How To Be a Smart Shopper
As new fall fashions overwhelm us with bright colors, edgy geometrics, and body contoured skirts, how do we know what to choose and what we can afford? The kaleidoscope can be intimidating, to both our sense of fashion and to our budgets. These tips may help in making the most of your fall fashion budget.
Things like swimsuits, shorts, holiday sweaters, and other seasonal items are usually a lot less expensive at the end of their respective seasons and during the other seasons that people don’t use them. Right now, spring and summer apparel is reduced for clearance, and there are some excellent bargains to be found.
Buy only what you need
When you are about to make a purchase, it’s a good idea to ask yourself “Is there anything I have at home that will serve the same purpose?” If there is, you may want to rethink buying it. Along the same line, when you are shopping for something specific, stick to buying that item only. Write it down, make a list, or bring a friend with you to remind you what you are looking for. It’s so easy to get distracted and spend money on things you bought on impulse.
Inspect before you buy
This is especially true when you are shopping at garages sales, consignment or thrift shops, but it applies to department stores as well. Usually the merchandise is in good condition, but it’s important to be sure. Inspect clothes for hems, seams and zippers. If you notice a flaw, mention it to the sales person, who may offer you a discount.
Use the Internet
The Internet is a fabulous shopping tool. You can surf for the lowest price on any item right from your home. Find out where the best deal is, then go – or order it online. Many stores have special Internet bargains for online purchases only. You can also find free coupons and merchandise at websites such as craigslist, retailmenot.com, and couponcabin.com.
It’s a good idea to shop around at different stores before making a purchase. Too often, we tend to purchase the first thing that catches our eye. It’s really easy to buy things quickly without checking other stores. Take a few moments to do some comparison pricing and bargain shopping.
Buy multiple-use items
When shopping for a fancy dress for a special occasion, buy one that you can wear to other events such as parties and dinner dates. Get shoes and clothing that you can mix and match with your current wardrobe. Select pieces that are versatile and be worn again and again. Why spend money on more things than you have to?
Ask about sales
Sometimes stores have sales that aren’t advertised. Ask the store clerk about current and upcoming sales. They’ll be happy to tell you, since it may encourage you to buy more or come back. It’s also good information to know if you are planning to buy something specific at the store – it may be on sale another day which means more savings for you.
Shop clearance sections first
Many of stores want to get rid of unsold fashions, out-of-season accessories, and things that haven’t sold, so they’ll price these things to sell quickly. Look for these sales first. The item you want may be there for a low price. Check for clearance sales online also. Most stores have a clearance area on their website.
Earn cash or store credit
Some thrift stores will take your shoes, accessories, jewelry, clothing, and other merchandise and give you cash or store credit for them. Consider taking clothing, shoes and accessories to a local consignment shop. You can earn a little extra money that can usually be used as store credit or taken as cash.
Wait to buy expensive new items
The hottest fashions, most-popular looks, and edgy new accessories tend to be pricey when they first come out on the market. It’s a good idea to wait a while before you purchase them. Usually, the longer an item is in the store, the lower the price. Often, if you wait for a special sale or the end of the season, you’ll get a much better price. A $250 jacket may eventually be marked down to $50 or less.
Decide how much you can spend, and stay within those limits.
- Decide how much you can spend, and stay within those limits.
- Take the time to shop around. Some retail items can be found in discount, outlet or wharehouse stores.
- Look for a good sale. Be willing to wait for a Labor Day or After-Christmas Sale, when necessary.
- Ask friends and family members for product referrals. They can help you find the best product for the best price.
- Check Consumer Reports and product-rating magazines for more information. Find copies at your local library.
- Inspect products carefully before buying. Check for quality and durability. When in doubt, stick to reliable brand names.
- Check warranties carefully. Make sure you understand the policy.
- Make sure you understand extra charges, like delivery.
- Ask for certificates of authenticity for collectible items.
- Ask for appraisals for high-priced, used items.
- Purchase with coupons or discounts, when possible. Find out what discounts your travel club, credit cards, department store charge cards or other affiliations offer.
- Save your receipts, and return unsatisfactory products.
Tips & Warnings
- When in doubt, delay your purchase. A week’s time will give you a fresh perspective.
- Remember that the cheapest buy is not always the smartest buy. Quality goes a long way.
- Remember that you’ll often spend more when buying from a catalog. If you go to the store directly, you can take advantage of sales and avoid shipping charges.
- Consider shopping at “scratch-and-dent” outlet stores. Sears is one store that has them. The damage to furniture and appliances is often hidden or minimal.
- When shopping for smaller items, like groceries, compare prices by weight or quantity.
- Avoid compulsive buying.
- Avoid buying something just because it’s on sale.