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Shopping for electronics on a budget


Friday, July 26, 2013

There is no getting around the fact that you have to look at college from a financial perspective. From applying for financial aid to creating a budget for the fall semester, personal financial planning is vital for most students. The budget for school supplies can be sizeable as most students will need electronics such as laptops and tablets to maximize their learning experience. While these devices can be quite expensive, you can do your back-to-school gadget shopping without breaking the bank.

Buck the trends
Brand loyalty is a powerful motivator for consumers, and while some students may gravitate toward top-of-the-line tablets such as new iPads, there are cheaper alternatives that offer much of the same functionality. According to technology news blog Mashable, the Amazon Kindle Fire is an excellent choice for budget-conscious college students and costs significantly less than Apple's flagship tablet. It takes some research, but it is possible to get a device to suits your learning and entertainment requirements for considerably less than the most popular brands.

Shop smart
For today's students, a laptop is no longer a luxury item but a device that is virtually indispensable. Fortunately, many major brands offer generous student discounts through their Web sites. Before settling on a new laptop, be sure to shop around and keep an eye out for the biggest discounts. In addition, many large retailers such as Best Buy frequently launch back-to-school sales, offering students the opportunity to save even more money.

Seize the moment
Most college-bound students are familiar with auction Web sites like eBay. However, flash sale Web sites, often overlooked by students, can be an invaluable way to find essential electronics like laptops, tablets and smartphones at a fraction of their retail price. The only drawback to these deals is that promotions typically last for just 24 hours, meaning frugal students will have to act quickly if they want to secure the best deals. For those who time it right, however, the savings can be enormous.

Buy second-hand
Of course, sometimes student budgets can be particularly tight. That doesn't mean, however, that students can't invest in essential equipment for the fall semester. Buying second-hand electronics is an excellent way to save money, and in many cases, refurbished or pre-owned devices can be just as reliable as new, full-priced models.

Financial management is an essential life skill, one every college student should master. By exercising good judgment and shopping around, you can get ready for college life without spending all your money before the semester even begins.

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