If you plan on hitting up the Labor Day sales this weekend — or sales any day, honestly — our best advice: Do it online! While there are always some great deals in store, if you’d rather chill with the family, or do basically anything besides circling a mall for parking spaces, I don’t blame you at all. In fact, most stores are offering similar deals in-store as they are for online shoppers.

We’re getting pitches for sales on basically everything you can imagine right now.  From clothing to electronics, beauty products to airfare to some kind of weird stuff — and we’ll be sharing our favorite deals on Cool Mom Picks. But whatever you’re buying, there are some tips that can help make you a savvier shopper, avoid some hassles, and even save some money.

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1. Everything summer is on sale on Labor Day. It’s a great time to stock up on t-shirts, shoes, jeans, light outerwear, swimsuits — for both you and the kids. In fact, order a size up if you’re shopping for younger kids and you’ll be all set for spring. (Which is only six months away!)

2. Back-to-school items are even on sale! In July, we shared a post on the shops with the deepest discounts on clothing, gear, backpacks, lunch bags and more — and lots of them are still offering those deals.

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3. Don’t limit yourself to the “boys” or “girls” category when you’re shopping for clothes, shoes, toys or even gear for your kids. It’s amazing how many awesome things I’ve gotten for my girls on sale in “boys” departments of online shops. Like, hello…Converse shoes are gender-neutral. 

3. It’s not just the big stores offering deals. Hit Etsy and search “Labor Day Sale” or just sale and you’ll find tons of cool small businesses that we love offering terrific discounts. Some of it is a bit…offbeat (pet portraits, a vintage Ford Bronco belt buckle), but if you dig around, I also found some cool sales like 50% off a custom leather journal from Portland Leather. (Shop now for holidays!)

4.  Be sure to read the fine print on the deals so you know whether that “save an extra 20% over Labor Day weekend” deal is just good on non-sale items. Or conversely, it may be just good on already reduced items as the retailers make way for fall and holiday stock. Just double check on the deal before you click “add to cart,” or you might be spending more than you expect.

Best shopping apps| RetailMeNot app is still our favorite for comprehensive coupons, promo codes and discounts for pretty much any online retailer

5. Make good use of shopping and deal apps for deals you may not know about. If you’re on a desktop, use deal aggregators or online coupon sites like RetailMeNot.

6. Install reputable deal-finding browser extensions like Priceblink, Honey (at very top) and eBates.  They’ll search for deals on stuff you’re already buying. Why leave money on the table, right?

7. Never click “Order” until you’ve searched for a discount code. I think RetailMeNot is solid though you can try Coupon Cabin and Deals Plus as well, if you have your own favorite.

8. Check your junk or your bulk mail folders for sale emails you may be missing. Gmail makes it so easy to just search “Labor Day sale” and see what pops up. You may find a private sale for subscribers only.

9. Speaking of subscribing, it is totally worth it to sign up to receive emails if you’re visiting a new shop. You’ll likely get a percentage off your order or free shipping or some other great deal — so don’t x out that pop-up subscription window so fast!  You can always use a service like unroll.me (which I still love) to put all your subscription emails in one place, and check them once a week so they don’t clog up your inbox.

Top photo: Arnel Hasanovic via Unsplash