Monday, November 29, 2010

Time to Re-prioritize: Clothes Shopping in a Down Economy

Well, our tribe has grown by one more and we couldn't be more blessed or sleep-deprived. If you couldn't tell by the date of my last post I had, obviously, taken a hiatus from my blog in order to prepare my home and mind for the coming of our newest little angel. Pregnancy and all that it brings is tough to handle and sometimes, during the long 9+ months, you have to let some things go. I did manage to get some of the most important things done and that of course included shopping.

A friend recently asked me about where are places that I shop for myself and still manage a budget for my expanding family. Right now, most families are having to tighten the financial belt somewhere. Whether it be eating in one extra night a week, cutting some extracurriculars for the kids or opting out of that gym membership, we are all feeling it one way or another. Some families may find it downright depressing to think of a life that once was or long for material goods that we can no longer afford. I am going to look beyond the negative of these times and say be real. You must shop. Adults and children alike grow out of wardrobe pieces. Whether it be shoes, socks, or slacks, we've got to update our wardrobes if only out of necessity. With low stock prices and fledgling house values, designer bags and luxury vehicles are desires of the past for many of us. We need to re-prioritize our shopping behavior if we are to satisfy the actual needs of our family.

Here are 3 simple tips to shopping smart in a down economy:

1. Make lists of the items each person in the family needs. Keep it short. Think basics in terms of khakis, undies, long and/or short sleeves, slacks, shorts, skirts, worn shoes. Also write down sizes in order to avoid impulse buys. You are shopping for the now and not years down the road.

2. Organize according to the 3 D's:
DISCARD: throw out any unwearable clothes (think massive stains or huge rips)
DONATE: give to the needy by bagging up clothes that are too big/small for your family
DON: if you've found some hidden pieces of your wardrobe put them on

3. Make a shopping trip with the intent to purchase only what you need. If you followed steps 1 and 2 then you know exactly what you need and this will help avoid impulse purchases.

This is powerful shopping. You will truly have accomplished something if you just stick to the rules. I want to help you to not be afraid to shop when money is tight. You are going to have to purchase things for yourself and the family so don't let a little thing like money stand in your way.

Back to my friends question of, "Where do I shop and maintain a family budget?" Shopping at thrift stores like The Salvation Army and Goodwill are ways to save major dollars as well as lessen your carbon footprint.

Here's Why...

  • They have been around for over 25 years and are major contributors to community projects
  • They are always nearby. You can find a store close by most locations which saves gas
  • They are full of clothes that are already manufactured so no emissions from clothing factories
  • They are huge recycling programs and you are participating in this by purchasing gently used clothing (Be sure to take a bag of your own goods to donate on your next visit)

Of course, there are higher end boutique resellers and consignment stores which are great for finding deals on high end bags and shoes. But when it comes to the basics of thrift and consignment, these store have most anywhere beat. They offer that sense of nostalgia and doing good for the world. You can find most anything there and are not just limited by season or brand name.
Refer to my Pilot blog for some quick tips on 2nd hand shopping rules.

This past winter I had the unfortunate circumstance of having to outfit my entire family for a sudden funeral. Both of these stores came through for us. I scoured the racks for Ralph Lauren oxfords, Anne Taylor dresses, and other quality pieces that would fully outfit my entire crew in materials appropriate for the winter. The inventory is constantly changing as people get rid of their old duds to purchase new ones. There is also a trickle down as many items that are not sold in the high end resale boutiques end up at thrift stores for crazy low prices so look with a sharp eye to get the best deals on quality merchandise. Though you will not find every piece necessary for events like this, they are great as supplementary shopping venues, especially when you are in a pinch. It is always worth a quick trip to just check out what new items they have. Ask the staff when they get new shipments in. This will help to plan your next visit.

Keep your heads up high and your credit card debt low in this economy by seeking out local consignment stores in your area to keep your wardrobe fresh. A quick google search of thrift or consignment stores in your area will give you a place to start. Step outside the box and take a trip to the local Salvation Army or Goodwill. Seriously give it a try. Long gone are the dreary images of thrift stores with sketchy staff and dim lights.You will be very surprised at what you may find. Organized racks, dutiful staff, and amazing prices on quality wardrobe essentials are some of the things that I have experienced in Salvation Army's and Goodwill's all over the country. It is definitely a slice of life but the deals await you if you are willing to look.