Tax-Free Weekend Shopping Guide

The 13thannual Sales Tax Holiday, or Tax-Free Weekend, starts this Friday and ends on Sunday. You can expect to save about $8 for every $100 you spend on most clothing items, footwear and school supplies just in time for the 2011-2012 school year. To help prevent overspending or purchasing unnecessary items, BBB recommends using the following list as your guide for savvy tax-free shopping:

Check for supplies at home you can reuse. Before hitting the stores, take inventory of items you already have. You may have leftover supplies from the previous school year. Look around the house for reusable items such as backpacks, lunchboxes, calculators and rulers.

Know what your child’s school allows. Schools will often provide parents with a list of required items for the school year which can help determine what you need to purchase. These lists are also available at many retail stores and on school websites. Additionally, many schools have specific dress codes, so keep these restrictions in mind before spending money on clothes the school may not allow.

Make a shopping list. After taking inventory, create a shopping list and stick to it. This will help you stick to your budget, avoid costly impulse purchases and ensure nothing is forgotten.

Set a budget. Decide how much you are willing to spend per person a few days in advance. Include children in the process of creating the budget to teach them responsible money management.

“Back-to-School Sale” does NOT mean tax-free. Retail stores may advertise back-to-school sales because they know consumers are buying items for the upcoming school year. Certain discounts will still have taxes applied to them unless the item appears on the state comptroller’s tax-free list.

A full list of tax-free items can be found on the Texas Comptroller’s website here.

~ Erik