Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Back to school shopping tips

Adalaya Brasington, 9, of Burnsville, tests a backpack in the aisle at Target on July 26. "We are looking for a backpack, tennis shoes and a bike helmet, but we may find some other things," said her mother, Whitney Brasington.

Sure, the school supplies showed up in stores after July 4. But the real back-to-school shopping frenzy starts this weekend, when North and South Carolina suspend their sales tax on select items. Here's a few tips to help you navigate the minefield of backpacks, binders and school clothes. Read Thursday's Style section for more.

Don’t get tricked by tax-free. Under normal circumstances, would you rush out for a 7 percent-off sale? If you spend $200, your out-the-door savings would be $14 if no other sales are involved. Do the math and make sure the tax-free savings is coupled with another deal or sale. Consider the percent-age and how it works, as well. For example, a buy-one, get-one-half-off sale isn’t as good as it sounds. It’s 25 percent off each pair of shoes.

Do check return policies and hang on to receipts. No one needs to remind parents that children grow fast. Make sure you’re familiar with the store’s return policy before buying, and leave the tags on items that won’t be used immediately. Put all receipts in a central location (an envelope labeled “Fall 2008”), so if a return is necessary, you’re all set.

What are your tips for successful back to school shopping?

Listen up!
I'll be on the Matt & Ramona show at 3:45 p.m. today to talk about back to school shopping. Listen in at 107.9 FM or


  1. I'm sorry this isn't a tip, but I wanted to remind people to put an extra school supply or ten in their cart for schools who need them. There will be lots of organizations collecting and you can always take to the school you want and give it directly.

  2. Rach, totally agree on the tax-free weekend. The savings aren't all that much if you really think about it. Now, if you needed to buy anyway and there are sales on top it, it makes sense. But otherwise you're really not saving all that much.

  3. For the first two months or more of the school year it is still really hot outside. Last year, I made the mistake of buying a lot of clothes (some of which were short sleeve to go with long pants.) By the time it was cool enough to wear the pants it was too cool to wear the short sleeves. To save money, I am going to wait until early to mid Oct. to buy fall/winter school clothes and by then they'll be on sale. :)

  4. Interesting..! Well, thanks for sharing the effective back to school shopping tips.