Cheap school supplies? 4 tips to make the most of S.C.'s back-to-school sales tax holiday

Cheap school supplies? 4 tips to make the most of S.C.'s back-to-school sales tax holiday
School supplies

School supplies

Jennifer Burnham, owner of Charlotte’s highly rated Pure & Simple Organizing, helps people keep their lives tidy. But like many of us, she appreciates a good deal.

The two traits can sometimes be at odds, and that might be especially true for Charlotte shoppers heading across the South Carolina border to take advantage of the sales tax break for back-to-school shopping this weekend.

South Carolina’s sales tax holiday, which began today and runs through Sunday at midnight, allows shoppers to buy clothes, school supplies, many electronics and select linens without having to pay the sales tax — the state’s 6 percent, plus up to 2 percent of local sales taxes. (Here’s a complete list of eligible items if you're wanting to shop for yourself.)

All that potential savings, however, can bring clutter at home — not to mention stress in the stores.

“Target on the first day of sales tax holiday might as well be Carowinds on opening day,” Burnham says. “You’ve got to ask yourself, ‘Is it worth it?'”

Charlotte’s home organization experts offer these tips to attack store shelves without untidying the shelves back home:

Go big for the best savings

Burnham encourages shoppers to look first at bigger ticket items such as computers, tablets and calculators.

“You can save a good bit, and you’re not tempted to buy too many,” she says.

She suggests at least one smaller item that provides similarly big savings: printer ink cartridges, which are expensive at full price. An organizing bonus: “You can store them near your printer.”

Keep your focus

Burnham regularly sees families shopping for a certain category of item, yet leaving with much more. The most common culprits are clothes and shoes.

“Kids get new wardrobes all the time,” she says.

So if you’re looking for some tax-free savings, stick with the consumable school supplies. The closet at home is probably full enough already.

Speaking of those school supplies…

Don’t over-shop.

“Wait for the school list,” Burnham says. “I see this all the time: People don’t know what they have at home, or sometimes school lists come out late, and people don’t know what they need.”

The result: Too much paper, pens, markers, rulers, all of which usually find their way to the bottoms of drawers.

If that happens, Burnham has a de-cluttering suggestion: “It’s easy to donate to groups like Classroom Central, or sometimes you can take supplies directly to the school.”

After you get home

Keep school supplies in a plastic container that your children can access, or in closet with some room on a shelf, says Sallie Scott of the highly rated Get Organized, which serves clients in Charlotte and Columbia, South Carolina.

“Let the child know it is their responsibility to notify you if they are down to the last pack of paper, pencils, etc.,” Scott says. “That teaches responsibility.”

Scott also suggests sending your child to school on the first day with a minimum of supplies, just something to take notes in about what supplies the teacher really likes and dislikes. You can return the rest of the school supplies you purchased but don't need.

“In the long run, you really save money by not buying a bunch of items you don’t need,” Scott says. “So tax free might really be costing you more!”

After you've shopped, try these tips for organizing your home for back-to-school days.


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