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I agree with all the comments that said to buy decent, well-fitting shoes instead of cheap ones but sometimes this is really not possible. Forty years back after buying the children properly fitting shoes, there was usually only enough money left for jumble sale shoes for me.
My solution was to go barefoot whenever possible. It helps to control the damage done by second hand shoes that don't 'quite' fit! And when the kids grow up and living gets easier, oh, the pleasure of buying new shoes!
By Marg from England
Always try on shoes or measure your feet at the end of the day. Preferably a long, hard day as your feet will be at their largest.
You can find lots of guides on the internet for measuring your feet and translating that into proper shoe sizes. Ordering shoes is fine once you have your current and correct size. Most people wear shoes that are about 1/2 to 1 full size too small... a major reason for tired/aching feet at the end of the day. Shoes sizes change quite a lot over time so remeasure at least every 6 months. Ego is not worth pain of any kind.
Thrift shops are ok; IF you're very careful and it appears the shoes haven't been worn much. There is NO spray that will effectively get rid of fungus that may be in the shoes and ultimately get onto your feet, so be careful.
Try to find materials that will last. Flexible but durable fabrics or leathers. Something that allows for the shoe to bend without a plastic stressing and tearing. Payless is famous for cheap shoes like that. Closed shoes made of plastic without air holes are an invitation for bacteria and fungus to grow on your feet.
Also, look for quality construction. No arch support = bad (expensive) foot/knee/back problems later on. Poorly placed buckles, etc can cause some awful blisters.
Buy during the off season whenever possible. Snow boots are cheap in the spring and sandals will cost you less than $1 in the fall.
Keep your eyes open for clearance sales instead of just regular sales. A good regular sale can be 20-50% off but a clearance where the store may not be carrying that color or style any longer can be 80-90% off.
Buy an extra pair or two when you hit a super deal that fits great. I'm a runner and I always buy 3 or 4 pairs when I hit a well made, comfortable shoe. The brand name doesn't mean anything. I look at the shoe itself; the materials and if it fits me just right with the proper arch support.
Check guarantees and use them! Some upper end shoes, especially exercise and outdoor shoes, have guarantees. Make sure you read them and keep what you need to use the guarantee if necessary later on. That can make excellent quality shoes very reasonable in the long run.
Finally, don't wear your shoes until they fall apart. It will not save you money. It will cause you foot/knee/back problems over the long haul. Much smarter and cheaper to buy an extra pair when you hit a good find.
By Reality Check
Target also has great shoe deals the last time I was there they had Converse shoes for adults marked 75% off.
My wife just bought a pair of dress heals at Belks. Originally $79, marked down several times, she bought them for $7! That was 89% off of what they originally sold for. Normally she buys shoes for 40 - 60% off of retail. She only buys good shoes, as she used to be in the shoe biz and knows all to well that good shoes fit better and are better for the feet. You can save a few bucks buying at a discount store for lower quality shoes, but you will be paying the doctor down the road because of foot problems!
I also check out the clearance racks at Macy's or even Fred Meyer, just to see what is there. This is great for kids shoes, if you get them in bigger sizes. I have purchased name brand tennis shoes for as little as $5.00. Once I found a pair of shoes that was mismarked for the size. They fit me perfectly but were marked as three sizes too small. So glad I tried them on!
I don't shop at Target or Payless anymore for shoes for myself. They just don't ever seem to last even a season. I will occasionally get kids' shoes at those places, but they don't seem to last very well either.
One last tip, when I get nicer dress shoes that I'm not going to wear as often, I store them in the same shoe box to keep them as new as possible.
I love to garden and, more often than not, I ruin my shoes when I'm immersed in black dirt. I constantly go outside to garden. Sometimes I'll actually remember to slip on my plastic garden shoes...
As I have back problems, there is only one shoe that I can wear comfortably. It is the Easy Spirit Traveltime clog. It doesn't matter where I buy them, they fit comfortably. They are usually about $70.
My white shoelaces were dirty but not worn out yet. I hand washed them with soap and water and then painted them with white acrylic paint. When they dried, I had new laces.
Shoes are a weakness for many women. It's easy to spend a fortune on a closet full of shoes, but it's very impractical. Instead, try to make wise decisions when purchasing shoes and avoid buying "cute" shoes for that reason only.
Want a great way to save money while shopping? Buy expensive shoes. Sound crazy? It makes more sense than you think.
I have a pair of sandals with faux suede insoles that had darkened with perspiration and dirt. It was unsightly and annoying until I tried washing them. I used a toothbrush and an enzyme household cleaner, although I'm sure soap would work as well.
Nothing beats a yard sale or consignment shops, but always look for the clearance rack at any store. I've found some great shoes at Bob's stores, Sears, JC Penney, Lord and Taylor, Payless, etc.
Many years ago, I talked with a surgeon who told me that most people damage the blood vessels and structures in their feet long before they have diabetes by buying and wearing cheap, ill-fitting shoes.
My son is very hard on his shoes and we have had to replace them already. I was able to get a very nice pair of Nike Zoom at Fred Meyer for 40% off the lowest clearance price, or about $40.
You've seen shoes at garage sales or the thrift store and might pass them right by. You can clean and disinfect them. Use Lysol spray or bowling-shoe disinfectant or simply replace the insoles.
Boating stores have great sales on boat shoes and other sporting shoes! My husband is addicted to Topsider sailing moccasins gotten on sale.
Here is a fun way to spunk up an old pair of shoes. Learn how to make your own glitter shoes with this short video.