The simple answer to the age-old question of whether you can be both stylish and budget conscious is yes, but it takes some careful planning.
You Have to Actually Create a Budget
Many girls classify themselves as being on a budget when it comes to shopping, but they don’t actually have a budget.
In order to know how much you can spend on fashionable clothes, you need to take a look at your finances and what you’re working with.
Set a predetermined amount of money you’ll allow yourself to spend each time you go shopping, and don’t stray from that amount, no matter how tempting.
If you’re not great at budgeting, use something like Mint.com. It’s a great, free budget-tracking tool. You can link all of your bank accounts, and then set an amount you can spend on clothes each month. If you go over, Mint will alert you.
Plan for Two Trips
Okay, if you’re on a budget, but want to update your wardrobe, it’s best not to buy items on a whim.
Instead, take an initial shopping trip and select some items you love. Try them on, see how they fit, and then leave without buying them.
No, we’re not crazy.
Wait at least a day or two, and if you’re still thinking about an outfit or a pair of shoes, then go back and buy it.
When you buy on a whim, you’re more likely to have buyer’s remorse and you may not love something as much as you think you do.
Focus on Basics
If you have to decide where to spend money, do it on the basics. It may be worth it to spend more money on a great pair of jeans or a basic black dress, because these are items you’ll get a lot of wear out of.
Then, go to lower end stores, like Forever 21 or H&M for accents, accessories and trendier pieces. Never spend tons of money on something that’s super trendy, or a super bright color or pattern that you can’t see yourself loving for more than a few weeks.
Don’t Buy Just Because Something’s On Sale
For thrifty shoppers the lure of a sale can be enough to have them pulling out their wallet, but this can become a trap. People tend to see the word sale, and take it as a free-for-all. Just as with shopping in any other situation, you need to be smart about shopping during a sale.
Don’t choose items you’ll never wear, simply because they’re a great price. For example, recently I was at TJ Maxx and I found a Marc Jacobs dress that I thought was hideous, but I was tempted to buy it simply because it was so deeply discounted.
Luckily I thought better of that decision, but it’s definitely an easy and budget-busting mistake to make.
Think About Your Lifestyle
Don’t buy items that don’t suit your lifestyle. If you mostly go to class, or you’re a stay-at-home mom, you’re probably not going to need lots of dresses, and if you spend most of your time in the office, you probably don’t need lots of shorts and tanks.
Be honest about what you need, and what clothing items are going to work with your life.
What are your favorite tips for budget shopping?