How to Dress Well on a Budget

Whether you’re trying to save money or are looking to pay down debt, being financially savvy often requires self control and budgeting to keep your spending in check. But just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean you have to dress in dowdy duds and look frumpy! Here are a few tips that can help you achieve the wardrobe of your dreams and help you figure out how to dress well on a budget.

Dress Well On A Budget

Barcode Scanning:

If you have an Iphone or an Android phone, you need to download a barcode scanning app ASAP.  My favorite app is RedLaser, which  makes online comparison shopping a breeze when you’re shopping at a brick and mortar store and you’d like to know if you can get a better deal online for the same exact item.

Here’s how it works:

  • You find an item you like at a store,
  • you fire up the app, scan the barcode, and
  • RedLaser will fetch you the availability and price of the item at various online sites.

Simple, right? I’ve personally used this app to find an item that cost over $300 for less than half the price! Bar code scanning is particularly handy for those of us who feel a bit hesitant to hunt for the best prices online in fear of not knowing exactly what we’re getting. With Red Laser, you can go to a store, find and ‘try’  the items that you like, do a little comparison shopping on the go and buy the exact same item online if you find a better deal.

Snag it for less on e-bay:

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One of my favorite things to do, especially when shopping for dresses, is to note down the details of any dress that I want to buy such as the brand, color, item name and number, and then search for it later on eBay. Or, if you have the RedLaser app, you can also search for it on eBay right on the spot! Aside from that, eBay has great deals on lots of articles of clothing in general and you can find many items that are new or gently used items are  in fairly good condition. As long as you purchase from sellers who receive good ratings, you’re usually good to go. Be a little careful about purchasing high end designer items on eBay though. If a deal seems just too good to be true, I’d read a few articles on spotting counterfeit items and think twice about purchasing it.

Clothing Swap Party:

One of the best ways to get good quality items for less is to have a clothing swap with friends. My friends and I  have  clothing swap parties 2-3 times a year, where we clear out our closets of items of clothing we no longer use, gather together at a friend’s place, cook together (and thus save $$ on going out), open a couple of bottles of wine, and swap clothes. Each of us leaves fairly happy with food in our bellies and  fresh, good quality pieces added to our wardrobes.

Thrift Stores:

One trick that I’ve found is that visiting thrift stores such as Good Will or Salvation Army in affluent neighborhoods often scores me some really good items. Since the items at these stores are usually donated by the ‘well to do’ people who live in the areas, the quality tends to be a bit higher than the average thrift shop.  In San Francisco, for example, the Goodwill located in the Pacific Heights neighborhood has amazing deals on great quality items, from shoes to lamps, and is well worth traveling the few extra miles. Think about the  upscale neighborhoods near you and make a trip out to the thrift stores in those areas. You won’t be disappointed.

Consignment Stores:

Consignment stores are essentially high end thrift stores that purchase gently used items from people like you and I. These stores are fairly picky on the level of quality that they accept when purchasing used items and at times they even have completely brand new items with tags attached in their stores. The price tags on these items are higher than they would be at a regular thrift store, but the items are usually far superior in quality.  You can even find some slightly used high-end designer pieces for a fraction of the price.

Off-Price Retailers:

TJ Maxx,  Marshall’s  and Ross  are all great examples of discount retailers, where overages from high-end department stores such as Macy’s or Nordstrom go for to be sold at deeply discounted prices (at least 60% off!). You can often find high quality and designer items for men AND women that are far below the retail value and don’t break the bank.  Here’s a tip on striking success at these stores: Don’t go over the weekend! They get new shipments once or twice a week so your best bet is to go on a weekday; Wednesdays or Thursdays are usually good days.  You’ll find that the store has been straightened up from the previous weekend, the inventory has been replenished, and you’ll get first dibs on the new items they have available.

I hope you found these tips useful. What are your favorite tips on how to dress well on a budget?  Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter!

Image credit: istolethetv

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