So last week, I spent lots of time channeling my inner male self while I blogged about the Super Bowl, and the only way I could counterbalance that time was to go to the other extreme and discuss shopping this week. While I have to confess that I have never been the biggest fan of shopping, I have many friends and clients who think differently. For me shopping is a tedious act of necessity and for them it is a transformative experience. But no matter how you feel about shopping, the fact is that you have to be smart about it.
Thrift Shop Motivation
I love this song. From the first time I heard it; I was obsessed with it. Until recently, the only times I ever visited a thrift shop was when I was in high school and we needed to find costumes for our school plays. The idea of wearing other people’s clothes in a setting other than a stage just seemed grotesque to me. Then this song came out, and I found myself re-thinking my view on thrift shops.
For my clients who have a weakness for shopping, this is a song that I put on their motivational playlist. I include it not to force them to go to a thrift shop, but to encourage them to think differently about shopping and what they wear. Even though clothes may make them look and feel good, they are not the best investment you can make. If you needed a loan from a bank, you could not use clothing as collateral. And despite the fact that I have to give tough love to my clients, I truly hate to tell them no and not to indulge in something that they love. So if your clothes spending habit is creating a strain on your finances, here are some tips for being smarter about it.
Five Tips for Smarter Shopping
- Make sure it is part of your budget – This is less of a tip and more of a fact. If you do not have the money left over in your budget for new clothes, then it truly is not something you should indulge in. So I encourage clients to make it part of their budget, and it typically comes out of their “entertainment” money. This way, when they go shopping, they know they have it as part of their plan and they know exactly how much they can spend in any given month.
- Search deals and coupons – Before you make the investment, search coupons and deals online or in your inbox. Challenge yourself to not buy anything for full price because if you do, that’s just getting swindled and pimped and tricked by a business.
- Think ahead and plan – If you know you need a new seasonal item like a winter coat or a bathing suit, plan to look for them at the end of their season. I was able to get a new bikini in October for less than $20. If you know you need an item that is not seasonal, then wait for typical shopping holidays like President’s Day or Columbus Day sales. There are very few clothing needs that should be surprises to us, so we need to take the time and think them through.
- Try thrift shopping and thrifty shopping – Check out your local thrift shops or thrifty shops like TJMaxx, Marshalls or Nordstrom Rack. I know that it is more difficult to find items in these stores, but as I blogged about not too long ago, you work hard for your money, therefore, you should make it hard on yourself to spend it. Plus, you never know what sort of gems you will find in these stores.
- Have clothing swap parties with friends – I have a number of friends and clients who do this on a regular basis. For $20, you can get a few bottles of wine, and have fun shopping in your friend’s closet. And at least you know who was wearing the clothes before.
I recently went thrift shopping with my sister, Megan (that’s us in the pic). We challenged ourselves to find amazing things for only $20. Did we achieve our goal or was it a fruitless exercise? You will have to check back tomorrow to find out!
Do you have a weakness for shopping? If so, how do you manage it so that you won’t get in financial trouble?