TODAY   |  August 30, 2013

Secrets to saving on school tech devices

From calculators to laptops, the tech your kids need for school can cost a fortune. But TODAY’s digital lifestyle editor Mario Armstrong has helpful tips to keep costs down, like finding refurbished items and making group purchases.

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>>> we're back at 8:37 and we're wrapping up our special series back to school today bargain bonanza. stocking up on tech gear can add up quickly. how can you get what you need at the right place? enter mario armstrong. he is today's digital life style editor and he has deals.

>> good to see you.

>> before we get to your tips, a lot of parents thinking can we kids do with the device they had last year? do i need to upgrade? and if i buy something now is it grog to be out dated by christmas?

>> one, you can reuse the devices but if it's not usable anymore, in other words like a calculator, you maybe going into a different class where you have graphing functions and last year's calculator won't work. find out what they need to be doing and figure out can i pass it down and sell it or buy something new.

>> let's get to your specific tips. i like these. you say buy refurbish items and people think that's use, they're old, they're not good.

>> that's far from the truth. you can get great deals, 2 to $300 some savings. i have a macbook air i picked up from apple's refurbished section. so these are still quality good. you want to buy direct from the manufacturer, that's key.

>> that's a source you know. how do you make sure all sources are reputable?

>> i would go just to the manufacturer themselves. on the apple site, it's hard to find. you have to scroll down to the bottom and click refurbished and clearance to take you to the discount section of the page.

>> never pay full price for textbooks.

>> you don't need to do that anymore. one will rent you textbooks as opposed to you buying them. so you go in and i have an example right here on the website. contemporary world history normally would cost if i bought it 62.99. if i rent it, it's $22.

>> so a lot of savings there.

>> a lot of savings there.

>> make a group purchase for your electronics. you love the program that microsoft has.

>> it's called windows chip in. a kid logs on to the windows chip website. they pick the computer they want as their goal and then they can send out that link to family and friends that can all chip in what they can afford to.

>> everybody is chipping in on one product.

>> it's a group purchase for one product.

>> really smart.

>> the next one you say is don't just toss out your old electronics, sell them. are you talking about selling them to an individual or to one of those places that refurbishing electronics.

>> you want to go with someone that has done this. i have used you go to their site, three step process. i have an old iphone, what condition is it? you check those off and it will tell you the value you can get. they'll ship you the box, prepaid postage. you put the item in and they send you a check.

>> how much extra will you get if you have the warranty.

>> you get a nice little bump. a premium on that and also a premium if you don't have scratches or dings or dents.

>> and finally, and this is probably the simplest of all of them but look for stores and websites that offer back to school related bargains.

>> people miss this a lot. all of your major retails have all types of deals but online if you were to buy a mac or iphone you get a $50 gift card. if you go to microsoft for example and pick up a surface you can get this at 10% off. this is best of both worlds . but make sure when you're online or in stores tell them it's for a student. have proof with you and prove that you're buying for school and ask for a educational discount. don't buy anything at a retail price .

>> that's a great idea. money is tight and this is a great way to save cash.

>> we put extra tips on's website as well.

>> mario, thank you so much. appreciate it. and you can find more of these tips on our website. up next, a live concert on the