Not Breaking Bank

How to Shop Without Breaking the Bank

Most people can admit that they engage in retail therapy. Shopping can make you feel good and improve your mood. However, if you are a college student most of your money is probably being spent on things like housing, books, and tuition. This makes it that much more important to be a savvy shopper and stretch your cash a little further. There are ways to indulge in the fun of shopping without reeking havoc on your budget.

A smart way to start saving is by using apps and websites that automatically find you deals and apply coupons. Shop Savvy is a great barcode scanning app that searches local stores and websites for the best price on items you want. Using coupons is an obvious way to save, but old fashioned paper coupons aren’t totally practical. Apps like Snip Snap make using coupons easy. This application can search stores and retailers for coupons and then download them individually directly to the app. It automatically sorts them by expiration date so you don’t have to remember when to use them by.

Senior communication student Alexa DeTurris is a fan of this method of saving. “Whenever I’m shopping for a big ticket item I usually use my phone to make sure the store I’m at is giving me the best deal,” she said. 

There are also websites like that offer a browser extension to automatically apply coupons and deals to your basket during check out while online shopping. This site has been featured in Forbes and Business Insider, and works with websites such as Nordstrom and J. Crew. Websites like Honey take the busy work out of hunting for the best prices.

Another great way to save is by going to consignment shops. Besides being able to save a ton of cash, the clothes you find here are often one of kind. The unique pieces can be found at insanely low costs since they are gently used. Consignment shops are a great place to find vintage items. Stores and designers often try to recreate vintage looking pieces and sell for pretty steep prices. For example, consignment stores are loaded with vintage high waisted jeans that can be purchased for just a few bucks. If you went to Urban Outfitters, a pair of “vintage” high waisted jeans could set you back $100.

These stores are also great if you are going to an event and need an outfit that you know you will only wear once. Why spend hundreds of dollars on a designer dress for one night when it will most likely hang in your closet after you wear it?

Communication professor Lisa Allocco has found that consignment shopping is a fun way to shop and save. “I went to a local consignment store once that sold expensive party dresses that had been worn only one or twice. I combed through the racks and found one I loved and that fit my budget. It was fun knowing that when women at the wedding complimented me on my gown, I knew I had paid only a fraction of the cost of what they paid. To this day, even though I can afford clothes for important events, I’ll check a couple of consignment shops just to see if there’s something I like. I believe in recycling so this feeds into that philosophy.”

A great consignment store in New York City is Buffalo Exchange. They have a huge selection of everyday pieces at amazing prices as well as unique vintage finds. 

You can also find ways to save at stores that aren’t consignment shops. Stores such as TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Saks Off Fifth, and Nordstrom Rack sell brand new designer items for discounted prices.

Senior business marketing student Alli Paternoster said, “I love finding great deals at TJ Maxx, they sell some of my favorite brands like Calvin Klein and The Body Shop at prices that are so much cheaper than the actual retail price.”

These stores sell a wide range of items, from workout gear to home decor. Checking these stores for items you need first rather than going to a department store for them is a smart way to shop. Websites such as and also offer popular brands on sale.

PHOTO TAKEN by Campbell Lee