5 Simple Tips to Stretch Your Shoe Budget

Coral Snake L.A.M.B Ilane

Photo Credit: Zappos.com

Shoes are the foundation of a fabulous outfit—literally and figuratively.

Think about it. Nothing you wear carries a bigger physical burden than your shoes. While your body carries your clothes; your shoes carry you.

Clothes are easy. As long as they fit well, you’re probably safe. But if your shoes are a disaster, no amount of glamorous hair, flawless makeup, or dazzling accessories will resurrect your look.

On the other hand, a sexy peep toe can transform a wife beater and jeans from ho-hum to hot.

Since shoes shoulder the responsibility of being both fashionable and useful, in my opinion, they’re the most important part of your wardrobe.

You may be frugal in other areas of your finances, but don’t cheap out on footwear. I’m not suggesting you blow an entire paycheck on a pair of flip flops. However, quality shoes are essential. Treat them like the workhorses they are, and pay up.

With that said, you don’t have to empty your wallet on the right shoes.

Choose Wisely

We all fall in love with gorgeous, yet hopelessly impractical shoes. You know, the kind you can pair with only one or two or zero outfits. It’s hard, but you mustn’t allow yourself to be seduced by them.

On a cost per wearing basis, your shoes can be some of the most affordable items in your closet. That is, if you make smart buying decisions.

If you want to get the most value out of your shoes, look for these traits.


What can you wear them with? leggings? jeggings? jeans? dresses? shorts? miniskirts? cotton? cashmere? yellows? blues? reds?

Where can you wear them? to the movies? to the office? to the bar?

How often can you wear them? How many outfits? How many events? How many years?

Obviously, a single pair of shoes won’t fit all occasions, but you’ll need fewer of them if they work in numerous settings.


I wouldn’t rule out a skinny heel, but if worn consistently, I wear them out in about three weeks. With suede shoes, I can’t keep them clean. Both require too much upkeep for my liking.

Shoes are supposed to work for you not the other way around.


As much as I love 5-inch heels, I can’t wear them when I plan on doing anything adventurous like, say, walking.

To be fair, ridiculously high heels aren’t the only causes of our pain. Before whipping out your credit card, try out shoes like you’re testing a mattress. It may take some time before you realize a seemingly innocent flat pinches, rubs, or digs in to your foot.

Before we move on, let’s get one thing straight: “comfortable” is not synonymous with “boring.” Years ago, I wore thong sandals with a one and a half inch heel to a theme park. Surprisingly, they were easier on my feet than my hideous running sneakers.

Give Your Shoes a Second Life

Use glitter, crystals, fabric and even duct tape to revamp a mundane pair of pumps. As an added bonus, these tricks can double as damage cover up.

For many years, I wore my heels down to the metal. Instead of fixing them, I’d either retire the maimed pair or don them proudly and pray I didn’t encounter marble floors. Both options are stupid. As it turns out, replacing heel tips is pretty straightforward.

Restoring your shoes is often cheaper than buying new ones even if you have to take them to a cobbler. Dropping off and picking up shoes you already know and love takes less time than shopping. Yelp.com is a good place to start if you don’t know whom to trust with your precious soles.

Buy From Discount Stores

Some of my favorite places to shop for brand name shoes are outlet stores. These retailers generally stock shoes from prior seasons; however, that doesn’t mean their inventory is out of style. The difference in a shoe from one season to the next could be a detail as minor as the stitching. Who’s gonna notice that?

Stores I like are

  • 6PM.com
  • DSW
  • Nine West Outlet
  • Off Broadway Shoes
  • Rack Room Shoes
  • Ross
  • TJ Maxx

Look for Bargains

To receive coupons and notifications of upcoming sales, sign up for the newsletters of your favorite shoe stores. For your sanity, use email filters to organize messages sent by these merchants. A lot of companies will hammer your inbox with lame, “special” offers like “free shipping on orders of $150 or more.” When you’re in the market for shoes, check your email for real deals.

Even without a coupon or sale, you may still be able to knock a few bucks off your shoe purchase. Just use discounted gift cards from companies such as Plastic Jungle, GiftCardRescue.com or eBay.

Ask for Help

Own a pair of wedges that you swear you have nothing to wear with? Maybe you have other shoes that aren’t living up to their full potential. They shouldn’t go unseen and unappreciated because you lack creativity.

If you admire the fashion sense of your friends, ask them for their recommendations. If not, see what your Twitter followers and Facebook friends have to say. That’s what Instagram is for. Invite members of the Polyvore community to suggest outfits you can wear your “new” shoes with.

What tricks do you use to save money on shoes?

About the Author

Shawanda Greene is a free thinking, frugal gal whose only vices are boxed wine, lip balm and money grubbing. You can find more of Shawanda's musings at You Have More Than You Think – a productivity focused guide to maximizing the money you have to obtain more of what you want.