The Pinch: Students can save on basics

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College is expensive, from tuition to textbooks to fees. For college students and parents looking to cut costs, here are some money-saving tips.

"Before you go school shopping, take a look and see what you really need," said Jody Rohlena, senior editor at ShopSmart Magazine during a phone interview. "It's fun to buy new notebooks and new pens and those basic supplies, but if you've already got a lot of stuff, then maybe you've got some more money to buy other things. So take inventory at home."

Shoppers should wait for back-to-school sales at major retailers to find the best deals. They will pay much more if they rush to the nearest drugstore, Rohlena said.

Consumers can find bigger items, such as books, backpacks, calculators, and clothes, for free at swap sites such as Swap.com and Swap Mamas, according to a release from ShopSmart . They can enter items they want or have and trade with people.

Several new Web sites make it easy to find college textbooks at deep discounts. Better World Books and Neebo offer free shipping. Other sites include AddAll, Bigwords, DealOz, GetchaBooks, SlugBooks.com, and Valore Books.com. Prices vary by book and by site. Students can save money with e-books, according to ShopSmart .

CaféScribe allows students to download books and try them free for a week. Then, they can buy and download the book to keep.

For school clothes, shop at summer clearance sales for big savings.

Also, try to find coupons. Retailmenot.com and Coupons.com have printable coupons and coupon codes for retailers. Shoppers that are signed up for e-mail lists or credit cards at department stores will be notified of special savings.

Tax holidays are also a great way to save on school items,. South Carolina's tax free holiday weekend starts at 12:01 a.m. Friday and ends Aug. 7 at midnight.

The holiday includes items for dorm rooms, such as bath wash cloths and towels, blankets, bed spreads, sheet sets, comforter sets, shower curtains, bath rugs and mats, pillows and pillow cases. It's cheaper to buy toiletries at stores such as Target and Walmart, compared to drug stores, Rohlena said.

COUPON OF THE WEEK

Today's Augusta Chronicle has $1,991.81 in coupons. This includes $408.35 in SmartSource, $40.24 in RedPlum, $136.52 in P&G Brandsaver, $90 at Tires Plus, $10 at Sticky Fingers, $10 at Rack Room Shoes, $2 in USA Weekend, $43 at Rite Aid and $1,251.70 at Harbor Freight Tools.

The P&G Brandsaver insert has a coupon for $1 off one Tide detergent. It expires Aug. 31.


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