By Ashley Kowalewski
Shopping. There’s nothing quite like the rush you get when you find that perfect top in your favourite colour—and the last one left is in your size. But, if you’re anything like me and you’re saving for the impending responsibilities of adulthood, you probably don’t have a huge chunk of change to squander (I use that term very loosely since everyone should have at least five pairs of heels, of course) on shopping.
With that in mind, here are some tips on how to shop on a budget. Now, I’m no expert; just a girl with a mild but healthy shopping addiction who has had to purge, budget and quit cold turkey on several occasions. Here’s what I’ve found works!
Start by setting a budget and keeping it. This goes for a few things: Monthly budgeting, weekly budgeting, budgeting shopping trips—all of it! With hundreds of free online budgeting tools and apps available, you can easily set monthly budgets for yourself for all of your expenses. Just make sure to keep your budgets attainable and realistic—don’t set a shopping budget for $600 a week when you make half that.
Set a pre-shopping trip budget. Sure, you’ve got your monthly expenses calculated, but that doesn’t always work once you’re at the mall and all logic has gone out the window. When heading out for a shopping trip, establish a set amount and take that money out and use cash only. If you keep the cash in your wallet, say $100, you’ll see it decreasing with every purchase and you’re less likely to go over your budget than if you were to keep swiping your debit or credit cards.
Decide ahead of time what you’re going to buy. One of the easiest ways to bust your budget it to stroll around the mall aimlessly. Sure, every once in a while you need some retail therapy and sometimes just want to window shop, but when heading out for a pre-budgeted spree, try to decide ahead of time what you’re looking to purchase. Let’s say you need a new pair of jeans: If you go to the mall with the intention of looking for jeans and only jeans, you’re less likely to impulse buy something else. Bonus: If you’re jeans come in under your pre-determined budget, you’ve just saved yourself some money and might even be able to ration that adorable blouse that would go great with your new denim.
Unsubscribe from store emails. There is nothing worse than trying to be diligent in your saving and up pops that email for thirty per cent off your entire purchase. There goes your budget. Nix this desire to spend and unsubscribe from those emails—at least until your finances are a little more flexible or you’ve gotten your spending habits under control. Not ready to ditch the notes for good? Plenty of stores have frequency options to receiving their emails. Opt for the once or twice a month e-blast and see how unlikely you are to online shop without that promotional prompt.
Know when to save and when to splurge. There’s nothing wrong with spending some cash here and there, especially if you work in a fashion-forward industry and like to stay with the trends. The key is to know when something is worth the splurge, or if you should opt for the frugal version of this trend. Classic pieces that you know are going to be staples in your wardrobe are worth the extra cash—think a cute leather bomber, a great pair of jeans, boots, etc—but beware of some of the trendier pieces that you may not see yourself wearing after this season.