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Back-to-school splurges: Experts weigh in on which splurges are worth it

Back-to-school shopping is in full swing and while there are plenty of deals on offer, there are some purchases experts suggest you avoid.
/ Source: TODAY

Back-to-school shopping is in full swing and while there are plenty of deals being dangled, there are some purchases experts suggest you avoid.

"Laptops are a big-ticket investment and it can be easy to overspend or splurge,” said’s online shopping expert, Brent Shelton, “But for the majority of students, buying top line models is not needed or required.”

Adequate laptops in the $200-$350 price range abound, said Shelton, and student discounts, cash-back deals and other stackable offers may provide additional savings.


When buying a computer, skip the extended warranties offered as upsells by big-box and name-brand sites at check-out. “You can get warranties in other ways, such as using an Amex or buying a SquareTrade warranty for half the cost,” said Shelton. The same goes for the expensive accessories, which he says can often be found on Amazon and eBay for much less.

RELATED: Tips for back-to-school savings from a thrifty mom

Hold back on buying a lot of fresh fall clothing, but don’t skimp on a good backpack, says Kirsten VerHaar, retail analyst for NerdWallet.

“An inexpensive backpack might be tempting, but it could cause more harm than good; especially if it causes strain when carrying around heavy books,” said VerHaar. “If you end up having to replace it mid-year, it could end up being more expensive.

RELATED: Backpack buying guide: From sport to fashionable

VerHaar also urges parents to wait a bit before stocking up on back-to-school clothing as prices on jeans and other must-have apparel usually drop later in the season.

Some suggested back-to-school splurges are more about memories than supplies.

“My mom used to take us out for a nice lunch when we did our back-to-school shopping,” said David Volk, a dad and a Seattle-based writer who tracks deals and offers tips at He suggests parents splurge on an end-of-summer family activity, like a concert or a new blockbuster movie.

“You can sometimes get discounts on tickets through a service like Goldstar,” said Volk, “and it's one last chance to enjoy your kids before the craziness of the school year begins.”