My Savvy Shopping Tips…

I am often asked how I can afford all I purchase, and how I am able to maintain a
wardrobe without giung into debt. Well here's a few of the things I do when shopping (most of my shopping is done online).

1. Credit card debt won’t help you… but credit cards occasionally will. I have made a concerted effort the past couple of years to get out of credit card debt. If there isn’t cash in my checking account, there isn’t a garment that will be purchased. Credit cards are too easy, you can say, “oh I’ll pay it off with my next paycheck,” but then you forget and interest starts racking up. To avoid temptation, I have gotten rid of most of my credit cards.

Most, but not all.

Some credit cards are beneficial, if you take care of the accounts. Often, a store card has a lot of perks for the user; if you shop at that company regularly it may be in your best interest to have a credit card with them. For example, I have a Banana Republic credit card. Banana Republic offers its Luxe cardholders (I have had the card for over a decade so I am Luxe) free shipping at Banana Republic, Gap, and Old Navy online. Many promotional emails are sent only to cardholders, and I receive coupons in the mail almost monthly. When I make a purchase on my Banana Republic card, I immediately head to my checking account’s online banking and write a check for the exact amount I spent. No interest is accrued, yet I still rack up points towards savings rewards with the company. This concept also works for major credit cards that help you rack up miles or points.

2. Google it. There are two ways that Google can save you money. First, before you enter your shopping cart at an online retailer, Google the retailer’s name and something like, “promotional code,” “discount,” or “coupon.” Usually within your first three clicks you will find out whether there are any available discounts for that retailer. Nine times out of ten, this five-minute Internet search saves me shipping costs, and sometimes gets me free gifts with purchase or even 25% off my entire order.

Google also helps when trying to find the lowest price. Say you fell in love with a pair of Franco Sartos at Nordstrom. You tried them on, they fit great and look even better. Before dropping dough on these shoes, get the style name and head to your computer. Googling the brand and style name of the shoe will help you find the lowest-price retailer, or at least a company that offers free shipping and returns or No Final Sale (always great if what you believe to be comfy shoes end up tearing your heel in half by lunchtime).

3. Shop through another site. I personally am loving Ebates, where in just one month I have made over $10 cash for normal online shopping. Ebates is a free service that works with hundreds of online retailers – get to your favorite company through the Ebates Web site and you will get back a percentage of your purchase in cash.

There are many other sites that do this; one of my best friends uses Upromise for this to help pay off her student loans, and many love Points.com to collect points toward flights and hotel stays.

4. Check eBay. I never purchase a new bag at full price. Purse owners are often fickle, getting a new one and tiring of it a month later. By checking eBay for the brand and style name or number of a bag I am coveting, I can always find a few sellers offering new or gently used versions of the bag at major discounts. This spring I bought a bag I was drooling over at Banana Republic for 50% off on eBay. Bag came in mint condition, just sans price tag. Two years ago, I purchased a different bag through eBay and got it 60% off the current retail price, with the tags still attached and the dust cover.

I also do this with style names and brands I know. Maggy London, Banana Republic and Gap dresses look great on me; I search eBay by brand name and then size and can often find last year’s styles in mint condition (often with tags still attached) or this year’s style new or gently used for a great price. If you know what you want and shop with a reliable seller, it makes sense to first check eBay.

5. Make a list and check it twice. You go to a Web site to purchase jeans and 30 minutes later, your total is for over $1200 and not a speck of denim is in your shopping cart. Cresting a list of what you need each season will help you stay on track, benefit your budget, and make dressing easier each day. Who need another printed top when you don’t have the proper trousers or skirt to pair with it? Do you homework – read magazines, visit blogs, watch RV and get a sense of what is in style this season and what appeals to you. Then narrow down that list to what will flatter your frame and work with your lifestyle. Make a list and put it in your wallet or purse so it is with you every time you shop. Tell yourself you won’t buy anything else until you acquire these essentials. Items like new bras, jeans, swimwear and the perfect black pants are hard to find, and the search can be utter torture. It’s very tempting to give up and buy a great purse or little frock. Problem is come Monday you will be crying in front of your closet because you have nothing to wear. So stick to your list and you’ll save and be more stylish!

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5 Comments

  1. April 16, 2008 / 10:44 am

    Honestly, I don’t know about many other cards. I used to have an AMEX because of the points, but when Banana Republic made their card a Visa, I made it a replacement. No annual fee to rack up points with Visa…

    Remember, if you don’t pay a card off each month you have interest to deal with; there’s no point in racking up coupons if you are racking up interest. Also bargain with your credit card companies – often you can get a lower APR, etc. if you give them a call.

  2. April 15, 2008 / 10:39 pm

    Thanks Allie for the great advice. Are there any other specific credit cards out there you recommend?

  3. April 14, 2008 / 5:57 pm

    I signed up for ebates on your recommendation, then promptly made a purchase at Ross Simons without going through ebates! Gah, could have kicked myself – especially at 7% cashback. Ah well, lesson learned. I recently got a pair of franco sarto wedge tstrap sandals and i love love love them! great advice by the way 🙂

  4. April 14, 2008 / 3:19 pm

    This is such a helpful post! I’m trying to do more shopping online so I will definitely follow your tips. Thanks!

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