Tag Archives: coupons

Forget Paris. Focus on Your Own Fashion Week!

Two weeks ago, high temperatures where I live were in the 40s for several days; with low temperatures below freezing a couple of those days. Last weekend, my friends in Cleveland, OH experienced another epic spring snowfall, while many in the upper central plains continue even today with their cold temperatures. The calendar might say “spring” but the weather doesn’t always align with our hopeful schedule of the four seasons.

I learned a long time ago to dress for the weather not for the season. And with that, I have to say that shopping “out of season” is one of my favorite things to do. You see, retailers don’t care what the weather is doing outside. They will try to force you into dreaming of whatever comes next, inside, filing their stores with what they want to sell, rather than what you may need to buy. Autumn-colored clothes quickly follow the red, white and blue of July. Winter coats fill racks in September. Spring’s pastels are plastered everywhere in January. And the sleeveless tops of Summer make their debut before the Ides of March!

Because of retailing’s over-anxious, and sometimes obnoxious attempt at rushing each new season, they are equally motivated to get rid of the last season’s leftovers to make room. And fortunately for us bargain hunters, it can be a clothing gold mine of great finds; perfectly useful outfits with still weeks worth of wear to go. And for people like me, who’s more concerned with function than with what some fashion magazine tries to tell me is in or out at any given time, those bargain finds can last not just a few more weeks, but years after!

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Recently I went shopping to update my wardrobe, with great results. I got all five of these tops for only $32.00; and that’s with sales tax! No, I didn’t get them from a discount store. But I did get them at a tremendous discount. Their material is thin enough to wear comfortably, with or without a light jacket, through the next several weeks, but their “colors” are meant for Fall (which is when I will gladly take them back out of the closet and begin getting even more wear from them). So off to the sale rack they went!

All but one of the¬†shirts was regularly priced well over that total of $32.00 spent. They actually had been repeatedly marked down over the weeks, and these were some still left. I happened to go into the store when they were having their “final” Final Sale! Everything on the sale rack, whose price ended in $.98 was further marked down to $9.98! Yes, that meant the $29.95 shirt was now less than ten dollars; the $34.95 one was also $9.98; as was the almost $60.00 one! Five shirts for less than the cost of what the higher one of them would have cost me alone — if I was the type who paid full prices for my clothes!

What drew me to that store, on that day, was the $25.00 off coupon I had off anything $50.00 or more. It was getting ready to expire. I had waited as long as I did to use it because I knew I would find some great deals in the transition of the seasons at the store. And so I did! With my total coming to just under $50.00 (a purposefully deceptive ¬†practice by this particular store that I’ve just come to accept), I was forced to purchase one other thing; unfortunately a five dollar item to make up a difference of mere cents; but that’s no accident. I’m convinced the main retailer knows exactly what they’re doing when they run those coupons — you can never get right to $50.00; always will have to go over to use it!

It was still worth the trip and the cost to pay so little and get so much; not just for the sake of shopping, but to end up with clothes I have already worn, and will continue wearing, including later this year and most definitely into next and beyond.

My advice to other bargain shoppers who are looking for deals and wanting to maintain a budget?

  • Stop worry about what’s coming down the runway during Fashion Week. The fashion designers, sellers, and retailers are trying to make money convincing you that it’s not cool to wear “last season’s” stuff. In reality, unless you work in the fashion industry, your friends and coworkers are not keeping up with when or where you bought your clothes, or what’s suppose to be “in or out” for the average woman!
  • If you need to do some shopping, do it during a time, and with the retailers who offer you something in return (i.e. store cash dollars, coupons, reward points). They’re doing it to get you back into the store. But you’re doing it to take advantage of the savings on your next shopping trip.
  • If you can split your shopping needs up. Purchase half of what you need when those retailers are offering coupons (the old, spend $50 and get a $25 rewards coupon for your next visit). Then return to pick up the rest of your items using the coupon or points you earned the last time you were there. Four weeks ago, I bought two pairs of pants that I needed for a trip, which is what earned me that $25 coupon that was used to help buy those five tops later.
  • Sign up for the emailing lists of the retail outlets you visit the most. It might seem bothersome to start getting all their emails, but that’s the best way to keep up with when they’re having a major sale. Then choose that time period to do your shopping. Just be sure to confirm that the retailer will allow you to use that coupon on items marked down on sale. Another tricky thing you have to watch out for.
  • Never go shopping when you don’t need anything. But always remember that you can make purchases for the birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and other special occasions of other people in your life; and still reap the benefit of bargain shopping and savings for yourself!

 

The Most Important Woman in the World

It’s Women’s History Month; a time when we celebrate the progress, influence, and contributions women have made and continue to make in society. It’s kinda funny to me that we have to set a month aside each year in order to pause and recognize what women do and what they have done in history, rather than celebrating those accomplishments every day. I mean, just look around and it’s amazing all of the incredible things women are able to do, to share, to teach, and to create.

But I never realized just how much I learned from the most important woman in my life — my mom. And how much she did, how much she shared, how much she taught me growing up…until she was gone; and I couldn’t tell her.

People talk about hearing their mother’s voice in the words they find themselves repeating. Funny phrases. Directives to their kids. A discussion with their spouse. They laugh upon realizing that some of their vocal tone, actions, body language, and even reactions are things they saw or heard from their mother, and that they swore they would never say or do. There are so many things I find myself doing, and at times, stop and realize I’m doing them a certain way because it was the way my mama taught me. Or it was something I observed her doing.

Being one of six kids, I often shake my head in amazement that mom had the time, the energy, and the mental stability to raise all of us; and to do a pretty good job of it, I must say. Of course she had challenges, and I’m sure if she was still here she would talk about the things she might have said or done differently. But as I look back at the woman who married young, had two kids more than she and my dad had intended, and was twice forced to become a single parent for a year while my dad served two tours of duty in Vietnam, it is a wonder how she managed to keep it all together; to keep us all together.

One of the things that impressed me about my mom was how she was able to take care of her family on the low pay soldier’s salary my dad made. Even today, there’s much that can be said about the low salaries of our military, but back in the 1960s and 70s, it was even worst; especially for enlisted members. So retirement wasn’t much better. But in spite of that, we never went to bed hungry; never spent a night on the streets; and when it came down to it, we never went without the things we needed.

We shopped at Sears and other discount stores; always had shoes on her feet; wore clothes that were handed down; and while we may not have been the most fashionable bunch, mom often found a way to splurge on us for special events, like attending a concert or the middle and junior high school dance.

She had a way with making money work for her.

Growing up, I didn’t just watch my mom clip coupons. She made us cut them from all of the coupon fliers in the Sunday newspaper each week, and the numerous Army base magazines she picked up from the Commissary. I may have been too young to fully understand the value of a dollar back then, but I will never forget the value of the savings and her ability to stretch the dollars in order to regularly provide for our family. It’s a practice that I have replicated to keep me afloat during some financially challenging times.

Having been raised to live within my means; to not be embarrassed to shop at discount stores; and not worry about not making fashion statements; or to let pride keep me from making wise decisions about purchases and savings, it was an easier transition for me to re-adjust my lifestyle in my adult years, when after years of upward financial mobility, I was dealt an unexpected change in my job and financial stability. It was the lessons I learned from my mother that helped me to get through that time in my life.

My mom had such wisdom about her, even in her younger years. The youngest in her own family, with sisters who were much older, it is a wonder how she picked up on so much. I used to ask her about things, like where she learned about keeping a budget. She would say, “some things you’re just forced into learning how to do.” I guess that’s part of what made her generation so much different than ours. They worked hard for the things they needed; and put off many of the things they wanted, if it didn’t fit into the budget. We, on the other hand, work hard to surround ourselves with things we just want, seldom allowing patience and planning to direct our steps towards having them; even if it means going into debt.

So when I think about the purpose of celebrating women’s history month, and as I’m thinking about the woman who had the biggest influence on my life, I can say without hesitation that it was definitely my mom.