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25 Must-Know Ways To Save Money On Clothes

25 Must-Know Ways To Save Money On Clothes

Clothes are fun, expressive, and… expensive. If your closet is bursting at the seams but your wallet is feeling empty, here are 25 ways you can save money when you’re shopping for new clothes and make the most of what you already own.

1. Buy generic basics

If you’re buying layering pieces that you mostly wear under other things — like tank tops or plain tees — don’t bother shelling out for a brand name. No one’s going to see it, and it’s probably not going to last long — part of an undershirt’s job is keeping sweat off your nice button-down, right? Stick to stuff like Hanes and Fruit of the Loom, and save the labels for stuff you actually show off.

2. Shop out of season

We know, it’s exciting to buy things pre-season. When it’s icy outside, that lightweight sundress makes you feel like spring is right around the corner. But if you’re buying in anticipation of what’s next, you’re paying the maximum retail price. If you shop for what’s not happening, you’ll get a much better price. Sure, it might feel weird to buy a sweater when it’s nearly triple digits outside, but it’ll save you some cool cash.

3. Buy one really great swimsuit

When you’re gearing up for a vacation, it’s tempting to load up on fun, inexpensive swimwear. Here’s the thing though — all of that cheap stuff is going to wind up costing you more in the long run. Not only are you buying more of it to begin with, but it’s going to be sagging, stretching, or sheer before you know it. Instead, invest in one really great, well-made swimsuit, and make it last. After you wear it, rinse it out or soak it in cold tap water to remove lotion, sunscreen, and other oils, which can damage and fade the fabric. Then let it air dry. With good care — and a good suit — you can get three years of use out of it. Can’t think of a swimsuit you’d be willing to wear for three years? It’s hard to go wrong with a basic black bikini or maillot from a made-to-last name like Land’s End.

4. Skip the factory outlets

“But I can save 50% off retail price!” you say. Well, can you? Outlet stores are usually a mix of items from last season that didn’t sell (usually for a reason, like an unflattering color, poor fit, or a short-lived trend) and items that were made just for the outlet. With the latter, that price that’s 50% off the suggested retail price is pretty much made up — the outlet is the only place it’s ever been sold, and that “sale” price is the real price. Items made just for outlets are generally not as high quality, so all you’re really paying for is the label.

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5. Go easy on trends

Fashion trends all have their moments, whether it’s ikat-print everything or oxford-style lace-ups. Once that moment’s over though, it’s either sitting in your closet, headed for charity, or saying loudly to all around you, “Hey, I bought this in 2012!” Even though stores like H&M and Forever 21 try to get you to buy ultra-trendy items because they’re so cheap, think about it — if you’re constantly buying the latest trends and then not wearing them for long, are they really that cheap? Instead of falling for fast fashion, only buy trendy items that you genuinely like and that fit with your style. Who knows, other people’s fashion moment might become one of your wardrobe staples.

6. Expand your options with accessories

Make your basic wardrobe feel more exciting with inexpensive accessories — think necklaces, bracelets, belts, and scarves that you can mix with outfits you already own. Especially if your work wardrobe has to stay in the business casual doldrums, a little accessorizing can make your basics feel fun and special. This isn’t just for the ladies, either: Guys can switch it up with differently patterned or colorful socks and ties. Either way, you can get away with spending a lot less to make a new outfit.

7. Don’t be afraid of a little DIY

No, we’re not saying you have to make your own clothes — that’s harder than it sounds, and it already sounds really hard. Instead, just learn some sewing basics. Hand-sewing a button is actually super-easy, and you can replace a popped button instead of getting a new shirt. Bored of a cardigan? Give it some new life by replacing the buttons. If you own or have access to a sewing machine, learn to do a simple hem. You can save on hemming your own pants and jeans, and those perfectly tailored trousers you ruined when you walked through a puddle? You can hem ’em into a perfect pair of shorts.

8. Use coupon apps to score a better deal

There’s an app for everything, and unsurprisingly, there are tons of great coupon apps that can help you save money. Yowza is a free, location-based app for Android and iOS that lets you search for coupons at stores near you (both chains and local merchants). Coupon Sherpa is another great app, which lets you search for coupons for retailers, restaurants, and more. You can set it up to remember your favorite stores, letting you track when they have special offers.

9. Befriend a salesperson

Have one spot you always love shopping? It’s worthwhile to get to know one of the salespeople. Not only will you get better service (which never hurts), it’ll also give you an inside line on upcoming sales and deals. If there’s an item you love but the price is a little too steep, you can ask your in-store BFF to hold it a few days for you, then scoop it up on sale.

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10. Beware the dry-clean only tag

You know how car ads talk about the price to own a vehicle, not just what it costs to buy? The same goes for clothes. If you’re buying items that need to be dry-cleaned, you’re going to keep paying for them long after you get home from the store. Depending on how often they need cleaning, you could be tacking on an extra $10 to the cost of the item every few wears. It adds up fast. Instead of dry-clean only, try to find clothes that have a fancy look and feel, but can be tossed in your washer. Home dry-cleaning kits are another option. Have something that’s absolutely got to go to the cleaner? Extend the time between visits by spot cleaning as needed.

11. Only buy what you can actually pay for

If you can’t afford it, you’ve got to skip it. One way to put yourself on a major spending diet is to only buy clothes with cash; handing over actual dollars makes the money you’re spending feel much more real than throwing down the plastic, even if it’s the same amount of dough. If you’re using a card, make sure you can pay off the entire balance when it comes due. Paying interest on your clothes means you’re paying more for them.

12. Store your clothes with care

Extend the life of the clothes you do have by taking decent care of them. That means actually folding items like sweaters and tees, not overstuffing your drawers, and taking off those plastic dry-cleaning bags before you hang stuff up (oh yeah, you’ve got to hang stuff up, too!). For hanging items, invest in those fuzzy “huggable” hangers. It’s pricier than buying basic plastic hangers, but they won’t warp your tops’ shoulders.

13. Don’t do flash sales

Just don’t. Flash sales lead to crazy, adrenaline-fueled purchases – you’re not stopping to really think through whether you need those purple python stilettos, you’re just thinking that it’s a great deal and there are only a few of them and oh my gosh I only have a few more minutes to lock this in! The sites lure you in by telling you you’re getting deep discounts on designer goods — and yes, it’s a big price drop — but in the heat of a flash sale you’re not likely to make wise decisions. Plus, as with the designer stuff at outlets — there’s a reason this stuff wound up on a sale site.

14. Be willing to hunt

Stores tend to put the priciest items right in the middle of the sales floor, and especially at higher-end boutiques, they aren’t excited to showcase the clearance rack. Walk around the edges of the shop, and keep your eyes peeled for deals. Stores are carefully laid out to try to encourage you to spend money, so the most discounted items may be the hardest to find.

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15. Keep your zippers zipped
A weird tip, but it’s another way to keep your clothes lasting longer: Before you do your laundry, make sure anything that has a zipper (like pants and hoodies) is zipped up. That way, the zipper’s teeth aren’t getting tumbled around in your washer or dryer — and aren’t ripping or pulling the other garments you’ve got in there.

16. Swap for special occasions

“Just get a little black dress, you’ll wear it for everything.” Easier said than done, right? Especially when you’ve got a bunch of weddings to go to, and one’s in the daytime in a vineyard, and another involves a beach weekend. If you’ve got a special occasion coming up and a friend who’s a similar size, shop her closet for something new to wear. When she’s got an event coming up, you can return the favor — and you both get a better ROI on your formalwear.

17. Hit the thrift shops

If you’re determined to get a bargain, you can’t find clothing much less expensive than in a thrift shop — and if it’s one that supports a charity, you’re even doing good with your purchase. That said, thrifting isn’t always for the faint of heart: You’re going to do a lot of digging. Some major thrift retailers like Goodwill have actually started pulling out their designer and major-label pieces and putting them on special racks, making the search a little less daunting. If an item isn’t your size, you’re out of luck — but if it is, you’re not going to find a less expensive score.

18. Trawl eBay for investment pieces

If you’re a shopping pro, you can actually turn to eBay if there’s a certain designer piece you totally can’t live without — if it’s more than a year old, there’s a decent likelihood you’ll find it, and often at a reasonable price. Be extremely cautious though: You can’t see or try anything on before you buy it, and eBay is full of counterfeit and knockoff goods that are not worth your money (if it seems to good to be true, it definitely is — and remember, you usually can’t return items or get your money back on eBay). Don’t be afraid to ask sellers questions, check out the other items they’re selling (large numbers of the same item can be a red flag, while different items from the same designer can be a good sign), and be sure to read their reviews. Other eBayers will usually let you know if a seller is legit.

19. Remember that cheap isn’t free

Sometimes, you’re so excited to get a deal, you feel like you absolutely have to get this item. You’re such a smart shopper, and think of all the people you’ll tell about it! But do you actually need it? Take a moment to make sure you actually want the item — don’t be blinded by the price.

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20. Keep track of major sales

Big department stores (like Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s) and some mall stores (notably Victoria’s Secret) have giant annual or semi-annual sales where they offer their best discounts of the year. These usually fall at lulls in the shopping calendar — neither before nor right after big holidays — so you have to keep an eye out for them. If you’re really committed to not missing one, sign up for that store’s emails; though if the emails are leading you to spend too much time browsing their sites, click unsubscribe.

21. Shop for the life you have now

If you start telling yourself a story when you pick up a piece of clothing — like how amazing it would be to wear if you were at your summer home in Tuscany — you should probably put it down (well, unless you own a summer house in Tuscany). Shopping for the life you want will get expensive fast, and isn’t likely to get you items that will work with your current routine. Same goes for other kinds of aspirational shopping, too — don’t tell yourself how great those jeans are going to look once you go on a diet. If you actually need jeans, buy a pair that fits you now. You can keep dreaming about tomorrow, just don’t spend your cash on it today.

22. Take their surveys

Most major retailers include a bunch of print at the bottom of their receipts, and in addition to the return policy and their web address and stuff like that, lots of them ask you to take a survey about your shopping experience. If it’s somewhere you shop often, do it! It’ll take you less than five minutes, and it turns your receipt into a little coupon (usually 5-10% off) for your next shopping trip.

23. Fix the clothes you own

Sure, it might feel easier to get rid of it or give it to charity and just buy new stuff. But if you really love an item, and you plunked down a decent amount of dough for it, make it last. That shirt that’s not fitting quite right? Take it to a tailor. The boots you’ve worn so much the heels are nearly gone? Bring them to a cobbler. The repairs won’t be free, but you’ll spend less than you would replacing the items – and when you get them back, they’ll feel fresh and new.

24. Count to three before you buy

If you’re thinking about buying something — a new purse, a new shirt, whatever — before you hand over your charge card, challenge yourself to make a quick list of three reasons to buy it. (It can’t be because I want it, I want it, and I want it.) Come up with at least three other items in your closet you can wear the new piece with, or think of three upcoming occasions when you can wear it. If you’re coming up short, you probably don’t need it.

25. Use the one in, one out rule

Really want to rein in your spending? Use this simple rule: For every new piece of clothing (or pair of shoes, or accessory) you buy, you have to give one to charity. Yep, to get anything new, you have to give something up. It’s intense, but it can be the difference between a perfectly adequate wardrobe and a healthy bank balance, and an overflowing closet and a maxed out . Which are you going to choose?

Featured photo credit: Ed Ivanushkin via flickr.com

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Last Updated on January 2, 2019

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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How It Leads to Financial Improvement

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

Types of Personal Finance Software

When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

When to Use Personal Finance Software

So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

1. You Have Multiple Accounts

There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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How to Get Started

From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

Final Thoughts

Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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