For me, Memorial Day is one of those holidays that brings up deep emotion. My dad, my aunt, and my grandfather all served in the military. I feel like I owe brave citizens like them my life—and my freedom to celebrate, to share happiness with family and friends, and to have fun shopping and enjoying all that life has to offer.

Speaking of which, if shopping is on your agenda this holiday weekend, you won't want to miss these great savings, freebies, discounts, and deals!

But first, what NOT to buy on Memorial Day

Memorial Day weekend is one of the year's biggest sales events. As you scan retail ads, flyers, and deals, it may seem like everything is on sale! However, other items may actually be priced higher due to the holiday.

If you want to save the most, steer clear of these 3 purchases:

  • Gas. Many families travel over the long weekend. Expect gas prices to increase accordingly. Be sure to use helpful free apps like Gas Buddy to find the lowest prices if you are traveling.
  • Vehicles. Yes, there will be some phenomenal sales on cars and trucks over the Memorial Day weekend. But be prepared in advance to bargain by gathering your own competing trade-in offers, financing offers, and Blue Book values. And hold firm against up-selling gadgets and extras—a favorite dealership tactic.
  • Electronics. Historically, Memorial Day sales have focused heavily on apparel and seasonal/summer items. Before buying electronics (computers, home entertainment, et al), make sure to do your research to find out when prices are at their lowest annually.

Civilians, active duty military, and veterans can all enjoy these great savings. Unless otherwise noted, most sales events will begin on or around May 21st and conclude by May 26th.

1. Amazon 60% off Event

Amazon is celebrating Memorial Day this year with a 60% off sales event. Savings include Men's, Women's, Girls', Boys', and Handbags, plus lots of home goods and other savings as well.

2. Sports Authority

Save on running shoes, golf equipment, swim and workout wear, snorkeling gear, and more at Sports Authority this weekend. Plus get free shipping for all online orders of $49+.

3. Walmart

Walmart has already begun posting some of the items that will be on sale for Memorial Day weekend, including summer gear and swimwear, home goods, apparel, and smart devices.

4. Overstock

Overstock has planned a huge Memorial Day weekend sale, and you can expect savings of up to 70% on select items, including jewelry, mattresses, home goods, furniture, cookware, and much more.

5. Cabelas

For the outdoors enthusiast in your life, Cabelas is the place to be for Memorial Day weekend savings. You can get great deals on all Cabelas brand apparel and gear.

5 Amazing savings and freebies just for military

If you or a family member is active duty or a veteran, be sure to enjoy these special savings and freebies just for military!

1. Free admission

Bluestar Museums, many state and national parks and gardens, as well as local zoos, galleries, aquariums, amusement parks, and other family-friendly attractions offer free admission to military and families.

2. Military and veterans eat free or get a great discount

Many eateries offer any guest with a military ID a free meal or appetizer on Memorial Day.

Hooters, McCormick & Schmick's, Wendy's, Long John Silvers, Tommy Bahamas, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Lone Star Steakhouse, Golden Corral, Hard Rock Café, Denny's, Ben & Jerry's, and Shoney's are just a few of the eateries who celebrate Memorial Day with freebies or discounts each year.

3. Lowe's and The Home Depot 10% off

Lowe's and The Home Depot both offer guests with a military ID a 10% discount on purchases on Memorial Day annually.

4. Extra new vehicle discounts and incentives

While these are not widely publicized, Dodge, Chrysler, General Motors, Ford, and Fiat are just some of the many car dealerships that offer discounts to military—above and beyond the regular military discounts that are valid year-round.

5. Travel deals and incentives

Again, this is not a deal that gets lots of publicity, but many hotels, airlines, and rental car companies offer special incentives year-round for military travelers, and even deeper discounts and deals over the Memorial Day weekend.

The Choice Hotels chain (Econo Lodge, Sleep Inn, Comfort Inn, and others), Hertz Rent-A-Car, Hawaiian airlines and Southwest airlines (both waive all baggage fees), and Hyatt hotels all offer special perks for guests with military IDs.