The average American family spent more than $1,700 on clothes in 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That’s a big chunk of change. But for most of us, a lot of clothing expenditures are racked up because of impulse buys and poor planning.
If you want to slash your clothing spending or just stretch your clothing dollar further, here are seven of my favorite tips to save money when buying clothes:
- Check out consignment shops and secondhand stores. Before you head to the mall or your favorite department store, check out your local consignment shops, Goodwill or Salvation Army. You can often find great gently used (and sometimes brand new) clothing items for cheap.
- Shop off-season sales. I save a bundle by purchasing clothes for my kids a year ahead of time during retailers’ off-season sales. Of course, the same goes for adult clothing. I’ve found amazing deals on new clothes — including winter coats and summer sandals — by timing my shopping to off-season purchasing.
- Pay with cash. If you’re like me and you’re tempted to overspend when you’re clothes shopping, do yourself a favor and leave your credit and debit cards at home and stick to paying with cash. If paper money is all you have, you’ll be forced to stick to your budget. It sounds silly, but it works.
- Use cash-back sites. You can earn cash back for shopping at some retailers by using a cash back site like Ebates.com (my personal favorite). Although you’ll typically get “paid” about 1 to 5 percent of your total purchase price by clicking on the retailer’s site through the cash-back portal, you can get double-cash back percentages and other specials throughout the year as well.
- Give your favorite retailers your email address. You can score some great coupons and other deals if you’re willing to hand over your email address to your favorite retailers. If you hate weeding through dozens of coupon emails on a daily basis, you may want to consider setting up an email address specifically for this purpose. That’s what I did, and it’s saved me the headache of having my personal email inbox filled up with retailer coupons and other potential spam.
- Fill your online shopping cart, then leave it. Pick out the clothing items you want at your favorite online retailer, then start the checkout process, but don’t complete it. Simply logout and then check your email address. In an effort to turn your browsing and loaded shopping cart into an actual purchase, many retailers will email you a coupon within a day or two after you abandon your cart. This really works. I read this tip somewhere last year (though I can’t remember where) and it’s saved me money on several occasions. One store even sent me a coupon for 30 percent off my shopping cart items.
- Shop on eBay. I have a friend whose teenage daughter has expensive fashion taste. Whenever she sets her mind on a new pricey piece of clothing, my friend scours eBay for the item. If she can’t find it on eBay for cheap, then her daughter doesn’t get it. For example, the teen really loves Miss Me jeans, which typically retail for $100-plus. My friend has been able to purchase a gently used pair of Miss Me jeans on eBay for as little as $15.
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