Retail Therapy: A Few Tips for Saving

Image via Bliss Tree

I love to shop.

There, I said it. Anyone surprised? No? Didn’t think so.

I am a firm believer in the benefits of retail therapy. I love the feeling of renewal that I experience when I purchase something new. It doesn’t have to be something expensive. It doesn’t even have to be for me. But there is no doubt it makes me feel better.

Let me add this caveat: I am not a crazy shopaholic that gets myself into debt. Retail therapy never has been, and never will be, about the act of spending for me. In fact, I try to save as much on my purchases as I can because I don’t charge things. Yes, you read right. I rarely use my credit cards to buy clothing, shoes and accessories. In my house, credit cards are for vacations and emergencies only. Cash (or in my case, my debit card) is for normal purchases.

Since I know many of you share my appreciation for the art of shopping, I wanted to share a few of my tips for saving on your spending sprees. I’m not a big thrifter, so I have to save in different ways.  You probably are aware of most of these, but just in case, here are a few things that work for me.

Cash Back! Cash Back! Cash Back!

Who doesn’t like the idea of getting some cash back on your online purchases? It’s basically like free money in the bank.

While I am sure there are numerous websites that offer this service, the two I use are ebates and Lucky Rewards.

Tip: It’s best to check both when you are shopping to see which one has the best cash back offer at the time as they do change. For instance, as I am writing this post ebates is only offering 3.0% cash back at Saks Fifth Avenue while Lucky Rewards is offering 5.0%!


Lucky Rewards

It may not seem like much but it adds up quickly!

Refinery29’s RESERVE Deals

Refinery29’s RESERVE program is fairly new, but I am just loving the deals they offer and have purchased quite a few of the certificates.  Most of the offers are half off at a given site, so you pay $75 for $150 of products, $150 for $300 or $200 for $400, etc. etc.

Refinery29 RESERVE

Tip: Check out the site that is involved and if you like the brands they are selling – jump on it even if you don’t see anything you want right then and there.  You don’t have to use the certificate right away (I haven’t), but instead save it for when they have something you are really coveting.

Designer Outlets

If you wouldn’t be caught dead wearing something that was (gasp!) last season, this won’t be for you. However, if you love high quality merchandise at great prices, then these places are worth checking out.

The Outnet is net-a-porter’s outlet site.  Although they can still be pricey, the prices are unbeatable if you are looking for high-quality luxury items.

The Outnet – I love those McQueen metallic patent-leather platform sandals!

Tip: Sign up for The Outnet’s FLASH Sales for even better deals and always enter drawings for special promotions like the Birthday sale. This year, everyone who won an invite to the Birthday Sale (alas, not I) was able to purchase a designer item for $2.  Did you get that?  TWO DOLLARS.  So jealous. is Zappo’s outlet store.   The items you’d purchase here aren’t usually luxury brands, although they do have some, but they often have unbeatable deals on shoes.  With so many trends sticking around from season to season, they are worth looking into. Plus, classics never go out of style!


Then there is Last Call by Neiman Marcus.  Sign up for their emails and check out their Fashion Dash for even greater savings.

Last Call – Fashion Dash!

For in-store shopping, Nordstrom Rack and Off 5th are two of my favorites.  Your city doesn’t have a Nordstrom Rack yet, you say?  No problem.  You can shop Nordstrom Rack online here, although I tend to find better selection in-store.

Nordstrom Tip: Become a Nordstrom Rack Insider for early access to sales and special event notifications.

Nordstrom Rack Insider

Off 5th Tip: You can sweeten your Off 5th deals by signing up for a MORE+ membership which often yields additional savings on top of the already deep discounts.

Become a MORE+ member for great deals at Off 5th, like this current promotion

TJ Maxx/The Runway at Maxx

Everyone is familiar with TJ Maxx, but did you know that certain stores have a Runway section that features killer discounts on designer duds? I’ve gotten some amazing deals on clothing, bags and shoes in my local Runway store, and have even heard stories of people finding Christian Louboutin’s for a steal!  So jealous – but I believe it because I’ve seen everything from Prada to Dior to YSL at my store.  Use their store locator to find a Runway location near you.

Image via

Tip: Don’t have a Runway location near you?  You still may find some great deals at your local TJ Maxx.  A store near my home that isn’t a Runway store also frequently has amazing steals on designer items.  Check out a few of the locations near you to get a sense of which has the best quality items and try to visit at least every couple of weeks as stock frequently changes.

Sample Sale Websites

Gilt Groupe, Ideeli, Rue La La and HauteLook are undoubtedly the most well-known, but there are many, many others that offer great deals every day (you can find most of them listed here).  I won’t go into the individual sites because Ashe of Dramatis Personae wrote an excellent piece comparing a few of the top sites awhile back.

Tip #1: Check out the upcoming sales at the beginning of each week, and if anything catches your interest, add it to your calendar and check it out when it goes live.

Tip #2: If you see something on one of the pricier sites, like Gilt, that you really like, it may be worth doing a search on beso to see if the item is priced less elsewhere.  Amrita Singh jewelry especially can usually be found for MUCH cheaper on the brand’s direct website.

grechencodes and RetailMeNot

Discount codes can be a lifesaver when shopping, but who wants to hunt around for them? Not me.  Many times ebates and Lucky Rewards will list a handful of coupon codes for a merchant, but the most comprehensive list I have found is on RetailMeNot.


grechenscodes, on the other hand, is a great site to check for daily deals.  Some of the deals she posts I get via email as well from the merchant, but many times they are new to me.  Plus, she has some exclusive deals she has worked out with certain merchants.  Can’t beat that!


Moda Operandi and Edition01

OK, Moda Operandi and Edition01 aren’t going to save you a ton of money. They won’t necessarily save you any money… but it’s because they allow you to pre-order the latest collections as soon as they show on the runway.   They aren’t selling last season’s items.  They are selling the upcoming seasons trends, now.

So if you see something during fashion week that you just have to have immediately, there is a good chance it will end up here first.   They both happen to carry my favorite jewelry line from time to time and I have had great experiences shopping on each!

To sweeten the deal, Moda Operandi does randomly surprise you with $100 credits every so often.

Moda Operandi

Edition01, on the other hand, has a nice referral program. If you aren’t already a member, you can get $100 off $250 when you sign up using my link. After you join, invite your friends and family using YOUR link and they’ll get a $100 credit if they spend $250 or more on a purchase. You’ll also get the same $100 credit to your account after they’ve received their orders.


Shop It To Me

Is your inbox flooded with emails from retailers? Mine definitely is. SALE! CLEARANCE! NEW IN! JUST RELEASED! NEW COLLECTION!

We get bombarded with so many emails that it can be difficult to keep things straight. What if you just want to know when certain brands are on sale? That is when you should turn to Shop It To Me.  When you sign-up for Shop It To Me, you fill out a profile and select the retailers and brands you are interested in. You can even pick price ranges. They aggregate the sales and send you one email that puts it all together for you. Don’t like email?  Just login to the website and view the sales that way.

Shop It To Me

Groupon, Living Social, etc.

We all know that these sites are great for getting some discounts locally (salons, restaurants and the like).  However, at times they also offer some great deals for fashion lovers.   But how do you find those?

Simple.  Use a site like Dealery that aggregates daily deals and puts them all in one place for you.  You’d be surprised what deals you might find!


What Am I Missing?

So tell me, what are some of your tricks for saving?  Do you use any of the things I described above?  Are you a thrifter?  I’d love to hear what you do.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are referral links. If you choose to sign-up using my link, I may get a referral credit. That being said, I use all of these services and would never promote something I did not approve of myself.

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  • Racheal Alonzo November 4, 2011, 9:02 AM

    Wow this is an awesome list of deal sites and I actually never even know of most of these before today. I’m bookmarking them all for future use. Plus it’s awesome that you can rent dresses from renttherunway for those one off occasions, that’s really cool.

  • Cecelia September 22, 2011, 10:18 PM

    First of all OMG AMAZING honestly THANK YOU SOOO MUCH!
    Second I love places like and
    they have designer stuff for less although sales are only during certain lengths of time. BUt you can also sign up to be VIP members and you get first string access to the deals before regular members.
    Also I’m loving
    who wants to buy a $200 dress that you can only wear one season or you only want to bring out for that hot date night! you can rent dresses and accessories for average 50-75 bucks\! its awesome>