Photo by Timothy Valentine
Economists predict families with students plan on spending about $55.1 billion on back-to-school supplies, an increase of 16-percent over 2009.
Whether you're planning on spending 16-percent or .16-percent more than last year, you can still get the best bang for your buck by combining discount gift cards and back-to-school deals.
We've compiled a list of the 10 best offers out there. Just don't blow that whole $55.1 billion in one place.
Buy an HP Pavilion dv4-2173nr laptop from Amazon for $749.99 and receive a $75 Amazon gift card applied to your purchase at check out. The 14.1-inch laptop comes with an Intel Core i5 processor.
Turn in your old Mac or PC desktop or notebook for a brand-new Mac, iPod, iPhone or iPad and get an Apple Gift Card for the value of your old computer. If your old machine doesn't qualify for reuse, Apple will recycle it responsibly at no cost to you.
If you're a college student or faculty or staff member at any grade level, Apple will toss in a free iPod touch when you buy a new Mac through Sept. 7. Don't forget to use budget iTunes gift cards to load up that free baby!
Walmart is already geared up for back-to-school gear sales. Check out their website for sales on apparel, school supplies, study essentials and more. Cut prices even further with discount Walmart gift cards from Gift Card Granny.
The office-supply merchant provides detailed shopping lists for all grade levels and teachers on their website, as well as free shipping for orders of $50 and over. Avoid the crowds and shop from home. Just don't forget to cut your costs with discount Office Max gift cards.
5. Barnes and Noble
Save up to 90 percent at Barnes and Noble on used textbooks and 30 percent on new textbooks. Barnes and Noble also will buy your old textbooks for instant cash with no fees and free shipping. Barnes and Noble gift cards can be used for new-book purchases, but used books are ineligible as they're sold through the merchant's Trusted Dealers program.
6. Best Buy
Best Buy goes Apple one step better. Instantly trade your laptop, iPod or mobile phone for a Best Buy gift card.
Check the Best Buy online estimator to determinate the worth of your product. If it's worthless, Best Buy will still recycle it at no cost and you can always pick up your own Best Buy gift card at a reduced price.
Kids with an artistic flair will love The Denim Project. If their contest entry is selected as the next "it" jeans, your creative kid will win a $1,000 college scholarship, a $500 JCPenney gift card, and other tasty gifts. Entry deadline is July 27. Check out The Denim Project Facebook page for details and samples of other entries.
JC has everything for students from kindergarten to college. Whether you're outfitting a dorm room or buying a first school uniform, Penny's has back-to-school deals to suit your wallet. Your discount JCPenney gift card can be used at their online department store and over 1,100 locations across the U.S.
Your campus apartment or dorm can be practical, functional and stylish, with Lowe's Back2Campus deals on mini fridges, storage supplies, rugs, microwaves, lighting and more from Lowe's. If the family car is already packed to the max, just shop online and pick up the supplies at a store near your place. With your Lowes discount gift card, you can select from any of the 40,000 products offered by the seventh largest American retailer.
9. Aeropostale and p.s. from aeropostale
School uniforms never looked this cute when I was in school. p.s. aeropostale offers 15-percent off when you purchase five or more items from their Uniform Approved Collection. Kids allowed to dress more free-form will find great deals on nearly the entire p.s. line of clothing.
High school and college students will want to take advantage of Aeropostale's 50-percent off sale on all tops and other offers available throughout the merchant's classic line. The same deal applies to their high school uniforms.
Discount Aeropostale gift cards can also be used at p.s. aeropostale.
10. Pizza Hut
There's no getting around it: Pizza is a staple of every college student's diet. Make sure your undergrad doesn't blow tuition money on "za" by sending him off with Discount Pizza Hut gift cards.