SEATTLE Bargain shoppers from showed KING 5 how and where to find the best deals and bargains as kids get ready to head back to school.

My best tip is shopping as soon as possible. The earlier you can shop, the more sales you can hit to find those lower prices, so definitely shop early and do your research, said Jen Dotson, who founded Thrifty Northwest Mom to share money-saving tips.

Dotson suggests first going over your child's school supply list with them before hitting the store. The mother of two starts shopping right after the July 4th holiday when stores start advertising back-to-school and penny deals.

She recommends buying a generic brand for items like scissors or crayons. They're typically half the price of the brand-name items.

Dotson uploads mobile apps on her smart phone like Redlaser for price comparison and Cartwheel for Target for the latest in-store coupons.

Dotson said online and newspaper coupons are key to getting the best deal, especially considering how much parents spend on school supplies.

The average family will spend more than $634 on back-to-school items this year, according to the National Retail Federation.

A great way to save is shopping the clearance rack but also realizing a lot of the school items are going to go on sale after school starts so think about buying what you need just for the first couple weeks then going out later mid-September or late September to find those better deals on clothes, said Dotson.

Some of Dotson s favorite websites are and for coupons and reward points.

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