How to Shrink Your Clothing Budget

by Will Lipovsky · 4 comments

clothesNot all of us need a budget for cars. Not all of us need a budget for pets. Not all of us need a budget for haircuts even. But without a doubt, we all need a budget for clothing.

We all know how to shrink our clothes, but what many of us don’t know how to do is shrink our clothing budget. That’s what this post will help you do. Let’s turn the water to hot and begin shrinking our clothing budget.

Return Items

This is hard for me because I can be shy. But it’s really important. When you buy something and then dislike it when you get home – return the item. It’s okay.

I used to never do this. I’d just let the article of clothing sit forgotten in a drawer and then donate it years later. Mistake.

What helped me get over the fear of returning things was to realize that the store wants me to be happy. Because a happy customer is a repeat customer. It’s why stores like Zappos, Kohl’s, and others have such amazing return policies. They want you to be satisfied. Let them have their wish.

To keep from buying things you’ll later realize you dislike, there’s a rule you can follow. If you wouldn’t wear it out of the store that day – don’t buy it. I don’t remember who told me this but I’ve been using it for a few years. And I haven’t had to return anything out of dislike for the item since.

Think Timeless

Your clothing budget will always be large if you’re chasing the latest trend. I understand the desire to look good. I work hard to dress well, but it’s much more affordable to go for timeless instead of trendy. You’ll be able to keep items longer and you’ll be less tempted to shop each time a new line of clothing is revealed. Plus, timeless always looks respectable.

Create a Capsule Closet

This is often referred to as a capsule wardrobe. It’s a wardrobe where you have a good amount of clothing you can dress up or dress down as the occasion demands. This is great because you don’t need to own so many clothes. Examples include oxford dress shoes, black dresses, traditional cut suits, things like these. A capsule closet does not include graphic t’s, a lot of a certain seasonal color, etc.

Don’t Shop When You’re Hungry

Avoid shopping on “just because” occasions. “Retail therapy” is like playing with fire. If you find yourself shopping just for fun and later feel guilty because of how much it costs – cut it out. Find another hobby. Find a more productive way to spend your weekends.

You could really turn things around. Work on a project instead of shopping. Maybe you could remodel a room of your home. This way, you spend less on shopping while you also save money by not having to hire a professional. Or maybe you could start doing some light car maintenance. Or even swap shopping for massages. Massages can still be expensive but it’s easier to find good massages on Groupon than good clothing. Plus, a massage has its health benefits.

Always Be Ready to Shop

I know this sounds ridiculous, but it’s not. What I mean by this is that you should always be ready to shop a sale. Then once one comes up, you can pounce.

For instance, I’d like a new pair of ASICS running shoes. Next time I see ASICS on sale, I’ll ponce. It does matter if it’s next week or in three months. I’m always ready to shop for a good deal. Patience and purpose are key.

Make Laundry Easier

Sometimes we are so tired of doing laundry that we buy a new piece of clothing just to procrastinate doing laundry a little longer. Many people do this, and it’s okay to admit you have. Anyone can put a stop to this dirty habit though.

My goal with laundry is to make it as systematic as possible. Because I dislike laundry, what I’ve done is I make sure I have the proper amount in each clothing category. What do I mean? I mean that I have roughly the same number of socks, underwear, t-shirts, etc. This way, I run out of everything at approximately the same time. Then I can do a month’s worth of laundry all in one day! It’s really, really easy. I also like to buy things that don’t have any special laundering requirements. I know, I know. I’m a guy so this is easy. But if women can find a way to do this – please do! The fewer loads of laundry – the better! It saves money, it saves time, it saves energy.

Laundry day should be systematic. It should be as seldom as possible. It should be as easy as possible.

Or Just Stop Caring About Your Appearance

I’m kidding! People judge us upon first appearances. I don’t blame anyone who does it to me. It’s only natural. This is why it’s important to look good. And sometimes we do need to spend a good bit of cash on clothing. It can sometimes pay for itself. For instance, buying an tailored suit for a job interview is almost always a good investment. And looking good on a date… who can put a price on that? Just kidding. We can put a price on it – so make sure it’s not too high!

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  • Lisa says:

    I always thought the “don’t shop when you’re hungry” advice was ridiculous until I started to pay attention to how I shop when hungry vs. how I shop after I’ve already eaten. It’s actually pretty incredibly the huge difference it makes!

    • David @ says:

      Be careful with all the little things and the big thing will take care of itself! I’m glad to hear that you are on your way to more savings now!

  • Paul says:

    Hi Will-
    I haven’t bought a new clothes item in over two years! I never thought I would say something like that but a friend introduced me to second hand shops and I now buy ALL my clothes at them. I used to be a clothes snob, I’m still picky, but once I discovered how much I could save was all in….save big $$

    • David @ says:

      Yup it’s big $$$. And like you’ve discovered, you can still be choosy because of the huge collection they have!

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