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Making the most out of your back-to-school budget

To The Leader

 

The sales tax holiday in Texas this year is Aug. 9-11. In most cases, if a state is participating in a tax-free weekend, you can also shop online tax-free.

During the sales tax holiday, you can buy most footwear, clothing, school supplies and backpacks – each priced less than $100 – and skip paying taxes, and, there is no limit to the number of qualifying items you can buy.

Dr. Daniel Rajaratnam, clinical professor of marketing in the Naveen Jindal School of Management at UT Dallas, said taking advantage of the sales tax holiday can be a great way to save if the shopper is smart about it.

“Buying in stores is not always the best deal, so check out websites such as Amazon for items like school supplies and backpacks,” Rajaratnam said. “You may find the same item for a lower cost.”

Rajaratnam suggests these tips for getting the most out of your back-to-school budget:

  • Research before shopping. Check circulars, download retailers’ apps and save coupons prior to your shopping trip.
  • Check your inventory. See what extra supplies you have leftover from last year and what is in good condition and can be reused.
  • Use your smartphone. Use apps like Google Shopper to scan bar codes and find the best price for a product at nearby stores.
  • Follow your child’s school supplies list and stick to it.
  • Stock up. If you find a good deal, purchase clothing, school supplies and shoes that you will need throughout the year. Some stores offer bigger discounts for spending more. “Kids outgrow their clothes and shoes very quickly, and this way you’ll save money on items you would be purchasing later in the year.”
  • Head to the stores early or late. Research shows midday is the most crowded time at retailers.
  • Know what deal is best. Because most stores will not feature any sales or additional discounts during tax-free weekend, it might be smarter to wait on certain purchases until the store has a big sale. “Tax-free weekend saves you 8.25 percent in Texas, but if you’re needing several pairs of jeans, and there’s a 30 percent-off sale the next week, that’s a much better idea.”

Find the list of qualifying items for this year’s sales tax holiday: https://comptroller.texas.gov/taxes/publications/98-490/.