You can hear the groans across the country. Summer has barely begun and already retailers are holding back-to-school sales. Toys R Us actually started their sales July 1, with an end date of July 23. The National Retail Federation says some sales may continue through August, but there might not be the same selection. That's reason enough to consider shopping now.
The question is how to save without busting your budget. Here are 11 savings tips to help you through this early shopping season.
1. Take Inventory
Consider what you'll actually need before hitting the stores. Has your child grown out of their school clothes or will they do so by September? Can you reuse last year's school supplies or will you need to replace some items?
2. Set a Budget
Create a shopping list and stick to it, so you avoid impulse purchases. That fancy-schmancy Transformers' Trapper Keeper can push your budget over the edge.
3. Use Coupons
There may be great deals, but coupons can make them even greater. Check out sites like CouponSherpa.com that offer a wide selection of online, printable, and mobile coupons for back to school savings.
4. Shop Early
While it seems awfully early to think about school shopping, this is when stores are rolling out their best deals of the year. As they say, the early bird gets the worm.
5. Go Mobile
Tap into your mobile phone with apps like "RedLaser," which allows you to scan bar codes and find any cheaper prices online or at other retailers.
6. Check Social Media
Twitter and Facebook are great places to find deals offered to a brand's social-media fan base. "Like" or "Follow" the merchant and keep an eye out for coupons and sales announcements.
7. Buy in Bulk
Take advantage of bulk offers on pens, crayons, paper and other items your kids will burn through over the course of the year. You might team up with other parents for bigger bulk purchases that will bring prices down even lower.
8. Spend More to Save More
Sometimes it costs money to save money. For example, Staples offers a 15-percent savings pass for $10, which you can use throughout the back-to-school season.
Gather your family and friends -- along with their kid's school wardrobes -- for an exchange night of hand-me-downs that will save everyone money.
10. Wait Until Labor Day
Labor Day is the traditional time for big sales on school clothing. You might take a chance and wait until then to buy any necessary items for your child.
11. Buy for Yourself
Back-to-school sales aren't just for kids. You might stock up on office supplies, jeans and other items that traditionally go on sale during this season.
I'm a former 7th grade Science teacher turned stay-at-home mom that lives in Houston, Texas. I am married to my college sweetheart and have a beautiful daughter named Riley, who definitely keeps me on my toes! I am also involved in starting a small business which would both manufacture and sell an invention that I've patented, called Toothpaste 2 Go. I love interacting with my readers and hope to learn as much about you as you learn about me!