The Ultimate Bargain-Hunter’s Guide to the Galaxy

The Ultimate Bargain-Hunter’s Guide to the Galaxy

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Now, I’m inclined to believe that the tendency and passion for bargain-hunting is genetic. Here’s why: As young girl, I always had a love for shopping. For new clothes, shoes, makeup and such. (Hence my rabid amour for we heart this!) But I never really understood that prices are but merely a suggestion. Why my mother should think things were too expensive was beyond me – the price was the price – and if you wanted something that’s what you had to pay, right? Well eventually my bargain-hunting genes blossomed and I daresay I am a better one today than my mother ever was! However, I believe the skill can be taught – we can all train ourselves to search for the best price out there. So I want to share with you some of my favorite tricks for finding good deals.

My basic, big-three tips for the bargain hunter are as follows:

• Research, research, research.
You have to know what makes a bargain and what does not! True story: two days ago I was in TJ Maxx for some payday fun. I was poring through the clearance racks (you can find some real gems there). They had a whole bunch of designer jeans in the clearance rack (think J. Brand, Joe’s Jeans, Rock & Republic), all priced between $50-$70. Two women nearby were exclaiming how $60 for a pair of jeans was ludicrous! I wanted to yell, “But $60 for a pair of jeans that would cost you $174 at Nordstrom IS a bargain!”

These shoppers didn’t care or know the difference; which is what I urge of you! Be aware of the good quality, big name brands and the latest trends to watch for in the racks. And know that a great name (or the latest cuts/styles/colors) doesn’t always work on everybody. However, if you know which line of jeans makes your butt look like a million bucks, then you know when to grab a great priced pair of demin. Same goes for well made, timeless pieces (even out of season) in hues that always flatter you; get it while you can, you will wear it later. As for seasonal trends, just be aware of their limited time appeal and budget accordingly (meaning the trendier pieces should be the smallest portion of your shopping budget).

Also, buy off season. Have your heart set on a collection of Christmas decorations or table setting? There are some unique finds to be had in January and February! Same idea if your looking for a cashmere sweater (buy in late spring) or patio furniture (early fall) – snap up big savings by buying just when the item goes out of season – stores need to clear their shelves for new arrivals and you will pocket the savings!

If you have your eye on a pair of jeans, or new bedding for your guest room, or whatever you are jonsing for next: take some time to first think of the ideal. What you would buy—and still love—if money were no object. How much does this ideal item cost? Now get on the internet (or start searching the aisles) and see if you can do better!

• Location, Location, Location.
You have to know where to shop for what!

Housewares: Tuesday Morning, TJMaxx, Marshalls, Ross,, plus the Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn outlet stores (We grew up in one of the Outlet Capitols – Reading, PA, and strongly agree, Outlets are where the shopping bargins are at! ~ Stef & Tyna)

Gifts: Shop for gifts in odd places. Who doesn’t love an antique/thrift store or craft mall?! Or the fun housewares section of the grocery store? Don’t forget good old Etsy, not only for unique, handcrafted, bargains but for it’s well-edited selection of vintage wares.

Clothes/Shoes: (for name brands) Nordstrom Rack, Saks Off-5th, Neiman Marcus Last Call, and of course the SALE rack at your favorite clothing retailer (Banana Republic, Guess, etc.).

The other trick to discount stores, especially places like Ross or TJ Maxx is that each location has something a little different, so it is often worth your while to go to two or three different locations in your area to see the variations in stock.

Plus be friendly with the sales associates – a little kindness and a smile can go a long way! Ask when they receive their shipments and when it is usually processed and out on the floor for sale – so you can arrive early and get the best pick!

• Supplement, supplement, supplement.
You can always add on to your savings. Scour the weekend newspaper for coupons and sales and promotion notifications. Sign up for the retailers e-mail list to find out when the sales start. Places like Hobby Lobby have 30% off this or 50% of that every week. Just watch for their circular in the paper or in your mailbox so you can might be able to wait out your heart’s desire at a steal-worthy price.

Online -ebates.

Cosmetics connoisseur, France fanatic, great gal; this post was brought to you by wht member and friend, Katie.

19 thoughts on “The Ultimate Bargain-Hunter’s Guide to the Galaxy”

  1. Excellent tips. My mom is still a bargain shopper and she taught me well. My family used to tease me about being cheap, and my husband used to not understand why I had to look two and three places for 1 item.

  2. Oh I am horrible at bargain shopping. I’m very much an impulse buyer. I have a weakness. :( If I see something that I want, I get it in my head that everyone else wants it too; and that I have to buy it right then and there to make sure I am the one who takes it home.

    I’m getting a new apartment in May and really want new bedding, bathroom, and living room stuff. Start fresh you know? I’ll try to keep these tips in mind so that I can get more for my money! :)

  3. Great, solid tips, Katie! Like you, I’m a second-generation bargain hunter, and I’m constantly on the prowl for treasures at good prices. Happy shopping!

  4. BTW-Always check the clearance sections at places like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, or just about anywhere. That is where I always find amazing buys! For example NARS was recently at my local TJ MAXX beauty clearance for under $10 and also I was able to pick up some gorgeous Model Co lipstick for $.0.30. Can’t beat that!

  5. Great tips! Bargain shopping can be so exciting!
    It seems in my area that the more high-end items are always in the locations of Ross or TJ Maxx that are near more upscale stores. Does anyone else notice that? I don’t know how the distribution works, but it may be worth checking out!

    And if you’re Ebaying it, here’s a lesson I had to learn (and still have trouble with….) Figure out how much the item would be if you bought it retail, figure out how much it needs to be to stay below that WITH shipping and other charges and then make sure you don’t go above that! It seems silly to say, but I’ve had to write down my highest bids when I’m bidding on multiple items, just so I don’t get confused and end up paying more for something than I could have paid in a store….

  6. This is one more reason why Katie is my best friend: she and I can bargain shop for hours. I love it!

    Also… it’s Katie’s birthday today– HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

  7. Happy Birthday Katie!!

    Alyssa-I totally agree with your ebay tip. I think that a lot of people don’t consider the shipping charges or the actual retail price of the item. I often see people bidding so high when they could buy the item brand new for cheaper on amazon.

  8. That’s what Ebay (and the sellers on it) count on. Getting all wrapped up in the frenzy of an auction and paying more than you would have if you were in a store.

    I’ve totally fallen into that. Someone outbids you and you’re like “Oh, that b*tch! I’ll show her!”

    Personally, I don’t really enjoy Ebay as much as I once did. But I still always check there before buying anything online.
    .-= stef´s last blog ..The Original Bad Girls of Rock & Roll – The Runaways =-.

  9. Happy Birthday Katie! Great post! I’m glad to have Bargaining in my blood.. I feel robbed when I pay more than I should.. I love-love-love a good deal!

  10. Stef-That is hysterical! I have gotten very competitive in bidding there myself. I thought I was the only crazy one.

    But I generally find ebay to be just fine as long as I keep a level head, do my research, and only buy from very highly regarded sellers.

  11. Hey Stef, when buying on Ebay I have learned not to bid until the bidding is almost over. Otherwise, people will surely outbid you and you just drive the price up. And when I say almost over, I mean count the seconds! This is how I acquired my antique Hollywood Regency style endtables. I had tried often to win bids before, but after mastering this technique I win nearly all I want (and for the price I want to pay). This does not require that you leash yourself to your computer near biddings end due to a newer alert system makings you able to receive alerts on you phone through text messaging as well as calls and/or email alerts.
    As far as clothing…..LOEHMAN’S!!!!!! I can’t ever walk out of there without amazing finds–it puts Ross and TJ Maxx to shame (though I enjoy bargain shopping there, too).
    Great post. Who doesn’t love a bargain?

  12. Happy Birthday Katie!! Great tips! My folks got an entire super fancy luggage set at Tuesday Morning for about 75% less than it’s original ticket price..
    It’s a great spot for towels and bedding too!!

  13. I really love this topic. I love bargain hunting for “sport.” When I travel for work I love to prowl Ross, TJ Maxx, Nordstrom Rack and even Ann Taylor in the evening. I think I have a pretty good idea of what is a good price for most items.
    I am a big fan of thinking outside the box. I am not afraid of trying on clothes that are not the size I normally wear. Many times clothes are on the clearance rack because they do not run true to size. If the outfit looks well put together, I do not care what the tag says. (There are a lot of people who will not try on clothes that are a petite size or are smaller or larger than their normal clothing size.) Also, I have found some amazing clothes that just were plain ugly on the hanger. Ugly hanger clothes are worth trying on if you have the time and are really on the hunt.
    I also rely on a fabulous alteration lady. She has hemmed numerous pants, shortened numerous dresses to knee length and given great advice. When I buy something I calculate the alteration cost into the overall price.

  14. Love this Katie. You’re a girl after my own heart. I have founds some excellent buys at T.J. Max myself. Love it that you never know what you are going to find before you go. It’s a great place to buy expensive kid clothes too…lots of Ralph Lauren and name brand boutique brands.

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