Tips For Tax-Free Weekend

Chris Sommer
August 09, 2018 - 4:32 pm
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This weekend in Texas, it's your chance to shop for back-to-school - or for yourself - and skip the sales tax.

The 20th annual Texas Tax-Free Weekend runs from 12:01 a.m. Friday through 11:59 p.m. on Sunday.  It means most clothing, footwear, school supplies and backpacks that retail for less than $100 can be purchased with no tax added.

At UT-Dallas, Clinical Professor of Marketing Dr. Dan Rajaratnam has several pieces of advice before you attack the Tax-Free Weekend:

CHECK THE STATE COMPTROLLER's WEBSITE:  In addition to clothing, footwear and school supplies, there are other items that are tax-free this weekend. Rajaratnam said, "Baby diapers, athletic socks, baby clothes, baseball caps, baseball jerseys.  There's a whole list of what you can and cannot buy at this website."

IT's ONLY AN 8 1/4% DISCOUNT: Rajaratnam says you might save more in the long run by avoiding the stores this weekend.  He said, "A lot of times stores will not have additional sales during this weekend.  And so, let's say you have an additional sale coming up that's more than 8 1/4% off.  So there, you will be saving an additional amount of money by waiting." 

AVOID PEAK SHOPPING TIMES: Rajaratnam says, "You may want to go early in the day or late in the day, because during midday is when there seems to be a lot of crowds in the stores.  That's the other thing.  Do you want to deal with all the traffic and the parking hassles during a weekend like this?" Rajaratnam also points out shoppers are likely to find a better selection early in the day.

MAKE A LIST AND STICK TO IT: Rajaratnam says it's easy to get sucked into making impulse purchases during an event like the tax-free weekend.  "They are counting on customers, once they're in the store, to pick up those impulse buys.  If you stick to your list, you're going to save on those items.  But if you start buying stuff that's not tax-free, or not on your list, you're not going to save any money."

STOCK UP ON CLOTHING FOR THE KIDS: He says if you find a hot deal, plan ahead and buy multiple items on shoes and clothing to get them through the entire school year.  "As a parent, I know kids outgrow shoes and clothes so quickly.  So, if you can buy multiple sizes and use this tax-free period (to save), you're going to benefit."

WHEN SHOPPING FOR SCHOOL SUPPLIES, LEAVE THE KIDS AT HOME: With a laugh, Dr. Rajaratnam said, "I would not shop with kids. Kids will slow you down. They'll start picking up stuff from the store. And stores know that kids are going to be wanting stuff, so they put these items at kid eye-level. It's going to be more-stressful if you have a kid with you while you're shopping."  He adds it likely will be more expensive, as well.

ASK ABOUT PRICE MATCHING: Rajaratnam urges you to do your homework and research prices on the items you need. He said, "Because of online competition, retailers will match a price that is online.  So, if you can find an online price that might be lower than the store price, do take that with you.  Because that way you can save additionally if the store is willing to match the online price."