How to Shop Smart: Shop Often, Buy Sparingly

How to Shop Smart: Shop Often, Buy Sparingly*Some of the links contained in this post are affiliate links, meaning at no cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.*

It’s one of my favorite times of year. The time of year I forget how to shop smart. It is sale time. I love after holiday sales. It is a great time to stock up on all the stuff that you have been lusting after but didn’t get over the holidays.  I really love the winter after holiday sales and can lose my mind buying stuff but I always have to remember to Shop Smart. A deal is not always a deal just because it is cheap.

So here are my tips on how to shop smart.

How to Shop Smart and Not Over Spend

(1) Shop often but buy sparingly.

I will go on shopping binges where I buy buy buy only to discover that I have (a) overpaid (b) already have the item or (c) don’t even really like the item. By shopping often you become familiar with trends, how they work with your body, and what things are worth.  Just because something has a 50% off sign on it doesn’t mean it is a good value. Also just because something is “trendy” doesn’t mean it is going to work with your body type and/or lifestyle.

The key is to shop often. Go to the stores. Try stuff on. Get to know what is out there. But don’t buy. If you see something you absolutely love ask the sales associate to set it aside for you. If you are still thinking about it in 24 hours then go back to the store and get it. Most of the time you will have forgotten about it. At least that is what happens to me.

(2) Shop your closet first.

Trends are tricky.  You see everyone wearing colored jeans and you run out and buy the first pair that fit. Meanwhile in the back of your closet are a pair of awesome purple jeans you bought on a whim a few years ago but  have only worn once (true story). This happened to me. Luckily because I did not obey my first rule I was able to uncover a lot of awesome gems in my closet. Purple jeans and yellow corduroys just to name a few. Not that those are still in style or anything. Haha.  I was happy and so was my bank account.

(3) Make a list and stick to it.

During my shopping diet I kept a list of all the things I wanted. During the first week I spent most of my day adding items to the list. By the last week of lent I realized that half the items on the list were things I was no longer interested in or things I already owned (refer to rule 2). That being said armed with list in hand I have been able to focus my shopping on things that I REALLY REALLY want instead of just buying random things that spark my interest. Not only is my account looking good for it but it is helping me stay more organized which is in turn making it easier to put together new outfits.

Stores are designed to make you want to buy. If they are doing their job correctly those displays will have to walking out with bags of stuff that you may or may not ever wear. Be smart. Know what you need. Get in and get out.  No sense in spending money on things you will never wear.

(4) Know how much to spend.

We all want to be seen walking down the street in our red soles but it is really necessary to spend that much money on a pair of shoes?  (If you ask me I will say yes but I am a bit unrealistic at times). The key is to know an item’s worth.

A pair of black Louboutin pumps that you will wear every single day may be totally worth it. A pair of feather and studded  7 inch heels that you will NEVER wear probably not so much. Even if they were on clearance for 99% off they still would not be worth it.

Do the math. If you spend 600 bucks on a pair of shoes that you are going to wear at least 3 times a week for a year you just paid $3.85 a wear for those shoes. Even if you spend $10 on the aforementioned 7 inch heel and only wear them once you will have paid $10 a wear which is almost 250% more than the $600 pair. I say put the $10 towards something you will actually enjoy.

(5) Shop alone.

This might be the number one rule to smart shop. I kinda hate this rule but I do best when shopping alone.

It is fun to have brunch with the girls (or guys) and then go shopping afterwards. It is fun to try on things that you will never wear and laugh until you are in tears because of how ridiculous you look or try on those extremely expensive shoes that you will never buy just cause. But what happens when your friends “ooohing” and “aaahing” result in you reaching into your purse to purchase those extremely expensive  (and unreasonably high) shoes that are (1) way over your budget and (b) unlikely to ever be worn comfortably in public.

When you shop alone you tend to be more focused and realistic. There is no pressure to “impress”. If you like something and it works and fulfills all of the above requirements then you buy it and move on.

Yeah it doesn’t sound like fun but neither does having your credit card denied.

(6) Save your receipts

Let’s be real. I cannot help myself sometimes. I am totally guilty of breaking all the rules above and coming home with loads of things I do not need. However one rule I always follow is to save my receipts.

It takes a bit of discipline but make yourself aware of the store’s return policy before you make a purchase. If you haven’t worn or used your purchases within that time frame then you can return those purchases for a refund. Worse case scenario you wait too long. Don’t worry. A lot of stores will offer you a store credit. It’s not cash in your pocket but it is money you can put towards something you will actually use in the future.

(7) Follow these rules within reason.

If you really really want that $4,000 Chanel bag (and you can afford it) then get it. If you have a pair of red jeans but REALLY want another pair then get them. If you fall in love with a gorgeous ring that is not on your list but you know you can put to good use then buy it. Rules were made to be broken and these rules are meant to be a guide for making better shopping decisions.

Even by following one of these rules, you will be on your way to being a smarter shopper.


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How to Shop Smart and Stop Over Spending.  Tips to keep in mind the next time you go shopping that will help you save money.

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