It’s Labor Day weekend, when we celebrate American workers by spending our hard-earned money buying new stuff.
On the bright side, most of it seems to be on sale.
Retailers are pros at catching our eye with enticing deals. You’ve probably received emails with subject lines like “50% off EVERYTHING?! Make room in your closet” — that one landed in my inbox from J. Crew.
While some of that is just marketing speak, it is possible to score some really great deals.
Here’s how to make sure you don’t spend a penny more than you have to this Labor Day weekend. You do labor hard for those pennies, after all.
End-of-season sales are best
Now is not the time to stock up on cozy sweaters or Halloween costumes. The deepest discounts will be on summer apparel and warm-weather items like air conditioners and outdoor furniture as retailers clear out space to make way for the holiday shopping season.
Avoid electronics, especially the iPhone
This should go without saying, but don’t buy an iPhone this weekend. Apple plans to unveil the iPhone 8 on September 12, and prices on all previous versions of the smartphone are likely to drop once it does.
Follow the shopping experts
Following sites that aggregate the best deals — such as DealNews and Coupon Sherpa — on Twitter or Facebook can take some of the guesswork out of finding the sales that are worth your time and money. Business Insider’s Insider Picks team is keeping an eye on all of the best Labor Day sales as well. Subscribing to your favorite stores’ email list can also help you monitor discounts, as long as you filter them to resist online shopping when you shouldn’t.
Shop the clearance rack carefully
Buying stuff just because it’s on sale isn’t bound to help your budget. Discounts matter only if you were planning to buy the item anyway. Make a shopping list before you start browsing online or head to the store, and snap up only the items you truly need. Otherwise, it’s better to pass — especially if it’s final sale. If ignoring a great price goes against your DNA, try putting the item in your digital cart and walking away for an hour. By the time you come back, the urge to purchase is likely to have passed.
Ask stores to match online offers
If you find lower prices online but want to make a purchase in store, ask an associate whether the store would match a lower price for the same item elsewhere. Often you’ll get a “yes,” and all you have to do is show the website on your phone as proof.
Ask for price adjustments if prices drop further
Deals may fluctuate throughout the weekend, so if you see a price drop on an item you’ve already purchased, you may be able to get a refund on the difference. Keep in mind that most stores have a time limit on when they’ll make a price adjustment, so the sooner you ask, the better. Getting a refund can be as easy as sending a request via email with your original order number or calling customer service. Never underestimate the power of politeness and persuasion when asking for a courtesy refund.
Some purchases come with price protection against future sales
Some credit cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve, offer price protection — an attractive benefit that grants a refund when a retailer refuses to adjust the price you paid. Price protection typically extends for three months from the date of purchase, so if you buy something on sale during Labor Day weekend but find a better deal next month, you’ll be covered.