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BACK TO SCHOOL: 2011 Tax-Free Shopping, Money Saving Tips

This week is Maryland tax-free shopping week, making it the perfect time to buy clothes and shoes for your students.

Has your child already picked out his or her very important first-day-of-school outfit? Just in case you're still looking to bolster your Perry Hall student's back to school wardrobe, this is the perfect week to head out to the stores and go shopping.

Why, you ask?

This week through Aug. 20, clothing and shoes up to $100 are exempt from Maryland's 6 percent state sales tax—a worthwhile discount for cost-conscious parents.

I conducted a very unscientific study at over the weekend, speaking to people who were shopping for school clothes. They noted the following stores as popular destinations for tax-free shopping: Khol’s, Carter’s, Old Navy, Target, Walmart, Children’s Place, Aéropostale, American Eagle Outfitters and H&M.

But while tax-free shopping week is sure to help your bottom line, there are other ways to combine discounts and save even more at your favorite stores.  

  • Use Coupons. To get the best bang for your buck, plan ahead to find coupons before you hit the stores. Look for websites that offer printable or electronic coupons that are valid for in-store purchases. One site that I frequently use, MommySavesBig.com, is full of online and in-store deals that have saved me a ton of money. The Sunday edition of the Baltimore Sun is also a great source for department stores coupons.
  • Don’t forget your smart phone. I use a free iPhone app called Coupon Sherpa to check for electronic coupons. Over the weekend, I used this app while standing in the checkout line and scored 25 percent off my entire purchase at Michael’s.
  • Social Media. Like your favorite stores on Facebook and follow them for extra special discounts. Also, follow blogs like The Ave Blog for exclusive discounts for stores in their shopping centers.

And finally, before you head out shopping, you might want to double check your child's school's dress code policy. For the first time in 40 years, Baltimore County Schools recently rolled out a new dress code (outlined on page 9 of the 2011-2012 student handbook). It was recently featured on WBAL TV news.

The new policy prohibits any apparel with a vulgar, offensive or sexually suggestive message, gang affiliations or product promotion of tobacco, alcohol or illegal substances. In addition, any attire causing a disruption, or likely to cause a disruption during school or after school activities is also banned. So make sure you and your students are aware of the policies before they head out to school.

Help Patch receive 2,000 Facebook fans by its one-year anniversary on Sept. 13.

Tony Mariella August 17, 2011 at 11:02 AM
Went to White Marsh Mall last night to get back to school clothes... No one sells long sleeves shirts yet. Disappointing.
Stacey Schantz August 17, 2011 at 01:10 PM
Wow, that surprises me!
Tim August 17, 2011 at 02:31 PM
I found just the opposite Sunday. We hit Carter's for our 4 year old as well as Old Navy. Didn't check anywhere else. I scored a cool red Star Wars - Empire Strikes Back t-shirt though!
Stacey Schantz August 17, 2011 at 02:59 PM
I agree with you Tim, I tried last week to get an extra bathing suit for my kids to take to the beach and the store looked like was like there was a forecast for snow! Guess it varies by store, but sadly loooks like fall will be here soon!
Tim August 17, 2011 at 03:48 PM
Football, hockey, changing color of leaves. Halloween, temperate weather. Other then leading into winter, fall is the best :)
Dottie Cordwell August 17, 2011 at 04:26 PM
The State could have included back packs and school suppies as well. I know the clothing and shoes help, but it is a struggle for some families to purchase all the items needed for school.
Tim August 17, 2011 at 06:12 PM
Good point, Dottie.
Stacey Schantz August 17, 2011 at 06:18 PM
Totally agree! Why wouldn't all school related purchases be included. Back packs, lunch boxes & school supplies are obvious add ons, but college kids have stuff like bedding, small microwave/fridge, computers, etc... 6% adds up when you take everything into account. And teachers buy materials for their classrooms... that too should qualify.

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