Ask the Readers: Do You Only Buy On Sale?

By Ashley Jacobs on 12 April 2011 94 comments
Photo: iStockPhoto

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Donna D, @jetset_, and Victoria Dunbar for winning this week's contest!

With the price of gas, food, and almost everything else going up, making any purchase can put a dent in your bank account. Most people try to only buy items that are on sale to help cushion the blow of purchasing necessary budget items. However, there are still people who will buy items that aren't on sale.

Do you only buy items that are on sale? Or will you buy things even if they aren't on sale? When is it ok to buy items that are not on sale?

Tell us whether or not you only buy on sale and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards

We're doing three giveaways — one for random comments, one for random Facebook "Likes", and another one for random tweets.

Enter 1 of 3 Ways:

  • Post your answer in the comments below, or
  • Go to our Facebook page, "Like" us, then "Like" the update mentioning this giveaway (you can comment, as well — but you don't have to for entry), or
  • Tweet your answer. You have to be a follower of our @wisebread account. Include both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" in your tweet so we'll see it and count it.

If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Monday, April 18th at 11:59 pm Pacific. Winners will be announced after April 18th on the original post and via Twitter. Winners will also be contacted via email, Facebook, and Twitter Direct Message.
  • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
  • You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.

Good Luck!

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Guest's picture

I do usually only buy things on sale. If something that I need/want is not on sale, I will go to a store like Aldi or Save a Lot to buy it cheaper. Also, if clothing that I want is not on sale, I will just wait until it does go on sale.

Guest's picture
Christy

We generally keep an eye on weekly flyers and (necessary) items if they're on sale. There are some items that sometimes can't wait for sale times e.g. fruit and veg, milk. Gas unfortunately never goes 'on sale', but we always go to Canadian Tire because the price is the same as everywhere else and you get Canadian Tire money. We then use this to purchase cat food (it's cheapest there and we have 4 cats!) - it's even better when the cat food is on sale, because we get more for our Canadian Tire money!

Guest's picture
LynneFeathers

I scour the sale ads for grocery shopping and try to use coupons on things that we will actually use but that doesn't mean I won't pay full price for a grocery item...if we need and will use it. As far as retail shopping, I have no problem shopping for gently worn clothing at thrift stores. I was raised in a family where hand me downs were the norm so, to me, why by new when used will do!

Guest's picture
Carson M.

I don't necessarily limit my spending to sale items. But being a "frugalist", I won't purchase most things without haggling or first looking for some kind of discount, coupon, a cheaper competitor's price, or some sufficient alternative. I think this is a principle to live by even when times aren't rough. After I've exhausted all those options, if what I'm buying is REALLY giving me the warm and fuzzy feeling, I'll buy it at full price .

Guest's picture
Sara

I try to only buy things on sale, but if it is a necessity I'll buy it even if it's not on sale. But I am always looking for coupons for those items too. So if it's not on sale I most likely have a coupon!!

Guest's picture

I try to buy things when they are on sale, but sometimes it just doesn't work out that way. We'll end up needing something that just isn't on sale that week, so I'll buy it at the normal price.

Guest's picture
Holly S

Although not everything that I buy is on sale, I do my best to not pay full price. Especially on items like buying my kids seasonal clothing I usually wait until I can find it on sale or at a resale shop. Even in my regular Target shopping trips I start by scouring the clearance endcaps to see if I can find any of my shopping list there first.

Guest's picture
Joel

I don't buy exclusively on sale, but do try to lean in that direction.

Guest's picture
Ann

We don't necessarily buy only on sale. As long as what we are looking to purchase is within our budget we don't always look for the sales. There are some places we never buy without a coupon and then we almost always double up if there is a sale on necessities providing we stay within budget.

We've noticed food prices rise and it gets harder to stay within budget, but so far all we've had to do is put back some of the extras. We went over budget on gas last month and this month took some of the money that would be allocated for restaurants to gas. We haven't hit the point that we are waiting for sales for everything, but it may be in the near future.

Guest's picture
cherie

Mostly I only buy on sale - but I might buy limited quantities of certain things when they're not at a great price - the true staples for my family that can't be stocked up on too much are milk, yogurt, fresh produce.

Guest's picture
Phoenix

75% of what I buy is on sale. Most clothing I buy used, and I generally buy food on sale. Shoes are a different story. I'm a big girl and my job requires a lot of standing so I tend to buy really high quality shoes, even if they aren't on sale.
My Dad always told me that once your feet and knees are ruined you can never get them back, and I try to heed that advice.

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Guest Deb

If I am buying new I usually wait until something is on sale but I do cost comparisons between several stores to know which has the best price first. Then I wait for a sale. I do buy a lot of merchandise second hand though. So I save a lot of money that way. I have a hard time buying something new when I know that I can eventually find it used.

Guest's picture
Guest Deb

I almost always buy on sale. I do a cost comparison so that I know who has the best price and wait for a sale. I do a lot of shopping second hand though. It is very hard to buy something new when I know that I will be able to find it used.

Guest's picture
Emily

I usually only buy on sale, unless there is something that I need right away or is totally worth it. Plus, there are some things that rarely go on sale, or never go on sale more than 20-30%. It's all about how much it's worth to me. An item could be 80% off, but if I don't want it, I'm better off buying something full price that I'll use or wear every week.

Guest's picture
Andrea

Generally, I don't buy anything new until I have explored the used market for that item. However, I will purchase new items under certain conditions, usually related to a favorable combination of durability, quality, and price relative to a used item. (Even my dogs are rescue -- "used" -- dogs )

If I am buying new goods, I always explore the sale item or the discontinued / floor model item first, especially if I can combine it with a coupon. I got two chairs from World Market for a third less than the price of one new one that way. If no sale / discontinued item fits my needs, I will see if I can make do with what I have for a while longer. Sometimes I can't, and then I will *carefully* buy new. For example, I just replaced my 2003-vintage computer with a new model -- a discontinued one on sale. Purchasing that fitted my needs and was less than building it from scratch, and it meant that I could continue to connect to my university network to do my faculty advising and administrative work, something that had become impossible with my old setup after my university upgraded its systems.

I will also buy new if my research shows that the new item costs less (in one way or another) than the used item. For example, when I bought my car in 2009 after my ancient Subaru died a spectacular death (even the repair shop told me they didn't want to take my money to attempt repairs!), I was flabbergasted to find that I could buy a new Toyota Corolla for LESS than a used Corolla with 20K miles on it. As I plan, barring catastrophe, to drive and maintain my car until it dies, lower mileage and lower total price made up for depreciation.

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Tina

For the most part yes. I try to find everything on sale.

Guest's picture
Keith

i try to buy on sale, but sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and buy something at full price.

Guest's picture
Christie Struck

I really, really search for items on sale. I make my menu based on the ads from the grocery stores, we comparison shop for things, but when and if there is something we want and absolutely love, we do buy it full price if necessary. Those things are few and far between though. :)

Guest's picture
BCN

I do my best to buy only on sale, or with a coupon, but sometimes life just doesn't work out that way. If I have to buy full-price, I'll go to the store where I know the item is cheapest.

Guest's picture
Michael

I don't go shopping until there is something I actually need. Once I need something I search for the best price at the time. I may miss out on the best price overall for that specific item, but by not shopping in general I feel that I save money overall.

Guest's picture
Christie Struck

I do comparison shop, I make my menu based on the grocery ads, but there are times that I find something I absolutely love and I will buy it full price. I must admit that those times are few and far between, but they do happen. We just save up the money for it before we buy it!

Guest's picture
Misti Coussens

Yes, I only shop when things are on sale or if I have coupons. You can save so much money by watching sales and searching for coupons. My husband and I work too hard for our money to pay full price and the amount of money you can save by being careful and diligent is amazing.

Guest's picture
Kristin

About 75% of the things that I buy are either on sale or bought with a coupon (food included).

Guest's picture
lostAnnfound

99% of the time we buy on sale. It's rare that we pay full price for anything. We wait until the item that we want to buy goes on sale and/or use a coupon if possible.

Guest's picture
janet dreyer

Yes, Always buy on sale as much as possible.

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janet dreyer

Yes, I always try to buy on sale. In our small town it is not always possible but I give it my best effort.

Guest's picture
Lorena

On big purchases, my husband and I always buy on sale, with coupons and gift cards if possible. This is how my husband bought his PS3 a couple of years ago. Since his birthday is right before Christmas, he simply asked for gift cards and took advantage of post-Christmas sales and "bonus bucks" we had accumulated. We didn't pay for anything out of pocket for it or the two video games he purchased.

As far as everyday purchases go, I always clip coupons and scour weekly ads. I also try to combine them with other store specials, like when our local health food store offers 10% off your purchase during certain months, or bonus bucks.

But, if it's something that doesn't go on sale regularly, I try to purchase it at a discount store, like buying maternity clothing at Ross; get it used from someone else, again with the maternity clothes; or borrow it from a friend/family member, like the weed wacker we borrow from my cousin once or twice a month.

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OhioWldFlr

I try to make a conscious effort to only buy things on sale or if it isn't, to buy it at the cheapest place (discount store vs. department store). To use a coupon also is a bonus. Also buy gas at places like Costco or our local supermarket who give $ back.

Guest's picture
Alex

I try to, but sometimes....well it happens.

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Christina R.

I usually try to wait until the things I want are on sale, but I try not to take a sale as the reason to purchase something, because that leads to impulse purchases of things I don't need. It's hard though!

Guest's picture
NJGill

There are items I buy (mainly food items) that NEVER go on sale. Some are already priced so low that there probably isn't any margin for reduction because it would be impossible to make a profit, or because the retailers know the market is finite and price reductions aren't going add any new consumers. Those are the items I buy not on sale - everything else sits on the shopping list waiting for its sale time to stock up.

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Kristy OT

Since I don't buy things very often, I don't feel limited to only buying the thing that's on sale. I can get exactly what I want. Don't get me wrong, if I can get a deal on it that's great...

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Matt Jabs

My wife and I only buy groceries on sale, but we don't buy items we don't use because they're on sale. We wait until items we use regularly get marked down, then we buy a bunch of them for storage in our pantry. When the stock of any item is getting low... we start watching it for sales again. Works great, and now-a-days we do most of our shopping in our basement!

Guest's picture
Kate

I try to buy things when they're on sale but many times I end up giving in to my wants and just buy it regardless of whether or not it's on sale

Guest's picture
Eric

I buy on sale whenever possible. However, convenience can play a big part, if I need something right away, or if it's something I know I have to pay full price for anyway, I will bite the bullet.

Guest's picture
Dory

I definitely only buy on sale. Especially clothing. I live for a good clearance rack! And I also love the weekly circulars for groceries.

Guest's picture
Amanda

I buy only the essentials, whether or not on sale. Although, I do first try to check if it's on sale. I'm a college student so I don't really buy/need a lot of things.

Guest's picture

It PAINS me not to buy clothing, jewelry, shoes on sale. I'll gravitate away from an outfit if it's not marked down, but I don't buy clothing, etc., just because it's on sale. That was something I used to do, but learned that spending ANY money on something I'm really not ever going to wear is a bad idea. Other things, like food, I don't always buy on sale. With a big purchase (tv, etc.) I always try to plan around when I can get a bargain. I've found that if I wait to buy something I really think I need, I no longer "need" it.

Guest's picture
jerry

On sale whenever possible. Stock up all I can use before it ages out. The trick is not to buy something you really don't need just because it's on sale. I also strive never to buy anything advertised on TV, as I would be paying double to support annoying ads. The only exception is once every 10 years or so when I have to replace my car. And paying for quality is often worthwhile - my '97 beemer looks like it will make to to 20!

Guest's picture
Chris

We are not extreme couponers, but we do buy on sale whenever possible. No reason to waste $!

Guest's picture

I'm usually an "on sale only" girl, but I veer off once in awhile. :)

Guest's picture
Cindy Carlson @bobisyellow

I buy on sale about 80% of the time, wish it was more, but there are some things you need right away

Guest's picture
Whitney

Unless it's a necessity and I can't find it on sale, I alway buy on sale. I bought baby clothes today and didn't pay more than $5 for any one item.

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Caitlin

I usually only buy things that are on sale, depending on the item and what I would like for it. I do stop to consider if I really need it and if I would buy if it were not on sale. However, depending on the total price and what I will use it for, I think it's okay to buy it on sale if I would not pay full price. There are many things I have bought that I would not pay full price for, but when I got them on sale I found that they were very useful. If you are buying a big ticket item and/or something that will last a long time, and the sale options don't have everything you're looking for, then I think it's better to spend more and get what you really need (and want) versus saving some money.

Guest's picture
teekay09

I try to buy things on sale as much as possible. I hate the thought of paying full price!!! But, I also don't buy things just because they are on sale. I know some people who do and they end up with a bunch of stuff they end up not wanting or needing!!!

Guest's picture
Raina

Sales are just another "sales" tactic; the consumer is generally more likely to buy if s/he thinks s/he's getting a good deal. I buy what I want/need if the price is suitable, whether or not some shiny tag declares that the current price was ACTUALLY higher at some point in the past. Gee, thanks for the info, but I'm not buying based on last month's price; I'm buying based on whether or not the current price is acceptable.

Guest's picture
Betty

Mostly everything I buy is on sale, plus a coupon! I do get stuck paying full price for my milk sometimes. I even pick out my fruit and veggies by what's on sale that week.

Guest's picture
Joy

nope just reasonably priced is good enough for me

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Jennifer

I usually buy on sale, but I wouldn't say always.

Guest's picture

99% resale, and on sale; rarely new, usually marked down; unless we need jeans.'

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Maria S

No, I buy whenever I think the price is good. Sale doesn't always mean good price.

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Guest

I try very hard to only buy on sale and know prices (so that I know if it's a worthwhile sale). However with a large family it is hard to anticipate every need so occasionally we end up buying something at regular price.

Guest's picture
seemless

Pretty much. I'm still unemployed, so it's not like I'm buying cartloads of crap that I gotta have 'Right Now!' It's mostly replacements for stuff that's wearing out. I have an idea of what's worst off, and keep an eye out for the sales for the replacements.

Guest's picture
Francesca

I try to buy almost everything on sale or with coupons or promotion codes. My husband and I just don't have the means to buy everything at original price.

Guest's picture
Kasey

Usually, but if I need something I'll buy it either way

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kay

I want to say 80% of the stuff I buy is on sale. From clothes to day to day items. I love a good deal it just makes me feel that I can use the money I put towards my savings or retirement or even going out funds.

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Donna D

Absolutely try to buy on sale, will buy up to a two year suppy on non-perishables if a great deal is available, could be due to a combo of sale and coupon makes it a great price or clearance. I have been of the mindset recently that prices are not going to get any cheaper on a lot of items I use. Clothes are almost always purchased on sale, it is rare that I need something so urgently I can't wait for a sale or discounted price.

Guest's picture
Ashley

I usually don't buy anything unless it's marked down or I have a decent coupon. The rare exception is paying "full price" at Marshalls or Ross.

Guest's picture
mikey c

If I am looking to buy something big (over $100), I'll sit on it for 2-3 months looking for a sale or coupons. If I want it after that 2-3 month period, I'll usually just get it, sale or no sale.

Guest's picture
Diane

I buy on sale whenever possible. If I can't find the item on sale I might pay full price, if it's something we absolutely want or need. I won't buy something that's on sale if I won't wear, eat, or use it... that turns out to be a bigger waste of money than paying full price for what you will use.

Guest's picture
karen

I always buy on sale, if it ever goes on sale. And I track prices of things I want by creating a link with the item's current price in the name of the link, so I know when the price has changed. Amazon helps with price tracking, by telling you when the prices in your cart have changed, so I always keep quite a few things in my cart:)

If only public utilities would have sales, I'd do my cooking & laundry in batches, only during the sales.

Guest's picture
Rachel

I certainly _prefer_ to buy on sale (with a coupon, using a rewards credit card), but rigidity leads to disaster. There's a time and a place for full price.

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Lisa Lerch

Yes I usually only buy items on sale unless I really need something, then I just buy it but I try to watch my money

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Anne M.

I almost always buy on sale...if I really need something at that very second, I might be willing to pay full price ;)

Guest's picture
Erin

It really depends on what I'm shopping for. For food, etc I look for sales, but I buy mostly generic so many times sales prices aren't the lowest.

When it come to clothing, shoes, home furnishing etc, I shop sales. I honeslty can't remember the last time I paid full price for a piece of clothing or a pair of shoes!

Guest's picture
Elisabeth

I really try to buy everything on sale and really do my research on the internet before I buy. They only exception I have is food, my husband and I eat mostly organic food. Some organic food is on sale sometimes, but very rarely. We just make sure we budget enough for groceries, even if that means cutting back on other things like eating out. What we put in our bodies has become really important to us and have really felt better too!

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Guest

I seldom shop except for food and usually try to buy sale items then.

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Bryan

No. Though I do put in decent effort. If it's something I don't need now, I'll look or wait for a sale. If it's something that I do need (or just really want) now, then my income isn't so stretched that I have to go hungry if I do decide to buy.
If I'm not saving up to be able to afford the things I like, then that just makes me a miser, and aptly, miserable.

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Guest

I usually buy what I like, does not have to be on sale.

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Amelia

Yes! I shop clearance items first and then only when I have an extra percentage off coupon or a cash back coupon. Last month I bought a $38 top for $.29.

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CgK

I definitely only buy on sale. A couple exceptions over the years when I needed a dress for special events that came up unexpectedly.

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kristina wittchen

I buy on sale when I can.

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Angela

I usually buy things on sale. Sometimes I just need them and will pay full price though!

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Emily

We try and buy as much as we can on sale, if it's not on sale I at least try to use a coupon. However, I won't just buy something I typically wouldn't just because it's on sale or a good price - if it's not something we need or planned on buying then even on sale it's a waste of money.

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Lisa P.

I buy things on sale 99% of the time....I honestly can't remember the last time I paid full price for something.

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Julianne

Yes! Sales are my favorite, lol! if the sale is good enough and I have the funds, I like to stock up for awhile.

Guest's picture
Eric

I buy when I need something, generally regardless of whether it is on sale (outside of a few stores with regular sales like Kohl's). I find that I spend less overall if I wait until I need something than buy early when it is on sale and hope I need it later.

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Poorna Rajaraman

i do buy mostly on sale.

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Gina

I usually try to buy items when they are on sale, but for some special occasions, you just got to splurge

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Lynda

it depends on what it is but 99% of the times, definitely sale items

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Michelle

I probably buy on sale items 85 percent of the time. Otherwise, it's second hand or freecycle, or craigslist.

Guest's picture
Beth Dennin

As a single parent I try very hard to only buy when items are on sale. That goes for food, clothes, CDs, household items, and personal care items. By doing this it helps when I have to pay full price for something such as "hey Mom I need _____ for school tomorrow" or when it comes to the gift I really want to get someone for their birthday/special event.
Life is too short to stress over every little purchase or deny yourself everything just to save money.

Guest's picture
Amanda

We generally only buy things on sale/clearance. That goes for groceries too. Gas and a just a few other things are the exceptions. If there is something that we want to doesn't really go on sale, we try to find a coupon that can be applied to the purchase, or we start searching second hand for something comparable. (Sometimes you'll find the exact same the for a fraction of the price.)

Guest's picture
Lauren

90% of the time I only buy on sale:)

Donna Freedman's picture

Pretty much everything I buy is on sale. When I look at non-sale prices I'm sometimes startled to see how much people spend every day.

Guest's picture
SJ

I will usually buy my clothes and shoes on sale. But other necessities like food and personal care items I will buy at full price. I love sales though, and will sometimes look for sales and coupons before going shopping.

Guest's picture
Katie R

Some things I only buy on sale. Thanks to my upbringing, I have a hard time paying full price for clothing, books, games, pretty much all non-essentials. Comparison shopping online is one strategy that I use to always get the lowest price. For groceries, I shop mostly the sales, choosing the least expensive brand to buy when multiple options are present. However, I will always buy carrots and grapes, regardless of the price.

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KelR1

I buy on sale when possible but, if I really need something in the short term or it's a brand I greatly prefer, I will buy at full price.

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Meggerz

I've given up only buying groceries "on sale." Once I realized that the sale AND a coupon still didn't put most items under their store-brand cousins, I decided it wasn't for me - I find grocery couponing tedious. Now I just shop store brand only, and buy in bulk.

Anything else retail, service, or otherwise, I detest paying full price. I'll use coupons at restaurants, shop sales for clothes and gadgets, barter for services, and haggle on big ticket items. So, yes, I do only buy things (with a unit cost more than about five dollars) on sale.

Guest's picture
countrycookie

I very seldom purchase anything other than normal basic groceries that aren't on sale.Case in point, I did some shopping today- nightgown-50%off, shampoo 30%off, sock -just a good buy and needed them now.Groceries are a challenge to keep up with the prices enough to know what's still a good buy and what isn't .
I just had to get a new suitcase and shoes- waited for sale and had coupons for both.

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Alissa A

I almost always buy things on sale, unless I absolutely need something and I can't wait.

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gwennypoo

I only buy things that are on sale. I hate paying full price for anything. I patronize websites that sell at a discount and I always try to get free shipping. I take advantage of coupons sent to me by retailers that I use. I once bought 3 new skirts for $12.80 including shipping!

Guest's picture
Caitlin

I shop for quality. One of my favorite stores to shop is Eddie Bauer. Just this past weekend, I went with a 50% off coupon and a ten dollar discount coupon. I purchased one shirt, a pair of pants and a pair of shorts (equal to the value of $125) for $33! Yes, it is a deal, but the clothing is great quality and lasts forever. I still have a pair of shorts I wear all summer that I bought five years ago and they still look new!

Guest's picture
Dee

Yes, SALES call my name most often. If i feel an item might be out of stock soon or I don't feel like looking for a good deal, then I'll buy at retail price.