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6 Realistic Life Hacks for Saving Money on Your Wardrobe

6 Realistic Life Hacks for Saving Money on Your Wardrobe

There are so many articles out there telling you how to save money and cut corners.

However, half the time the advice is so altruistic it would take you months, if not years, to completely change how you interact with the world. You know the advice I’m talking about – the “before you make a purchase take a minute and think if you’ll really be happy with the transaction later” tip.

Don’t get me wrong! It’s good advice, but it’s just unrealistic – especially for a lot of us who are living in a big city and need to pay for rent, internet, food, transportation, insurance, etc. where anything leftover goes to keeping our sanity for one more week.

The other half of the advice is such small changes that it would take an equally long amount of time to nickel and dime your way to making your rent payments. While storing the old change you found in your car and couch can amount to something, someday – it’s not going to help you in the short term.

Like instead of buying name brand coffee, buy generic coffee and save 12 cents on every purchase – YES, that does add up, but while you are piling up those miniscule savings, your bills are piling up.

So how do most of us handle this?

We do what we always have done and cut corners. Our car can go another month without an oil change. Our phone still works, you just can’t read anything in the top right corner or swipe your finger too fast. Our jeans aren’t ripped, they’re just fashionable.

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Well, I can’t help you with your car or phone, but I have found some pretty nice tricks to reducing the cost of your wardrobe, which I quickly discovered was eating up about as much of my monthly expenses as my car payments were.

1. Deals Are SO Easy To Find

The first thing to realize is that certain stores such as Macy’s and Kohl’s that have deals all throughout the year that should be taken advantage of. Both of those stores also have credit cards that offer additional savings to their subscribers. Additionally, small to medium sized stores run promotions throughout the entire year in order to compete with these huge clothing stores, so keep an eye out.

It seems a lot harder than it actually is, due to how much these stores need to promote, but social media is a great way to stay on top of it. You can start checking social media, as every store has a Facebook or Twitter page, but that can be tricky from the shopping perspective since you will be hardwired into looking up your favorite stores or the biggest brands and get caught back into the cycle.

Instead, look for Facebook deal pages or discount pages, as these places get approached by the smaller to mid sized retailers to promote their campaigns. Some companies run campaigns or contests throughout the year to promote their company and offer sweet deals (like free shoes for a year from KicksUSA or $2k from ModCloth) and others offer steep discounts on designer items! Definitely keep up with these pages. You never know when you’ll get lucky!!

2. Don’t Buy When You Can Rent

If you have a job where you have to dress professionally or are just someone that wants to mix up their wardrobe, it can get pricey. However, with sites like Rent the Runway, where you can rent clothing and accessories, or Bag Borrow or Steal, where you can rent handbags, there’s an opportunity to be fashionable and financially responsible all at once!

Additionally, there are sites like StitchFix, BirchBox, and Warby Parker that help you to save money by making sure you love what you want to purchase before you fully commit. How many times have you bought something online but it didn’t look like you thought it would when it actually arrived. There’s nothing quite like that disappointment.

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StitchFix has you fill out a survey and then a designer will personally pick out outfits for you. If you like what they sent, you can purchase the items. If not, you simply mail it back. BirchBox sends you beauty samples that you can try out before purchasing the larger versions. This can save a lot of money in the long run. Finally, Warby Parker allows you to select a number of glasses to try on before making the final purchase. These and other similar companies are a great way to try on our try out items without going to the store!

3. Take Advantage of Credit Card Deals

A lot of people don’t do enough research to take advantage of credit cards like they should. Not only are cashback bonuses, store cards and other deals a great way to save on clothes, but they can be very helpful in other areas too.

As mentioned above, many stores offer cards specifically for purchasing items from that store. Stores like Target offer 5% cashback just for using the card to make in-store or online purchases. Definitely worth signing up for cards that can save you a little (or a lot depending on how much you tend to splurge at Target).

If you’re someone who loves to travel, but don’t think you can afford it, check out some credit cards with no international transaction fees, no annual fee and sign up bonuses. This college student spent three weeks traveling in Europe by using credit card rewards and cashback bonuses, so it really works!

For example, by using the Discover Miles card you get 1.5x miles on every dollar you spend. Discover also offers a CashBack card that charges no international transaction fees and can help you with day-to-day purchases as well. Also, other travel cards offer bonus miles for just signing up (like the Chase Sapphire Preferred card). The Marriott Rewards card also can help you save on your hotels too!

Also, something to note about looking for a card for traveling abroad – make sure there are no international transaction fees. These fees can surprise you when you get your bill after your trip. Sometimes these fees can tack on an additional 2-3% so it’s important to find a card without those tricky fees.

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For more credit card tips, check out Nerd Wallet’s picks for best cards with sign up offers, cashback bonuses, and no foreign transaction fees!

4. Free Shipping Is Always Worth It

This one seems obvious, but still needs to be said. If a company is offering free shipping, take them up on their offer! It is only natural to want the new pair of shoes you just bought the next day since you want to wear them out this weekend, but it is not worth it.

Shipping a pair of jeans across a couple of state lines can cost you anywhere from an additional 12% and up, which immediately inflates the cost of any purchase you make. You click on an item thinking that you are buying a $70 pair of pants, which you think you might be able to afford, and then by the time you are finished with the checkout, you have spent closer to $80.

There are some ways to help with this too, of course. Amazon Prime is only $99 for the year and offers free one or two day shipping on so many items. Additionally, some stores like Forever 21, Charlotte Russe and Payless offer free shipping on orders over a certain amount. But what if you only want one $25 item? With shipping, you could be paying $30 in total. How do you avoid that?

Check to make sure they offer free returns first. Then, if they do, add some items to your cart to reach the limit that meets the requirement for free shipping.

Once you get the package, send back the items you don’t want and you’ve just saved money on shipping. While this is a bit more of a hassle, if you really want to save a few bucks, it’s a good way to do so. Or try finding stores that offer both free shipping and returns regardless of the price of your purchase, like Old Navy and GAP.

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5. Time Your Purchases

Are you a last minute shopper? Fight that urge! For Christmas, Birthdays, Anniversaries and other holidays, make sure you have your gift(s) at least one week beforehand. That means making your purchases at least two weeks before the specified date. If you wait too long, not only is there a chance you may not get the item in time, but you could have to pay astronomical fees in shipping in an effort to get it on time. Make sure you stick to sites ordering deadlines to get your items on time and for a lower price.

On the other hand, another natural urge is to buy something that we want to wear and then wear that item immediately. This is the toughest one to do because it goes against our nature. We want the immediate gratification of the purchase. However, the best deals on clothes occur at the end of a season. So instead of buying your bathing suit as soon as they are released in store, wait until August or Labor Day. Instead of buying a new winter coat or sweater in October, wait until late March or April to save.

However, if you can handle the disappointment of looking in your closet and seeing clothes that you love but can’t wear until next year, then you will be able to cut your spending by almost a third! There are even sites that tell you the best time to buy an article of clothing or a piece of jewelry.

6. Be Wary of Black Friday “Deals”

Everyone always makes a big deal about Christmas and Black Friday shopping, but don’t be fooled!

A lot of these deals sometimes turn out to be a total scam.

To make sure you don’t fall prey to these “deals,” go into the major department stores a few days before Black Friday to check normal prices. Then, when you go into the store on Black Friday you’ll sometimes notice that expensive items have been marked up so that they can put a 50% off sticker on the item. The item then turns out to be just as expensive, if not more so than before. Not all stores do this and it doesn’t happen to all items either. Just do your research to make sure you don’t get the wool pulled over your eyes.

Also, while the same scams can occur on smaller holidays, don’t discount them either. Sales on popular weekends like Memorial Day, President’s Day and Labor Day are usually swarming with sales to be had. A lot of these deals tend to be more legitimate because stores are trying to get rid of their current inventory to make room for the next season’s merchandise.

Therefore, get your calendar in check, and have an alert set for the week before every holiday, no matter how small, and just do a quick search to see what type of deals are out there. You will be astonished at home many things you couldn’t afford will be 40-50% off for a holiday like Flag Day.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

Debt can feel crushing, like a weight that is always weighing you down. Looking at those numbers, it can feel as if you’ll never get out from under it. However, if you really want to learn how to get out of debt, it is possible with a great deal of focus and self-control.

Getting out of debt isn’t impossible. Like any big goal, all that it takes is an action plan to identify where you are and creating a plan to zero out your debt.

Identifying All of Your Debts

The first part of paying off your debt is getting a complete picture of what you owe. When you have everything written out in front of you, it makes it much easier to create an action plan. Depending on how much you owe, it might also help you realize it’s not as bad you might have originally thought.

Here’s how you can get started identifying your debts:

1. Own Your Debt

Before you start identifying all of your debts, take a moment to process that you have debt but want to get out of it.

Forgive yourself for any past mistakes, missed payments, or overspending. It might be painful to accept how much debt you have at first, but you must own it.

2. Make a Debt Tracker

It’s astonishing how few people ever created a tracker to understand their total debts. Most likely, it comes from not wanting to accept the guilt of having debt, but, if avoided, it can make it nearly impossible to get out of debt.

Open up a new Google or Microsoft Excel sheet and list out all of your debts. Start with the name of the creditor, interest rates, total balance, loan term length (if any), and the minimum amount due each payment. This will include student loans, credit cards, and any other type of debt owed.

3. Get Your Debt Number

Once you’ve made your debt tracker and taken the other steps, identify your total payoff number. This is crucial, as you will have a starting point and a clear goal that you are trying to achieve.

Prioritizing Your Debts

All debt is not created equal. It’s imperative to understand that there are different types of debt.

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1. Understand Bad and Good Debts

Bad debts are usually paying for things you want instead of always need. While there might be some emergencies that max out your credit cards, often times it’s excessive spending[1].

There are three main types of bad debt:

  • Credit Card Debt: The average American household owes over $16,000 in credit card debt!
  • Auto Loan Debt: According to CNBC , the average auto loan in the US is $30,032!
  • Consumer Loan Debt: Consumer loan debt isn’t as common as credit card and auto loan debt, but it’s still considered bad as interest rates are usually between 10-28%.

Good debt is identified as investments in your future. Here are three common types of good debt:

  • Student Loan Debt
  • Mortgage Loan
  • Business Loans

2. Decide Which Debt to Pay off First

Once you know each type of debt and their interest rates, you can begin to pay off debt quickly.

Focus on paying off bad debt first, regardless of if it is a credit card or auto loan. Start by paying off the loan with the highest interest rate first.

If you have several credit cards with different interest rates, you want to focus on the one with a higher APR. You will actually save more money by eliminating the card with the highest interest rate.

3. Don’t Pay the Minimum Amount

Paying the minimum amount digs you into a hole as interest rates will offset your payment. Even a small amount more than the minimum can help you pay off debt much faster.

Removing Obstacles to Pay off Debt Quickly

Creating a debt tracker and prioritizing a plan is simple, but avoiding temptation can be difficult.

1. Set a Reminder to Track Your Debt

“If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it.” -Peter Drucker

It’s so important to track your debt to ensure that you get it paid off quickly. Similar to working out and measuring your results, you need to track your debt constantly. Start with a weekly reminder, where you sign on and log your updated number. Did you increase, decrease, or stay the same?

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Regularly tracking your student loan balance can be incredibly motivating, as well. You will get a huge confidence boost each time you see your total debt amount decreases.

Set weekly and monthly goals so you can have short term wins and keep the momentum going.

2. Hide Your Credit Cards

If your biggest debt is credit cards, you need to eliminate temptation and remove them from your wallet.

Some people have gone to extreme measures by freezing their credit cards. Why? This would create an ice block around your card, which would require you to chip away at it slowly. This will give you time to think if it’s the best idea to buy that thing you’re about to buy.

3. Automate Everything

Willpower can be a huge downfall to paying off your debt. By automating your bills each month, you will ensure that willpower isn’t involved.

4. Plan Ahead

Getting out of debt will require some sacrifices, but with enough planning, you can make it work.

For example, if you know that you have a friend’s birthday or family dinner coming up, plan ahead for the costs. Whether you need to cut back on spending the week before, pick up a side job, or meet them after dinner, do what is needed.

5. Live Cheaply

The only way to get out of debt is to make some sacrifices on your spending habits. Find ways to save money each month so you can apply that amount to your outstanding debts. Here are some ways to save money each month:

  • Live with roommates
  • Cook dinners and prepare lunches for work instead of eating out
  • Cut cable and choose Netflix or Amazon Prime
  • Take public transit or bike to work

Finding the Lowest Interest Rates

The higher your interest rates, the harder (and longer) it will take you to pay off any debt.

If possible, you want to find ways to lower your interest rates to help get out of debt quickly. Here’s how you can get started:

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1. Maintain a High Credit Score

Your credit score will have a large impact on your ability to refinance your loans and receive a lower interest rate. If you have a low credit score, it’s unlikely you will be able to refinance your loans. Use these credit tips to increase and maintain an excellent score:

  • Never miss a payment
  • Don’t exceed 30% of your credit limit
  • Don’t sign up for more than one card at once
  • Limit hard inquires, like auto-loans and new credit cards
  • Monitor frequently with free credit-tracking software

2. Find Balance Transfer Offers

Start by opening a free account on credit.com. Credit.com offers you the chance to open a free account and see what type of balance transfer offers you can receive. Some of your existing credit cards might already have 0% or lower APR balance transfer offers available.

Contact each of your credit card providers to ask about lowering your rate for a one-time balance transfer offer[2].

If you do take advantage of this option, make sure that you use a balance transfer and not a cash advance. Cash advances have a ton of high interest fees (15-25%, depending on your credit card) and will only compound your debt problem.

How to Get Rid of Debt Forever

Setting up a plan, removing temptations, and getting the lowest interest rates is the first step to get out of debt.

1. Keep Monitoring and Adjusting

Once you have a plan, don’t get comfortable. Track your debt payoff plan and make the necessary adjustments when needed.

Monitor your credit scores with a free site like CreditKarma. The higher your credit score climbs, the more likely you will be to secure a new, lower-interest loan.

2. Earn More Money

There are only so many ways to save money. Instead of clipping another coupon or making sacrifices for your morning coffee, find ways to earn more money!

Think about it…it is much easier to find ways to earn an extra $1,000 per month than find $1,000 to cut from your budget.

Here are some examples of ways to earn more money:

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Talk to Your Boss

Have a conversation with your boss about current salary and/or commission rates. If you’re not satisfied or want a change, don’t be afraid to look around at other positions. Some of them might even have a student loan debt reimbursement plan!

Start a Side Hustle

This could be coaching students on the weekends, driving for Uber, or taking paid online surveys. There are tons of ways to make money outside your 9-5. Now that you have a clear plan to pay off your debts, you’ll be more motivated than ever to figure out creative new ways to earn money.

Build an Online Business

There are so many websites and blogs that earn money from ads, affiliates, and other online products. Find your niche and get started.

3. Celebrate Your Wins

As you progress in your debt payoff journey, don’t forget to celebrate your wins. You need to always reward yourself for the hard work and discipline that is required to get out of debt.

While you shouldn’t celebrate so big that it increases debt, make sure to factor in little rewards to keep you motivated.

4. Set New Financial Goals

Eventually, with a plan and these steps, you can rid yourself of your debt. Once you do, make sure to celebrate your monumental achievement, but don’t stop there.

Now, you can focus on acquiring wealth and increasing your net worth. Set new financial goals so you have a new target to aim toward. Here’s how to set financial goals and actually meet them.

These could be anything now that you are debt free! Think about where you want to travel, buying your first home, or saving for your future retirement. Just like before, make sure that your goals are specific, measurable, and achievable.

Conclusion

Congrats, you can now set a plan in motion to finally pay off your debt quickly (and hopefully forever)!

Remember, if you want to get out of debt quickly, it’s not always easy. Just like any big goal, there will be sacrifices, challenges, and problems to overcome.

More Tips on Getting out of Debt

Featured photo credit: Pepi Stojanovski via unsplash.com

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