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Back to School: 8 Ways to Get Deals on Electronics

Bellyitch Rewind

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It’s back to school time again and parents are scraping their pennies in anticipation for shopping to send their kids off to school. Electronics can make up a substantial part of the budget. Kiplinger’s editor Cameron Huddleston offers parents 8 suggestions on easing the burden:

  1. Shop on sales tax holidays—seventeen states will have sales tax holidays in July and August that will allow consumers to purchase back-to-school items, such as clothing, computers and school supplies, tax free. If you live in these states, plan to do you electronics shopping on a sales tax holiday—it could help you save 4% to 10% depending on your state.
  2. Shop online—shopping online makes it easy to compare prices from several retailers. And there are plenty of sites that do the bargain hunting for you. Dealnews.com has a page devoted to the best computer deals; Amazon and PriceGrabber are good sources for comparing prices.
  3. Take advantage of price-match policies—if you find a good deal online but don’t want to pay shipping costs, you might be able to get the same price in a brick-and-mortar store if it has a price-match policy. For example, Best Buy and Target will match Amazon prices.
  4. Buy refurbished—you can save a lot by purchasing refurbished tech items, which are used but restored to like-new condition and usually have a one-year warranty. Try Apple.com, BestBuy.com, Dell.com, Newegg.com and Walmart.com to find refurbished electronics.
  5. Take advantage of trade-in programs—one way to pay less for new tech items is to trade in a used item. A number of retailers, including Best Buy and Radio Shack, have trade-in programs that offer cash, a gift card or credit that can be applied toward the purchase of a new item.
  6. lLook for bundles—look for bundle deals, which are popular back-to-school promotions among tech retailers. The deals typically include a gift card, printer, gaming console or other accessory along with a laptop—at a price near what you would expect to pay for the laptop alone.
  7. Get a free phone—mobile phone service providers, such as AT&T, Sprint and Verizon, often offer free smart phones when you sign up for a two-year service plan. Considering smart phones usually cost $200 or more, this can be a major savings. Or you could buy an unlocked phone and cut the cost of a service plan by more than half by opting for a prepaid wireless provider.
  8. Don’t splurge on features you won’t use—when buying a laptop for your child, look for systems with a dual-core processor (not a pricey quad-core setup). And you’ll spend about $270 less if you opt for Intel’s Ivy Bridge system—which should meet a student’s needs—rather than its new Haswell system. Also, say no to tech support and retailers’ extended warranties—your credit card might offer an extended warranty.

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