Shop Smart, Spend Less. BBB’s Guide To Back-to-school Shopping During Tax-free Weekend

Since 1999, more and more Texans have shopped for back-to-school items during the state’s annual tax-free weekend.  However, this year shoppers are looking to spend less and shop smarter.  According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, the average family with children in grades K-12 plans to spend around $630 in school supplies.  That’s almost $40 less than  last year. The Texas State Comptroller estimates shoppers will be saving $87 million in local and state taxes.

But first it’s important to note which items are tax-free.  The law exempts most clothing, footwear, school supplies and backpacks priced under $100 from sales and use taxes, which could save shoppers about $8 on every $100 they spend.  A complete list of tax-free items are listed on this website.

So what steps can you take to ensure you’re getting to most bang for your buck?  BBB offers these tips to help you save.

Create a budget. Do a search of the items you are looking to buy and add them all up. If you are looking to spend less, make sure you stick to your budget and try not to buy items that your child may not use or need.

Use price comparison apps. Apps can come in handy when you are doing real time shopping. Some apps use your phone’s camera to scan a product code.  Then they search online databases to show you prices and information about similar products sold online or in stores.

Buy used or refurbished items. Don’t think that you have to pay full price for an item that’s good as new. Shopping for clothing, footwear, and school supplies at resale shops could end up saving you a few extra dollars.

Shop online. Avoid the long lines and stress that shopping in a store can bring. Many retailers have what you need on their website and even offer suggestions after you add an item to your shopping cart.  Some stores also offer in-store pickup so that you won’t have to pay for shipping.