I had a major shopping victory this week: I paid $10 for a pair of designer jeans. Really.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I am the type of gal who is very particular when it comes to jeans. I like quality. I like cut. I like style. Pre-kids, I could spend a whole day trying on clothes and nixing them for one reason or another until I found “the one” (you know what I am talking about), at which point I would take out my shiny piece of plastic and charge it. Not so any more!
Now, since I am so particular when it comes to quality and since I live on planet Earth and have to stick to a budget, I had to come up with a new way to get high fashion clothing at low fashion prices. Here is how I updated my shopping strategy to save $200 on a pair of designer jeans:
- Do your homework. Would you show up for an exam without studying and expect to get an “A”? Umm no. That kind of I’ll-just-show-up-unprepared scenario is the stuff nightmares are made of. You know, the kind where you walk into Mrs. So-And-So’s class and find out you have an exam you weren’t prepared for then wake up in a cold sweat? Yeah, not so much fun. Well, the same kind of prepared attitude needs to apply to shopping. Before you purchase anything, you need to know what you want, what the going rate is, and what you are willing and able to pay for it. This means you will need to put in a little bit of time initially doing some shopping research. In my case, I looked for my jeans at a handful of different stores: Nordstrom’s Rack, Macy’s, Bloomingdales, etc. so I could know what size, cut, color, and price I could expect. Note that you don’t need to comparison shop at every store. Just pick 3-5 stores you think might carry the designer brand you want at a decent price and check them out.
- Comparison shop online. Now that you know what you can expect to pay for your desired purchase in person, check out three stores online to see if you can find the jeans (or whatever it is you are in love with) at a better price. Why not just start online? Well, because I have found that often you will get better prices in a store when they have a sale or move the clearance for that season. Some stores try to lure you in to purchase their produces by tempting you with amazing prices on some (but not all!) of the products they sell. And sometimes online giganta retailers just totally undercut the market. But you won’t know until you compare.
- Wait for Your Prey. Have you ever noticed how a cat will track its prey long before it actually pounces? It will just sit there licking its lips while it patiently tracks the poor mouse before finally pouncing. By waiting, the cat can put itself in a position to succeed before it jumps. Same goes for shopping. You see your prey (the designer jeans), you watch as the item moves through the season, you track the online sales, you compare the coupons that come to your inbox, and you wait patiently for the price to get within range of your budget before you leap for the item. Maybe you wait for the end of season clearance to score big. Maybe you wait for the sale on the end of season clearance. Often, the longer you wait, the lower the price will go (to a point of course).
- Walk Away When Needed. If you want to have control over your money (rather than your money having control over you), you need to be able to walk away from the purchase if it isn’t in line with what you can afford. The same principle applies when shopping online sales or auctions. If you find yourself saying things like “Oh, but these are PERFECT. I will be SO SAD if I don’t buy them,” then run to the nearest restroom, splash some cold water on your face, stare at yourself in the mirror, and tell yourself to get a grip by saying “I was perfectly happy before I saw <insert name of item here>, and I will be perfectly happy later if I don’t have it. I will live to shop another day.” Then go reward yourself (pat on the back, a cookie, whatever) for sticking to your budget. Good for you!
- Step 5: Embrace De-Appreciation. We see shiny new things and think “Wow, my life will be so much better once I get a new pair of these amazing designer jeans.” Then 6 months or a year later, we may look at the same item and not really care nearly as much. Well, you can score big off of other’s lack of appreciation for the things they own. Maybe someone bought the jeans for $198 but now they are over them and the jeans are just sucking up space in their closet. Buy them like new for $10 on eBay or at a consignment shop or garage sale. Then you’ll save your wallet ($200) and the planet (no need to manufacture new jeans for you if someone has a pair they don’t want).
Follow these steps and you can score big on a small budget. I bought like-new gently used Hudson jeans that were hemmed (win!) on eBay for $10. If I had bought them in a store, paid 10% sales tax, and had them hemmed, I would have spent $198 x 1.10 + $10 = $227.80. Being patient pays off ($217.80 in this case)!