6 Lessons for Saving on Back-to-School Tech

Portrait of a gorgeous student using a tablet computerDepending on which survey you read, parents are spending anywhere from $690 to over $1,100 on their kids for back-to-school expenses. If that seems exorbitant, consider the bulk of that budget is going toward electronics, as schools and students are increasingly demanding technology to aid with their studies.

According to American Express’s annual back-to-school spending survey, K-8 students are the biggest users of technology during the school year. Meanwhile, theNational Retail Federation reports parents of high school students will shell out the most on technology, with the average family spending $230.

The increased demand for electronics doesn’t have to break your budget. Consider these six savvy tips for saving on back-to-school tech.

1. Trade Up
Technology changes so rapidly that most of us have a stockpile of old electronics we never use. Trade-in programs from Walmart, Target, Amazon and others help you exchange gadgets for gift cards. Before trading up, make sure to compare programs to find the best deal. For example, a gently-used iPad Mini 16GB can fetch $130 from NextWorth, while Amazon offers up to $160. Also, some programs accept video games and consoles in exchange for gift cards, meaning kids who are tired of Grand Theft Auto 5 can fetch as much as $20 to put toward a new device.

2. Shop Open Box
Retailers like Amazon and Best Buy offer open-box items for significantly less than brand-new items. In order to be sold again, these items must be in good, working condition, so you can be assured you’re getting a quality product at a cut-rate price. E-retailer Newegg has an open-box section, selling items like this ASUS Intel Core i5 11.6″ Touchscreen Ultrabook for just over $390, down from $559.99. Best Buy’s open-box items are based on location, but I can find an Apple iPad mini with Retina display for $314.99, compared to $399.99.

3. Wait For New Releases
Whenever the latest version of a popular gadget is released, the older versions drop in price so retailers can make room for new inventory. For example, the new iPhone 6 will be released in mid-September, making the iPhone 5 a better buy at that time. To help you determine the best time to buy any gadget, consult camelcamelcamel.com, Amazon’s price-tracking and price history site. It can show you, for example, that the iPhone 5 dropped steeply in price between Oct. 8 and Dec. 15, 2012, stayed relatively flat between Feb. and Aug. 2013, and is currently close to it’s lowest price to date.

4. Grab a Bundle
Bundles abound during back-to-school promotions, with laptops, printers, flash drives and other accessories available for a single price. If you’re student is in need of all these items, these bundles can be a good deal. Dell, for example, is offering college students a free tablet with laptop or desktop purchase of $699 or more, including bundles that come with a monitor, dock and wireless mouse. Meanwhile, Apple’s student special runs through Sept. 9 and includes a $100 Apple Store gift card with Mac purchase, or $50 Apple Store gift card with iPad or iPhone purchase.

5. Study the Price Policy
Both physical retailers and e-tailers are vying for your business this season, with many offering price guarantees, price-matching programs and price adjustment policies. Once you determine the make and model of electronic you plan to purchase, comparison shop using tools like Pricegrabber to find the best deal, and then ask the retailers with whom you want to do business about their price policies. Staples, who sells laptops, desktops, tablets and more, offers a 110-percent price guarantee for identical products sold by in-store and online competitors, including Amazon.

6. Buy Accessories Online
Whether it’s a solid state drive to make your laptop faster or an extra vehicle charger for your smartphone, electronic accessories are almost always a better deal online. Even products like ink cartridges are better purchased online, where sites like InkjetWilly.com help you find the best price on printer ink, plus offer less-costly compatible and remanufactured options. Search for electronic accessories on Amazon, Newegg, TigerDirect and other sites for the best deals.

unnamedAndrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc., who helps consumers live on less without radically changing their lifestyles. From smart spending tips to personal finance advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers. She has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. You can follow her on Twitter for daily savings advice and tips.

For all media inquiries, please contact Andrea Woroch at 970-672-6085 or emailandrea@kinoliinc.com.