School starts in three weeks. Are you ready? Last year, we waited until the last minute to shop and had to go to multiple stores and spent more than we needed to. I vowed not to do that ever again.

When we received the third-grade supply list for this year, I promptly made copies, put one in my purse and left one in my car so I could purchase items as I spotted sales.

If you stay organized and shop at the right times and places, you can save not only money, but your sanity as well. While I realize some of these suggestions are common sense, this is what I do, and sometimes it’s good to get a little reminder.

Shopping efficiently

-- One of my personal rules is to not take my son with me to shop for school supplies. While there are a few specific items I allow him to choose for himself, that is a separate trip, and he is fully aware we are on a strict budget. When he is with me, I end up spending more because he wants everything in sight and I cave.

-- Don’t do it all in one shopping spree. Keep the list in your car or purse and mark off items as you find them on sale.

Download an app such as “RedLaser,” which allows you to scan bar codes and find better deals on items either online or at other retailers.

Keep a supply box

It only makes sense that parents with more than one student share school supplies. If you set up a central box to store them, you’ll be surprised what you can reuse and already have in your house.

Splurge on a book bag

This is one item parents shouldn’t scrimp on. Not only will a quality book bag help ease the pain of lugging around a heavy backpack, it also will last a long time.

Local deals

-- Our Charleston Savvy Shopper Daily Deal next weekend (July 29–31) is all about back-to-school savings. Featured deals will include local children’s clothing and shoe stores, school supplies and much more. If you haven’t signed up yet and have kids, this is the time to do it. Visit www.charlestonsavvyshopper.com to sign up.

-- The First Day Festival is 1-4 p.m. Aug. 14 in Liberty Square at the S.C. Aquarium. This annual event is great because vendors not only give away free school supplies, but there are lots of fun activities for the kids. Hope to see you there!

-- Super-cute school uniforms and matching backpacks and lunchboxes are 30 percent off at the Gap at Mount Pleasant Towne Centre. This sale runs through July 27.

-- Shop for supplies during the tax-free weekend Aug. 5–7. Visit www.sctax.org for a complete list of what’s exempt.

-- Be sure to read the blog at www.postandcourier.com/savvyshopper every day for new deals, and if you happen to see a great sale on back-to-school supplies, let me know and I’ll share it with readers!

Have a suggestion for next week’s column? Email charlestonsavvyshopper@postandcourier.com and tell me your ideas. You can follow @chssavvyshopper on Twitter or CharlestonSavvyShopper on Facebook.