In Ohio, the tax-free holiday starts on Friday, Aug. 4, 2017, at 12:00 a.m. and ends Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017, at 11:59 p.m. To learn more about this tax-free holiday weekend, visit the Ohio Department of Taxation website.

• Plan Ahead: Before making new purchases, take an inventory of supplies you already have around the house. From there, make a list of items still needed. Two-thirds of consumers are likely to buy more than what is on their list, so be sure to stick to your shopping plan.

• Avoid Fancy Supplies: Instead of spending money on the brightest, shiniest, and glitteriest supplies with a licensed logo, which adds to the cost, make them “Do It Yourself” art projects for your kids to decorate.

• Use Technology to Bring Deals to Your Inbox: Let technology save you money by doing an online coupon search, monitor your favorite stores’ social media accounts to get advance notice of sales, and sign up for coupon links.

• Stock Up: If you see a good deal on supplies you know will be an ongoing need, stock up so you’re ready when something runs out, gets lost, or breaks.

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Emergency Savings

Nearly a Quarter of Americans Have No Emergency Savings

Nearly a quarter of Americans have no emergency savings, according to a new report from Bankrate.com.

However, the percentage of those without an emergency fund currently sits at a six year low, down to 24% this year from 28% last year.

Additionally, Americans with an adequate savings cushion – enough to cover six months’ expenses or more – jumped to 31% (from 22% in 2015 and 28% last year), a new high during the seven years Bankrate.com has been polling on this subject.

Overall, Americans are doing a better job at saving. Those with some savings, but not enough to cover three months’ expenses, increased from 18% to 20%. Americans with enough savings to cover 3-5 months’ expenses nosed higher from 16% to 17%.

Bankrate.com chief financial analyst Greg McBride, CFA commented, “With all the spending that is not happening in the economy, something else apparently is – Americans are putting money in savings! We’re still not out of the woods yet – everyone should strive to have at least six months’ expenses socked away for the unexpected – but it’s encouraging to see progress being made.”

The tendency to have no emergency savings is highest among those ages 53-62, who seem to be all-or-nothing, as they have an equal propensity to have no emergency savings and enough to cover six months’ expenses (32% for each).

After that, the likelihood of having zero emergency savings declines substantially; the oldest Americans (63+) report the lowest likelihood of having nothing set aside for a rainy day (17%) and the highest probability of at least a six month reserve (44%).

While one quarter of Millennials and Generation Xers lack any emergency savings, younger Millennials (ages 18-26) seem to be well on their way; they have the highest propensity to have enough to cover 3-5 months’ expenses (31%). Generation X is most likely to have some savings, but not enough to cover three months’ expenses (28%).

Not surprisingly, those with enough emergency savings to cover at least six months’ expenses tend to be higher income and more highly educated, while those with no emergency savings are more likely to be lower income and have lesser levels of education.

That being said, lower-middle income households ($30K-$49.9K per year) are more likely to have enough savings to cover six months’ or more of expenses than to have no savings at all.

Residents of the Midwest are most likely to have enough to cover six months’ expenses or more, while residents of the South are least likely.

If you are looking at jump-starting your emergency savings, talk to a representative at ProMedica FCU. ProMedica FCU has several products and services to assist your savings plan including a save your change account that makes savings easy and automatic. ProMedicaFCU also has financial counselors on staff to assist with other important financial areas such as budgeting and credit. Contact ProMedica FCU at 419-479-4040.

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