Tips from the Tightfisted: Giving Up on Instant Gratification

I love the “Add to Cart” button as much as the next avid shoe/bag/dress-lover. Trust me, there was a time in my life when I was swimming in cash (& subsequently1 debt) when I would surf Zappos and just chuck whatever looked like it had a heel into my shopping cart. That being said, I never truly loved a garment or accessory that I bought for myself until my 80%20 Lily Wedges in 2009.

Orange mary jane wedges 2009 indieWas it because they were a zillion percent off (that would be 1,000,000,000,000^4.6)? Mmmm, that was probably part of it.The nuclear orange patent leather and mary-jane strap certainly helped. Mostly, though, it was the thrill of waiting for something good to come along, and then snagging it.

Then there was the handbag. This story ultimately has a sad ending, but the beginning is flowery and wonderful.

I’d found the perfect bowler-style bag  by JOE Jeans on Amazon – in fact, I dubbed it “the perfect bag“, officially. But with its original $170+ price tag, it wasn’t really an option. With a couple tools and tricks, however, I managed to obtain “the perfect bag” for just over $70. Few things feel more awesome than getting your dream handbag at 60% off, without the assistance of a sample sale.

In the end, that bag came apart like quicker than a first-attempt French braid. But for the two weeks it held together, it was perfect.

If you can track your favorite products or keep up with your wish list with Virgo-like organization – I envy you. I, on the other hand, need these three tools and rules to keep my spending hands firmly rooted in my pockets. 

The Tough Love Method

Every piece of clothing you see in a store wants you to pick it up. It’s screaming at you via the softest cashmere or the butteriest leather. They call to you through perfectly placed insoles in the sexiest sling-backs. They all want to be in your arms, your basket, draped over your forearm as you break into a full sprint for the register. It’s a collective desire to escape the store, and clothes don’t care how much you have available to spend, they will happily make you pay more it’ll benefit them. They are dirty bitches.

Therefore, you must make them work for the honor of becoming your garment! At least, that’s my perspective when wandering through off-price retailers like Marshalls and TJ Maxx (my arms can get heavy in those stores) when there are 15 items per row that you want to give a try. And yes, clothing. We do have to try you on. We are not interested in purchasing clothing that we will not be able to wear, duh, so quit whining about not going straight to the register and be patient.

My mantra in this situation: put it down. Yes! Put it down. Put the shirt back on the rack, put the shoes back in the box. Yeah, that’s right. You make those clothes wait. You make them sit quietly on the rack until you’re ready. If by the time you are ready to leave, you remember and/or couldn’t stop thinking about whatever it is you’re lusting over – get it. The clothing deserves you. You’ve shown them some tough love.

Ankit Donut Earbud Headphones

Source: Ankit Donut Headphones Review

Make Robots Do It

Because we already know we’re not buying things at full price ever, waiting for things to hit the sale rack can be really… tedious. Remembering to check the website(s), or store(s) and picking through price records is the most un-fun idea I think I’ve ever heard.

So, naturally, the answer is to make robots do it.

This is the future, ok? We don’t need to be bothered by daily nuisances like price checking, store-perusing, or having independent thoughts – robots will do it! My first ever favorite robot was Savvy Circle, but it’s been a long time since they’ve been around. These days, I use ShopTagr to track all of my favorite products.

ShopTagr Wish List

Anyway, you place a special link into your bookmark bar or list, then all that’s left to do is window shop your heart out. Just click the bookmark when you find something great, and when the item goes on sale, you’ll get a cute e-mail telling you the new price! I’ve snagged numerous deals because of ShopTagr, and SavvyCircle forever has a place in my heart for helping me snag those radioactive orange wedges!

So when you see something you have to have [at a lower price] online, just remember: don’t waste your time  – pour yourself a drink and make robots do it.

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Trust me, the feeling of knowing you saved $70 on a handbag is better than wearing it right away could ever be.

Suck It Up & Use A Coupon Code

Taking the time to do your homework never really worked out for me until I started shopping the Broke & Beautiful way. When it comes to shopping – especially online – taking the extra 5 minutes to do some wallet-loving e-coupon snipping, it always pays off. Little by little, sure… You may not think much of 5% discount now, but money is like a pack of cigarettes: it’s all well and good while you have them, but once you’re out, you think about every half-smoking butt you threw away. Ok, gross analogy, but I promise – $3.74 saved, once per week, 52 weeks per year…? It adds up.

Anyway, parental lesson aside, if you don’t have to give up all your shinies to get new garb, why should you? Here are two ways to aid in that “never paying full price” thing:

Honey Trying Coupon Codes

  • Honey Coupon Extension
    This is the one money-saving hack that I pretty much demand that everyone have. It’s called Honey, and it does literally all of the work for you when it comes to finding coupons online. Not only does it function as a database of coupon codes, but it will also:
  • Alert you when you’re about to purchase from a store with an active coupon code or codes.
  • Try all available coupon codes for the store you’re shopping at, completely hands-free and automatically.
  • Input and apply the code that gets you the largest amount of savings.

    It’s just about the easiest thing you could possibly do to start incorporating coupon codes into your life. It’s a must-have, and the app itself is always getting better and stronger!

Retail Me Not

  • Retail Me Not
    Ohhh, the ass-saving that Retail Me Not performs is nothing short of God-like. I don’t know about you, but at the checkout page of almost every website, my eye passes over the “Promotional Code:” box, and I wish with all my might that a 40% off coupon code would magically pop into my head. I admit to entering things like “SALECODE” and “FOURTYPERCENTOFF” just to test my luck, but Retail Me Not provides a more… mature approach to everyone’s fantasy plea.

    When you visit their site, just enter in the name of the retailer with whom you’re about to do business, and up pops all of the coupon and promo codes that have ever been used by Retail Me Not’s community. Some one them are bunk, it’s true, and others are simply expired… But the ones that are active and valid (tons), saving 25%-50% is definitely a medium-to-high possibility. Isn’t that chance good enough to take 45 seconds out of your checkout process to take?

Bonus Shopping Tool: Ebates

The internet is made from miracles and pornography, we all know that, but how you can get paid to shop is one of Internet Overlord’s greatest mysteries. Sites like Ebates offer a reward if you shop through their sites. If you have a compatible browser, you can install their button in your toolbar. When you visit a shopping site where you plan to make a purchase, Ebates will give you a notification to “Start a shopping trip.” Activate your Ebates session and you’ll earn cash back on your purchase! If you don’t have a compatible browser, no worries, you can still earn a “Big Fat Check” – just click over to your intended site of purchase by clicking a special link on Ebates first.

It’s no joke, either! I’ve used it, myself. Two weeks after I installed the Chrome extension, they deposited $15 into my Paypal Account – you get $10 free just for signing up!

You may have to wait between one minute to one full season, but being only slightly less than au courant is a small price to pay for keeping your butt out of the Debt Department.

What’s your favorite money-saving hack for shopping online?

  • But Elle, what was the sad purse story?!?!?

  • In stores, I generally pick everything I like up, and then try it all on. Most of it doesn’t look good and the one or two things that do, are taken home with me. Online, I put all the items I like on my wishlist. If I can remember I’ve saved a link to them, and come back, then I buy it. If I don’t, then oh well! It’s sort of like your put it back tactic.

  • Jaime: Oh, girl. It needs its own post, seriously. It’s in the works, and I’m not even sure I’m ready to talk about it yet, haha.

    Chelsea: That’s brilliant! Wishlists are crucial to my survival as a woman. Seriously.

  • Nice post I agree! I always always check out coupon codes…never fails!

    Hot Pink Day

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  • Very well written and useful web.. I will definitely tell my friends about this web, and keep up the good work!!