For some shopping is a therapy as long as it’s guilt-free shopping. Going on a purchasing spree of things you need and the things you want, and then there are things you didn’t even know you wanted but before you know it, you are paying for stuff you have no actual need or use for.
Americans tend to spend over 40% of their earnings on clothes and accessories every year, sometimes we tend to spend on them more than we spend on gas in a year’s span. The number might not seem high but it can easily shoot up if you have expensive tastes.
But what is the real solution to tone down this expensive habit? Buy cheaper clothes that wear out quickly or not buy them at all? Or purchase inexpensive accessories every few months or buy an expensive one and use that for a few years?
If you want to cut back on your shopping expenses, you need to pick and choose your purchases wisely and take good care of what you already own.
I too had a massive shopping problem for many years, blowing out all my earnings and savings in no time on branded and expensive clothes and accessories. This led to pushing me back on other essentials such as rent, paying bills etc.
However, investing in an expensive pair of shoes once every few years, is not such a bad idea. But I’d suggest you only do that when you have enough money to survive without a large sum you want to spend on shoes.
Similarly, you splurge once on an accessory like may be a wrist watch or a bag you carry to work. But spending about $500 on sunglasses that you might only use in summers, which has a high probability of breaking, just doesn’t cut it.
Guilt-Free Shopping Awakening
Sometime back I realized, haven’t even used a lot of stuff for more than three times. I have talked about all such things in my post on 7 questions to ask before buying anything. You will agree with me that spending money on anything that you might never use is just a complete waste of precious money.
I have built a framework to avoid buying splurge anymore and you can benefit it from too now.
However, once I decided to make a change, things started to look better. For starters, I legitimately sold my expensive clothes and accessories online that I hardly ever used and were in good condition to get some of the money back.
Then apart from questioning the need to buy anything new, I also made a protocol for myself (detailed below) and vowed to stick to it if I didn’t want to run out money again.
Shopping for clothes and accessories without blowing your budget isn’t easy but I am here with some simple and useful tips on how you too can save money while shopping like I do now. These are my personal list of tips and tricks for guilt-free shopping:
1. Buy only what fits you now
Especially when buying clothes we often find something extremely irresistible even though it either is a tad bigger or smaller than our size. So, in the hope of fitting in it at some point in future, we buy it anyway.
If it doesn’t fit you now, it is not for you, period.
Imagine the amount of money we could have saved if we didn’t hoard our closet with stuff we have never been able to fit into.
Another suggestion is to try everything on before purchasing, just to be sure.
I also recommend to take pictures before you buy something new, it gives just another perspective on how it does look on you.
You won’t believe, I have saved myself from buying countless things which do not look good on camera which is a clear sign of not been used in future. Just a simple trick to keep in mind.
2. Guilt-Free Shopping: Most important Rule
The most important rule of guilt-free shopping is to not compromise on quality for your bucks. One will ask quality is not cheap. I will recommend keep reading this post as you will find ways to buy quality for cheap.
A good quality fabric or accessory will last longer and fulfil its price value as long as it upholds.
Don’t be afraid of missing out on trends. Trends are an illusion created to attract buyers. Besides, if you wear something that isn’t trendy at the time, you look distinguished in a crowd where everyone’s wearing the same style of apparel.
I bought myself an expensive watch and pair of shoes a couple of years ago, but they still are in good condition and I get a lot of use out of them.
I refrain from buying more shoes and watches because of it. Also, a tuxedo or a leather jacket are a good one-time investment when you can get them on deals.
You can find some amazing deals during off season, just to keep in mind before making the purchase.
3. Sales are Saviours
Sales are a terrific way to purchase staple wardrobe items like jeans, trousers, casual t-shirts, undergarments, belts, casual footwear, coats.
Study the sales cycles of top retailers and check for discounts.
I alwasy keep in mind that, just because something is on sale does not mean I need it.
If I still buy it, it will be the violation of my shopping framework.
We should only purchase items we need and will be of use to us in the long run.
4. Online Discounts
You can usually find good deals on clothes and accessories online nowadays. Thanks to the tough competition.
Today there are thousands of shopping websites that offer branded and high-quality items with terrific discounts through out the year. You can also use coupons, vouchers or something like ebates to get some extra cash back into your pockets.
Get deals on your favorite brands and sign up for emailers on these websites that alert you about their upcoming sales and discounts.
But again, remember the rule#1 of guilt-free shopping if something is on discount, doesn’t mean you need it.
5. Don’t spend on trends
What is trending today, might not be in style next month. What used to last an entire season now lasts for a couple of weeks at the most.
Instead, buy evergreen styles that keep going in and out of fashion. That will be the best use of your bucks.
Invest in the quality of the clothes and accessories you purchase, not the season’s trend. This is hard to practice but once done, it will save you tons of money.
I have started teaching my kids the value of money and how to intelligently spend it on things which are more important than trends. This will save me ton of money going forward with them and also educate them about it.
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6. Embrace Thrift Stores
I realized that most of my long-lasting clothes and accessories came from thrift stores for super cheap prices.
Although, sometimes you might not like something in an instant but keep looking, a thrift store ends up becoming a treasure hunt.
I absolutely love shopping at a good thrift store for daily items.
I once picked up 4 shirts, 2 t-shirts, 2 trousers and 2 pair of casual footwears, 2 pairs of sunglasses and my total bill amount at the thrift store came close to the amount I once spent in a Ralph Lauren store for 1 shirt.
You can often find good branded items for upto 90% discount there. I think of it, as being smart about hard earned money.
There are many stores such as Nordstorm Rack (my favorite), Marshall’s, Burlington factory where you can find branded items on great discounts.
These stores are my go to place for guilt-free shopping.
7. Avoid shopping out of boredom
The lamest excuse to shop is boredom. You happen to be at a mall and have some time to kill before a movie or a lunch so you end up shopping.
If that is how you cope up with boredom, believe me you will never be able to save up. I did that quite often in past and most of my unused purchases have been bought out when I was bored.
8. Coupons and Cashback
Believe me when I say, once you figure out how much you can save on clothes and accessories by using discount offers, freebies and coupons, you’ll never shop without them.
There are several offers that provide cashback with online payments and also at the cash registers.
I have been using cashbacks for years now and I have succeeded in squeezing the system to maximize my cashback on any item purchased. I have shared my process in detail here – How to maximize your cashback from any online purchases.
Just look for the right stuff, and only buy the ones that come with discounts or cashback offers.
Never shy away from good discounts and offers, online or offline. Your money is yours to save.
9. Skip Seasonal Shopping Spree
Winter clothing and accessories are cheaper during summer and summer stuffis cheaper in winters. This is the basic rule of sale and discounts offered by retailers.
Why they offer discounts?
Simple, because they want to get rid of last season’s left over stock and free up space in their stores, so they can bring in new stock.
So, I plan my shopping accordingly right between the switch of the seasons.
You won’t believe that you can find greatest deals even better than black friday deals during this time.
I saved up so much on winter coats, ear muff and scarfs last year because I planned ahead and shopped them just at the start of summers.
The discounts on out of season items are glorious.
10. Don’t like, leave it
If you don’t like something in a store, then don’t buy it. Simple.
Just because you are there and it is trending this season, and your friend has it too. That’s not good enough reason for you to have it.
Moreover, if you don’t like something personally or it doesn’t look as good on you as what you are already wearing, then leave it and move on.
If you still buy something like this, then I guarantee that you will end up having more guilt about your action later. It’s not worth it.
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By rationing myself and my spending habits, I managed to not only save a lot of money but also stocked up my closet in a guilt-free shopping style with only essential clothes and accessories I love and know I will continue using them till they are usable.
I hope these tips are helpful to all of you reading this article. If you have any hacks of your own to save money while shopping, do share them with us in the comments below.
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