Good news if you waited to buy school supplies: Illinois' sales tax holiday is beginning
The start of school is around the corner and it hits you -- you still haven't bought all those school supplies.
No need to worry. In fact, this is one instance where procrastination pays off -- literally.
Illinois' 10-day sales tax holiday begins today, cutting the state's sales tax rate by 5 percentage points on certain school supplies and some clothing.
That means for every $100 you spend, you'll pay $5 less in sales tax, through Aug. 14.
"It is definitely the reason that I am not going (shopping) today," Lindsey Stokes, a Lombard mother of four school-aged children, said Thursday.
Stokes bought about half of the needed school supplies earlier, but when she heard about the sales tax holiday from a friend a week ago, she decided to hold off on finishing her shopping.
"Any amount that we can save, with how much everything else is costing now, will help," said Stokes, whose youngest will start second grade and oldest will be starting high school in a few days.
Jen Hoffman, a Hampshire mother of a high school junior, said she was not aware of the sales tax holiday and her daughter already bought the supplies she'll need for school. But she may take advantage of the tax break and buy some clothes this weekend.
"It depends," she said. "Is it worth fighting the crowds?"
A survey from savings.com shows almost four in 10 parents plan to spend more than $600 on school supplies and other items, such as clothes and haircuts, to prepare their children for school. Of those surveyed, nearly half of parents were concerned that the increased costs of school supplies will limit their ability to buy everything on their child's back-to-school list, and 44% of parents plan to seek some assistance for those purchases.
Each year, the Community Unit District 300 Food Pantry does a back-to-school event that includes distributing school supplies and special food items. This year, 80% of the 160 appointment slots filled up within 24 hours.
If all 160 slots are filled, the pantry will serve more than 400 children. Last year, the event served 300 children.
Corie Wagner, a senior analyst for savings.com, said sales tax holidays are one way people can save money as they shop for supplies and clothing for their children.
Wagner also suggests shopping the sales and checking websites for coupons or promotions. For clothing, backpacks and other items, she suggests checking secondhand shops that carry gently pre-owned items your child can use.
"That's another great way to save, and it's good for the environment," she said, adding shopping secondhand shops has become more popular and many now offer online shopping options.
If you can't take advantage of the sales tax holiday and back-to-school sales to stock up on supplies for the school year, Wagner suggests budgeting for that expense throughout the year and watching for sales around the holidays.