HOUSTON - Just ahead of the new school year, the Texas tax-free weekend for back-to-school shopping is this weekend.
The tax break can help you save a lot of money. But there are some things you want to buy this weekend, and some items you'll save more on if you buy them later.
Texas' annual sales tax-free weekend runs from midnight the morning of Friday, August 5 through midnight, Sunday, August 7.
"If you can cut that out right in the beginning, you’re going to save some money on your shopping," said consumer analyst Julie Ramhold with DealNews.com.
That means no sales tax on most clothing, footwear, backpacks, face masks, diapers, and school supplies under $100, whether you're shopping in-store or online. That can save you $8 per every $100 spent.
But note, jewelry, handbags, N-95 masks, and sports equipment and apparel are not included, unless worn outside of sports, such as baseball caps and tennis shoes.
To save more money, Ramhold says you can find back-to-school sales on DealNews.com, and use cash back apps such as Ibotta or Rakuten. But she says wait to buy fall and winter clothes, and items that you don't have to replace yet.
"If you have kids and the backpacks can survive another year, or another month at least, hold off until Labor Day and see what the sales look like then," suggested Ramhold.
She says head to wholesale clubs and sales at stores like Target and Staples for school supplies.
"Consider going in with friends and family. If you can go in with them, and do some shopping to get the notebooks and the pens and things like that, and split the cost," said Ramhold.
Laptops, software, and textbooks are not included in the tax-free weekend, but Ramhold says many are on sale now.
"Look for places like Lenovo, HP and Microsoft store, and Apple. They're all going to be having sales right now. I know Lenovo and HP were taking up to 70% off at least," said Ramhold.
She says buy tech with only the minimum RAM and storage needed, and take advantage of education discounts.
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Textbooks can cost hundreds of dollars. But there are a number of ways you can save.
First, don't buy all of your textbooks for the semester right away. You may change classes, or find a student in class you can share with, or form a study group, and split the cost between you. You can also borrow from a student who has already taken the class.
Try to buy used textbooks when you can. And ask the instructor if you can buy an older edition.
You can also check both the school and public libraries. Many have textbooks and some required classic novels on the shelves or on eBooks that you can access for free. A site called Project Gutenberg is a free eBook library.
And if you have a Kindle, you may be able to download an eBook version for a lower cost, or find it free in the Amazon library. You can also find eBooks on eBay and through RedShelf. You can also rent textbooks for up to 90% off through sites like Chegg, Amazon, Valore, and CampusBooks.
Search used book stores near the school.
And finally, ask if you can use financial aid, scholarships, or grants you've received to cover the cost of your books.