The Best Back to School Deals: Where to Shop and Save

It's that time of year again, when parents have to get their children ready to head back to school.

Students need new shoes, new backpacks, school supplies, text books, cell phones, computers and more, and parents are tasked with the job of getting stuff their kids like at a good price.

Here are some tips to find the best gear and the best deals.

Textbooks

College textbooks can cost a fortune -- the average cost for college students is $900 a year. But renting your books online could save students up to 70 percent.

The Web site Chegg.com rents students books the same way Netflix rents movies. You create an account online and pick the textbooks you want to rent for the semester.

Chegg has an inventory of over 2.4 million titles and they'll send any one of them to you in the mail ($4 shipping with a pre-paid return envelope). They allow you to "lightly highlight" but ask that you don't write in the books.

The New York Times found an Arizona State University student whose book bill would have been $657, but his Chegg rental bill was just $334. They found an economics textbook for $122 in the book store, but rental fees at Chegg for that book was $65 for one semester.

Bookrenter.com also rents textbooks, and publisher Cengage along with chain store Barnes & Noble are testing programs to begin book rentals.

Clothes

Good Housekeeping magazine tested budget kids' clothes for durability and comfort.

Their picks for the best clothing for the price:

Polo shirts at JC Penney for $7
Boys Cherokee Jeans at Target for $13
Girls Basics Edition flare jeans at Kmart for $13
T-shirts at Wal-Mart (Faded Glory brand) for $3.50

Uniforms

Many school uniform items like khakis, polos and tights can now be purchased from major chain stores like the Gap or Children's Place. Try the sale alert service shopittome.com to send you e-mail updates when uniform items go on sale. I signed up at shopittome.com and they sent me an e-mail telling me about sales on the sizes and items I identified in my profile:

Uniform skirt, $4.99, 70 percent off at Gap
Uniform jumper, $7.99, 73 percent off at Gap
Girl's uniform polo, $6.05, 36 percent off at Children's Place
Boy's chinos, $9.24, 36 percent off at Children's Place

Old Navy is also currently running a promotion with 1,000 items under $10, through Aug. 31, 2009.

Deals and Sales for Back to School: School Supplies

Amazon.com:

Amazon.com has a promotion running from now until Sept. 6, 2009. Select school supplies are buy two, get the third free, including basics such as:

Elmer's Washable No Run School Glue (4 oz.)
Mead Spiral 3 Subject Notebook
Wilson Jones 3-Ring View Binder 1-Inch Rings
Uni-Ball Gel Retractable Roller Ball Black or Blue Gel Pen (4 Pack)
Scotch Glue Stick (Single Pack .28 oz.)
Dixon Ticonderoga Wood Cased Black Core #2 Pencils (12 Count; Yellow)
Smead File Folders (12 Pack; Assorted Colors)
Mead Index Cards 3 in. X 5 in. (100 count; White)
Vivo Liquid Ink Highlighters (5-Color Set)
Five Star Trulock Three Ring Binder (1-Inch; Black)

Classroomdirect.com:

Classroomdirect.com is an online school supply clearinghouse that has great deals on the basics. I found a dozen pencils there for 59 cents and that was the best price I could find anywhere.

Watch and Wait:

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