It seems like summer just started, but next month many parents will be sending the kids back to school.
Going back to school means it’s time for back-to-school shopping. Depending on what your child needs, back-to-school shopping can be expensive. On average, families of children in elementary school to high school plan to spend around $700, according to the National Retail Federation.
Better Business Bureau offers these tips for back-to-school shopping:
• Take inventory of what you already have. Reuse crayons, markers and pencils if they are still usable. Consider repackaging and cleaning out the old before you buy new supplies.
• Make a list of what you need and stick to it. Impulse buying can make your total cost increase in a hurry.
• Do your research and look for the deals. Determine which stores have the best sales, especially for the big-ticket items like laptops, tablets or dorm refrigerators. Look in sales ads for coupons to save more. Do stores price match?
• Buy for durability. Spending a bit more on high-quality products that will last longer can save money in the long run.
• Use coupons, discount codes and rebates programs when possible.
• Decide how much you should spend on each child and use it as teachable moment about creating a budget. Stick to the budget you set as well.
• Take advantage of the tax-free weekend. You can save some money on everything on your list. This year, it will be held Aug. 6-8. Ohio-back-to-school-tax-exempt items include clothing and shoes (less than $75 per item), school supplies (less than $20 per item) and instructional materials (less than $20 per item).
• Shop securely online. Make sure the URL starts with “https” and includes a lock symbol when shopping online. The s in “https” stands for secure.
• Make sure a sale is actually a sale. According to BBB’s Code of Advertising, the unqualified term “sale” may be used in advertising only if there is a significant reduction from the advertiser’s usual and customary price of the products or services offered and the sale is for a limited period of time. If you suspect that something labeled “sale” isn’t actually a sale, contact your BBB.
• Consider searching garage sales and thrift stores for items, specifically clothing.
• Know what your child can and can’t wear to school. Some clothing items may be off limits.
• Shop in bulk. Your child might run out of paper throughout the year or keep losing pencils. It’s good to have extra.
• Understand return policies and save your receipts. Keep in mind some items may be non-refundable or have restocking fees associated with them.
For more shopping advice, visit BBB.org or call 937-222-8525 or 800-776-5301. The Better Business Bureau can provide a list of BBB Accredited Businesses in specific industries and Business Profiles on ones you’re considering.
The writer is the president and CEO of Better Business Bureau serving Dayton and Miami Valley.