Miss the days of being a student? If the arrival of fall brings back fond memories of returning to class and enjoying big discounts on many items you're now paying full price for, there are still ways that you can still take advantage of some student-themed bargains by planning your purchases accordingly. (For some great back to school deals, check out Best Back-To-School Deals.)

TUTORIAL: Budgeting Basics

Computers
Computers and all the peripheral devices tend to go on sale in August or September. If you're looking to buy a new computer, printer, memory stick or just about anything else to go with it, plan your purchases for this time of year. Stores and online retailers are competing for business during this time of year when many students need to purchase computers. Because of this, retailers tend to offer back-to-school discounts or promotions that almost anyone can take advantage of.

Cellular Phones
Most cellular phone providers offer discounted rate plans for students, especially around September, when students are either just moving out on their own for the first time or returning to school for another year. Though many cell phone providers will require you to have a valid student identification card in order to get the bargain rate, there are still options. If you work at an educational institution, either as a support staff or as a teacher, many student rate discounts will extend to you as well. Also, many cell phone providers offer family plans with similar discounts, and those discounts can apply to almost anyone as long as they meet the criteria. You may also find bargains for purchasing a new cell phone, so if you're looking to buy a phone, this could be just the time to do it.

Internet or Cable Television Providers
Similar to cellular phone rate promotions, many Internet service providers and cable television providers offer special rate plans or incentives to students who sign up. If you're considering changing providers, this might be a good time to do it. Inquire about any current rate promotions and see if you're eligible.

Stationery Supplies
Just because you're no longer taking classes doesn't mean you don't still need pens, pencils, notebooks and all the other stationery supplies that are in heavy supply come August and September. Stock up your stationery supplies for the rest of the year during back-to-school promotions when most supplies are quite inexpensive compared to other times of year.

Clothes and Backpacks
Outfitting the family for going back to school can be costly, and for this reason many retailers offer clothing discounts on fall clothing and accessories. Plan your clothes shopping trips accordingly and purchase some new fall clothes and shoes during these back-to-school sales. Backpacks are also on sale, so if you're in need of a new bag to cart around your work documents or gym gear, this is a great time to look for deals. Keep in mind that clothing sales happen year-round, so don't invest too much in fall clothes just because there are some deals to be had. What's fashionable now may not be so hot come next year.

Home Furnishings and Linens
New students are often faced with having to fill their new apartments or dorm rooms with small home furnishings. August and September are often a great time of year to purchase bed linens or towels, inexpensive home furnishings like futons or computer desks, or even small decorative items for the home. (For some other ways to save money, read 5 Money-Saving Shopping Tips.)

Vacation Bargains
Many campus-based travel agencies specialize in budget or discount travel. If you're looking to score a fabulous holiday at a discount rate, many of these travel agencies also offer their services to non-students. You may be able to find a seat on a chartered aircraft, or get a great bargain on a guided group tour. Though these travel agents have access all sorts of travel deals, keep in mind that many of the tours and packages that these agents specialize in are often targeted toward a younger generation. However, these travel agents are well versed in planning great holidays on a tight budgets, so this could be a great way to save some cash and have fun doing it.

Web-Based Promotions
A large number of online retailers also offer back-to-school discounts. One of the perks of shopping for student discounts this way is that it's actually a little tougher to prove that you aren't a student. You can find discount codes online for everything from clothes, books, linens and photo finishing. Do web searches for student discounts and see what comes up. Some higher-priced items may require you to register your student identification number or email address to qualify, but many lower-priced items will only require that you have their online coupon code.

Student Discount Cards
Student discount cards allow cardholders to enjoy great discounts at various local stores and attractions as well as many worldwide locations. Though these discount cards are designed for students, there are some exceptions where non-students can obtain and use the card. Staff of educational institutions, both teachers and support staff, often qualify for these discount cards. And some cards have broad age restrictions that allow non-students who fall within a specific age group to apply for the card as well. There are a number of student discount cards available. Do your research on what each card requires for you to qualify, and you might just be lucky enough to be eligible.

The Bottom Line
Getting student discounts or taking advantage of student-themed bargains when you're no longer a student isn't unethical, it just makes good sense when you're trying to save money. Most retailers want people to purchase and use their products, so it can be a win-win situation for everyone. Taking advantage of seasonal sales is a great way to save money, so make the most of the sales geared toward students. When signing up for a new service like a cell phone plan or cable television, don't be shy to ask if they have any promotions going on. At the worst, they can decline giving you the rate deal, but there's also a chance the company may extend the deal to you. In this high-cost world, being bargain savvy just makes sense. (For more information on which season yield the best deals, see A Map To The Year's Best Shopping Deals.)

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