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Shopping Madness: 5 Tips to Get an Extra Bargain

Know which store is best for which product

This is not especially a category for the hate-to-shops who just want to get in the stores, grab the nearest thing that fits and comes in a non-vile color, and get out. But knowing which stores to target is half the battle.

For example, if moving into a new place the first instinct for getting all the bath furnishings, dishes and kitchen stuff, pillows and throws, etc., may be to head for a retailer with "home" in the title. My first instinct is to head for Ross, where I've consistently found the best deals on home stuff, including silverware, down bed pillows, throw rugs, and the like. Add that to the clearance racks at Pier One (check around the whole store because the red-tag sections are spread out) for dishes, glassware, and the down-filled velvet throw pillows I adore. For a step up from Ross -- in both prices and the brands that you'll find -- check out a T.J. Maxx or Marshalls, where you're bound to find gems like Kate Spade sheets along with impressive shoe departments.

For rock-bottom price leather handbags from Italy, Loehmanns' is a great source (along with being the source of the $1,400 Dolce & Gabbana suede messenger bag I picked up years ago in the redline case for $105). And you can't find clearance Ugg boots many places -- they're consistently exempt, for example, from Lord & Taylor coupons -- except at Nordstrom Rack, and usually in the summer.

And never disregard a store because you think it will just be too expensive: Killer deals can be found at the clearance outlets for Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale's, and Barneys New York.