I’m a chronic deal-hunter. I’m one of those people who will spend an hour searching every nook and cranny of the internet in hopes I can save 10 bucks. Besides the fact that finding deals can be fun, hunting for the best prices means I can make my money go further and still get luxury brands even on a small budget. Basically, I can have my budget cake and eat it too. Here are a few tricks I’ve learned along the way.
Set up price alerts
Waiting for something to go on sale is a pretty common tactic when something’s out of your price range. The caveat with this is you have to know when it goes on sale so you can nab it quickly. Otherwise, if you find something on sale weeks after it’s been marked down, it might be sold out in your size or sold out altogether.
Price alerts to the rescue! ShopStyle has a price drop feature that will notify you as soon as an item drops in price. For items/retailers not on ShopStyle, you can use a price alert service like ShoppingNotes or ZingSale. You’ll also save time by not having to constantly remember to check back. These services will do the dirty work for you.
Leverage price matching
Some retailers offer price matching, meaning they will adjust the price of your order if you find the same item in stock at a lower price from another retailer. Two notable examples of retailers who price match are Revolve and Nordstrom. They will generally price match either a sale or a coupon code. Even if a retailer doesn’t specifically say they will price match, it doesn’t hurt to ask!
How can you use this to your advantage? Well, if one retailer charges for shipping and/or returns, but another site will price match and doesn’t charge for shipping, you’re coming out ahead. Another way this can work for you: sales tax. If one retailer is required to charge sales tax but the other doesn’t, that can make a significant difference in the price you actually pay.
Here’s one good example. You know those Koral mystic capris I bought? I was going to order them from Bloomingdale’s during their 30% off sale, but before I hit “place order”, I noted that they would’ve charged me return shipping, and they charge sales tax since there is a brick-and-mortar store in my state. Not only that, my size was backordered by several weeks. Instead, I got them price matched from Revolve, which meant no shipping charges, no sales tax, and they showed up way faster. Win!!
Use cash back sites
Here’s how cash back sites work: you create an account on the site, then before you go to make a purchase online, you check to see if any cash back is offered with that retailer. If so, you use the cash back site’s link and complete your purchase in that browser tab. Then, you’ll be credited with a certain percentage of that sale that you can redeem from the cash back site. It’s usually only a couple bucks, but it adds up!
You might be initially skeptical of the concept, but I assure you it’s totally legit. I’ve been using cash back services for years and have accumulated enough money to fund a couple pairs of leggings. :) Basically, the retailers have an affiliate agreement with the cash back sites. The retailers win because having that incentive might encourage consumers to shop with that retailer, and the cash back sites win because they take a small cut before passing on the commission to the shopper. Note that cash back sites usually focus on larger retailers such as Nordstrom, Target, Sephora, etc.
By the way, some banks have a similar system set up that credits any cash back straight back onto your credit card. For example, through my bank, I got 3% cash back on my credit card when I ordered my new computer. When you’re talking about a big-ticket purchase like that, that extra cash back is a big deal! Check your bank’s website to see if they have anything like this set up if you’d rather go through that than a third party.
If you’re really into optimizing every dollar, you can use multiple cash back sites to compare who has the best deal. There are lots out there! However, before you sign up, be sure you read the fine print for the site, such as minimums for withdrawal. The biggest challenge I’ve found is simply remembering to visit the cash back site before I make a purchase. But if you make it a habit, it literally pays off.
For starters, Ebates has a solid program that I’ve been using for a long time. If you’re new to Ebates, it’d be awesome if you would use my referral link when you sign up.
Work the coupon codes
Before I make a purchase, I almost always do a quick search for “[retailer] coupon code”. Sometimes I’ll find something that I didn’t know about and save a few bucks off my purchase. The good ol’ Google method is best for more well-known retailers. But that’s definitely not all there is to it when it comes to utilizing coupon codes!
Besides that, another great way to be sure you capitalize on coupon codes is to sign up for that website’s email list. Email lists are usually the first place a retailer will send discounts, and sometimes they don’t post them anywhere else! Many retailers will also offer coupon codes to first-time customers when you subscribe. To manage the volume of emails, you can set up rules in your email service to keep your promotional emails separate so they don’t overload your inbox.
A third way to get coupon codes is to follow social media. Follow your favorite brands and retailers since they might share exclusive codes there, for example, when they reach a certain follower milestone. But beyond that, I’d also encourage you to find and follow influencers (i.e., popular people) who tend to wear and promote brands you’re interested in. Sometimes brands–especially smaller, growing brands–will give influencers coupon codes to share with their followers. You’ve probably already noticed this if you’ve followed me for a little while. :) Besides bloggers, you’ll commonly find these codes from popular Instagrammers. If you’re looking for some Instagram accounts that share things in the fitness vein, you can start with @workoutbean and @gofitjo.
Know your retailers
I definitely have certain retailers I visit most often, but when it comes time to purchase, sometimes my gaze will wander. Some brands are stocked at a wide variety of retailers, so if one of those brands is on your list, there’s a good chance you’ll score a sale or a coupon code if you’re patient and persistent.
For example, you might like to shop at Nordstrom or Carbon38 for quality activewear brands, but what you might not know is that other large retailers like Backcountry or even Amazon stock some of the same stuff, like Mara Hoffman and Alo Yoga, respectively. Beyond that, there are tons of smaller retailers out there that carry quality active brands as well, like The Sweat Bar or Montana Blues. As you find retailers that stock brands you’re interested in, make sure you keep tabs on them for when their sales and coupon codes pop up!
To find some of these retailers, it’s usually best if you have a specific style in mind. Do a search for the style name, but don’t just look at the first page of Google results. Dig through several pages and look for every retailer you can find. When it comes to retailers, sometimes the smaller, more obscure online shops can be absolute gold for sales! If you use this in conjunction with the coupon tip above (e.g., looking for retailers with a first-time-shopper discount), you can really minimize how often you have to pay full price and find some great scores.