It’s already starting: all of the back-to-school ads and events. Whether you love it or hate it, the kiddos will be heading back to school in no time and that means school supplies. School supplies can get quite expensive, whether it’s the classic pencils and papers or the latest laptop. Here are some tips and tricks on how to save money on your back-to-school essentials.

3-Day Tax Holiday

Missouri has a 3-day sales tax holiday where certain items are exempt from sales tax, and the savings that result can really add up. This year in 2023, the tax holiday begins Friday, August 4th at 12:01 am and runs through Sunday, August 6th at midnight. This applies to in-store purchases as well as online purchases. However, there is a limit to the amount of money that is tax exempt. Make sure you check the Missouri Department of Revenue to see if your city or county is participating in this tax-free holiday because there are some municipalities that are choosing not to participate.

Tax Exempt Items

  • School supplies – cannot exceed $50 per purchase
  • Clothing – anything having a taxable value of $100 or less
  • Computers – cannot exceed $1500
  • Software – taxable value of $350 or less
  • Computer accessories – cannot exceed $1,500
  • Graphic calculators – cannot exceed $150

Free School Supplies Events

There are a bunch of events in the greater St. Louis area giving away free school supplies. Check out your local school district or neighborhood for any back-to-school fairs they may be hosting. Lots of these events have fun activities for the whole family as well! Eventbrite and Facebook Events are also great ways to find out about different events happening in your area. Below is a sampling of back-to-school events in the St. Louis region:

St. Louis City

  • Urban Expo Back to School & Community Empowerment Festival: FRIDAY AUGUST 4 AT 10 AM- SATURDAY AUGUST 5 AT 6 PM AT AMERICA’S CENTER IN DOWNTOWN STL. Book bags, school supplies, family resources, games & rides, gifts & prizes, free food, live entertainment, health screenings, social services opportunities, senior services, haircuts, over 200 vendors and so much more 
  • Freedom Arts Expo: SATURDAY AUGUST 5 AT 12 PM – 3 PM AT ST. JOHN’S UCC ON NORTH GRAND. Free haircuts, school supplies, uniforms, music, food, games, art activities, performances
  • Marquette Community Day 2023: SUNDAY, AUGUST 6 AT 11 AM AT MARQUETTE PARK. Backpacks, school supplies, free haircut, free health screenings, free bbq, bounce house, games, live music, horseback rides!
  • Back to School Bash: WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 9 AT 10 AM – 6 PM AT CONFLUENCE PREP ACADEMY. Hands-on activities, snacks, school supplies, and free giveaways
  • Fall into School: SATURDAY, AUGUST 12 AT 11 AM – 2 PM AT DELMAR DIVINE. Free backpacks for the first 300 students, free food, limited free medical screenings, immunizations, kinder prep bags, special education resources, financial consultations, bounce house, rock wall

St. Louis County

  • Back to School Bash: SATURDAY JULY 29 AT 10 AM – 2 PM AT CROSS KEYS BAPTIST CHURCH IN FLORISSANT. Free backpack, good times!
  • Back 2 School Fair: SATURDAY, AUGUST 5 AT 12 PM – 3 PM AT EYESEEME CHILDREN’S BOOKSTORE IN UCITY. Free book of kid’s choice from the Eyeseeme African American Children’s Bookstore, free Books, free Groceries, free school supplies, fun family activities, Eyeseeme Smoothie Café Specials, author book signing, storytime, RememberThe400 youth group will perform historical reenactments displaying Black excellence over the years!
  • Back to School Event: SATURDAY, AUGUST 12 AT 12 PM – 4 PM AT ASQUUAD LLC IN FLORISSANT. Free backpacks filled with school supplies, face painters, food truck, cotton candy machines, hair braider, barber
  • Spanish Lake Back to School Event: SATURDAY, AUGUST 19 AT 10 AM – 3 PM AT IMPACT AGAPE MINISTRIES. Free school supplies
  • Back to School Bash: FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 8 AT 5 PM – 7:30 PM AT GIVENS ELEMENTARY IN ROCK HILL. Fun event to kick off the beginning of the 2023-24 school year, community event and all are welcome!

Miscellaneous Missouri

  • Back to School Extravaganza: SATURDAY JULY 29 AT 9 AM – 12 PM AT EXCHANGE CHURCH IN ARNOLD, MO. First Responder demonstrations & giveaways, Bubble Bus, kids haircuts, face paint, dental van, Smoothie King, games, crafts, snacks, backpack and school supply giveaway
  • Back to School Bash- St. Charles: SATURDAY, JULY 29 AT 10 AM – 1 PM AT BOYS & GIRLS CLUBS OF ST. CHARLES COUNTY. Free to St. Charles County families, carnival games, lunch, free school supplies, free backpack


  • Back to School Bash: SATURDAY, AUGUST 5 AT 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM AT WOMEN’S MINISTRY CENTER IN ALTON, IL. Free school supplies, backpacks, refreshments, shoes, clothing, winter coats, and face painting
  • Back to School Giveaway: SATURDAY, AUGUST 5 AT 12 PM – 2 PM AT SIGNAL HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH IN BELLEVILLE. Free backpacks and school supplies, food, games, snacks, music
  • Back to School Bash: SUNDAY, AUGUST 6 AT 12 PM – 2 PM AT IVY HEIGHTS CHURCH OF GOD IN WOOD RIVER, IL. The first 200 students will receive a free backpack filled with school supplies, 50 free haircuts, free hot dogs, bounce house

If you are unable to attend any of these events, check out the organization KidSmart. KidSmart is a nonprofit organization that gives out thousands of dollars worth of school supplies. They are the only free educational supply store in Missouri, and they are located at 180 Progress Pkwy in Maryland Heights, MO. Their free store can be a great resource!

Between all of the free events, resources, and the tax-free holiday, we hope you are able to get all of the school supplies you need for as little money as possible. If school supplies aren’t your only financial worry, join one of Prosperity Connection’s personal finance classes or credit report reviews. These could be great ways to learn more about your finances and feel in control of your income. If you’re looking for more in-depth and personalized support, you can try our free financial coaching! Our coaches can help you come up with a personalized savings plan and action steps to help you reach your financial goals. We hope you and your family have a great new school year!