The other day, after wrapping up a segment on back-to-school savings for a TV taping, the anchors kept shooting me questions even though the cameras were off. Then the camera guys came over with their note pads in hand. Off the set, all were parents eager to save a buck from this yearly shopping ritual. I knew the tips we had been gathering at ShopSmart had struck a nerve, so I’d like to pass them on to you.
Don’t miss out on sales. Before you head to the mall, click on SaleLocator.com. Then hit the “back to school” section and every store in and around your ZIP code having sales will pop up. Plus, you can click on each store listed to find out exactly what merchandise is being discounted—a huge time-saver!
When I checked out the sales in my area, I found a few surprises; it also helped me plot my shopping trip. First stop: The Gap for cheapo jeans starting at $15! Next: Bed Bath & Beyond for discounted bedding and other college dorm essentials. If they don’t have everything I’m looking for, I’ll swing by Crate & Barrel’s sale on dorm room stuff, too. Since PC Richards is close by, I’ll check out their deals on laptops, headphones, and even dorm-size mini fridges. And I’m going to tell my teacher friends about Talbot’s 20-percent-off special discount for teachers on their back-to-school outfits.
Save big on textbooks. Anyone who has a kid in college knows that the price of textbooks is like a second tuition. It’s outrageous! But there are some new websites offering textbooks at deep discounts. Check BetterWorldBooks.com for better priced new and used books, and Neebo.com for discounted books to buy or rent (with the option to buy at the end of the semester).
Other sites to check out include AddAll.com, DealOz.com, Getchabooks.com, SlugBooks.com, and Valorebooks.com. It may also be worth springing for an e-reader so your student can download books cheaper—and some of those older classic titles for lit class may be free! Also check out Cafescribe.com, which lets you download books and try them out for a few days free, then buy and download what you want.
Get free supplies, clothes, sports gear. If you haven’t checked out online swap sites (Swapmamas.com, Swap.com are two we like), this is a good time to do it. You can pick up anything from computers and calculators to gently worn clothes and soccer and hockey gear. The way it works: Enter items you want (or items you have that you want to get rid of), and swap with people anywhere in the country or locally. You’ll save shipping with a local swap.
For more school savings tips check out the September issue of ShopSmart, and if you snag a good deal, write and tell me about it.