Thursday, October 28, 2010

7 Rules for Sale Shopping

I am always scouring the sale racks at my favorite stores for good deals and more often than not I find something that made the trip worth it. I remember I was always a deal hunter. When I was a freshman in high school I went shopping at the local mall with my mom. We went into Deb, one of my go to shops when I was a teenager, and I wandered over to the shoe racks. Deb always had amazing sales and that was where I got most of my shoes (I'm pretty sure I never paid more than $10 for a pair). That particular day they were doing a promotion where you got an addition 25% off all clearance items. As I rummaged through the shelves looking to see if there was anything good, I found the simple, white, thick-soled sneakers that my mom always wore. I looked at the price and took them over to her and asked her if she wanted them. She asked me how much they were. I told her 75 cents and she didn't believe me. I then proceeded to show her that the shoes had been marked down to only $1 and with the additional 25% off they were only 75 cents. That day we walked out of Deb with 2 pairs of sneakers for only $1.50.

Situations like this are the epitome of my shopping experience. I refuse to sacrifice quality, workmanship or style in lieu of better priced items, but I learned how to shop the items I wanted with a budget I could afford. Sale shopping has become a lifestyle for me. It allows me to get the clothes and fashions I want without breaking the bank or racking up credit card debt. But it's not always easy. Here are some simple rules to follow if you're looking to score great deals.

1. Know the stores: You should know the stores you are hoping to score deals from. Have an idea of when they put things on sale. Are they a store that always has a stocked sale rack or do they only have special sales? Are there times when their clearance is marked down an additional percent or is it always the same? For example Old Navy knocks a percentage varying from 30%-50% off their clearance items on a regular basis. Banana Republic also had 25% off their clearance last weekend. Department stores like Sears and JC Penny also do this too.

2. Approach it With an Open Mind: You have to approach major sale shopping with an open mind. You will not always find what you're looking for at a price you're willing to pay. BUT you may also find an amazing deal on something that you know you will need in the future. I remember one year I was school clothes shopping and for the life of me I could not find a basic white button down shirt that I need, but I did find a beautiful formal gown on super clearance for only $3!!!

3. Don't Buy Things You Don't Want or Don't Need: I know, it's hard. Sales can be alluring and when something is an awesome deal it's almost two hard to pass up. However, no matter how low the price, nothing is truly a good deal if you don't need or won't use the item. Before you buy something on sale ask yourself: Will I wear it? Will I use it? Does it work with other items in my closet?

4. Use Sales as an Opportunity to Try Out New Styles: Sale shopping can be a great way to try out new styles. If you are the type of person who is pants only, try scoring a couple skirts of the clearance rack for New York and Company (they tend to drop down to less than $8 when the season changes over, I've gotten them there for as little as $4.99). I know that I was very hesitant when the decorative scarf trend started and I didn't think it was for me. I then was at the mall one day and found a clearance bin of scarves for only $1.99, I got a couple in colors that would complement my closet to try out. I ended up loving them and now I almost always have one on.

5. Shop Off Season: If you have the money and the closet space to store some clothes until you're ready to wear them, try to shop off season. Get your summer clothes in the fall and your winter clothes in the spring. This is when you will find the best deals as stores try to clear out their old inventory for the new season's arrivals. This is an especially great time to score wardrobe staples: solid color camis, scarves, jeans, etc. Also, be on the lookout for sunglasses in the winter. I cannot tell you how many nice pairs I've scored for under $10 shopping them in the winter (even though you wear them all year).

6. Be Patient!: This is one that I cannot stress enough. If you can wait to buy an item, be patient. It will likely go on sale and you probably won't have to wait until the end of the season. Stores are always promoting their latest trends. Express, for example, tends to mark down their dresses about 30% midway through the season. Most store will have sales at some point, so if there is something you are really eyeing that is new on the racks, try to hold out for it to go on sale and be sure to check the stores website and circulars. Also, be sure to check the circulars for discount coupons. Macys and JC Penny periodically provide one day shopping passes where you can get a certain percent off your entire order.

7. Shop Online: In addition to shopping your favorite stores, be sure to check their shops online. A lot of times you will be able to find items that were previously in the stores at very low prices and in many circumstances you can find free shipping. Be careful though, sometimes sale shopping online carries with it the final sale policy that most stores have in their brick and mortar equivalents making it somewhat risky to buy something you can't try on. However, for stores you are familiar with and know your size well, go for it! Be sure to check out websites like Rue La La too for find low prices on many designer items. Also, don't forget to check out auction websites like Ebay and Bidz to find great deals on jewelry and accessories. On Ebay, you can usually find items under the Buy it Now feature for great prices without the hassle of bidding and many sellers offer free shipping in the U.S.

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