According to the Consumer Expenditure Survey, Americans spent over $1600 per household on clothing in 2007. That doesn’t include cleaning, mending, or any other upkeep. Even if you cut those expenditures by a measly 10 percent, that’s enough to fund a nice day trip for you and your family! Here are some suggestions to make those cuts:

1. Buy at a discount. Whether you’re a designer diva or Wal-Mart royalty, these days, there’s no reason to buy full-price. You can search online spots like eBay and Craigslist for bargain-basement prices on used designer goods, buy through consignment shops, or just scope the clearance racks at the local discount store. The key is to shop ahead, and avoid rushing out to buy something at the last minute, like a bathing suit or shoes for a wedding. When you’re in a hurry, things always cost more.

2. Remake your own. Turn yesterday’s cast-offs into today’s fashion statement by learning a few basic sewing and embellishing tricks. Add embroidery to faded denim, trim worn-out jeans into cut-offs, and add rosettes and beading to t-shirts for the latest looks. There are lots of online sites dedicated to teaching you all you need to know for creating fashionable looks from what’s already in your closet.

3. Hold a clothing swap. Gained or, preferably, lost a few pounds? Headed back to the office for a new job? Moving to a different climate? Or just changing styles? Then invite friends over for a clothing swap. These events work best when you have friends around the same size as you are, but don’t get too picky – you never know what’s lurking in the back of someone else’s closet! Display all your unwanted wearables and take turns picking and modeling. Donate all the unclaimed goods at the end of the evening to a women’s shelter or a group that provides clothing to women returning to the workforce. Don’t forget to get a receipt for a tax write-off.

4. Sell on eBay. One of the best money-making ideas I ever had was selling all my old maternity clothes on eBay. Pregnant women are in need of clothing and are willing to pay for it, but don’t always have access to a fashionable maternity store. So instead of packing up all your pregnancy wear, sell it on eBay.

Maternity clothing is usually gently worn, so women are willing to take a risk on these items, and pay a decent price to look good while sporting a basketball for a tummy! Take great photos, price it to sell, and get the goods out of your house and the cash into your pocket.

If you’re hesitant to sell your maternity clothes because you are going to have another baby, think twice. Unless you’re planning to get pregnant within a year or so, go ahead and sell. Even if the styles don’t change significantly, most women do not want to see themselves twice in all the same maternity clothes. You want something new, or at least different, when the second time comes. Sell your stuff and when your second time comes, go ahead and look online for another new mother’s gently used maternity clothes. They’ll be new to you.

5. Invest Where It Counts. One of the biggest money-saving mistakes people make is trying to save and ending up with cheap goods. While a $6 t-shirt may be a great bargain, if it falls apart in the wash or the color comes off on your skin, it’s not much of a steal. Deals are only deals if you can wear the item long enough to make the cost worthwhile. Even a $6 tshirt isn’t worth the expense if you can only wear it once. Would you throw $6 in the garbage?

One of the places I encourage people to invest is in shoes, particularly if you are on your feet all day. You’re much better off buying one great pair of shoes that works with all your outfits, instead of scooping up four or five pairs of cheap shoes that hurt your feet or fall apart. Comfort is paramount when it comes to your feet – take care of them and they’ll take care of you.

Another place people tend to skimp is on cold-weather wear and other outerwear. Invest in a good, three-season jacket if you live in warmer climates, and get a great parka if you’re in the Snowbelt. These quality outer garments should keep you warm and dry for several years – and that’s worth the cost!

You can see that it is possible to dress well, and even fashionably, on a budget. The key is to plan ahead, know what you need, and stick to a plan.


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