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Back-To-School: 9 Budget-Friendly Tips for School Essentials

It may seem like you just got the kids off to summer camp, but many retailers this season are already starting to promote back-to-school sales. And according to a survey by the National Retail Federation, 24% of Americans last year started shopping for back-to-school products two months before the school season; this year that number is expected to grow. Regina Novickis, savings expert at PromotionalCodes.com, offers the following budget-friendly tips to score the best price on back to school essentials.


Shop your home first. Take inventory of your drawers, cabinets and closets so you know what you already have before shopping. You¹ll most likely find several forgotten items‹ it makes no sense to make a double purchase on generic items like paper and pencils.


Don’t Get Trendy Just Yet: Kids will want you to buy them what’s hot right now, but may change their mind after seeing what other students have. Trendy gear like lunch boxes and backpacks should be avoided until a month or two into the school year. Then, you can make a safe investment knowing your child has what he wants.


Sign Up for Coupon Alerts: Sites like PromotionalCodes.com allow you to have coupons sent right to your inbox. They have discounts for popular back-to-school clothing retailers like Kohl’s, eBay, Macy’s and Land’s End. Coupon alerts aren’t random; they reflect the time of the season. PromotionalCodes.com will send you all the best back-to-school savings opportunities through email.


Email a Teacher: Ask your child’s teacher what supplies are absolutely needed before classes start. You can find teachers’ emails on school websites. This will avoid you spending wastefully on school supplies your child doesn¹t need.


Buy Used or Rent. The savings potential is big when buying used electronics or renting textbooks. For electronics, consider a refurbished model. Sometimes a new model of a camera, phone or computer is rated lower by reviewers than the model it replaces, and it could even mean the original owner simply opened the box and returned it without use. As your student gets older textbooks can be one of the most expensive back to school purchases, so renting is a great option. Sites like BookRenter.com offer a multitude of textbooks for rent. Likewise, students can also buy books at a cheaper price on BookRenter.com and later sell them back to the site.


Host a Mom Swap: As a parent, you probably know mothers who have children in school. Ask them if there are any school supplies or clothes they’ve left unused, or used. Bartering with other mothers is a great way to get items for free and it’s also fun!


Take advantage of student discounts. Parents: your kid¹s new college ID can mean big savings. Retailers like Apple, Microsoft and DELL offer student-only pricing on laptops, and often attach a free gift card to the purchase for printers, e-books or apps. Hunt for these deals during mid-August when laptops are expected to reach lowest pricing.


Purchase transitional clothing. Instead of buying the fall collection right away, purchase summer apparel that transitions well as the weather cools down. The department store sales will be going strong, where you can easily score 40 percent off summer apparel. Look for light sweaters, tanks and dresses to layer; hold off on cold weather clothing until the middle or end of the season when stores will slash prices to make way for holiday promotions.


Don’t buy everything at the dollar store. The dollar store is great for office supply items during most of the year, but during July and August, office supply, department and drug stores all offer back to school deals that far exceed dollar store pricing. Dollar stores are touting $1 folders and notebooks, while office supply stores offer 15-cent folders and 30-cent notebooks during back to school promotions. For the college-bound, items like shampoo, picture frames and cleaning products are still great basics to purchase at the dollar store during this time.

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