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How to Outfit Your Child for College on the Cheap

If you have a child who will graduate from high school this spring, it’s not too early to start thinking about gifts and how you will equip him for the future, especially if he’s planning to go away to college.

If your child is going away, now is the perfect time to start preparing for the inevitable expenses associated with going to college.

Consider these ways to save money while still getting your child what he needs:

Technology.  College students should have their own laptops as well as cell phones so you can keep in touch with them.  You may be inclined to buy the cheapest laptop available, but that may not be a good idea.  If you buy a moderately priced laptop, your child will likely be able to use it throughout her college career.  That makes more sense than replacing a computer every year or two, as you may have to if you buy the cheapest one available.

There are ways that you can save on the technology that your child will need.  Of course, you can watch for sales, most commonly in April or May and again in August and September.  However, there are other strategies you can use too, including these six ways to save on Apple products.  You should be able to use at least one of the strategies to save, but if you can stack them, you’ll really save a bundle.

Furniture.   If your child is going to live in the dorm, he won’t need much in the way of furniture.  However, if he’s going to live in an apartment, he will need some furniture.  Before you buy anything, wait to see who he’ll be rooming with.  Chances are those he shares the apartment with might already have furniture they’re bringing.

If you do need to buy some furniture, keep in mind college students are notoriously rough on furniture.  Consider buying second hand or at discount stores.

Bedding.  You don’t need to spend a fortune on your child’s bedding, but you should buy something that is durable.  Look for whites or linen sales during the spring and summer, as wedding season kicks off.  (Another idea is to let your child take her old sheets with her, and you can buy new sheets for her room at home.)

Clothes.  Of course, your child likely wants to look good for her first year at college.  From now until the back to school season is over, you’ll find clothes on sale.  Don’t forget to check the clearance racks after each season.  Also, don’t discount second hand stores, some of which have popular, expensive designer clothes for a fraction of the cost.

Of course, if shopping isn’t your forte, another idea is to set aside a certain amount of money that you were going to use to buy supplies for your child, and let her decide what she wants to buy.  This is a great way to help your child learn to make smart financial decisions.

There’s no more exciting time than when your child graduates and prepares to leave the nest.  Take steps now to give her what she needs while minimizing the cost.

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