Photo: Our closet, do you think we have enough clothes? Taken August of 2016.
Clothing can be a very touchy subject in some families. In most families, the guys could care less about getting new clothes and women want new clothes much more often. This can lead to arguments about how much to spend and when to spend money on clothing. I would suggest that before you buy any new clothes, you ask yourself the following three questions:
- Do I have enough clothing?
- Do I really need anymore clothing?
- Is there room in our monthly budget for clothing?
The above three questions should be asked prior to going out and purchasing anything. We Americans tend to place wants into the needs category. Needs are the things that you actually need. If you already have 50 shirts, would buying one more change anything? It wouldn't and therefore it is not a need. Other than children, weight loss and weight gain, purchasing new clothes is relatively unnecessary.
Once you understand that buying new clothes falls under the category of a want, then you can start looking at things more in the long term. If you are in debt and have 30 different outfits, there is no need for any new clothes. You have to sacrifice to get out of debt. People tend to look at things in the present and don't think about the future. It's a simple formula to success and it takes sacrifice, hard work and the ability to avoid wants.
Tip Number 1: Avoid Buying New Clothes
I have no problem with buying some new clothes, but I still tend to lean towards the side of avoiding new stuff. This is the best way to save money. Sure, you can go out and buy stuff for 20% off and save a little, but the best way to save is to avoid spending all together. This applies with clothing and anything else consumer related.
Tip Number 2: Set a Clothing Budget
I know that avoiding clothes shopping altogether is a stretch for some people. Some people get tired of wearing the same clothes. If this is you, make sure to set a clothing budget. This budget (when followed) will help you keep your clothing expenses to minimum. On a side note, make sure that you are communicating with your spouse or significant other about large expenses. This includes the discussion of putting clothing into the budget at the beginning of the month. It can be very frustrating having to adjust the budget, because somebody spent more than was planned on a shopping trip.
The budget can be very helpful, because it holds you accountable and keeps you within a spending number. For example, this guy goes to the store and finds a bunch of shirts on sale and decides that he 'needs' these new shirts. He buys five of these shirts and then decides that he 'needs' some new pants to go with these shirts. He finds 3 pants and buys them also. He leaves the store spending $320. On the other hand, the same guy goes into the store and finds out that these shirts are on sale. He remembers that he had a budget of $100 for clothing this month. So, he picks out three shirts costing him $95. This makes him $5 under budget and save him $225 when compared to the other non-budget scenario.
Some people will say that they don't like the restraints of a budget. Other people like budgets, because it tells them that they can spend some money in some areas. Both people can be right, but I would much rather be in the situation of planning out my expenses and knowing that I have enough money to buy the clothing as opposed to dropping $300 at the mall and wondering if I have enough money. Budget for all expenses and be rewarded with knowledge that you have the money to spend.
Tip Number 3: Buy Used Clothes
There are lots of good clothing options available at second hand stores. Sure these clothes won't be the newest style on the street, but it will definitely save you lots of money. These clothes can be bought at Goodwill, Garage Sales and any other resale store. My sister uses two stores in Kearney, Nebraska. These stores are Fashion Encore and WeeCycle. She told me that she uses WeeCycle to purchase clothes for her daughter. For example, she buys used shoes for her daughter at WeeCycle and the cost is around $2.50, whereas buying the shoes new at Wal-Mart would cost around $15. That's a savings of $12.50 and better than the 20% discounts that you can get from the stores.
Also, I have used second hand stores to purchase clothing and have found great savings. From my experience at Goodwill, they will charge around $5 for a men's shirts. When compared to the $20 Wal-Mart dress shirts or even the $50 JC Penny dress shirts, this is a huge savings.
If you don't mind wearing used clothing, then this can be a great way to save money. Some parents will also get caught up in the idea that their kids will be scarred if they don't have brand new clothes. This is false, because kids don't need new clothes. They need love from their family and new clothes will not give them love. Saving money on used clothes could give you the opportunity to work a little less and love a little more. My sister stays home with my niece and gets to spend everyday with her daughter. Do you think my niece would rather have the newest clothes or would she rather have her mother home every day? I know the answer to that question and love beats new stuff everyday.
Tip Number 4: Buy Clothing at Wal-Mart or Target
For those of you who are afraid of used clothes, then Wal-Mart and Target have reasonably priced clothing for the entire family. It will be at least 75% more expensive than used clothing, but it will be cheaper than buying clothing at Macy's, JC Penny, Carter's and any other higher end clothing facility. Personally, I sometimes buy clothing at these stores. Some of my favorite collared work shirts have come from Wal-Mart.
Tip Number 5: Use Tax Free Weekends
I believe this article is posting after Tax-Free Weekend in the state of Texas, but you could budget and save all of your clothing money for the Tax-Free Weekend next year. This will save you around 8% in sales tax. Saving 8% is better than saving nothing, but don't let the tax-free weekend lure you into spending more than what is in your budget. The main reason I avoid sales is because they can lure you into spending more than you had planned. I am a big planner and I don't let myself get lured into spending something unnecessary. Spending money just because of a sale is unnecessary.
Everything from clothing to furniture to cars to electronics are all items that are necessary in one form or another. These items can also be excessive, when we have more than what is needed. A brand new car, with all the bells and whistles, is not needed. Instead, you only need something that will get you from point A to point B. It doesn't matter what it looks like.
Clothing is the exact same. We do need clothes (don't want anyone running around naked), but we don't need the latest and greatest styles. I would rather have used and ragged clothing. I would rather have no style, than have a bunch of debt. I live differently for a financially brighter future. I suggest you start doing the same.