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How To Save Money By Bargain Shopping: Bargain Shopping Tips

Updated on February 14, 2011


These days, people are really into saving money – and why not? It seems to take us more and more time to make money and less and less time to spend it as prices keep rising.

Most people try and stretch their spending dollars as far as they possibly can and with good reason.

I personally believe in never buying anything unless it’s on sale although in some cases like food shopping, that’s not always possible.

For everything else though, that’s my rule of thumb and I try to stick to it. It requires discipline but the great thing about this philosophy is knowing that I have money left over for other things.

That said, getting the best price for everything sometimes requires a bit of Yankee ingenuity. There are so many possibilities these days but with a few tips on how to save money by bargain shopping, you can and will find the best deals possible to save you money!

Let’s look at a few ways I've discovered that help me feel great about what I spend.



Bargain shopping means just that – shopping for a bargain – so always keep that phrase in mind. You’re looking for the best possible deal you can find on anything.

  • Mailers and Newspapers. Check your local newspapers or mailers for upcoming bargains. Most of us get current sales magazines ad nauseum from companies like Macy’s, Eddie Bauer, REI, etc. Browse these for current or upcoming sales events. Don’t forget to check for coupons or keep the flyers or magazines if you find something you want to purchase just in case you need it to get a reduced price.

  • Look on-line. Visit the company websites that you buy products from. Spend some time looking for promotional codes. You might also find on-line or in-store coupons. If you are part of a rewards program for Columbia Sportswear for instance, by signing up with your email address, they will email you different promotional coupons or codes. You can even send these promotional savings to your cell phone. Then simply show your code on your phone at the store for savings at the register. Or print out your coupon from the email and take it with you.
  • Compare, compare, compare. If you are anticipating buying anything, first search for it on-line. It also doesn't hurt to search multiple sites. For instance if you’re shopping for a certain coat you saw at Macy’s and want to check the price web-wide compared to the in-store price, type in the brand of the coat (say Calvin Klein) and the style. Enter the sales code of the item or "model" number if you have it. You can often find on-line retailers that are selling things for less, including the store you saw it in on-line! You can save a bundle by finding the item on-line and if it happens to be on super sale, all the better. Be aware of shipping fees that may apply. If you can, always aim for free shipping. If you do have to pay shipping, factor that in and make sure it offsets the in-store price you were going to pay.
  • On-line versus bricks and mortar stores. If you buy on-line at most big department stores like Macy’s or JC Penney, they generally offer free shipping right to your door.... or at the very least, you can have it shipped to a store near you. If you order from for instance or Victoria’s Secret, if the merchandise doesn’t fit or you get an item and decide you just don’t like it, it’s simple enough to just send it back. Just save the shipping receipt and any instructions on returning an item. I've bought everything from a BBQ to a brass bed frame and had them delivered to my door...with free shipping!
  • Shop the clearance rack on-line. Oftentimes you’ll find better deals on-line for clearance items than are at the stores. They’ve already been merchandised and sent on to outlet stores or discount stores like TJ Maxx or Ross and now they are just trying to get rid of them. Looking on-line can save you bundles of money. I frequently go on Victoria’s Secret on-line website and buy things that are now on clearance. I get the brands that I love and the styles that I want but at substantially reduced some cases 75% off the original price. Many times, it's only because they are last year's color or pattern. This theory also applies to just about anything from appliances to books as well when it comes to shopping clearance on-line.
  • Don't forget the outlet stores. I've had a mixed experience with outlet stores. Sometimes I've really gotten some great bargains and been thrilled with the savings. Other times, I've found the outlet store version of some of my favorite stores to be a bust. Their prices were outrageous in my opinion when they were supposed to be cheaper. It all goes back to knowing the value of the item and what the highest price for it might be and what the lowest price might be. If you can prove to yourself that it's a steal, then you've done your homework!



  • Stick with what you love. If you have a pair of jeans that you just love, check the inside label for a model number. Then try and research it on the internet. Oftentimes you can find the piece of clothing you want that’s sitting in someone’s warehouse because it was last year’s model or it just wasn't a huge seller. You can save big bucks that way. It never hurts to try and Google search any item you're looking for. The results might surprise you. I've snagged a couple of pairs of slouch boots that way for $39 when they were going for over $100 in the stores. 
  • If the shoe fits, buy it. Do the same with shoes and boots. As long as you have the brand name that you want to purchase and the size, you can find super deals on footwear all over the Internet, especially if the season has passed.  In other words, buy boots in spring and sandals in winter. 
  • Store rack shopping. Check the clearance racks and shelves everywhere, no matter what you're shopping for. Whether you’re shopping for dishes to round out your set or you’re looking for a pair of flip flops, the clearance racks and shelves are goldmines for saving money. Buying off season is a surefire way to save huge amounts of money when it comes to coats, clothing, shoes and more. Stock up and put it away for the next season if you think it’s a great deal and you don’t want to pass it up.
  • Shop discount stores. Shop stores like Marshall’s, Nordstrom's Rack, TJ Maxx, Marshall's and Ross to find absolutely stupendous bargains on clothing, housewares, furniture and more. I've gotten some of my best decorating pieces in stores like TJ Maxx or Ross and I've also picked up some great additions to my wardrobe. They even sell pet items. My daughter bought a brand new dog crate there for a fraction of what it would have cost at a pet store or even on-line.
  • Thrift stores are meant for the thrifty. Don’t forget about bargain shopping places like Salvation Army and Goodwill and other thrift stores. You can buy new and used clothing, furniture, toys, games, housewares and more. If you shop their special deal days you can save even more. For instance, yellow tags might be an additional 75% off on Mondays. You can save even more money! Think of shopping at thrift stores as the ultimate in recycling or repurposing. You’re taking something used and putting it to good use.
  • Stop for garage sales! Frequent garage sales, estate sales and swap meets. You can find the most incredible bargains by shopping this way. Check your local papers or on-line for advertised garage sales. Then shop by items that they will be getting rid of. Get there right at opening if you want the best deals because these items go fast and they go early. There are people who make a living off shopping at garage sales and swap meets. Go early and be prepared to find some wonderful bargains. I bought most everything for my kids in terms of furniture and toys at garage sales. You'll never know until you check out a couple what kinds of treasures are out there.
  • Not so perfect but still perfectly usable. Check out scratch and dent parts of furniture stores or department stores. Sometimes you can find incredible steals on furniture or household items, appliances, etc. Absolutely perfect is in the eye of the beholder. Sometimes the flaws are so minimal that it would be hard to tell it wasn't perfect. Other times, a piece of furniture for instance might need a bit of tender loving care to get it up to snuff. Weigh the damage against its potential use and then go from there.
  • On-line listings like Craigslist. Shop Craigslist, eBay and Amazon for new and used merchandise. You can find everything from clothes to cars listed on eBay and Craigslist and sometimes the savings are phenomenal. Don’t forget to check the freebies on Craigslist also. I’ve saved a bundle on pet products such as grooming tools by buying on eBay. I received free shipping for an item that sold for $60 in the pet store. I paid $12! It was brand new and still in the package. Also don't forget about freecycle.


In short, bargain hunting can be done in many different ways and can produce different results for everyone. 

The most successful bargain hunters are those who know the true value of something and then can compare their find with the actual worth of the product. 

Bargain hunting is a great hobby these days but a hobby that will give you a gigantic return on your investments....both in terms of time and dollars. 

If you can save money on something, you should and I believe wholeheartedly in bargain hunting as a hobby, a sport and a lifestyle!

Going along with getting the best price for something is also caring for your treasures.  I think this is something that is the most important aspect of ownership for anything. 

If it's a car or if it's a pair of jeans, treat your things with great care and your bargain purchases will be around for a long, long time.

Wishing you wonderful finds in your quest for the best bargains!


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