Back-to-school shopping hacks for NJ to use this summer[ad_1]
Back-to-school shopping is predicted to cost more than ever this year, but New Jersey parents and kids can find ways to save, including tax breaks offered by the state, deals at big-box stores and more.
The National Retail Federation is predicting that 2023 will be the most expensive back-to-school shopping season ever. Overall spending is expected to hit $135 billion, $24 billion more than last year. Conversely, the consulting firm Deloitte is predicting that inflation-weary parents will actually cut 10% from back-to-school spending this year.
“With budgets strained this season, continued high prices could dampen the excitement of the back-to-school season for many families,” said Nick Handrinos, the consulting firm's vice chair and U.S. retail, wholesale and distribution and consumer products leader.
"Consumers will likely prioritize where they spend money as they look to replenish their savings accounts and spend on experiences, such as summer vacations, over goods,” Handrinos said.
Kathleen Grannis of Clifton, a mother of three — two of them school-age — says she has splurged on things like backpacks and lunchboxes, which will last a few years, but searches for deals on other school supplies so as not to get them at "full price."
"All the stores do really good sales if you wait for them," Grannis said. Her son, age 5, is less picky about back-to-school clothing, and that lets her spend more on clothing for her 7-year-old daughter.
The reports both point to one thing: an uncertain and potentially costly back-to-school shopping season as the final vestiges of summer draw closer.
We at NorthJersey.com and The Record compiled a list of five hacks you could try to save some dollars and cents when buying back-to-school supplies for your child.
Scope out sales and discounts
Our network site USA TODAY.com mapped out dozens of deals you can use when shopping for your child. Here are just a few we found.
- Through Aug. 26, Target is offering a one-time 20% discount on the entire shopping trip for college students who are a member of their Target Circle, which can be joined online for free. Target is also offering up to 40% off select backpacks; school supplies like crayons, folders and glue sticks starting as low as 50 cents, and buy-one-get-one-25%-off discounts.
- Amazon is offering 20% off $40 in school supplies for Prime members, and school and college dorm supplies are priced as much as 62% off.
- Walmart is offering stationery like glue and journals for as low as 50 cents, and backpacks starting at $6.
- Sam’s Club has dorm and school supplies for under $15.
- Dollar Tree and Dollar General are both offering myriad back-to-school deals on supplies for the classroom.
- Staples is offering school supplies starting at 50 cents.
- JCPenney is offering children’s clothes for $10-under, $15-under and $20-under, on top of marked-down backpacks.
- Nike is offering 60% off select shoes and clothing if you use the code SCHOOL20.
- Dick’s Sporting Goods is offering up to 50% off select back-to-school clothing and footwear.
- With the Microsoft Education Store, educators and faculty, students and parents can get $400 off select Surface Laptop 5 models. College students can get 50% off Microsoft 365 Personal, or $2.99 monthly, which covers Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Microsoft Defender and 1 terabyte of OneDrive cloud storage. Students and educators at eligible institutions can also get Office 365 Education for free; it includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Microsoft Teams.
Take advantage of the state's sales tax holiday
Between Aug. 26 and Sept. 4, the state is offering an exemption on its 6.625% sales tax holiday for a long list of back-to-school items, ranging from computers to school supplies to sneakers and recreational equipment. This is the second year the exemption is being offered.
Anyone can enjoy this tax courtesy, regardless of where they go to school. In order to receive a tax exemption on computers, the sale price should be less than $3,000.
In a case where a seller incorrectly charged New Jersey sales tax, a purchaser may request a refund. If the request is unsuccessful, the customer can file a claim for refund through a form on the state's Division of Taxation website.
Exchanging an eligible purchase for the same item in a different size or color does not incur sales tax, even if it's after the exemption period. However, if the item is returned after the exemption period and the customer receives credit for a different item, the newly purchased item is subject to sales tax, even if it qualified for the exemption during the sales tax holiday.
“If you’re buying in bulk, this can really cut down on taxes up to a certain spend amount,” said Jill Gonzalez, an analyst with the personal finance website WalletHub.
Stock up on leftovers
Gonzalez said parents should take stock of “old school supplies lying around.”
“Try to reuse and upcycle them to save money and reduce waste,” Gonzalez wrote.
Hand-me-downs from older siblings are also viable alternatives, said Ted Rossman, a senior industry analyst at Bankrate.
“Often, members of your local community would be happy to pass along gently used clothes, school supplies, toys, etc.” Rossman wrote.
Spread out your purchases
To save money, you don’t necessarily need all your school supplies in one day, Rossman added. Ask your child’s teacher what can be purchased later in the year.
“A lot of school supplies go on sale after school starts, so if there’s something you won’t need until the winter or spring, consider buying it later,” Rossman said.
Take advantage of credit card rewards
Gonzalez said many credit cards offer cashback and reward programs that should be fully used during the back-to-school shopping season.
A recent CreditCards.com poll from March found that 23% of cardholders had unused credit card rewards.
Daniel Munoz covers business, consumer affairs, labor and the economy for NorthJersey.com and The Record.
Email: email@example.com; Twitter:@danielmunoz100
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