It鈥檚 finally happened. We鈥檝e reached the end of summer, which means it鈥檚 all back to school ads and it is only a matter of time before the leaves change. We still have one more fun-in-the-sun long weekend thanks to Labor Day, and with that, a slew of sales that promise some of the best deals of the year. Know that it鈥檚 no small task though 鈥 this is basically the retail Hunger Games, and you need a strategy. We talked with someone who lives and breathes bargains, Kendal Perez, the woman behind HassleFreeSavings.com and the Marketing Manager for Kinoli Inc. She has the scoop for helping you survive 鈥 and *thrive* 鈥 at every Labor Day sale you hit up now through the long weekend. Read this and you鈥檙e all but guaranteed to come out of it all with a cute sweater鈥 or five.

Do Your Shopping Homework

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Navigating major sales is not for the faint of heart, so grab a pen and paper or use one of the 60 list apps on your phone and devise a plan. To avoid getting caught up the rush of the moment, take a minute (like before you enter the parking lot) to think about what you really need to buy. Don鈥檛 nab something just because it鈥檚 a great deal. Make sure it actually has a place in your wardrobe or apartment.

Also, find those coupons, regardless if your 鈥済otta get it鈥 list numbers 3 or 30. Discount codes will do wonders for your budget. Search Google before you head out for the day (duh), or try a coupon-specific site like Coupon Sherpa to see if a deal applies to your needs, just not the other way around. If coupons seem a little hit or miss for you, sign up for a price-drop notification service like TrackIf, which will reveal the price history of the product itself to help you identify when the product was priced at its lowest and what price you might expect this weekend and help you make the decision to hold off or pounce.

Be Equipped

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On one shoulder, a handbag for your wallet and other day-to-day essentials. On the other, there should be a tote stuffed with pick-me-ups you need to get you through the day, like water, a Luna Bar and a portable charger. Not only do you want your phone fully juiced to text your bff about the great sale you just stumbled into, but you can use it as a tool to comparison shop. Perez said it鈥檚 the key to saving money on any purchase, along with knowing the general price history of the product you鈥檙e buying. 鈥淢ost stores will advertise the 鈥榖est deals of the year,鈥 with some going so far as to mark up products in order to offer bigger discounts. Combat this sneaky strategy and use your smartphone to help you quickly compare local prices on products you鈥檙e looking at.鈥 She recommends making sites like ShopSavvy or RedLaser your go-tos if you feel like something鈥檚 up.

Go for the Big-Ticket Items

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Have you been wanting a mattress? A couch? A new flatscreen? This is the absolute best time to buy 鈥檈m, according to Perez. But, scoring the best deal on these big-ticket items all comes down to having done your research. 鈥淪cope out mattress and furniture stores after work this week and narrow down your selections. Then, put your haggling hat on and negotiate for the best deal.鈥 Perez said.

Skip Everything Fall

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You might be well into the summer-to-fall-switch in both your wardrobe and home, prepping your bod and your abode for the colder weather to come, but according to Perez, snap out of it for the sales. 鈥淎s badly as we want to wear fall鈥檚 latest fashions right now, they do not represent a good buy and should be avoided during Labor Day sales!鈥 Instead, she says to get into a summer state of mind: 鈥淪ummer clearance items represent the best buys of Labor Day sales because retailers are eager to rid their showroom floors of these end-of-season garments.鈥

Look for deals on luxury labels, too. Designers put their summer leftovers on sale over the Labor Day weekend. Last year Neiman Marcus, Ralph Lauren, Saks, Bloomingdale鈥檚 and Lacoste discounted their merchandise between 20 percent and 86 percent. Brooks Brothers and Club Monaco also had great online sales, so do hold out hope for that discounted Celine bag.

If you鈥檙e dying for fall-focused deals, hold tight. Perez said if you can hold out till October, especially over Columbus Day, the deals will be amazing for fall fashion and home decor. The same applies to harvest and Halloween accessories. For now, it鈥檚 just too early in the season. 鈥淪ales cycles on clothing are typically two months, meaning two months from when new styles debut on the sales floor, you can expect savings of up to 50%.鈥

CASH ONLY

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If you鈥檙e on a tight budget, leave the credit cards at home. Period. You can easily get really swept up in the spirit of sale shopping and forget that, you know, you鈥檇 also like to eat regularly and pay your rent ;) Remember, you can also place items on hold and give yourself a day to think over the purchase. Sometimes what seemed absolutely necessary in the moment may seem a little less vital to your life after you sleep on it.

What鈥檚 your Labor Day sales strategy? Tell us what stores you鈥檙e planning to hit up in the comments below.