Shop till You Drop… or Not: Shopping Tips for the Trendy Penny-Pinchers

shop-90 percent off

By Katelyn Larson

The other day, I asked my roommate if she would like to go on a shopping date together sometime. Being the trendy type, she quickly agreed.

“But,” I said, “We should go in a few weeks so that we can set aside the money in advance and not feel bad about spending the money.”

Somehow I wound up shopping the next afternoon.

If you are like me, a plan, a budget, and a sheet of glass are rarely enough to keep me from buying that fill-in-the-blank that I have somehow convinced myself I need. So, to help me tame this insatiable craving, I have created a list of practical, simple tips to guide my future purchasing decisions.

Sleep on It

Step number one is to sleep on it. Every once in a while, I am smitten by a scarf, love-struck by a lacey top, or drooling over a pair of denim jeans. Whether you believe in love at first sight or not, it is important to remember that emotions often have a way of toying with rationality. I know what they say: when you know, you know. But I am here to say that sometimes they do not know what they are talking about. When you are struggling to pry your fingers off that gorgeous garment, allow yourself to entertain the thought of purchasing the piece as a reward for waiting 24 hours. Leave the store. Move yourself out of that mesmerizing environment so your mind can breathe in just a dose of logic. Then, if you are still madly in love the next day, no one is stopping you. Go get it, girl.

Bring Cash Only

Step number two is to bring cash only. Part of the joy of shopping is pairing one piece with another; it is the art of match-making. You may think you are going in to buy a jacket, but at some point during the shopping excursion, you may convince yourself that the jacket needs a soul mate, a necklace or a blouse.

Here is a little piece of insight for you: your new jacket is not looking for a soul mate. It may, however, be looking for a friend, or two, or three. Your entire wardrobe is essentially a community, one big circle of friends, and your new jacket is simply welcome to join the party. So, when you are tempted to go searching for your jacket’s long lost spouse (I mean blouse), remember that it already has several new buddies waiting for him back in your closet.

Thrift Shopping (and Selling)

The third step is to go thrift shopping (and selling). Back in high school, I used to think Goodwill was a terrible place to shop unless you were looking to satisfy a craving for crafting. Then, I started buying my own clothes. Suddenly, Goodwill and other local thrift stores were just as appealing as any department store.

However, in addition to being a cheap alternative to many department stores finds and brand name pieces, some of these second-hand shops have another benefit to offer. If you are looking for a way to make a little extra cash to add to your shopping funds, many of these adorable stores will often buy clothes from locals so as to make sure their collection is more selective and in season. These little shops have been very helpful to me in the past when I was looking to make a few extra dollars. In fact, now I have a habit of literally keeping a trash bag of old clothes sitting in the back of my car, so that I can swing into a local thrift shop any time to try and sell a few pieces. Look online to see if there are any stores near you that would take those older though still stylish pieces off your hands (Yelp.com is a great resource as well).

Pick a Shopping Day

The fourth tip is to pick a shopping day. As I mentioned previously, when my roommate and I decided that we would like to go on a shopping date together, we also concluded that it was important for us to pick a day in the future to look forward to and to postpone shopping until that time. While I am certainly not the most diligent in regards to this particular tip, it too has helped me in the past. It is a lot easier to walk past a window full of stylish and attractive mannequins when you are telling yourself “wait” instead of “no.” Furthermore, this tip also provides you with the time needed to set aside a few $20s without feeling guilty that you are not spending it on food or gas. So, next time you are tempted to splurge on a new pair of boots or jeans, remind yourself to wait just a little bit longer. This too shall pass.

Layer

Finally, my last tip, and probably one of my favorites, is simply to layer.

Since this is a financial column after all, let’s take a second and do a little math. If I had a total of six sweaters/jackets and six tops, how many outfits do I have? Any guesses? Well, I could come up with not 6, not 12, but a total of 36 outfits. Instead of buying a number of unique pieces, sometimes the best way to dress is simply by getting creative and layering things you already have.

I just counted; I have a grand total of 24 sweaters and jackets. Obviously, my closet is a testament to my obsession for layering, but the best part about my wardrobe is that I still wear “new” outfits often, and I have not gone shopping in quite a while (well, excluding the recent outing after talking with my roommate). For example, I have this gorgeous blue sweater that I have worn with a lacey white top and gold necklace, a gray top and a simple blue necklace, an off-white top and a patterned scarf, a black and white polka-dotted top, etc. My point is simply this: if you take the time to get just a little creative, the possibilities are endless.

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