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Back to School Shopping

by Laura Hendrix - July 11, 2017

Back-to-school expenses can take a big chunk out of a household budget. Families with children in grades K-12 plan to spend an average $673.57 on apparel and accessories, electronics, shoes and school supplies while college students and families with children in college plan to spend an average of $888.71, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation.

Cut costs by using smart shopping strategies.

1. Shop during the sales tax holiday – August 5-6. Tax exempt items include a. Clothing less than $100 per item b. Accessories or equipment less than $50 per item c. School supplies d. School art supplies e. School instructional material Complete details are available from the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration at 501-682-7104 or

2. Plan ahead. Make a list of everything you’ll need. School supply lists are often available at discount department or office supply stores and on school websites. In addition to regular school supplies; you may also need items such as lunch boxes, art supplies, sports equipment, or clothing. Making a list helps you avoid impulse buys.

3. Comparison shop – Compare stores and brands. Watch for sales. Many stores promote back-to-school sales. Find the stores with the best prices on the items you need. Store brands and generic items are often less expensive than name brand products.

4. Use coupons - Check store flyers, the Sunday paper, and free online coupon sites. Combine coupons with other sales and discounts when possible. See details for the 2016 Arkansas Sales Tax Holiday.  For more financial management tips visit the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service.