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Back to School Shopping Tips (to save you money and headaches)

The start of the school year is nearly here, and parents are feeling the weight of that endless to-do list: make sure the kids have every school supply on their scroll-sized list. Plan a shopping spree for new school clothes. Sports equipment? Dig out the old stuff and see if it fits or search the internet for the next size up. 

With all the last-minute school buzz, it’s important to remember to be a savvy shopper. Keep these shopping tips from your Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific handy and back to school will be a breeze.

Make a list      

You can either wait for the school supplies list to come out or start shopping without it. Even if you don’t have the exact list, you should have an idea of what to purchase regarding school clothes, and basic supplies. Jot everything down on a list and stick to it! Impulse buying can jack up your overall total in a hurry.

Shop your home

You may already have some of the items from last year hidden in your home. Why purchase the same thing twice?

Research big ticket items

Before purchasing that expensive laptop, tablet or dorm refrigerator, be sure to do your research. Research the brands, warranty, customer reviews and the prices at various stores to be sure you’re getting the best deal. Also check the retailer out with BBB at bbb.org.

Look for the sales

Compare prices between different retail stores, save your coupons, sign up for email alerts and redeem any cash-back or rebate offers. This will help you get the best deals, saving you a nice chunk of dough.

Ask for student discounts

Many stores and software companies offer discounts to students that have either an .edu email address or a student ID. Even if you don’t see a discount advertised at the store, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Shop in bulk

Some teachers ask parents to buy bulk items for the entire classroom to use throughout the year. Talk with other parents about what they’re getting and see if you can all split the cost.

Know the return policies and save your receipts

Kids can be fickle. They can love a new shirt yesterday but hate it today. Ask about return policies before making your purchase. Be sure to save your receipts just in case you have to return the item later.

If you’re looking for deals online, exercise caution when you browse a new website. Here are a few tips from your BBB to shop safely online:

  • When shopping from an online website the first step is to make sure the URL starts with “https” and includes a lock symbol. The “s” in “https” stands for secure, that way you know your information is being protected.

  • Look up the website’s privacy policy and contact information. If it is not clearly listed, or they only have an email as the point of contact, take that as a big red flag and shop elsewhere.
  • Do your research. An unknown website may offer a similar product at a lower price. The lowest price isn’t always the best route. Check for user reviews and badges for consumer protection agencies.

  • Be sure to use your credit card instead of your debit card, as credit cards not only provide additional protection, but it’s also easier to dispute a fraudulent charge.

  • Be extremely wary of any website or store that asks for your child’s personal information in order to access special deals.

  • If you’re buying supplies through a website like Craigslist, make sure you don’t wire money to someone you’ve not met. Use PayPal if possible, but if you are using cash, make sure you meet in a public place and bring a friend.

  • If you use Facebook, you know banner ads are all over the place and many ads are even catered to what you like. Some of them, however, are just “click bait” ads to drive you to a different website where you could potentially be asked to input personal information. Take note of the ad and go to the store’s website directly. 

  • Click here for more online shopping tips.
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Written by Hannah Stiff

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