Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Ok, I am feeling a little bit guilty about my shopping habit, especially after that post this morning.
After thinking about it some more, I feel like I have to justify spending $200-$300 per month on clothes/personal shopping. That just sounds like a lot to me... and I am curious to see if it seems like a lot to you too.
I am fortunate to not have a car payment, to pay very little in rent (in relation to my location, and quality of life), split utilities/groceries with my roommate, and have a steady income that I can rely on month to month.
I also justify my shopping based on the fact that is my only habit/hobby - I don't spend money on gardening, crafting, or home brewing (like the boyfriend), or fixing up my house like other people do.

I also justify the fact that during this stage in my life I can get away with it... I figure once I have a husband, kids, mortgage, my selfish shopping habit will dry up quickly.

I also shop smart, and love everything that I buy.
(Read on for more of these "smart" shopper tips...)
As a frugal grad student, in order to get the items that I need and want for my closet, I have to be extremely intentional about my shopping habit.
There are many factors that I consider before purchasing an item (after giving my impulsive side a stern talking to):

 Can I imagine creating 4-5 outfits with this item (yes that number is high, but I have only so much space for bringing in new clothes)

 What will be the cost/per wear of this item?
 Purchasing a classic item (i.e. my new tweed jacket) that costs $100 but I can see myself wearing it 10 times/year for 5 years means that the cost/wear is $2, whereas if I splurge on a hot trendy item that also costs $100 but only wear it twice then in my mind I'm spending $50 to wear it each time.

When justifying a purchase in my mind, I like to be able to calculate a cost/wear ~$5. Meaning splurging on items that will be workhorses in my closet (jackets, shoes, jeans), and finding cheaper alternatives to super hot/trendy/only going to be wearing it a few times pieces.
Do I have something else in my closet that already serves this purpose?

-- and I don’t ever wear it … don’t purchase (and consider donating the older item)

-- and I love it SO much… yes purchase as backup

-- but it probably shouldn’t ever see the light of day again because I have worn it to shreds…. yes purchase (and throw-out/donate the old)

-- but I only wear it once in a while… only purchase if the new item is something phenomenal & special

-- and it is on my list of 50 wardrobe staples… yes purchase

-- but it fits all of the above questions (outfit potential, low cost/wear)… yes purchase

-- otherwise, step away quickly!

Do you stick to a monthly shopping budget?
What amount do you feel comfortable spending on clothes each month?
Any guidelines you stick to when shopping for new closet additions?


  1. I have a budget of $150 a month for clothes. Sometimes it's hard to stick to but not impossible!

  2. Wow. I wish I had that much for clothes. Mine's more like maybe $50 dollars but then again I don't have a steady job and have many other thing I force my  money towards. That being written, I think that you are fine with that kinda of budget.

  3. I think your budget is fine. If I didn't have a car payment I would probably spend the same because the rest of my monthly expenses are just like yours. I spend around $100 on clothes a month. 


  4. Your reasonings are totally like mine! I know I should stop, but I live in a super small town with little to nothing to do so thats what makes me happy!


  5. Those are great questions to consider when clothes shopping!! I just have a general weekly budget that I try to stick to with groceries, shopping, gas, etc. Recently, I have not done a lot of clothes shopping. I usually go to the outlets about once a semester and spend about $100-200 on new clothes and then I just pick up a few things at the thrift store when I need some retail therapy. 

  6. i feel guilty too for my compulsive shopping this past 2 months that i spent almost 1000$ for august and  1010 exactly for my sept. shopping i know i should stop coz. im burning our money specially im not working yet..im trying to stick for 300 this month and i hope lower than that if i cam.. see my august and sept shopping picks @ diannes questforlife&fashion.blogspot.com

  7. I probably spend $80-100 a month, but go on sprees of $300-$400 (not a huge spree I know....) a few times a year when I go to the US. Thanks for your tips on deciding to purchase or not. They make a lot of sense!


  8. Guilt is a useless, soul-darkening emotion Jess - you can eat tinned beans and spend every cent on clothes if you want to, if it isn't impacting on another's welfare & happiness.  AND I love your guide to increasing/maintaining your closet - sage advice.  Have a happy day, and leave the guilt at the door.

  9. I am ALWAYS looking for shopping tips because I am an OVER SHOPPER. I, too, have few financial responsibilities, but I know I spend WAY too much on clothes... I use 2 full closets in my house... Don't judge me. ;)

    One year, I tried to only shop at one store per month. Last year, I tried to give myself a monthly budget. This year, I had a flippin' free-for-all. Now, I need to just QUIT SHOPPING. We'll see how long that lasts! Haha.

    <3 The Daily Dani

  10. Wow.. You and I have such similar spending habits and viewpoints on it. I try and limit myself to between 100-150 per month. I have a steady income and am living with parents (so I don't have other expenses), but I'm really trying to save big-time so I can buy a car when I move out, or get a bit of a nicer place.. 

    But I do the same when I shop - I consider how many outfits I can make, if it's worth the $ per wear, and if I have anything similar in my closet. 
    I think you definitely shop smart by considering so many factors. At least you're not buying everything you see that piques your interest... that's where you get sucked in. 

    Thanks for sharing :)

  11. I have about $60 a month to spend on clothes - which I usually stick too.  It's funny because my husband and I each have about that much to spend on whatever we want.  he goes out to eat. I buy clothes.  Thanks to clearance racks and place like target and old navy I can stick to it most months!

  12. You are such a savvy shopper! My boyfriend spends his money fixing up his motorcycle and making beer, that makes him happy, just like getting a new piece for my wardrobe overjoys me! xx

  13. Thank you! Great comment... I'm not so much guilty as am concerned that my readers are getting the wrong impression about my spending abilities and habits. xx

  14. just wonderful :)

  15. I love this! I'm definitely going to have to use some of these tips for stopping the impulse purchasing. I've started a budget since being inspired by you, but have been pretty horrified by a) how hard it is to stick to and b) how much I spend! I'm definitely aiming to cut my clothes budget down to under $200 (although I do a lot of 'justifying' too!) - so will have to get a lot more 'intentional' about my purchases :)

    Life etc

  16.  PS I think you should definitely make a 'budget' series with all your tips and tricks! Totally fascinating :)

  17. ThedomesticgeekblogOctober 3, 2012 at 9:03 AM

    I wish I had that much of a budget! I'm super thrifty though so that much could get me a whole new wardrobe! lol

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  18. I hope that I can get more thrifty... My job hours limits the time I can actually go out and shop, so I find most everything online... But maybe I can carve out some time for thrifting this month! xx

  19. Thanks Corinne,
    I am trying to start some "intentional wardrobe building" series over here - each Friday there will be a spot light on one of my 50 closet staples, and then at the end/beginning of each month I hope to share my successes/failures/experiences in budgeting xx

  20. Good to hear someone else has my wacky way of thinking ;)

  21. I don't think this budget is too much! I used to spend $300 a month on clothes and that dropped down to $150 and now is at $0 (although I still thrift so truthfully it is at about $50).  I am trying to budget for other things in life right now, but after those things are taken care of, I can guarantee my budget will be back up there with yours! And I think you did an amazing job getting classic items that are good quality and will last you a long time!  I think the way you approach buying clothes by thinking of some of those questions in your head is good and I try to do that too :)

  22. I try  to have a budget but agree that it's difficult to stick to!  There's always something new coming out, so I also try to remember these tips and focus on adding only quality things that I know will get a lot of use (cost per wear is a big justification I try to keep in mind).  I don't think your budget is out of control either - some months are bigger, some are smaller, and sometimes you have to splurge.  As long as it's not like that every single month, I wouldn't worry!

  23. I feel so much guilt when I purchase clothes...yet I keep doing it.  I always have to justify my purchases to myself.

    Penniless Socialite

  24. I had to start budgeting because of my car payment and application fees. I think sometimes I do justify things to myself. Today I had to make some hard shopping decisions and be honest about some pieces of clothes. I loved how they looked 1 way, but was I going to find a way to wear it a different way? How many times was I going to wear it? I ended up walking away and feel so much better because of it.

  25. Popped over here from your post today, and I have to say, this list of questions is brilliant. As I've gotten better at figuring out which closet items do so well on the cost-per-wear analysis (sometimes the ones that turn out to have the best ratio aren't the ones I would have expected!), I've basically started asking the same questions, but nice to see them solidified!


Thank you for your comments, they make my day!!