How to Not Overspend While Shopping After-Holiday Sales

Photo by CN Digital StudioIt can be tempting to blow your bonus on stuff you don't need this week, when rock-bottom sales make you feel like things are practically free, but if you plan to work the clearance racks, don't forget this bit of advice...

I'm a diehard sale freak--I'll almost never, ever pay full price for anything, unless it's a once-in-a-lifetime item on vacation or a super-luxury brand that I know never discounts. My best finds come from Loehmann's, Century 21 (a Missoni cocktail dress for $75 back in 2009? Oh yes, I scored it), and sample sales.

But I always keep one essential thing in mind when scouring the sale racks, and it's helped protect me from buyer's remorse for years: If I wouldn't have wanted it at full price, I won't want it on sale.

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At last season's Alexander Wang sample sale, I approached a table full of handbags that were around 60% off, which you'll pretty much never see in a store. There was the highly coveted studded-bottom Rocco bag, marked well below its $875 retail price...in a shade of yellow I can only describe as halfway between mustard and marigold. I wavered for about 30 seconds, trying to come up with outfits I could wear it with, then took a step back and pretended I was in Barneys and this baby was behind glass and I was about to fork over serious cash for it. If it were black, gray, heck even olive green, I would have jumped to hand over my credit card, but I had to keep it real with myself: Yellow?! Would I ever pick out yellow if I had a choice? The answer was a swift no, and I moved on without an ounce of regret.

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So as you hit the sale racks this week, do yourself a favor: Pretend the item is full price and ask yourself if you'd still want it. If not, it's time to move on and leave that turquoise taffeta blouse for the next sucker er, shopper.

Want more shopping advice? Get 8 great clearance season tips here, then find out how to save major money on your next trip to the mall!

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