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Sales can be deceiving. One on hand, you're definitely saving money, and on the other, you can get carried away in the psychology of it, and suddenly you've purchased two grills for your backyard. To keep your end of season clothes shopping under control, we've put together eight clever tips.
1. Give yourself a budget
Saving money is pointless if you still spend way too much. Before you visit a department store or fire up your computer, have a budget in mind and don't give yourself any wiggle room. It's very easy to get swept up in the momentum of deal time — so let your budget be the bad guy. Edit. Edit. Edit. In the end you'll have a solid set of wardrobe staples for less.
2. Check your inventory before you shop
Just because tank tops are on sale for $2 each doesn't mean you need them. Earn your shopping spree by doing some serious work in your closet first. Try clothes on, clean your closet and donate what you haven't worn in over a year. Say goodbye to what doesn't fit. Make notes on what you really need, and don't allow yourself to purchase anything that isn't on your list.
3. Stick to basic fashion essentials
This summer's hottest trends will be dated by the time warm weather rolls around again. Avoid picking up super trendy items. Basics like bikinis, wedge sandals and maxi skirts will always be in. High-waisted shorts and vests that skim the floor might not be. Your best bet is to shop for clothes you know will last even as trends come and go.
4. Wait for it, wait for it
Say you have your eye on a $300 swimsuit. Be patient, savvy shopper. Eventually it's going to be marked down. Don't settle for 15 percent off. Keep waiting. Second and third markdowns will save you tons of cash. Make a reminder on your phone to keep checking the retailer online or in stores.
5. Shop in person when you can
End of season sales are insane in department stores, but they're totally worth it. Cheaper clothes still need to fit you right, so load up and head to the fitting room. Wear clothes you can change in and out of quickly, and wear a versatile bra you'd typically wear under summer sundresses.
6. Find out if you can return it
At the end of the season, many sales are final. Hopefully you already tried your scores on and you know they fit perfectly. If not, make sure you know what the return policies are before you pull the trigger.
7. Search for more than swimsuits
Although swimsuits are definitely deeply discounted at the end of summer, you can also find essentials like designer denim. Denim doesn't change much from season to season, so check out stores like T.J. Maxx and Nordstrom Rack this time of year for denim that's already made its way out of big department stores. If you live in a warm climate, save your budget for shoe sales. You can score sandals you'll still be wearing for months.
8. Be a detective
Time to play Veronica Mars. Approach sale shopping like you're working a case. Ask employees which designers will go on sale — and when. Comparison shop online. Stalk that one super spendy splurge you've had your eye on forever and snatch it up when the time is right. Resist the urge to feel rushed — that's the sale manipulating you. You want to manipulate the sale.