An obvious key to financial independence is cutting back expenses so that you are able to live off of your income while socking away a bunch of dough to savings and investments. So why does your hard-earned cash seem to run away at the turn of every season? Is the perfect Fall wardrobe out of reach if you are getting serious about your spending?
But didn’t I hear someone say that my Hermès bag was an investment?
In all seriousness, sometimes Mama
needs -er wants a brand new bag. And a new trench. And some nubby wool sweaters. And tights… STOP!
The change of seasons stirs something wild up in many of us. Stores entice us with sumptuous displays of fabric and leather drawing us and our wallets in to our certain doom. And unlike Spring and Summer, Fall shopping can be a major
investment expense. Clothes are heavier, requiring more expensive fabric and labor to craft. And investment pieces like coats and boots pick up selling speed. Thus the love and hate relationship with Fall shopping begins. But there is a way to get out with your cable knits and still be able to pay your cable bill (though why are you still paying for cable?!) Building a Fall wardrobe doesn’t have to be all bad. Here are a few tips to help you get through the season without catching a cold or a late payment notice.
- Thrift it: Especially if you live in or are traveling to a big city. I am a huge fan of thrifting and have found countless designer items in near perfect condition. And Fall is a great season to thrift (probably best right after Spring, which brings the major closet purges). Fall wardrobe items are most often discarded because the original owner no longer cares for the style or fit of an item. By contrast, lighter summer frocks are often just cast off into the trash because the wearer doesn’t think they are worth the trip to a donation depot. And remember, always be sure to check the integrity of any item you want to thrift before heading the cash register. While Fall’s heavier items are generally of better quality, be on the lookout for tears, stains, and smells. The cost of repairs and cleanings may outweigh the deal.
- Don’t shop: without a coupon at any of the following. J.Crew, Ann Taylor (regular or Loft), NY & Co., Old Navy, Gap, Banana. The list goes on and on and on. Each of these standalone clothing shops regularly hosts 30-60% sales throughout the year. A few extra tips: Sign up for their email lists and you will received advanced notice. Spy something at Macy’s that isn’t on sale. Put the mouse down and back away from the computer screen. For a week. Trust me, within that time the item will be on sale or the store will have a coupon on offer. And please please please, if you are shopping online, please click through Ebates or another shopping portal for additional savings. Just the other day, I built up my Fall wardrobe by scoring these two dresses from NY&Co. Combined retail price: $149.90 (plus tax). What I actually paid: $62.43 WITH TAX & 2 DAY SHIPPING INCLUDED! BAM!
- Samples: And I don’t mean Sunday Brunch at Costco (though that is a great money-saving move right there). I am a firm believer that quality may sometimes cost more…upfront. That is, fast and cheaply made fashion may cost small pennies today, but will cost lots more over the long-term when you need to replace a staples like pencil skirt or that polyester tie. Sample sales can be an excellent way to score high-quality designer goods without breaking the bank. Your local Racked site used to be the best place to find out about local sales, but they’ve recently changed format and are less helpful.
- Try Rent the Runway Unlimited: RTR’s popular model of leasing clothes has expanded to a longer term loan program where you can rent unlimited items on a monthly basis (up to three items at a time). It’s not cheap at $139 per month, but if you love trends and live in a warmer climate that only requires you own a heavier coat or fall clothing for a few months, it may be worth the investment.
- Flash: Don’t get naked, but shop online flash sale and limited availability sites. Gilt, The Outnet, and Rue La La are some of the leading sites, but there are countless others tailoring to a variety of tastes and sizes. Buyer beware though. Make sure you price compare. While you may be able to score some excellent deals, sometimes prices are inflated and you would be better off shopping at a brick and mortar, or a discounter like TJs.
- Maintain (a healthy) weight: I am the heaviest I have ever been (joy). And while being out of shape sucks, having to buy a new wardrobe pains me even more. I have gotten away with buying a few work appropriate summer frocks from Target and Loft at a deep discount. Fall dressing is more difficult. Clothes are more substantial, and resultantly, more expensive. Maintaining your weight year over year will allow you shop your own closet, the cheapest retail therapy there is. But if you are like me…
- Buy for transition: If you have gained or lost a ton of weight and find yourself in need (not just in want) of a new Fall wardrobe, buy things that will transition well to your goal weight. Wrap dresses and voluminous sheaths can both be flattering and will carry you through those 10 lb fluctuations.
- Join a clothing share: This can be something as informal as hosting clothing swap parties with your nearest and dearest, to joining online trading platforms like Swap Style. Just be sure to keep account of what you are loaning out and make sure you take good care of what has been traded to you.
- Shop in January: Or better yet March. A little advance planning (or in some cases, procrastination) really pays off. Shopping off season for Fall clothes will yield great discounts. And in many locales, Fall and Winter clothing are quite similar. So grab deals for cooler weather duds twice a year when stores push inventory out to make way for new stock.
- Shoplift: Ok, ok this last one is a joke and we here at biz·e·wife definitely do not endorse illegal activities. We just found it hilarious that there are apparently huge online communities dedicated to bragging about the most frugal form of shopping–stealing. Personally, we will give our few precious pennies to a worthy thrift store like HousingWorks, before we score five-finger discounts.
Bottom Line: A shopping addiction is deleterious to your financial, and yes, even physical help. And clearing the clutter of clothing and other material goods from your closet and life can give you fresh perspective and a renewed sense of calm. But sometimes you (ok, we) fall prey to the temptation of the occasional sample sale. As long as you are armed with the aforementioned tips, I trust you won’t find yourself in AS deep a retail hole as you otherwise would. Happy Shopping!
Do you struggle with the draw of the new and shiny around the turn of the season?
How do you cope with overspending on new Fall Wardrobe?