How to update your wardrobe on a budget

When I first got married, my financial life changed drastically! I was used to living at my parents house and spending more than I earned. But then I met Bob. ūüôā He showed me that I can’t have everything I want and it has been a good lesson to learn, but a difficult one. So, I made drastic changes to my spending by not spending money on clothes and other things in order to pay our bills and more important stuff like that.

So, here’s what I learned:

1. Don’t get overwhelmed if you can’t buy everything today.

Start with one new thing and keep building. If you find an amazing dress to wear to a wedding, get it! (Don’t be the girl crying the week before that special event because you’ve waited too long to get something-and we all know you can’t find what your looking for when you’re desperately looking for it.) And do the same with everything else, one thing at a time. ¬†Snowflakes pile up one at a time, and your wardrobe will be completely revamped before you know it!

2. Don’t lie to yourself and buy stuff you don’t like/need.

This will just add to your frustration.¬†Before I had restraint on my spending, I bought things I didn’t really like, or that didn’t fit, but I liked it on the hanger, so I tried to make it fit, etc. But once I had the restraint/budget, I started making much better choices.

3. Get a really good shopping partners.

Gertrude and me on a shopping adventure

You need friends that a) will¬†be honest with you, and b) know how to find the deals!¬†My friend Gertrude (see photo on the right), ¬†is a great shopping partner because she’s so truthful and won’t say something to make me feel good. She actually told me about a dress I tried on, “That makes you look like you’re wearing a diaper! Take it off!” She’s also taught me how to find bargains. I used to look for them before and get annoyed and go to the full price racks. Now, I have to say, I’m really good at finding $11 jeans at Gap or a dress for $4 at Target. And this way, I can constantly update.

4. Know your budget.

Just because you find something on sale doesn’t mean you should buy it. One day I found great sales and I returned half of the items I bought before I even left the mall because I knew I didn’t have the money to pay for it.
If you’re completely overwhelmed, MAKE it fun. One of my sisters doesn’t really like shopping. She just gets overwhelmed when she can’t find what she wants. Last time we went shopping, her attitude drastically changed because we got a Starbucks and decided if she didn’t find what she wanted, that was OK. We were just there to have fun.

5. Focus your energy on staple items.

For me, this is a pair of the most comfortable wedges, or a great pair of wide leg jeans and denim jeggings. I even splurged on a Michael Kors Rose Gold watch and though I wear it everyday, it always (without fail) seems to add something extra special to my overall look.

Hope this helps. And please, share your shopping tips in the comment section. Happy Shopping!

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  1. Alissa

    I’m glad you’ve begun contributing to CPF, Linda! I like the topics you’ve chosen so far and I totally agree with you about your shopping tips. I actually bought a dress for my friend’s wedding 11 months in advance because I found one I liked for 60% off!

  2. I second Olivia’s advice about thrift stores. I’ve found some great deals at them, some of my favorite clothes, in fact.

    Also, know what you really want. Like you mentioned in #2, it’s easy to go get clothes that “might work”. I haven’t bought any dress shirts recently, because I have something specific in mind. When I do find them, I’ll snag more than one, because it’ll be exactly what I want.

    Don’t shop for fun. I have many friends who go to the mall to hang out and kill time. They always have new clothes, because they’re already there. Don’t hang out in stores if you’re not wanting/needing to buy something!

  3. Guy Gagnon

    Hey Linda,

    Great advice for both the men and women.

    I find the easiest way to save money clothes shopping is going without my wife. Not because she spends a lot, but because I know I won’t buy clothes with the fear of returning home and not having her approval. lol

    Saves lots of time and money just letting her pick out something she likes and surprising me with it.

    Happy Shopping,

  4. Heather M

    Thanks for your post. I also have trouble finding things on the sales rack so I end up buying something full price, very frustrating. I would love to know how your friend taught you how to find things on the sales rack.

  5. Life Insurance BC

    Thank you for all the great posts from last year! I look forward to reading your blog, because they are always full of information that I can put to use. Thank you again, and God bless you in 2010.

  6. Linda

    Thanks for all the extra tips, everyone! You all have great points. What can I say, I love shopping! I’m going today, in fact! Ha!

    @ Heather M – Where do you live? I’ll come show you! : )

    @ Life Insurance BC – Thanks for the kind words. Bob’s been working really hard on the site and I just joined him last month. I glad you’ve been learning a lot! I’ve learned so much too!

  7. Shirley

    Sounds about write. I was married a little less than two years ago and unfortunately I am the money conscious one which means while I am just as tempted as my husband to spend money, I have to struggle to hold us both back. It has been really hard sometimes, but then when I realized because of our efforts we could afford to go on a week vacation last September I was really encouraged. Yes I still wear pants and dresses that I owned in 8th grade (I haven’t grown taller since then!), but I’d rather feel secure and happy with my marriage than look brand new every day.. I guess that wasn’t so much a tip as a re-encouragement.


  8. gertrude

    soooooo….this is a great article! i’m so excited that you are getting a chance to really bring input that people enjoy & need – & that you are passionate about too! btw – the pic of us; shirt = $4, necklace vintage shop on Main Street – haha.