Sunday, May 2, 2010

Alterations to the Clothing Budget

Cutting back on the clothing budget can be really hard. Somehow it feels more personal than other things. But, it is often necessary, and it can make a huge difference in our overall spending. Here are a few strategies to help. Choose the ones that work for you.

1. Keep careful track of how much you spend on clothes each month. Sometimes just seeing the numbers will help you come back to reality.

2. Learn to be thrifty. Check out this article from the April Ensign. Jane McBride Choate gives great practical advice for getting everyone dressed while staying on budget.

3. Make some new rules. If you are too often finding items that are irresistible, maybe it's time to set some guidelines. The easiest rule to make this: if you don't have money left in the clothing budget you can't buy it, no matter how cute it is. You can add in some more creative rules, though. Use your imagination. My cousin-in-law used to keep herself in check by selecting one color every year. If an item wasn't available in that color, she couldn't buy it. My mom's strategy was to make me think about it for a while. If it's still irresistible tomorrow, you can always come back. Or try this: you can't buy anything new until you've worn everything in your closet at least twice!

4. Buy clothes that fit and flatter. Usually when I throw clothes out without wearing them much, it is because they never quite fit right or they emphasize my figure in awkward ways. It doesn't matter how trendy it is; only buy if it looks great on you.

5. Speaking of trends... If you don't love it, skip it.

6. Shop with cash. Somehow money is more real when you hold it in your hands. A few months ago, Jeremy and I gave each other a sorely needed clothing bonus-- in cash. It was great. I always knew how much money I had left, and I managed to make it last.

7. Learn to love the thrift store. With a little patience you can find some great stuff here (I promise). You may not find it this time, though... Thrift stores also offer a dose of perspective: You can see what things look like after they have been washed a few times. And you won't be overcome by the chic atmosphere. It's all about you and the clothes. Do they fit right? Do you enjoy wearing them? Okay.

8. Avoid marital tension. At our house, we do this by making clothing come out of our personal allowance. Electronics also come out of our allowance. I buy clothes; Jeremy buys computers. All is budgetary bliss.

9. Don't shop for recreation. (This bit of advice comes from my family finance professor, Alena Johnson ). If you have enough clothes, and you're bored, you can always make someone cookies.

p.s. I love cookies

10. Be you. Remember that old Mormonad? "Be you're own kind of beautiful." If not, here's a link. We really can't be everything. Enjoy the beauty and talents of others; be beautiful and talented yourself; but don't be the same.

1 comment:

Molly said...

Love it. Our clothing budget is pretty well under control since it's supposed to come out of our personal allowance. Unfortunately, I spend most of my allowance on food since I go from one job to the next, which means I'm not home to make dinner, which means there are no leftovers to take for lunch/dinner the next day. Horrible downward spiral. Christian spends almost all his allowance on clothes. I just have none left, so I don't buy clothes. :) Sad, but simple.