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Back-to-school shopping the smart way

Millions of students head back-to-school as the summer winds down. As students and parents prepare for the new school year, choose wisely when it comes to spending your money in regards to school supplies, clothes and other accessories. Your Better Business Bureau can help you make the grade when spending your hard-earned cash.

According to The National Retail Federation, about $26.7 billion dollars will be spent on back-to-school shopping, with an average of $634 dollars per family, down about eight percent in 2012.

Your Better Business Bureau offers tips on shopping wisely:

• Make a shopping list and stick to it. Go through your child’s items from last year before making new purchases. Make sure you check with your child’s school to get a list of required supplies and/or clothes for the upcoming school year.

• Buy basic items (pencils, pens, glue sticks and notebooks) in bulk to save money.

• Ask about refunds and exchange policies. Find out if the retailer offers refunds, store credits or if all sales are final. Always keep your receipts and check the store’s policy on sale and clearance items.

• Make sure you keep the item’s original packaging. Many retailers won’t accept returns on certain items, like electronics, unless they’re in their original packaging.

• Inquire about restocking fees. Some retailers charge a restocking fee, as much as 20 percent of the original purchase price.

• Beware when shopping online. Check out the physical locations and phone numbers of online merchants. If items need to be returned, check to see if they can be returned to the store or need to be shipped back. Look for BBB Accredited Business seals.

• Monitor websites and check local ads for deals. Sign up for alerts from Web sites to keep you in the loop for deals and coupons. Many stores offer student and teacher discounts on some items, such as computers, to make way for the latest models.

Remember, always check out businesses with your BBB and get reviews on retailers you’re planning to use. Visit or call (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301.

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