Ocean County Press Release
TOMS RIVER – As summer break winds down, it is not too soon to start thinking of all the things your kids are going to need when they head back to school this September.

There are the basic school supplies – the pencils and notebooks, the backpacks and lunchboxes. Then there is the back-to-school wardrobe, and the more higher-priced items, like new computers or tablets.

According to the National Retail Federation, Americans spent around $83.6 billion on back-to-school and back-to-college shopping in 2017, more than a 10 percent increase from 2016.

"On average, families spend more than $687 per child," said Ocean County Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari, Chairman of the Ocean County Department of Consumer Affairs. "It is possible to spend less and ensure your child is well prepared and ready to learn, if you shop with a game plan."

Creating a budget using the teacher's supply list as a starting point should help keep expenses under control. Also, list items in the order of priority and estimated cost, keeping in mind extra-curricular activities, such as uniforms, field trips, and lab fees. Decide how much money you can spend and what can be eliminated from your list, if necessary. Take inventory of what you already have. Whenever possible, reuse and recycle last year's gear before buying something new.

According to Stephen Scaturro, Director of the Ocean County Department of Consumer Affairs, stores in New Jersey are required by law to have an adequate supply of advertised on-sale items in stock. He also recommends keeping your sales receipts and knowing the stores return policy.

Researchers predict, too, that an increasing amount of shopping will be done online. Before ordering anything online, learn about the merchant. Beware of prices that are drastically lower than those you have seen elsewhere, as it may indicate a scam. Also, assure the website is secure prior to giving out your information.

"It is recommended that a credit card is used for online purchases," said Ocean County Freeholder Director Gerry P. Little. "It will provide an additional level of protection if there is a problem with the item you have purchased."

In addition, college textbooks can be a daunting expense. Consider purchasing used textbooks from other students, online, or in bookstores. A bit of research may show that there is little or no difference between a new edition and the previous edition.

If you feel you have been scammed, contact the Ocean County Department of Consumer Affairs at 732-929-2105 to file a complaint. You can also visit 1027 Hooper Ave., Building #2, here, or visit the website at www.co.ocean.nj.us/consumer.

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