How to be a Smarter Shopper

June 18, 2014

Connect Member

CFP®, CRPC®, AAMS®, Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner, Founder & CEO Financially Wise Women

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.)

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