Card rewards, coupons, shopping apps and smart comparison shopping are key for scoring big savings
By Dana Dratch | Published: August 23, 2018
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Labor Day weekend sales have a flavor all their own.
Much more laid back than Black Friday, this three-day summer event sports some really deep discounts on a few items, such as summer clothes and mattresses. But shop carefully and you’ll also see deals on everything from small appliances to cars and trucks.
The secret to a really good deal: preparation ؚ– and the use of the right card, shopping tools and apps.
“I always do my research, and I always use a coupon,” says Sara Skirboll, blogger and shopping and trends specialist for RetailMeNot.
Here are eight ways to get the most out of Labor Day sales.
See related: Holiday shopping in summer: Use your cards to rack up savings
1. Stock up on basics
The big bargain at Labor Day sales: summer clothing. It’s still warm enough to wear shorts and t-shirts. And this is the time you’ll get the best buys. Look for deals of 50 to 70 percent off, says Skirboll.
And thanks to college kids outfitting dorm rooms, you’ll also find deals on home goods like sheets and towels, says Andrea Woroch, shopping blogger and founder of AndreaWoroch.com.
Look for price cuts of 30 to 40 percent. “What’s great is you can stock up on the basics for next year,” she says.
Tip: Got your eye on something that’s a bit pricey? It’s good to set up a price alert. ShopStyle – both an app and a site – is for good for clothing, says Michelle Madhok, founder of SheFinds. Set an alert if there’s “something you’ve been eyeing,” and you’ll receive an email or text when it goes on sale.
2. Add sales and coupons for more savings
Just because a store has a sale doesn’t mean it won’t also have a coupon, too. And experts swear by them. “I always use a coupon,” says Skirboll.
Last year, for example, Best Buy issued a coupon that gave an extra 20 percent off one item, says Skirboll. Use that on a refrigerator that costs $1,000 and you have some sizable savings.
- Go old school: Google the store name or product and either “coupon” or “promo code.”
- Use a few favorite sites or apps to search the coupons for you. A few favorites: CouponCabin, CouponSherpa and RetailMeNot.
See related: 5 apps to turbocharge back-to-school savings
3. Haggle for extra deals
Labor Day weekend sales are a big event for large items, such as appliances and mattresses. While you’ll see discounts of 35 to 40 percent off on appliances (everything from vacuums to refrigerators), and as much as 60 percent off on mattresses, the saving doesn’t have to stop there, according to shopping experts.
With large items, haggle for deals on delivery, installation and haul-away, too, says Skirboll.
Ordering a mattress online? Online retailers may offer special deals. Often these will come in the form of extras, like pillows or bedding, says Skirboll.
Tip: Don’t leave cash on the table. Cash back sites want to give back some of the money you spend. And they often increase those rewards on holiday weekends, says Madhok. “It’s an opportunity for them to give you an extra deal,” she says. Two popular cash back sites to consider: Ebates and TopCashback.
4. Compare to find ‘real’ deals
Don’t let the word “sale” fool you. If you want to get the best Labor Day deals, you need to comparison shop.
You know you want a new vacuum. Everyone has your favorite model on sale. But some stores are going to offer better deals than others.
If you have a few favorite stores, a little online surfing of their websites can give you a heads-up on sale prices and deals.
Even better, sign up for e-newsletters from your favorite retailers, says Woroch. They’ll alert you ahead of time about Labor Day deals.
Tip: Sites like SlickDeals and DealNews aggregate discounts and price cuts. Set alerts, and the deals you want come straight to you, says Trae Bodge, blogger and founder of True Trae. Apps like Flipp, suggested by shopping blogger Andrea Woroch, can make this easier by putting sale deals right in front of you.
5. Wait for (some) prices to go down after Labor Day
Looking at grills or outdoor furniture? Retailers want to move big summer-centric items – such as grills and patio furniture – out of the stores to make room for winter merchandise.
With grills, “look for deals of 20 and 30 percent off,” says Skirboll. “Even though we might associate grills with summer, the weather is still great in September and October.”
With outdoor furniture, you’ll see sales of 20 to 50 percent off, says Skirboll. If you want true clearance prices – more than 50 percent off – then you may have to wait until late September or early October. But with a lot less merchandise to choose from, “you might not get exactly what you want,” she says.
See related: 4 ways to keep seasonal spending in check
6. Use browser extensions to research deals for you
A few to try: Honey and Wikibuy. Also Gumdrop (by GoodShop), which lets you know if there’s a charity opportunity involving your favorite causes, says Bodge.
7. Maximize your card rewards
The secret to a great Labor Day deal: Take a deep discount, then combine it with a coupon, cash back and card rewards.
- If you’re an American Express customer, check out Amex offers. You peruse various card-linked offers and load the ones you’re likely to use onto your card. Then when you use the card to make that buy, you get the deal.
- Discover cardholders can also take advantage of special offers through Discover Deals. Log in to your Discover account, look for deals, and click on your favorite deal to continue shopping.
- If you use a card that offers bonus rewards in rorating quarterly categories – such as Chase Freedom – check to acquaint yourself with those before you hit the store. And if your card lets you select bonus categories, you can choose the ones that will benefit you most.
Bottom line: Before you shop, check to see which cards will reward you most for your planned purchases and stick with those, says Madhok.
Tip: This quarter, Chase Freedom categories include Walgreen purchases – in addition to gas station and Lyft purchases on up to $1,500 combined. Not a regular Walgreens customer? You can buy gift cards from your favorite retailer at Walgreens and still take advantage of the 5 percent cash back bonus – but remember to activate the third quarter bonus category on your Chase Freedom account.
8. This year, look at travel deals, too
In 2018, Labor Day discounts will include travel. “Airline ticket sales are really common after Labor Day,” says Skirboll. So “it’s a great time to start planning” your winter vacation or holiday travel, she adds.
“You’ll save about 20 percent off summer prices,” says Woroch.
But booking sites are having their own sales, says Skirboll. So, you can sometimes get an extra 8 to 20 percent off if you book through the right site.
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