It’s officially back-to-school time in the state of Georgia which means polishing up the old routine of making lunches, doing homework, and the frantic mornings of getting everyone on the bus or into the carpool on time. It is also that time of the year where you are going to begin stocking up on school supplies if you haven’t it done so already. All I can remember from my childhood and teen years was my mom taking me to the local K-Mart to pick up a few Bic pens, some No. 2 Ticonderoga pencils, and my color coded Trapper Keeper to organize my classes. Nowadays we’ve got an entirely different routine with school systems providing lists instructing us to practically buy an entire shopping cart of school supplies.
This year, my two middle school children have lists both in excess of thirty items that were ‘necessary’ for them to get. It seems every year the list gets larger and larger. So what can you do to save money when it comes to buying your school supplies?
- GA Tax-Free Shopping Weekend– On the upcoming weekend, you can potentially avoid sales tax on items like clothing, computers, and school supplies. I would say that if you are only going to be spending $100 on overall school supplies, waiting to do this in the crowds might actually cost you money in time versus actual monetary savings. However, this is a potential way to lower your bill.
School Supplies During the August 9-10 sales tax holiday, the following items will be exempt: General school supplies to be used in the classroom or in classroom-related activities with a sales price of $20.00 or less per item. Examples of exempt items: •Appointment books
•Book bags, including backpack-style bags
•Daily planners and agendas
•Erasers, chalkboard and pencil
•Notebooks and memo books
•Paper (e.g., notebook, construction, printer, graph, easel pads)
•Staplers and staples
•Tape and tape refills
- Ask For A Discount At The Register– I actually went shopping before the GA tax free days because I think it will be utter madness this upcoming weekend before school goes back in session. At certain stores including some of the brand name office supply stores, you can get up to a 15% discount right at the register check out. All things considered, that 15% is worth even more of a discount than the actual GA sales tax break.
- Shop Early– With the standardized school lists that are provided to parents these days, you may want to get a jump on buying your school supplies early. Do you have a child who is very picky about the color of their notebooks? Often, places like Target and Staples stock up on the main items that the school system will ask you to get for your child. If you get to the stores at the 11th hour, you may not be able to get all of the items your children will need which can cost you more time and money by having to go to multiple stores to find all of the items on the back to school list.
- Check The Internet– Before you head out the door, just scan the internet to see if any coupons are available for the office supply store where you will be purchasing a majority of your child’s school supplies list. At any given time, there can be coupons for particular items or for a general purchase at the store.
As we completed our shopping list this year, I wondered when life became so complicated. The necessity for a flash drive? A bottle of Fantastic Spray? Hand sanitizer? And two boxes of tissue? I’d rather my children just cry it out and use that generic brown paper towel stuff that they put in the bathrooms! Like any expense in our budgets, back to school supplies are one of those overlooked expenses that you should try to plan out from year to year. Expect that between school supplies, clothes, backpacks, and technology, you could run $500 to $1000 a kid just to get them back on the bus and into the first day of class.
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Ted Jenkin, CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS® Co-CEO and Founder oXYGen Financial, Inc. Securities and Investment Advisory Services offered through NFP Advisor Services, LLC (NFPAS), Member FINRA/SIPC. Oxygen Financial is not affiliated with NFPAS.