Save money by not buying these back-to-school items |

Don’t buy this! 4 things you don’t need to buy for back-to-school

August 8th, 2013

By Aimee Heckel

This time of year, it seems you’re bombarded with lists of things you need to buy.

Here is a list of things you don’t need to buy when you send your kids back to school this fall — and more ways to save money.

1. Brand new everything. You can find some things gently used for much less money. Whether it’s gently used clothing, a backpack or a jacket, to gently used electronics. Check pawn shops, eBay and even Craigslist. Look for used furniture for your kid’s dorm or in-home study corner.

Save money on books by renting them through

Save money on books by renting them through

2. Books — necessarily. Text books can be one of the biggest school expenses, next to technology. Save big by first making sure every book you buy is necessary for the course, and that there’s no way around it (such as electronic versions online). Then, instead of buying books — even used — consider just renting them for a fraction of the price, either at your local library, from another student or at our favorite website for this purpose,

At Chegg, you can rent or buy used (or new) textbooks and electronic books, complete with a 21-day satisfaction (14 days for e-books). As if those savings aren’t enough, you can find a variety of different deals and coupons here, plus up to 5 percent Cash Back from

3. Clothes — right now. Sure, pick up a few back-to-school fashion staples, but if you want to save money, wait until the prices drop again in the lag between back-to-school shopping and Christmas. Many stores hold huge deals during the mid-fall. Plus, postponing a shopping excursion gives your kids time to think about what styles they like and make more educated choices, based on what trends are really happening in their specific school (whether that means following or avoiding those trends).

4. A gazillion folders and binders. You may have grown up in the era of Lisa Frank folders, but in this day and age, many assignments are emailed out. Instead, invest in a nice printer with built-in scanner, and teach your kids the value in going paperless. It’s less messy, environmentally friendly and a useful, modern skill. Plus, it can save you the costs of paper and ink. Increasingly more teachers are on board with a paper-minimal classroom, so talk to them before you spend money on “old-fashioned” organizational tools.

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Aimee's passion for storytelling has brought her around the world as a journalist, writing award-winning news articles about Haiti and Uganda. Aimee studied international journalism at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, and she majored in journalism and German at Colorado State University. When she's not writing stories for a Colorado newspaper, she travels and volunteers for Think Humanity, her family's nonprofit that helps refugees and disadvantaged people in Africa. She's also a mom, a wife and a furious bargain-hunter. Reach out to her at, find her travel board on Pinterest, follow her on Twitter, or ping her on Google+.