I like to think of myself as a pretty savvy shopper. I learned from the best of course – my mom. She loves a good sale or coupon, but also always believes in buying quality things. Learning from her helped me become a better shopper helping me save money and not make purchases that will cause me buyer’s remorse. Shopping is fun! I get it, I shop a lot. It’s part of my job, what a dream! But being a smart shopper allows you to avoid unnecessary and unsatisfying purchases. It also can help you save money and curate a more thoughtful closet.
How To Be A Better Shopper
Make A List
Just like walking into Target without a list means you walk out with a million things you don’t need, the same goes for shopping for clothes or home decor. I like to keep a list, mentally or physically even in a notes app, which will encourage you to stick to your necessities. I never go to the grocery store or Target without a list. It keeps me focused and reduces the likelihood of making impulse purchases.
When making a list for any home decor or furniture, it can be helpful to keep a folder on your phone including photos of the area, dimensions you need things for, and so on. This way if you find yourself in a store and something catches your eye, you can double-check your dimensions knowing you’ve been needing something in X size for your credenza.
As for clothing, whenever I do a big purge, or find myself in a rut, I will go through my closet and see what things I *need*. Okay, I rarely need things, but you know what I mean. Maybe I bought some shoes that I love but they only work with a few colors which I don’t own a ton of. Knowing this and writing it down on my phone will allow me to shop more thoughtfully. Or maybe I just tossed a bunch of my tees that had seen better days and need to update them. Write this down!
Shop Secondhand or Pre-Owned
I’m not an expert on this as I am a bit of high maintenance shopper and prefer things to be merchandised for me. But I know people swear by this and it can really help you save money especially if you’re investing in quality pieces. I will say though, that I just purchased my first item off of Poshmark. It was a graphic tee that is sold out everywhere. It’s a brand I have and wear so I know my size which made it easier. I would definitely do this again with brands I am confident in with my sizing as I am notorious for returns. But with the second-hand market being so easy to utilize, you can really turn around and re-sell anything that doesn’t fit if you need to.
Set A Budget
If overspending is an issue for you, try setting a budget. Whether it’s monthly, or quarterly. This can be a great way to reign in on your spending and feel less guilty about shopping. It’ll also force you to be more intentional with your purchases which is a win. An easy way to do this is to put physical cash aside each month. Or create a savings folder (you can do this on Ally which I love) dedicated just to shopping.
And if saving money is something you’re really aiming for, I’d also do a few things to curb your shopping so you shop intentionally, and not impulsively. Unfollow brands on social media, yes do it. And unsubscribe from any store emails. You may think signing up for emails will save you money, but overall you’re more likely to spend MORE money with the constant touchpoints of the brand, versus only shopping when you actually are in need of something. And let’s be honest, you know those stores that send out weekly sale alerts are always running sales. You’re bound to never pay full price at some of those stores regardless of if you signed up for emails or not.
PS sign up for the welcome coupon, duh, but unsubscribe once you make your purchase. Get in the habit of doing this to ensure your inbox isn’t inundated with store emails.
Choose Quality Over Quantity
I’ve definitely learned over time that choosing fewer yet quality pieces over large quantities of cheaper items, means a better closet overall. In the long term, you’ll notice the pieces you invested in that were quality items last you years not only in how they hold up with wear and tear, but that they hold up with the trends. Not always, but this is definitely more likely the rule than not I have found.
Don’t Shop Too Trendy
To piggyback off of quality over quantity, I do think it can be fun to buy a few trendier pieces that might be a tad cheaper. This allows you to try trends without committing a big part of your budget to them. If you find yourself wearing those really trendy pieces all the time and just absolutely loving them, then go ahead and invest in something nicer if you’ll wear it at on. I think it can be easy to fall into the feeling that you need to buy all the newest things, but avoiding buying tons of overly trendy items will allow your closet to age gracefully.
Use The Sale Alert Feature
You’ve probably seen the little heart and “get sale alert” in my outfit posts where I round up items to shop in that little scrolly thing. Example below. This is actually a really great way to get alerted via email when that item goes on sale. When you tap the heart, there’s a pop-up that confirms your email (you can also subscribe to the AID newsletter by checking the box and I will add you!) and you just wait for an email! This will allow you to shop that item when it’s no longer full price and save you some money.
Know Your Measurements
Shopping without knowing your measurements is a mess. Grab a string or if you have a tailors tape measure that’s great, and figure out your measurements. Having a rough idea of what your chest, natural waist and hips are will help when shopping online. And same goes for your inseam and rise for pants. Write this down and keep it on your phone so when you’re online shopping you can ensure you’re buying the right size every single time.
Know Your Colors
When you shop and feel the urge to buy something, knowing if a color looks good on you, can help ensure you buy the RIGHT thing. I used Created Colorful to find my “colors” and it has truly been helpful in shopping. While you don’t have to say goodbye to certain colors always, it at least teaches you which colors are most flattering on your skin tone. And this makes shopping easier when you can narrow things down and rule out options. I just know kelly green will never be my color. And it keeps me from making impulse purchases when I see a really cool kelly green dress. While I may want it, I know if I buy it, I’m really unlikely to wear it. Take this from the kelly green dresses and tops that have been purged from my closet over the years.
Look Out For Return Policies And Fees
I’m pretty strict on myself when it comes to online returns and fees. I pretty much refuse to buy online anywhere that doesn’t do free shipping or returns. Nowadays it’s pretty much the norm. But you do want to check a store’s return policy and any return shipping fees you may encounter. These can quickly add up. And it’s best if you are shopping somewhere that charges after a certain amount of time, that you make a note in your calendar to return something by a specific date.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Price Adjustments
I feel like some people don’t want to put the effort in to save money. But sometimes it’s necessary and well worth the little bit of energy. Asking for a price adjustment or price match can save you tons of money over time. Usually, stores need to do price adjustments within 14 days of purchase. And price matches have to be done typically with in-stock items in your size. It’s always worth the ask.
But my little secret for when stores are absolute sticklers about price adjustments is to re-buy and return. Let’s say you bought something at Nordstrom for $100 and 3 weeks later it goes on sale for $50. It’s outside the price adjustment window, but still within the return window. Buy the item again at the new price. And then just return the item with the old, higher-priced, receipt. Price adjustment rules are beyond stupid if you ask me, so this is a good way around it if you find yourself outside the 14-day period.