'Back to School' Essentials For Your Youngest, High School and College Students

PHOTO: Sports Authority $35 Jansport backpack.
Sports Authority

The best categories for deals on back-to-school items are laptops, clothing, and cheap furniture, according to Mark LoCastro, shopping expert from DealNews.com.

"August is a great time for discounts on these items because there's a convergence of end-of-summer clearance and back-to-school sales," he said.

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Back-to-school laptop sales typically begin in late June, ramp up in July, and begin to wane in September, LoCastro said, adding that sales typically come in the form of site-wide discounts, laptop bundles, or deals on individual systems.

Stores including Apple offer education pricing for students and teachers, so bring your school ID.

Apple started advertising its school deals in late July: get a $50 Apple Store Gift Card when you buy an iPad or iPhone for college; or a $100 gift card when you buy a Mac computer.

Here's a glimpse at other back-to-school "essentials."

For Little Learners

PHOTO: Target Snap bracelet rulers: $1.99 each.
Slap-bracelet ruler

These fashionable slap bracelets, sold at Target, function as 12-inch rulers and transport kids to the glory of the 1980s and 1990s. They are sold for $1.99 each.

Clothing deals can be particularly noteworthy during the back-to-school shopping season.

"While back-to-school clothing sales include a plethora of fall-friendly styles, they also push steep discounts on summer apparel that retailers are eager to get rid of before the change of season," LoCastro said.

He said this often translates into a deal hunter's favorite situation: extra discounts on clearance merchandise, especially in August and early September.

"And as every deal-savvy fashionista knows, summer apparel can actually be worn year-round, if you choose the right items and accessorize properly, so it's a great opportunity to save on new clothes for your kids," he said.

For Anyone Who Carries Books

PHOTO: Sports Authority $35 Jansport backpack.
Sports Authority

Sports Authority sells classic and multi-colored Jansport backpacks starting at $35. SportsAuthority.com features free shipping when you buy a combination of backpacks, shoes and clothes through September 30.

For College-Bound Learners

PHOTO: Target bungee chair, $29.99.
Dorm-friendly furniture

This "bungee" chair that Target sells for $29.99 is compact and funky enough for a cramped dorm room or off-campus apartment. LoCastro said DealNews has noticed a higher frequency of furniture and appliance postings compared to August of last year.

"You won't go wrong picking up a bean bag, bunk bed, or entertainment center this month," he said.

For After-School Sports Fans

PHOTO: Sports Authority $32 Nike duffle bag.
Sports Authority
Athletic Gear

Kids are prone to what's popular and that may be logo-heavy branded stuff. Not all the popular brands have to be the most expensive. This "Nike YA Team Training Duffle Bag" is on sale for $32, a discount of 20 percent, at SportsAuthority.com. You can choose crimson or black versions.

For Too Cool for School Middle Schoolers

PHOTO: Target magnetic chandelier ($9.99) and shag rug ($5.99) for locker.
Locker decor

This magnetic chandelier ($9.99) and shag rug ($5.99) can brighten up a dingy locker. They are sold by Target.

For College-Bound Learners

PHOTO: Target cork letters, $4.99 each
Cork boards with a twist

These cork-board letters cost, on sale at $3.99 each at Target, can be mounted on the wall or accent a desk.

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