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Today's Everyday Fashion: Money Saving Tips for Every Shopping Style

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Money Saving Tips for Every Shopping Style
June 11, 2016

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When it comes to shopping do you enjoy the thrill of the hunt and shopping for hours, or quick methods that require the least amount of shopping possible? Check out these profiles to see which you identify with most:

Shopping Style #1
-       I am most concerned about price. I have time in my schedule to dedicate to shopping and tracking down good deals. I am willing to dig, hunt, and search. 
-       I am willing to spend less per item, around $10-50. I am concerned about quantity as well as quality. I have a long wish list and want to add lots of different options to my closet so that I have more possibilities to mix and match.
-       I mostly prefer to shop in person. I like to try the item on, see the fabric in person, and avoid shipping costs.

Shopping Style #2
-       I do not have very much time to dedicate to shopping, and sometimes I am willing to pay more, rather than spend more time hunting for a better price.
-       I will spend more for one item, around $150. My strategy is to buy fewer higher quality items. I already have most basics in my closet, so now I focus on keeping my closet streamlined.
-       I mostly prefer to shop online. I like being able to shop more items more quickly, save time and energy by shopping from home, and seeing how things look on someone rather than on a hanger.

You may already be able to guess, but my shopping style was all about #1 throughout my 20's and up until a couple years ago. More recently, I'm all about shopping style #2. It's not the same progression for everyone, and I could see going back to shopping style #1 someday. I don't see anything wrong with either method and wouldn't recommend one over the other, because different things work for different folks. That's why I'm sharing money saving tips for both. They are very different approaches, so here my best tips for each!

Shopping Style #1 TIPS

1.   Mark your calendar.
Shop during the seasonal switch to get the best deals – right after Christmas, and at the end of June. Between those two times, stores have smaller retail cycles. Use clues like how long an item has been in the store and how many are left in your size to determine whether the price may go down. Keep coming back until you catch the item at the right time – ideally both a marked down price and a coupon for maximum savings.

2.     Negotiate.
Check prices on your phone to see whether they are lower online. Use the RetailMeNot app for coupons. Ask an employee what the promos are that day. If you qualify, ask for student or military discounts. And there's more wiggle room for negotiating than you may think, don't be afraid to ask!

3.   Shop strategically.
Look all around the store and not just the sale rack for the best deals. Prices for the same item can vary by state, so shop for summer clothes in a colder climate and vice versa. Get to know the owner of locally owned stores for insider tips and special deals, and mall stores will often add you to a regional email list for alerts on special events and discounts.

4.     Be bargain store savvy.
Ask your local Ross or TJ Maxx when they get new shipments to determine the prime days for shopping. Shop multiple store locations to maximize your potential of finding a great deal. Know what you're buying: Nordstrom Rack, for example, makes some clothes specifically for the Rack, but others (the "from our stores" sections) come from Nordstrom. Some brand name dresses are made with lesser quality specifically for stores like TJ Maxx. And J.Crew Factory and Banana Factory item are made specifically for the outlets. Which is not to say at all that you shouldn't buy them at all! Just be savvy to determine the best deals.

5.     Consider credit cards, rewards, and eBates for extra savings.
Credit cards should be used with caution, only for the 1-2 stores you shop the most, so they don't adversely affect your credit score. Say yes to free reward programs though, and check out eBates for online savings.

6.     Buy second hand.
Check out your local Goodwill, thrift shops, and consignment stores (or online sites like Poshmark and ThredUP) for huge savings that also benefit the environment.

7. Get creative.
Consign your old clothes and put those earnings towards to your clothing budget. Or take your love of fashion and turn it into a side job: work at your favorite retailer during the holidays, join a home party business like Stella & Dot, or look into secret shopper programs.

Shopping Style #2 TIPS

1.     Gather and save your favorite items online.
Use search engine ShopStyle to browse. Type in "pencil skirt" for example and narrow down the thousands of options by price, color, and brand. As you find things online, save them in shopping carts to revisit later. Or use the Favorites feature on ShopStyle.

2.     Monitor sales and prices.
Let the price stalking begin! Sign up for emails at your favorite stores to monitor coupons and sales. Pay attention to pricing patterns to gauge whether prices will drop further. Try checking how many are left in stock by adding quantities to your cart until it says sold out. Once the price is right, make your purchase. If there's no time to monitor prices, check RetailMeNot for coupons before you buy.

3.     Plan a day for returns.
Be strategic about online purchases so that if something doesn't fit or look how you expected, then you can make all returns to the same mall and/or the post office on the same day.

4.     Make shopping in person quick.
Shop online before you go to the store to identify favorite items and go directly to them. (I also find it helpful to see it on someone vs. on a hanger.) Use the RetailMeNot app for in-store coupons.

5.     Mull it over for a bit.
When I'm shopping in person, I take pictures on my phone as I go. Then before I leave, I sit down and decide what I'm going to buy. I often leave the mall without buying anything (I only make returns). I wait until the next trip to purchase, or order online now that I've tried it on.

6.     Don't count out super bargains.
Even though I don't have tons of time to shop like I used to, I still like to take advantage of super bargains, like (a) when the seasons switch right after Christmas and prices are amazing, (b) budget stores that sell brand name items for a lot less like Ross and Saks Off Fifth. Sometimes, it's fun to dig and spend a little more time to find the really amazing deals!

Which shopping style do you most identify with? What shopping tips and tricks do you swear by?

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