Money Saving Tips & Tricks

Everyone likes to save money when they can, especially when purchasing things you plan to purchase anyway.  I think that's why we get lured in by sale notices and end up buying things we don't truly need...yet.  If you're anything like me, the urge to purchase something is heightened when I know I'm getting a great deal on it.  

I rarely ever pay full price for anything, ever, and if I do you can rest assured that I have not only looked for coupon codes and discounts elsewhere online but that I have also debated long and hard on if the item is really worth the full price.  

Because I have re-started the book The 21-Day Financial Fast that restricts spending for three weeks and I've been working through my closet to pass along things I no longer wear, my mind has been honing in on my shopping habits and the eerie ability (or curse) that I have to remember how much I paid for just about every item I own.  It can't be normal, I know. ;)  But, it got me thinking that I can share some of my tips and tricks with you!

Ways to Save Money Shopping:

1. Shop online.  First and foremost I am an avid online shopper so of course I would suggest this.  But there are benefits to it like comparing prices easier and finding sales.  Now, some stores do have different sales in the physical store simultaneously so there's a mini risk that the purchase in-store could be a smidgen better.  However, factor in time and convenience to shop online versus driving to the store and it not having what you like in your size, the hassle of parking, and wondering into other stores and thus wasting time.  You also get to try on the clothes at home.  Perk!

2. Before checking out online, review shipping costs and return policies.  Also, re-evaluate if you really need/want the items and if they can returned.  I would suggest shopping at stores that either ship for free and provide free return labels, or that you can return the items to the store and not have to ship them back.  Shipping fees can really add up if you primarily shop online and nowadays most stores offer free shipping, or free to ship to store for you to pick up.

3. Before checking out online, Google search for the store's promotion/coupon codes.  My go-to site is usually and they have an app.  Example for searching online: "Anthropologie coupon code".  Sometimes the sites have the discount codes available to you already, but I have found even better discounts that have been shared on RetailMeNot and this applies to anything online, not just clothes.  I have found discount codes for flowers too.

4. Sign up for a rewards card.  This may either be a basic rewards card like your DSW Stylist number or a credit card.  Yes, it can be annoying to have multiple credit cards for varying stores and I am not suggesting to open up a credit card at every store you shop at.  Please be sensible with your spending and mindful not to rack up debt!  I am only suggesting this for stores that you may frequent the most because you can get rewards on purchases you'd be making anyway that can be applied to future purchases.  Example of this would be a Nordstrom debit or credit card that you earn reward dollars, Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic Visa that you earn reward dollars and free shipping, or the Target Red Card.  (Also, some stores like Nordstrom and Banana Republic offer free basic alterations!)  I have also done this a couple of times for the immediate savings perk most cards offer if (and only if) I am making a large enough purchase to justify opening a new card for a large savings, and then close the card after a while of not using it again.  I would only suggest this if your purchase is a large amount that the discount percentage makes sense to save and if you have the means to pay it off immediately and it not hurt your credit score.  Again, I am not advocating racking up tons of credit card debt or spending beyond your means.  This is just a way to save money.

5. Shop around online!  I love, love, love sites like Rue La La and Gilt because you never know what you'll find as new sales begin daily, but they have name brand and luxury brand items on there.  I tend to watch these for myself but also for items my friends have told me they are looking for.  I'm sort of like a personal shopper. ;)  There are times I think something is still overpriced for how often I think I'll use it, and then within the month or two it will pop back up in one of their sales at an even lower price.  Again, be careful to watch for something that is a final sale.  It's not prevalent on there, but as they discount an item lower and lower it may switch to final sale.

Rue La La has a policy that you pay $9.95 for shipping on an order and then have free shipping for the following 30 days.  You can return for free if you choose store credit or they will deduct a flat cost to use their shipping label to return something.  Gilt now accepts returns in person at Saks Off 5th as well as by mail.

6. Before you click "purchase", do a quick Google search on the item to compare prices.  There are times you may find it cheaper at another store or even on Amazon!  There have been times that I have caught a significant price difference and learned its always better to just do a quick check.

7. Shop through your primary credit card's shopping rewards site!  If only I had discovered this sooner, I would be traveling much more by now!!!  I say this because I personally like to use two Visa credit cards (that I pay off every month) that earn flight miles.  The reason I even have two is because those airlines both have great deals for me (United Airlines because Houston is a hub and Southwest Airlines because hello amazing flight deals and great service!).  Both cards offer extra reward miles when you shop through their site.

Example:  I generally earn one reward mile for every dollar spent using my United Visa card.  But, if I go through their shopping portal I will find that vendors have partnered up with them to offer greater rewards like recently Macy's offered 6 reward miles for every dollar spent, J.Crew offered 2 reward miles for every dollar spent, Edible Arrangements offered 3 reward miles for every dollar spent.  There is a LONG list of stores on there for every imaginable category of shopping.  You click on the store you want to shop online at, the link takes you to the store but United tracks the purchase amount, and then they apply the reward miles to your account.  

If you have a credit card attached to a brand that you earn rewards for when you use the card, then you more than likely can be earning extra rewards by purchasing things you'd already be buying.  The only downside is that this is for online shopping only...the extra points cannot be earned shopping at the physical store.  But, you still get the dollar for point rewards for those purchases.  Hello free flights!

8. When I shop, whether online or in a store, I shop the sales racks first and try to avoid perusing the new items unless the store has a sale that day.  I shop the sale racks first because I likely do not need anything specific and that can satiate the desire to shop even if I don't buy anything.  

9. Think ahead.  If something catches your eye and is a great price, consider who you might need or want to purchase a gift for.  I have a tendency to purchase birthday and Christmas gifts months in advance.  If I see an item and it makes me think of someone specific and it's a great price, I snag it!  You can also use this tactic to watch the item for a better sale price if you have time.  It is helpful to keep a list of names and the gifts you've purchased in advance so that you don't end up confused or with extra gifts stored up.

10. Return!  If you're in doubt about something or hesitant about the fit, return it.  Don't think twice.  I am trying to get better about really assessing if something fits properly or if I really will use it often, otherwise I return it.  There's no need to waste money and have something collecting dust in your closet!  

11. When in doubt before you purchase something, close the browser.  This is equivalent to walking away.  More expensive items should be evaluated carefully to make sure the need or desire doesn't hurt your budget.  If you're in doubt, think about the item for a day or two before buying.  Most sites use cookies to store what's in your cart or of course, if you'e logged in to the site then you can save your cart.  Sometimes the things left behind disappear or sell out.  And guess what?  Your life will move on without it.  Chances are you didn't need it anyway.

12. Stop in to your local resale or consignment stores.  You'd be surprised what you might find in there and for great prices.  Resale and consignment shops also have sales so you may get an even deeper discount.  There are high end resale stores online and locally near you.  One of my favorites in Houston is AGC Boutique where you can shop high end, barely used items and the proceeds go back to charity!

I hope you find these tips helpful.  What methods do you use to find bargains and save money?  Comment below and share with someone!

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