What are we talking about today?

Some days have themes. I don't necessarily post something in each of these topic areas every week.

Sunday: Church-related or spiritual things.
Monday: Running.
Tuesday: Books.
Wednesday: Transportation.
Friday: Green living.

31 August 2012

Free: A Long Post About Tax-Free Weekend

I have such a long list of potential topics for my green/budget/healthy Fridays that it's hard sometimes to choose one. So, here goes: I'm going to talk about tax-free weekend, which here in Texas was two weeks ago.

Now that's a happy sign.
Why go tax-free? A few reasons. One, it's a boon to local retailers, even though Chad and I were dumb and totally missed the boat on this one--turns out a shop we thought was local isn't. I've heard (but can't find a source just now) that for a lot of local businesses, tax-free weekend is second only to the day after Thanksgiving for sales. It gives them a nice boost going into the pre-Christmas buildup.

Second, it's good for low-income people (hey, that's us!). I've heard many of my more financially stable friends say again and again that they would rather have teeth extracted than set foot out their door on tax-free weekend. And I'm happy to hear that, because it's one fewer family between me and the sales. If those for whom saving $8.25 on every $100 spent is not worth it would just stay home, then the deals and space in the store are available for those of us who count every dollar in our budget and don't have much wiggle room. Especially low-income families with multiple children in school. My parents would have done a praise-the-Lord dance if we had had a tax-free weekend when I was growing up.

Third, many stores run sales to go with tax-free weekend, in order to entice more shoppers in. This is where cheapskates really get lucky. The combination of markdowns, clearance sales, loss leaders, and no sales tax makes this a great weekend to hit the stores. Chad and I both got new shoes and quite a haul of new clothes (including new-to-us clothes; we visited the thrift stores first), all of which we needed but had been putting off buying because they're all expensive.

So much for my analysis of tax-free shopping. How to make it planet-friendly? I submit a few ideas:
1. Shop local retailers. This also helps your local economy.
2. Plan your shopping in clusters so you can park once for multiple stores. This gets some stress-relieving walking in (unless you have to walk across a busy parking lot; that might amp up the stress), burns a few calories, and does NOT burn any extra fuel in the car.
3. Go to thrift stores. Way too many perfectly good clothes in the US end up in landfills. Save yourself some money and help ease our collective waste cycle by hitting thrift stores for t-shirts, jeans, or dress clothes.
4. Do you need the hangers your clothes came on? If you don't, give them back to the cashier for re-use. Or take them to a thrift store once you get them all collected at home.
5. Take your own bags. Yes, those reusable bags you take grocery shopping work perfectly well for clothes and school supplies, too. Throw them into the washing machine the day before heading out if you're worried that they aren't clean enough.
6. Don't just throw the tags into the rubbish without thinking. Are they paper or cardstock? If so, toss them into your paper recycling or stick them in your compost.
7. Don't buy what you don't need, or you risk turning into one of those people who takes things to Goodwill with the original tags still on. If you are getting rid of clothes that still have some life left, donate them to a thrift store instead of tossing. (If you're getting rid of stained/ripped clothes, consider turning some of them into dustrags.)

See? There are always ways to wrangle some lower-waste options out of your daily life. Happy shopping!

Does your community have a tax-free weekend? Do you take advantage of it?


M.J. Fifield said...

I live in New Hampshire where there is no sales tax so I guess every weekend is tax free weekend.

And I always use my reusable shopping bags. Except for when I forget them...

Su Wilcox said...

Woo hoo, New Hampshire! I've often wondered what a sales tax free state is like to live in.