For many, bargain hunting is one of their greatest passions. What is the point of paying high retail marked-up prices when you can get the same products (or comparable ones) for much less than those still giving in to retail pricing? With just a few steps and some practice, it isn’t as hard as it seems to score fabulous deals from a wide variety of places. All it takes is some determination, extra time, research, and discipline to learn to become a savvy bargain hunter.
Here are some top tips for buying name brand on a discount budget:
Step 1: Assess thy shopping needs. This starts with figuring out what you actually need to purchase versus what you want. Fashion speaking, do you have a well-developed and well-rounded closet or are you still struggling to get the basic essentials? Somewhere in between? Personally speaking, I have high heeled pumps in three basic neutral colors: black, brown, and nude. Sadly, however, the only flats I have for winter are sneakers and one pair of ballet shoes. This means that I need to focus my shopping away from sky-high heels for a while and find some appropriate and versatile cold-weather shoes. Remember, it is not as much of a bargain to buy something you do not need or already have! Plus, knowing what you need versus what can be done without helps to stifle temptation when there is a list of actual needs to stick with.
Step 2: The bargain shopping havens. Words like Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Ross, outlet malls, and Ebay should be some of the most favored places to a discount fashion-lover. Filled with crazy shopping deals and name brand (sometimes designer) items, it never hurts to give these places a look first. I have a closet filled with Nine West and Guess shoes from the first three mentioned, nearly all of which cost less than $40 each. Not to mention that I often find women’s Express shirts for less than $15 and their pants for $30. If you want to find better deals and don’t mind buying second hang, Ebay is definitely the place to go. Just make sure to read the item listing VERY carefully, check seller reviews, and know your measurements! I have never had problems with the quality of items I have bought on Ebay by following those three rules. Less than two years ago, I bought Oscar De La Renta, Christian Dior, and Burberry wool jackets for a family member. The price of all 3: $80! All three coats were in mint condition and, although I have no idea if they are authentic, they are fantastic quality. Another option is thrift stores. Not the favorite of some people, but I have found designer clothes at insane prices this way. I once found Manolo Blahnicks at Fifi’s in Southern Pines for $100. A version of the thrift store but with never-worn clothes is Rugged Wearhouse. The clothes that make it here may have been overproduced, didn’t sale, or may have a defect. Sometime the defect is something major like huge holes or rips, but more often it is somethings silly like a tag being sewn on the wrong side of the shirt (something no one would ever notice!). This place is a little more hit and miss than the others, but the prices can very much be worth it. For a long time I was able to go here and get $12 Express pants and even found $2 Hollister shirts.
Step 3: Coupons are your friend. Signing up for retailers mail promotions and credit card offers are not such a bad thing if you do not go crazy with the spending and either don’t use the credit cards or pay them off every month. Remember, it is very important to pay those cards off every month or the benefits are washed away by the fees! Having said this, being signed up for a collection of cards that never get used seems pretty nice when considering the free gift cards that are sent without any purchases being made. I very rarely use my Victoria’s Secret card, yet every couple of months I get this wonderful little coupon in the mail for a free pair of underwear. Often this nice gift is accompanied by a coupon for $10 off a bra purchase or a free $10 gift card. I usually don’t use the bra discount but I do have a drawer full a free underroos and a collection of free VS makeup. Look on Ebay for coupons to the store you are visiting, and when purchasing online do an internet search for coupon codes.
Step 4: Timing the market, err seasons. This step is all about knowing when to buy. While many may know by now the summer clothes are discounted the most in the winter, and winter clothes are heavily discounted in the summer, many may not know about annual and semi-annual sales, the timing of regular sale, and new shipment days for bargain stores (TJ Maxx, Marshalls). To begin with, I never buy from Victoria’s Secret until they have a major sale. Their 5 for $25 panty sale used to be my time, but no more after I learned of the rarely spoken of 7 for $25 sale. It never hurts to call or visit retailers to ask when exactly these sales are supposed to happen. Why pay full price for something if you can call and find out it’s going on sale next week? Most retailers are constantly changing their sales, so this can be a matter of patience. For the discounters like TJ Maxx, simply ask an employee what day their stores gets new shipments in so you don’t get there on the days when bargain are running lower. Of course, I have found out that shipments come a few days throughout the week and it can take a few days for each shipment to finish reaching shelves, so this is really more a hit-and-miss kind of thing.
Step 5: Go the extra mile, a lesson on research. Comparison shopping really comes in handy here. This can be done in stores or online, but a smart shopper knows how much an item goes for a its normal market value. This lesson can spare some major heartache later. Imagine thinking that you are getting a crazy bargain on an item but then finding it much cheaper after you have already purchased it. You cannot always undue a purchase, and once something is bought it seems so much harder to let go of it. Some people just do not want to deal with the hassle of a return and ultimately never return unwanted items. I do this and it is a very bad habit. Knowing ahead can help this problem.
Step 6: Realize there is a huge difference between quality and quanity. Sometimes it really does not save money to buy something because it is cheaper. I have learned this lesson many times with a certain retailers products. Without calling anyone out, just about everything I have ever bought from this place has fallen apart very easily and this is a very popular chain store I am talking about. While the prices during sales can be great, it is just not worth it to me anymore to keep throwing away clothes. Think about the cost-per-wear formula. If a shirt costs $10 but is poor quality and looks horrible after only being worn 10 times, then it costs $1 every time the shirt is worn. If a shirt is found that costs $20 but is great quality and can easily be worn 50 times, then the cost of each wear is only 40 cents. Moving past the monetary factor, this is not the only way to determine benefit. I find it worth it to pay a few dollars more if I absolutely love an item, it is very comfortable, it fits perfectly, or I can wear it with anything. Closet fillers, or the cheap pieces of drek people buy because a low price makes it seem attractive or a person just wants a wide selection of clothes, are to be avoided at all costs. People should observe the fashion shelf live of an item, meaning how long will something last through wear, tear, and the ever-changing fashion world before it is unwearable/undesirable?
Step 7: Know your limits. This is something that everyone has to determine for themself. It is based on your own personal fashion budget as well as clothing style. I person who keeps a simple wardrobe made of staples and classics may be able to spend more per each item than because may have fewer clothes and go shopping much less often. However a more trendy person who is constantly changing their clothing and loves having a ton of clothes would probably want to spend less per item so they can purchase more. Personally, I like a wide and varied assortment in closet so I tend to keep lower spending limits for myself. For example, the limits for pants are usually $20-30, shirts are normally under $15-20, and I try to keep shoes under $40. I also can reason spending a little more for a dress than for a skirt or pants because with a skirt or pants, I still have to pay for the shirt. With a dress, I only need the one piece. Everyone has to set their limits though, because it can also be argued that a skirt or pants can be more versatile than a dress.
Step 8: A lesson on sacrifice and delayed gratification. Sacrifice means picking and choosing the bargains to indugle in. A person simply cannot go with every deal they find. That is a fast track to bad taste and overspending. Instead, as hard as this is, try to hold off for the truly wonderful deals. Another important thing to remember is delayed gratification. While this can be tied in to holding off on an item now to purchase something better in the future, here I mean buying something that isn’t perfect now but easily will be. This includes buying a shirt with a loose button that you can fix yourself or buying pants that are a little long or baggy but can be tailored. If you shop around, you can find a good but very cheap tailor.
Now that you know how to shop for clothing, I’d like to give a special mention to a recent bargain fashion favorite. While this is not technically a fashion store, it does have a nice variety of beauty products which can be arguably a necessary counterpart to any stylish person’s wardrobe. The Unilever store in Raeford, NC has amazing discounts on toiletry and food items, but the toiletry products here are also amazing. While Dove 24 oz body wash is at least $6 at place like Target and Walmart, it is only $3.05 at Unilever. Dove and Axe deoderant are $1 each, and there are many other deals like this with products from lotions, shampoo, conditioner, hairspray, face cream, etc. You do not have to be a Unilever employee to shop here, and you can call the factory for more details.