Thursday, June 9, 2011

Save Big This Summer: Part 2

In an article by Leah Ingram, from the July 2010 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine, on saving big during the summer. This season is a got time for bargains, on back-to-school and more. Below is part 2 of  cost-cutting strategies that could lower your bills by $4,500 - plus.

1. Minimize Your Kids' After-School Expenses: If your child is planning to play violin in the school orchestra, don't automatically sign up for the instrument-rental plan; buying could be a better bet.  For instance, renting a violin or trumpet from Music & Arts, a national chain with 105-plus locations, typically cost $20 to $27 per months.  Instead, look into buying a used instrument at a store like Music
Go Round (, where purchase prices usually equal one year of equipment rental (when we checked, violins and trumpets were available for $250 to $300). The savings grow the longer your child sticks with an instrument.  And if your child doesn't want to continue? You can sell the instrument back for 50 percent of the purchase price.
Resale stores can be a real boon for parents of athletes, too: At Play It Again Sports (, a 357-store chain, you can find good condition used sporting gear to outfit your kids, whether you need tae kwon do padding or a bigger bat and glove.
2. Go Where Replacement Are Free: It's one of parenthood's great mysteries how kids manage to break, split, or otherwise destroy what seemed like a perfectly good pair of jeans or a nice sturdy backpack.  When a mother's son, now 18, wore through two backpacks in a single school year, she decided to buy a better backpack: a pricey ($75) model from Jan-Sports ( that came with a guarantee.  It paid off: First, her son broke the backpack's straps, and JanSport repaired them free.  When he busted the zipper, they sent a brand-new backpack , also for free.  She learned the important lesson that spending more on items form companies that stand behind their products can save you money in the long run.  L.L. Bean and Lands' End offer similar return policies.
3. Crunch College Cost: Purchasing new textbooks can take a bite out of any college budget, but there are new ways to save online.  The rental site will rent students a popular biology textbook for a semester fro $49, versus the $186 to buy one new ( provides a similar service). You can also apply for a tax credit to get reimbursed for up to $2,500 in college tuition and expenses, including book cost, via the American Opportunity Tax Credit (

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