Get ready, get set, shop! Many states are planning back to school sales tax holidays in the coming days and weeks to give consumers a (small) break on those never-ending lists of school supplies, clothes and items your little one will need before heading back to class. Before you load up the kids and head to the mall intending to save a few bucks, follow some of the tips below to maximize your savings and time and minimize your headache.

Plan Ahead

First, go online and print the list of items that are covered under the sales tax holiday. Make sure you know the threshold for savings and read the fine print about the sales. This will save you valuable time in the store.

Make a List

Before you shop, figure out exactly what you’ll need and in what quantities. Compare the list of items that qualify for the holiday with a list of needed items from your child’s school. Again, a huge timesaver.

Avoid Big Box Stores

Everybody and their mother will be shopping at the big box stores. Try to find a few out-of-the-way mom and pop stores that will carry many of the same items and likely won’t be nearly as crowded. To figure out the best time to shop local, call the stores ahead of time to see what they’ll have in stock and when they recommend you come in for the least crowded shopping experience.

Build a Budget

Decide how much you can spend, what you need, prioritize, and stick to the plan. Knowing that you’ll save a few dollars might tempt you into spending more money on items your kids might not need.

Shop Early

Some states are starting their sales just after midnight on a Friday morning in August. It will be a good idea to do your shopping on Friday while many people are at work and you can avoid the weekend crowds. Plus, stores will have more items in stock when the sales tax holiday starts.

Leave the Kids at Home

If you’re looking for clothes and shoes, take the kids’ measurements a few days before the sales tax holiday and take the measurements with you to the stores. If your kids are anything like mine, they’ll probably slow you down while you shop, prolonging the process. Let your spouse or the grandparents watch the kids while you scrounge for savings.