For Metamora mom Toni Randall, "the early bird gets the worm" are words to live by.
"Get it done, and you avoid the rush," she said. "The selection is still there."
So Friday, she and her daughters Jacqueline, 11, and Ellie, 8 got a July jump on school supply shopping.
As always math-- meaning money-- is key.
"I use coupons," she said. "I definitely look at what's in the add. I keep an eye on it."
Same story for Peoria dad Frederick Magon, who is using a day off to help his daughters stock up.
"I mean a lot of places, they have already started their sales. So, just go ahead and start getting supplies. Take advantage of the time," he said.
And economic experts say while budgets are tight, Americans are prepared to spend a little more in 2012.
A recent survey from the National Retail Federation estimates parents will pay an average of almost $700 this back to school season, including clothes and electronics.
That's up 14% from last year.
Managers at Peoria's Target say they see it already, in the empty shelves.
"We absolutely have lots of guests coming in looking for it early on," said Travis Ritchart. "It seems like we'll get a lot of one thing one day, and the very next day, it's sold out."
And while parents and kids may disagree on what's needed for a successful year, say a new calculator versus...
"I really like getting like the locker stuff," said 13 year-old Maggie Scooler. "I really like decorating my locker and everything."
They can agree it's a shopping trip that needs to happen soon, as most local schools are set to start within a few weeks.