I have a love/hate relationship with shopping. If you are anything like me, then you were that friend that could never purchase anything full price. I would impatiently tell my friends to hurry up as I couldn’t fathom spending $30 on a t-shirt. I blame my bargain-addiction on my contentious-spending mother who always bought stuff on discount, whether it is on clearance, sale, with coupons—you name it.
Even if I had the money to purchase said shirt, (which I usually didn’t), I could never actually walk up to the register and buy the shirt. In order to please both my sad student wallet and myself I learned ways to ball on a budget. Here are 6 tips on how to get the most bang for your buck. Yes both idioms were intentional.
1. Shop off-season
Most of my closet is bought when the seasons are changing. I buy my winter clothes in the summer and vice versa. Malls and websites alike are clearing their inventories for the next season and will highly mark down the original price. I’ve bought Victoria’s Secret bathing suits for $7 a piece and winter coats for under $10. No couponing involved, but you will be walking out of the mall with ski coats in mid-July.
2. Search clearance
This method is a hit or miss. When I walk into a department store, I immediately walk to the back to see the clearance selection. It can be a gold mine or a disaster. I choose clearance because it usually is around $10 a piece, which is my ideal price range. I’ve found blazers at Charlotte Russe, sweaters at Forever 21, and work clothes all in clearance sections for even less.
3. Buy for rewards perks
This is my newest way of shopping courtesy of my mother. My first credit card was at JCPenney. Within my first week of being 18, I couldn’t think of what I would ever buy here. I was completely wrong. Most of the time when I use my JCP card, I receive an additional 15-20% discount. The more you shop, the more rewards you earn. Literally free money. Last month I received $30 worth of rewards and was very happy with my (discounted) purchases. Kohl’s has a similar system, Kohl’s cash.
4. Shop online
Malls are attractive. They are purposely built this way to keep you in there for extended periods of time. Where else are you going to see designer clothes, attractive people, and a Cinnabun all in the same place? With the attractiveness comes a price, fewer inventory. How many times have you seen an outfit made for you, the perfect price, style, color, everything but the wrong size? Online stores have a larger variety of sizes and deals. After spending a certain amount, you may even qualify for free shipping.
5. Shop near holidays
I believe this method is most known amongst shopping enthusiasts. I don’t just mean Black Friday, (I usually opt for Cyber Monday…but that’s a different story). Holiday shopping includes big sales, extra deals on clearance, and free shipping (that’s always a plus!).
6. Combine and save
Whenever I shop online, I usually start with a coupon or deal that I know will save me money. I flee to the clearance section and see if anything is cute, which there usually is. I set an amount that I will not exceed, tax included and start my process of elimination. I ask myself on each purchase, where will I wear this? If I can’t answer in five seconds, I click away. At the end of this rigorous, yet exhilarating process, you will come out ahead. My latest purchase totaled over $300 and I paid under $50. High five.
At the end of the day, it’s never embarrassing to save some money while looking fabulous at the same time. Impress your friends, colleagues, and family with your steals. Trust me, they will listen. Props to you bargain shopper and good luck this holiday season.