I’ve worked in retail for over 15 years. In that time I’ve managed to learn a few tips and tricks to getting the best deals. My retail career has been at big box stores, small boutiques and pretty much everything in between, but they share a lot of the same savings secrets. Here are my insider tips for getting the best retail deals. Get ready to go shopping!

1. Just talk to us!

This is by far the simplest and best way to find out when to get the deals. The majority of stores do their markdowns on the same day each week. We don’t try to keep it a secret in any way, yet I’m always surprised by how few people ask me when we do our markdowns! Just tell your sales associate that you’d like to know the best day of the week to come in. At my store we have several regulars that come in on markdown day, and they often manage to snag the items that they’ve been eyeing as soon as they go on sale!

2. Check online sale sections first thing in the morning.

Most retailers will restock their online inventory — even the sale section — overnight or first thing in the morning. A lot of these are due to returns, so you never know what might show up in the sale section that wasn’t there the day before.

3. Ask about other discounts.

Are you a student, teacher or in the military? If so, many stores offer discounts just for you. J. Crew, Banana Republic and Ann Taylor all offer discounts for teachers, and many stores offer these on top of any sales going on in the stores. If you don’t fall into one of those categories there are still additional discounts that you could qualify for. For example, at J. Crew Factory stores you can ask to participate in a "Shop and Share Event." When you sign up to do a Shop and Share Event, the store opens up early (or stays open late) for you and a group or friends and allows you to have the store all to yourself. Plus, you’ll get an additional discount on all your purchases — usually 20%. Who wouldn’t want the store opened up just for them plus an extra discount on top of it?

4. Use apps that give discounts.

As a retail employee, I’ve also noticed how few people take advantage of some of the apps out there that give a discount in some way or another. Many stores, such as Macy’s and Gap will often offer a special promo or discount when you check in on Foursquare. Just check in on the app and it will alert you to any special deals at that location! My personal favorite app for saving money is Wrapp. Wrapp allows you to give and receive electronic gift cards, but here’s the best part – the majority of the time they have free gift cards between $5 and $10. These often include gift cards to stores like Gap, Sephora and H&M. Every single time I plan on going to the mall I check to see what free gift cards are available. If there are any that I like, I send one to a friend and ask that they send one back in return. Last month, Wrapp had free $6 gift cards to H&M. I found an adorable handbag marked down to $7 so I was able to snag it for a buck!

5. Ask to be placed in the sales associate’s clientele book.

Most sales associates keep a book with their clients’ info. We keep information on hand such as their favorite styles, cuts or colors as well as sizes. After you ask to be placed in their book let them know for what reasons you would like them to call you – new markdowns, special events, new arrivals or whatever! If there’s one particular item you are eyeing that is full price, don’t be afraid to ask them to call you when that item goes on sale.

6. Sign up for local emails as well as national ones.

Almost all stores send out emails regarding events and sales, but many stores offer emails or will call you to alert you of happenings just in one particular location. For example, I receive emails from my particular Neiman Marcus Last Call store that tells me what’s going on at that location, as well as at the National Last Call stores. Ask your favorite stores if they offer this service.

7. Get a part-time or seasonal job at your favorite store.

Okay, it’s not exactly a secret, and getting a part-time job isn’t an option for everyone, but if you’re willing to give up part of your weekend or perhaps a night or two during the week, a part-time job might be for you. Many retailers only require associates to work two days a week, and the discounts can be pretty substantial. The majority of retailers offer employees discounts anywhere from 20% all the way up to 75% — yes, 75%! Many also offer employees special days during the year when they receive an extra discount or offer employees select merchandise at a special discount. And, of course, there is also the added benefit of having first pick of the new arrivals as well as the markdowns. Even if you’re not interested in working part-time for the whole year, perhaps a seasonal summer or holiday job could be for you. Imagine getting all those Christmas gifts for up to 75% off! Over the years I’ve scored items such as $50 earrings for $5, designer handbags under $100, and so much more!

8. Save your receipts!

Many retailers will do price adjustments if the item that you bought drops in price within 7 days, give or take. Whenever I purchase something that is not already on clearance, I always set my receipt aside so that if I happen to go back to that store within a week I can check to see if that item dropped in price!

This is a guest post by Natasha from Dallas, TX
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