Cash for Clothes

We all need it and use it everyday, but sometimes we forget about it when it comes to budgeting – it’s clothing! It might not seem like it, but it’s just as important as your other monthly bills. We need coats to stay warm and shoes on our feet to help us get from place to place. Even if you’re the most frugal of shoppers, these are purchases that we all need to make from time to time. This was my most common cause of credit card debt, because I almost never accounted for it, mostly due to the fact that I seldom shop for myself (I’d rather spend the money on vacations or dinner with friends, to be honest). Then *WHAM*! I’d realize that I’d worn a hole through my favorite sandals or there was a tear in my jacket and I’d have to replace them, only without the proper available funds. Preparing for these things ahead of time can prevent you from building up debt in the future. So how should you go about doing this?

Set a budget. It’s really important to factor clothing into your monthly budget, even if you don’t shop on a monthly basis. I find it helpful to decide on an amount that I’d like to spend, and divide that up into smaller “payments” to myself over the course of a few months (generally a set amount out of each paycheck), since I typically only shop for new clothes when the seasons change. Setting aside smaller amounts is much more manageable for me when taking into account all of my other monthly responsibilities. If I end up not needing anything new for a period of time (i.e. all of my summer shorts still fit, or none of my sweaters are so worn out that they need to be replaced), I simply keep rolling those funds over until I’m ready to use them.

What you should take into consideration when budgeting for clothing:

  • Your income (How much do you have to work with?)
  • Your priorities (Have all of your other financial demands been taken care of? Do you consider other “wants” to be of more importance?)
  • Your spending habits (How frequently do you plan to shop?)
  • Who you’re shopping for (Will you be shopping for just you or are you also responsible for someone else, such as a spouse or a child?)
  • Your lifestyle (Are you required to meet dress code standards at work, or do you spend more time in casual attire?)

Shop smart. I’m a huge fan of bargain shopping. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to settle for cheap things. Shop your favorite stores and search out special sales or discounts being offered, and check out the clearance racks for anything that catches your eye. I love to catch end-of-the-season sales. Everything is usually marked way down to make room for next season’s stock, and it usually saves me more in the long run, since I won’t have to find the same pieces the following year. You should also consider the quality of what you’re buying. Sometimes it’s worth it to spend a little more on something that’s well-made and will last longer, as opposed to spending less on something that will fall apart easily and need to be replaced.

Is clothing a priority on your list, or is it more of a chore for you? What are some strategies you use for shopping smart?