Thursday, August 13, 2009

How to Budget Shop: The Rules

Ah, the ever-present problem of the newly independent: how to make the money you got, stretch to cover the stuff you want. Ever since the first time we gain any kind of financial independence, be it a weekly allowance as a kid or a starting salary as a recent graduate, we are faced with the dilemma of finding out how to spend what we have to get what we need (and some of what we want). Whether you fancy yourself a bohemian babe that doesn't need much or an easy going guy with a laid back attitude to life, you really need to know where your finances go. And unless you discover the fabled "money tree" this will always be an issue. So why not learn to manage your money? Dearest devotees, I promise it won't hurt.

To me, budget shopping has more to do with approaching it with a goal in sight and a well thought out plan, rather than seeking out the latest bargain. And while this series will touch on bargain hunting and thrift store shopping, I believe the best way to shop wisely is to shop thoughtfully and consciously. Also, even though this series will mostly deal with clothes and accessories shopping, some of the rules can be applied to all types of shopping. After all, if you actually know that buying that $300 bag is going to leave you struggling to meet ends meet for the next couple of weeks, it'll be a whole lot easier to let it go. So, here are a couple of basic rules that I see as the foundations of successful budget shopping:

Make and actually use a comprehensive shopping list: It doesn't have to be written down on a little piece of paper or anywhere really if all you need is to get a few groceries (and if you know that you will be resist that lovely D&G bag in the window). Better yet have a running one on organising programmes like Evernote and OneNote. I will explain this more later on in the series, too.

Know how much you have available: In order to avoid those high stress days at the end of the month spent wondering where in the world all your funds went to, you need to note all your sources of income, their amounts and all of your expenses, too. Then you can actually know how much you can afford to spend without going overboard.
Always calculate cost-per-wear: This becomes hugely important when you start buying designer labels. Determine the worth of a particular item by dividing its price by the approximate number of times you'll use it, or how frequently you will use it. Also, avoid buying stuff just because its cheap. Chances are it won't last long and it still won't be worth the price tag anyway.

Spend money on investment pieces and classics: When shopping the trends of the season, the first thing you should do is look for pieces that have the least of the "trend" factor i.e. it suits you and your personal style fabulously, is in a colour that you love and that works with most of your wardrobe, and is of good quality. Examples: dark wash jeans of the latest cut, clothes in neutral colours or your favorite colour, etc.

Shop your closet: Know what you have and make it work. When shopping look to fill the gaps in your wardrobe. Try to avoid buying multiple copies of outfits. It may sound obvious but chances are if you liked it enough to buy it in the first place, you may actually buy it or something similar to it again.

♥Remake and Recreate: Simple things like changing the buttons of an old coat and adding accessories like a corsage to an old top can breathe new life into your wardrobe. DIY is all the rage right now, and if you can't bear to part with your stuff, why not hit the thrift and vintage stores. You could find your next signature piece there.
These are the rules that I feel are the basics of good shopping skills. In the next part of this series I will go more into detail on the concept of investment pieces, basics and classics. If you want to follow this series and be informed of the next post, subscribe via Google or FeedBurner or sign up to receive email updates.

Love you all and Stay inspired,

P.S. So let me know what you think. What are some of the things you keep in mind when you are stripped for cash? How do you stay out of the red? Feel free to let me know in the comments below.
(Pictures from: Daniel Y. Go and Skulled )

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