It is common for me to get a huge discount (80% or more) on almost every single article of name brand clothing I buy. I’m often asked how I get such great deals. Well, it used to be a tough question to answer. Years of working retail and being completely submersed in the industry have taught me a lot. Here’s what goes through my head before heading out on a shopping trip. (Please keep in mind that I use the word “need” liberally throughout this post, as I truly don’t “need” anything. But let’s be real, I have wants so strong they almost constitute as “needs”. Let’s just go with it.)
Have some idea of what you’d like to add to your wardrobe. Maybe I need more sandals or flats… maybe I need pants for work or something comfortable to wear on the airplane. Whatever it may be, and it’s usually more than one thing, I try to keep it in the back of my mind when I’m shopping. I find that I have the least luck when I am too specific. If I say to myself, “I need a dress for that wedding in two weeks”, guess who’s not finding a dress for a good discount? So instead, I try to plan ahead, and be on the lookout for deals. Within those deals I try to decipher what I may or may not need.
$30/75% discount rule. If it’s more than $30 and discounted less than 75%, the deal is not good enough and I’m not interested most of the time. There are exceptions to this rule for items that rarely go on sale (ie. Marc by Marc Jacobs, Kate Spade, Frye, Hudson Jeans, etc.). Of course that doesn’t mean that I’ll necessarily bite the bullet and buy any of these items full price, but I may be a bit more lax. I do bend the rule sometimes if an item is more than $30, but 90% off. Usually, it’s worth it. But I am very comfortable in following my $30/75%. And to be perfectly honest, 75% is conservative. I am even happier if it’s over 80%.
Don’t buy something just because it’s a good deal. This is where the first rule comes back into play. Just today I went to the Gap because they were having an additional 40% off their clearance items. I found several pairs of pants with one pair that would have been only $6. It was a screaming deal, but I decided to walk away. I told myself if I was still thinking about these pants when I was ready to be done shopping, then I’d come back. Just the fact that I didn’t bother to put them on hold before I left the store told me that it wasn’t worth it. It may only be $6, but I come across deals and discounts like this often. If I use up $6 of my budget now in the beginning of the month, I may not be able to buy something I really want come month’s end.
Cyber stalk your prey. I almost always go online and check out what a store has before I physically step foot in their door. Though it may seem like it, I really don’t have a lot of spare time to shop. I do the vast majority of my shopping either right before or after I work or in the 20 minute time span I can coax my kids to behave while I run through a store. It makes for short, concise shopping trips, and doesn’t allow for a lot of browsing. I head straight to the sales racks. I seldom even look at the new items, and if I do, it’s online before I head into the store.
Sign up for store emails, clubs, and credit card. Signing up for these things can cause your junk email to overflow, but I have found that the benefits greatly outweigh the negatives. I have saved a lot of money this way. You find out about special deals and sales earlier and some give you exclusive additional discounts, etc. There are always perks and, I’m telling you, it’s worth it. Now, before you go running off and signing up for all your favorite department store credit cards, I would strongly caution you to consider whether a store credit card is a good fit for you. I ALWAYS pay off my balance at the cash register immediately after my purchase. If you are a good steward of your finances and are disciplined, a store credit card can be your key to receiving the best deals. I encourage you to read my post about my opinion of department store credit cards for further information.
Price Adjustment, Price Adjustment, Price Adjustment!!! Always price adjust. I can’t emphasize this enough. It can mean the difference between a good deal and a great deal. Almost every store (darn you, J.Crew!) allows price adjustments on their sale items, because inevitably they get marked down further. It has saved me hundreds over the years. All you have to do is ask the cashier while you are checking out how long their price adjustment policy is, then either call or go in on the last day of the price adjustment period. Probably 70% of the time, at least one thing I bought is marked down further. If you don’t have time to go into the store, just give them a call with your receipt handy (HANG ON TO ALL YOUR RECEIPTS!!!), and read them the style number over the phone. Almost all stores are accommodating. Please read my post on Price Adjustment Policies to learn more about this huge opportunity to save even more money!
That about wraps up what I would call my “Methodology 101” class. Do you have any hard and fast rules you can add to the list? I’d love to hear about them! Please share in the comments below.
- Banana Republic Vertical Stripe Short
- J.Crew: Additional 40% Off Sale (Through 7/7)!!!