All Articles Tagged "smart shopping"
When your money isn’t funny, you’d be surprised how much you’ll spend on clothes, shoes and accessories just because you can. You might dole out more than $100 on something just for name on the label or for something you might only wear a few times a year. But when money is tight, you can’t shop on ShopStyle, Topshop or Urban Outfitters like you used to, or spend all day in the mall shopping like you don’t have bills to pay. Thrifting is something that many women (and men) have done; from purchasing dresses, old VHS tapes, and even rotary phones- everyone loves nostalgia. But everyone loves a good deal too! Here are some reasons why I love thrifting, and you should give it a shot too.
Clearly, it saves you money
While you get a ton of deals through Groupon and emails from your favorite stores, nothing beats the feeling of walking out of a store with six fun and flirty blouses that you didn’t pay more than $20 for altogether. According to a study in 2010 by Black Men in America, African Americans spend about 29.3 billion a year in apparel and similar products. Also, most high quality shirts run about $50-60 dollars a piece, so why not take the opportunity to save a couple of thousand a year??
The clothes can be better quality than many major retailers
When you’re looking through the racks at your favorite store, the last thing you want to see is deodorant or any other obvious wear and tear on a virtually “new” item. When items are donated to places like Goodwill, Value Village or smaller stores like Rag-O-Rama, they’re thoroughly cleaned and some are even new items that were discontinued at national stores.
Helps you build on your own style
When it comes to thrifting, I noticed that you can look at almost every era within one rack of clothes. You can also see what was popular at the time and find new ways to spin an old idea. Fashion is all about telling a story- so why not tell yours? When leaning the history of some of my favorite shirts and pleated skirts, I’m able to build my own identity and show my personality through my clothes. You can also create a new style for yourself and it can even inspire other people!
Also helps you ignore the major trends
You don’t have to wear those skin tight leggings, miniskirts and lace-graphic T-shirts to be hip or cool. Most trends are repeats of fashion’s not-so-cute past, and just because something is popular doesn’t mean it’s going to look good on everyone. On top of that, just because something is hot now doesn’t mean you won’t reach for it a few months down the line with a look of shame and confusion on something that quickly went out of style. Thrift stores have a variety of pieces that you can make timeless or bring back from the vintage dead, so the young’ns can hold on to the neon colored looks and bandage dresses.
Are you spending for the life you have or the life you want?
That’s the question I had to ask myself as I stood in an electronic store recently mulling over an iPad purchase. As I stood there considering how much this purchase would set me back financially, I glanced down at my shoes. The rubber had all but completely worn off the bottom near my toes and it looked to be only a matter of time before my big toe came out for air. These were my only pair of decent flats to wear to work and they were at a point way past raggedy. I’d been too cheap to purchase a new pair, yet I was justifying a shiny, new electronics purchase that was easily forty times the price of a new pair of shoes.
There I stood between the life I have: a working girl who needs dress shoes for the office versus the life I want: a lucrative, self-employed woman whose line of business requires flip-flops…and the latest electronics. The lives were mutually exclusive at that point, one decidedly less expensive and the other undoubtedly rooted in fantasy. Yet, I was much more willing to throw away my life savings chasing a mirage instead of investing my disposable income to improve upon what I already possessed.
I’d done this time and time again:
Deciding I wanted to be a “Woman who Scrapbooks”, I bought a ton of scrapbook materials and never made a single scrapbook page.
Deciding I wanted to be a marathon-runner, I bought a pair of custom running shoes and signed up for a gym membership only to use them both twice in six months.
Deciding I wanted to be a great cook, I purchased a Wok to make cool Asian-inspired cuisine…and that Wok is collecting a considerable amount of dust.
Deciding I wanted to go to grad school, I bought several GRE study guides and vocabulary books and hardly cracked one of them.
Author Scott Young, would call my efforts “feel good tasks”: tasks I do to make me feel like I’m doing something without my actually doing anything. He says a feel good task is a task not essential to getting started nor directly contributing to success; therefore this task rarely results in achieving a particular goal and instead becomes an end unto itself.
In other words, I determine I want to be well-read so I subscribe to the New Yorker and immediately feel like I’ve reached my goal despite not having actually read a thing.
This isn’t to say I can never change, pursue my dreams or pick up a new hobby, but maybe I can ease into those changes financially once I’ve made a serious commitment (evidenced by follow-through) rather than using my desire to change as an excuse to spend money.
If I’m serious about scrapbooking, I can start by collecting and organizing all the pictures lying around the house. If I’m serious about running, I can go outside and run every day for a month. If I’m serious about cooking, I can unthaw the meat that’s been in my freezer for a considerable amount of time. If I’m serious about grad school, there are tons of free, online practice guides for the GRE. And if I’m serious about saving money and building wealth then I can stop spending money on random, unrelated projects just to feel like I’m doing something.
Prioritizing purchases is one thing, financing a life I don’t actually live is another. It’s a sure-fire way to end up in debt or, at the very least, with a lot of stuff I don’t need or use.
What do you think? Have you ever found yourself financing a life you don’t actually live?
Alissa Henry is a freelance writer living in Columbus, OH. Follow her on Twitter @AlissaInPink
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