Back to School Tax Holidays! Find Savings in Your State!

 

 

schooll

If you’re like most parents you keep your eyes open for any discounts that will save you a few bucks! Every year I try to post some resources that may save you a few dollars. This is one of my favorite resources from Bankrate, which is a list of each state and the days you can shop for school supplies, clothes and more…tax free. Check out the list below and start shopping!

 

2016 Sales Tax Holidays
State Date Details
Alabama Aug. 5-7
  • Books: $30 or less.
  • School supplies: $50 or less.
  • Clothing: $100 or less.
  • Computers and software: $750 or less.
  • Alabama cities and counties can opt out of the holiday. They also can participate on a limited basis, meaning only a portion of the locality’s total sales tax is exempted.
Arkansas Aug. 6-7
  • Clothing: $100 or less.
  • Apparel accessories: $50 or less.
  • School supplies: no dollar limit (most art materials are considered school supplies).
Connecticut Aug. 21-27
  • Clothing and footwear: $100 or less.
  • Custom orders of $100 or less placed and paid in full during the tax holiday week qualify for tax-free status even if the item is delivered after the holiday ends.
Florida Aug. 5-7
  • School supplies: $15 or less.
  • Clothing, footwear and accessories: $60 or less (items sold at theme parks or other entertainment complexes, hotels and airports are still taxed).
Georgia July 30-31
  • School supplies: $20 or less.
  • Clothing and footwear: $100 or less .
  • Computers and computer accessories: $1,000 or less. Computer-related accessories designed for recreational use (e.g., video games and devices) and items used in a trade or business remain taxable.
Iowa Aug. 5-6
  • Clothing and footwear: less than $100.
Louisiana Aug. 5-6
  • Most tangible personal property: $2,500 or less.
  • Holiday reduces the state’s 5% state sales tax (4.97% state sales tax plus 0.03% Louisiana Tourism Promotion District sales tax) to 3% for eligible items. Does not apply to sales taxes levied by parishes, municipalities, school boards and other taxing jurisdictions.
Maryland Aug. 14-20
  • Clothing and footwear: $100 or less.
  • School supplies remain taxable.
Mississippi July 29-30
  • Clothing and footwear: less than $100.

The city of Heidelberg is not participating in the 2016 tax holiday and will collect sales tax during the tax-free period.

Missouri Aug. 5-7
  • School supplies: $50 or less.
  • Clothing: $100 or less.
  • Computer software: $350 or less.
  • Personal computers and peripheral devices: $1,500 or less.
  • Graphing calculators: $150 or less.

Local jurisdictions can opt out, meaning that they will collect those sales tax amounts, but the state’s 4.225% tax will remain exempt for qualifying items.

New Mexico Aug. 5-7
  • School supplies: $30, $100 and $200 or less, depending on the type of supply (Classroom materials in the $30 per item category include: notebooks, paper, pens, pencils, crayons, art supplies, staples, staplers, scissors and rulers. School supplies for the $100 or less threshold include backpacks, maps and globes. The $200 or less category covers hand-held calculators.).
  • Clothing: $100 or less.
  • Computer peripheral devices: $500 or less.
  • Computers: $1,000 or less.
Ohio Aug. 5-7
  • Clothing items priced at $75 or less each. (The number of apparel pieces is unlimited as long as each item’s cost is the cap price or less. If an item of clothing sells for more than $75, tax is due on the entire selling price. Accessories and sports equipment still are taxable.).
  • School supplies priced at $20 or less each.
  • School instructional materials priced at $20 or less each.
Oklahoma Aug. 5-7
  • Clothing and footwear: $100 or less.
  • Mail, email, telephone and Internet sales are tax-free as long as the items are ordered and paid for and are available for immediate shipment during the sales tax holiday period, even if the purchases arrive after the holiday ends.
Tennessee July 29-31
  • Clothing and footwear: $100 or less.
  • School supplies: $100 or less.
  • Computers: $1,500 or less.
  • Eligible items purchased but on back order outside the customer’s control will remain tax-free.
Texas Aug. 5-7
  • Clothing and footwear: less than $100.
  • Backpacks: less than $100 (Backpacks with wheels are tax-free as long as they have straps that allow them to be worn as a traditional backpack).
  • School supplies: less than $100.
South Carolina Aug. 5-7
  • No maximum price limit is imposed for any of the following items: clothing, accessories, footwear, school supplies, computers, printers and printer supplies, computer software, bed linens and bath accessories.
  • Sales tax still applies to purchases of jewelry, cosmetics, eyewear, wallets, watches and furniture.
Virginia Aug. 5-7
  • School supplies: $20 or less (School supplies are items commonly used by students, including art and music materials, but not computers.).
  • Clothing and footwear: $100 or less.
  • Products that meet Energy Star and WaterSense qualifications and are priced at $2,500 or less Hurricane preparedness items, including portable generators priced at $1,000 or less, gas-powered chainsaws priced at $350 or less, chainsaw accessories priced at $60 or less and other eligible items priced at $60 or less.

Read more: http://www.bankrate.com/finance/taxes/sales-tax-holiday.aspx#ixzz4G6hybTdl List provided by Bankrate.

Some Tips To Start Your School Year Off With Ease!

I hope all your lovebugs will have  a great kick off to the new school year! Single moms know the morning can be a challenge when you’re trying to get the kids out the door along with yourself. Here are a few tips on making your routine easier that have worked for me.

  1. Prepare lunches the night before. Some lunch items you can prepare for the week. For example, if you pack fruit, prepack your fruit in 5 ziplock bags for the week. Then you can just grab them and throw them in the lunchbox. Whatever you can pre-baggie for the week do it!

  2. Getting dressed is half the battle. If your child wears a uniform to school have them washed for Sunday for the week and simply hang them up to be ready to go  for the week. This will work for you too! Think about what you want to wear during the week and have it ready to go!

3.Prepare bookbags the night before. Make sure the homework is in the bookbag and the bags are near the door or in a closet ready to grab. Try to get the kids  into the habit of putting their books into their bookbag once they’re finished with their homework.

  1. Purchase a dry erase board calendar and hang it where everyone can see it. Make this central command! On this calendar put all classes, PTA meetings, field trips, and special homework projects due. If you find one that has a cork board use it to post invitations, permission slips, etc.

  2. I’m a  big advocate of eating around the dinner table so preparing a menu for the week keep us from ordering out. During the weekend talk about what dinners you want for the week. But the food, slice and dice veggies ahead of time, and try to prepare a couple meals for the week so you can just heat it up and skip all the prep time. Also remember that the slow cooker is your friend, utilize it as much as you can.

  3. If your kids have activities after school, like mine does make sure those uniforms are clean and packed in a separate bag for the week. For example, my daughter takes ballet on Monday, so on Sunday I have her ballet gear packed in her ballet bag and in my car so we are sure not to forget it.

Preparation is key to getting out of the door on time! Make your mornings less stressful with just a few extra worthwhile steps!

The Best Deals for Uniform Polo Shirts

If you have to buy uniforms for your back to school shopping then you may want to check out these deals on Polo Shirts. I usually buy 5 short sleeve and 5 long sleeve one for each day of the week, it just makes it easier in terms of laundry and preparation for the week. Here are some of the better deals I’ve found on polo shirts.

Walmart-The George – Girls’ Short Sleeve Polo Shirt $4.97 each

Target-Cherokee, Girls’ Fashion Polo Shirt $5.00 each

Old Navy– Girls Uniform Polo 4-Packs $20.00 (there are also coupons for 25% off any amount of total)

shirt

Back To School Sales Tax Holidays! Find Your State!

School is back into session and every little discount matters! If you are looking to save some money take a look at the days your state offers Back to School Tax Holidays. Check out Bankrate’s Interactive Map to see if your state is offering a tax break on back to school shopping. When you click on the map you’ll be taken to the original posting which will take you to your state. Happy Shopping!

sales-tax-holiday-usmap-2015

 

Tips On Making Going Back to School Easier!

school

I can’t believe that in less than a month Anya will be going to the 4th grade! Some of your children may have already started school so this post may be a little late for you all, but for those of you whose children start in the next few weeks there is a lot to get finished before the first day rolls around! I firmly believe the best way to start out a new school year is to be prepared. This is coming from the nerd girl who would write out her goals for the new school year in July! Yes, I was that girl! Now I have my own little girl to get prepared for her 1st day and I won’t lie I still get giddy. But, it can also be a stressful time that can cause a lot of anxiety. So here are a few tips on how to prepare so that you can enjoy the first day too!

Make Separate To Do Lists for Each Child
List A: School Supplies-Including bookbags and lunchboxes
List B: Clothing-If your child has to wear a uniform make sure you have a complete list from the school of everything they need such as the color of socks, the type of shoes, shirts, rompers, pants, gym uniforms, etc. If they do wear a uniform call the Uniform Supplier at least 2 weeks ahead to make sure everything is in stock.
List C: Forms-Some schools may require medical forms make sure you have your child’s medical records available. Also have your emergency contacts ready by ensuring you have correct numbers, emails, and addresses.
List D: Finances- If you have any deposits or tuition payments try to square that away well in advance of the first day of school. If you are getting tuition deducted automatically confirm that the correct amount is being taken out. If there are expenses that you know that are coming up take note of these so you can prepare for them.

Extracurricular Activities
With the start of the new school year comes the beginning of extracurricular activities. My daughter actually starts ballet a day before her first day of school. Make sure that you purchase any specific gear they need a couple weeks beforehand so that you can avoid last minute running around.

Household Preparation
Having your house organized to a degree that will make your mornings easier will be a life saver and save you from being a grump. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Keep It, Give it Away, or Throw it Away- Take some time before school shopping to have your kids try on clothes and shoes that they normally wear to school. Then decide if you are going to keep it, give it away, or throw it away.
  • Laundry- Have uniforms and clothes washed, ironed and ready to wear for the first week will help you feel like your one step ahead.
  • Labeling-Label clothes, lunchboxes and school supplies as soon as you get them
  • A Space for Stuff-Give your kids a designated area if they don’t already have one to put bookbags, shoes, etc.
  • Grocery Shopping-Try to get to the grocery store and plan in advance the lunches you’ll be making a week before. Get all zip lock baggies, plastic containers, etc. that you’ll need to make lunch.

Save the Dates!
I sometimes find it difficult keeping track of all that goes on with one kid, so I can only imagine if you have a couple kids how scheduling can get hectic. Do yourself a favor and jot down the dates in your calendar whether that is on your phone or in an organizer and if you have a family calendar make sure you update it every month. Many schools have their schedule out for the whole year, take a minute and put them in your calendar. Here are some things you may find schedule worthy:

  • Teacher Meetings
  • Breaks and Holidays
  • School Pictures
  • PTA Meetings
  • Events for parents and grandparents
  • School Events like field day, parades or class parties
  • Extracurricular Activities

If you share weekends or weeks with your child’s father make sure you communicate and share a calendar also keep your kid in the loop they like to know what’s going on.

Car Pools
If you are doing a car pool confirm the schedule, pick up times and drop offs. Be clear on the arrangements and have a back up plan in place. I suggest doing this a few weeks before school begins in case any unexpected changes occur.

Summer Homework
If your kids have any homework over the summer this is the time to make sure that it is getting finished. You may also want to help them sharpen up their skills before they go back. A quick review of the basics will go a long way.

Adjust Bedtimes
The laid back days of summer may have meant being laid back on bedtime. For the sake of yourself and your kids, start gradually getting back into the school routine 2 weeks before the first day. This goes for you too! :)

Have a Family Meeting
This doesn’t have to be anything formal or long and drawn out. The idea is talk about the upcoming year. If there are changes to your schedule and your child will be in aftercare an hour longer those are things you want to communicate. This is also a good time to discuss bed time, homework, and just anything that’s on their mind. You’d be surprised how nervous kids get about a new school year and talking about what’s on their mind can help alleviate some of that anxiety. Make the meeting fun, maybe have pizza for dinner or go out to a diner and get a yummy treat afterward.

The more prepared you are the easier it is for everyone! Lastly enjoy the remaining lazy days of summer with your kids!

Healthy After School Snack

I try to prepare an after school snack for Anya before she gets home, so it is ready. Which means I need it to be healthy and easy to make since I’m working at home and often really busy. Today’s snack is rolled up turkey tolls, strawberries and a few grapes. I try to sneak some protein in there and to hold her off until dinner and turkey rolls are simple and healthy!

snacksc

10 Ways to Celebrate the Last Day of School!

It's Summer!!!!

It’s Summer!!!!

The end of the school year has arrived! Didn’t I just write a post on how to get prepared for the 1st day of school, sheesh! I’m ready for those lazy days of summer and I know my daughter is counting down the days. The last day of school signifies a sense of victory that should be acknowledged and celebrated! Hey, your kid got through another  year and so did you mom! You made it through the field trips, report cards, the early morning hustle, and the million other little things that take place between those 8-9 months. So yes, the last day of school is reason for a celebration! Here are 10 fun ways you can celebrate the last day of school with your kiddos!

  1. Go Berry Picking! What better way to start the summer with berry picking at a local farm? Make a yummy dessert afterwards. We did this last year and it was fun and delicious!
  2. Plan a Picnic by a Lake: Gather up all your kid’s favorite foods, get a blanket and eat dinner by a lake, a park or even your backyard.
  3. Have a Party! Everyone loves a party! Keep it small and simple. Grill some food, play games and celebrate!
  4. Go Camping-Dust the tent off, pack light and surprise the kids on the last day by going camping for a night and have fun under the starts.
  5. Find a Fun Event to Attend– Look in your local listings and see if there is anything special happening like a concert or festival. This year I’m taking Anya to see Kidz Bop on the last day of school, it’s a surprise shhh :)
  6. Have a Hotel Sleepover– There’s no party like a hotel party especially under strict adult supervision LOL! Okay, so get a few parents that your close to and pitch in for an affordable room at a hotel with a pool and have a fun slumber party!
  7. Go the Drive In– A drive-in screams summer! This is one of my all time favorite things to do when the weather is warm and it’s great bonding time!
  8. Host a Game Night– Invite friends over and have each of them bring their favorite game. There’s nothing like a good old fashion board game to add some fun into the mix.
  9. Go to the Pool– Kids love the water and what a great way to start summer by lying by the pool and playing Marco Polo. Pools are cheap entertainment and they keep you cool!
  10. Let Your Kids Choose! It’s their day! Ask them what they want to do and try to make it happen. You’ll be surprised at what they come up with!

Remember to have a good time and to congratulate them on a job well done! Have some fun because you deserve it to Mom!

Happy Summer!

Trying to Instill Better Organizational Skills in Your Kids? Read, “Smart but Scattered.”

Anya is really intelligent and has always done well in school, matter of fact she has achieved a 4.11 for two semesters in a row. But, recently her teacher told me that she needed to work on her executive skills. At first I had  no idea what she was talking about, I mean she’s 8 what kind of executive skills is she supposed to have? She explained that is it the task initiation, the focus, and organizational and few other key skills that kids need to develop . She told me about this book, “Smart but Scattered,” by Dr. Peg Dawson and Dr. Richard Guare that gives you tools on how to help kids reach their full potential by improving their executive skills. I told my mom and I think she heard the worry in my voice and had the book sent overnight, gotta love moms right?

I was concerned, I know there are times that Anya can easily bunny trail, I mean the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. But, I didn’t want this lack of focus to become a real issue. I dived into the book and it was so informative for myself as well. The book offers assessments that you take for both your child and yourself. It was amazing how closely these assessments figured us out. Then it gave tools. One of the tools we’re using is the checklist and it is working out great, but there are others I can’t wait to try. She earns tally marks and rewards for every time she completes a task without a reminder. I have seen an improvement in our morning and night routine almost immediately. She loves using her clipboard and checklist! Her teacher  said she has already seen improvement during her  school routine as well.

If you’re facing any issues with your children in task initiation, focus, organization or other skills, I highly recommend this book and if you’d like to improve your skills read it for yourself as well!

Download (PDF, 179KB)

Dealing with Bullying



Bully is such an awful word isn’t if? It even sounds mean. Well, I hope your children never have to deal with a bully or any unnecessary teasing or harmful behavior from another child, but unfortunately it happens.  I’m not an expert on  bullying, but I had to deal with a situation last year and I thought I’d share how I handled it with you all.

Basically, a girl at Anya’s school wasn’t being very nice to her and some of the other girls. I caught wind of the situation and spoke to her teacher, but when it continued I went to the principal to get the other parent involved and then it got resolved. I can’t begin to tell you how my blood was boiling when I picked up my daughter  from school and noticed a bruise on her cheekbone. Mama bear was in full force! I found out that the girl had grabbed Anya’s arm and Anya slipped and hit a table. There was another incident that she kicked Anya while she was walking down the stairs. Now, I don’t condone violence, but I will be honest here and say part of me wanted to tell Anya to whop her. But, I know that is absolutely the wrong thing to do, but again I’m being honest. Anya on the other hand is very sweet and said that she didn’t want to do anything back to her because this girl was younger than her. Good kid, right? So here is what I did to get the bullying to stop:

1. First, talk to your child and find out exactly what is taking place. You may want to ask them a couple times to repeat the story just so you have all the facts. Also, really pay attention to how they act when they come home. I didn’t notice anything different, but when I volunteered at school she was  a little clingy and that is when I found out this was happening.

2. Speak to their teacher and present them with the facts. It is just as important to get both sides of the story. Your child’s teacher is with them all day, get her opinion and observations is important to fully piece what’s going on together. In my case her teacher was aware and addressed the issue, but that still wasn’t working.

3. Take it to the principal. Get the principal involved and have the teacher there as well if it doesn’t stop. Be clear on what your expectations are and if needed ask for a meeting with the parents. Make sure the parents are contacted. I found out that they hadn’t been when I thought they were which could’ve put a stop to the situation earlier.

4. Talk to your child on how they should proceed. I told Anya at that point to basically to avoid her until the situation was resolved, not to be afraid of her but to stay clear. I also told her to go directly to the teacher if anything else occurred.

5. Pray about the situation. Anya later told me that she prayed for this particular little girl, which made me really proud of her. We always pray before school and asked for this situation to be resolved.

6. Protect your child. Do whatever it is that needs to be done to protect your child, if that means going higher than the principal do it! Be present and let everyone involved know that you aren’t going to go quietly in the night, this is the time to be bold and that’s okay! Don’t be afraid to make sure the bullying is addressed and it is stopped. It is so important for your children to see that you have their back and when they come to you with this type of problem that you will do whatever you can to protect them. I found it amazing that this girl was doing this to other children and I was the only parent who brought it to the attention of the principal.

In the end, her parents were contacted and made aware of the situation and that it had to stop. The girl wrote Anya a letter and said that she was sorry and she hoped they could be friends and as a peace offering she gave her a flower. Anya forgave her and even ended up standing up for her when someone was being mean to her, which says a lot about her character.

Kids will argue, but there is a fine line between a spat and being bullied. Obviously there are 2 kids in pain, the one bullied and the bully because usually there is something deeper to the acting out. I had told the principal this needed to be resolved not only for my daughter but for this girl because she was isolating herself from the kids and a pattern and a reputation was being formed that would end up hurting her. Our schools have a responsibility to protect our kids. Hold your school accountable.

Resources:
http://www.thebullyproject.com/
http://www.stopbullying.gov/
http://www.pacer.org/bullying/
http://www.violencepreventionworks.org/public/bullying.page
https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-bullying
http://pbskids.org/itsmylife/friends/bullies/

One last thing, talk to your kids about bullying and how to recognize the signs of bullying. We also want to make sure our kids never become the bullies! So have a talk about behavior that is unacceptable and the consequences. We all have to take a stand against bullying.

Staples Deals for Back to School Supplies… I”m Impressed

Staples Deals for Back to School Supplies
 
I’ve been looking for the best deals on school supplies and I have to say I’m surprised that Staples has some really good deals. As of today below are some of the common items on the supply list I found to have really reasonable prices. I also looked at Target and Walmart, but can’t say I was that impressed. I’ll post some of those deals tomorrow, but thought I’d share these tonight! I’m in Maryland so you will want to confirm prices in your area. Also for my Maryland mommas don’t forget this is tax free time! This is only a sample of the supplies so check out their site at:
 
 
 
.50 Cents Each



.68 Each

.96 For a 3 pack

.68 for a dozen #2 pencils

$3.75 for 25 in a Box
 
.97 For a Pack of 12 
 
 
 
 
 
 
.82 Each

.17 Each
 
$1.25 for a 4 Pack