ROANOKE – Parents across Western Virginia are reporting excessive joy and happiness, rampant smiling and laughter, and an unending feeling of relief.
It’s time for the kids to go back to school.
Summer break has once again flown by faster than a group of children chasing the neighborhood ice cream truck. That means it’s time for the annual tradition of dumping out your purse and wallet and trading all your savings in for crayons, binders, backpacks, and clothes. The back-to-school shopping season has arrived.
According to the National Retail Federation’s 2013 Back-to-School Survey, families with school-age children will spend an average $634.78 this year, down from $688.62 last year. Total spending on back-to-school is expected to reach $26.7 billion.
That’s a lot of crayons.
Going back to school doesn’t have to break the bank. Savvy shoppers and careful consumers can find savings with just a little research.
“Taking the time to do your research can save you hundreds of dollars over the school year,” said Julie Wheeler, president and CEO of BBB Serving Western VA. “By sitting down with your child or teenager and going over some short checklists, you can save significant money on school supplies.”
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. Reusing these items can save hundreds of dollars over the years. Consider repackaging, sharpening, and cleaning out older, gently used items before buying new ones.
•Look for deals. Some retailers’ back-to-school specials are available for online and in-store purchase. Make sure to check out your local newspaper for deals. Retailers will put ads showcasing the special buy-one-get-one-free deals, and even coupled items like lunch boxes with backpacks to lure in customers. Shop sooner rather than later and save more.
•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 will often 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.
•Check 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.
•Set up email alerts for your favorite stores. Monitoring pricing early is key to finding good deals on quality products. Many sites will have an informed community of savvy shoppers on their blog or in their forums.
These shoppers willingly share deals, exclusive coupons, rebates and insider information on where and when to find the best prices. Such alerts will assure you don’t miss out on the hottest, and/or limited, opportunities.
For more information, contact the BBB at (540) 342-3455 or (800) 533-5501, or visit www.bbb.org.