Create A Back-To-School Budget To Avoid Overspending, Says Better Business Bureau

August 14, 2014

Back-to-school shopping is always big business for retailers. Analysts estimate that families will spend nearly $26.5 billion dollars on clothes, supplies and electronics for the upcoming school year. This is about $670 per family. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) recommends consumers prepare a budget and stick to it in order to control costs and avoid overspending.

Of the total back-to-school costs, families spend the most money on school supplies and electronics, according to the National Retail Federation.

“The tendency is to overspend so parents and students need to determine what they need versus what they want,” said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois.

The BBB recommends the following tips when back-to-school shopping:

  • Make a shopping list. Even if the school doesn’t provide a list of things needed for a child’s school, you probably have an idea of what types of clothing and other supplies are needed. Start by checking around your home to see if you have anything left over from last year to make sure you only buy items you need on the list.
  • Create a budget. Do a quick price search online of items you know you’ll need. While online, take advantage of any coupons or discounts you may see. By knowing the prices of items beforehand, it is an easy way to know which items to cut if you need to reduce costs.
  • Set up email alerts for your favorite stores. Take advantage of email alerts because they allow you to find deals right away. Many websites have coupons, rebates and insider information on the best prices. These alerts will make sure you don’t miss out on any money saving opportunities.
  • Take advantage of in-store discounts. Many stores will have student and teacher discounts on pricy items such as laptops or tablets. Retailers are trying to make room for newer models in the fall so they are eager to get rid of older models.

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The BBB is a non-profit, non-governmental organization.  It is supported by businesses to protect consumers against scams and other unethical business practices.  The group accomplishes this by educating both consumers and businesses, and by highlighting trustworthy businesses. By developing reports and ratings on businesses and charitable organizations, the BBB encourages people to use these as resources and referrals to utilize the free services before making a purchase or donation. The BBB helps resolve buyer/seller complaints through its alternative dispute resolution process. In 2013, the BBB provided more than 22,600,000 instances of service.  Over 80 percent of consumer complaints to the BBB were resolved. The Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois is a member of the international BBB system that services the United States, Canada and Mexico.