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1. Start your online shopping Wednesday for the best deals and the largest selections. Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays are the most popular days for retailers to roll out sales and discount codes.
2. Ask for discounts directly. The next time you see one of those little dialogue boxes asking if you would like to chat with someone at the company, don’t just close it. Say hello and ask if they have any promo codes they can share with you. Often, they have access to deals that you might not find otherwise.
3. When shopping on Amazon.com, use the Amazon filler item finder to reach that all-important $35 minimum needed for free shipping if you don’t have Amazon Prime. Just type in the amount needed to reach the minimum for free shipping and the filler finder will produce a list of items at or just slightly above that amount for you to choose from.
4. Use size filters to spare yourself the pain of seeing an item you love only to realize that it is not available in your size. Great if you need something right away for a specific event and can’t wait for the store to restock.
5. Stick to sites that offer free shipping both ways and buy extras. You can buy the same piece in multiple sizes to ensure that you get an optimal fit. Yes, you will have to return the stuff you don’t want to keep, but often you can return items bought online directly to the store if that is more convenient than dealing with shipping. Just make sure you read those return policies carefully before making your purchses.
6. If you’re diligent about paying off your credit card bill each month, it’s better to use a credit card over a debit card when shopping online. It takes a lot less time to refund a credit card than a debit card.
7. If you are not sure about an item, put it in your cart and leave the site without completing the purchase. Sometimes brands will reach out to you with a special discount. Just make sure you have an account set up with them before you close out. If you start your checkout as a “guest” instead of registering, then they won’t know who you are or how to get in touch with you. Also, make sure you click the “OK to contact me about sales and special offers” option when you register.
8. Make a shopping list and then use aggregate shopping sites like Polyvore and Shop Style to search for the specific items you want in the sizes and colors you need, at prices you can afford. You may even find that multiple sites are selling the same item at different prices.
10. Score a deal even when items aren’t on sale by buying discounted gift cards online and using them to pay for the items you like on your favorite websites. Sites like Cardpool buy gift cards for a faction of their actual value and then sell them at a discount. So let’s say someone has a $20 gift card to Express that they don’t want. They sell it to Cardpool for $15 and then Cardpool turns around and sells it to you for $17. Now you’ve got $20 to spend at express, but you only paid $17 for it. That’s a savings of 15 percent. Yeah, it’s sort of a lot of work for a measly $3, but but if you’re buying a lot of stuff, those discounts can really add up. It can take a little time to actually get the gift cards, though, so make plan your shopping accordingly.
11. Don’t believe the sale hype. Sometimes sites will inflate the starting price of an item to make it look like you are saving more money than you really are, so it’s up to you to do your due diligence and make sure the prices you are being given are accurate. Just put the item you’re interested in into your cart so you don’t lose it, and then do a quick Google search for the designer’s name and the type of product you are shopping for. You may find that the amazing deal you thought you were getting isn’t actually so great after all. You may even find that same item for less.
12. Pay close attention to the stats of the model online, especially if you are more on the petite side. A crop top that exposes 6 inches of stomach on a model who is 5-foot-10, might feel intimidatingly naked at first, but, depending on how tall you are, you may find that your midriff is barely exposed at all. Similarly, a midi skirt on the model will probably end up looking more like a maxi on you if you are only 5-foot-2.
13. Use Unroll to clean up your email inbox so you only get alerts from the sites and brands you actually care about. Unroll lets you see all your email subscriptions at once and easily unsubscribe from all the junk that is clogging your inbox. Then it sends you monthly updates letting you know if your account has been added to other email lists so you can unsubscribe from them as well
14. Once your email is cleaned up, set up a filter to move all your shopping-related emails into a specific folder. That way you only have to look at them when you want to. Here’s how you do it in Gmail.
15. Sign up for rewards and insider programs wherever you shop. The benefits vary from brand to brand and site to site, but can range from special members-only discounts to advance previews and special sales — especially useful on flash sites like Gilt where getting to check out a sale 15 minutes before the rest of the world can mean the difference between getting the item you want and walking away empty-handed.
16. Follow your favorite brands on social media for access to special discounts not advertised elsewhere. Often brands will roll out special deals exclusively through Twitter or Facebook.
17. Promote brands through social media to get discounts and then delete the evidence. If a brand offers you free shipping or 10 percent off to like them on Facebook, you’d be crazy not to do it. Once you have the discount code, you can go back into your social account and delete the marketing from your feed without invalidating the discount.
18. Set alarms on your phone to remind yourself about upcoming sales. This is particularly useful when you are shopping on flash sale sites where time and quantities are so limited.
19. Use the wait-list function when items you like are not available in your size. If enough people express interest in a particular item, brands will often reorder it and give you a heads up when it becomes available, so you don’t miss out again.
20. Prioritize one-stop e-commerce sites like ASOS and Nordstrom, which source multiple brands and sell everything from clothes and shoes to jewelry and lingerie. Buying and returning is so much easier when you are just dealing with one store.
21. Shop through rewards sites like Ebates to earn points and get cash back on purchases you were planning to make anyway. Sephora and Neiman Marcus offer 8 percent cash back on purchases made through Ebates. That’s a lot. Most credit cards only offer 1 to 2 percent cash back on purchases. Ebates will send you a check every three months with the cash back you’ve earned.
22. Download the free PriceBlink widget for instant access to coupons, product reviews, and to compare prices across the Internet. Once downloaded, a yellow bar will automatically pop up whenever you are shopping online and alert you to coupons and product reviews for the site or product you are looking at. It will also help you compare prices across the Internet to ensure that you are getting the best deal possible. It is better for tech and consumer goods than fashion and accessories, but it is minimally intrusive, so it’s worth downloading no matter what form your online shopping takes.
23. Read community reviews of specific products for fit details and styling inspo.
Some sites, like Mod Cloth and Free People, allow users to review their products online and upload photos of themselves wearing the garments. All you have to do is click on the item you are interested in and scroll down.
24. Only buy final-sale items from brands you know and trust to deliver high-quality clothing in consistent sizes. If you still end up not really liking it, you can always try reselling it on eBay or The Real Real. Just make sure you leave the tags on as people tend to pay more for secondhand items that are NWT (New With Tags).