Widgets Magazine

21 inside secrets from a novice bargain shopper

I’d consider myself a pretty frugal person. Even when I was a kid, I’d save every last dollar from tooth fairy visits, random holidays and under-the-table grandparent gifts for something big. While my sister is the big spender in the family, I remember being rather proud of my thick wads of cash at the ends of my summers, back when I was the neighborhood babysitter.

Although I like quality items, I never pay full price for anything. As a college student on a tight budget, sales and coupons have become my best friends. Here are some of my most-used strategies to save money when my shopping cart is full.

Many clothing stores offer mobile apps with exclusive rewards. (EMILY SCHMIDT/The Stanford Daily)

1. Check online or ask a store clerk if there’s a student discount.
2. Always, always, always go to the clearance area first.
3. Google coupon codes and try every one listed.
4. Make an email account just for store newsletters to avoid clutter.
5. Download mobile apps for instant exclusive offers.
6. Sign up for rewards programs if you’re a regular shopper.
7. Don’t be afraid of second-hand or thrift shops.
8. A cheap tailor is your best friend for clothes bought too big.
9. Fill out the receipt surveys for extra savings next time.
10. Research which stores accept competitor coupons.
11. Learn the sales cycles to get things at their cheapest.
12. Locate the nearest outlet mall or shopping complex.
13. Take advantage of stores that offer free returns just in case.
14. Find out if you can ship your order to the store for free.
15. Follow or like stores on social media to keep up with sales.
16. Read the fine print on coupons to avoid shock at the register.
17. Dig out old gift cards with miniscule balances — they add up!
18. Provide an address so you can get coupons mailed to you.
19. Give a phone number for unexpected text message coupons.
20. Utilize one of the many useful price comparison websites.
21. Ask yourself if you really, truly need the item in your bag.

 

Contact Emily Schmidt at egs1997 ‘at’ stanford.edu if you snag a once-in-a-lifetime deal or have other success stories.