Despite the denial of many kids and grown ups, back to school season is upon us. With school budgets shrinking, student supply lists are getting longer as teachers rely on families to equip the classroom. Can you believe some schools are requiring students to bring their own electronics?
Don’t fear, we’ve got a list of gadgets you’ll most likely need and tips on how to get a discount.
USB flash drives – There’s going to be a lot of typing in middle school and flash drives (aka thumb drives) are a cinch to use on different computers to allow your student to save his or her work and plug it into another computer later. You can now find thumb drives with cute designs like
surf boards and skate boards, but those tend to be more expensive. Instead, buy in bulk at a warehouse store to save money. Pick 4GB, which is ample space, unless your kid is likely to lose it.
Calculators – When I was in middle school, I wish someone would’ve told me to skip a basic function calculator because once you get to high school, you’ll need a graphing calculator. These can cost upwards of $100! I’m passing down my Texas Instruments TI-83 to my sister as she heads to high school in the fall. Otherwise, I would sell it. You can buy one used or exchange yours from sites like CalcSwap, a store on Ebay.
Laptops – Whether your kid is headed to high school or college this fall, they’ll need a laptop. This is a big expense so before you decide on a Mac or a PC, consider other options like a netbook or tablet on Bargain Babe’s computer buying guide. Your best bet if you are looking for inexpensive laptops, netbooks, and tablets is to consider refurbished equipment. Make sure you buy refurbished items from the manufacture because they tend to offer insurance and a limited warranty. Refurbished can be a good deal if your kid may lose the gadget or if it’s likely to get banged up and have a short lifespan.
Also keep in mind that some stores like Apple give student discounts. This year’s back-to-school promotion is not as good as last year’s, but if you shop at Apple’s education store you’ll get $50 off and a $100 Mac App Store credit. Last year they gave away free iPods worth $199. If you’re a PC lover and purchase a Windows 7 PC for more than $699, you’ll get a free Xbox 360 (the 4GB model) which retails for $199.99.
Netbooks – These tiny laptop look-a-likes are light and super portable. Like laptops, they include basic technology needed to get through school, including a word processor, email, presentation software, and a web browser. Not for watching movies or playing video games, however. (Maybe that’s a good thing.)
Tablets – These are all the rage right now and I’ve even heard of students in private schools being required to have one. Some tablets, like the iPad, do not include word processors. However iPad apps enable word processing and you can buy a keyboard to make typing easier. If you’re yearning for an iPad, find out how to get apps for free or at a reduced price. If your son or daughter is going off to college, they can download their books onto the tablet instead of lugging books around campus.
Computer Software – Compare prices at warehouse stores and trusted online sites. Check out your child’s college bookstore as they often have student discounts. Be forewarned, college bookstores are expensive so make sure the discount is worth it.
Finally, have a talk with your children about the importance of taking care of these pricey gadgets and their proper use. Keep in mind that most of these gadgets come with parental controls that you can set up. What tech gadgets are you in the market for?