Have you started your back to school prep? It's hard to believe that back to school time is already here again. Doesn't it seem like we just did all of those end of the school year parties? Have you started your back to school shopping and preparation yet? Or, are you like me and save it all to the very last minute. Make this year different and start preparing now to save time and money.
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Back to School Prep
It may seem like school just let out, but it’s already time to start thinking about the new school year! With back-to-school specials running all summer long, parents and students can start their shopping early and spread it out to avoid a hefty back-to-school shopping bill all at once. The Better Business Bureau offers up the following back to school tips for students and parents 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. Also, check the retailer out with BBB at 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, saving you a nice chunk of dough on school organization supplies and more.
Ask for Student Discounts
Many stores and software companies offer discounts to students that have either an .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 all split the cost.
Know the return policies and save your receipts
Kids can be fickle. They can love a new shirt yesterday but hate it today. Ask about return policies before making your purchase. Be sure to save your receipts just in case you have to return the item later. You don't want your back to school prep to be any more expensive than necessary.
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 route. Check for user reviews and badges 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 in order to access special deals.
- If you’re buying supplies through a website like Craigslist, make sure you don’t wire money to someone you’ve not met. Use PayPal if possible, but if you are using cash, make sure you meet in a public place and bring a friend.
- If you use Facebook you know banner ads are all over the place and many ads are even catered to what you like. Some of them, however, are just click bait ads to drive you to a different website where you could potentially be asked to input personal information. Take note of the ad and go to the store's website directly.
Protect your child from identity theft
Another thing to think about while getting your kids ready for back-to-school is identity theft. Believe it or not, children are especially good targets because they have zero credit history and no questionable banking transactions in their history. A child can have their ID stolen through their social security number or social insurance number and you may not find out about it for years.
Here are some back to school prep tips for protecting your child’s identity as they head back to school:
- Don’t 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 about being safe if they are active in the online world. Keep detailed personal information off social media profiles. Click here for more tips on online safety.
BBB Serving Mainland British Columbia and BBB of Central California and Inland Empire contributed to this article about back to school prep. You may want to learn how to set your child up for educational success.