Secrets of a Savvy Shopper

Good Morning! I hope your Thanksgiving holiday, if you celebrate, was a pleasant, relaxing and overall enjoyable one! Mine was filled with lots of laughs, good food, and relaxation as my family and I gathered at my sister and brother-in-law’s house. The highlight of the meal was the beautiful pumpkin pie accented with maple whipped cream my sister ordered from a locally-loved bakery. I was fortunate enough to remember to snap a photo of it, as you can see below!

Pumpkin Pie

Along with the Thanksgiving holiday as we all know, is the famed Black Friday shopping excitement! To me, this year seemed/felt quite different given the rampant online sales before the holiday even materialized. That being said, it is still important, whether you choose to shop online, in-store, or a bit of both, to be able to save the most money possible and believe me, it IS quite possible! For years, I’ve scoured stores and online websites in order to achieve the best deal – in my mind, why spend significantly more for an item when you can find it for dollars less elsewhere, or through utilizing the right tools? Even if money isn’t a particular issue for you, why spend more than you have to?

Shopping Bags

Well, fear not, today, I’m here to provide you with some of my favorite insider tips, so you can be a savvy, frugal shopper this holiday season and beyond!

How to save on BEAUTY items (i.e. hair, face, skin, nails & fragrance):

CVS logo      Ulta    QVC

  • CVS Pharmacy: Since childhood, I’ve been an advocate for CVS. It is one of the most popular pharmacy chains within the country and for good reason. Since beginning their ExtraCare program numerous years ago, their sales and promotions have drastically improved. To join the ExtraCare program, it takes merely minutes. Easily sign-up for free in-store or online (via http://www.cvs.com) and watch your savings start to multiply. Each week, check your online account to instantly add in-store coupons to your card and also be sure to scan your card with each visit in-store to see what new coupons you may be entitled to. In addition, CVS offers the ability to combine (or in coupon lingo – “stack”) their CVS store coupons and manufacturer coupons for the SAME item! This to me, is one of the best benefits and features a store can offer! It allows shoppers to maximize savings and potentially purchase items for pennies! Plus, there are always promotions running in-store that allows shoppers to earn “Extrabucks,” which is free money you can choose to spend on anything you like. Plus, CVS offers a vast array of items – everything from health care, beauty, grocery, and beyond.
  • ULTA: Anyone who knows me, knows that if they are looking for a beauty item, I will steer them to either CVS or ULTA. At each store, the savings is palpable with the ability to stack store and manufacturer’s coupons. At ULTA, they offer customers a free ULTA Rewards program, where you are able to sign-up either in-store or online (via http://www.ulta.com). After joining the rewards program, you are entitled to specifically tailored coupons and will receive a catalog each month or so. Additionally, via their website, you are able to print a $3.50 off $10 purchase coupon (sometimes these printable coupons will be 20% off of one item, or your entire purchase, or on a rare occasion, a whopping $5 off a $10 purchase). Plus, as with CVS, you are able to use ULTA store coupons and manufacturer’s coupons. In-store and online, there are often promotions such as buy 2, get 2 free, on certain items and free gifts with purchase! This time of year, they have lots of fun stocking stuffers for dollars each (such as lip gloss/balm, nail polish, body lotions, nail files, etc). Plus, with being an ULTA Rewards member, you accumulate points which can be redeemed for free items depending on your points level!
  • QVC: Some of you may be wondering why I am mentioning QVC as being the ideal spot for beauty items, but after catching a couple of shows while cooking in the kitchen, it IS possible to score great deals at QVC! Often times, they will feature select items from companies such as Philosophy and Bare Minerals in package deals, where you are getting numerous items for considerably less than what you would pay for one item at a typical department store or via the brand’s website. Plus, shipping is often eliminated entirely or reduced and there is a customer easy pay option, where you able to pay a small amount each month as opposed to paying for the items in one lump sum. Also, their return policy is simple and generous, allowing you to fully try out the items beforehand and if it is not to your satisfaction, return it for a refund or exchange. At QVC, they also make the ordering process simple and painless, providing countless convenient options, such as phone ordering, online ordering, ordering through an app, as well as ordering by text! Plus, the QVC hosts are friendly and engaging, often answering questions and exchanging tips via their social media pages!

How to save on General Merchandise (i.e. clothing, grocery, beauty, entertainment, electronics, etc):

Target Kohl's Macy's

Bloomingdales

  • Target: Since Target’s arrival in my area many years ago during my childhood, I’ve been a huge fan. Given it’s wide assortment of items and high-quality store-brand items, it is almost impossible to leave Target empty-handed. That being said, it is also one of the best stores to maximize savings and get the most for your dollar! Though I was hesitant at first, several months ago, I started using the Cartwheel app and have become a huge advocate for it! It is a quick and simple download to your smartphone and it allows you to add several different cartwheels for various items (listed by category). Plus, as you continue to use Cartwheel, more spaces become available to you, so you are able to take advantage of even more cartwheel deals! The cartwheel deals often change each week, so definitely be sure to consistently check and see what new offers are available to you. Also, Target is another store where you able to print store coupons (via http://www.target.com)  and combine them with manufacturer’s coupons for the SAME products! Additionally, Target offers mobile coupons where through a simple text message, you can receive instant mobile coupons that can also be combined with other store and manufacturer’s coupons. If you’re a Target Redcard holder (their store card), you will also receive 5% off of each purchase, plus there are special shopping days and events throughout the year (i.e. I recently heard that on December 10-24th, Target Redcard members are entitled to FREE select beverages at the Target cafe!)
  • Kohls: Given I live a mere 5 minutes or less from a hugely-popular Kohl’s location in my area, I’m there quite frequently always looking for the best deals. Thankfully, at Kohl’s, it isn’t a difficult challenge to land the greatest deals, as they are one of the most generous companies out there, consistently providing coupons and promotions. On an given day, it isn’t rare to find a 15-30% coupon lurking, plus if you are a Kohl’s credit card holder, you are provided with even more chances to save as they often send coupons in the mail, or other offers such as a free $5 to spend in-store. In addition, there is also a Rewards program that is free to join, where you accumulate points to eventually earn a free $5 rewards certificate or more! Plus, there are often opportunities to to earn Kohl’s cash (i.e. free money to spend – usually $10!) when you spend at least $50 in-store. This past weekend, there was the opportunity to earn $15 Kohl’s cash for spending $50 in-store or online. As another option, if an item you’re looking for isn’t available in-store, it is possible to order from the in-store kiosk and receive free shipping to your home! Also, when ordering online, if an item is currently available in your local store, you are provided with the option to pick it up in-store! Ordering online is easy with Kohl’s and there are often coupons/promotions to combine (check http://www.retailmenot.com)
  • Macy’s: Though some items at Macy’s can in fact be costly, it is still possible to score excellent deals with the right coupons and promotions. Frequently, there are coupons offered such as ($20 off a $50 purchase, $10 off a $25 purchase and beyond!). If you are a Macy’s credit card holder, you will often be entitled to additional sales and promotions send to your home, or offered in store (i.e. an additional percent off already discounted merchandise if you use your Macy’s card to purchase). Plus, the sale and clearance racks are typically bursting with deals, with even designer brands such as Dooney & Bourke and Michael Kors offered at some the lowest prices I’ve ever seen! Also, Macy’s offers the ability to buy online and pick up in-store, if the items ordered online are in-stock at your local Macy’s. As always, be sure to check my go-to resource (www.retailmenot.com) for all of the latest offers and deals.
  • Bloomingdales: Okay, so you might be thinking, Bloomingdales, really? How would I ever be able to get great deals at a luxury department store? Well, allow me to reassure you, it IS possible! Like other department stores, Bloomingdales offers a unique rewards program called the Loyallist program, which is free to join! Plus, ALL Loyallists program members receive FREE SHIPPING on everything, everyday! That makes for great savings, given shipping can be a nuisance expense, especially when the item you’re purchasing isn’t all that expensive! Plus, with each purchase made, if you’re a Loyallist member, you’ll accumulate points and eventually earn a rewards certificate. There are also frequent sales and discounts, even offered on designer merchandise and apparel items.

How to save on SHOES/FOOTWEAR:

DSW

  • DSW: Quite possibly one of my favorite stores around, DSW is my go-to shoe haven! For me, simply walking into the store or browsing online is like paradise! Offering everything from athletic footwear, to slippers, to sleek stilettos for a night out or work attire, to everyday boots, slip-ons, and flats, DSW is bursting at the seams with options and style! Not only do they offer excellent shoes and footwear, but they recently started offering unique jewelry, in addition to handbags and other accessories like belts, wallets and beyond. Not only are lower priced brands offered at the store, but also designer brands, so whether your budget allots for lower-priced merchandise or higher-end, there is truly something for everyone! The customer service at DSW from what I’ve encountered, is always top notch. They are quick to respond to online/email inquiries, online chats, and phone calls, in addition to providing helpful service in-store. Returns/exchanges are always simple as well and you can easily return or exchange items purchased online in-store, if you choose to. There are frequent sales/promotions (right now, there is a buy two pairs, get 30% off and a FREE blanket scarf!), plus if you join the DSW Rewards program (free to join in-store and online via DSW.com), you are entitled to earn reward certificates throughout the year with every purchase made and on your birthday, as well as random surprises here and there! It is important to note that you CAN combine reward certificates with coupons and other promotions!

BASIC Insider Tips:

Retail Me Not Social Media

  • Be sure to consistently check Retail Me Not’s website (via http://www.retailmenot.com) or download the app to your phone. The website and app are frequently updated to feature the latest deals and promotions for countless stores. Simply type in the store you wish to shop and you’ll instantly see the sales/promotions available. For me, this is my go-to resource.
  • Follow the brands/stores/companies you love on social media (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest). You will often see lots of pop-up deals, sales, promotions, contests, coupons and other offerings.
  • Don’t be shy about reaching out to companies for advice, questions or concerns! Companies are often generous with their responses and more than happy to answer questions or concerns. If something’s bugging or concerning you, be sure to ask away!
  • Check to see if Price-Matching is available: I can’t begin to stress this enough! (From what I know, Best Buy, sometimes Amazon, Walmart, and potentially other stores will price match with similar competitors’ stores, so be sure to double-check pricing before you pay face value for items.) If you’re a frequent Walmart shopper, it pays to download the savings catcher app to your smartphone, where you simply snap a photo of your Walmart receipt, press submit on the savings catcher app and voila, in a couple hours or days, you should receive money via Walmart gift card for the difference in price for the items you purchased when compared to store competitors’ pricing (the app does all the legwork for you!)

Happy Shopping!

 

 

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