Summer has flown by and back-to-school shopping is here. I know there are mommas and teachers out there who delight in back-to-school shopping—and I salute you. But it can also be a very stress-inducing situation with rising costs and tight budgets. So, here’s the best back-to-school deals I have found for 2022 along with some tax-free weekend shopping tips.
When is Tax-Free Weekend in North Texas and what purchases qualify as tax free?
Tax-free weekend in North Texas is Friday, August 5–Sunday, August 7. Basic office supplies, clothing, shoes, and backpacks are going to be tax free—with a few notable exceptions. Certain athletic wear and shoes can still be taxed. Plus, any of those items that are individually over $100 can still be taxed. Check out this Star-Telegram article for a more specific list of what is and what is not tax free in North Texas.
6 Tax-Free Weekend Deals / Back-to-School Deals Not to Miss!
1. Just Between Friends Pop-Up Sale
As a teacher and mom, this is my FAVORITE consignment sale in Collin County and I’m so excited that it’s happening on tax free weekend! JBF will pop up in Frisco next to Stonebriar from August 3–6. This sale is all about parents helping parents! You’ll find gently used clothing, shoes, toys, books, and more for babies to teens at great prices. Wednesday, August 3 is a prime-time shopping day—you get to sort through the deals first (but tickets are required for this event)! Thursday, Friday, and Saturday are public sale days, no tickets required. On Saturday, August 6, some items will be half price. Friday and Saturday items that are eligible will be tax free. Find the full schedule, more info, and tickets here. And follow the local Just Between Friends Facebook page to hear about other sales. They’ll also be collecting boxes of individually wrapped snacks for Frisco Family Services over the weekend. My personal favorite deals here are outfit bundles and half-price day!
Don’t miss this one!!
The old Stein Mart
3333 Preston Rd, Suite 1
Frisco, TX 75034
Get extra coupons and cash back with the app! Plus, deals where you earn coupons and clearance sections. There are so many great ways to save that the Krazy Coupon lady has 13 different ways to save during this back-to-school season at Target highlighting some of the best deals. My top picks on sale right now from Target are Cat and Jack leggings, uniforms, and classroom supplies! Check the Target Dollar Spot and the seasonal aisles to see all they have to offer as far as classroom décor and supplies. This year, they have some really cute character-themed school things too!! I’ve got my eye on a superhero pencil bag with sliding glitter and their new reusable sandwich baggies.
3. Thrift Stores
My favorite thrift store stops are Kid to Kid in Allen off of Stacy (check right next door at Uptown Cheapskate for older kids!) and Once Upon a Child on Eldorado. Kid to Kid has already posted that they will be having an extra 10% off sale. Make sure you sign up for texts and e-mails at the thrift shops for the best deals and early notifications. We also have a fantastic roundup of great thrift stores in Collin County here. My favorite deal at the thrift stores are clothes and books.
Carters has consistently had amazing sales this year. I’ve bought more clearance and matching items than I should have from them, but they were all so cute and such good deals. You’re going to want to sign up for the e-mails (you get an extra discount for doing that). Also, check the site frequently because they have different flash sales/doorbusters and switch up their clearance items frequently. They have great back-to-school sales already going on now. You can also do curbside or in-store pick up to make the shopping experience smoother. Because all of the clearance items are not available in the store, I usually end up shopping Carters online. From shoes to accessories, your younger kids will be set! (For older kids I would check out Kohls and JC Penny clearance deals.)
5. Old Navy
Old Navy consistently has great sales and quality clothes at fairly affordable prices. If you have to buy uniforms, this is a lot of parents’ preferred stop because they are frequently half off this time of year. Old Navy also has a huge online clearance selection. If I’m looking for teacher shirts and I don’t feel like sifting through a thrift store, this is my first stop! This is a great place to find shirts your kids will love at a price you’ll love. Their deals vary, so check back at the beginning and end of tax free weekend! And if you are shopping only clearance, make sure to check out their online selection because it will be a lot larger than what you will find in store.
6. Online Shopping
First of all, you don’t have to go out in 100-degree weather… so that’s a big win right there. Second of all, especially if you’re shopping for college, you might find better tech and furniture deals online at stores like Wayfair, Overstock, and Best Buy, which are all having summer sales. I also typically have more luck searching good clearance sales—like Kohls usually has—online. Amazon will also have some qualifying purchases, but make sure you check both estimated arrival date and the tax line before you check out!
You will probably find the best shoe and backpack deals online, but make sure you know the return policy before you purchase. Shoes and backpacks can be tricky because we want the best deals, but we also want quality because they will get beat up throughout the year. Cost and quality do not always go hand in hand. You would be better off thrifting a great quality backpack for $5 or $10 rather than grabbing a clearance one online that’s paper thin and not sewn together well.
In particular, Zulily is having fantastic summer/ back-to-school sales that change every few days. To find the best deals, you’re going to want to follow Jessica Turner; she’s got links in her stories pretty consistently for excellent back-to-school deals (and shopping deals throughout the year).
And if you want to start shopping before tax free weekend JC Penny and The Children’s Place are having big sales at the end of July.
Tips for Back-to-School Shopping
The Krazy Coupon Lady has an excellent article here with a ton of great tips!! As a bargain-hunting mom and teacher, here are my 5 favorite tips!
But wait!! Before we dive into those, my absolute best tip: Don’t shop with your kids when at all possible. Sometimes, yes, you want them to pick out designs and characters, but you will spend more money with kids than you would by yourself most of the time. Pro tip: Make a tracing of their foot to compare with shoes and grab a shirt that fits well to put in your purse to compare. Do make sure that anything you bring into the store you show the store security or check out person first so it’s obvious you aren’t trying to steal merchandise though.
1. Make sure you’re actually getting a deal!
Some of the deals are pretty obvious—24 crayons for .50 cents is a great deal! But for some of your bigger purchases and even clothes, they may have been marked up before they went on “sale.” And it’s important to note that sales change people’s typical buying behavior. Keep your phone calculator on so you can figure out exactly how much that percentage off comes out to. Or what the cost is per item in a group or bulk buy.
It’s tempting to buy things at reduced prices that we don’t really need or want. So, take a breath and google to price-compare before you grab something that wasn’t on your list just because the deal is good.
2. Get cash back! Especially for shopping online!
My personal favorite is Rakuten, but there are a lot of other places you can sign up that pay you to analyze your online receipts. Most of them are browser extensions that will send you a pop-up notice to tell you that the site you’re on is eligible for cash back. And for in-person shopping, I scan my receipts through Receipt Pal! It might sound intimidating and invasive, but as I see it, my purchases are already being analyzed. So, I might as well take 5 minutes afterward and get some cash back for it! Most of these apps and websites are very user friendly.
3. Shop markdowns and clearance Friday morning and Sunday night on tax free weekend. And again in September.
According to the couponers, you will find the best clearance deals marked down at the very beginning of the sale weekend on Friday. And at the very end of the sale weekend. Things that were closeout might be marked down more. Then, at the very end of August and start of September, you will see the bulk-ordered office supplies go on clearance and closeout sales. This is my favorite time to purchase extra non-necessity school supplies for the classroom. I got packs of art paper for $.25 cents each last year. While there will be inflation markups, the consumer will also benefit this year from last year’s shipping delays because the retailers have product orders from last year AND this year to sell.
4. Celebrate that junk mail on tax free weekend.
Now, please take this with a grain of salt coming from me because I just reached my free Google email/photo space limit. But this is the weekend to sign up for the coupons! And browse the junk mail you have for coupons and deals you might not have otherwise seen! You can also peruse brand names (like Bic and Kleenex) that you know you’re going to buy for printable coupons. And if you are a more responsible e-mail keeper than I, you can unsubscribe and delete after the weekend is over.
5. By far the most valuable tip: Make a solid list and over-budget!
This is something that took me too long to learn: Make a solid shopping list BEFORE you go. I think of what I will need from head to toe first, then work out the school supply list I’m given. I look through what we can use from the year before, like scissors and calculators, and highlight what the immediate needs are. From that list, work out a budget and a maximum you want to spend. If it all possible, make sure your budget is well under the maximum amount you want to spend, because inevitably you will end up with things that were not on your list. That way, you won’t end up with a lot of buyer’s remorse or guilt afterward.
And if you are in a place this year where back-to-school shopping seems absolutely impossible for your budget, there are people willing to help! Check out your local Buy Nothing Facebook groups first; many of them will have back-to-school threads you can find gems on. Then Google what charities are having back-to-school drives or backpack giveaways (and what you need to qualify for participation).
If you are in the fortunate position to not have to worry about that, please consider buying two of some of the items to send to your kids’ teachers or school.