What NOT to buy your college-bound student this year

Victor Paul Alvarez Yahoo Shopping

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(Photo: iStock)

(Photo: iStock)

You already know college is expensive, and that’s not just because of the tuition. With that in mind, Yahoo Shopping has teamed up with Dealnews.com for a feature designed to save you money.

“Chances are your child will also have to buy books (which are increasing in price faster than tuition!), new clothes, and even some housewares to furnish a dorm room or apartment,” says Dealnews.

“With all this spending going on, the line between ‘need’ and ‘want’ can get a little blurred. Though ultimately a lot of these expenditures are up to the parental unit, we've put together a list of things that you might think a college student needs, but that you could easily avoid buying for back to school all together, if you're trying to save as much money as possible.”

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1. A Printer

Rare is the professor who requires papers and assignments to be submitted on paper. Most work is now turned in via e-mail. There may be the occasional need to print something out, but not so often as to warrant the purchase of a printer. Most schools offer printing facilities, so there’s no need for a personal printer.

(Also see: 5 must-have apps for back-to-school)

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2. A Tablet

“Unless their major is Pharmacology, your average kid can get through their entire college career without having to touch a tablet. Why? Because there are currently two types of tablets that you can buy for a student: super cheap ones that can't replace a laptop in functionality, and ones that can handle more advanced tasks — like the new Windows Surface Pros — but are super expensive,” writes Dealnews.

The days of tablet-based computing for students are coming, but they're just not here yet. Until then, tablets aren't necessary when you have a relatively well-equipped laptop.

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3. Designer Bedding

Don’t invest in any special bedding for the dorms. Whatever they slept on in 12th grade is fine for college, so grab the bargain bin bedding deals instead of the 600-thread count sheets.

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4. An HDTV

Does anyone really need an HDTV? That’s debatable, but college students certainly do not need one. Given that this generation of college students have been raised on streaming content instead of checking the TV listings, they’re likely to be watching on their laptop anyway.

“If they do want to watch something on broadcast TV, most colleges have TVs located in common rooms or other meeting areas. If your kid says she needs a TV for playing video games, it's OK to remind her that college is for studying. But if you're just a big softie who can't say no, consider giving her a hand-me-down set, instead of a new one.”

(Also see: 10 ways to save money on back-to-school shopping)

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5. An Iron and Ironing Board

“No college student has ever been seen using an ironing board. Ever. If you don't want your kid to look like a rumpled mess, it may be smarter to buy a wardrobe of wrinkle-free clothes.”

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6. New Clothes

You’ve heard of the The Freshman 15, correct? It’s the resulting weight gain experienced by college newcomers exposed to unfettered eating for the first time. They tend to over-do it a bit at the dining halls.

The result: packing on about 15 pounds in the first year.

“We're not saying it'll happen to your kid, but just in case, why not save the majority of the 'off to school' wardrobe budget for after their weight settles? Buy clothes too soon, and you'll be re-buying them a year later, once your young one discovers their meal plan entitles them to all-they-can-eat frozen yogurt.”

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7. A High-End Laptop

“Our unscientific estimate shows that 99% of all college students use their laptop for little more than word processing, Wikipedia-ing, and watching YouTube. These kids don't need eight cores of processing power to put words onto the screen.

Moreover, since laptops have become lighter and more portable, they're being brought far and wide, but lugging a laptop all over campus means an increased likeliness of damage. Would you rather receive a phone call from your kid telling you that he spilled a can of Mr. Pibb onto a cheap-o laptop or a high-end model?”

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8. A Mini Fridge

Every student wants one of these, but they’re hardly a necessity. Save a couple bucks and pass on the mini fridge rental option that many schools offer, and certainly avoid on buying one, since your kid likely won't have a use for a refrigerator that can only hold a single frozen pizza after college.

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Hard drive

9. An External Hard Drive

“Cloud storage is free and plentiful. Just by signing up for Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive alone, your student can have access to 30GB of free cloud storage! Add in Dropbox, Amazon Cloud Drive, Apple iCloud, and a host of smaller services, and you're pushing almost 100GB of storage for free. And it can't be stolen or lost or broken, either.”

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10. An Apple iPhone

If your kid just happens to need a new iPhone before college, Dealnews suggests you hold off.

“Not only do new iPhone models tend to be released shortly after school is in session, but our deal archives also show that whenever Apple announces a new product, current generation Apple devices fall in price. It's well within your right, as a parent, to force your kid to use his old iPhone until that happens.”


Readers: Can you suggest any items that are not on this list that parents should hold off on buying? Leave your comments below!

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