How to find the best deals this tax-free weekend

It’s tax-free weekend Friday-Sunday. Here are the important numbers you should know:

8.25 percent. 

That’s the maximum sales tax rate in Texas. That’s what you could save this weekend in Texas. It’s not as good as a 20-percent-off sale or even a 10-percent-off sale, but look for stores that are having sales on top of the tax-free weekend sale for the most value.

The school supply aisle is full of supplies ready to go into your cart. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN STATESMAN

What’s tax-free this weekend?

School supplies: Binders; backpacks and book bags; calculators; cellophane tape; blackboard chalk; compasses; composition books; crayons; erasers; folders — expandable, pocket, plastic and manila; glue; highlighters; index cards; index card boxes; legal pads; lunchboxes; markers (including dry-erase markers); notebooks; paper; pencil boxes and other school supply boxes; pencil sharpeners; pencils; pens; protractors; rulers; scissors; writing tablets.

Clothing: Most clothing; socks; most shoes; ties; coats; pajamas; swimsuits; uniforms; underwear; sports jerseys; sports hats.

Others: Adult and baby diapers.

What’s not tax-free?

Athetic items: Sports shoes like cleats or fishing boots; sports equipment; sports clothing only used for the purpose of a sport ( so not jerseys, swimsuits, sweatpants and yoga pants).

Sewing items: Fabric, buttons and zippers.

Accessories: All accessories including jewelry and watches.

Bags: Purses; luggage; wallets and briefcases.

$687.72.

That’s the average each household in the United States is expected to spend on back-to-school items this year, according to the National Retail Federation. That’s $14.15 more than last year.

$100.

Any one clothing item that has a price that is $100 or above does not qualify for tax-free savings.

$87 million.

That’s the amount of state and local sales tax Texans are expected to save this weekend.

A gazillion.

That’s the number of people expected to be shopping with you all weekend. Here’s our tips to deal with the crowds:

  • Have your list ready. Know which items you are going to look for at which store. Group like items together (pencils and pens together, notebook paper and printer paper, crayons and markers, etc.)
  • Shop for more than just the school list. Shop for supplies for home, too.
  • Go early in the morning before the rest of the world is awake.
  • Go late at night without kids, when kids are asleep.
  • Pace yourself. Don’t try to do every store in one day.
  • Ask yourself if the 8.25 percent off is worth dealing with the crowds. If it’s not, save the shopping for a less crowded time, but don’t wait too long. Last year, the back-to-school aisles were taken down by the third day of school. 

Find more back to school tips, austin360.com/backtoschool.