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BBB Tip of the Week: How to get most from back-to-school shopping

Shorter days and cooler nights are happening and there are leaves turning on some burning bushes. This means summer vacation is coming to an end and school will be back in session soon. Back-to-school preparation takes time and money.

Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest provides these tips for shopping:

Create a budget. A budget will help shape your shopping list and help limit purchases to only items you need. Knowing your budget also will allow you to put money toward larger items or a special purchase.

Create a shopping list and look around the house first. Make a list by child or by store to avoid multiple trips. Start by shopping at home to see if you have items left over from last year, before pulling out your wallet.

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.

Enable sale notifications. Sign up for email alerts and download shopping apps for your favorite stores. There are a number of apps that help you find coupons and discounts. Check out stores and apps on before you shop to learn more about previous customers’ experiences. Don’t fall for social media coupon scams offering discounts at major retailers if you share or like the page. If the coupon is on the retailer’s official social media account, it is valid; most times they are not. These posts are a way for scammers to phish for personal information or sell an account with hundreds of followers for their profit.

Save your receipts. You’ll need them if you want to make an exchange or return an item. Remember some items are nonrefundable or have a limited return period. Consider creating a free email account just for e-receipts; that way you can keep them all in one place and easily search when you need one.

Be alert for high-end fashion knock-offs of clothing and shoes online. Shopping for lower-priced or gently used clothing is a great idea, make sure you are buying from a secure website that starts with https:// and a reputable seller that has high ratings on an established seller’s site. Also, always use a credit card, and never use a debit card, wire money or pay with gift cards.

For more tips or if you would like information about consumer assistance, turn to If you are a victim of a scam, report it to