4 Simple Ways To Get The Most Out Of Any Shopping Trip


We all know I love clothes, so I hardly need to ramble about that. But lest we forget, I am here writing for TFD, so I think it is important to note that I work very hard to keep my love of clothing as budget-friendly as it can possibly be.

It is easy to let a love of clothes get out of hand, and it is just as easy to let any shopping trip (regardless of whether or not you have a low-key obsession) get a bit out of control if you haven’t properly budgeted and planned for it.

I live down the street from a shopping mall, which is convenient, but could definitely become problematic if I wasn’t strategic as hell about the way I shop. I don’t remember the last time I entered a store on an unplanned day, or without a list and a game-plan to keep me from getting too wacky and chaotic. I seriously plan (and budget for) any type of shopping trip so far in advance to make sure I don’t get caught up in the fun of ~shopping~ and buy stuff just because hey, I’m at the mall, so why the heck not?

While shopping online (Or perhaps not shopping at all?) is probably the best way to prevent yourself from getting distracted by fluorescent mall-lighting, or getting lost in a sale section, I’ve come today with a definitive list of the four best IRL shopping tips that I live by, to make sure you get the most out of your mall trip every time.

1. Do research beforehand.

Know what you want, and where you might find it. It is easy to go to the store and aimlessly wander until you find things you like, but that usually ends one of two ways: you either love everything in sight and end up buying tons of random shit you didn’t need, or you get distracted by all of your options and walk out empty-handed. Neither situation is desirable, so do your research. Flip through magazines, save things on Pinterest, go through your closet, and make a solid list of the things you need/want/will be on the prowl for. Do some gentle research online if you want, too – that way, you have a bit of an idea where to look when you want to start trying things on and figuring out what you want.

2. Be aware of the sales, but don’t live by them.

It is good to know if your favorite shops have any sales or deals going on – that might influence where you look, and where you spend the most time. However, don’t buy something random, go off-list, or get something you only kind of like just because the price is right. You’re better off spending a bit more (if you can budget for it) on a piece that you’ll love entirely, instead of pinching pennies and getting a version of something that you feel “eh” about.

3. Be laser-focused, and don’t adjust your desires.

Stick to your list. If you really want something in a certain style and a certain color, don’t settle on a piece that only meets one of the needs on your list. If you can’t find the item of your dreams on that particular shopping trip, go home and do a bit more research so you end up with the thing you love, rather than something that you settled on just so you could half-fill your desire that day. The instant gratification of buying the settled on item will wear off quickly, and you’ll find yourself holding it up in front of your mirror, sighing, and saying “I like it… but I still wish I found it in brown, not black.”

4. Set a general budget, and a loose per-item budget – adjust accordingly.

Arguably the most important part of any shopping trip is budgeting for it. You shouldn’t be spending money you don’t have on stuff you don’t need – obviously.  Set a general budget for the shopping trip as a whole, and then, based on the research you’ve done, set a loose budget for each item. Depending on what you actually find in-stores, adjust the per-item budgets – but don’t go over the total amount of money you’ve actually budgeted for your trip. That’s a good way to get yourself into a messy financial spot.

Mary writes every day for TFD, and tweets every day for her own personal fulfillment. Talk to her about money and life at mary@thefinancialdiet.com!

Image via Unsplash

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  • Summer

    I would really love to know how much money I’ve wasted on clothes purchased from the sale corner at J. Crew Factory and Banana Republic Outlet over the years. Numerous items acquired because they were “cheap” and fit “mostly okay,” with very little regard to an actual need for the individual pieces. Most of those spontaneously purchased items were worn once or twice and quickly disregarded because I didn’t actually love them. Some were never even worn at all, having fallen victim to either the “this will look great after I lose 5 lbs!” dead-end promise made in the dressing room mirror, or were just not a great choice for my body type in the first place and resulted in constant tugging and readjusting throughout the day.

    Speaking of fit, may I kindly add a 5th suggestion: If you’re buying something today, make sure it FITS today. Don’t buy something based on it probably fitting really great if you can just shed 5-10 pounds, or tone up your arms, or find a different bra because surely this sweater won’t look like a tent if you can just find a better way to contain your boobs……………don’t do it. Don’t voluntarily buy something that stands a very good chance of making you feel crappy about yourself before you even have a chance to leave the house. If you want the fitness #motivation that comes from a piece of clothing alllllllmost fitting, choose something you already have in your closet instead.