A while back I wrote about saving money by using a retail credit card with perks. This time I saved $90.38 on back to school shopping! I headed to outlets just outside L.A. with my high-school-bound sister and bought several clothing items she can combine with her existing wardrobe in September.
Outlet stores are great for saving money on clothes. Below I’ll share tips for how we got the most out of our outlet shopping experience. But first, let me share what we bought and the cost breakdown. We shopped at the GAP because I had a $10 off reward sent to me. We bought items that are not so trendy and took advantage of big outlet discounts.
Skinny Cargo Pants
Original Price: $49.99
70% off discount: -$34.99
Rewards discount: -$1.82
Turquoise long sleeve shirt (Jewel tones are in style this fall.)
Original Price: $24.99
60% off discount: -$14.99
Reward discount: -$1.21
Original Price: $39.99
30% off discount: -$12
Rewards discount: -$3.38
Original price: $39.99
40% off discount: -$16
Rewards discount: -$2.91
Original price: $7.99
30% off discount: -$2.40
Rewards discount: -$0.68
Without the discounts I would have paid $162.95. I ended up paying $72.57 – a whopping 56% off – which I put on my credit card that I pay in full. We don’t often take advantage of the outlet stores as they are far from us. But this experience taught me several things to get the most for my buck.
- Shop with a calculator. Most stores advertise the discount, but seldom say how much it will actually cost. Having a sign that reads 75% off looks more appealing than having one that reads “Only $49.99.”
- Get it dirt cheap – Bring coupons with you or discounted gift cards. You can set up alerts on sites that sell them to get notified when there’s one you’re interested in.
- Dress properly – Time is money. Standing in line waiting for a dressing room will only slow you down. Instead try sweaters and shirts over what you are wearing as you shop. Pants, shorts and skirts can be tried on in the dressing room. Remember to bring in the size you think you are plus a smaller one and larger one because if it doesn’t fit you’ll have to get back in the long line to try it on.
- Return policy – Make sure you know what the store’s return policy is. Some stores will let you make returns, but only at the same store you made the purchase. If you live several miles from the outlet, this may not be worth it to you as you’ll end up spending more money on gas.
- Get the basics – Outlets are not for those who want to be on top of the latest trends as you’ll end up finding last season’s fashion. Instead buy pieces that can work with what you already have like jeans (these never go out of style).