As expected, responses to the suggestion that people stop shopping altogether for a while in order to save money contained the same level of enthusiasm as a vegan would have after being offered neck bones and ox tails.
Most of the “you must be crazy” reactions came from women – although let me say, before someone brands me as playing into gender stereotypes, I’m sure if Kanye West read my article he would hit me with one of his $870 shoes.
Instead of going tit for tat on the issue of “to shop or not to shop,” maybe we can find common ground.
One reader sent in a great tip on how one can continue clinging to their shopping habits without blowing all of their funds:
While I understand thoroughly that we are in a recession and we should all be in conserve/save mode, a girl simply cannot pass up a sale. Who doesn't love a bargain? But what happens when your favorite designers/retailers aren't currently offering one?
I say, make 'em.
I've been known to fill my electronic cart with plenty of goodies before calling the retailer's toll free hot line and haggling with a customer service representative for a discount code. So far, I've been plenty successful; I've gotten 20% off codes by saying, "I've got a cart full of stuff that I want, not need. I'd hate to navigate away from your web site without hitting 'submit order' - can you offer me a discount to help persuade me?" And BINGO! Code offered.
Big deal, you say? So what, you quip? A measly 20% off? Well how about the 40% off of sale and full priced items I got at Urban Outfitters after calling in? SUH-WEET!
Or how about the heads up on a sale and the 25% off code I got after emailing French Connection and politely insisting that I didn't need their $250.00 boots…just wanted 'em.
Now that's what I'm talking about.
Sure, I should be saving my money in these tough economic times but my wardrobe shouldn't have to suffer. It's one thing to actually be depressed and down and out - it's quite another to look the part. When you look good, you feel good. Am I right?
And sure, I've been known to forgo groceries in lieu of a fabulous pair of shoes or a dress or four. But I look at it this way - missing a meal or two only keeps me looking svelte in my new ensembles.
My advice? Be nice but aggressive, don't be afraid to haggle. You think the designer has something you want? Oh no, quite the opposite; you have something they need: cold hard cash. Be super friendly but make sure you always look out for number one.
Get that discount, girl!”
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t going to try this out, so I won’t say anything at all. Between this, and sites like The Frugalista Files and Retail Me Not, there are a number of resources available to the savvy shopper and all those striving to be one.
I still feel it’s better to hide your wallet in times like these, but if you’re going to shop, do so sparingly and when you do try to at least save a dollar – or several preferably.
For those already hip to the sale game, what tips can you share? Don’t worry, the stores won’t blacklist you if you spread the wealth.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him on Twitter.