Back-to-School: Think money and the environment While your kids didn’t want the summer holidays to end, you’re no doubt preparing for back to school season. Which means you might need to do some shopping. In fact, it’s one of the biggest shopping periods of the year. But going back to school doesn’t have to mean buying lots of brand new things or spending a lot of money, especially when finances count more than ever. In fact, it’s the perfect time to talk to your kids about how we can all make more sustainable shopping choices. Reuse, rent, resell, repair and reduce Here are a few ways in which we can all think about making sustainable choices for our community, our world, and our planet.
Take stock before you shop
As you know, it’s always worth checking what your kids actually need. If you go through their drawers and bags you’ll probably find notebooks, rubbers, pens, compasses and other equipment that are perfectly good and will save you buying new.
Renting or reselling IT equipment
These are one of the most expensive items you will need. Rather than buying it new, look for refurbished or rental services which can be kinder to the environment and to your wallet. Since electronic items have value, selling them second hand can also be a good thing for your wallet.
Swap with other parents
They will all be in the same boat as you, trying to avoid spending unnecessarily. Perhaps you could arrange a “swap-shop” to exchange clothes, school supplies, books, or even toys? If your child has a reading list, you rarely need to buy these new. Just speak to other parents whose older children may no longer want them, use online marketplaces or of course borrow them from your local library. If you are swapping locally, it could be a great opportunity to connect with your neighbours or meet people in your community.
Buy pre-loved or patch it up
By purchasing your school uniform pre-loved, whether from friends, online marketplaces, social media sites or your school, you will be saving money. Fixing lightly used clothing extends the life of clothes meaning less things we need to buy and can help reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Research from ReLondon shows that participating in the linear economy (i.e. buying new clothes and throwing them away) contributes to over 2 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually in London alone. Buy once. Waste less To help you think about sustainable back-to-school spending, have a look at the Mindful Shopper1 website developed by ReLondon, an organisation working to revolutionise our relationship with stuff. You’ll find a wide range of toolkits and suggestions to help you make more budget and planet-friendly decisions about what you buy, who you buy it from and whether you even need to buy it at all.
Make sure your money is safe With the kids back at school, the holiday season is just around the corner. Whatever your plans are around school holidays and the holiday season, it’s important to be extra vigilant against online fraud. Whether you are traveling near or far, it is worth thinking about different ways you can protect yourself and your family from identity theft and fraud.
Always stay one step ahead
• Tell your card issuer
If you’re traveling on the coming holidays, tell your card issuer about your trip before leaving, so they don’t flag unfamiliar transactions when you’re using your card abroad. Additionally, make sure you know your card’s daily ATM withdrawal limit, expiration date, account balance and available funds. This ensures your card will work while you’re away and has sufficient funds to cover your travel expenses.
• But don’t tell too many others
We all like to share our holiday snaps with our friends, but if you post them on social media then you are also letting strangers and potential fraudsters know that you are away from home and may be at greater risk. Maybe, save the social media posts until you get back!
• Make a copy of everything in your wallet
Keep a copy of all your card account numbers and the telephone numbers for reporting lost or stolen cards. Keep this information in a safe place, away from your wallet. Always keep your credit card number and three-digit CW2 code on the back of your Visa card confidential.
• Be careful when using internet cafes and public wi-fi
We often need to use a public wi-fi network when on holiday, but not all connections or signals are totally secure. Always be alert and check the authenticity of the network before logging on.
• If it’s too good to be true, it probably is
We all like exploring new places when on holiday, but make sure that you book your excursion with a legitimate company. Always do your research, check reviews and book through reputable websites.
Be Safe: Be Sure: Use a card
Credit cards have strong fraud protections in place. When using a credit card, you may have protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act for when you use it to buy anything that costs between £100 and £30,000, even when you’re abroad. So if there’s a problem, you may be able to get your money back. There are certain requirements that need to be fulfilled for a Section 75 claim to be available and there are some instances where Section 75 does not apply, such as when goods or services are paid for by a secondary cardholder or if you bought through an intermediary. This includes aggregators which sell on flight and hotel bookings. More information about Section 75 is available on the UK Finance website2.
What’s more, if you use a Visa debit or credit card, Visa’s Zero Liability Policy means you won’t be held responsible for unauthorised or fraudulent charges made with your card*. To learn more on protecting yourself against fraud and identity theft when travelling visit: www.practicalmoneyskills.org
It all starts with a budget.
The holiday season can put a lot of pressure on your finances. It’s all too easy to spend more than you had intended. That is why it is so important to manage your finances carefully and think about your budget. And while budgeting may sound complicated, it can be quite simple. Ready to get started?
To make sure you’re financially prepared for the holiday season, you need to know what you can afford to spend. The first step is to work out your expenses.
• Fixed expenses stay the same from month to month, such as rent/mortgage payments or school fees.
• Flexible expenses change from month to month, such as big expenses or utilities.
• Total expenses are the combined amount of your fixed and flexible expenses.
Then calculate your income.
Total monthly income is the income from your job or other resources including pensions, rental income and more.
Budgeting 1-2-3 Once you have subtracted your expenses from your income, you’ll have a general idea about how much money you’ll have left over to spend over the winter months. Now you may wish to think about how you can spend less to achieve your financial goals.
1. Separate your “needs” from your “wants”. Evaluate your situation and make two lists: one for the needs and one for the wants. As you make the list, ask yourself: Why do I want it? How things would be different if I had it? Which things are essential to me or my family?
2. Set guidelines. Keep your budget balanced with wants and needs by setting clear guidelines. If you are making larger spends, consider cutting other costs that month to offset that large expense.
3. Track, trim and target. Once you start tracking, you may be surprised to find what you spend on eating out, entertainment or other expenses. To lower these costs, target areas where you can cut back on spending. Reducing expenses is often a more realistic approach than cutting costs entirely. www.practicalmoneyskills.org
Take your financial skills to the next level.
Learn how you can take control of your money and plan for a better financial future.
At Practical Money Skills, you can find a range of tools to help you manage your money better.
• Budgeting basics
• Evaluating your finances
• Savings basics and options
• Growing your money
• Building an emergency fund
• Opening a bank account
• Electronic banking
• Debt management
• Understanding a loan
• Rebuilding your finances
You’ll also be able use a range of financial calculators which will do the maths for you and help you every step of the way.
Making memories and having an unforgettable holiday season doesn’t have to come at a cost to your finances. We hope you have a little extra in your pocket to enjoy with friends and family all while thinking about how to be kinder to the planet.
* Replacement funds are provided on a provisional basis and may be withheld, delayed, limited, or rescinded due to gross negligence or fraud, delay in reporting unauthorised use, investigation and verification of claim, or account standing and history. Visa’s Zero Liability policy does not apply to certain commercial card and anonymous prepaid card transactions or transactions not processed by Visa. Cardholders must use care in protecting their card and notify their issuing financial institution immediately of any unauthorized use. Contact your issuer for more detail.