As thousands of students in Alaska, Oregon and Washington return to classrooms, Better Business Bureau is teaching consumers how to ace back-to-school shopping.
The National Retail Federation estimates that Americans will spend nearly $27 billion on K-12 school materials this year, with college spending exceeding $45 billion; and the reduction in federal education spending from 2012 to 2013 means that many parents are purchasing basic supplies to help fill the gaps.
"Kids aren't the only ones who have to do homework," says Robert W.G. Andrew, CEO of BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington. "Parents should do their research to establish 'wants' versus 'needs' and plan accordingly; it can make a huge difference at the register."
Be smart with BBB's budget-beating tips:
- Take inventory. Start by shopping at home and determine what children already have and what is still needed. It may be wise to splurge a little more on items that will last longer than a couple of years.
- Create budgets. Make a shopping list and stick to it; avoid impulse purchases. Be sure to price search online, shop sale items and collect coupons in newspapers. Set up email alerts at favorite stores and monitor community blogs of savvy shoppers who share exclusive deals and rebates.
- Grab discounts. Some stores offer student and teacher discounts on popular items. Look for products that are out of date and are on sale at lower prices.
- Check grades. BBB Business Reviews can help locate reliable local retailers.
According to recent survey from Nielsen, 84% of consumers have used their mobile devices to shop for products within the past month. Read BBB's article, Don't Be Dumb with Smartphones, for additional tips on safe mobile shopping.
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