This coming weekend is Oklahoma’s tax free weekend, and a lot of parents, grandparents and guardians will be out shopping for back-to-school clothing and supplies at this time to save a little money. The tax free weekend begins at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 7 and ends at midnight on Sunday, Aug. 9.
The main objective of the tax free weekend is to assist parents with school-related shopping expenses for children of all ages. Many states offer similar tax holidays before school starts. During this period, shoppers have the opportunity to purchase select clothing and footwear without sales tax. To qualify for savings in Oklahoma, the sale of clothing and footwear priced less than $100 are generally tax free (see rules and guidelines online at: http://www.ok.gov/tax/faqs.html#c412). Aside from taking advantage of sales like the tax free weekend, here are some other tips, provided by Oklahoma CPA’s Dollars and Sense column, on how to save a few bucks when shopping at back-to-school time:
* Before shopping, take a look in the closet to see what still fits, what doesn’t and what is worn out. An older sibling’s gently-worn clothing could supplement a younger child’s back-to-school wardrobe, and don’t forget to check resale shops for trendy, vintage clothing at a fraction of retail price.
* After taking inventory, create a spending plan and figure out how many pairs of pants, shirts, socks, etc. your child needs. Buy mix-and-match clothing to get more outfits out of your dollar, instead of buying a pair of pants that only matches a couple of tops, and vice versa. Also, review the school’s dress policy before buying clothes to ensure your child can wear what you buy.
Consider other possible items such as athletic equipment, class supplies and electronic devices. This is also a good time to find out what older children need for college, besides clothing. Dorm rooms are mostly furnished, but you might need to purchase bedding, grooming essentials and cleaning supplies. Encourage your child to connect with their roommate(s) early to discuss items or expenses that could be shared – refrigerators, microwaves, decorations, etc. No matter what age you are shopping for, having a plan will keep you on budget.
* Start a back-to-school swap. Instead of buying all new items, organize a way to trade among families in your neighborhood, church, or athletic group. * Involve your children. This is an excellent opportunity to teach children money management skills and concepts like comparison shopping, distinguishing needs from wants and budgeting. Including your child in the decision-making process helps them learn life-long financial lessons early, and forcing them to budget teaches them to avoid overspending on unnecessary items.
* Keep up with sales and special offers. Your children don’t have to start the first day of school with a closet full of new outfits. Buy the necessities and then keep an eye on coupons and sales. Plus, if a child experiences a huge growth spurt, you will be glad you didn’t waste your entire clothing budget at the beginning of the year.
If you buy out-of-season – buying winter clothes in the summer and vice versa – you can estimate what size your child will wear in the future or buy a couple of sizes larger to leave room to grow. It’s best to only use this strategy with clothing basics to avoid buying clothes that are out of style.
Reach Michael Bush at firstname.lastname@example.org