I don’t know the schedule in your neck of the woods but in five short days my kids go back to school. Oddly enough, for the most part they are looking forward to it. In a way so am I as it will mark the first time that I will be home alone as a stay at home dad. It’s going to be eerily quiet around the house but I’m anticipating that will benefit my writing.
Of course back to school means shopping. Ugh! That dreaded time when you realize the kids have grown two inches over the summer and the school pants that fit in May are now riding up their shins. And of course, the mile long supply list the school sent with all it’s specialty items has your mind spinning. What in the world is “Mod Podge” and where can I buy it?
Helping Consumers Save on Back to School
Some retail stores do a great job this time of year revamping and organizing their floor space to make it easier on the back to school shopper. Our two destinations – Target and Office Depot – had school specific zones where we could easily shop and pick up our items. And naturally they got the word out through advertisements on how we could save on back to school items at their store. Amazon does a great job of this as well, offering specials discounts on school items and free shipping for college students if you purchase items on their site.
Local and state governments also get involved to help consumers save a little bit of money during the back to school season.
The big deal in my state was the sales tax free shopping days that happened this past Friday and Saturday. During those two days shoppers were exempt from the 4 percent state sales tax and any local sales taxes on most school supplies, clothing, footwear and computer items. Add all that up and it could mean anywhere from 7 to 8 percent in total tax savings.
Any little bit helps, right?
I’ve got to be honest with you – and I’m a bit embarrassed about this being a personal finance blogger and savings advocate – I just didn’t care about the tax benefit the state graciously doled out. We did our supply list shopping the day before (Thursday) and the day after (Sunday) the sales tax holiday. Here’s why.
Back to School Equals Big Crowds
Perhaps this will sound odd for a man but I enjoy a quality shopping experience. Brightly lit and clean stores, organized merchandise, friendly and helpful customer service are all shopping related issues that appeal to me.
And I hate shopping in crowds.
Black Friday…forget about it. The weekend before Christmas or before school starts…no way. Sales tax free holidays on specific items…I’d rather not.
I’ve shopped in those situations before and don’t enjoy it at all. The crowded aisles…banging carts…frustrated shoppers…the lack of merchandise because it’s been scarfed off the shelves…no thanks, I don’t need any of that. Give me a peaceful, mid-week afternoon on any generic day of the year and I’ll be just fine.
Like what greeted us when I shopped with my kids at Target last Thursday afternoon, the day before sales tax free shopping kicked in. The picture above shows the gloriousness of our back to school shopping time. Not a soul in sight.
With free reign like that we were done shopping in no time.
And my mind was at peace while shopping, which resulted in me making some wise purchasing decisions (not buying just anything in order to get the trip finished because I was stressed out).
The Back to School Shopping Damage
In all, I spent $425.83 on non-clothing, back to school supplies – backpacks, lunchboxes and all – for my four kids. That resulted in a total sales tax of $24.10.
Perhaps if some bigger ticket items were being purchased on a sales tax free holiday like a computer, I’d bite and do some shopping. For me in this instance, the $24 spent on tax was well worth it for the chance to avoid the crowds and enjoy our shopping experience
Questions: Do you get a rush from shopping in crowds or do you avoid them? Would you wait to purchase an item on a sales tax free holiday? What is your ideal shopping experience? Do you enjoy any part of back to school shopping?
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally or believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”