Thursday, May 21, 2009

Budget Wednesday: Affording New Clothes

Being a woman, one of my favorite pastimes is hitting up the local mall and shopping my brains out. However, this has not agreed with my budget in the past, and I have found myself- more than once- in terrible regret after a splurge. To prevent this from happening too much, I shop strategically now.

For example, it is pointless to assume that I can go without new clothing for a year- or even a season. I needed to figure out a way that it could work for me (and my budget). The solution? Shopping the sales racks. You would think that this is common sense, but the temptation of new and in season clothing is often given in to. The way I like to go about this is to go into a store for a particular item of clothing (say, a new dress) and look ONLY for that item, preferably in the sales racks. I also keep a close eye on the Sunday ads, checking for closeout sales to see where I might get the best deal. This has worked very well for me over the past year, and I have managed to get my fix of new clothes in a much more budget friendly way.

Going to the mall without a plan is a sure path to overspending. I don't frequent the malls anymore, except when I am on the hunt for a particular item. When I do, it makes the event much more exciting and special, and I'm able to make a fun day out of it. At the end of the day, there is always a good feeling in my heart when I've not given in to impulse buys. I consider it good stewardship. Every now and then, I think its fine to get something that's not on sale- but only if you can truly afford it.

Here are some tips to finding the best deals on clothing.
  1. Only pay with cash. Go to the bank and take out a certain amount you are alloting yourself to spend (say, 50 dollars). Leave your credit cards at home to avoid impulse buys and to force yourself to stick to your budget.
  2. Make a Game Plan. Like I said before, going into a mall without a plan is a sure way to break your budget. You'll spend more on things your don't need, because in reality you aren't sure what it is you need.
  3. Clean out Your Closet. Sometimes we forget about the things we have in our closet. Perhaps its been tucked away out of sight for the past couple of months, and you've forgotten about its existence. You might go out and buy the very same item over again, because you forgot you had one. Make inventory of the clothing you do have, and a list of things you need, followed by a wish list. You can then easily organize your shopping trips based on those lists and your budget.
  4. Bring a Camera. I've found out that many times I am tempted to buy things simply because I like the way it looks. Color and patterns catch my eye like nothing else. To avoid buying things you don't need or have money for (or actual use for in my case), take a camera and snap some photos of it. You could then frame the colors and patterns and unique shapes in a collage of some sort. Now you have the item in your memory forever, and your wallet it happy.
I hope this helps you as you contemplate hitting the stores this season for new clothing. If you really are tight on money, I would suggest clothing swaps (such as the one Emily mentions over at Life in Cincinnati), rummaging through secondhand shops and garage sales or even making your own.

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