Where to Score Great Back-to-School Discounts

College is expensive. And it’s not just tuition, either. Over at The College Board, they found that the average student spends $1,200 each year on books and other supplies. When you consider what you’ll pay for a dorm room or apartment, a meal plan, and transportation, you’ll be lucky if you have enough left over to enjoy the social life that can be one of the most rewarding aspects of the college experience.Get ready for back-to-school season by finding some great deals.

Fortunately, many colleges and universities make a whole bunch of otherwise expensive resources available to students for free. In fact, we covered that topic in an earlier blog post. Here, we’ll highlight a couple of other chances to make the most of being a student by focusing on back-to-school sales.

First things first, though – the best way to score great back-to-school discounts is to make smart decisions on where you spend, and what you spend on. Before you put a single thing in your cart, make yourself a budget. To help you stick to it, you may also want to make a list of everything you’ll need for the coming school year. Then, all you have to do is avoid impulse purchases by sticking to your list, and avoid busting your budget by making sure you’re spending only on what you need most.

Computers, Electronics and School Supplies

Most major retailers offer great deals during back-to-school season – Best Buy and Staples each offer a wide selection of laptops, desktops, and tablets, along with back-to-school deals on everything from notebooks and Post-its to backpacks and flash drives; Best Buy will even help you save by inviting you to receive coupons via email. Online retailers like NewEgg offer great prices and a wide selection for those who know what they want and don’t need the in-store experience.

Don’t forget to check local and regional stores, too! In fact, these are great options not only during back-to-school season but year-round. And for school supplies in particular, it’s usually best to head in-store.

Dorm room and apartment furniture

Most dorm rooms come with the basics, but if you want your pad to stand out you’re going to have to put some effort into it. With that being said, you might have other things you need to spend money on before you grab that totally awesome lava lamp you saw at Goodwill. Save your cash, and check out these sites for some great deals on everything from furniture to rugs to lamps to art.

Target is a great one-stop shopping solution for a college student. Not only do they offer a wide selection of everything from electronics to groceries, they also run a huge college student back-to-school sale. Grab a new set of sheets, a box of K-cups to get yourself out of bed on that dreaded first day of classes, and why not grab an extra PS4 controller while you’re there? Your roommate wants to play Madden ’15, too!

Although not quite as college student-oriented as Target, department stores like Kohl’s and Walmart offer great prices on clothes and other items during back-to-school season. Discounts of at least 30% are common, and little legwork will turn up summer fashions discounted as much as 60%.

Ikea is without a doubt the undisputed king of the dorm-room furnishing realm. There are plenty of reasons for that – price, customizability, convenience – but their back to college sale is one of the easiest shopping experiences you can have. Going back to school is stressful enough; why add to it when they make it so easy to make sure you have everything you need to get your room looking sharp?

Does your school accept DSST credits?

Save time and shop online

Amazon is the biggest online retailer for a reason. If you haven’t already, consider signing up for Amazon Student. Not only will you get 6 months of free two-day shipping and tons of exclusive deals and promotions for your back-to-school shopping, you’ll also be eligible for 50% off Amazon Prime. It’s worth it just for the savings on textbooks – up to 90% cheaper than most on-campus bookstores!

Amazon may be the biggest, but they’re hardly the only game in town. Don’t forget to check out major sites like Wayfair – currently offering up to 70% off back to school items, with a selection every bit as broad as Amazon’s – and daily deals sites like Rue La La, which has a handy back-to school checklist for you to download.

Saving money doesn’t have to be a once-a-year thing. For more tips and advice on keeping your expenses down and your account balance up, check out our article on reducing tuition costs and read up on managing your finances.

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