(And How to avoid them)
Shoe sales and clothing deals are a cheap-yet expensive- thrill.
The rush of dopamine you get when a shoe you are looking at was $100 and is now $50 is a combination of a marketing ploy, psychology tactics and media that tells you that the shoe you are looking at will make you sexier, more confident and more fulfilled.
That’s a lot to put on a shoe. For half-off.
And while I can’t show up like a genie everytime these delectable deals appear, I can help you save your time, energy and money while helping you get the most out of shopping (sale or no sale).
First, let’s talk about sales
(Shoe Sales, Clothing Sales, Doorbusters Etc.)
Pricing is part art, part science. In some cases, it’s really a measure of how much the brand behind the item is worth. In other cases, it’s a grab for the most amount of customers a company can get at that price point.
If a brand’s value is seen as strong enough, the company can charge whatever it pleases, if it’s not, it’s more prey to discounts. There is also a strong connection (though not always) between the brand and the quality of what you are buying. Simply put, you pay more, you get better quality items (as a general rule). Granted if you go too far up or down the price range of an item you are a victim of pretty powerful marketing tactics.
I work in marketing, we study human behavior and psychology and use different tactics to get you to spend more money.
I’ll go into details of how that works in an upcoming post, if you want to get notified of when it is published, sign up here.
If you want to avoid this trap that many of us (marketing folks included) have fallen into, read these tips to rethink shopping, and you’ll never think of a shoe sale the same way again.
How to shop smarter, save money and look sexier
Before your shop, prep
Measure twice, cut once. If you want to get the most out of your trips to the mall, you need to change how you approach shopping. Instead of wandering in with a general idea of what you are looking for, have a plan. Having a plan will keep you focused and a little less prone to those tempting bags laid out-front when you walk into your local TJ.Maxx.
Create a list, on your phone
There’s a reason people on a diet are told to build a list of items to get at the grocery store before they go, it lessens those unnecessary impulse buys. Just like how you might snack on some chocolates when you don’t’ need them, without a list you’re more tempted get that cute dress that caught your eye, is on sale and you don’t really need.
Without a list you are more susceptible to impulse buys.
And yes, I totally understand grabbing something you have been looking for, for months, unfortunately, most times that’s not the case. Let’s be real, it’s most likely something you were tempted to buy at the last minute because it caught your eye.
It helps to keep a running list of what you already have in your closet before you go shopping. I like to keep a list on my phone. I also like to clean out/purge my wardrobe every so often, so I am able to get a handle on what I own. The act of plunging requires my attention on each item, which helps me assess what I actually need vs. want. So seemingly small purchases have a much bigger impact.
Edit your closet
Cleaning out your closet and getting rid of what you don’t need can help you keep your sanity. It can also help keep track of what you already own and remind you to wear it!
The fallacy of the bigger closet
Too often we think having a bigger closet is a good thing. I remember, as a kid, watching MTV Cribs astounded by the massive celebrity closets. I distinctly remember gazing dreamily at Mariah Carey’s shoe collection. It wasn’t that surprising when that thought pattern transitioned into my adult life when I had a pretty sizeable collection of shoes (somewhere in the 30-40s range).
You don’t need 30 pairs of shoes. I live in an area where the temperature can range from the 80s in the summer to -50 in the winter, and I fare pretty well with about 20 pairs of shoes (including flip-flops and gym shoes). Some could argue I can fare with even less, which is true, but it’s a lot better than where I started from.
Having a lot of things actually overwhelms you and leads you to wear the same things over and over again without actually loving any of your other options.
Edit your closet to keep things you love that match your identity and that you feel good dressed in. Let go of the rest, it will be worth it.
Shopping Smarter At The Mall (Or Online Stores)
Stores are built to have you spend money. More space and sparse items implies luxury and curation, more clothes imply savings and discounts, signs attract your attention and tempt you to stop and stare, the list goes on. With a strategy, you can avoid all this.
Whether you shop online or in store, apply these tactics to shop smarter and avoid these very attractive traps.
Stay focused on which items you are looking for
Review your list and prioritize the items on it. By staying focused you can walk into a store, beeline for the items you need, shop that selection and leave. Tempting, as it may be, try not to meander through the store. Prioritize what you need to save time and energy. Have you ever gone shopping, ended up with a bunch of shopping bags, but not the item you were actually looking for? Distractions will drain your energy before you actually get to what you are looking for.
When shopping online use search and filters to narrow down just to the products you want to see. If you can’t find what you are looking for, move on.
Know your sizes (but be flexible)
Ever had to wade through multiple rounds of returning items from a store because although they are your size they just they don’t fit like you envisioned?
Girl, online fit guides are your friends. Get a tailor to take your measurements then keep those somewhere handy (like your phone) so when you are debating between the S, M or L, you can quickly glance at what the fit guides state and know for sure what will slide over your chest or hips.
This will help reduce the frustration of returning items over, and over again. Saving you time and trips to the post office.
Think beyond price
Price is deceptive. Just because an item costs less on a rack doesn’t mean you are saving money. Think about the time it takes you to search for a new item and how your energy could be better spent elsewhere.
Think about the lack of confidence you might feel wearing something that doesn’t fit you as well just because it’s cheaper and how you might project that at work or when meeting new people.
Think about awkwardly pulling at your waist or hem.
Spending more on your clothing gives you peace of mind in the long run and can help you build a closet you love.
Style Hack: Use a Cost Per Wear System
I got this method from one of my favorite style books, Cheap Chic.
Basically take the cost of an item divided by the number of times you’ll wear it.
So everyday boots should cost a little more (because you’ll pay for better quality) than dress boots you’ll only wear once. It helps to think this way when shopping and not just buy cheaper boots because your everyday boots are plain, and spend more on the glittery or velvet shoes you’ll wear once in a while. In fact if you were going to shop for deals, I would buy the occasional shoes on a deal, but I would research and buy the everyday boots based on comfort, fit and quality.
Curb the Urge to Shop Impulsively or for Entertainment
Retail therapy is fun, but it’s also an expensive and empty thrill. Shopping while you’re mad, sad or bored may be entertaining for a while, but it clouds your judgment on what you really want to buy/need. Call up a friend, go for a run, or get a massage instead.
Having a list certainly helps you keep track so even if you decide to shop at the last minute, you’re only getting what you need, but you are still more likely to overspend. Retail therapy is a marketing ploy, invented to make you think spending your money on things will help you deal with complex emotions. It may distract you, just like drinking would (and trust me, I love a good cocktail) but I would argue treating yourself to a massage, or movie, or going somewhere for a weekend can rival the dollar spend and be more fulfilling.
Studies show people tend to be happier when they spend money on experiences, not things.
Ok so saving time and money takes a little bit of hard work
But the results are very rewarding. Use these tactics to make the most of each dollar you spend while shopping and you will save a lot of money, time and energy. Shoe sale or no shoe sale.