How to Save Money (And Still Get The Look You Love)

I love shopping and get bored easily with my clothes.  While I have had many of the basics in my closet for years, I am constantly adding to and shifting my wardrobe.  

One thing I have learned from this habit of mine is how to reduce my shopping costs.  I'm going to be putting these skills to work this month to stay within budget.  :-)

Whether your clothing budget is $15 a month or $1500, you can get more for your money by learning how to navigate the many ways of saving on retail.

This is a quick how-to for saving money while shopping.
  • Sign up for e-mails from your favorite retailers.  Most retailers send coupons, information about sales (including private sales), giveaways, and more.  I find this the quickest and easiest way to save. 
  • Without a coupon?  A quick Google search for "Target coupon code" (or whatever you're looking for) will generally turn up a useable coupon.  You can find both on-line and printable in-store coupons simply by using your search engine, thanks to sites like www.retailmenot.com and others.
  • Plan your shopping around sales.  In this economy, many retailers are offering frequent sales, so it has become even easier to score needed or wanted items at a discount.  Purchase specific items when they are on promotion.  For example, buy pants during "30% off pants" sales..  If you wear suits, I often find early Fall and early Spring the best time to get a good deal on those.
  • Layer coupons with sales when possible.  Retailers will put items on promotion (BOGO, for example), and often, you can still use a coupon on top of that promotion to save even more cash. (Check with individual retailers for specific rules regarding this).
  •  Buy off-season.  I am not great about doing this as I tend to get too impatient to wait for a wanted item until the end of a season; however, if you can wait, retailers often discount items significantly.  For example, right now, it's still hot outside, but because retailers are making room for Fall stock, they are offering steep discounts on summer merchandise.  Sometimes, retailers also bring out last year's leftover winter stock around this time at savings of 75% off or more.  While this tip doesn't work well for purchasing trendier items (that may already be out of style by the time you're ready to wear them), it's great for finding wardrobe staples at low prices.
  •  Many store credit cards offer rewards programs.  I'm not promoting unwanted credit cards or credit card debt to anyone; however, store credit cards can actually be a great money saver IF you pay your card off on-time each month to avoid interest and late fees.  For example, The Limited is by far my favorite retailer (about 80% of my wardrobe is from The Limited).  I shop on-line often due to time constraints and a greater variety of sizing and style options.  The Limited offers free shipping to their Couture cardholders, which is great because shipping costs can add up very quickly.  They also offer a rewards program (receive a $15 rewards card for every $300 you spend for Classic cardholders) which you can use on later purchases.  Many retailers, including The Limited, also send coupons and offer special sales/discounts to their cardholders.
  • Price adjustments - Many retailers offer price adjustments within a period of time (usually 14 days) if an item goes on sale.  So, if you purchase a purse for $30, but it goes on sale for $20, don't be afraid to ask for a price adjustment.
  • Find other shopping rewards programs - If you do a lot of on-line shopping, you may find it beneficial to hunt down other rewards programs.  For example, I have a subscription to "Lucky" magazine.  Through this subscription, I was able to sign up for a free program called "Lucky Rewards."  This program provides cash back from a wide variety of retailers (rewards vary by individual retailer).  You get money back simply for shopping on-line through the Lucky rewards site.  The program is no-hassle.  I've already received several cash back rewards and have had no problems with this program.   It's like getting paid for shopping!
After the sale:
  •  Sell on eBay - When I am bored with my clothes, I earn cash to buy new ones by selling my items on eBay or other similar sites.  I find you can get more money back on your items by selling through eBay than you can through more quick cash options.  That said, if you are looking for quicker turnaround, look for consignment shops in your area, such as Plato's Closet (also a great source for bargains on name-brand clothing).
  • Trade - If you have friends who are of similar sizes, you could host a trade party (You could do this with purses or jewelry if you're not the same sizes).  Grab your best gal pals and a bottle of wine (or five).  Have each friend bring several items they'd like to trade.  To paraphrase the old saying, one person's trash is another person's treasure.  You'll be happy to get rid of that old navy sweater and excited to nab your friend's beaded blouse you've always admired.
  • Repair/Alter - If you still love an item, but it's falling apart, repair it if possible.  Often, simple repairs are cheaper than you might expect.  You'll get to keep your beloved item for less than the cost of replacement.  Lost or gained weight?  Seams can be taken in or let out. If you're bored with an item, craft it into something new.  I've turned dresses into skirts, pants into shorts, etc.  If you're handy with a sewing machine (or have a good tailor), the options are virtually limitless.
 Happy Saving!!

DISCLAIMER:  The advice above is based on my own experiences and is not intended to be a promotion of any particular retailer.

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