Shopping for anything can lead you to blow your budget, but shopping for clothes can offer a whole new level of temptation. If you’re like me, you enjoy something cute and comfortable but still within the budget.
It’s all too easy to go into the store (or on your favorite retail site) with a plan that you want to look for something in particular, only to wind up adding extra items to your cart.
What’s nice is that you don’t have to choose between getting clothes you like and still having enough money to cover your other important expenses.
How to Shop For Clothes on a Budget
Here are some of my favorite strategies and tools to help you shop for clothes on a budget.
Give Yourself a Monthly/Seasonal Clothing Budget
It’s important to start by giving yourself a monthly or seasonal clothing budget.
Realize that if you don’t budget for it, you’re more likely to overspend. Determine how much money you have each month to spend on clothes.
Or, break it down by season. If you only plan to shop seasonal, you’ll still want to determine a monthly clothing budget so you can save up in the meantime.
For example, I needed a new bathing suit for the summer but didn’t want to spend a lot. I found this cute navy polka dot one-piece from Amazon for a really low price and it’s held up really well all summer.
A general rule of thumb is that you should spend 5% of your take-home pay on clothing each month.
Ultimately it really depends on your goals.
Some may say 5% is a little too much. If you bring home $3,000 per month, that means you can spend around $150 per month on clothes.
If that sounds a little unnecessary, lower the percentage to whatever you want. Maybe you only want to spend $100, $50, or even $30 per month on clothes.
Another way to have spending money is to have a side hustle to earn extra income.
Be realistic about your needs and goals. Then narrow down an amount you can stick to.
Something I like to do is save my monthly clothing budget and roll the amount to the next month at times.
This allows me to feel more financially prepared when I need to shop for a new season or happen to come across a nice sale.
Take Inventory Regularly
When you’re trying to find ways to shop for clothes on a budget, your best bet is to start in your own closet.
Taking inventory of what you already have can help you avoid going out and buying the same thing or something similar.
It’s helpful to know how many pairs of jeans you have so when you come across a sale on jeans you’ll know if it’s worth it to spend the money or not.
Plus, it’s just good to narrow down your clothing. It’s too easy to just collect a bunch of outfits that you may no longer like or wear.
Getting rid of those things can clear the ways for new clothing that you’ll actually enjoy.
Know When to Shop
Timing is everything. If you’re looking to save money, you should definitely get into the habit of comparison shopping. Just like shopping for groceries on a budget, it’s important to know when to shop for clothes on a budget.
As you compare, you’ll notice that there are certain times of the year where clothing is cheaper. This may depend on the season, or the store’s promotions schedule.
For example, at the end of the season is the perfect time to shop. Summer clothes will be on sale during the fall and cozy winter sweaters and boots will be on sale come spring.
Even if you may not wear the clothing right away, it’s wise to take advantage of end-of-season sales. Another great time to shop for clothes on a budget is the back-to-school season. Even if you’re not in school, you can score some nice deals.
Most stores offer a huge blowout sale at least once per year. Find out when that will be and mark your calendar. You may even receive coupons in the mail that can help you save even more on your clothing.
When sales pop up, be mindful and ask yourself if you really need new clothes, or just want to take advantage of the sale. This is why taking inventory of your closet ahead of time is so important.
It all else fails, experts say the best time of the year to shop for clothes is on December 27th and 28th.
Christmas and end-of-year sales are usually referred to as the White Sale and deals can be even better than what you’d find on Black Friday.
Know Where to Shop
Knowing where to shop is also key. So many retailers are selling clothes online these days so it’s super convenient. Here are a few of my favorite budget-friendly sources to use when it’s time to shop for clothes.
ThredUp is a popular online consignment store where you can buy gently-used designer clothing and accessories for cheap.
You can find most of your favorite brands on this site and pay a fraction of what you might pay in a regular store.
What I love about ThredUp is that they have a flexible return policy just in case you buy something and it doesn’t fit when you get it and try it on.
I also like how they buy back clothes and pay people cash for items they’re no longer wearing.
You can literally cash in your old clothes on ThreadUp and use the money they give you to buy more clothes.
Poshmark is an app that helps you sell your clothes online. It’s kind of like Amazon or eBay but more exclusive and personalized since it’s just for clothing.
You can virtually shop other people’s closets and order clothing that you like.
The seller sets the price and ships the item but the prices are very reasonable since the clothing is gently used.
You can find women’s, men’s and children’s clothing on Poshmark and even items for your home from popular brands.
Don’t forget, you can become a seller on Poshmark as well and make some extra cash that you can use to expand your wardrobe.
Another app that works similar to Poshmark is Mercari, and you can typically find deals on both apps.
Amazon is one of the biggest retailers around so they’re bound to have tons of affordable clothing options right? Since Amazon is such a huge site, finding affordable clothing that you like can seem tricky at first.
You can start by narrowing down your search by category which is a great place to start. Amazon has a ‘Clothing, Shoes, and Jewelry’ category where you can find men’s and women’s clothing as well as choose your budget.
You can also shop by brand if you are looking for something specific.
Prime Wardrobe is another Amazon feature you’ll want to try out. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can use this personal shopper service to get up to 8 clothing items (including shoes and jewelry) shipped to your door.
You’ll have up to 7 days to try on the items and you can choose to send back anything that you don’t want to add to your closet.
Only pay for the items you keep. Prime Wardrobe is only $5 per month if you don’t have Amazon prime.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the Facebook Marketplace.
It’s a great way to find deals on local furniture, home decor, and anything else you can think of. You can also search for used clothing on the marketplace and save a lot of money.
What I like about the marketplace is that most sellers post clothing in bulk so you may not just find one shirt or one pair of pants. Still, you can get more bang for your buck this way – especially if you have kids.
Kids grow so fast so buying a bunch of outfits for $15 or $20 from the Facebook Marketplace is not bad if you may have to buy the next bigger size in the near future.
You can still enjoy shopping and avoid going broke. These are just a few of my favorite ways to shop for clothes on a budget but I’d love to hear yours.
Look for Cash-Back Shopping Offers
Whether shopping online or in-person, look for additional ways to save money. Websites like Rakuten provide cash-back and coupon codes when shopping various websites.
Swagbucks is another option to find cash back deals from your favorite stores. In addition to earning a cash rebate, there are also in-person coupons that can be used.
It’s important to have a strategy when trying to save money on clothes.