When you think of Labor Day, what is the first thing that comes to mind?  If you said Labor Day sales, then you are in good company. Retailers across the board have created a shopping holiday by offering great Labor Day sales on appliances, clothing, and even cars.  While some people celebrate the unofficial end of summer by barbecuing and spending time with family, many flock to the malls to take advantage of the Labor Day sales.  Even though there are many opportunities to save money, you must guard yourself from overspending.  Follow these tips to get the most enjoyment from Labor Day sales while protecting your wallet.

Spending Budget

Before you begin to research the Labor Day sales at your favorite stores, figure out how much you can afford to spend.  Shopping is fun, and shopping sales is even more fun.  But it is easy to get carried away with the thrill of saving money, and the result is overspending.  Your mind can also play tricks on you. When a ton of money is saved on sales, you may rationalize spending even more than you originally planned to spend because you are getting great deals.

Make a List 

After you have determined how much you can afford to spend, make a list of what you plan to buy.  Will you be looking for things for your fall wardrobe? Know what you want to buy, and stick to your plan.  The same concept holds true here as it does with grocery shopping – when you have a list, you are much less likely to make impulse purchases.  Retailers want you to spend money and they make it as easy for you as possible.  Sale signs will catch your eye, accessories and smaller items will be conveniently located near the checkout, and the stores will have attractive displays to entice you.

Pay in Cash

You will be a lot less likely to overspend if you leave your credit card at home. Bring only the amount of money you have budgeted, in cash, and you won’t be tempted to buy something on credit. At the register sales clerks often offer a reward for opening up a store account. The offer may be to have an additional percentage taken off your total amount, or no finance charges for a specific period of time.  The incentive may be very tempting, and the sales clerk may be very persistent, but your answer should still be no.  Think of it this way – if you went to the trouble of putting together your budget, making a list, and bringing cash with you to the store, why would you want to blow it at the register?  If you decide to charge the amount instead of paying cash, you still have the cash in your pocket.  What are the chances that you’ll put the cash back in the bank?  After all, you are at the mall surrounded by Labor Day sales.

Know Your Weaknesses

Be honest with yourself and know what triggers your spending.  If shopping at the mall is a weakness, avoid the stores and shop online instead.  Do you spend more when you are hungry?  Make sure to eat before you go to the mall.  And if you are an emotional spender, don’t go shopping when you are having a bad day.  Retail therapy is expensive.  Most everyone has that one store that has a pull on your wallet.  It doesn’t matter what your budget is, when you walk into the store all spending plans go out the window.  Don’t go into stores where you know you’ll overspend – avoid the stores you find irresistible.  If your spending at Anthropologie tends to get out of hand, don’t visit the store.

Put It to the Test

Just because the stores are having sales doesn’t mean you should take advantage of the sales. Ask yourself these 3 questions before making a purchase:

  • Is it something I need?  No sense in buying yet another white t-shirt just because it is on sale. If you are on a tight budget, only buy what you need.
  • Is it something I can afford?  Don’t trade off paying your electric bill for buying something just because it is on sale.
  • Can I find it cheaper somewhere else? While the item might be on sale in one store, can you find it at a better price somewhere else?

Labor Day sales are a tradition for many shoppers, but you don’t have to overspend in order to have fun.  With some careful thought and a lot of self discipline, you can shop the sales and stay within what you can afford.