Well, school is set to start in just a few short weeks!! Did this summer go fast or what? If you have a student going into a grade where they start band or orchestra lessons (for us it is sixth grade), you will have to make the decision as to whether you want to rent an instrument or purchase it. Your child's music teacher will show you the options, but keep in mind that they likely will not show you ALL the options.
I have a daughter in orchestra and a son in band, and we purchased both the violin (actually 2, since she started with a 3/4 and now uses a full size) and the clarinet. We spent less on the three instruments than some music stores charge for one full-sized violin or one clarinet. We got them new, not used, and they are of excellent quality.
You of course will want to explore all the options, but I will tell you that I was not impressed with the idea of renting or rent-to-own unless you are confident your child will drop out of the music program after, say, the first year. I was leery of garage sales and e-bay, and the music stores in our area charge outrageous prices for USED band and orchestra instruments, let alone new! The option we used was to go on musiciansfriend.com. They have a wide range of instruments from beginner's level to advanced, and if you are not happy with your purchase I believe they have a money-back guarantee. We never had to use the guarantee because we were more than pleased with what we bought. Both my daughter's orchestra teacher (who discourages buying an instrument on-line) and my son's band instructor had very good things to say about the quality of the instrument. I would strongly encourage you to check out this option if you need to purchase an instrument for your child.