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Better Budgeting for Back to School from the Better Business Bureau

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While back-to-school can be an expensive time for many families, there are ways to limit your spending, according to the Better Business Bureau.

Whether you plan to shop at your favorite retail store or in the drawers and closets of your home, Better Business Bureau recommends sticking to a budget to avoid the common overspending on school supplies, and following some helpful tips.

According to the National Retail Federation, parents will be shopping carefully and making special efforts to save on supplies this school year. 31% of families say they will do comparative shopping online (compared to 29.8% last year), and they will use more coupons (38.7% vs. 36.9%), and cut back on extracurricular activities or sports (14.3% vs. 10.2%).

Retailers will offer back-to-school deals to entice shoppers. Coupons, deals, and giveaways are always nice, but make sure you actually need the items first and beware of advertising that could steer you wrong or sounds too good to be true.

BBB recommends considering the following when it comes to back-to-school shopping:

Take inventory. There’s always that endless supply of markers, crayons and notebooks around the house. Re-using these items can save hundreds of dollars over the years.

Set a budget. Decide how much you are willing to spend per child, and include your children for a “teachable moment” on creating a budget. After taking inventory, create a shopping list and stick to it. This will help you avoid costly impulse purchases and ensure nothing is forgotten.

Know what your child’s school allows. Schools usually provide parents with a list of required items for the school year, which can help determine what you need to purchase. These lists are also available at many retail stores and on school websites. Additionally, many schools have specific dress codes, so keep these restrictions in mind before spending money on clothes the school may not allow.

Look for deals.  Some retailers’ back-to-school specials will be advertised online with other items sold for less online. Make sure to check out ads before you shop.

Check for refund and exchange policies. Be sure you can exchange or return items purchased during this time period. Keep in mind some items may be non-refundable or have restocking fees associated with a return.

“You can never plan too much or ask too many questions before making a purchase,” said Warren Clark, Better Business Bureau President.

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