How to Shop on a Budget

  • Copy by: Briana Pashcow & Alexandra Calame

How often do you find yourself falling for the season’s hottest trends, waiting until the last minute to purchase a dress for a wedding, or buying something full-price only to find it 50% off the following week? Most of us are on a budget and find ourselves in need of tips on how to shop and still save a few bucks in the process. Briana Pashcow and Alexandra Calame of Rack It Up, a virtual closet and customized sale-tracking site that lets you collect your favorite items from your favorite online retailers, emailing you when an item goes on sale in your size, are here to help us shop on a budget!

1. Be Patient: Everything goes on sale eventually. If you are willing to wait it out for that piece you’ve been eyeing, you may not have to pay full price. Your wallet will thank you!

2. Plan Ahead: Try to plan your outfits ahead of time for big events as much as possible. Waiting until the last minute to buy a dress for a friend’s graduation or wedding won’t be helpful when you’re trying to save. If you see a dress you love that is on sale months in advance, purchase it. This way when the time comes, you’ll be able to “shop” in your own closet!

3. Price Filters: Most retailers have a low-high price filter or a price-maximum filter on their sites. This comes in handy when you’re searching for a specific item and want to stick to a budget. For example, type “white dress” into the search box and then select low-high price or set your max price at $100. This way, similar items with higher price tags won’t tempt you.  

4. Price Compare: Many retailers sell the exact same designer items but have sales at different times. If you’re willing to do a little online hunting, you can find the exact item you are looking for on sale somewhere else. Also, keep in mind, if a specific item’s price does not drop, the retailer may be having a site-wide sale so you could still snag it at a discount.

5. Stock Up On Staples: When one of your favorite stores has a sale going on, it might a good time to stock up on some wardrobe essentials. A new pair of jeans, basic tee, or blouse can be worn year-round and won’t go out of style.

6. Free Shipping & Free Returns: With so many retailers frequently offering free shipping and returns, take advantage of trying on clothing in the comfort of your own home. There’s no harm in purchasing an item and sending it back after you’ve had a few extra days to think about it.

7. Think Off Season: During the dead of summer, a lot of winter and fall apparel will dramatically drop in price. This means that retailers are gearing up for next season and looking to get rid of last season’s inventory. Enter savings! This would be the perfect time to buy that wool coat you were eyeing all winter long or the amazing pair of leather riding boots.

8. Save vs. Splurge: For trendy items like gladiator sandals or a neon pink clutch, try to stick with lower price tags since you won’t be rocking them all year long.

9. Remember To Register: Many online retailers offer a one-time discount when you sign up to receive their emails. If you’ve been eyeing something you love but are just looking for that small discount to help make your decision, this is a great place to start.