So, the last time you went shopping you ended up spending way too much and now you are really regretting it. This happens to almost everyone, including me. Saving money on clothes does not have to be difficult though. Here are my top tips for saving money.
1. Shop in-store, not online. I would not take online shopping completely off the table, but I will say that prices are often a lot less in retail stores than they are online. My theory for this is that stores do not have the physical space to hold as many clothes, so they are much more likely to mark things down, whereas online stores use big warehouses and they are in less of a hurry to cut prices. I do almost all of my shopping in stores. Plus you get to try them on!!
2. Use coupons and promos. Before you head out to shop, I recommend taking a moment to gather coupons and bring them with you. My favorite way is to set up a free email account and sign up for emails from your favorite retailers. Do not be shy about asking the store manager if there are promos going on that day. I often find they have coupon codes they are willing to share, and there is more wiggle room and potential for negotiating than you may think. And if you qualify, do not forget to ask for student and / or military discounts.
3. Pay attention to the calendar. Black Friday might be a great time to shop for electronics, but it is not necessarily the best time for clothes. There are two main seasons in retail, and when those seasons switch are the best two times to save money. These switches occur right after Christmas, and at the end of June.
4. Determine the retail cycle. Beyond the two major retail seasons, stores have smaller retail cycles where they get new merchandise in, and mark old items down, and so on. When new clothes go on the floor at full price, the old stuff is reduced. A few weeks later, they start marking down the new stuff, with smaller discounts. A few weeks later, they get ready for the next shipment and a lot of the store goes on sale. How to find out where you are in the cycle? Just ask. Stores will be happy to share this information with you.
5. Predict future markdowns. Finding out how long an item has been in the store can help you decide if now is a good time to buy it. If a store just got the item, but only a few are left, then you probably will not get a clearance price and a coupon or promo is your best bet. BUT if an item has been in the store for awhile and there are tons left, then you can usually count on that item being marked down.
6. Look outside the sale rack. As a budget shopper it can be really easy to put on blinders and race to the back of the store and only look at the clearance section. But you actually want to look elsewhere for your best deals. When retailers have tons of one item left, that they will often put them on a rack together, not mixed in with other clearance items. So look for sale signs throughout the store, and not just clearance in the very back.
7. Check multiple stores. If you find the deal of a lifetime but it does not fit, then do not give up. Find out if another store in your area has that same item in your size. A short drive could be worth it, and some stores will even ship that item to your house directly from a nearby store.
8. Sign up for credit cards. We have all been asked by sales people to sign up for the store credit card. If you do not shop there often, are not good with credit cards, or are working on improving your credit score, then it is best to say no. However, if you spend a lot of money at that store, and pay off the balance in full each month, then it is something to consider. Stores often give card holders exclusive coupons, and even better, some send you rewards like $10 for every $200 you spend.
9. Make friends with a manager. Many higher end stores will put you on an email list for exclusive events and sales that are local to you, and if you befriend a manager or store associate, they more than happy to keep an eye on an item for you and / or let you know when specific markdowns are happening. Having a friend in the store can really help.