It may seem like school just let out, but it’s almost time for the new school year to begin. While back-to-school shopping is enjoyable for kids, it can be extremely stressful and expensive for parents and guardians. The Better Business Bureau is offering tips on how to shop smart when starting your back-to-school or back-to-college shopping.
- 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. Before purchasing, check out the retailer on 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.
- Ask for student discounts. Many stores and software companies offer discounts to students that have a .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 split the cost.
- Know the return policies and save your receipts. Ask about return policies before making your purchase. Be sure to save your receipts just in case you have to return the item later.
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.
- Do your research. An unknown website may offer a similar product at a lower price. The lowest price isn’t always the best. Check for user reviews and trust marks 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 to access special deals.
- Check for rebates. Some companies will send customers money back when purchasing big ticket items such as laptops.
Protect your Child from Identity Theft
Another thing to think about while getting your kids ready for back-to-school is identity theft. Children have zero credit history and no questionable banking transactions in their history, making them scammers favorite target.
Consider the following tips to protect your child’s identity as they head back to school:
- Do not allow them to carry around their social insurance number or social security number. Leave it at home and locked in a safe place.
- If a business or school asks for their SIN or SSN, ask questions. Why do they need it and where and how is this information being stored? How long is it being stored and how will it be terminated? Who has access to it?
- Educate your child on being safe if they are active online. Be sure to keep personal information off social media profiles. For more information, check out Social Media Safety: Personal Data Protection Tips for Kids