Shopping Early Can Save You Big on Back to School Costs

If you have kids there is a good chance they’ve left school and have the next couple months free of backpacks, text books and gym shorts. Assuming they are going back to school toward the end of summer, you might consider planning for and buying some of the clothes they will need when school welcomes them back, now.

There are a few ideas that can help you avoid the pressure and credit card spending that happens when you shop right before school.

Shop for deals. Clothes that you might find on the clearance rack today could be back on the regular sales racks in August.  Read the ads you get in the mail or with a newspaper. Set a budget each time you shop and be willing to bite off a little bit of shopping today. Don’t let your kids near the new clothes until school begins.

Shop at discount stores that sell new items, such as Ross or TJ Maxx. Again, before you shop make sure to establish a budget. The most surefire way to make sure you don’t overspend is to leave the credit cards and even the debit cards at home. Take the cash you will need to buy a few items.  And just like the clothes you bought at the regular retailers, put the clothes away until school is about to begin.

See if your state offers a sales tax holiday. Thirteen states offer a sales tax holiday on clothing in late July or early August. The max in most of the states is tax free for the first $100, but Connecticut offers a tax break on the first $300 on clothing and footwear. In 2013 Louisiana offered a sales tax break on up to $2,500 worth of anything. A few states offer the break on computer equipment. Missouri offers a break on up to $3,500 for computer equipment.  Go to the Federation of Tax Administrators website to see if your state has a sales tax holiday.

Go thrift shopping. Today’s generation of kids is not as appalled by the notion of thrift shopping as some in older generations might have been when they were young. If there are any doubts, take your kids along to make sure what you’re getting them is something they will want. Again, go with a budget and stick to it.

Shop online. This gets a little riskier because you won’t be sure something fits or looks exactly as you imagined until it arrives, but the deals can be incredible.  You might have to navigate through a lot of online shopping sites to find the best deals, but you won’t have to leave home.

A carefully planned school shopping summer can reduce the tension on your nerves and your wallet once the first day of school is getting close. Be willing to bite off a little bit of shopping at a time and you’ll find you’re sending your kids to school dressed well without you having to recover from a massive shopping spree.