How To Guides

How to: Shop Online for Bargains

1. Bookmark your favorite stores and check back often

The great thing about online shopping, as you know, is that a store’s inventory is literally a click away. Unlike the traditional brick and mortar retail stores, you can check discounts as often as you want without having to leave the house. I take full advantage of that by bookmarking my favorite online shops and checking in very often.

2. Know your limit and how low an item will go

You need to establish a budget for two reasons; one, how much are you willing to spend and two, how low can an item go. The first is obvious–budgeting is key for all the spends in your life. But the second budget is knowing and understanding an item’s price threshold. For example, I regularly shop at Banana Republic and I know to never buy full price (unless I absolutely MUST have a certain item) because they’ll be having a 50% off sale price deal in a few weeks. You need to start recognizing those patterns in a retail store’s pricing structure. Also, unless you’re extremely lucky to find an item thrifted at a huge discount, it’s unlikely, for example, that you’ll ever get certain designer pieces for over 50% off (it’s hard to find brand name make up for more than a 25-30% discount).

3. Shop off season

If you’ve got a full closet of clothing for the season you’re currently in, there is absolutely no reason that you should be shopping that season at full price. I regularly buy winter clothing in the summer and fall in spring, etc. The prices will be at their best when there’s less demand for the product. Take advantage of the shifts in season and buy the end of season close-outs for maximum savings.

4. Thrift, buy used and recycle

Let someone else pay full price! Whenever possible, I try to buy used. There are several reasons I do and you should too: it’s cheaper; it’s environmentally friendly; it’s fun (the thrill of the find!) and it’s rewarding (I always feel good about buying something used…like I’m giving it another chance). Here are some great options for online used shops: eBay, ThredUp, Poshmark and Tradesy to name a few. I know many people are grossed out by the thought of buying used clothing but please remember I wash and/or dry clean all the pieces before I wear them.

5. Search smarter

The best online shopping experiences depend on their search functionality. The better you can narrow your search, the less time you’ll waste going through pages and pages of items that meet your size/style requirements. Also, once you’ve filtered your search, sort it properly. One of my favorite “Sort” options is Percentage Off. I love seeing that 75% off number. Nordstrom Rack, 6pm.com and Amazon are a few that come to mind with that awesome Sort option.

6. Sign-up for newsletters and emails

Email marketing can be dangerous. Of course, it’s the best way to get insider info on new sales and deals but it’s also the best way to get you to part with your money. Also, you can usually get a “sign-up” bonus I wish there was an option to temporarily hide emails from my inbox. I don’t want to completely unsubscribe and never receive them again, but just put the marketing on hold while I recover budget-wise.

 7. Don’t buy it just because it’s on sale

If you’re a bargain hunter like me, you’ll know the high you get from purchasing something at a deeply discounted price. I’ve often bought something just because it was “too good of a sale to pass on.” Come on, everyone has done that, right? Well, I have a special section in my closet for super cheap but super didn’t need clothing…it’s called never worn. Make sure that even if the price is amazing that it’s a piece you’ll actually wear. Remember the budget from tip #2? You’re dipping into that budget for a piece that’s a good price and potentially taking away money from a piece you really want. Don’t buy just to buy.

8. Shop during big sales and double up on coupons

This is an obvious one but there are certain times in the year where every store will have its inventory on sale. The big ones are Black Friday, Cyber Monday, after Christmas sales and all the major legal holiday weekends. Save up that budget for those huge blowout sales and start doubling up on those coupons. Sign up for the newsletter with another email address and get the 25% off your first order coupon along with the already deeply discounted prices. Another tip: some stores will offer you discounts if you order something that is out of stock (Nordstrom Rack gives you $10 off; Banana Republic gives you 10% off). Most are valid for a year so save them up for double-dipping discounts.

9. Know your brands/sizes

This tip is so crucial. There is a reason I have so much Banana Republic in my closet: I’m mostly confident with their clothing sizing. If I order a size 16 Banana Republic pant or dress on eBay, I can be almost 100% sure it’ll fit me. If you’re ordering online from a thrift store, they usually don’t accept returns so this is doubly important. And the times that I don’t fit into my used purchase, I’ll re-sell it! For the companies that I purchase new clothing from, I make sure that they have a no questions asked return policy (hello Nordstrom Rack!) and the brick and mortar store is relatively close to my house.

10. Search for deals late at night

This one is sneaky but I’ve found that stores seem to discount some of their merchandise later in the evening. I’ve found some really good deals early in the morning or late at night. Maybe I’m crazy but I keep finding great deals so there’s gotta be some truth to it. Also, Sunday night shopping. That’s another time that I’ve found sale stock rotation happens so I can usually catch a good deal.