Stephanie Nelson | 

How to Afford Nice Things When You're Broke

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It’s easy to assume you can’t afford top brands when you’re on a budget or living on one income. Been there.

Which is why I started searching out ways to get high-end items from retailers like Anthropologie or Coach on my tiny budget. I realized it’s actually pretty easy.

Take a look at a few of my favorites:


1. Buy Anthropologie clothes during June and July to get an extra 50% off.

Shop Anthro in June/July when you can get 50% off sale items. Save an extra 8% when you shop with a discounted gift card from Gift Card Granny.

The 50% off sale would make something like a v-neck sweater that’s already on sale for $49.95 (regularly priced $98.00), end up costing closer to $23.00 when you pay with an 8% off discounted gift card.

Sure, it’s not as cheap as a sweater you found for 70% off at Target, but it’s totally doable for a high-quality sweater and about what you’d shell out for a sale sweater at the Gap.


2. Shop for Williams Sonoma hand towels and cookbooks on Amazon.

When you shop for Williams Sonoma items on Amazon, you can save up to 60%. You can even find Williams Sonoma brand items like cookbooks and hand towels for much cheaper.


3. Buy a Coach or Michael Kors Bag on

You can save over 70% on real Coach and Michael Kors bags at is owned by Zappos (which is owned by Amazon), and they’re known for high-end styles and brand names for much less.

Also keep an eye on Macy’s for discounts on Michael Kors bags.




4. Save 13% on top of sale prices at Lululemon.

When you shop Lululemon online through RetailMeNot, you can get a 5% discount.

The best strategy to save money, since discounts and sales are notoriously rare, is to spend the minimum amount in order to get 5% off (at least $40) and then buy a discounted gift card from Gift Card Granny and use it to pay, adding up to 8% off to your total savings.

Then, when you shop the “We Made Too Much” section on Lululemon’s website using your 8% discount, you’ll essentially be saving up to 13% on top of sale prices. This can result in tank tops for under $30 and yoga pants for less than $50.


5. Get Le Creuset bakeware at T.J.Maxx.

Did you know T.J.Maxx sells brand-name kitchen items galore?

You can find All-Clad, Calphalon, Keurig, Cuisinart, Wusthof, Kate Spade dishes and more. One of the best buys I’ve stumbled upon is Le Creuset Heritage bakeware. You can get a rectangular baking dish for under $40, regularly priced at over $75.


6. Buy Free People clothes online at

First, skip Nordstrom. You can totally afford Free People’s unique styles when you shop instead.

You can find Free People clothing and shoes for up to 75% off every day.


7. Get Hudson, Silver, Lucky or Joe’s Jeans for up to 75% off.

You can find most designer jeans for a steep discount when you know where to shop. Buy Hudson jeans at Nordstrom Rack, Silver’s at Maurices and Joe’s Jeans at


RELATED: How to Get Your Favorite Jeans for 75% Off


8. Buy Magnolia Market decor online when it hits 50% off.

Since we’re not all lucky enough to live in Waco and have Chip and Joanna for a neighbor, we shop Magnolia Market online.

The steep discounts make us feel better about being so far away from the Magnolia mecca. Keep an eye peeled for flash sales and discounts up to 50% off on vases, clocks, bowls, baskets and more.


9. Take a Disney vacation or a trip to Hawaii for free.

Yes, I’m talking about credit cards where you earn points that translate into free flights. No, you don’t need to spend more than you’d normally spend to do this. You just need to pay all of your bills with your credit card and then pay your balance off every month.

If you can afford your groceries, gas and regular bills, you can do this. Find out how I flew my family to Disney for free twice and how I got a free trip to Hawaii this way too.


10. Buy Smashbox, Origins or Anastasia Beverly Hills makeup at T.J.Maxx.

You can save up to 60% when you shop prestige beauty items at T.J.Maxx.

While high-end makeup you find at T.J.Maxx is legit, it’s often discontinued at Sephora or it’s nearing the end of its shelf life, so buy things you plan to use in the near future.



11. Afford KitchenAid Mixers or Ninja Blenders when you buy them at Kohl’s.

About once a month, you can save $100-$110 on KitchenAid mixers when you use a combination of sale prices, rebates, coupons, points from Kohl’s loyalty program, Yes2You, and Kohl’s Cash.

When you sign up for Yes2You Rewards, you’ll earn $5 for every $100 you spend, which is 5% savings.

So if you see a KitchenAid mixer on sale for $239.99, plus there’s a mail-in rebate for $40, that brings your total to $199.99. And when you consider Kohl’s Cash and Yes2You Rewards you’ve earned on the purchase — in this case it could be around $60 in Kohl’s Cash and $10 in Yes2You Rewards — it’s the best deal around.

Sign up for KCL emails to find out about current KitchenAid deals and Ninja deals. And keep an eye on Kohl’s deals too!


12. Deck your family out in The North Face outerwear from Nordstrom Rack.

Hit up Nordstrom Rack at the end of the winter season to get up to 60% off most styles. In fact, you can get a women’s jacket for under $30 and kids’ winter coats for under $35.


13. Get an iPad or Apple Watch when you can save 30-50%.

There are very few ways to save on Apple devices, and you’re probably never going to score a brand new Macbook for half price. But there are a few tricks of the smart-shopping trade, and you can learn them.

Buy your iPad at Target with your REDcard (a Target card that connects to your debit — not credit — account). This will save you 5% at checkout. Or buy it at Best Buy during Black Friday when you can get over 30% off.

Buy your Apple Watch at Kohl’s using Kohl’s Cash and Yes2You Rewards, just like you did with that KitchenAid mixer a few tips up.


RELATED: 8 Little-Known Ways to Save on Apple Products


14. Buy Air Jordan shoes at Ross and save $40.

Guys, Ross. I find some killer name brand merchandise at Ross. Like Air Jordan shoes for $40 less than they’re selling at other stores.


15. Indulge in Starbucks inside Target and get 5% off + Star Reward points.

Next time you load the kids up and take them to Target in order to get yourself — I mean, them — out of the house, stop by Starbucks in Target for your latte.

Buy a Starbucks gift card with your Target REDcard and save 5% on your drink. Then add the gift card to your Starbucks app, and pay via app to get your “stars” or reward points. #doubledip

Note that this only works at the Starbucks stores inside a Target.


16. Buy Spanx shapewear at Nordstrom Rack.

Don’t bother with the cheap shapewear knockoffs at Target or Walmart when you can get Spanx for almost 80% off at Nordstrom Rack. Search for “Spanx” on Rack’s website and then sort by “best value” to see the biggest savings.

Rack also has flash sales a few times a year where they mark Spanx down even more. The last one was in January, so we’re due for one soon!


UP NEXT: 5 Tips to Save Money and Shop Smarter at Victoria’s Secret

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