Back-to-School Shopping: Discounts, Tips and More

Last Updated Aug 5, 2010 10:32 PM EDT

My little one is heading off to Pre-K in the Fall. So I guess that means I need to start my back-to-school shopping. Since I'm new to this, I decided to search the web for the best deals and money-saving tips. I was not disappointed with what I found.

Here's what I consider the "best of the web" advice for the 2010 back-to-school shopping season:

1. Back-to-School Shopping Primer
My former colleague, Kelli Grant, provides parents with a great general overview of what to expect this year. The good news is that twice as many retailers are offering back-to-school deals. The bad news is that inventory will be limited. So if you see something you want -- at the right price -- you should grab it.

Grant also recommends tracking sales at DealNews.com.

2. Stretch Your Back-to-School Budget
Visa's Jonathan Alderman reminds parents that school districts across America are hurting. That means your kid's school will likely hit you up for classroom supplies and charge you more for extracurricular activities and sports equipment.

What can families do? Plan ahead. To get a better handle on your total education expenses, Alderman recommends calling your school and finding out just how much it will cost if your kid, say, wants to join the football team or go on the senior class annual spring field trip.

3. Top 14 Back-to-School Discounts
Back-to-school shopping is about a lot more than picking up a few No. 2 pencils and a couple of new pairs of jeans. Parents also find themselves buying laptops and cell phones. That's where Freeshipping.org comes in handy. The website has found some of the best deals and promotions on everything from Macs iPod Touch for free) to Verizon mobile contracts (buy a new laptop and get an. While many of these promotions are geared toward college students, some are for high school kids as well.

Freeshipping.org also has the scoop on which online retailers are offering free shipping on back-to-school products.

4 . Consumer Finance: Now it's Back-to-School Cellphone Shopping
Newspaper coupons are fine for reaching those with gray hair. But retailers know if they want to get a teen's attention, it's all about mobile coupons and texting.

Which stores are sending out the best cellphone deals? The Wall Street Journal reports:

"Target Corp. (TGT) is sending out scannable coupons that shoppers show at the cash register. Penney's, Kohl's Corp. (KSS) and Best Buy Inc. (BBY) will send text messages to promote sales while Kmart customers will find out about daily deals through text alerts. Stage Stores Inc. (SSI) is sending out discounts every two weeks through Sept. 1."'
5. How to Cut Your Text Book Costs in Half -- or More
When I was in college, I always tried to save money by buying used text books. Now students have a cheaper option: renting for the semester. Kiplinger's article links to two online book rental companies. It also suggests a couple of other cheapskate strategies, including purchasing e-books and shopping at non-campus stores.

Have you come across any other great tips online? Please share them with me.

Stacey Bradford is the author of The Wall Street Journal. Financial Guidebook for New Parents.
Back to School image by House of Sims, courtesy of CC 2.0.
More on MoneyWatch:
Why You Should Give Your Teenager More Money
Forget College, It's Kindergarten That Matters
The Gap Year: a Solution for Burned Out High School Students
  • Stacey Bradford

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