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25 Must-Know Ways To Save Money On Clothes

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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.

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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 5, 2022

33 Painless Ways to Save Money Now

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33 Painless Ways to Save Money Now

In a difficult economy, most of us are looking for ways to put more money in our pockets, but we don’t want to feel like misers. We don’t want to drastically alter our lifestyles either. We want it fast and we want it easy. Small savings can add up and big savings can feel like winning the lottery, just without all of the taxes.

Some easy ways to save money:

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  1. Online rebate sites. Many online sites offer cash back rebates and online coupons as well. MrRebates and Ebates are two I like, but there are many others.
  2. Sign up for customer rewards. Many of your favorite stores offer customer rewards on products you already buy. Take advantage.
  3. Switch to compact fluorescent bulbs. The extra cost up front is worth the energy savings later on.
  4. Turn off power strips and electronic devices when not in use.
  5. Buy a programmable thermostat. Set it to lower the heat or raise the AC when you’re not home.
  6. Make coffee at home. Those lattes and caramel macchiatos add up to quite a bit of dough over the year.
  7. Switch banks. Shop around for better interest rates, lower fees and better customer perks. Don’t forget to look for free online banking and ease of depositing and withdrawing money.
  8. Clip coupons: Saving a couple dollars here and there can start to add up. As long as you’re going to buy the products anyway, why not save money?
  9. Pack your lunch. Bring your lunch to work with you a few days a week, rather than buy it.
  10. Eat at home. We’re busier than ever, but cooking meals at home is healthier and much cheaper than take-out or going out. Plus, with all of the freezer and pre-made options, it’s almost as fast as drive-thru.
  11. Have leftovers night. Save your leftovers from a few meals and have a “leftover dinner.” It’s a free meal!
  12. Buy store brands: Many generic or store brands are actually just as good as name brands and considerably cheaper.
  13. Ditch bottled water. Drink tap water if it’s good quality, buy a filter if it’s not. Get 
      a reusable water bottle and refill it.
    • Avoid vending machines: The items are usually over-priced.
    • Take in a matinee. Afternoon movie showings are cheaper than evening times.
    • Re-examine your cable bill. Cancel extra cable or satellite channels you don’t watch. Watch the “on demand” movie purchases too.
    • Use online bill pay. Most banks offer free online bill paying. Save on stamps and checks, and avoid late fees by automating bill payment.
    • Buy frequently used items in bulk. You get a lower per item price and eliminate extra trips to the store later on.
    • Fully utilize the library. Borrowing books is much cheaper than buying them, but in addition to books, most local libraries now lend movies and games.
    • Cancel magazine/newspaper subscriptions: Re-evaluate your subscriptions. Cancel those you don’t read and consider reading some of the other publications online.
    • Get rid of your land-line. Do you really need a land-line anymore if everyone in the family has a cell phone? Alternatively, look into using VOIP or getting a cheaper plan.
    • Better fuel efficiency. Check the air pressure in your tires, keep up with proper auto maintenance, and slow down. Driving even 5MPH slower will result in better fuel mileage.
    • Increase your deductibles. Increasing the insurance deductibles on your homeowners and auto insurance policies lowers premiums significantly. Just make sure you choose a deductible that you can afford should an emergency happen.
    • Choose lunch over dinner. If you do want to dine out occasionally, go at lunchtime rather than dinnertime. Lunch prices are usually cheaper.
    • Buy used:  Whether it’s something small like a vintage dress or a video game or something big like a car or furniture, consider buying it used. You can often get “nearly new” for a fraction of the cost.
    • Stick to the list. Make a list before you go shopping and don’t buy anything that’s not on the list unless it’s a once in a lifetime, killer deal.
    • Tame the impulse. Use a self-enforced waiting period whenever you’re tempted to make an unplanned purchase. Wait for a week and see if you still want the item.
    • Don’t be afraid to ask. Ask to have fees waived, ask for a discount, ask for a lower interest rate on your credit card.
    • Repair rather than replace. You can find directions on how to fix almost anything on the internet. Do your homework, and then bring out your inner handyman.
    • Trade with your neighbors. Borrow tools or equipment that you use infrequently and swap things like babysitting with your neighbors.
    • Swap online. Use sites like PaperBack Swap to trade books, music, and movies with others online. Also, look for local community sites like Freecycle where people give away items they no longer need.
    • Cut back on the meat. Try eating a one or two meatless meals every week or cut back on the meat portions. Meat is usually the most expensive part of the meal.
    • Comparison shop: Get in the habit of checking prices before you buy. See if you can get a better price at another store or look online.

    Remember that saving money is not about being cheap or stingy; it’s about putting money into your bank account rather than giving it to someone else. There are many ways to save money, some you’ve never thought of, and some that won’t appeal or apply to you. Just pick a few of the ideas that sound doable and watch the savings add up. Save big, save small, but save wherever you can.

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    Featured photo credit: Damir Spanic via unsplash.com

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