While your kids may too busy enjoying their summer to start thinking about returning to the classroom, retailers have already kicked off back-to-school season. Back-to-school shopping is the second-busiest time of year for retailers (after the winter holidays), and they’ve already started setting up their school displays.

More than one-third of parents of children in grades K-12 have already started shopping for the school year, according to a Rubicon survey, and six in 10 say that they’ll spend more on school supplies this year than they did last year. Overall, parents are planning to spend on average of $917 per child on back-to-school shopping this year. About $343 of that expense is spent on technology. 

Follow these steps to make sure you get everything on your list, without breaking the bank: 

Smart Shopping Strategies

1. Wait to buy. Don’t feel pressured to get every single item on your child’s supply list before the first day of school. Ask the teachers which items are needed right away, and then purchase remaining supplies later. You’ll get better deals in September. “Retailers become more motivated to move that inventory once it’s been out for a while,” says Courtney Jespersen, a retail expert with NerdWallet.

With warm temperatures lasting into the first few weeks of school in many parts of the country, it’s also a good time to purchase end-of-season summer clothing. Wait until October or November to purchase fall clothing.

2. Take advantage of tax holidays. Of the 45 states that collect sales tax, 17 have a sales tax holiday one weekend over the summer (check when your state's tax-free weekend is) for families to stock up on school supplies without having to pay Uncle Sam. While most states have limits on how much you can purchase without paying tax and which items qualify, you can still save up to 7 percent by shopping, depending on your state’s sales tax rate, on those weekends.

3. Go shopping with a plan. Set a budget for back-to-school shopping before you go to the store, and then figure out how much you can spend for various items on the list. If you have older children, this process can be a valuable personal finance learning opportunity. “Having a clear list can help you avoid impulse purchases that can push you over your budget,” says Ben Glaser, an editor at DealNews.

Do a quick inventory at home, too, to make sure you’re not re-upping on things like pens and pencils when you’ve still got a decent supply left over from last year. 

4. Shop the old fashioned way. Online back-to-school shopping is expected to grow nearly 16 percent this year, and Amazon.com is the top retailer for such purchases. But depending on how much you are spending, you may save more money by avoiding shipping costs and heading to a brick-and-mortar retailer. 

5. Put technology to work. Use a price comparison app, such as those from RedLaser or DealNews, while you’re shopping to make sure that you’re getting the best possible deal. Many stores, including Walmart, Best Buy, and Target, will match competitors’ prices, so you may be able to get the better price without even leaving the store.

6. Skip the office supply stores. Buying every item on a 5th-grade school supply list at Staples or OfficeDepot could cost you more than $130, about $40 more than buying the same supplies at Wal-Mart or Target, according to an analysis by DealNews. Among the seven large retailers analyzed for that report, Target had the best prices on school supplies and Wal-Mart offered the best prices on back-to-school clothing.

Other good options for school supplies are dollar stores or wholesale stores like Costco and Sam’s Club. The latter is especially good for large families or multiple families that shop together and split up bulk supplies, although it’s not worth paying a membership fee solely to save on back-to-school shopping.

7. Consider buying refurbished electronics. Rather than splurging on a brand new computer or phone, look for a certified, used model from a reputable seller like Amazon.com or Newegg. You should be able to find a laptop that meets your child’s needs for less than $500, says Glaser. “Refurbished models are a good choice especially for young kids who might be prone to dropping or breaking them.”

If you want to buy a new product, you’ll get a better price waiting until October, when retailers tend to get new models and discount older merchandise.