Setting a Clothing Budget

Uniqlo (Fifth Ave Flagship)When I first decided to start getting out of debt, one of the things that I had to seriously consider eliminating was my clothing budget. I really didn’t want to at first. I was fresh out of University, and my wardrobe was looking pretty pathetic as it was. I really wanted to spend a lot of cash on buying new, grown up clothes to suit my new, grown up personality.

Unfortunately, the first time I calculated my payment on my $27,000 in student loan debt, I knew that my dreams of having a beautiful wardrobe were probably going to be crushed before they were ever achieved. I just didn’t have enough cash to pay my rent, my car payments, and my student loans, while still investing in a gorgeous wardrobe.

So, I resolved to do something about my debt, and as I started to slash all of my discretionary spending, clothing turned out to be one of the things that was eliminated as well.

Now, almost 17 months later, my student loans are paid off. Part of this was my strictly controlled clothing spending. I tried out a few tactics, but eventually I was able to settle on a way to keep adding slowly to my wardrobe, while paying off a huge chunk of my overall $38,000 in debt. Here are a few ways to set a clothing budget.

As a Percentage of Your Income

I started out setting my clothing budget as a percentage of my income. Initially, it was 3% of my net income. I loved that budget. It allowed me to buy at least a shirt or an accessory every week. I stayed that way for a few months, and enjoyed it immensely.

I didn’t feel bad about spending the money, since it was a predefined amount in my budget, and it encouraged me to work hard at generating extra income, since the more I made on the side, the more I’d be able to spend on clothes.

As Needed

Eventually, I’d updated all of the really worn out or out of style pieces of my wardrobe, and I didn’t need to buy quite so much. Instead, I switched to an as needed method of paying for my clothing. I eliminated it as a line item in my budget, and instead just spent money on stuff whenever I needed to replace a shirt, or buy some new jeans.

All of the money that I was spending on clothing, got funnelled into my debt. This wasn’t the best idea, since I was almost always tempted to spend the cash on my debt instead of clothing, to the point where I was avoiding replacing stuff so that I could pay just a little bit more cash towards my student loans.

As Part of Your Personal Spending

These days, I allow myself about $50 per week in personal spending. This covers my hair cuts, books, make up, running gear, and clothing. It doesn’t cover my grocery spending or entertainment budget since my fiance and I budget for that together, but it does cover everything that I would buy for myself. I settled on having this personal spending budget because I was otherwise depriving myself. Of all the different ways I’ve tried to budget for clothing purchases, this is by far the way that works best for me.

If I want to buy a shirt or dress, I can, but I have to hold back on spending money on other things. I know that I need to have this money available in order to lead a healthy and balanced life, so I don’t worry or have guilt about wasting it.

Keeping clothing purchases to a manageable level can be difficult. For a 23 year old like me, resisting the urge to shop is tough! By keeping everything in moderation, I’m able to still have a decent wardrobe (though I have to admit, it’s not the MOST stylish one in the world) while still kicking butt at paying off my debt.

How do you spend money on clothing? Do you just buy it when you need it?

Or do you have a strict or loose budget? What is your clothing budget?


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