Sunday, November 27, 2011

How to Shop (For Less!)

When I get home from a shopping trip, I often quip to my husband "look how much money I saved!" while excitedly flapping my shopping bags in the air.

It's usually met with an eye roll, but the hubs does oftentimes congratulate me on my shopping prowess.  He even saves coupons for me when he sees them in the mail!  True love!

Obviously, I love to shop, that's a total given.  But what I love just as much is getting a great deal---in fact, it makes shopping even more fun for me.

Here are my best tips and tricks for saving while you shop:

Coupons are a gal's best friend.  If you're ever making a purchase in a store and they ask you to enter your email address and phone number into their system, do it!  Not only will they send you coupons, but the more you shop, the more they send. I constantly get "$10 off a bra" and "free panty" coupons from Victoria's Secret. I don't remember the last time I paid full price for a bra there. Express also has a ton of coupons like "Take $25 off a $75 purchase."  I keep all of my coupons in my purse at all times so that there's no excuse not to use them.



Check your inbox.  Visit your favorite retailer's websites and sign up for their e-newsletters.  Yes, you'll get a lot of emails, but it's worth it for the savings.  I delete 80% of the ones I get, but the other 20% often have printable coupons, updates about new items that have been added to the sale section and special promotions.  Remember that some coupons don't need to be printed out and can be shown at the register on your mobile device to get your discount---read the fine print to be sure. Another thing to look out for---a lot of stores seem to be following the trend of hosting "happy hour" sales.  Basically it's a post-work event where they offer a great discount until the store closes on either all or select merchandise.  Worth it if you've had your eye on something and don't have post-work plans.

It's all about timing.  I like to shop for deals on holiday weekends. Why? Because a lot of stores (including outlets) will have mega sales (like 40-50% off the entire store).  The crowds may be larger and the lines may be longer, but the savings can't be beat. A ton of stores have these kinds of sales on random weekends too (think Ann Taylor, LOFT, Banana Republic, Gilly Hicks, GAP etc). Keep up with your emails and you will know when these sales are taking place and can plan your shopping trips accordingly. I've noticed that if Banana Republic runs a sale one weekend offering 30% off the entire store, in the next couple of weeks they will offer 40% off so I usually wait for the 40% sale because I know it's coming.



Google for promo codes. I never (repeat, never) buy anything online before Googling "name of retailer + promo code." I often use the website retailmenot.com to find codes for anything I am buying online.  I have scored 20% off codes, free shipping codes, etc all just because I used Google prior to clicking the "process order" button.  Never ever buy anything online before first checking for promo codes. You never know how much you'll save.

Bookmark this site.  Many of you gals already know her---Chloe from the blog The Chloe Conspiracy also has a blog called "See Chloe Shop" where she lists the daily deals from all of the popular retailers. Bookmark or follow her blog now and check daily for retailers who are running promotions.  The best part? Not only does Chloe list the sales---she also provides links to her favorite items on the site---like getting advice from a professional stylist!  It's a must read!


It's all about friends and family (as in, sales).  Sephora has a "Friends & Family" sale once a year (usually October/November) which offers 20% off of everything in the store.  Sephora never has sales so this is the one time a year where you can really score. Saks Fifth Avenue and other higher-end retailers also hold these sales once yearly so it's worth it to keep these sales on your calendar to save, big time.  Ulta also runs a F&F sale around the same time Sephora does---but watch out because it doesn't include fragrance whereas Sephora's sale does. Do your research and check for exclusions so you know which retailer to order which products from.

Monitor for sales. Recently I learned of a website called salemarked.com.  How did I not know about this sooner? It's like the Priceline of online shopping and oh-so-simple to use.  While you're shopping online, you just click the Salemarked bookmarklet OR copy and paste the product URL into your Salemarked dashboard and then enter how much you'd pay for said product. Salemarked will track the price, and when it drops to or below your desired price, it will immediately email you. How amazing is that? 



Designer for less.  I am a member on designer discount sites like RueLaLa, MyHabit, OneKingsLane, Ideeli, GiltGroup, etc.  These sites offer designer goods at 50-90% off retail.  I have purchased a Cynthia Vincent dress that was selling on other sites for $350 for $75.  I have to admit that I don't often find things I want to purchase on these sites, but it's worthwhile to at least look at what's available because you may find something really incredible.

Wait it out.  If I find something cute at a pricier store like J. Crew, I'll often wait a couple of weeks for the item to go on sale or for them to run a promo codes (they'll often do a 25% off of a $150 purchase code).  The exception to this is if I feel something will sell out or if it's the last item available in my size.  Sometimes, good things are worth the wait!

Check Amazon.  Amazon has lower prices on a lot of items, especially books! I order 90% of my books on amazon because the prices can't be beat.  Amazon is also great for hard to find products (like my La Roche Posay skincare faves).

Do you have any other tips or shopping secrets? Post them in the comments below! Thank you for reading :)

xoxo,

Veronika.

PS---another tip I thought of after I posted this:  KEEP TAGS ON YOUR CLOTHES. I don't take the tag off until I wear something I purchased.  This makes it easier to return things (I also keep all of my receipts). Part of shopping smarter is acknowledging when you purchased something that you didn't really love or that doesn't work with the rest of your clothes.  Make sure to know the store's return policies so you can take back items that just didn't work for you. I have done it many times and don't feel any regret at all. I'd rather have items in my closet that get a lot of wear than items that sit there with tags on.

34 comments :

  1. Love your tips; but also, don't forget cashback sites such as EBates or MrRebates when online shopping!

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  2. Great post Veronika! You are so savvy :)
    Your shopping habits have inspired me to NEVER (or very rarely) pay full price - these tips are great!

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  3. thanks RKat---I have never used ebates but I probably should! I don't do a ton of shopping online but enough that I should use it :)

    anjali---you know my motto is "never pay full price! (90% of the time)"

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  4. Another option is not to buy stuff you don't need.

    I'm really not trying to be snarky. I adore shopping, and can easily find myself lured into buying clothes I don't need because of a sale or promotion. I have to tell myself that I will save even more money by not using the coupon in the first place and just walking away. Sometimes I will fill up an online shopping cart and step away from the computer for a bit, and see if I really still want it.

    Not trying to be a buzzkill - I love shopping as much as the next girl and have found out about great products from this blog, but I recognize that I have to check myself before I wreck myself.

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  5. @anon---of course that is also an option---I think no woman should shop herself into debit. However, if you can afford to buy the things you want---there are ways to save on those things which is great and I love sharing tips on how to save instead of paying full price.

    Over the past year or two, I've really tried to focus my shopping and make better choices. I used to freak out at the thought of paying $120 for one skirt...but then I got one, wore it constantly and wore it much more often than a skirt I paid $20 for. I try to buy things now that I can mix and match with other pieces in my closet and things that will last a long time. I try to buy trendier items at forever 21 because I know they may not last through several seasons.

    To your point about being lured in by sales---I totally agree. That's why I do most of my shopping in-store. A lot of people love to shop online for convenience, but I find I spend smarter when I shop in-store because I can try things on and decide if I truly love them before dropping the money on them.

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  6. eBay! Often stores like J Crew can be found pretty easily on eBay. I've scored the silk "Blythe" shirt from J Crew twice new with tags from ebay once for $15 and once for $40. (The shirt retails for around $100) It takes some patience to wait for your size and the colour you want but it can be worth the wait.

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  7. Fantastic tips!!! Every girl loves a good deal!

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  8. @everynewday---thank you for that tip! i've always been weary of ebay because I am always worried about authenticity and because my friend had a horrible experience with buying a designer coats on ebay---any tips on how to make sure you're protected on ebay? thank you :)

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  9. I love online shopping. It’s easy and you can do it every time and everywhere. I love also the online deals.
    It’s really pity that a lot of US shops do not ship to Germany.

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  10. @lebasi--- when I lived in Canada a lot of US stores had crazy shipping, higher prices plus border fees. It was awful. I think it is somewhat improving but not by much.

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  11. Wonderful tips, love! I hope your readers heed your advice and wait it out the next time they are thinking of paying full price. This is hard, I know, especially when you really want something. But the wait is worth it! I haven't gotten the chance to do any holiday shopping yet, but because tomorrow is cyber Monday, I think I'll take advantage. Oh, and you should see my bag right now - it's full of coupons!

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  12. I didn't know about salemarked! I will have to check that one out! Thanks for sharing:)

    A little shopping tip I do sometimes is I shop off-season. Like at the end of winter, I'll buy a few sweaters or cardigans (classic pieces that I know I can wear the following year...). Usually you can save at least 50% or more on items at the end of each season!

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  13. Haha ok here is my quick unofficial off the top of my head tips for eBay buying:

    1 Look at the sellers feedback. - Sort of obvious but have a look through and see if they have any negative or neutral feedback. If they appear to have sold fakes in the past I wouldn't buy from them. Also if have little or no feedback I would also consider them an untrustworthy seller. People who sell fakes often get banned or cancel accounts to get away from their bad feed back.

    2. Avoid buying often copied items - LV print purses, Tiffany charm bracelets, Chanel purses, etc. It will lessen you chances of getting something fake.

    3. Be familier with the product you are getting. - The worst thing is not knowing if the item you have received it a fake or not. Know what the tags looks like, know what the lining is like, and know the markings. You can always go to a local store and check the markings on the item and then request the eBay seller for photos of these particular areas on the item. Most eBay sellers are very obliging when it comes to taking more or better pictures.

    4. Look at the sellers other items - Are they selling 100 of the same item? That's fishy. I usually trust a seller more if they are selling things that are more plausible - aka if they are selling a bunch of size 7 slightly used shoes (someone cleaning out their closet). Some people resell items that they get on discout from sales so their items will be more sporadically range in size but many have similar items in different sizes.

    5. The Purse Forum - This is the internet hub of authentication. They have threads for authenticating most designer things from eBay, Bonanza, etc. I trust them for the most part and have louboutins from eBay authenticated there before I have bought them. However there is nothing stopping scammers from posting on this site and saying that their fake items are authentic.

    6. PayPal - Always pay though paypal on ebay. If you end up with a fake you can file a complaint against the seller. Paypal will get your money back. I've never had to do this so I can't say how intensive a process it is but I'm sure you could google to find out.

    That's all I can think of at the moment. I don't think that more "mall" brands are often copied so I feel much safer buying things like that from eBay (J Crew, Anthro, Free People, Urban Outfitters). I also have had some luck finding thing that are sold out on a retailer's website on ebay. Just copy the name of the item and save that search on eBay. eBay will email you when a new item with that description is posted on ebay.

    PS sorry for the lack of editing/gramatical errors/spelling error.

    -Hannah

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  14. There is nothing I love more than saving while shopping, so I love this post!

    1) My biggest tip is that you can always find designer jeans on sale, so never pay full price... why just get one pair of jeans when you could get 2 or maybe even more :) You can definitely find the styles and brands that you want - it takes a tiny bit of work but it's so worth it. Last year, I was pining away for J Brand's Lovestory jeans - I was hoping I could eventually find them on Rue La La/Haute Look or Nordstrom Rack...instead I found them at Piperlime for $70 after stalking the sale section weekly. My Gap rewards and Gap credit card (you get 10% off on Tuesday) brought the price down to $50. I've bought J Brand skinny jeans in the clearance section of Nordstrom Rack for less than $50 and I've found 7 for All Mankind and True Relgion for <$100 as well. If your city has a Saks 5th Avenue Off 5th, the savings are incredible if you need new jeans... I just bought 2 pairs of J Brand jeans for a grand total of $120 - all of the denim in the store was 40% off! They have about a million styles, sizes and washes to choose from.

    2)If you buy an item and it goes on sale right after you buy it, check to see if the store price adjusts - I worked at the Gap a couple of years ago and it wasn't uncommon to see someone get $50 or more back.

    3) If there is a Living Social/Groupon for a store you love, buy it!

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  15. I second the Ebates comment. I've been using it for two years now. Every time I place an online order (no matter how big or small) I go through Ebates. I've received countless rebate checks from them!

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  16. These are great tips! I do most of this stuff when I shop - there's nothing better than going into a store knowing you have a coupon and getting an amazing price on something. It's like Christmas! haha

    I've never heard of salemarked before though. Definitely going to have to check that out!!

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  17. I pretty much do the things you mentioned on here! Yay for smart shopping :)

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  18. Fabulous Tips V! Thanks for sharing I'll keep them in mind this holiday season!

    xox
    M

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  19. Save your receipts! I am going to start keeping them in a coupon holder type thing in my purse. While some places are able to look up a purchase with the card you used to pay, others require the receipt even for an exchange. I've fallen into that trap one to many times!

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  20. Great tips!! I totally have started keeping my coupons in my purse as well. I don't know how many times I have ended up going into a store when I didn't plan to and thought, "Darn, I have a coupon at home for this store!" Thanks for sharing :)

    heatherhoneyblog.blogspot.com

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  21. Awesome post. Will definitely be looking at salemarked...

    Hope you're well!

    joèl~

    saadiaorganics.com

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  22. I follow all of these tips religously and I couldn't agree more, there's no greater feeling than running home to your H bragging about what a smart shopper you are- I do it all the time! Sure, there's that occssional splurge but 9 times out of 10, I have a plan of attack and stick to it.

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  23. This is such an amazing post....thanks for sharing!!!!

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  24. great post! i'd like to add - know what the stores' price adjustment policies are and keep receipts in your wallet for a few weeks. i've gotten money back on multiple occasions because i could deal with it right then. there is no way i'd go home, dig up the receipt, and come back if i happened to see an item cheaper a week or two later.

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  25. To piggy back on the not removing tags until the item is worn thing, I keep my tags (and receipts) until I've washed the item. Sometimes, apparel can shrink or become damaged in the wash, even if you follow the washing instructions to a T. I've had this happen to me a few times, and because I kept the tag and receipt, I was able to return the item or, at the very least, exchange and be more cautious the second time around. The store can't say much if you wash an item exactly following the tag's directions and it shrinks or starts to come apart - that makes it defective merchandise.

    There's nothing worse than having a piece of clothing fall apart and you have no proof of purchase to back you up!

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  26. Dang girl! Great tips, thank you so much for sharing. I always try and clip and keep coupons with me - I think I need to dedicate a folder for them.

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  27. Hi Veronika,

    Thank you for writing about Salemarked on this post! And we agree, never ever pay full retail :-)

    Would love to hear anyone's feedback on how Salemarked can be better! Feel free to email me at koes@salemarked.com

    Koes Bong
    CEO/Co-Founder

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  28. Haven't read all the comments but Nordstrom.com has free shipping (no minimum) and NO Tax which is huge in TN (9.6% tax).
    I have a Banana Republic Visa which I pay all my bills with then pay off each month. I earn $30-40 in reward money each month.
    I'm a stickler for coupons as well. Combining them with a sale means Jackpot.
    Bath & Body Works sends great coupons. Black Friday they let us stack them. I paid $26 for $89 worth of stuff using 4 coupons. They always send out $10 off when you spend $30. Wait until the candle special and buy three candles for $20 (One is regularly $20).

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  29. Ebates, Ebates, Ebates! I've gotten some really nice checks from them for buying what I would have bought anyway. Plus they often list discount codes as well. I use it for EVERYTHING I buy including plane tickets and hotels. Even if cash back is $1 or $2 it really adds up over a few months. I believe they have double cash back at almost every major store today! I scored over $15 back on an Endless purchase of just over $100 last week :)

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  30. I have to agree with the first Anon above, Re: Not spending what you don't need. I find that if I get coupons for retailers I only occassionally shop (namely Vic Secret, Express) I will go into the store and buy something just because I can get x amount off an item that I probably would not have otherwise bought. So, for me I try to throw them away immediately and it's "out of sight, out of mind". However, there are those coupons I get where I KNOW I'll shop there and get something I probably want/need (Loft in particular) and I'll hang on to those. It's definately hard to NOT spend with so many sales so I'm trying to only spend on stuff I really need from a very long list of things I need/want. I do what that Anon above does where I add stuff to the cart, wait a day or so, and then if I'm still into it I'll consider purchsing the items I really want.

    Great post, Veronika, with lots of good tips!

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  31. This happened to me today so I thought it would be good to share. If you don't have any coupons with you and you want to buy something at the store, search on your phone and see if there's a valid one on the internet. I was at the The Limited today and was going to buy a dress for their 40% off sale but I stopped and looked up "The Limited printable coupons" on the internet using my phone and came across a $15 off $50 coupon. I asked the person at the register if I can use this from my phone without printing it and she said, "sure! no problem as long as we have the register code." Never hurts to ask.

    -Meg

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  32. @meg---I have actually done that before :) great minds think alike!

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  33. What a wonderful post is this, and I like it. I enjoyed your blog. Big thanks for sharing.

    Michelle

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