Use Web to track discounts on merchandise

Riding Out The Recession

January 23, 2009|By HANAH CHO

There is no reason to buy anything full price these days, especially apparel.

Retailers have been slashing prices deeper and more frequently than ever before to entice financially strapped consumers. That means the shirt or boots you've been eyeing could be marked down more than once.

Instead of stepping inside a store to keep track of new sales and snatch bargain-basement deals, let e-mail alerts and Web sites do the work for you.

You can sign up for online sale notices directly with your favorite retailers. Other Web sites offer e-mail alerts that you can personalize by brands, styles and retailers.

On ShopItToMe.com, for instance, shoppers can choose from more than 200 brands and retailers, such as Nordstrom and Gap, and determine how frequently they want the alerts.

The site also provides coupon codes for free shipping or additional discounts.

It took two years to sign up 100,000 subscribers, but the San Francisco-based site, which launched in late 2005, said it added more than 500,000 customers during the fourth quarter of last year.

"As the economy got worse, from the consumers' perspective, they started to look for good deals," said Charlie Graham, founder and chief executive officer of ShopItToMe.com.

"On the other hand, every retailer started putting everything on sale. Both [situations] really helped us make people aware of the site."

Graham, a self-described bargain shopper who started the site because he had missed out on some sales, advises shoppers to be picky and wait for items to be marked down because that will likely continue in this economy.

Other sites that provide similar services include StoreAdore.com, Stylenotes.com and Shefinds.com.

Hanah Cho

Readers' tips

Here is some advice from baltimoresun .com readers on how to ride out the recession:

"Cut up the credit cards, it's amazing how your lifestyle will change when you can't just 'swipe it' whenever necessary or write a check.

"Pay with cash whenever possible, instead of using the debit card ... same concept. When you see that cash leaving your hand it sticks in your mind, and numerous studies have shown you will spend about 15% less every month."

- 52decleetzu

"I'm going to grad school on my company's dime. It keeps me busy on evenings and weekends so I'm saving money by not going out and when the economy turns around I'll have a master's degree."

- Discojamal

"Start a second income reflective of the things you like. Rule of thumb is spend 15% of your profit on books or other related educational things. By year's end you will be as knowledgeable in that field as the average expert. While you're embarking on this, try to avoid worry or fearful thoughts. Your second income should always be fun."

- zenwalk

Offer your tips and advice at www.baltimoresun.com/livingforless

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