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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 June 6, 2019

The Average Retirement Savings and How to Save Wisely

The Average Retirement Savings and How to Save Wisely

Are you on track for retirement?

If not, don’t worry, I’m not sure either. I save each month and hope for the best.

Fortunately, I’m at an age where most people don’t save so I’m ahead of the curve.

But, what if you aren’t in your 20s? What if you’re near retirement and are looking to gauge where you stand?

If so, keep reading. Here’s how to prepare for retirement and save wisely during the process.

What Does the Average American Have Saved for Retirement?

Saving for retirement is tricky.

Tell someone straight out of college to save $10k a year for retirement and it’ll be next to impossible.

Make the same request to someone decades older and they’d be more likely to be able to save this amount. But, a 20-year old college student can be “financially ahead” of someone saving more than them. Why?

Age matters in your financial journey. The younger you are, the more time you have to save and put compound interest to work. As you get older and have more saving power, you’d have less time to put compound interest to work.

Here are the average savings Americans hold by age bracket:

20’s – $16,000

During this stage, most people are paying loans and moving up the corporate ladder. Your best bet during this stage is to focus on eliminating debt and increasing your income. Don’t focus only on getting a high-paying job neither.

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Instead, focus on learning via Podcasts, reading books, and taking specialized courses. Doing this will make you more valuable and give you more career options.

30’s – $45,000

At this stage, you’ve hopefully escaped your entry-level salary and work at a career you enjoy. Your earning power has increased but you now have more obligations. For example, marriage, kids, and a mortgage.

Set a plan to pay off all your debt and focus on eliminating unnecessary expenses. Leverage financial tools like Personal Capital to ensure you’re on track for retirement.

40’s – $63,000

This is the stage where you’re at the prime of your career. Top financial institutions recommend you have at least 2 to 4 times your salary saved up. If you’re falling behind, start maxing out your 401K and Roth IRA accounts.

50’s – $115,000

During your fifties, you’re close to retirement but still, have time to save. You may be helping your kids pay college tuition and other expenses. Since you’re at the peak of your earning power, max out all your retirement accounts.

60’s – $172,000

By this point, you should have about eight times your salary saved up. If not, you’ll depend primarily on social security benefits averaging $1400 per month. Max out all your retirement options as much as possible before retiring.

Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget

The sad reality is that most Americans aren’t saving enough for retirement.

Even high-earning power isn’t enough to secure one’s financial future. You need to have the discipline to save for retirement while time is in your favor. Don’t wait for you to have a high salary to save, start with having a small budget.

First, get a clear picture of where you stand. Write down a list of “needs” and “wants.” For example, Netflix and Amazon Prime are “wants” and a “cell-phone” is a need.

Use tools like Personal Capital to analyze your spending patterns. Personal Capital allows you to add all your financial data in one place–making it a powerful option to gauge where you stand.

Once you know all your expenses, organize them from highest to lowest expense. When you can’t cut more expenses, call your service providers to negotiate a lower price. If you’re not good at negotiating, use services like Trimm to lower your monthly expenses.

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How to Save Money Each Month

By this point, you know the average amount of money you should have saved for retirement based on your age.

But, breaking this down into monthly goals can be challenging. Here are some rule of thumbs to follow:

Aim to contribute 10%–15% of your salary each paycheck. Review your progress each week.

Why so often? The reality is that life gets in our way and you will have many financial setbacks. Your goal isn’t to be perfect but to get back on track instead.

Reviewing your finances weekly lets you know where you stand with your retirement. This doesn’t have to be a long process either. All it takes is login in Personal Capital to view your net worth and check how much you have saved for retirement.

Turn saving into a game and aim to save more each month. It will get challenging but you’ll get creative and find more ways to save.

Top Money Saving Challenge Tips

To prepare for your financial future and not be another statistic you need to be different.

How?

By adopting new habits that’ll help you become a saving machine. Here are some ways you can save more:

Automatically Contribute Towards Retirement

If you’re working for a company, you can automatically contribute towards your 401k. If you’re not currently contributing more than 10%, make this your goal. Contribute 1% more today and automatically increase this amount a year from now.

Odds are that you’re not going to be negatively affected by contributing 1% more. Many times we spend our money on things we don’t need. Contributing more towards retirement is a great way to secure your financial future.

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Use the Right Tools to Know Where You Stand

Once you’re contributing more towards your retirement accounts, gauge your progress. Make use of finance tracking apps to help you view the big picture of your retirement.

When I’d first signed up for the app Personal Capital, I didn’t know I had a negative net worth. Despite saving thousands of dollars, my debt brought my net worth to the negative. Knowing this motivated me to save more and spend less.

Now, I have a positive net worth. But, it was because I was able to view the big picture using the app. Find out what your net worth is using a finance tracking app and you may surprise yourself.

Bring in Experts to View Your Blind Spots

If you have too little or too much money saved, you should consider hiring financial experts.

Why?

You may need someone to hold you accountable to help you reach your financial goals. Or, you may need help managing your money as effective as possible.

Regardless of the reason, getting help may help improve your financial situation.

Before you hire an expert, find out which areas you need help the most. For example, if you’re constantly overspending, find a debt counselor. If you’re struggling with choosing the best investment options, hire a financial advisor.

Speed up Your Retirement Contribution

After learning how to manage your money well, the next best thing is to earn a higher income.

You’re capped at how much you can save but not much you can earn. Even if your employer isn’t giving you a promotion, you can still take charge of your financial future. How?

By starting a side-business.

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This will be something you’d work on after you’ve finished your day job. Once you start earning income from your side-business, you’ll be financially better off.

The best part is the more work you put into your side-business,[1] the more potential it has to earn more money.

So start a side-business in an area you’re familiar with. For example, if you enjoy writing, do freelance writing for small e-commerce businesses.

Once you’re earning a higher income, you can contribute more towards your retirement. Don’t wait for the right opportunity to secure your financial future, create one.

Reach Financial Freedom with Confidence

What if you were able to retire tomorrow with no problem, all because you’d have enough money saved up and little to no debt left to pay off? How would you feel?

My guess is that you’d feel happy and relieved.

Most Americans are falling behind their retirement goals for many reasons. They’re not prepared, they carry bad money-habits and are thinking short-term.

For you to retire successfully, you need to work backward and adopt better habits. Contribute more towards your 401K and focus on growing your income.

If you do, you’ll save money and pay debt faster.

Don’t beat yourself up if you’re behind your retirement goals. Take the first step today towards a brighter financial future. Isn’t retirement worth the hard work and sacrifice to be at peace?

Featured photo credit: Huy Phan via unsplash.com

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