Tips for Shopping and Staying Sane During Back-to-School Tax-Free Weekend

back-to-school shopping

Back-to-school is less than two weeks away in my household! Our oldest daughter is going to third grade and our middle daughter is going into kindergarten. Our two-year-old twins might just even start going to school twice a week since my husband begins working from home the same day the kids go back to school, and I also work from home. It is an exciting week for us, and I’m literally counting every single second until that day comes. But first, I have to get all my kids back-to-school stuff. We have done nothing but hit up Pottery Barn Kids for their lunch boxes and back packs, and that’s not like me. However, we have secured Nana to babysit the twins so we can take the big girls back-to-school shopping this weekend, and we are looking forward to it.

The only thing I cannot buy them this weekend is their actual school supplies. We don’t have orientation until the fourth, so we won’t know what their individual teachers would like for them to have until that day, so we will (unfortunately) be going to pick those items up during our state’s tax-free weekend. Does your state have that? You get a long weekend to shop for things for back-to-school and pay no sales tax on them? I believe it was designed to help parents better afford what their kids need to go back to school, but all it is to me is a giant headache of crowd-rage, too many people and not enough in the supplies department. I avoid it like the plague, and I’m upset I can’t avoid it this year.

On that note, some people love tax-free weekend and will do anything to save a few dollars here and there. If you’re someone going back-to-school shopping during tax-free weekend, whenever it is for you, allow me to provide you with a few expert tips on handling the crowds and getting the most out of your time and money.

Shop early

If you want to shop this tax-free weekend, get up early and beat the crowds. Remember, for us Floridians it is the weekend before most kids go back to school so parents are looking to keep their kids home and sleeping a bit later so that they can really enjoy those last few days off. If you set your alarm early and get up to go, you might have a good chance of beating the crowds.

Know what is included

While I wish I could tell you what is included in the sales tax-free list of items, I can’t. Each state that participates in this weekend sets its own set of rules and regulations, limitations and so on. Basically, it’s up to you to figure out what you can save on, how much you can save and what you can do to make the most of your money to beat the rules.

Keep to yourself

It’s a crowded day to shop, and it’s easier to do it if you are alone. You might prefer to shop with a friend, but it gets hectic with more people in these aisles, additional carts and the waiting game. The goal is to get in and out and not make a big deal of things when you get to work in the school supply department. Keep to yourself and if you can avoid the harried, stressed, not-so-nice shoppers, we’d recommend that, too.

Organize lists

One thing I learned when back-to-school shopping last year when my second daughter was in VPK was that shopping with two supply lists is not that easy. You need to go home, organize the lists by category and make one master list. Worry about sorting things out when you get back home and have time, peace and less stress. When you have one list that states you need 7 composition notebooks instead of two lists that state you need two for one child and five for another, it’s much easier to shop. Flipping between lists only wastes time and energy.

Give yourself time

It’s so much easier to shop when you have time and no place to go. We always take a day or make a weekend of it since lines are so long, it’s not easy to find sizes and salespersons are busier than ever. If you try to squeeze in a shopping trip in between events during the day on a tight schedule, you’re only going to find yourself stressed out more than usual and even more harried.

I don’t know what your state sales tax is, but you can save a lot of money if you shop this weekend. If you have a 7% sales tax rate, for example, you can save $70 on $1,000 worth of purchases. That’s a lot of savings, and it is very easy to spend that much when you are shopping these sales and these events for your kids.

Photo by Getty Images 


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