In 2015, we’re putting extra emphasis on budgeting since it’s a must for financial success. Each month, we tackle a different category, and by year’s end, we’ll have one big resource for maximizing your entire budget.
Johnny and I just finished purging our closets and drawers of all our unwanted clothing earlier today. So it seems fitting to be writing about clothing spending as bags of clothing sit in our room, just waiting to be thrifted.
Before I list out all our tips and tricks for saving money on clothing, I have to preface this by saying we do about 90% of our clothing spending online. When it comes to buying clothes, I like to put the least amount of time and effort into it while still getting cute clothes for a good price. And we both pretty much hate shopping for clothes, so doing it from the comfort of our laptops is what works best for us.
Know your spending limit in advance.
When it comes to budgeting for clothing, we’ve tried two different methods. The first, which failed miserably for us, was allotting a monthly clothing stipend that rolled over from month to month. We just don’t buy or even look into buying clothes very often, so our clothing stipend never got spent. An alternative method we’ve used is giving ourselves a yearly budget that we break up into two big (a relative term) online shopping sprees (very relative term) a year. In the spring and fall, we stock up on clothing using a predetermined budgeted amount. We don’t decide what we want and then spend whatever’s necessary to get it. Rather, we decide how much we can spend and then we buy what we can with that amount of money.
Make a list.
Because our clothing spending is limited, we make sure to prioritize what we need most before buying any clothing. This also helps to take the emotion out of purchasing decisions, like when you see the cutest oversized cardigan ever that you really want for fall but you know you don’t actually need. Not that this happened recently or anything…
I’m definitely someone who sees something cute and instantly feels like I can’t live without it, so sticking to my list is key. It’s very similar to the mentality I use when I’m grocery shopping, too.
Wait for major sales and sign up for deal alerts.
Stores have sales ALL THE TIME. I think they do this so that if you just stumble on their site, you’ll think, “Ooh, I just happened to come here on a sale day! I need to buy stuff NOW!” But some sales are better than others. And one way to discern between the okay sales and the great sales is to sign up for deal alerts from your go-to stores. I hate getting emails every day telling me about sales, but it keeps me informed for when a really good sale is happening. And I have it all just go to my Promotions tab in Gmail so that my main inbox stays clear. That said, even if a great sale is going on, I don’t buy stuff for the sake of buying it. Even the great sales repeat themselves pretty regularly, so I just bide my time until Sally needs new clothes or when it’s time for Johnny and me to stock up on new stuff.
And as an aside, my go-to stores are Gap/Old Navy (the girls and me), H&M, and ASOS (Johnny) for our family’s clothing. Occasionally, I’ll splurge on something from Zara or J.Crew (still on sale, though), and sometimes I buy stuff from Target. Johnny has a pretty regular stock of American Apparel shirts that he buys every couple years, too. And we get our shoes wherever we can find the best price for what we’re looking for.
Choose conservative items.
Maybe it’s because we’re getting old, but Johnny and I try to avoid super trendy items. We like to stay in style, of course. But we want our clothing to be in style and last for years, rather than months. We also try to only buy items that we completely love. If we don’t love it, we return it, period.
Pay for quality where it matters.
This will be different for everyone, but for Johnny and me, we care most about quality when it comes to our pants and shoes. So we splurge more when it comes to those items. We still buy them on sale, but we’re a bit more choosy. And that’s all relative, of course… for me, it means buying jeans from Gap instead of Old Navy. And Johnny sticks to Levi’s 511s for his jeans. We also spend more on coats since those last several years. For us, it’s been worth it to pay a little extra for items that will last longer and fit better.
Buy at the end of the season.
I don’t actually follow this rule, but so many people have recommended it. To get extra amazing deals, buy winter clothes for the following year at the end of winter. Or buy summer clothes for the following year at the end of summer. I’m much too impatient for this, but I have done it here and there and gotten incredible deals on clothes. Just be careful to buy items that won’t go out of style over the next several months until you can wear them.
Those are our top tips, but obviously there are so many more. Johnny and I used to go thrifting for clothes all the time during our college days, and we probably still would if we had more time. Everyone has different ways they save, so we’d love to hear some of your tips for saving on clothing! Sally’s growing out of everything these days, and I’d love some fresh tips before I do another shopping haul for her!