If you’re looking for ways to cut back on daily and monthly spending, tracking your budget is crucial. Among your necessary monthly expenses such as mortgage/rent, auto insurance and groceries, there are those that fall into the “want” zone like clothing. While you may enjoy a new pair of jeans or fashionable blouse, the truth is you could live well without it. That’s why it’s unfortunate that so many consumers waste money on this unnecessary item. In fact, a recent report shows that the average American dishes out over $1,700 a year on new threads.
While you should ultimately limit shopping sprees, there are some circumstances that call for new clothes whether for work, a special celebration or when you’re favorite pair of pants rip. To save on your next clothing purchase, follow these nine shopping hacks.
Time your shopping trip.
Clothing stores mark down items they want to push to the busy weekend crowds on Thursday evening, making this the best night of the week to shop for clothes. You’ll be the first to peruse newly discounted goods before the weekend crowds, giving you a bigger selection of sale items in your size. Keep in mind, the time of year you shop matters too as end-of-season sales ensure that you bag bigger bargains. For example, spring is the best time to replace a winter coat!
Negotiate in store and online.
Haggling was once only a shopping tactic you could use at commission-based retailers, but today it’s become acceptable across other types of stores. Though you can’t negotiate a better deal on an already cheap sweater at Target, many retailers are willing to match competitor prices. Even high-end stores like Bloomingdales offer price matching. For example, Nordstroms offered 25-percent off store-wide during Saks Fifth Avenue’s popular Friends and Family Sale. Keep up with competitor’s clothing coupons too by using apps like RedLaser and Coupon Sherpa since many stores are willing to match such deals.
Learn to thrift.
Why waste money at department stores when you can find like-new fashion for a fraction of the cost at a consignment store? You stand to save 90 percent! You can even find brand-new clothes with the original tags at a super discount. Be ready to sift through merchandise though or save time by shopping at online consigners like thredUp.com and RecycleYourFashions.com. Get to know the consigner’s discount cycle to save even more as prices are typically reduced on garments that have been displayed for a few weeks. You should also sell any unwanted items from your wardrobe for credit toward new purchases.
A website like thredUp.com really offers a twofer: In addition to buying on the cheap, you can also sell your gently used clothes to them. The process is easy. Simply go to thredUpcom/cleanout and order a bag online. Stuff it full of your unwanted clothers and it postage paid to the company. thredUp will pay you 20% to 40% of the retail value of what you’ve sent if they identify an item they can resell.
Dig through discount stores.
If you’re up for a little challenge, digging through racks at discount stores like Marshalls, Nordstrom Rack, DSW and Century21 will turn up in-season fashion and popular brand names for an average of 60 percent savings. I recently found a pair of Joe’s Jeans for under $60 that were originally priced at over $160. Don’t forget to head to the clearance racks for even deeper discounts on the already reduced prices and make sure to evaluate the clothes for any imperfections.
Admire the local boutique’s sale section.
While local clothing boutiques typically feature a higher mark-up price over department stores, these small shops shine when it comes to sale time! Because such boutiques aren’t affiliated with a larger brand and don’t have a warehouse store to send overflow or out-of-season garments, you can typically find huge markdowns on sale items as they make room for new arrivals. Follow your favorite local shops on Facebook for the inside scoop on upcoming clearance events.
Go generic for basics.
Generic products have come a long way over the years and many stores offer their own clothing items. When it comes to basics like tees, pajamas and socks, you can’t go wrong with the store brand from retailers like Wal-Mart, Target, Old Navy and even warehouse club stores. In fact, Costco’s Kirkland brand is known for quality clothing including a nice selection of men’s dress shirts that cost 40 to 60% less than similar styles from department stores like Macy’s and Kohls.
Check the labels.
Before you even try on anything, get in the habit of reading clothing labels for care instructions. If the item calls for dry-clean only, you’re better off putting it back on the rack. Unless it’s a big ticket item like a business suit or formal attire for which quality cleaning ensures that the pricey clothing lasts, adding this unnecessary fee on for your everyday wear is a budget buster. Plus, dry cleaning automatically inflates the price exponentially.
Don’t get fooled in the dressing room.
Retailers are in the business of getting you to shop and they use tricks like dim lighting and tilted mirrors to provide a very flattering reflection. If you like the way you look in the dressing room, you’re more likely to walk out with that item and even more likely still to spend more money than you planned to in the first place. If you’re tempted to buy something on impulse, give yourself 24 hours to think it through. Most times, the urge to buy will pass during this period.
Invest in classics.
When attempting to rationalize a new clothing purchase, consider the cost per wear. A trendy blouse in a bright and loud print may not get much use especially if the look goes out of style with the changing season. However, classic and timeless pieces like a black pair of boots or a fitted blazer offer a better value since both are versatile, transition through seasons and never go out of style. In this case, splurge for better quality and comfort to ensure longevity and lower cost per wear overtime.
For more-money saving advice, see our Deals section!