Fashion Lifestyle

How to Shop on a Budget

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As a student, a newlywed, and a new homeowner, keeping a strict budget is a necessary evil. However, as a style blogger, shopping is also a necessary evil. 😉  
It has taken some creativity to figure out ways to buy lots of new things to wear for the blog and stick to our budget at the same time. The following tips are a few of the things that I’ve found work best for me. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rules, but these are the guidelines I try to stick to every time I go clothes shopping.

7. Buy classic pieces rather than trendy ones. Buying classic pieces will give you more bang for your buck because those pieces will never go out of style. If you can’t pass on trying out a new trend, try them out at an inexpensive store before splurging on a higher-quality piece. This allows you try out the trend to see if you like it without breaking the bank. Stores like Forever21, H&M, and the juniors’ sections at TJ Maxx and Marshalls are great places to find the latest trends at very affordable prices.

6. Save money on designer duds by shopping at the right places.Stores like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and Nordstrom Rack offer name-brand, high-quality clothing and accessories at very low prices. Shopping at these stores takes patience, so make sure you set aside enough time to dig through all the racks. The clearance sections at these stores can be a gold mine. Take the time to look through the racks carefully, and you might be surprised what you can find. My best finds this semester were a Michael Kors tunic for $10, a Furla wallet for $7, a French connection shirt for $5, and Kate Spade tights for $3. If you prefer to shop online, Last Call by Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom Rack onlineare great options.

5. If you have small feet, look to the children’s section. This may sound odd, but if you wear women’s shoe size 8 or smaller, you can probably fit into shoes in the children’s section. A size 7 in women’s shoes usually corresponds to a size 4 in girls’ shoes. Many stores tend to carry the same style of shoes in both women’s and girls’ sizes, but the girls’ size shoes are usually much cheaper. On a recent shopping trip, I had my eye on a pair of Michael Kors sandals that were $40 in women’s sizes, but the same sandals in girls’ sizes were $20, and they weren’t even on sale!

4. Utilize applicable discounts. If you are a student, stores like The Limited, J. Crew, and Ann Taylor offer a certain percentage off of every full-price, in-store purchase when you show your student ID. Have a AAA membership? There are all kinds of stores that offer discounts if you show your AAA membership card. Same goes for members of the armed forces and teachers.

3. Analyze each potential purchase before paying. Interrogate yourself. Ask yourself a series of questions:

What is my estimated cost per wear?  To calculate the cost per wear, divide the price of the item by the number of times you think you would wear it. For example, if you have a $100 dress, and you think you’ll wear it five times in the next year, the cost per wear is $20. Would you willingly pay $20 each time you wanted to wear that dress?


How many outfits can I make with this? Secondly, ask yourself what items in your closet you could wear with the new piece. If you can’t think of at least three things to pair it with, chances are it won’t get a lot of wear and is better left at the store.


Do I really love it?This question is pretty obvious. Are you buying it because you actually want it? Or because it’s trendy? Or because it looked cute on your friend? Always remember to take your own personal style into account. If it isn’t something that you love, then you probably won’t wear it.

2. Sleep on it. If you really can’t make up your mind about purchasing an item, ask the sales associate to put the item on hold and go home. If you are still thinking about the piece a day or two later, chances are it’s something that you really love and will wear often. If you find that you forget about the item quickly, chances are it was more of an impulse choice and not something that you really wanted.

And my number one tip for sticking to your budget…

1. Stay the heck away from Target! If you are anything like me, this one doesn’t need much of an explanation. In my experience, it is physically impossible to walk into Target and leave without a cart full of clothes, shoes, makeup, or any other number of random things that weren’t on my shopping list.

What are your tips and tricks for how to shop on a budget?



  • Reply
    Reship deals
    April 27, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    I never thought of number 5. At least, not intentionally. My feet are average size so I would not be able to take advantage of the prices in that section.

    Sometimes I’ve seen sales advertised in a particular store. When I go to look, I realize that the sale is just on kids’ shoes. Of course, that’s disappointing when I am in search of something for myself. However, if I had small feet I would probably take the plunge and try a kid’s pair.

  • Reply
    Danielle Chance
    April 16, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    The Target thing is totally true!
    I have to really weigh the shopping trip before heading inside because I know that I’ll be doing some damage.
    Glad I’m not the only one…

    • Reply
      May 13, 2013 at 3:31 pm

      Isn’t it crazy how many things we can find that we “need” in that place? Nail polish is usually my Target downfall. And in reference to your earlier comments, we should definitely do a meetup/shopping day sometime!

  • Reply
    April 15, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    You know, I’ve shopped in the kids section for shirts and dresses–but never for shoes. I might have to try that. I wear a size 7 shoe so I might be able to fit a children’s size, who knows? My personal standard for whether or not I’ll buy something is, “Will I regret it for the rest of my life if I do not buy this dress/blouse/pair of bright green jeans?” If the answer is no, I won’t regret it forever, I don’t buy it. Dramatic, yes, but it works!

    • Reply
      May 13, 2013 at 3:33 pm

      I might have to try that, Rachel! I seem to be getting a too lenient with myself when shopping, so maybe it’s time to try something a little more dramatic.

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