Day 1 Your Style, Your BudgetStep 1Step 2Step 3
Before you can learn how best to get your shopping to support your life, you should know your starting point. We’re going to take a close look at your shopping habits to see what you tend to spend money on: Do you ever buy things on impulse and then never wear them? Do you buy things on sale but find that they fall apart after six months? Are you a trend-chaser who has a closet full of items that are no longer in style? Or are you the kind of person who exceeds your budget buying high-priced designer items?
Go into your Financial Inbox and take a look at all the transactions in your Shopping folder. (If you haven’t yet linked your accounts to LearnVest, get started now. While using the Financial Inbox is the easiest way to do this exercise, you can also participate by combing through your most recent credit card statements.)
Find your last 12 fashion and beauty expenses and note the cost for each. Enter that information and answer the questions in the LearnVest Purchase Appraiser below to get a rating of each purchase and an overall summary of your shopping habits.
search further, put this back. You can do better.
Total Amount Spent On:
As you filled out this calculator, you probably began noticing trends. Perhaps you found yourself rating a lot of items that didn’t exactly make your heart beat faster, or ones that weren’t particularly useful.
To get the most out of this exercise, pick out your three most common bad shopping habits. Take out a pen and paper and examine each bad purchase to see what its weak point is. Then, pick out your top three shopping weaknesses. Maybe you buy a lot of things in the same style (if you have ten white t-shirts, this could be you!). Or—and this is probably the most financially detrimental habit—you could be buying a lot of expensive items that stretch your bank account.
Next, come up with a new shopping rule of thumb that will prevent you from giving into your shopping weaknesses. Here are some of the most common bad shopping habits and ways to address them:
Bad Shopping Habits
- Don't Love
- Not Useful
- Over Budget
- Too Similar
- Too Trendy
Buying things you aren’t in love with:
Next time you’re on your way to the cash register, take a cold, hard look at what you have in your hands. Does it excite you and make you dream of all the places you can wear it? Or are you just buying this item because you’re bored and any old purchase will distract you?
From now on, only buy things you love. Life is too short to settle for anything but the best.
Spending on items that aren’t very useful:
If only it weren't true: So often the items we love just aren't all that useful. For instance, maybe you adore that thrift-store fur stole, but you’ve only worn it once since buying it last year. Now it’s crowding your drawer along with other once-worn things: eBay finds, baubles your girlfriends urged you to splurge on, the fallout from post-breakup shopping sprees.
When you’re about to buy something, ask yourself if you’ll wear it at least three times in the next three months. If it’s clothing for a special occasion, don’t buy it if you’ve bought another special occasion piece in the last six months.
Going over budget:
If you buy something you can’t afford, remember: It’s never stylish to be broke. Nowadays, no one has to spend a lot of money to look good. If you are resourceful enough, you can look fashionable on any budget. In fact, having a small budget can be fun, because it requires more creativity. You’ll appreciate a compliment for an outfit of Goodwill and eBay finds more than you would for a $500 pair of shoes.
Sell any designer duds you don't wear much anymore. (In Day 7, we'll reveal our tips on making a profit from your clothing.) Then, when you want to purchase something out of your budget, force yourself to make other cuts in your budget in order to save for it, and only buy it when you can pay for the entire cost upfront.
Buying too many of the same kind of item:
We’re all for knowing what looks good on you and for sticking to flattering shapes and styles. But at a certain point, it becomes overkill. You don’t really need seven black blazers or five gold clutches or six white tank tops, no matter how useful they are or how “different” you think they are from each other.
Hold a clothing swap. Gather your most stylish friends and revive everyone’s closets at once by playing musical chairs with each other’s discards. Force yourself to get rid of redundancies in your closet, and go outside of your comfort zone when making your selections. (In Day 2, we'll show you how to hold a successful swap.) And for your real shopping forays, set a moratorium on your overkill items, i.e. "No more black blazers until the ones I have are falling apart."
Buying trendy items:
Trendy items are fun, and it’s not terrible to buy one or two here or there, but if you succumb to every trend, you’ll end up with a lot of stuff you don’t want and little of what you actually need: money for a house, a car, student loans, travel, education, retirement, etc.
Stock up on the essentials (detailed later in this bootcamp), and then limit yourself to one or two trendy items per season. Bonus points if you pinpoint trends that have staying power, such as animal prints over neon. Everything else you buy must be a longer-term investment.
WHAT'S THE WORST FASHION PURCHASE YOU'VE EVER MADE?