Back to School Shopping Tips
PLUS Tax Free Dates 2019
Fall is almost here and if you’re a parent, your hands are probably hovering over the panic button about now thanks to all the supplies you need to purchase and organize in time for the first day of school.
It seems like they get out for summer break one day and the next you have to start thinking about the upcoming school year. With all the supplies you’ll need to purchase and clothes and shoes it can become overwhelming in a hurry.
However, back to school shopping doesn’t have to break the bank. With a solid game plan, you won’t have to stress over backpacks, glue, and markers. Here are some of the best tips that will help you check all the boxes on that supplies list. Let’s get started!
Start with a List of Supplies You Need
Most schools provide a list of required supplies so can start from there. If your school does not provide a list, you can also check out recommendations available online or from other parents with kids in the same grade as yours. With your list in hand, you’ll be able to determine which items are necessary and which ones you can be more flexible about.
It’s also a great idea to get your kids involved. Sit down with them and discuss the list and let them know how much you’re willing to spend on certain items and if your budget allows for extra things not on the list. If you’re taking your kids with you to the store, setting boundaries beforehand can also lead to a much more pleasant shopping experience for everyone.
Take Stock of What Your Kids Can Reuse This Year
Some gear like clothes, backpacks, lunch boxes, and pencil cases can be reused. Prepare an inventory of supplies you have at home that your kids can use again. Take stock of smaller items too like pens, markers, and rulers that can be reused from the last school year.
You can also consider upcycling and recycling certain items as a last hurrah summer project with your kids. If they have a bunch notebooks that they haven’t used up from last year, you can consider putting the unused pages together and jazzing them up with stickers, magazine cutouts, or fabric scraps.
Watch Out for Promotions and Bargains
Many stores offer back to school sales so watch out for those. Some offer free shipping on online orders while others slash off a few dollars on the supplies you’ll need. Always keep your list of school supplies up to date and with you just in case you come across these promotions and bargains while you’re out running errands.
Take Advantage of Price Matching
Major retailers like Walmart, Target, Best Buy, and Kohl’s offer price matching and price adjustment policies that can help you save a few extra dollars when shopping for your supplies.
Just be sure to look up every store’s specific policies since this varies across retailers. Some require you to bring a copy of the ad and won’t honor online prices.
Shop for Quality Where it Matters
Choose quality supplies like backpacks, lunch boxes, and even folders. While you can find cheaper options for these items, you’ll likely end up buying a new one midway into the school year if and when these break down after a few uses.
While higher quality supplies like these may cost more when you purchase them, they tend to last longer so your child can reuse them for another couple of school years which can save you more money in the long run.
Take Advantage of Manufacturer’s Coupons
Office supply brands often offer coupons a couple of months before the school year starts. Watch out for magazine coupons, in-store coupons, and printable coupons that slash off a few dollars on school supplies. Redeeming these coupons will help you save some big bucks. Some coupons even offer freebies like pens and pencils so you don’t have to buy them.
Consider Buying Supplies on Tax-Free Shopping Days in Your State
Many states offer tax-free shopping days that will allow you to save even more money on back to school supplies shopping. These often happen in August and the timing is perfect for shopping for items like clothing, computers, software, school supplies, and books. The schedule is as follows:
- Alabama: July 19-21, 2019 (clothing, computers, books and school supplies)
- Arkansas: August 3-4, 2019 (clothing and school supplies)
- Connecticut: August 18-24, 2019 (clothing and footwear)
- Florida: August 2-4, 2019 (school supplies, clothing and computers)
- Iowa: August 2-3, 2019 (clothing)
- Maryland: August 11-17, 2019 (clothing and footwear)
- Mississippi: July 26-27, 2019 (clothing and footwear)
- Missouri: August 2-4, 2019 (clothing, computers and school supplies)
- New Mexico: August 2-4, 2019 (clothing, computers, computer equipment and school supplies)
- Ohio: August 2-4, 2019 (clothing and school supplies)
- Oklahoma: August 2-4, 2019 (clothing)
- South Carolina: August 2-4, 2019 (clothing, school supplies and computers)
- Tennessee: July 26-28, 2019 (clothing, school supplies and computers)
- Texas: August 9-11, 2019 (clothing, backpacks and school supplies)
- Virginia: August 2-4, 2019 (clothing, school supplies and energy star products)
If you live in the states of Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon, then you’re in luck because these states are always tax-free.