Today I have a post from the lovely Kendal at HassleFreeSavings.com
Though temperatures are still breaking records where I live, fashion magazines and websites are already pushing fall styles. Despite the heat, I find myself salivating over tailored blazers, oversized sweaters and jewel-toned jeans while reaching for the A/C dial.
As a bargain shopper, it’s my prerogative to save on clothes and accessories, yet I’m guilty of some serious purchase fails. On the cusp of my favorite season, it’s a good time to go over some do’s and don’ts for saving on fashion.
DO Make a Budget
Do you justify shopping binges with a promise not to shop during the next month? Yeah, me too. And it never works, does it? If this sounds familiar, it’s time to stop kidding yourself and dedicate part of your budget to fashion. Withdraw this workable, predetermined amount in cash every month and cut yourself off when it’s gone. This not only keeps you from breaking promises, but will also force you to be more thoughtful about which items you’re willing to exchange for cash.
DON’T Buy Designer “Just Because”
Flash sites and sample sales position themselves as sources for designer duds at reasonable prices. However, “reasonable” is all relative when the original price tag exceeds your monthly car payment. Case in point: I spent a pretty penny on three designer items, two of which I rarely wore and ended up donating. The third item — a beautiful pair of bright red, peep-toe pumps by Marc Jacobs — I’m still wearing today, despite demonstrable wear-and-tear. So remember: Just because it’s designer doesn’t make it worthy of your hard-earned dollars.
DO Shop Online for Shoes
Not exclusively, of course, but shoes are one of the few fashion items I’m comfortable ordering online. Though I covet some of the clothes offered by online-only stores — Dorothy Perkins, anyone? — I’m always hesitant to click “purchase.” This summer, I found a pair of strappy coral wedges I just had to have, but they weren’t available in store. I grabbed a coupon code from FreeShipping.org to avoid delivery charges at DSW, and saved $8 on my new summer faves.
DON’T Go Crazy During Sale Time
I confess: I get a little nutty come sale time. The prospect of a good deal clouds my judgement and I end up with items I wouldn’t normally try on, let alone buy. Avoid burning your budget and your closet space with clearance garments and select items as if they’re not on sale. That way, you stick to your style and come home with items you truly love.
DO Trust Your Instincts
I once deliberated over a pair of leather ankle boots that cost a whopping $75. I tried them on, loved them, agonized over the decision to purchase them, and then put them back. Within 20 minutes I ran back into the store and bought them. Three years later, I’ve already had them re-heeled and despite several fashionable additions to my ever-growing boot collection, they’re still my go-to kicks. Had I trusted my instincts, I could have spared myself the agony of indecision.
DON’T Open Store Credit Cards (Compulsively)
Though tempting, opening a ton of store credit cards for the initial discount is a bad, bad idea. Not only does it encourage overspending to earn points and discounts, it will negatively affect your credit score. That’s not to say store cards are off-limits; they can be helpful in scoring savings when selected thoughtfully. I have a Limited Couture Card and enjoy its perks — while avoiding its double-digit interest rate — by paying off my balance in full every month. If you can commit to this practice, go ahead and take the bait.
DO Calculate the Cost-Per-Wear
With caution, that is. It’s easy to abuse this tool and use it to wrongfully justify extravagant purchases. Happily, the cost-per-wear of those leather ankle boots I mentioned is probably less than $0.75, since I’ve donned them over 100 times (easily). The cost of those cognac knee-high boots I just had to have last season, however, is about $26 per wear. Though it’s hard to determine just how often you’ll wear something, this tool is a good way to gain perspective on the actual cost of your purchase.
DON’T Waste Gift Cards
I love gift cards. They provide a means for guilt-free shopping, which is possibly the very best kind. Like cash, they seem to burn a hole in my pocket, searing through my jeans with an urgency that simply doesn’t exist. Unless you find items you truly want, don’t waste your gift card on so-so styles to satiate the need for something new. Instead, take inventory of your closet and peruse style magazines and websites to identify needed items. Then, spend away!
Kendal Perez is a frugal fashionista and bargain shopper who helps fellow shopaholics find hassle-free ways to save money. As the marketing coordinator for a family of money-saving websites, Kendal has the resources to be an extreme couponer but prefers a less complicated approach to staying in-budget. Kendal has been quoted in such media outlets as CNN Money, TIME Moneyland, FOX, ABC, NPR and Kiplinger Personal Finance. For savings tips and more information, visit HassleFreeSavings.com or follow Kendal on Twitter.