It’s August, which means the new school year is just weeks away. Time for books, binders, bus rides and back packs. But gearing up for the school year doesn’t have to be a strain on your wallet, even in terms of stocking up on supplies. Here are some simple steps you can take to make sure school preparations don’t break the bank.

Take Inventory: Chances are, you have leftover school supplies from last year. Round up everything that you already have (that’s still in usable condition) and use it again for the next year. This way, you avoid having multiple and sometimes unnecessary supplies.

Make a List: Local grocery stores, along with the big box stores, have local schools’ supply lists available to help with your school supply shopping. This will help you stay organized to buy what you need, rather than “what looks like it might be useful.” Shopping with a list will also reduce unnecessary spending and help streamline the shopping process.

See What You Can Share: If you have several children heading back to school, see what you can share between them, rather than buying multiples. This won’t always work out, but for supplies that can be kept at home you don’t always need three or four of something when one will do.

Check Out Your Closets: In addition to purchasing school supplies, some back-to-school clothes may be needed as well. Due to the school season (as well as the change from summer to fall), stores are currently advertising their back-to-school deals. Find which items you may need and plan to visit the stores where you can save the most.

Take Advantage of Missouri’s Tax-Free Weekend: This weekend, August 5-7, is prime shopping time for back-to-school clothing and supplies. The following items qualify to be purchased tax-free:

  • Clothing under $100
  • School supplies under $50
  • Computer software under $350
  • Computers/computer equipment under $3,500

Missouri state sales tax is exempt for the above qualifying purchases. However, do keep in mind that while many cities and counties in Missouri participate in the annual tax-free event each year (thus allowing you to also save on the local city sales tax), not all do. Make sure to check with your local government or simply the stores at which you normally shop to see if you can expect city as well as the state tax savings this weekend. For more information, see the Missouri Department of Revenue’s general guidelines on the sales tax holiday.

What are your back-to-school purchasing habits?