Become a smarter back-to-school shopper

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SEATTLE -- Going back to school is no small feat. There are clothes, shoes, electronics and of course, school supplies. The National Retail Federation estimates the average family will spend $673.57 this year. That estimate is $40 more than 2015.

When spending that kind of money, Q13 FOX News wants to make sure you're shopping wisely. We asked the Better Business Bureau's David Quinlan for advice on becoming a smarter back-to-school shopper.

First off, Quinlan said shoppers need a budget. Not just a budget for back-to-school, a budget for the entire school year. Go beyond the usual list of school supplies and new shoes.

Be sure to factor in:

  • Lunch money
  • Field trip costs
  • Gifts for teachers
  • Winter clothes
  • Etc.

"By filing your money into the appropriate areas you can avoid being surprised when you find out your 5th grader no longer fits in last year`s winter coat, " Quinlan said.

Also, shoppers need to read the fine print on those back-to-school ads.

"When shopping in-store or online be sure to review the ad for restrictions, quantities and dates for sale and return policies," Quinlan said.

Along those same lines, if shoppers are making a big purchase, research, research, research.

"Research brands and options to choose one that meets expectations and budgets," Quinlan said. "Many computer and software companies offer discounts to students. Shop from a BBB Accredited Business for peace of mind."

For college students headed back to school, scams are a real concern. Quinlan offered a list of situations college students to beware of:

  1. Identity theft. Whether you live in a dorm or have a roommate chances are there is a lot of foot traffic in your residence. Be sure to keep important documents stored under lock and key.
  2. Employment scam. Be on guard while searching for a job to fit your busy schedule. Be skeptical of jobs offering 'quick cash' with 'no experience necessary'. Never give out your credit card or bank account information to a company over the phone. Typically, you won`t need to provide this information until your first day on the job. Look up the company`s business review at bbb.org/northwest to see how they fare.
  3. Credit Card offers. Groups offering quick and easy credit card signups are often found on or around campus. A lot of these cards have high interest rates or charge annual fees. Be a good student and study up on the best credit card plan that suits your needs.