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How to Shop on a Budget

how to shop on a budget1 How to Shop on a Budget

Whoever said, ‘He who dies with the most toys wins,’ never designated how much you’re required to spend.

Shopping on a budget isn’t just for the desperate and needy, it can be first line of defense against buyer’s remorse.

Whether you’re eyeing that gold-dipped doodad or a tricked out pair of thingamajigs, here are some tips to avoid an answering machine full of messages from a collection agency.

Minimize the Clutter

We’ve all had that moment where a closet full of clothes is met with the proclamation of, ‘I have nothing to wear.’ Except you probably do. Lots even.

The key here is sucking it up and clearing out all the things that you rarely, if ever, wear. We mean those yesteryear shutter-shades, and those Christmas sweaters from distant aunts.

Sure, saying goodbye is hard to do. We get sentimentally attached to things because they represent a memory of ourselves at a time in our life. Think of it this way, those clothes might help you remember who you were, but everyone in your life is seeing who you are now. Clear out the crap, and evaluate the key pieces that you really need.

Here’s how to designate what’s worth throwing out:

  • Anything you grab and immediately put back into the closet on a regular basis.
  • Stuff you admire only for its peculiarity. This includes embellishments, exaggerated structural details, insulting graphics, etc. If you require an imagined setting to justify its existence, it goes into the “do not want” bin.
  • Unflattering trendy clothes. Life is not a runway. Ebay to the rescue!
  • Anything blatantly holiday-themed. They’re a waste of space and an occasion specific atrocity.
  • Once you’ve played out your version of the Great Purge, it’s time to assemble the missing pieces.

We’ve all had that moment where a closet full of clothes is met with the proclamation of, ‘I have nothing to wear.’ Except you probably do. Lots even.

Find an Inspiration

I feel your pain. You, all watery-eyed, thinking to yourself, ‘Everything left over will not be able to sustain me for a week!’

Au contraire, what you have in front of you is in fact what you’ve been wearing on a regular basis. Now it’s time to find a personal style icon to emulate.

Is it Tony Curtis in ‘Some Like It Hot‘ (1959), pre-or post-drag? Perhaps you admire the edgy glamor of David Beckham, or the ruggedness of Steve McQueen.

There are no limits, but be realistic. If you’re 30-pounds overweight and want the streamlined look of Hedi Slimane, you’re going to be pretty disappointed.

Think about the style icons you admire, the remaining pieces you have in your closet, and try and develop a sense of key items that you really need to link the two. Remember: It takes discipline to stay on point when shopping, so if you can’t imagine Humphrey Bogart carrying a nylon messenger to Morocco, you need to walk away.

Think about the style icons you admire, the remaining pieces you have in your closet, and try and develop a sense of key items that you really need to link the two.

Go Shopping

This is the time to put down the designer and curb your inner snob. If your look calls for a crisp dress shirt, don’t feel bad for buying in bulk. In the age of democratized design retailers like H&M, Uniqlo, and even Target, you can get fashion-forward dress shirts of good quality for laughably low prices.

Once you’re done scouring deals at major retailers, you might want to consider stopping at vintage/thrift shops on your way home to fill out any gaps.

Be warned though, since vintage shopping takes patience, and the effects of reverse sticker shock can have you lugging home $20 worth of moth-holed, smelly rags.

Ask yourself this question: Will this go with three other items in my closet? If the answer is no, bite your lip and forget about it. Keep to this rule and you won’t regret it.

In the age of democratized design retailers like H&M, Uniqlo, and even Target, you can get fashion-forward dress shirts of good quality for laughably low prices.

Learn to Say No

Say what you will, but being in a bad mood is often the primary motivation behind shopping addictions.

Whenever you feel like plopping down cash over an impulse buy, pick the items up and carry them with you around the store while you browse.

Holding the items for a length of time gives you the chance to consider whether you really need/want them, and allows that initial lust to wear off.

Holding the items for a length of time gives you the chance to consider whether you really need/want them, and allows that initial lust to wear off.

Avoid Sales

It sounds counterproductive, but buying in-season will prevent you from adding too much to your collection too fast.

A sale is not an excuse to buy more; it’s how retailers get rid of what they don’t want.

Also, beware of items sold as ‘limited edition’, since it’s usually just marketing spear for ‘too ugly to be part of the regular collection’.

A sale is not an excuse to buy more; it’s how retailers get rid of what they don’t want.

Cash Only

This is self-explanatory. Pay by cash and you’re less likely to be left with pennies.

Leave your credit card at home; the points program is a privilege, not a right.

Taking an established budget of cash when you go shopping allows you to really see physically where you money goes, and how quickly.

Taking an established budget of cash when you go shopping allows you to really see physically where you money goes, and how quickly.

Summary

When it comes to shopping on a budget, strictly adhering to a plan will prevent you from breaking the bank.

  • Clean out your closet and throw out everything you haven’t worn in the past year. If you’re on the fence, toss/donate it.
  • Consider key pieces you really need. Adopt the style of someone you admire and only buy items that contribute to their distinctive look.
  • Shop in bulk for the basics. Don’t regret walking away from novel objects. You’re going to find something else to ‘desperately need’ by next week.
  • Avoid getting suckered in by fire sales. Do the math and stay within your budget.
  • Cash only.

Comments

Suffer from credit card bill induced blackouts? Got any tricks to prevent overspending? Got a story of a great find at a great price? Respond in the comments section below!

Author

Lily Wang
Lily Wang is a freelance style writer for EveryGuyed
Lily Wang

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