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Bargain Hunting Basics

Updated on February 9, 2010

1. Don't buy something just because it's cheap

"But it's on sale!" You tell yourself. Well and good, but does it look great on you? A rock-bottom price tag can make any item of clothing attractive, but don't forget the reason you're at this sale -- to add to your wardrobe and go easy on your budget. Another thing women like to tell themselves: "But i'll lose the extra five pounds!" Don't kid yourself. If it doesn't fit, drop it.

2. Go early

Start early in the day, when the store or the mall opens, especially if it's a weekend sale. The racks will still be neatly stacked, and you get the first pick. From noon onward, the clothes start deteriorating into a messy pile.

Go early in the week too. Monday is the least busy day for malls. People have just spent their pocket money over the weekend so that by Monday, the malls are quiet. This way, you have more space and time to scout for the best bargains.

3. Shop alone

when it comes to clothes0shopping, going solo works. Free of companions, you can go at your own pace and try each and every skirt or pants should you feel like it. However, if you're too fickle or you're not confident about fashion choices, you'd do better with a trusted friend or two.

During major mall sales, a big group is an extra big hindrance. It will take too much time for you and all your friends to browse the displays, alternate at the dressing room, pay, etc. Remember, you want to cover as many stores as possible in the least possible time.

4. Do pre-sale window-shopping

Even before a sale is announced, visit stores with clothes that interest you --- yes, even if you can't afford the stock. Don't be scared of high-end brands. Even if you're not buying, just go inside and try the goods on for size. This way, by the time the store does reduce its prices, you'll know just which styles to grab, and more importantly in what size. It will save you a lot of time.

Another great reason to browse and hang out in fitting rooms: You'll know the latest styles soo you can find cheaper alternatives at your favorite bargain stores.

5. Avoid buying overly faddish items

The painted T-shirts may look vibrant on a celebrity, but they'll soon look dated if you're a regular folk. Unless you're fashion savvy and have a knack for reinventing looks, you're better off sticking to timeless pieces.

6. Keep your receipts

You never know when you'll need them. For example, in your sale-shopping renzy, you could mistakenly grab the wrong size. You want to be able to exchange it for the right one, and the receipt is the first thing the store will ask for.

7. Know the store's return policy

A lot of stores post a sign that says "No Return/Exchange on Sale items." This is because sometimes by the time you return the sale item, the rest of the sale stocks have been pulled out of the store. Or it could simply be the store's way of getting rid of old stock for good.

In any case, if you're skeptical about an item --- for example, there's a stain that the store says can be washed away --- make sure to ask if you can return or exchange the item should the stain remain. If the store won't agree to that, then leave the item.

8. Always check for damages

These can't be helped during a sale, but you don't want to be paying for something that's already spoiled --- no matter how cheap.

Some damages can be excused though. Workable hitches are: dust stains; damaged zippers; missing buttons that are plain enough to replace; length adjustment; missing hooks; loose hems or stitching. Do consider also how much repairs would cost --- is it worth it?

Non-workable damages, on the other hand, include grease and dye stains, or anything that leaves permanent marks; unique missing buttons (unless you're willing to replace all with a new set); rips, holes, and snags.

9.  Be nice to staff

Sale periods can be trying times for both shoppers and storekeepers. But you won't speed up the line by being grumpy. Ask nicely, say thank you, and all parties will be pleased.

It pays to be friendly with your favorite store. If the saleslady is feeling generous, she may tip you off about an upcoming sale.

10.  Sign up for sale alerts

You can also post shopping queries on the message boards where fellow shopaholics give each other plenty of tips and advice.

11.  Bring cash

Three excellent reasons:

  • stores usually offer bigger discounts to cash payers vs. credit card payers.
  • cash transactions are usually faster to process than credit-card purchases.
  • this makes it easier to stay faithful to your budget. Once you're out of cash: Game Over!

12.  Set a budget and stick to it

Everything's on the cheap, but you still need to dictate a limit. Assure the shopaholic in you: The best thing about sales is there's bound to be another one next time.


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