A reader: I have five children in grade school. Yes, five. School starts in a couple of weeks and it’s time to think about school clothes, lunch boxes, backpacks and school supplies. With my brood, it gets very expensive. Any ideas on being thrifty and finding the best buys?
Action Line: With some schools already in session and others right around the corner, the emails from educators and the robocalls from schools are beginning. Back to school specials are running now and will continue through the end of the summer. I know that while kids may not want to think about the end of summer and yes, BACK TO SCHOOL, there are deals that parents can take advantage of.
Yes, you can go to www.bbb.org/backtoschool. Here you will find helpful tips on how to make sure you make your dollars count.
▪ Create a budget. A budget will help shape your shopping list and help limit purchases to only items you need. Knowing your budget will also allow you to put money towards larger items or a special purchase.
▪ Create a shopping list. Make a list by child or by store to avoid multiple trips. Check your school supplies on hand that you may have left over from last year.
▪ Research major purchases. When shopping for laptops, calculators, dorm refrigerators and other large purchases, do your homework. Research the brands you’re looking for to see what meets your expectations.
▪ Check for educational discounts. Some computer and software companies offer discounts to students and teachers with .edu email addresses. Some of these can be quite substantial, so check around..
▪ Don’t miss sales. Compare prices between different retail stores, save coupons and be sure to redeem cash-back or rebate offers. Sign-up for email alerts and download shopping apps for your favorite stores (RetailMeNot is one popular coupon and discount app).
▪ Buy in bulk. Some schools ask parents to buy items that will be used by the entire class (tissues, hand sanitizer, etc.). Get together with other parents to shop in bulk. Parents of college students can also buy in bulk for snacks, toiletries and other items for future “care packages.”
▪ Save your receipts. You’ll need them if you want to make an exchange or return an item. Remember some items are non-refundable or have a 30-day return period.
Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 2600 W. Shaw Lane, Fresno, CA 93711 or firstname.lastname@example.org.