Shopping and Budgeting Tips

For many of us, shopping doesn’t come easily. There are a seemingly infinite number of stores to go to, and on top of that, there are multiple styles within each store. Adding to the trouble and pain of it all is the fact that we’re college students, meaning that the little spending money we have usually goes towards paying rent or buying books for class. To help diminish the stress from your next shopping trip, I’ve constructed a list of tips to pick out clothes and budget wisely.

  1. Eliminate seasonality. You shouldn’t be looking for clothes that are specific to spring or fall, for example. Rather, look for pieces that you can wear year-round in order to get more bang for your buck. For instance, if you’re looking for a maxi dress, buy it in a darker hue so that you can fit it into your fall wardrobe after summer ends. Similarly for guys, when you’re buying shorts try to stay away from too many pastels and buy more tan and brown neutrals so you can whip them out when a fall heat wave rolls through.
  1. Shoot for quality over quantity. Let’s face it – it’s easy to get sucked into the world of “fast fashion” at stores like Brandy Melville and Forever 21. This means that the clothes are made cheap and quickly, so they have a shorter lifespan before they begin to look ratty and messy. Instead of buying five basic tanks for $25, invest in a more mature silhouette that will last years beyond your “fast fashion” pieces. You will be saving money in the long run.
  1. Look for online stores with free returns. Shopping online can be a breeze, but it is very difficult to determine what size will fit you best when you’re not able to try a garment on. If the online store allows free returns with reimbursement to the original form of payment, buy the two sizes that you’re on the fence about, try them both on once they arrive, and return the one that doesn’t fit. That way you’re able to ensure that you bought the correct size.
  1. Sleep on it. No one said shopping had to be a rush! If you can’t decide whether to buy an item or not, go home and sleep on it for a few nights. If you still have the strong desire to buy it, then go get it! At that point you know that it wasn’t an impulsive purchase.
  1. Play the “over/under” game. This is a trick that I use every time I go shopping. First, look at a garment without looking at its price tag. Value the item yourself. That means that you’ll decide how much you think it should cost. Then look at the price tag. If it costs less than you were willing to pay for it, then buy it. If it’s more than you priced it at, then leave it on the rack.
  1. Make accessories work for your wardrobe. Buy accessories that add versatility to your clothing. The easiest way to change the same outfit is to spruce it up with a different necklace, scarf, or jacket. That way you’ll be able to make certain pieces work for different occasions, and it won’t look like you’re wearing the same outfit week after week.