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.

{ 40 comments… add one }

Leave a Comment

  • 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>

  • Jules May 14, 2011, 6:42 PM

    Wow what a great list! I do use many of the sites you listed, but you also just introduced me to TONS! Thank you 🙂 I love these websites.. I cannot afford luxury items unless I buy them via one of these sites. I also use eBates and there is another new one that I just joined Although it gets annoying to have to check every site almost every day it is WELL worth it!

  • Bella Q May 9, 2011, 12:28 AM

    what a great resource!

  • Chic 'n Cheap Living May 7, 2011, 9:18 PM

    Great tips and all ones I live by! I love the Outnet (yes got a ticket this year as well), Grechens codes, and the cashback sites. Thanks for the info on Mynines and dealery too.

    Congrats on being featured on Links a la mode – I am honored to be listed this week too. Have a lovely weekend!

    Chic ‘n Cheap Living

  • Raj May 6, 2011, 1:37 PM

    Great post, I had no idea about TJ Maxx Runway. We don’t go over the border often but next time we do I will definitely check one out.

    I’m notoriously cheap when it comes to shopping and am a big fan of thrift finds. If people are unsure about thrifting I suggest starting with the stuff that is new with tags. I always keep my eyes out for goodies that have been donated and where never even worn! The Sally Ann close to my place even has a rack already laid out with the new “old” clothes.

  • Christen May 6, 2011, 12:44 PM

    This is a great list of money saving deals. Have you tried Groupon yet? They email great coupon deals directly to your mailbox. (I did a post on them last week!)

  • A May 6, 2011, 11:46 AM

    Hey, these are some great tips. Thanks! The Outnet is one of my go-to sites, sometimes I can just browse for ages!

  • Jill May 5, 2011, 7:51 PM

    These are great tips. I love that you included Moda Operandi! I haven’t bought anything yet either, but some of the Rachel Roy stuff was killing me, in fact I think I still have time to have an accident, and I didn’t even think I was that into her designs. I learned about your post from Links a La Mode, congratulations on your selection. My piece on the McQueen exhibit at the Met is on the list too. Nice to meet you!

  • Fashion Limbo May 5, 2011, 12:15 PM

    Great and comprehensive post. I personally think The Outnet is a great site, and yes designer will always be to some level expensive, but the items they have there are mostly ridiculously reduced, great place for luxury bargains.

  • Mode Plus May 4, 2011, 11:59 AM

    I’m basically a thrifter and a H&M buyer. And mostly I buy from sale and clearance. If I like a product, I will save up for it. I’ve never tried one of your options, I might have to take a look.

  • kristy May 4, 2011, 1:41 AM

    UM…. BOOKMARKED!!!!!!!!

    holy wow woman. this has to be the absolute greatest post on shopping ever. not kidding. I’ve already opened a bunch of the sites you mention into new tabs to go to them next. you are going to turn me into a shopping guru and god knows i need the help cause i haven’t had time to really do any research. ALSO, are you on fashiolista?? and if you arent, can you please sign up and at least see if you like it? it’s such a great place to save all the stuff around the internet that you find and covet and i would LOVE to see the things you love. warning though — it’s like a video game for the fashion-obsessed and is very addictive. at least for me. if you sign up for fashiolista let me know! =)

  • Kirstin Marie May 1, 2011, 2:35 PM

    Woo, B, thanks for sharing all these fabulous tips!! I used to love shopping in store, but lately, with all of the crazies out there, I much prefer shopping online, and I’ve found that I can get better savings from shopping online rather than in stores. It’s crazy! I’ve found something in the stores and then searched their website and found it listed for sometimes 50% off!! Insane.

    Love this post B 🙂


  • A Brit Greek May 1, 2011, 10:57 AM

    Hello doll, loved this post, as I too, tend to use debit card or cash for retail therapy too.
    Do you know if any of the above (US sites) deliver world wide? The Outnet is brilliant. For all my fave shops I have signed up for membership & newsletters etc, and majority of the time discounts/offers are mailed though.

    Private shopping clubs are great too, like Gilt, Cocosa (UK) and Brands Galaxy (Greece). Also love Fashion Confidential – UK site whom always send private pre-view invites for sample sales/designer sales too. Not sure if there is a US equivalent.

  • Jenn Sanzo April 29, 2011, 7:03 PM

    I just wrote about this yesterday! I save a ton!

    I just dissevered shop it to me and heartsy… love love love!


  • Jenn Sanzo April 29, 2011, 7:03 PM

    that should say discovered… i hate auto correct!

  • Haute World April 29, 2011, 11:21 AM

    What a great resource. Like you, I love shopping but that doesn’t necessarily equate to spending a ton of money (I debit rather than credit as well). I mainly take advantage of seasonal sales, sample sales and outlets, though I prefer the actual brick & mortar versions to online – it’s always better to try things on. Another great way to save is to take advantage of vintage and consigment stores or eBay. It’s amazing how many people only wear their stuff once or twice then sell their designer gear for a considerable mark-down.

  • Arash Mazinani April 29, 2011, 10:18 AM

    I’m with Loudmouth, having worked in retail for a number of years I prefer shopping in store mainly because I can try the piece on before I buy it, check out the quality of the fabric etc I like to know certain things before I part with my cash. However, I do understand the importance of the online store in retail. I mean it gives you much more choice retailers can list their entire collections online where at your local store you’re limited to what they can physically carry.

    In terms of discounts, TK Maxx (they replaced the ‘J’ with a ‘K’ in the UK, don’t know why) has their gold label which is basically the same thing as you listed. I know that my friend used to get loads of great pieces discounted from there. The menswear, whenever I have looked, as always been rubbish though.


  • THE-LOUDMOUTH April 28, 2011, 2:45 PM

    A few thoughts, my dear B.

    First off, I’m slightly disappointed that there weren’t more in-store options here. As a manager at a retail clothing store, nothing irks me more than when a client comes in and says “Oh, I’m just looking — I just bought a bunch of stuff on last night.” It’s incredibly frustrating; not only does it lower our numbers, but it makes me feel that my job is useless. With all of the on-line shopping going on these days, it’s much harder for in-store employees to survive.

    HOWEVER, if a store isn’t available off-line (like some of the sites above) then it’s more understandable. Obviously, some merchandise isn’t available in a store ( has a swim line and a wedding line that no stores offer), or maybe the store isn’t in your area and doesn’t make sense to drive out to, or there’s a vendor on Etsy that you like (and most of those don’t have stores). I get that. It’s because of these reasons that I shop on-line from time to time. But it’s not something I do often.

    I don’t want to sound like a hater. This is a great post — very thought out and researched — but I can’t relate. I would much rather shop in stores — though I may spend a little more money — so that I can support employees.

  • Anna April 28, 2011, 2:51 PM

    I’m all about shopping in stores too…I’m reluctant to buy from the internet even from brands that don’t have stores in my country (Greece). The helpful thing with this post, is that it can relate to anyone…and if I ever try to buy online…well, I have my guide now 🙂

  • MJ April 28, 2011, 12:10 PM

    Girl what a line up of fashion steals!! I’ll be honest, I haven’t been much of an online shopper only because I like to try things on before I buy it (having extra curves makes buying clothes period such a challenge) but I’m slowly coming out of that because the stores are starting to get on my nerves with not having my size! So thanks for this list! 🙂

  • Jenmarie April 27, 2011, 11:21 PM

    Excuse me while I drool over this post!

    I actually didn’t know that The Outnet is Net-A-Porter’s outlet site. I always thought they seemed somewhat alike! I am SO jealous over all the lucky people who got to be a part of the $2 sale! It WAS fun reading about what they purchased though!

    Ohhh, I love you! I didn’t know about The Runway sections at TJ Maxx! I am hoping there is one close to me so I can check it out.

    I’m not sure I’d buy things from places like Hautelook. I’ve heard good and bad things. I know a couple of people who received designer pieces that were fake and items that were broken. But then I also know people who were completely satisfied with what they received. *shrugs*

    Great post!

  • Heidi April 27, 2011, 11:06 PM

    Great tips! I love the cash back websites. I have gotten great coupons on there too. I check retail me not sometimes too for online coupons.

    What helps me save money? When I go from temp job to temp job and bills need to be paid…haha
    Shopping for clothes go on the back burner.

  • Heather Fonseca April 27, 2011, 10:29 PM

    Loehmann’s! The one near me has designer stuff in a back room. I also find great things in their regular store area. I also shop Gilt, but you wrote about that.

    Great post!


  • UN-stitched April 27, 2011, 9:13 PM

    Wow, wow, wow! This is such an amazing compilation of deal sites, lots I’ve never even heard of. I guess because I don’t do much online shopping (I live 5 miles from an outlet mall and work right next to a TJ Maxx with a Runway section). But, I do really like the idea of ebates and Lucky Rewards! You know, credit cards are just so evil, thankfully I only buy what I can pay for then and there, but I do have a Saks cards and three years later, I’m still paying off those Gucci boots! Ugh! Anyway, GREAT POST!

  • Kristin April 27, 2011, 8:58 PM

    And I meant Ebates…hahaha! Although, I’ve heard great things about Ebay too. I haven’t shopped on there in years…but I probably should!

  • Kristin April 27, 2011, 8:57 PM

    You’re definitely speaking my language! Ebay rocks my world!

  • Fabienne Jach April 27, 2011, 7:34 PM

    Brilliant! Love all the resources. I just discovered ordering online and picking up from stores that are on a convenient train line. Saves me the shipping cost and makes it convenient for me to “shop” during my lunch hour.

  • Alexis of NorthOnHarper April 27, 2011, 6:40 PM

    Great list!!! I already do a lot of these things and thanks for the reminder!!!

  • lauren April 27, 2011, 5:55 PM

    this is probably the BEST blog post I have EVER READ. And I mean THE BEST. Not only did I learn in almost every paragraph, but the knowledge I absorbed is more sufficient then an outfit post.

    You REALLY out did yourself here and I will NOT BE SURPRISED when I see this post on IFB.

    Lauren Nicole

  • Metsy April 27, 2011, 5:11 PM

    Oooh you mentioned some of my fave places. I haven’t been to a Runway store but frequent TJ Maxx a lot. Great job!

  • Anika April 27, 2011, 5:05 PM

    Wow darling, I am officially in AWE of you! Do you know I have never even tried online shopping?! Thank you so much for sharing all of this, not sure if the sites can be used from Norway, but still, this is a new world to me. I also love to shop and am not afraid to be seen in items not on trend (double gasp), and I save money by going shopping in my own wardrobe and reworking my dresses continually. Also, visiting mum is a great source of shopping, her basement is a wonderland with original pieces from the 70s etc. Great post! And, now I got my pc to work from home, so now i will be here every day! Pusa xx

  • GRIT & GLAMOUR April 27, 2011, 4:44 PM

    Lordy, this compendium of designer discount shopping ROCKS! I needed it like a hole in the head, but really, it’s great info. I always Google promo codes before I complete any online purchase. You can almost always find some sort of savings, be it in a discount or free shipping.

    Funny you would post this today. As I was heading back to my desk after my lunch break, I thought of you and your three YSL Arty rings. I thought, “that girl must be doing very well for herself.” (and clearly, you are, on many levels). Hubby discovered my Arty was YSL the other day and balked at the $250 tag, which I don’t think is bad at all for quality costume jewelry, especially when I’ve already worn it dozens of times.

    Anyway, now I’m even MORE impressed that your acquisitions are cash transactions. Having recently emancipated myself from the debt of two cards that amounted to about $11,000, and planning to can the last one this year, you continue to inspire me. Trying to stick to cash/the ability to pay it off within 30 days or I can’t have it. And the other thing I’m doing is buying quality, discounted when possible. Yes, it’s more upfront, but long-term, it pays off. This month alone I’ve binned about five to seven pairs of “cheap” shoes I purchased in the last year, which probably cost around $500 for all of them. Yet I look in my closet and those Gucci, D&G, and Prada shoes are still hanging round year after year. Better to save and put $300+ to a good, unique pair than buy mass market and sacrifice fit and quality. It’s taken me forever to learn what I’ve known all along. Oh well. Late bloomer. And an impulsive shopper, but that’s changing.

    Sorry for this crazy comment. Such a GREAT post, B. Thank you! xo

  • myheartblogged April 27, 2011, 4:26 PM

    I thrift, shop the sales (super clearance), and go to a more local version of TJ Maxx called Gabriel Brothers. I also only use cash. I don’t use credit ever. I don’t even have a credit card. Really I don’t buy much of anything over $20. For the most part the things I buy are $10 and under. I just can’t justify spending tons of money, and my monthly clothing budget is $50.

  • Marissa April 27, 2011, 4:03 PM

    This is a great roundup, B! I don’t think you missed anything. I’ve heard about deal aggregators but I never took the time to look into it. I’m definitely going to check out your suggestions. If I could get 1 or 2 emails for all of those coupon/sample sale sites, I would be one happy girl.

  • Ashe Mischief April 27, 2011, 4:00 PM

    Ugh. I am so, so glad (and so spiteful) that the Refinery29 sale only let me get one Hayden Harnett coupon! ONLY 1! But it saved me money in the end.

    I never pay full retail, and I’m finally getting to the point of not charging….

  • Casee Marie April 27, 2011, 3:57 PM

    This is enough to get an OMG from me, and I don’t OMG for just anybody.

    But seriously: OMG.

    If I were to talk about everything it would probably be my longest comment ever and…well, I won’t do that to you. But I love Ebates, 6pm, Nordstrom Rack. And I first started with the sample sale websites last summer, I’m addicted to HauteLook. Beyond the Rack is another good one, and Modnique although I only bought one thing from them and the checkout process was confusing. They have free shipping, though. And I don’t set my sights on high-end designers (but The Runway at Maxx is happening this summer); I do love those non-luxury brands that are still constant, like Nine West and Steve Madden. Jones New York, Liz Claiborne; I think a lot of people seem to forget about them or think they’re dated. But I love the prices (especially at TJ Maxx), the quality and most importantly the fit. Quality on a budget is possible – and I love this post because you just threw that idea into a whole new perspective for me.

  • Fashnlvr April 27, 2011, 3:48 PM

    You know I love thrift shopping! I wrote a post about using Ebates back in December so I have been using them a while. Great write up on these – I knew many but not all of the things you have listed. Did NOT know about the Runway TJMAXX thing. Have to see about checking that out!

  • Madison April 27, 2011, 3:46 PM

    Nice post B! Of course I knew that you loved shopping… I do as well! I actually do have a weird, yet pretty workable system for my lifestyle. I only acquire items if I absolutely want it (usually need browse at least 3 times) I’m pretty disciplined & not an impulse shopper at all!

    After working in manufacturing for many years I refuse to pay full price or even close to for anything! If I can’t make it for less, or feel something is worth the price b/c of superb quality, then I buy it! I’m a careful & huge charity/thrift shopper, especially when I’m away for work events. This week, I plan to go vintage shopping. However, when/if I purchase new retails items (clothing) I usually look inside my closet to see if I need to get rid of/or sell something as well, even if it’s just one thing. I wear many items bought several ways. I’m also a fan of auctions, sample sales, Groupon, trunk shows, and loads of others where I’ve found amazing deals worth getting! 🙂

  • fuyume April 27, 2011, 3:24 PM

    Great post B. I’ve noticed that since i started shopping ethically i’ve been spending a lot less than I used to as I shop much more conscientiously. I’m not one for racking up debt either I actually dont even own a credit card.