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I'm thrilled to introduce Dana from Something Good! I quickly fell in love with Dana's sense of fashion and ability to find budget-friendly outfits from stores we ALL normally shop at. She also posts monthly clothing budgets on her blog, and shares exactly where she buys each item and how much she pays. I'm seriously shocked at the steals she's able to find. Please give Dana a warm welcome!
Hi, my name is Dana and I hate paying full price.
If that's not the best introduction to me for this article, then truthfully, I don't know what is. As someone who's become more conscious of money over the past few years, I've found ways to avoid paying full price online and I'm always trying to help my friends and family get the best deal (just ask my mom).
It takes quite a bit of patience, but it's doable for everyone. For this post, I'm going to take you step by step through my shopping experience and how I use different online tools to save the most money.
I do want to note two things though. First, this is process that generally happens over multiple days, weeks, or even months. Second, a handful of stores use dynamic pricing. This means that the price may change daily depending on what promotion is happening or how many people are purchasing the item.
If you don't believe me, pick one item on the J.Crew Factory website and watch how the price changes from day to day (and will adjust when there's a discount code). Because of that, I'm going to use Loft as today's example, since items stay at a fairly consistent price and it's very clear when the price changes.
1. Find the Item
Simple right? Well, kind of. In paring down the amount of money I spend, I've been trying to only buy pieces that fill gaps in my wardrobe. This can lead you down the rabbit hole to find the “perfect” pair of boyfriend jeans, but hey, at least once you've found them, you're getting a pair you know will be useful.
When I'm hunting for items, I'll start at my favorite places (Loft, J.Crew Factory, and Nordstrom). If I don't find anything there, I'll use tools like Shopstyle to expand my search and find other retailers that might have what I'm looking for.
2. (Shop)Tag(r) the item
Let's say I find that pair at Loft. I then place a Shoptagr alert on that item. Shoptagr is amazing because it will let you know when an item's price drops and if there's a discount code, what that code is. You can also set the alerts so it'll only notify you if the price drops by a certain percentage (25%, 50%, or any change). If your item goes out of stock, it'll also alert you when it's back in stock.
I also internally set a price that I'm willing to pay for the item. For instance, since I know that Loft has frequent 40% off sales, I'm not going to pay more than $35 for a top there. A pair of workout pants from Old Navy? I won't pay more than $20.
I know that this can make a lot of people nervous, after all, what if it sells out?? Well yes, this is a risk that you take, but it can also stop you from making impulse purchases. After a while, you'll become a lot more use to the idea of waiting and that if it sells out, it's not meant to be.
3. Check Your Cash Back Options
When the item is finally on sale and hits your price point — awesome! But, before you hit that buy button, it's time to check the best cash back option to use first.
I'm signed up for two cash back sites: Ebates and Giving Assistant. Whenever I'm ready to purchase them, I'll check both to see which has the best cash back option and then click through that site. Right now you can get 2% cash back from Ebates or 4% cash back from Giving Assistant when you shop at Loft.
It takes an extra 30 seconds, but it's worth it. Especially for that time that you realized that you just got $7 back from your Nordstrom purchase. This money adds up quickly my friends!
4. Double Check RetailMeNot.com
Always double check your discount code options! Sometimes if an item is just marked down, I'll check RetailMeNot.com to see if there's an extra discount code I can layer on top of it. This step is definitely more time consuming, but every once in a while you'll get a code that works and saves you an extra $15.
Ebates and Giving Assistant will also share any available discount codes if they've been alerted to them.
5. Buy it!
You've checked the extra discount codes, you've clicked through the cash back page, you've added the item to your cart, and you've entered the extra discount code? Yay! Now you can finally hit the buy button!
6. Now sit back, relax, and wait for your item to arrive….kind of
This is a sneaky step, but ever heard of price adjustments? They make all of the different my friends. I'll leave the tag on my items so I can watch them the next couple of days to see if they're marked down even further. If I see 20% discount at Madewell become a 30% discount, you can bet I'm on the phone with customer service.
Many stores such as J.Crew/J.Crew Factory, Madewell, Old Navy/Gap/Banana Republic, Nordstrom, and Shopbop will allow for a price adjustment if it's within a 7 day-ish window of the item being shipped/received.
Stores such as the Ann Taylor/Loft brand don't offer price adjustments, BUT if they're doing a weekend sale, you can bet that the discount is going to be better by Sunday night, so hold off if you can.
And that's it! You've (finally) reached the end of your shopping journey! Yes, it's a little time intensive, but you've saved yourself money and now have an item you really love.
A Few Final Tips…
- If ANY sort of holiday is coming up, just wait. Whether its the day after Christmas or Columbus day, there will be some sort of promotion.
- Don't pay for shipping. Just don't. Many sites will have various ways you can get free shipping if you just do a little digging. Maybe it's meeting a certain minimum, shipping to the store, or using a discount code. Whatever that option is, find it and use it.
- You definitely don't have to use every single step above. While I always use cash back sites, I'll use a combination of the other steps depending on where I'm shopping.
- Some items just don't go on sale. It's sad, but it's true. A lot of items do, but there are certain pieces that are considered classics/staples and higher end stores know that they can sell them full price until the very end.
If you've made it all the way to the end: Thank you! I hope my tips will be useful and help you save more money!
How do you score discounted clothes online?
Dana's blog, Something Good, first began as a creative outlet during an uninspiring job. It primarily focused on fashion, but over time it has become her way of exploring personal style and sharing her other passions. Something Good now includes budgeting tips, recipes, and book recommendations, in addition to style tips.
Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. Read my full disclosure policy here.