Theresa had some things to take care of before her family goes on vacation. Keith Still will be filling in for her this week.
Georgia’s back-to-school sales tax holiday is upon us. For the next four days, you can save big by shopping tax-free for clothes, school supplies and computers — if you can handle the madness that will be the crowds at Target, Wal-Mart and the mall.
Some moms LOVE the thrill of finding a good deal, or shopping ‘til they drop. I have nightmares about shopping even in an empty store, so I can’t imagine intentionally diving into a sea of shoppers on a “big bargain” day. With everyone nervous about the economy, however, the tax-free sirens’ call is difficult to resist.
This year, I am trying to approach back-to-school in a way that will maximize my family’s savings and minimize my need for a shopping-induced straightjacket. (I’m not sure straightjackets qualify for the tax-free weekend anyway. Click here to see what does qualify.)
Step #1 – What I really dislike about tax-free school shopping is scrambling with everyone else in the county for that last 50-cent glue stick. (It has to be the Elmer’s that starts out white and dries clear; the school doesn’t want the purple sticks, of which there are always plenty!) Because supplies for three young students are still the cheapest part of back-to-school shopping, I will NOT be wrestling for Crayola markers or red poly folders this weekend. Instead, I shopped early for supplies that were already on sale, paid the tax and still saved nearly $20. Also, if I don’t take the kids with me, I don’t come home with items we don’t need — and I leave with my sanity intact.
Step #2 – I figure it will be worth the stress to save on school clothes and shoes. Given the growth spurts my children have gone through, I will definitely need to take them shopping with me. The younger girls will wear whatever I select, as long as it fits. My oldest daughter, however, realizes her peers are watching what everyone wears. Right or wrong, that seems to be the way middle-schoolers roll. Fortunately, she understands that the sun can’t rise and fall on the Aeropostale. I will let her buy a couple of “cool” items, but I’m also on the look-out for shops with stylish clothes at budget-friendly prices to fill out her wardrobe.
Step #3 – Electronics. This is where you can get the biggest savings. The problem is, I’m not sure at this point – i.e. before my daughter has stepped into her first middle-school class – how necessary a new computer or other electronic device might be. We have a home computer to which everyone has access. I use it throughout the day. My husband will often bring work home and use it in the evening. If our daughter’s class workload is going to be so heavy that she spends considerable time writing or researching on the computer, it might be wise to buy second, very basic model. Now is not a good time to make a purchase that we don’t need, but we won’t know if we will need it until after the sales tax holiday. Sometimes, I wish the tax-free days could be split into two separate two-day events, instead of one four-day holiday. You could shop for your basics before school started, and then round out your shopping a few weeks later.
How do you feel about the back-to-school sales tax holiday? Do you wait for the tax-free holiday each year or do you prefer to shop earlier? Would you consider driving to neighboring states with later tax-free holidays to round out your shopping?
What’s your back-to-school shopping strategy? Do you take the children with you, or leave them at home? If you have older kids, are you limiting their back-to-school budgets this year? Where do you go to get the most bang for your back-to-school buck (for clothes, electronics, or supplies)? Are you letting the kids follow the trends or making them stick to basics as you shop for clothes, electronics this year?