Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Tax-free weekend tips for the busy shopper
Or: Ways to stay sane while you shop among the crazies.
Parents, get your shopping carts ready. On August 17, 18, and 19, Texas shoppers can skip out on sales tax on clothing, shoes, and school supplies under $100. Think of this three-day shopping spree as the eventual end to summer vacation, as school begins August 27.
Tax-free weekend is a wonderful money saver and a terrible headache. Instead of the usual hundred-or-so people milling the aisles at Wal-Mart looking for Sally’s first-day-of-school outfit, one bazillion people will be doing just that.
Money saving comes at a price, but you don’t have to lose your sanity. Take our tips before you head out on the town:
Know the game. The list of tax-free items is very specific, and you’ll be bummed out if you get all that stuff up to the register and find that only a few items come sans sales tax. Find eligible school supplies here and clothing and shoes here. If you need items that aren’t tax free, consider buying them another day when stores won’t be as crowded.
Opt for shopping centers instead of malls. Many enclosed malls are having special events during tax-free weekend, like fashion shows. This is good for the fashionista who doesn’t know what she wants, but it’s bad for the shopper who wants to get in and out without getting stuck on one end of the runway. Find an open-air shopping center where you can pop into the shops you know you need. It’ll keep you (and your opinionated kids) away from the stores where you’ll buy stuff just for the sake of buying.
Bring a list. Don’t let your kids con you into thinking they need two new pairs of Toms instead of one. Make a careful list and check it twice of all the places you’d like to go and the exact items you need from each store. Remember to compile kids’ school supply lists into one, buying larger, cheaper sets of items like mechanical pencils and notebook paper if several of your kids need them.
Grab a cart. A cart is one of the most non-violent vehicles of violence. Picture this: There you are, calmly rolling your cart down the aisles of Target, hunting for a pink backpack. But there’s only one backpack left, and the enemy is reaching in. Nonchalantly glide the cart a few feet her direction, cover your territory, and secure the package. Roll away calmly like the desperate housewife she thinks you are.
Fuel up. You’re going to cover a lot of ground in little time. Bring yourself a bottle of water and a snack so you don't cut your trip short. Bribe crabby children with small snacks. Remember, it’s better to knock it all out in a long afternoon than to shop for three days straight.