Some may call it a pastime. I like to call it a sport. Over the years, I’ve honed my shopping skills to the point where I’ll rarely ever pay full price for an item. And neither should you. With the slew of offers, social media sites, and apps available to shoppers these days, you should never experience buyer’s remorse over pricing (those velvet damask-patterned drop-crotch pants are an entirely different matter, though). So read on and benefit from my countless shopping trips. I like to keep telling myself it’s research…
11 Ways to Shop Smarter
- Sign up for newsletters – Signing up for newsletters can get a bit annoying, but it usually pays off if you’re trying to buy something on a site and need a discount code. If it’s your first time signing up, retailers will often send you a code for a small percentage off your purchase.
- Use coupon code sites – Before you finish your check out process, be sure to check discount sites for coupons that may apply to your order. You can get anything from free shipping to a percentage or dollar amount off. I usually refer to sites like RetailMeNot.com or use the Honey app on Google Chrome, which pops up when I’m ready to finish and pay – they’ll try up to ten codes to see if any of them fit your purchase.
- Use apps like Gilt and ideeli: There are tons of off-price apps like these, to include Hautelook and RueLaLa, but the trick is to look out for those extra 30% off offers at the top of the app or email and shop as soon as the sales start (often at noon). If you wait a few hours – heck, even 30 minutes! – your selection will be drastically smaller.
- Follow bloggers for special codes – Sometimes retailers work with bloggers as brand ambassadors or for special promotions. Follow your favorite bloggers for promo codes available only to their readers.
- Shop during holidays – I scored a shoe wardrobe for the rest of the year for very little cash during last year’s holiday sales. Between Black Friday, Cyber Monday and After-Christmas sales, I even took home FREE pairs of shoes and others at indecent pricing (think reg. $129 at $19). Pay attention to those sales and offers and see about combining them for the best possible deal. One retailer even sent a surprise free pair in my size. Think ahead to upcoming seasons to score the best deals.
- Know when to shop – There are certain times of the year when shopping for particular items is ideal (for example, appliances in January, sneakers in April). Do your research before you commit to a large purchase. Check out this great, handy list by The Peaceful Mom for the best time to buy everything year-round.
- Use Google Shopping – Seriously, this is an incredible tool. Enter your search term (i.e. “black maxi dress”) and get a side-by-side price comparison with pictures. Filter by color, size, price and designer to narrow the results.
- Shop Instagram sales – Thanks to Instagram, I’ve discovered some of my favorite online shops. And because I follow their Instagram accounts, I can often check their profiles for any mention of flash sales or coupon codes. Instagram has also made it possible to consign directly, so look out for high quality designer items at a fraction of the cost as long as you’re ok with sharing your email address to have a PayPal invoice sent for payment. I’ve done this several times with really fantastic results. Just pay attention to the comments and photos to ensure authenticity.
- Shop off-season – You may not be thinking about wearing knee-high boots in the middle of July (or maybe you are…), but off-season is the best time to make purchases at deep discounts. If you live in a warmer climate (hey, Miami!), stock up on sandals and summer dresses for next to nothing while the rest of the country bitterly curses the snow flurries.
- Pay attention to social media flash sales – Follow boutiques on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook for special sales and discounts at certain times of the day (usually in the afternoon).
- Hit up Consignment Shops – If you’re hung up on that major designer bag but can’t afford it without spending the rent money, try your local consignments shops. Here in Miami, I’ve been loyal to The Recycled Closet and Second Time Around in South Miami because they have an excellent selection coming in at all times and usually offer special discounts on top of already seriously reduced pricing. This is your chance to own authentic high-end designers (think Chanel, Prada, and Gucci, among others) or mid-range selections (Marc Jacobs, Tory Burch, DVF) at about 25 – 30% of the original price (sometimes even less). The challenge here is to check in with them often and follow their social media to snag hot ticket items before they sell out.
BONUS: This one feels a little sneaky so I decided to leave it out of the “official” list. But sometimes, if you’re patient and feel like taking a risk, you can leave items in your cart and close out without checking out. If you’re a registered account holder on the site, you will often get a coupon in your email very shortly after. It’s not a guaranteed technique but it’s worked for me on several occasions.