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Avoid Bargain Blunders with Savvy Savings

By Guest Blogger(view all posts by MBones)
at 4:04PM Wednesday December 2, 2009
under Shop Smarter

As sales abound this holiday season, it's easy to score some savings, but what makes a deal a real steal?

Informed shopping.

A low price is alluring, but something's gotta to be useful and fantastic for it to be a real bargain--otherwise it's just cheap.

Here are a few ways to shop smarter for your fashion and beauty needs, and avoid bargain blunders.

I know--I see it, too. That crazy low price. But before you pull out your charge card, ask yourself if you're saving savvy, or just saving. I just want you to avoid the epic fail of a bargain blunder.

Consider my own retail tale:  Once, after a particularly convincing cosmetologist applied my makeup at a local mall, I decided to buy the whole look she demo'd. Sure, I was unfamiliar with the brand, but the prices were a steal and she threw in a free makeup brush. Upon bounding to my car with a new "hypoallergenic" eye shadow in tow, my eyes began to itch and swell. When I returned to the booth to return the product, I was told I should have read the fine print. No returns. I left with tears in my eyes. They were allergy related, but still...not cool.


As I learned the hard way, one time makeup application usually isn't enough to make an informed decision. It's better to request a sample you can take home with you. It'll give you the time you need to make an informed decision about the right colors, brand, and products to suit your needs.Sephora,, Smashbox and Ulta offer a plethora of free samples with purchase, so the next time you buy your favorite ol' standby, you can test drive a few potential new standbys without risk (or Benadryl hopefully!).


For drugstore brands less likely to offer samples, magazines like Shop Smart ;) and beauty blogs like Nadine Jolie and the Beauty Counter offer unbiased product reviews. It's also helpful to checkout user reviews on Amazon.  Before you buy the latest lotion and potion, be sure to check to make sure it's high-rated and well-valued.  You can also write away for freebies of products you're interested in by using resources like  That way, when you do buy, you can do it at a savings.  Check out coupons for great BOGO offers, or check out our printable coupons. 


Paying full-price is a recipe for aggravation, as you're sure to find whatever it is in the sale section in no time. I spotted a fabulous Ben Sherman dress for 75% off its original price only weeks after it debuted at stores on my favorite bargain hunting site, I suggest checking out your favorite stores, trying on the styles you love, and then waiting a week or two and checking out, Billiondollarbabes or other fantastic outlets, online or otherwise.  A quick search on Ebay could save you money, as many designer jeans end up selling at a quarter of their retail price.

Remember, sometimes saving savvy means you'll have to be patient, but a truly timeless piece will still be appealing a few weeks later, and if the item already feels old hat to you, then it's all the better that you waited. Your cost per wear  is the real determining factor of a bargain, not just a price tag.  Of course, if something is just too perfect to pass up, I suggest checking for online coupons (from, of course!).


Especially for gift giving, a no returns policy is a no-no. Even stores that do offer returns sometimes charge a restocking fee, don't refund shipping, or include stipulations that the items must be returned in 7 days or less. Check out this article on the best and worst stores for return policies.

This Holiday season, and all year long, be sure to shop mindfully, so those hard-earned dollars are well spent on items that really brighten your day. Of course, once you've made up your mind about your smart, savvy purchases, be sure to check for some money saving coupons. You can search by brand, by store, or by keyword, so you'll be sure to see that special something you've been searching for.

Unless your eyes are swollen shut.

Have any stories of your own Bargain Blunders?  Leave 'em in the comments below! And follow me on Twitter @SavingsMBones for great beauty deals!