I learned fast how to save my money when I was in college. My first year I was not making any money and blew through what I had in my account. This was when I learned how to really shop smart. There is a difference between shopping cheap vs. smart, and I want to give some tips on what to do when shopping whether it be clothing, food, or anything else.
1. The clearance rack
I know that this is probably common knowledge, but you can sometimes find some amazing things on the clearance rack. Find something in store regular price that you want? It will probably end up on that rack at some point in the next few months, so if you do not need it, THEN DON'T GET IT. My favorite clearance rack is at Rue 21. They have a lot of decent clothing on their clearance rack, and I have gotten shirts for $3 off those racks. Talk about good deals!
2. Big sales
Every store, whether it be Hollister or Kohl's, wherever you shop, usually has a few times a year with some bigger sales. Wait for those sales to come out to do your shopping, or make that where you buy your wardrobe for a while. I know that when Victoria's Secret has their semi-annual sale, it is time to get rid of some old bras and buy the new, and maybe even get myself some new lotions and perfume.
3. Outlet shopping
Every state has outlet malls. Maybe they are not super close to you but take a trip to them once in a while when you feel like you need new clothes or anything for that matter. I know that my favorite outlet is Vera Bradley, and the one in Rehoboth Beach, DE has 50% off the entire store, 70% off clearance, and even 70% off certain styles too.
4. Dollar menu
I know that I can always get some decent food from the dollar menu at any fast food restaurant I go to. I know that it seems like so little food, but it is not that bad. You always may want the fresher options that the fast food joints have, but it is not always better. I can usually never finish a meal from the regular menu. When I go to Wendy's, I usually get a junior bacon cheeseburger, a value fry, and a value drink for under $5 and I am full when I'm done.
5. Thrift stores
I know that this is probably not your first choice of clothing, but if you go to the higher end stores, they have some decent clothes for a good price! You just have to know what you are looking for. Even if you are looking to spruce up some outfits in your wardrobe, this is the best place to go! I know Plato's Closet has some amazing choices for clothes for a good price! I found an NYG sweatshirt from Pink Victoria's Secret for $15!
6. Grocery store memberships
Some stores that have memberships have good sales that we all could use! Even going to stores where you can buy in bulk is better. We all need food in our room to munch on when the going gets tough, so make sure that you spend wisely. I know that going to Costco and paying for a membership pays for itself by the end of the year!
Not every school does this, but any raffles that are given away or anything free that you can get, do not hesitate! Sometimes stores will have giveaways as well with certain purchases, but make sure you are buying what you need, and not what you want. I know my school gives out T-Shirts for special events and same with other fun things, so be on the lookout for that!
These are just a few tips, especially as college students trying to keep our wardrobe fresh and making sure we are well fed. Remember to shop smart!