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impulse buys

avoid impulse buys - shop from a list

avoid impulse buys - shop from a list

To curb impulse buys, the best thing you can do is shop from a list. Think about it - what happens when you go to the grocery store without a list? You end up with random things that sounded good in the moment but don’t necessarily fit together to make a whole meal. When you meal plan and shop with a list, you actually buy the things you need to make a recipe. It’s the same with clothes. Many people wonder why they have a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear, but it’s this - it’s like having a pantry full of ingredients but no plan. If you buy clothes without thought to how they fit into the rest of your wardrobe, you’re going to end up with a bunch of random stuff.

how to avoid impulse buys

Here’s what to do instead: define your style (pick a recipe), declutter (throw away that rotting head of broccoli), take stock of what's left (what’s in your pantry),  and make a list of what’s missing. You might get rid of all the pants that don’t fit and find that you have plenty of jeans, but you’re only left with one pair of pants that’s appropriate for work. Put it on the list. Maybe every time you try to wear a dress in the winter, you don’t have the appropriate tights. Put them on the list. The next time you end up in front of a clearance rack, you’ll have a plan. If you find well-fitting work pants on sale, go for it. They’re on the list, you must need them! If they're not on the list, you can be pretty sure that you're being swayed by the bargain and that item will end up in the purge pile the next time around. 

Do you use a list when shopping - grocery or otherwise? Do you think it helps?

P.S. My other tip to avoid impulse buys.

to spend or save on clothes?

to spend or save on clothes?

I mentioned in my winter capsule wardrobe post that I purchased quite a few new things this winter. I really identify with my personal styling clients who have a hard time spending money on their wardrobes, because it's hard for me. There's a constant push and pull between my naturally frugal nature (thanks, mom and dad!), our family's financial goals, and my desire for a quality wardrobe. For many years, I fell into the trap of only buying bargains, regardless of whether they were items I loved and wore. Even now, I am uncomfortable spending money on my wardrobe, and am more likely to try to talk myself out of buying than into spending. Of course, intellectually, I know that I need quality items and that they often cost more. 

mindful closet - mens and womens personal styling

When discussing this with mr. mindful closet, he and I decided that it would actually make things easier for me if I had a set amount that I could (and probably should) spend per month on clothes. We decided that I can spend about $200 per month and that that money can be distributed however I like, i.e. I can spend $600 one month and then none for three months (and yes, my winter spree means I won't be buying anything for several months). For people who are very focused on fashion, this amount may not seem like enough. For others, this might seem like a lot. For me, it feels like a good balance between permission to spend without feeling frivolous. In addition, I'll add in any money I get from selling clothing that's not working for me and any store credit I've earned from using reward programs. (P.S. I did have a budget a couple of years ago, but had recently tried to stop buying altogether, which did NOT work. I still spent, but felt guilty about it. I'm definitely a moderator, not an abstainer.)

To maximize my budget, I had to get creative. I stalked items on The Real Real, a online consignment store. I followed a designer I liked on Instagram and was able to snag a sweater I'd been eyeing for 60% off at a warehouse sale they advertised via their Instagram account. Most of the items I bought were all natural fibers. I tried really hard to buy things that will last longer than their predecessors. I tried to resist things that were bargains but which won't hold up. 

Keep in mind that this is where my priorities lie. Your priority might be eating lunch out often and spending less on clothes, but I do think we all need to allocate a little money towards what we wear. As one of my new favorite frugal bloggers says, "you can afford anything, but not everything". 

Do you have a clothing budget?

(P.S. Here are a few more of my tips for buying quality over quantity at a discount, why we're "swimming in clothes", and have closets "filled with regret".)