In many parts of Florida, school starts in less than a week! Depending on where you live, what school your children attend, and what grade they are in, back to school supplies can cost the average family anywhere from $100 to $500! Keeping this in mind, it is time to start thinking about a strategy for your back to school shopping. The good news is, the back-to-school tax holiday has been extended from three days to ten days this year!
The tax holiday will begin August 7 and run through August 16. Tax-free items include; clothing, footwear, wallets, bags that cost $100 or less, school supplies that cost $15 or less, and the first $750 of the cost of personal computers and related accessories. Now that you know when and what to shop for, here are some tips on how to shop to make the most of every dollar:
Have a plan
- Get the supply list for your child’s school and make notes.
- If you have more than one child, compile a combined list. If your son needs 6 folders and your daughter needs 6 folders, on your list, simply write “12 folders”. This will cut down on the time spent on shopping.
Have a budget
- Make a list of what your children will need and get an idea of how much it will cost.
- Use back to school shopping as an opportunity to help your child learn about prioritizing and budgeting. Tell your child how much they have to spend for specific items. For example, they can spend $20 for a backpack, $50 for shoes and $200 for new clothes. If they want the $90 pair of shoes, they will need to get a less expensive backpack or spend less on clothes. This will help you stay within your budget and aid in teaching your children some financial skills. It is a win-win!
- Many stores are having sales right now. If you approach back-to-school shopping like you might do “Black Friday” shopping, you can have a lot of fun with it!
- Check ads in the Sunday paper for sales on items on your list. Many papers will also have coupons for wipes, paper towels, and other items often found on preschool or elementary school lists. You can also use online coupons, e-coupons, and store loyalty cards for even more savings.
- Check out stores you may not have considered in the past such as office supply stores, dollar stores, and even thrift stores.
Plan for next semester
- Now is the time to get all of the supplies you need at a great price. If you find a good deal on some basics, stock up for next semester on items like glue sticks, pens, folders, and notebook paper.
Going back to school can be an expensive time of year; however, it doesn’t have to be with a little planning and budgeting. Put the same energy into back to school shopping that you might do with Christmas shopping. Make it a sport! Remember for next year, at the end of the summer, school is approaching and you can plan for it. If you are interested in financial management, budgeting, or shopping, consider becoming a 4-H volunteer! We need volunteers to share their knowledge and skills with youth to teach youth about financial literacy and consumer choices (smart shopping). If you are interested, contact your local UF IFAS Extension Office, or visit http://florida4h.org./volunteers.