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Every week, join Whitney Quick as she helps you navigate life as a smart consumer. You'll cover everything in avoiding the latest scams, including phishing emails, medical equipment fraud, understanding layaway, hiring a reputable tax preparer, and even digital spring cleaning. Add to your toolbox and flip through your Consumer Handbook Thursdays during NPR’s Morning Edition at 6:42 a.m. and 8:42 a.m., only on KRCU.

Consumer Handbook: Back to School Shopping

Education.
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Stack of books with laptop

Parents spend billions of dollars a year on their back-to-school and college shopping. Many retailers capitalize on the rush to get ready by running big back-to-school sales. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by back-to-school shopping season, whether it’s by your child’s supply list or the ads that are ubiquitous this time of year. Doing your homework and planning ahead can maximize your savings on your back-to-school shopping.

To help save time and money, consider the following tips as you prepare for back-to-school shopping.

Make a shopping list. Even if you don’t have a school supply list yet, you can still purchase other items like school clothing and in-class school essentials like pens, notebooks, and backpacks. Make a list for each child, but start by “shopping at home” for items that you may already have left over from last year.

Create a budget. Do a quick price search online for the items on your list and add them all up. Be sure to clip coupons, and make note of discount codes and any cash-back or rebate programs. Know the difference between “Back-to-School Sale” and tax-free items. Retail stores may advertise back-to-school sales because they know consumers are buying items for the upcoming school year. Certain discounts will still have taxes applied to them unless the item qualifies.

Sign up for email alerts at your favorite stores. Monitoring pricing early on is key to finding good deals on quality products. Take advantage of discounts. Many stores offer student and teacher discounts on hot items like laptops and uniforms. Retailers will try to make room for fall fashion and the newest models, so there are incredible savings to be had if you do a little research. Check the refund and exchange policies. Be sure you can exchange or return items that are purchased during this time. Keep in mind, some items may be non-refundable or have restocking fees associated with a return.

Cape Girardeau native Whitney Quick is the Regional Director of Better Business Bureau in Cape Girardeau, MO, and is responsible for outreach efforts in Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois. Quick is a graduate of Cape Girardeau Central High School and Southeast Missouri University where she majored in public relations. Quick enjoys helping educate consumers in the southeast Missouri region by sharing consumer tips with groups and educating them about BBB’s resources.