KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It's hard to believe that the summer's already over and the school year is about to begin. Friday starts the tax free weekend, but families are already out in full force.
"Paper, pencils, erasers, glue sticks," said Kristina D'Agostino, when she described some of the school supplies she was buying at Wal-Mart.
"Spiral notebooks, backpacks, pens," said Brenda Darity, who was also buying school supplies.
"Just basically get what they need, no extra," said Verntinia Anderson. "It can be expensive."
Families shopping for school supplies in Wal-Mart on Thursday are well aware that the tax free weekend begins Friday, but that didn't stop them from getting a head start.
"I want to avoid the crowds. So that's why I come early and get it done quick and fast, and know that products are there," said D'Agostino, who has three kids.
She says she's not waiting for the tax free weekend because she wants to skip the lines. But others didn't have a choice.
"We had to come today because the other kids are not available to come tomorrow because of work and sports and so forth," said Darity, who said she'll be back during the tax free holiday too. "It will be busy, so I'm sure that when I come back this weekend it will be very early in the morning."
Items like clothing, school supplies, and computers are exempt from sales tax starting Friday until Sunday. Darity used to be a teacher, and knows the importance of discounted school supplies.
"We had many children who would come hungry, who would come and not have the pens and paper that they needed," Darity said. "Every dollar; it really counts."
The holiday starts Friday at 12:01 a.m. Anderson, a grandmother of nine, came a day early too to get a jump on everything.
"Time equals money, sometimes," said Anderson, who said she will also be back again to shop Friday.
"With nine, you know, you're never done," Anderson added. "It's probably with the list, about $25 to $30 dollars, so with all nine, add that up."
On top of Wal-Mart's year round ad match guarantee, this back-to- school season they're launching a new application called Walmart Savings.
It will allow customers to take receipts home after they make their purchases, enter a number from the bottom of their receipt, and the app will automatically search all of the national competitors printed ads and give them discounts where prices are cheaper. Customers will receive an e-gift card within 72 hours.
CLICK HERE for more information from the Missouri Department of Revenue.
Sales Tax Exemptions:
School Supplies <$50
Computer Software <$350
Little Rock Mommy's tips on how to shop smartly during this Sales Tax Holiday:
1. Use savings apps:
Checkout 51 - Offers rebates you can redeem as soon as you purchase select items.
Ibotta - Offers rebates you can redeem as soon as you purchase select items.
Shopkicks - Offers coupons for many stores even at the mall; get points for just walking into a store.
Target Cartwheel - Offers Target store discounts which can be combined with a manufacturer coupon and a Target Store Coupon.
Target Mobile Coupons - Text "Offers" to 827438.
2. Take advantage of lay-a-ways. Qualifying items placed on or picked up from layaway during the Sales Tax Holiday are exempt from sales tax. This is another great way to get some of your Christmas shopping done.
3. Use coupons to save yourself money, but know the rules. While coupon use is allowed during the tax holiday, coupons are not allowed to be used to reduce the price of an item so it will meet the guidelines of the tax holiday rules. The only exception to this is if the coupon is a store coupon - If a retailer offers a discount to reduce the price of an eligible clothing item to $100 or less, the item will qualify for the exemption. This applies to all discounts even if a retailer's coupon or loyalty card is required to secure the discount.
4. Know your neighbors! In this case, I'm talking about Arkansas & Mississippi. Mississippi Tax Free Holiday is July 25-26 and the Arkansas tax free holiday is the same weekend as Tennessee (first weekend of August). The interesting thing is that Arkansas allows several items to be purchases tax free that Tennessee does not. For instance, in Arkansas you can get cosmetics, wedding clothing, wigs, hairpieces, and even costumes tax free- but there is no tax discount on computers.
5. Be sure to make a list and know what you need to get before you go. This will prevent impulse buying.
6. Use websites like Little Rock Mommy, which are designed to find the deals for you so you can spend less time doing the research.
- Do not buy a laptop or computer without knowing exactly what your needs are compared to what the machine you are looking at offers. If you are going to spend a lot of money on a computer it needs to meet your needs.
- Hold off on purchasing electronics if newer models are about to be release. Unless you do not mind having older versions of electronics like the Kindle Fire or iPhones, you should hold off.
- Don't assume something is on the allowed tax-free list. Make sure you visit the official state websites and print the list of allowed items. It would be a big disappointment if you spent a lot of time trying to find the best price on a specific item only to realize afterwards that you still had to pay taxes. Click here to see the 2014 Tax Free Holiday Schedule and links to each states inclusion list.
- Don't forget, back to school deals are very predictable. The almost 10% tax savings today may not be as great a savings as when the items go on clearance at the start of September.