A Poor Girls Guide to Being Great with Money – Clothes Shopping Part 2: The High Street.

Last week I wrote about five basic tips which are universal to both “real-life” forms of clothes shopping. (Online clothes shopping is a different kettle of fish altogether, actually it’s more like a kettle of potentially very badly salted beef, but that’s a post for another day.) Today I want to cover a few points which have, over the past decade of very frugal living, helped me to save quite a bit of money on my clothing budget when I hit the high street. And yes, I know, in Ireland we mostly have “Main Street”‘s not “High Street”‘s, but let’s face it “High Street shopping.” has such a nice ring to it.

Anyway, so you’ve headed out for a day of shopping. Your work wardrobe is falling apart. Your left breast keeps dropping through a hole in your bra. And the dog ate your last pair of non-holey leggings. You’ve put this off for months, for far too long actually, because there’s a recession, and that money was generally needed for unimportant things like heating, and food. But at the end of the day since you don’t live in a nudist colony, (or maybe you do in which case if you’re female pictures please) you have to get some clothes to wear that don’t make you look like you live with an incredibly hungry Mothra.

A very hungry Mothra killed my entire corset wardrobe once. I’ll never forgive him! (image via 15mmp.blogspot.ie)

But how to make sure you get value for money?

1: Spend shoe leather, not cash:

I know how tempting it is to buy something in the first place you see it. It’s cold and wet out there. There’s wolves, and rabid zombies on those streets. And there’s this pretty pencil skirt, just sitting on the rail waiting for you to take it with you. But you see there’s this thing called a fashion trend. What that means when you get down to it is this, every major retail chain will have their own version of most pieces of clothing. The differences between those versions will be very minor. Aside, sometimes, from price.

So yes, you can buy the first version you see. But remember that in most shopping precincts, such as the Henry Street area of Dublin, all the major retail chains are within minutes walk of each other. The quality, unless you pay an exceedingly high price will be much the same. And even though you may only save a Euro or two on each piece, those quickly add up. More savings mean more money to spend on more pieces, and the longer you’ll be able to go between splurges.

2: High Street splurges aren’t a bad thing, if you plan for them:

Money is tight all over right now. But unless you’re in the worst of dire circumstances, you can probably save some small few quid each week. And that saving is the key to thrifty High Street shopping. Clothes shopping, unlike many things in life, is something you can prepare, and plan ahead for. You know your clothes have a finite lifespan. You know when they’re starting to give up the ghost.  And if you watch the websites of the various retail chains you can have a pretty good idea of their prices ranges. And you should always do your best to plan to hit the shops when they have their…

3: SALES! SALES! SALES!:

Sales are where you will make real savings. Do I really need to explain that?

What you should do though is go with a list of what you need. When there are sales everywhere, and all the prettiness that has taunted you for months sits there, arrayed before you. Most of it at prices you can, for once, afford it is often almost too hard to stick to a plan. So that’s why a written list of what you need is your best friend. And remember that if you don’t find something from that list in one sale, there’s another in three months time, as these days most businesses have a sale for each season, and many even have sales for totally nonsensical holidays.

4: Do get a loyalty card:

I know they’re a pain with how they clog up your purse. And that if you had one for every single store you shopped in our bag would weigh the same as a small country. But if you them you can use them to build up points, and then use those points to save even more money int he future. Just make a point of only taking the ones you’ll need for a given day with you.

5: Do use your debit card:

I am a huge fan of debit cards, especially Visa, or MasterCard ones. All the purchasing flexibility of a credit card, but you can ONLY spend what’s actually in your bank account. Now this does need you to be able to keep a running score of what is actually in your bank account in your head. But if you’ve followed the hints from my original post then you already have that skill worked to a finely honed edge.

My usual way to use my debit card is to set a spend limit for a given day, and keep a track of what I have spent within that limit. Also remember that most businesses will have a minimum spend limit on whether you can use your debit card or not.

6: Don’t be tempted by your credit card:

Okay a little confession here. I’m a Vera Wang girl. I honestly, truly believe that no-one else designs such beautiful dresses with tall girls in mind with anything like her panache. The days I feel like seeing something truly beautiful I wander into one of the higher class places which stock her dresses. And I spend an hour drooling over them. Especially her prom dress. I, of course, then take a look at the price tag, have a minor heart attack, and try to make myself feel better by drinking a lot of hot chocolate.

This leads to the evil of credit cards. I don’t have a credit card. I’ve never had one. I point-blank refused to accept one when my old bank tried to force on me. Why? Because of Vera Wang.

If I had access to credit I don’t know if I’d be able to stop myself, especially if she had released something which had that Hellenic Greek look to it. And if that was on special offer? I’d end up owing my soul for that dress.

I know it’s a wedding dress, but I’d dust the damned house wearing that thing! (image via About.com)

Don’t use your credit card. Period. Get rid of it. Freeze it in a block of ice. Store it in a metal box at the bottom of a lava pit. Do what ever you have to do. But don’t use it, because if you’re thrifting hard you simply can not afford to use it.

Not even for *sobs* Vera WAAAAAAAAAAANG! *collapses in a heap*

And with that I will say goodbye, come back next week and we’ll close with my tips for maximizing your value for money while shopping in thrift stores…*wistful sigh* Someday Vera, someday…

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