THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE READ MY DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.
I used to love shopping for clothes, but who doesn’t? Many years ago, I had a friend that used to work at Saks Fifth Ave (the real one on 5th Ave in NYC) and he would be able to get me a ‘Family &Friends’ discount. This usually meant 40% off. So I once bought this Gucci coat that retailed at $1600, but after his discount I got it for a little over $900 bucks.
Yes, I know that is crazy to spend on one piece of clothing but I was much younger and stupider. Plus, I had a friend that worked at Saks so why not, right? Well, that same Gucci coat is hanging in my closet collecting dust. I maybe wear it 3 or 4 times a year. If I ever decide to sell it, I would barely get even half of what I paid for it.
The lesson here, stop spending your money on clothes you don’t need. Now I know that was an extreme case but I see way too many people that spend so much on clothes they do not even need or wear. Now if you are a millionaire/billionaire, then go ahead and keep spending on luxurious pieces of clothing, shoes and bags to keep the economy going.
Or if you have an 8 month emergency fund, maxing out the contributions to your retirement accounts, have no credit card debt or student loans, then you too can spend on whatever you like.
But if you are struggling with money and have debt, then stop buying clothes you don’t need. Clothing can be a huge expense and I know many of you have piles of clothes and shoes that your closet could barely hold. And then you ask the question, ‘why don’t I ever have any money?’
If you have many pieces of clothing that you are trying to get rid of, read this post I wrote about where you can put them all.
I believe there are only three reasons why people NEED to buy clothing. I’ve listed them below.
When I was broke and in college, I would go to a lot of professional job interviews during my junior and senior year. But I did not have enough money to buy a new suit. So you know what I did? I went into a Salvation Army thrift store and I surprisingly found a second hand suit that actually fit me. It was a wool navy blue pin stripe suit from Brooks Brothers and it looked brand new. I bought it for $30 bucks and had it dry cleaned for another few bucks.
I still have that suit today (almost 20 years later) and I still wear it to weddings, funerals and interviews. That was a great investment for $30 bucks.
It is imperative that you look your best for a job interview. So in this case, you need to spend money on clothing. But it’s not an excuse to break the bank and splurge on a Chanel suit.
If you can’t find something cheap and presentable at a thrift store like I did, there are plenty of discount clothing stores that sell professional type of clothing. Take good care of your clothes and you can keep using it for decades like I have.
Clothing for your Work
If you work in a professional or business casual environment like I do, then you unfortunately need to spend money on your work attire. I hate spending money on button down shirts, slacks and shoes but I need too.
I can justify my work clothing expenses because going to work gives me an income. So it is basically investing in yourself. If you need to present yourself in a certain way in your line of work, then it is OK to spend money maintaining that presence. You need to spend money to make money.
But again, do not break the bank when buying clothes for work. I get my work clothes from stores like Uniqlo. They have very affordable, professional looking outfits that get the job done. I try and spend as little money as possible on my work clothes, but I also want them to be quality made. I think these retailers offer that.
Clothing for your Children
If you are a parent then you will need to buy clothes for your kids, obviously. When I was in college, I actually worked as a sales associate at Old Navy on the children’s floor. They usually have the most affordable everyday clothing.
Kids grow up so fast that it makes no financial sense at all to splurge on their clothing. They will grow out of them in a year or less. So why not buy their clothes at the cheapest place possible? I think Old Navy is a great option for this.
If you shop at an Old Navy for your kids clothing, you will save a bundle. But don’t go crazy and buy 300 outfits for them just because the prices are much lower. That is defeating the purpose. Just buy them one pair of shoes, 5 shirts and 5 pants that they can wear to school. Maybe a few pieces they can wear around the house and to bed and that’s it.
If they want more clothes for themselves, tell them they can buy whatever they like after they get a job and pay for it themselves.
When I am not at work, I wear the same t shirts, sweaters, sneakers/shoes, coats and jeans that I’ve had for decades now (they are clean and I don’t smell or look like a homeless person… at least I think I don’t). I can honestly say I have not purchased any pieces of clothing that I cannot wear to work in many years. I can afford too, but I just think it’s a bad investment.
I’ve been wearing the same clothing for so many years that some pieces are actually back in style. When I look at old vacation pictures from over 10 years ago to my most recent vacation pics, I see I am still wearing the same outfits I did back then. I used to feel a little embarrassment when I saw those pics, but now I am proud of myself. If I didn’t save as much as I did (and instead spent money on clothes I did not need), I may have not had the money to go on those vacations.
If you are a shopaholic and you are trying to curb your habit of mindless clothes shopping, then try this tip. If you see a piece of clothing you really like, don’t buy it. Wait at least a day and sleep on it. After a day passes, you probably will not want to buy it anymore. But if you still do, try to remember that I have been wearing the same t-shirts for decades now. If I can do it, then so can you.
And my Gucci coat is still collecting dust in my closet as I write this.
Where You Should Put the Stuff You Don’t Need If You Can’t Sell Them
13 Super Easy Ways to Save Big Money
No More Excuses on Saving Money on A Low Income
The One Thing You Need to do to Become A Better Saver
The Retail Industry & Where to Look for Jobs