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Splurge vs steal: School supplies edition

Kristin Chessman is a freelance writer, editor and mom from Southern California with a passion for travel, fashion, Disney, the beach, Italian food and all-things celebrity. Follow Kristin on Twitter @KristinChessman.

Splurge vs steal

Back-to-school shopping can be a parent's worst nightmare. From the endless search for the "perfect" backpack to the major dent in your pocketbook, this end-of-summer ritual can be a bit overwhelming. We're simplifying the process by highlighting both cheaper and more extravagant options for five common back-to-school supplies and technology. Happy shopping!

Backpack

Backpack

Steal: Panda backpack
Price: $17.99

Ecogear's Panda backpack features non-toxic dyes, sustainable and organically grown accessories and zippered internal organizers. The washable pack also includes dual side pockets and adjustable shoulder straps.

Where to buy: Ecogear?

Splurge: Ivar Zug G2
Price: $85

Thanks to its internal shelving system, the Ivar Zug G2 evenly distributes weight to guarantee a more comfortable, ergonomic fit. Students will love the convenient laptop compartment and iPod headphone port.

Where to buy: Ivar

8 More backpacks for school >>

Desk

Desk

Steal: Limble Mobile Computer Desk with Shelving
Price:
$69.99

This sleek and space-saving desk features a built-in three-shelf bookcase. Move it with ease thanks to smooth-rolling, locking casters.

Where to buy: Office Depot

Splurge: Design Your Own Desk
Price: Varies

The Container Store offers a fun, customizable option to create the desk of your dreams. Start by selecting a desktop, then select a base. Add on drawers or even a file cabinet.

Where to buy: Container Store

Secrets of great study spaces >>

Calculators

Calculator

Steal: Texas Instruments TI-15 Explorer Calculator
Price: $19.82

The TI-15 Explorer features a two-line display, problem solving, place value and more. The menu allows you to select the right settings for your child's classroom needs.

Where to buy: Walmart.com (with free ship-to-store)

Splurge: Texas Instruments TI-Nspire Handheld with Touchpad
Price: $150

Featuring an easy-glide touchpad similar to a laptop's touchpad, it's ideal for middle school and beyond. Transfer work between the handheld and a laptop or home computer to view problems on a larger screen.

Where to buy: At most major retailers or through Texas Instruments

School supplies: What you need & what you can skip >>

laptop

Laptop

Steal: Acer Aspire One AO532h-2588 10.1-inch Widescreen Netbook Computer
Price:
$299.99

This lightweight netbook comes equipped with an Intel Atom processor N450, 1 GB RAM, 160 GB hard drive and wireless-G connectivity, in addition to a built-in webcam, microphone and stereo speakers.

Where to buy: Office Depot

Splurge: "Graduation Makeover" package
Price: $1,139.99

This Best Buy package includes a Samsung laptop with built-in Blu-ray drive, plus a 26-inch HDTV and a digital camera. The laptop includes an Intel Core i3-330M processor, 4GB DDR3 memory, a 500 GB hard drive and built-in webcam.

Where to buy: Package price available at Bestbuy (online only); in-store offers vary

How to save money when shopping for a new computer >

lunchbag

Lunch Bag

Steal: Zoo Lunchies Insulated Lunch Bags
Price: $13

Lunch time is fun again thanks to these roomy, insulated bags with adorable zoo faces. The interior holds sandwiches, snacks, drinks and more. An inside mesh pocket holds lunch money, an ice pack or utensils.

Where to buy: Skip Hop online store

Splurge: Hadaki Insulated Lunch Pod

Price: $26-30

These hip, eco-friendly lunch totes feature magnetic snap closures, insulation, a rounded handle and water-resistant interior and exterior. Plus, the lunch pods can fold flat when not in use.

Where to buy: Hadaki online store

5 Healthy brown bag lunches kids will love >>

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