Cost Savings Series: 3—Clothes Shopping at a Discount

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I would imagine that we all like to dress nicely and look our best, particularly when we’re at work or if we are out somewhere where you want to attract the attention of the opposite sex. Everyone has their own personal style and just know for sure that I’m am the last one to talk about fashion trends. Kind of like when I mentioned I have eaten the same lunch for 10 years, I have really had a fairly consistent look/style since, compound interest, cost saving, clothes saving, compound interest calculator school. Sure a few things have changed, but generally I have kept the same style that I did then. So it’s safe to say that I won’t be giving any fashion advice, but let’s talk about what, how and where you purchase your clothing of choice and see if you might be able to save some money.

I’m pretty good at buying affordable clothing, but my wife is really a pro at this. I should actually have her write a post on this topic, so stay tuned for another one if she’s up for it. She ha found numerous designer work suits, jackets and pant suits for $10-15. She’s even found designer dresses with the tags still on and re-sold them on eBay for hundreds in profits. Check out that Goodwill or thrift store near you, you might be surprised at how good some of the items really are. Worried about the smell or used clothes. Take it to the dry cleaner for a minimal fee and you’re good to go.

Do you buy the exact shoes/clothes you like regardless of what they cost? Do you shop at the mall or other full price stores? Have you ever bought clothes at a thrift store? Do you always have to have to be dressed in the latest fad/trend? Is your closet jam packed but yet you still shop for more? We all can probably relate to one or more of these statements, right?

For me, I always seek out clothes that are on sale. We regularly shop at Ross, Marshalls, TJ Maxx and if I go into any full-price store (or even outlet) I generally go right to the back of the store for the sale rack. Am I a clothes hound? No, but I do like to look nice. Can I plunk down $50 to $75 on a nice button down shirt, nope. Can I buy a really nice pair of dress pants for work that cost $50-75, nope. Can I pay over $100 for a nice pair of leather dress shoes for work, nope. There is something inside me that sets some kind of a weird mental threshold for the prices I’m willing to pay for certain things.

For button down shirts, I buy them from a couple of internet retailers and wait for a promotion that allows me to save when I buy multiples (which gets me free shipping too). For dress pants, I will admit that I have to hunt pretty good to find a good price, but I do manage to find some that are on sale at the right time. For neck ties (unfortunately my office still wears ties), I buy them used off of eBay for about $5-7 each. For shoes, I wait and search for sales and get them for $30-50 for nice dress shoes. Really the key to my shopping is patience. If I absolutely have to have something right away, I may have to bend my rules a bit, but if I have some time or look periodically when out shopping, I’ll generally find what I’m looking for at the price I’m willing to spend.

I challenge you to determine how much you spend per month or per year on clothing. If you can even cut out one purchase per month or get a couple of the items at a discount, I’ll bet you can cut out $30-50 per month from what you have been spending. That would work out to almost $20,000 over 20 years (assuming a 5% return with compound interest). I think I can do without that extra shirt or pair of pants to save that kind of money.

Go to my compound interest calculator and check out your own scenarios for savings and see if getting into this habit helps you get where you want to go with your savings and investing.