Let’s be real: for most people, clothes shopping is a fun necessity. However, things can get a little out of control when impulse purchases lead to hundreds of dollars spent on new clothing every month. Keeping up with current trends might seem worth the expenses at first, but when your sizable credit card bill comes in the mail, you’ll probably end up kicking yourself while wearing those brand new heels.
Every year, Americans are spending more and more on fashion items, but they’re also dealing with the consequences of countless shopping sprees, and spending months or years rebuilding their credit. The average household in 2017 is carrying about $15,600 in credit card debt. Climbing out of that hole can be a long, difficult process, which is why most people are trying to find ways to save money without giving up their love for shopping.
The question is, how can you be smarter about your clothing shopping so you don’t end up shelling out thousands of dollars? Well, here are a few ways you can manage your budget and finish the year as a fashionable, but financially-responsible adult:
Conduct an Extensive Wardrobe Cleanout
It’s hard to figure out exactly what clothing items you should be spending money on if you don’t even know what you own. Before you head out on your next trip to the mall, go through your closet ruthlessly.
Sell the old purses, shoes, and clothes you no longer need, and donate what you can to charitable organizations. Then, come up with a list of items you could reasonably shop for and stick to it when you go out.
Come Up With a Reasonable Clothing Budget
In order to become financially-savvy, you will need to sit down and come up with a carefully thought-out budget. List your monthly expenses alongside your income, then do the math to determine exactly how much you can afford to spend on shopping without skimping on your necessary savings and expenses.
Remember, you should be putting away at least 20 percent of your paycheck into an emergency fund and your retirement accounts, so don’t forget to list that as a non-negotiable part of your budget.
Learn to Bargain Hunt
Great deals are out there if you know where to look for them. Sign up for your favorite stores’ email lists so you know when their best sales are taking place. Look through clearance racks and outlet malls for discounted items to avoid paying full price as often as you can. You’ll be surprised by how often you can score deeply discounted purchases if you start paying attention.
Embrace Quality Over Quantity
Sure, those six tops from Forever 21 might have seemed like a real steal at the time, but will they actually hold up for longer than a few wears? Purchasing cheap clothing isn’t always the most cost-effective way to shop simply because you end up replacing the items as soon as they deteriorate. Consider shelling out a little more upfront for quality pieces that will last much longer and save you money in the long run.
Shop During the Off Seasons
If you need a new bathing suit, try not to shop for it during the spring or summer when warmer styles are hitting the storefronts. Retailers want you to shop for seasonal items, which means those pieces tend to be more expensive than the off-season pieces.
Try to plan your shopping sprees so you’re searching for the right items during the wrong seasons. Buy your sweaters when the snow is melting and your springy dresses as fall breezes roll in. Even though it’s tempting to give in to current trends, try to be patient.
Before Making an Impulse Buy, Sleep on it
Before you hit “purchase” on those super cute online boots, close your laptop and give yourself a twenty-four-hour gap to think about the decision. Chances are, after a good night’s rest and some time away from the tempting purchase, you’ll be less likely to splurge when you shouldn’t.
Compare Prices Across Several Different Stores When Shopping Brand Names
You’ve been on the hunt for those fashionable adidas for months and now you’ve finally found them in your size. But before you head to the checkout line, do a quick online search to see if you can find them cheaper anywhere else. It’s worth a shot if it could save you a few dollars, so take those extra minutes to do your homework.
Only Spend What You Have, Not a Penny More
Credit card debt is a slippery slope, and it’s all too easy to acquire. You tell yourself you’ll pay off your outstanding balance quickly, but with the addition of interest, you end up paying way more for those new boots than you planned to.
Establish a firm rule with yourself: you only spend the money that’s in your bank account, even if you can technically put the purchase on your credit card. You’ll thank yourself later when you’re one of the few Americans who’s not battling debt.
It Takes Time, But it’s Worth it
You don’t have to give up your shopping habits entirely in order to be financially mature. Figure out what clothing items you actually need, then come up with a firm budget and shopping plan.
Look for seasonal items at odd times of the year, keep your eyes on the clearance racks, and do your homework to ensure you’re getting the best prices for quality purchases. Follow these recommendations, and you can have your cake and eat it too–while wearing your brand-new bargain finds.