Whether you have growing toddlers or picky teenagers, figuring out how to buy clothes that meet everyone’s needs and tastes isn’t like playing Vegas games. It can be tricky. It’s even more difficult if you are on a limited budget. How can you shop for clothes on a budget?
The solution isn’t “just don’t buy any more clothes.” Kids grow, clothing becomes outdated or wears out, people gain and lose weight and family members of all ages need new clothes for work and other special occasions.
There are, however, plenty of ways to make your clothing budget count for more and please family members of all ages.
For adults, you should buy better quality clothing. In general you’ll get more value out of good quality clothes than you will out of cheap clothes. Better quality clothes last longer and are generally made to fit better. A shirt that costs $30 and lasts you for 10 years is a better bargain than buying 10 shirts for $10 each.
This advice, of course, is not applicable to children who can change the size that they need several times a year. For kids, unless you’re planning on handing the item of clothing down, it’s more cost-efficient to buy less-expensive clothes.
Save hundreds of dollars on your clothing purchases by shopping at the right time of year. For kids, the best time to buy clothes seems to be January for winter clothes and August for summer clothes. That means that you wait until the season’s clothes go on sale, towards the end of the season, and then do your shopping.
Want to go one even better? Plan WAY ahead and shop for next year. If you wait until the end-end of a season, when no one in their right mind is buying clothes for that season, and then you buy for next year, you’ll save a bundle. If you’re buying for kids, that means that you’ll have to judge fairly accurately about what size the kids will be wearing in 8 months. But it can be worth it with savings of up to 80% on the next year’s wardrobe.
Some people say that clothes shopping on Thursdays gets you the best bargains but in general, stick to the off-season shopping and you’ll get the best deals.
You won’t believe this one! Many stores have secret codes that tell you if the price that you see is the lowest that the chain will go. If you learn to read these codes you’ll know whether you should buy now or come back in a few days, a few weeks, or not at all.
For instance, if you’re at Cosco, look at the tag on a clothing item. If a price ends in .99 (for instance, $13.99) you know that that’s the full, regular price. If the price ends in .97, .88 or .00 it indicates that the price was marked down. If there’s an asterisk that you can see that it’s been discontinued or it’s a clearance price. And if the price ends in .79, .49 or .89 you’ll know that it’s a manufacturers’ special.
Many stores have these codes that can clue you in on whether an item is the best deal at the store or not. If a price ends in .99 you can be sure that you’re paying full retail price.
Make clothes last longer by limiting their time in the washing machine. Sturdier clothes like sweaters and jeans can be aired out or be reworn a few times before you need to wash them. Anything made of wool, in particular, will need to be laundered only once every several wearings (unless dirty).
Unless an item really needs it, you should use as limited a cycle as possible and cold water. Not only will this save you utility costs but it will save on the item’s wear and tear.
Consider air drying as much as possible instead of using a dryer which offers another technique for ensuring a longer life for the clothes. And, of course, again, you save on utility costs.
Vacuum storage bags are the best option that you have to protect good quality clothes from moths. You obviously can’t put everything in a storage bag but you should definitely place your best items – good suits, evening dresses, etc – in such bags.
Read the labels on clothes to see how to best launder them. Some materials don’t do well at all in hot water while others need to be hand-laundered. If a label says that you shouldn’t put it in the dryer, don’t. The label is telling you how to preserve the item.
Everyone buys on impulse. But there’s a difference between buying on impulse 95% percent of the time and buying on impulse 5% of the time. The 5%ers are the ones that plan out their purchases so that they get the most for their money so if you’re on a budget you should join that group.
Make a clothing purchase after you’ve assessed that it will work as part of at least three other outfits in your existing wardrobe. Otherwise you’ll be back in the store making ANOTHER purchase to match this one, further busting your budget.
70 percent of the clothes you own should be the essentials you need from day to day – everyday clothes. Before you make a clothing purchase, assess when and where you’ll be wearing the item. If your wardrobe is veering too far from the 70% rule, you don’t need the item.
Mix and match. One scarf can be tied multiple ways to change the look of 10 different outfits. Check out fashion inspirations for ideas on how to make the most out of your existing wardrobe so that additional purchases need to be minimal.
In the end, if you set out on your shopping expedition with a plan, you’ll eliminate the mistake of accumulating a mismatched wardrobe of clothes that you don’t even end up wearing. That’s one of the biggest shopping mistakes, so start out by keeping your closet full of clothes that match so you can mix and match anything.
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