Shopping strategies to save money, time and space in your wardrobe!

A couple of shopping tips on how to make sure you don’t buy items that:

1. You aren’t thrilled to bits about when you get home

2. You don’t feel regret buying and have to trudge all the way back, waste another $5 in transportation (tokens or gas), just to stand in line, and return it

3. You can’t return at all, except for a credit, and now you have to figure out what else you want just to get your money back – and may even end up spending MORE to get the item you wanted, just because of that $5 credit.

4. You went over your budget for, and are kicking yourself next week trying to play catch up with your credit cards.

5. You end up shoving into the back of your overstuffed closet, and find it 3 years later, brand new, with tags, and (unfortunately) in a size you were at 3 years ago, and not the size you’re at now.

6. You end up buying when caught up in the impulse of the moment, and end up only wearing for a month or less, but you spend an insane amount of money on.

7. You realize doesn’t fit with your lifestyle or with anything in your wardrobe (like a very brightly coloured patterned shirt that you loved in theory, and on the mannequin, but realize you have nothing to go with it, and nowhere to wear it!)

Here are a couple of shopping tips that I’ve tried over the years. These tips are applicable not only to buying items in stores in person, but to online shopping as well.

A $ Budget

For some, it works like a charm. For me, it doesn’t. I’ve tried (many many times) to set a budget, but let’s be serious, sometimes that just doesn’t work. You say $100 in your head, and your shopaholic inside says: “But does that $100 include tax?” Hah! 😛 Others say it helps to bring cash so that you can see yourself forking over the actual bills, and feeling the twinge of pain each time a $20 bill hits the counter. But, I’m paranoid about carrying cash on my person, ever since I was robbed a couple of years ago.

An Item Limit

This method works a lot better for me. When I’m in a store, and I see ..oh..10 items I really like, I force myself to choose to buy only 2-3 items, or even one. What happens is my brain kicks in and weeds out the items I’m not 100% positive on, and I only end up buying the items I truly want.

It’s hard not to say: Oh gee, $4.99 for a skirt at Value Village! Fantastic, let’s buy it, since the brand is Jacob/Banana Republic, etc, and that’s such a great deal. The problem is, $4.99 on a skirt that doesn’t fit properly and/or you were on the fence about and didn’t immediately love when you put it on, is $4.99 wasted. That’s at least one Starbucks Chai Latte you COULD’VE had, and enjoyed in pure, self-indulgent bliss, instead of a skirt that you now have to try to love.

Figure out your Shopping Style

I still have to learn the fine balance of this. From buying over the years, I tend to accumulate a lot of classic pieces with my “Collector” shopping style; so much so that I own many of the exact same styles in varying shades. Now, I stop myself and say: “Do I really need another pinstripe suit? Won’t the other one suffice?”

But don’t buy trendy items just for the sake of shaking up your wardrobe if those items won’t work for you! I’m talking about things like bubble skirts that don’t work on most figures with hips or items like a faux-leopard jacket made out of rabbit fur *shudders at the memory of walking into Bebe, and seeing the atrocity on a hanger*

Buy trendy items on the cheap, and use those to liven up your wardrobe, but don’t spend $300 on a trendy item that’ll go out of style in a couple of months. Spend that hard earned cash on classic items because with classic items, you’ll be able to expand your wardrobe and make it more versatile, with a twist to make them special (a plain black shirt is not just a plain black shirt if it has a special neckline, or sleeves on it). Buy quality items when you can and only if you feel it’s worth it. For example: spending $50 on a brand new, basic white button-down tailored shirt is reasonable – spending $1000 on one because it happens to be a Jil Sander shirt, is not!

Have a vision of your wardrobe at home

If I look back at my closet, and think to myself “I sure saw a lot of solids in there, I think I’d like more patterns in my wardrobe”, I look for more patterns in tops, dresses and skirts. Same goes with items of clothing too. If I look back and think: “I have way too many pairs of pants, and a pitiful collection of dresses”, I tend to gravitate towards looking at dresses, patterns and colours other than teal and black. This helps me expand my wardrobe, and stop me from buying yet ANOTHER black dress to add to the mix.

Make tradeoffs between your purchases

When you start spending money (especially without cash, in my case), you begin getting into such a shopping mindset, that money seems to be of no object. You buy a couple of tops, then you think about buying a couple of expensive Chai Lattes at Starbucks while you’re shopping…which spirals into dinners at a restaurant you were dying to try, which This is a bad mindset to get into. What I normally do is say: If I don’t get anything at all today, then I’ll get a Chai Latte, but if I buy something, I won’t. This is similar to tip #2 above, about only buying a set number of items, but it’s also helping you budget by putting your actual $s into tangible items.

Put items on hold

And this is my favourite! I find that when I’m excited just being in a store with shiny, fresh, new things, I tend to want and “need” a lot more than I do. You have to get yourself out of that mindset and say: “Can I put this on hold?”. What does this, is make you wait and see if there’s anything else in the mall you’d rather have and/or get out of that environment to break that feeling to buy an item you may realize you don’t really want, once you leave the store.

Whenever I do this, 99% of the time, I tend to find that I don’t want the items as much as I thought I did, and it sure saves you on having to return it later and deal with the salesperson.

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.