According to the National Retail Federation, the average person with children in grades K-12, will spend more than $680 in back-to-school shopping for their kids in 2012, up from $603 in 2011. Total spending on school-aged children this year is expected to reach $30 billion. Total spending for K-12 and college aged students combined will likely exceed $80 billion.

Parents should be mindful that additional funds beyond school shopping for clothes, backpacks, shoes, electronics, etc., will be needed for extracurricular activities (i.e. sports, band, choir, etc.), field trips, organizations, and even classroom accessories.

To prepare for this expense onslaught, the Texas Society of CPAs offers the following savings tips and suggestions to make back-to-school shopping easier before the first bell rings.

• Take advantage of tax free holidays: the 2012 Tax Free holiday for Texas is August 17-19. (Note: State law exempts most clothing and footwear priced under $100 from sales and use taxes, saving shoppers about $8 on every $100 spent. Other tax-free items include school supplies under $100 and backpacks under $100 for elementary and secondary students.)

• Make an inventory list: take time to go through closets and have children try on clothes from last year to see what still fits, and what they can wear again this year. This will keep you from over-buying items that still have value.

• Create a budget and stick with it: decide how much you are willing to spend and use cash for all purchases. Leave the credit cards and checkbooks at home. This will force you to shop around for the best deals. It will also give you peace of mind knowing that a bill won’t be arriving in the mail in a few weeks.

• Share expenses: have children with an allowance, or money saved, help offset expenses. If they want to buy more than the budget allows this will teach them important money-management techniques like sticking to a budget, establishing wants vs. needs, comparison shopping, etc.

• Stack offers and deals: many stores have additional discounts on top of back-to-school sales. For example, some retailers will have an offer for an extra 10 to 15 percent if you bring in a flier or coupon… Always look for additional ways to save.

• Use coupons: grab the Sunday paper for the next few weeks and search the stack of coupons. Also, take a few minutes to search online for coupon sites. This is a great way to find stores that match competitor deals.

• Shop discount stores: go to a dollar or thrift store to find basic supplies like pens, pencils, rulers, etc. at affordable prices.

To learn more about money management, and how to achieve financial independence, visit Texas Society of CPAs’ consumer website There you will find free personal finance information divided into different life stages.


TSCPA ( is a nonprofit, voluntary, professional organization representing Texas CPAs. The society has 20 local chapters statewide and has more than 28,000 members, one of the largest in-state memberships of any state CPA society in the United States. TSCPA is committed to serving the public interest with programs that advance the highest standards of ethics and practice within the CPA profession.