How to Shop Online on a Budget (+ My Fave Stores!)

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I’m a bit of an online shopping addict. My morning ritual includes checking my inbox which is always overflowing with promotional emails from my favorite stores and then exercising a great deal of self control because online shopping is rarely in the budget.

When I do have a bit of extra $$$ laying around and am in a treat yo’self kind of mood I’m still careful to be savvy so I can stretch my money a little further. I like to think of myself as a bit of an online shopping pro at this point, so I thought I could share a few tips and my favorite sites with you.

Shopping online doesn't have to blow your pay check - learn easy tips to shop online and save money!

Tips for saving money shopping online

Bear with me, some of these might be a bit basic but I want to start from the ground up – I know a lot of my readers are a bit younger and may have just finally gotten their hands on their first credit/debit card thus earning you the freedom to shop online without ma and pa knowing how much you’re spending online.

Shop discount sites

I do 75% of my online shopping on discount sites like HauteLook and Gilt. They feature big name brands at discounted sites during their flash sales. You can get anything from fashion to home decor to beauty.

Shop sales

“Morgan, this is so obvious, what are you even doing? Go get a real job.” Bear with me, y’all. I’m not talking the sale section I’m talking the actual every-now-and-then exclusive online sales that most brands tend to have a few times a quarter.

The only reason I subject myself to the spam that comes from signing up for the mailing list of every brand I shop is because they will announce flash sales and exclusive online deals from time to time. That’s when I shop.

For example, this fall, Free People (my loves!) announced a once-a-year sale where everything was crazy discounted and I got around $600 worth of goodies for under $100. I would have had no clue about that short-lived sale if it weren’t for their email.

Sales sections are usually off-season (more on that in my next tip) but if you’re looking to buy things you can wear next week when it lands on your doorstep, store-wide sales are your best friend.

Shop for basics off-season

I love this tip and live by it, too. As soon as companies get their next season shipments in they need to get their old product off the shelves stat. That means they go into the sales section.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve been more drawn to classic items rather than trendy ones, so I know with 99% certainty that the items I purchase will still be in fashion the next season so I’m not worried about shopping off-season.

If you need to stock up on basics like t-shirts, jeans, sweaters, undergarments, dresses, etc., the off-season is your time to do so.

On Urban Outfitters, for example, you can get this $70 LBD for $20 because the dress is light and summery and it’s currently the middle of winter.

Take advantage of discounts

There are some beautiful, wonderful sites that give you discounts just for signing up for their mailing list. Now, most sites will only give you a 10 or 15% discount, but some are V generous and will offer up something closer to 30%.

They advertise the discount as being for your first purchase, but 9 times out 10 you can apply the code at any time. With that said, you’re better off saving the code for a larger purchase rather than using it when you’re buying just one thing in specific.

Furthermore, if you’re a college student or in the military, there are often special discounts for you, too. Keep your eye out – there are more than you’re probably aware of!

My favorite affordable online stores

Hautelook is number one on this list by far. Why? Well, because you can get high-end brands at a discount. They do flash sales that last a few days where brands like Kate Spade, Free People, Steve Madden, Urban Decay, and more are getting significant markdowns. Nearly every pair of name brand shoes I own came from Hautelook, and I may have paid over $50 for two at most.

An example of brands you’ll find on Hautelook:


Zara has the best sales I’ve seen. Just yesterday I put in an order for a little less than $200 worth of clothing that was on sale for right under $40. That’s a crazy good deal. They always have on trend, on season items on sale so I never even tempt myself by looking at their main site.

Asos has a huge range of clothing. Chances are no matter what you’re looking for, you’ll find it on Asos. Their range of clothes is incredible, but keep in mind that their price ranges like crazy, too. Some of their dresses go for $10, while others are several hundred.

Forever 21 is making it’s comeback. For a while there, Forever 21 was going through it’s middle school awkward phase, but as of recently, they’ve been killing it with their contemporary line, especially. #GlowUp


Tobi gives you 50% off your first order. Tobi is great because they are super on trend, they also carry basics, and they are constantly running sales. A lot of their items are a bit too ‘sorority formal’ for this homebody, but they also carry a ton of more casual pieces, too.