Shop Like a Shopaholic Without Spending Like One

Shop Like a Shopaholic Without Spending Like One

When the leading lady in a romantic comedy finds herself in a big city with (someone else’s) money to burn, she inevitably treats herself to a shopping spree. Soon enough she emerges from high-end fashion boutiques carrying more bags and boxes than her arms can hold.

Movies like “Clueless,” “The Devil Wears Prada,” and “13 Going on 30” glamorize every woman’s fantasy of a limitless credit card. While some people are fortunate enough to have a bottomless clothing budget, the rest of us have to pay up when our wardrobe spending gets out of hand.

If you find yourself feeling like a shopaholic but don’t want to give up your fashionista wardrobe, try these tips to help you stay on budget.

1. Toss the fashion magazines. Some fashionistas rely on monthly tips from fashion gurus to stay informed about rising trends. But flipping through those glossy pages throughout the year only gives you a “must-have” clothing list a mile long-and credit card bills to match. The money you save by cancelling your magazine subscriptions can pay off your credit card bills or pay for a new pair of sunglasses. Use blogs or Pinterest to stay abreast of trendy styles for free.

2. Shop thrift stores, outlet malls, and consignment shops. The mall might be your go-to place to pick up 10 new outfits for the season, but it isn’t your only option. Many less-expensive stores offer designer items at extreme discounts. If you’re willing to pay for gently used pieces, you can score arms full of clothes and still have money left in your bank account.

3. Look through family closets for “vintage” items. Fashion experts say it takes around 20 years for trends to cycle back into fashion. Your mom’s high school wardrobe might contain some hidden gems-so head over to Grandma’s and raid her closet!While you’re there, see if your grandma has any old clothes that might qualify as classics today. You could easily pull off a muff, a flapper dress, or wide-leg pants for the right occasion.

4. Leave the card at home and pay with cash. You might consider your credit card a trusted friend, but it’s time to face the facts: it probably encourages your overspending. Research shows people spend up to 18% more when they pay with a card. Whenever you head out for a quick shopping trip, take cash instead of a card. That way you can only spend a limited amount of money. If an item exceeds your budget, it has to stay at the store.

5. Know when the sales occur. Sometimes you like the look of a specific item offered only at one store. If you can’t afford to spring for it, wait for it to go on sale instead. Shop owners usually wait six to eight weeks before they put merchandise on the sale rack. Also, try shopping sale racks right before the weekend. Many stores start weekend sales a day early because they prep the store for higher shopper volumes. Thursdays are a well-kept shopping secret; use it!

6. Take your name off email lists from your favorite stores. If you want to shop the sales, it seems logical to sign up for email notifications from the shops where you find your favorite items. That way you’ll know which days you should head over and make a purchase. While this is a good theory, the reality is that many retailers send out daily emails to inform consumers of “sales.” And it pays off-consumers on the email list spend 138% more than those who stay away from email marketing.

7. Be careful who you shop with. For many women, shopping is a social event, so they bring along a sidekick who can offer opinions on potential outfits. But consider what those opinions cost you. Does your best friend compliment you on everything and encourage you to max out your credit card? Better stick to window shopping when she’s with you. On the other hand, if you have a friend you value for her practicality, bring her along as budget insurance. She’ll help you curb your spending and pick only items that will last multiple seasons.

8. Shop at the end of the season. Clothes turn over quickly in a store, but fashion trends usually stay on the radar for much longer. Even the most radical fashion innovations take at least six months to go out of style, and most stay in for at least a year. Stay up-to-date on trends, but choose carefully which ones you incorporate into your wardrobe. You can buy more enduring styles for a lower price if you buy them toward the end of a fashion season.

You may not have access to Daddy’s credit cards like Cher in “Clueless,” but you can still look fashionable. Use these tips to shop and look smart without breaking the bank.

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