Skip to main content

Bargain Shopping for Dummies

For some of you, bargain shopping is simple, fun and even thrilling. For others (like me) it's overwhelmingly painful.

For some of you, bargain shopping is simple, fun and even thrilling. For others (like me) it's overwhelmingly painful. 

My shopper profile:

-I walk in.

-I walk around the store once.

-Twice if I'm really compelled.

-I leave or make a purchase. 

Other (somewhat dysfunctional) shopping habits that describe me:

-When I find something I like, I buy multiples (because I hate shopping and I think it's hard to find good things).

-I rarely get phenomenal deals because I don't shop regularly.

-I don't shop regularly because things cost too much.

I've observed some things about my deal finding friends:

-They shop often.

-They buy frequently.

-They return frequently.

-They love "hunting".

-The get great deals.

When TJ Maxx and Marshall's asked us to review a shopping experience with them I chuckled because they are the exact type of a store that overwhelms me. I walk in, I walk out, most of the time empty handed. But I was determined to do them justice (or prove that I could do them no justice). I passed along the Marshall's assignment to Jane Marshall, who blogs at, since we don't have a Marshall's in our area (you can read her post here). I took TJ Maxx.

I took my friend Lindsey with me (the ultimate bargain and thrift shopper) and I wanted to see if it would make a difference in my shopping experience at all. What I learned from watching Lindsey is probably basic shopping sense, but for those of you who are like me and consider yourself the "anti-shopper" I hope these tips help you as much as they helped me.

*Lindsey. The Pro.

Set Your Budget

-I was not going to exceed $50

Set Your Sights

Scroll to Continue

Recommended for You

What are you looking for? Simple right? But often times I'm just wandering when I shop. So Lindsey and I decided that we were going to look for:

-An outfit for my 5 year old.

-An outfit for my 9 month old.

-Three birthday presents for 5 year old girls. (Yes we had three birthday parties in one week!)

Shop Clearance First

I thought everything was considered clearance in the store. But check the racks in the back. Clearance items have yellow tags. 

Shop Out of Season

I used to do this a lot more. There were a few really cute girls swimsuits buried in the back for less than $5 a piece. I would have snagged one but I already prioritized my list of needs.

Shop for the Future

Lindsey buys baby shower gifts ahead of time and stores them away. The baby/gift area had some great stuff at super low prices. 

Fill Up Your Cart

We tossed tons of possibilities into my cart and flushed it all out in the dressing room. 

Self Control!

The tossing back of things is hard! I found several items that I wanted to get my girls but I was sticking to my guns. I had $50 to spend, I needed certain things and I wasn't going to go over on that.

End Result

-Outfit (shirt and pants) for 5yo

-Outfit (shirt and pants) for 9 month old

-Three birthday presents


-A cute holiday picture frame

-$3 left in my pocket!

= $50 and a night out with my super thrifty friend Lindsey!

And of course, let's not lie about the things that you can find in TJ Maxx. Please enjoy these Girbaud's from 1991 (along with a few other odds and ends).



Out of the Box Bargain Hunting

My original plan was to get shoes. Of course I didn’t wander far before I was browsing through handbag after handbag that I would gladly carry around town. But, like shoes, I’ve gotten handbags at Marshalls before. I wanted this to be a challenge!

Coupons for Back to School Shopping for A+ Savings

It’s time to start thinking about back to school and wants to help you out by giving you free online coupons for back to school shopping!

savings shopping app

Best Shopping App Ever

You are going to thank me . . . most likely for the next year. And just in time for your Black Friday and holiday shopping.

Ooo, Aww & Save on Discount Halloween Toddler Costumes

Whether it's their first or fourth Halloween, FabulousSavings has the best costume ideas from merchants offering discount baby Halloween costumes. You're in for a treat!

Three Steps to Sane School Shopping

If you want this year’s shopping adventures to be manageable and fun and you’d also like to save time, energy and money, try this three-step solution.

Jean Chatzky Bio 120

Tips to Control Holiday Spending

That time period from Thanksgiving to mid December can wreak havoc your wallet—but only if you let it.  Luckily, with a  little planning you can keep holiday finance stress from getting the better of you.

Frugal Home Improvement with Coupons

Most of us have a perpetual to-do list for our house. Whether it's a new rug in the living room or an entirely new bathroom, now is definitely the time to do it.


SAVOUR MONEY! How To Save Money At The Grocery Store

Tips to save money and our weekly menu download - a weeks worth of delicious menus and the grocery list to boot!