It's A Steal!
An unfortunate side effect of the virtual office is the opportunity to shun responsibilities and scour the net for that ever-elusive holy grail of bargains: the deal that will leave your friends and foes envious for years to come. The designer sweater at 80% off, the hot suede boots for $50. You have felt the glory of this victory before, and you know you can again... if you just keep at it a little longer, you'll be rewarded. That next great deal is within your reach, and you'll just keep shopping until you find it.
As a fashion writer, the lure to qualify this habit as "research" makes it ever the more tempting. Writers have a fun gig, indeed, but much like other creative vocations, not a lot of pocket change to go with it. Thus, the pursuit for the ultimate in deals and steals becomes one of great passion, drive... and, well, necessity.
Style meets savingsWhat to do in a field where fashion-savvy is a requirement, but limited means is often a reality? "We are constantly scouring the earth looking for the hottest fashions and understand that the thrill of bargain hunting is not just in the hunt, but in the success of finding a great bargain," says Shari Shakun, VP and General Merchandise Manager at SmartBargains.com.
Shopping their site is a great outlet for getting couture dress you want -- at a price that won't keep you out of martinis all season -- the site saves customers up to 70% off every day, and stocks all the of-the-moment designers.
The benefits of membership"People are always looking for a bargain when it comes to finding good clothes. An easy way to save a few extra dollars this fall season is to take advantage of loyalty programs that retail stores offer," says Lecrecia A McGregor, marketing director at Francesca's Collections, a popular boutique offering fashion finds at affordable prices. Subscribers to the Francesca's e-newsletter get bi-monthly updates on new arrivals, coupons, special offers and discounts. "By offering special incentives to our loyal readers every month, customers who join our mailing list are always the best dressed ones with a few extra dollars in their pocket."
Always inquire with your favorite e-tailers to see what benefits they offer to frequent shoppers. You may be spending more money than you need to! For example, shoe-lovers can find great incentives at Shoebuy.com and Zappos.com. Customers can subscribe for new style updates from favorite brands and for announcements of seasonal promotions.
Many of us are set in our ways, and desire bargain options where we are already comfortable shopping. From clothes and shoes to makeup, several sites out there offer shoppers free secret coupon codes that save the consumer a fortune at stores like Nordstrom, Amazon.com, Sephora, Bloomingdale's, and hundreds more (often as much as 50%!).
Savvy shopping tips and tricksAccording to Barry Boone, CEO of CurrentCodes.com, there are some important steps to getting the best deals out of your Internet shopping experience:
Finding feedback firstIf you seek instant guidance in your bargain pursuit, no need to send hysterical texts to all your friends. (Eventually, they stop answering.) Shopping.com help consumers quickly and easily make smart shopping decisions by comparing product prices side-by-side, while Epinions.com offers reviews and advice on millions of products and services in more than 30 different categories.
Other sites that offer valuable reader reviews include Overstock.com, Amazon.com, Drugstore.com, Macy's and eBags.com, among others.
The more you spend, the more you saveThe remaining danger? It's quite possible to get so excited about the money you save, you'll end up on a spending spree! Whether or not what you buy was on sale (even clearance!), buying what you don't need and will never use is not spending-savvy. So, before you start embracing the annals of shopaholic legend, learn that being a good shopper is getting what you need at the best possible value. Leave the rummage bins for garage sales!