We all want the best of both worlds: for healthy food to taste like ice cream, for exercise to be as fun as watching “New Girl,” and to get the best cheerleading uniforms without the hefty price tag. While I’m still working on the first two, I do know how to make the last one a real possibility. It all comes down to being an early bird. You’ve heard the phrase “the early bird gets the worm” and it’s definitely true when it comes to getting the best uniforms for your budget. Need uniforms by August? Don’t wait until July to order them and definitely don’t wait until then to start searching for them. Plan months ahead. Many cheerleading companies come out with new products in the spring. This is the season you should start searching for your favorite styles and designs. Subscribe early to cheer company catalogs, like Omni Cheer, to make sure you receive the spring issues, which are often sent in March. Many companies also have their catalogs available digitally on their websites. Don’t forget to also sign up for company emails. Companies like Campus Teamwear and Cheerleading Closeouts offer special prices and discounts to its email subscribers. Giving yourself months to decide on a uniform will help you make sure you don’t rush into any purchases. You’ll have time to think over your picks and, if necessary, get approval from school or gym officials. Shopping early will also give you a chance to find the best prices and save the most money. Compare different company’s prices, as some companies offer low price guarantees. Whatever company you choose from which to order, read the fine print about returns, exchanges, and shipping. Some may not allow returns or some may charge a lot for shipping. Search for companies that offer free shipping or reduced rates for team purchases. When you’ve decided on a style of uniform and a provider, order a fit kit from the company. By making sure you know every team member’s correct size, you’ll save money and time needed for alterations. Using a fit kit will also help you see how the uniform style will look on your cheerleaders. You may realize that shorts would work better than a skirt, or that a long sleeve top doesn’t work for your squad. Once you know the uniform you want (including the design, style, sizes, and where to buy it), don’t wait around to make the purchase. Order a few months in advance, especially if you’re purchasing something that is customized or in high demand (like new items). The last thing you want to happen is to learn that the uniform you want is sold out or on back-order. Keep in mind that any personalized or customized items (from uniforms to warm-ups to bags) will take longer to ship. Ordering early will also save you from having to pay for expedited shipping. Once you’ve chosen the perfect uniform for your squad, don’t forget to accessorize with bows, bodysuits, shoes, and warm-ups. Ordering cheer gear should be fun, not stressful. You can keep it that way by being the early bird!