Now that election season is over, we’re headed straight for the holiday season. And that means it’s time to not only buy gifts for others, but to build our holiday party wardrobes. In the spirit of this great shopping season, I’d thought I’d remind you of a few ways you can save some money.
A joke developed in my family that we were “raised in the mall.” My mom was always a big shopper, and she would drag all four of us kids with her — holiday season or not. We spent plenty of quality time together shopping, learning a very valuable lesson: How to dress ourselves well, for any occasion, and while on a budget. So, since I was “raised in the mall,” I think I can consider myself an expert on shopping! From my mother to me to you, here are a few ways to find a great deal:
- Be on the lookout for seasonal sales. Certain department and clothing stores have annual sales, and some will have special deals for the holiday season. Know when they are, and keep them on your radar. If there’s a certain bigger-ticket item that you need, save it for that time. Try to browse before the sale so you have an idea of what’s out there.
- Shop early in the day. When the time of that sale comes — go early! The longer you wait, the less product there will be. Even if there isn’t a sale, going earlier is much better. There’s less of a crowd, you have plenty of room to move around the store, and all the product is replenished.
- Sign up for emails. Yes, those little emails can be annoying to most people. I used to work retail and people would complain about the number of emails. But these are meant to help you! You’ll know about every deal in advance, and you might even get exclusive deals. If you hate seeing so many in your inbox, make a separate email account for store coupons or a separate folder.
- Follow your favorite stores on Facebook and Twitter. Stores will tweet or send messages about their special deals, especially around the holidays. If you really are against e-mails, this is another great way to keep up-to-date on sales.
- Know when markdowns happen. I know what day my favorite department store does its markdowns, and if I need something or happen to be near the mall, I go and look. I watch for certain items to go on sale. And even after I buy, I might check and see if the item gets marked down further. Most places will allow you to bring back the receipt and get a price adjustment, if it’s within 10 days.
- Try discount retailers. Places like TJMaxx and Marshall’s are great for deals. I recently got a fantastic laptop bag for $40 at Marshall’s. But be sure you check all items before you buy them — sometimes they are discounted because there is a small flaw. If it’s a flaw you can live with, then by all means, go for it. But if there’s a seam that’s obviously crooked, save your money.
- When possible, combine deals and coupons. Some stores will allow you to combine an in-store promo with certain coupons. Know when and where you can do this, and if you aren’t sure, ask before you get to the register.
- Check out Groupon and other deal sites. I’ve just discovered how great these sites can be. My favorite local boutique put up a deal for a $50 gift card. Check these out now and then, but try to buy only if you know exactly what you can get from that store. Don’t just buy the deals randomly, for any store — you might get stuck and end up finding nothing.
These are just some of the shopping lessons I learned as a child growing up in the mall — there are many, many more. And while it might be silly to some, I’m glad I know them! What lessons have you learned along the way?