Spending less on school supplies and gear

August 16, 2012 (CHICAGO)

The savings experts at www.promotionalcodes.com share their top tips for scoring savings on back to school basics now and throughout the year.

Shop your home first. Take inventory of your drawers, cabinets and closets so you know what you already have before shopping.

Shop for deals online. Nearly four in ten parents plan to shop for supplies and gear online, in part because of the ease in comparison shopping. For additional online savings, search for coupons on sites like PromotionalCodes.com and CouponWinner.com.

Score freebies. JC Penney Salons will be offering free haircuts to students K-6 during the month of August, in the hopes that Mom or Dad will do a little shopping during the appointment.

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 are 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.

Buy used. The savings potential is big when buying used electronics and 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. When buying refurbished, be sure to purchase a warranty for peace of mind. For textbooks, sites like Bookrenter.com (Get 10% off 4 or more), Half.com (15% off orders over 50), Amazon or Chegg.com offer pricing that will be much lower than the campus bookstore.

Practice spending patience. Back to school shopping is the second-largest shopping season behind the winter holidays, but that doesn't mean you will find the lowest price on everything you need during July and August. Basics like pencils, crayons, backpacks and notebooks have rock-bottom pricing during August, but unless you have a valid college ID in the family, hold off on the laptop or tablet. These electronics historically dip in price during late September. Target - $5 off $50 + Free Shipping.

Take advantage of student discounts. Parents: your kid's 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. This year, Apple is offering a $50 discount on its MacBook Air with a free $100 gift card, and Dell is offering a $200 e-gift card with student purchases. Hunt for these deals during mid-August when laptops are expected to reach lowest pricing.

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