Shove those sweaters to the back of the closet; it’s time for spring shopping!
Truth is, it can be a tempting time to get out the credit card and have a little too much fun.
So here are some tips to channel your excitement, so that you don’t go on a spending spree and walk away with an empty bank account and more clothes than you’ll ever wear.
1. Don’t Skip out on Shades
Part of smart shopping means knowing which things are essential, and sunglasses fall under this category for two main reasons: one, you need them to drive safely when the sun’s glaring through your windshield, and two, they’ll take your look from fun to fabulous. I prefer cheap sunglasses because I know I will probably lose or break mine. But either way, don’t step outside without ’em.
2. Know your Limit
Decide how much you are going to spend ahead of time, so you are not doing calculations to see if you can afford three dresses you’ve fallen in love with. Budgeting never seems like a fun idea, but it keeps you from going overboard. Also, accepting that you have a limited amount of resources can force you to hold out for only your favorite new pieces.
3. List it
Before you head out the door, look in your closet and write down which items you need. If it’s flirty skirts or tank tops, stick to those items. Walking into a store ready to buy the first thing that catches your eye is a good way to end up overspending. You might leave the store with a funky blouse you will never wear and have to run out a second time to purchase the items you forgot.
4. Poppin’ Tags at the Thrift Shop
You can find great bargains at the thrift shop, but spend time window shopping at the mall or flipping through magazines before heading to the thrift shop. Get a good idea of what the current trends are — Orange is big this year! Bermuda shorts are back! — so that you go in already inspired and focused on finding certain colors and styles.
5. Don’t Buy ‘Clothes with Potential’
Sometimes we buy clothes thinking they will look better on us in the future, after we lose some of the winter weight we’ve gained or get a tan. Most likely these will stay hanging in the closet, and you’ll find yourself running to the store again to find something that looks better. Instead, resist that urge to buy clothes with potential. Take extra time to find clothes that fit better and look just as cute.
6. Miss Mix-A-Lot
Combine cheaper, affordable items – like ruffled shirts and bright tees — with a pair of jeans that you are investing in. The secret is being able to blend the inexpensive items with the brand-name ones. Then, you do a trade-off. If you splurge on a dress, spend conservatively on sandals that will match that dress and other outfits.
7. Think Year-Round Fashion
Almost every season, there is a trend or two that you will be able to wear year-round. Learn to spot these! For example, Spring 2013 designers are big on strong black-and-white looks. These items are perfect to wear all year long, and can be used for both office wear and a night out. By planning for more than just one season at a time, you can look good, for less, all 365 days of the year.
8. Accessorize Yourself
I saved the best for last. When it comes to chunky earrings, bib necklaces, bold purses and colorful shoes, it’s easy to find inexpensive treasures that will immediately update your look. There are plenty of cheap accessories to choose from. Think statement pieces, and go for playful or floral looks to add a spring flair to your wardrobe.
Alanna Ritchie is a content writer for Debt.org, where she writes about personal finance and little smart ways to spend (and save) money. Alanna has an English degree from Rollins College.