If you or someone you love has kids getting ready to go back to school, a little planning ahead can save you a lot of stress. Well we’ve got you covered. Here with what you need to know, including the top 3 tips to keep you stress free is Shari O.
Let’s start with the money. Because for many folks that’s the biggest stressor about getting kids back to school, it can be expensive, right?
BACK TO SCHOOL SPENDING
- State Tax Free Days
- Included – Exclusions
That’s right. And the top tip for cutting the costs associated with back to school is to take the maximum advantage of Tax Free Days. It’s not necessarily the way to save the biggest bucks – since sales tax is 6 or 7.5% (depending on your county) that’s what you’ll be saving - but it’s so easy it’s a no-brainer. Each state has their own rules for this. And the rules even vary from year to year in terms of what items are covered dollar caps.
So this year in Florida tax free days begin this Friday, August 4th and ends on Sunday August 6th. The cap for shoes or clothes, for example, is up to $60 each. School supplies is $15 and only certain items are covered (pens, pencils, erasers, rulers, and glue, but not staplers and computer paper for example), computers $750 or less (that’s over $50 in savings).
As long as ordered are placed and delivered to your home, even if you get them after the sales tax days are over, you should be good. But be careful, because the price caps include tax, shipping and handling. So you’re often better off buying multiple items so they’re shipped together and reduce the per item shipping cost. The other way to add to your savings is to get a list ready (if possible get the list from your child’s teacher), compare prices, and look for coupons now that you can use during the tax free days. A lot of retailers look at tax free days as a great time to offer other promotional discounts.
It’s estimated that Floridians will save $33.1 million in taxes during these three-days so you may as well be in on that savings.
Once you’ve stocked up for back to school, what can you do next to reduce the stress?
The biggest stressors for our kids, typically translate and become our biggest stressors. By anticipating and addressing those proactively we can reduce that stress for us and for them. The top 3 stressors for kids going back to school are will I like my new teachers, will I know where my classrooms or locker or other places are in school (especially if your kids starting at a new school this year), and will I fit in socially or will I have friends, will my friends from last year still like me.
And the best way to alleviate those fears is to confront them head on with exposure when possible, eliminate the uncertainty. Some teachers welcome phone calls or e-mails before the year begins. But if personal contact isn’t possible, try locating the teacher’s picture on a school website or in a yearbook, so your child can put a name with a face. With younger children, you can go by the school and, even if it’s not open, check out the playground or look in windows. With an older child, you might ask him to give you a tour of the school to help refresh his memory.
And finally, you might try calling parents from last year’s class and finding out which children are in your child’s class this year or, if your child is older, encourage him to have some friends over so you can refresh these relationships before school starts.
So you’ve got your school stuff, you’ve reconnected, and now it’s the day or two before the first day of school. How can parents keep the stress down with all that anticipation?
First is to get your kids back on a school routine a few days before school starts. That means meal times, bed times, TV time and, often most important, wake up time. That’s going to help them mentally prepare, without you even having to say or do anything else. Routines help children feel comfortable, and establishing a solid school routine will make the first day of school go much smoother.
Those reminders, like the importance of making a good first impression, should be delivered a few days before school starts as well, not in the car on the way to day one. That’s also a good time to begin talking with younger kids about what their first few days are going to look like, again not at the last minute which tends to create more stress rather than calm it.