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Tips to make back-to-school shopping a breeze

Sometimes back-to-school shopping can seem as crazy as Black Friday, but there are simple ways to make your shopping experience easier (and more fun). Tiffany Schultz, the BBB of Southwest Wisconsin regional director, joined us in the studio with the ultimate back-to-school shopping survival guide.

The National Retail Federation expects back-to-school spending to hit a record high this year at $80.7 billion for students of all ages, including college. Families will spend almost $700 per household for students Pre-K to grade 12 and almost $1,000 for college students, as told by the BBB of Southwest Wisconsin. Schultz provided a full list of tips below.

Make a list and stick to it. Avoid impulse purchases.

Look for sales. Price shop, use coupons, sign up for email savings and utilize rebates and cash back offers.

Shop your home. You may already have some items that you stocked up on last year and tucked away. Look at what your child brought home on the last day of school. Scissors, school boxes and folders, if in good shape, can be re-used this school year.

Be thrifty. Garage sales and secondhand stores may have gently used backpacks, clothing and more to lessen the financial load of Back-to-School shopping.

Jazz things up. Basic apparel, backpacks and notebooks can get jazzed up and personalized with fun stickers, accessories and more.

Research big ticket items. Before purchasing laptops, tablets or dorm refrigerators, do your research and check warranties, customer reviews and prices at various stores to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Also check retailers out with BBB.org.

Splurge on high-use items such as backpacks with quality materials that have a lifetime warranty and a winter jacket just a bit too big so your child can grow into it and use it next season.

Ask for student discounts. Many stores and software companies offer student discounts for those who have a .edu email address or student ID. If you don’t see an advertised discount, ask if there’s one offered.

Shop in bulk. Some teachers ask parents to buy bulk items for the entire classroom to use throughout the year. Talk with other parents and see if you can split the cost.

Know the return policies and save your receipts. Ask about return policies before making your purchase. Be sure to keep all receipts in case you need to make a return at a later date.

For online shoppers:

Make sure the website is safe. Secure websites start with https and include a lock symbol.

Look for the website’s privacy policy and contact information. If it’s not clearly listed or if there’s only an email address as a point of contact, that’s a red flag to shop elsewhere.

Use a credit card instead of your debit card. Credit cards offer additional protection and it’s easier to dispute a fraudulent charge.

For more information about the BBB of Southwest Wisconsin, click here.

Samantha Bowers

Host, Midday Madison

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