Have you been here? You pull up Pinterest and start looking at the trending styles for the day, then start pinning outfits to your fashion board like your life depended on it. Then your girlfriend sends you a pin of the latest outfit she wants and you immediately say “Ooh, I need that.”
Separating needs from wants is extremely hard in the world we live in today. We’re constantly bombarded with messages to buy, buy, buy and now, now. now. With Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and all the fashion blogs out there, we have access to fashion like never before (and finding and purchasing them requires just a few clicks). But just because you can get anything at any time doesn’t mean you should. When shopping for clothes, it’s critical to maintain a strong filter of want versus need — and respect those parameters. With some awareness and planning, you can make sure that you get the most for your dollar.
Follow the 50/20/30 Rule
First, figure out your net monthly income. That’s the amount of money you bring home every month after taxes are taken out. You should know this number very well as it sets the stage for the rest of your budgeting allocation.
Following the 50/20/30 rule, 50 percent of your net income should go toward fixed bills and expenses like your mortgage or rent, utilities, insurance payments, and basic food/living expenses. I recommend 20 percent go toward your financial goals (known as the “pay yourself first” strategy). This should include putting money into a savings account, making additional debt payments and saving for retirement, among others. The remaining 30 percent of your net income can be used for variable expenses: entertainment, hobbies, dining out, travel, yoga classes, clothes, etc. I call this “fun money,” because really you should be spending it on things that add to your life and that you really value.
Create a Clothes Budget
Once you determine how much you can allocate for this variable/fun category, decide how much of that 30 percent you actually want to use for clothes. Make sure to consider everything this money will cover. If you want to splurge on clothes, you will have to cut back on other areas to make it all work. But the choice is yours. (You could always bank some of that money too, so you have more money to spend with when you do go shopping.)
Create a Wardrobe Wish List
Creating a clothes wish list has personally helped me get clear about immediate versus delayed gratification. Keep a list of items you want (or need) for your wardrobe. When it comes time to go shopping that month (with your set monthly clothing budget), review the list and see which garments you still desire. Month after month, I find that most of the items I list I end up not purchasing because after a few weeks, I just don’t want them anymore.
If you find that you do want more than one item on your wish list that month, figure out which one you need first. You can always save the runner-up for the following month. A little delayed gratification goes a long way when it comes to executing the wish list. I find the longer I have to wait for something, the more I value and appreciate it.
Look for Deals and Discounts
There is one instance in which the Internet can be your friend when sticking to your clothing budget: discounts. There are so many sites these days that offer great fashionable pieces on a discount, from Shop The Trends to Nasty Gal. Just keep in mind that just because a designer item is 60 percent off doesn’t mean you need it. Always review your wish list and make sure you only buy what you really need.
Wait for It
Again, delaying gratification with our spending allows us to see clearly if our spending urge is a want or need. If you really want something and you know it is not on your list, I recommend waiting 24 to 48 hours to buy it. This will keep you from buying on impulse. If you still want it after that time, buy it — and enjoy it!
Brittney Castro is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.