How to Save Money in the Real World By Not Spending $44 on a Fashion Belt

I think I should start my own talk show.  Here’s why:

Not too long ago, I was watching a talk show online while job hunting, and there was a fashion special on “how to save money” on clothes for less.  But as always, I was VERY disappointed on these “deals” because these “deals” are still too much for anyone on a budget.  They were showing a $44 fashion belt and shirts about $35.  In the real world, if you’re struggling financially, you’re going to rake more debt if you regularly spend this much on clothes or sacrifice food on the table.

People wonder why they are broke and I wonder “Are you serious?  I think know why.”  I’m only trying to help.. you can take my advice or leave it.  I will tell you how to really save money and how I score really cheap clothes.  When I say cheap, I mean shirts less than $5 (and yes they are VERY nice shirts too).  As a person who grew up in a lower class and then survived living on my own with a low income, in one of the most expensive areas in the country.. (near NYC), I have saved money, so that I could pay bills on time, have enough for unexpected emergencies, pay my loans, and do some fun activities.

As of today, I have never spent more than $55 on one single item of clothing.  The most expensive clothing I wear most of the time, are my shoes, (which is where the $55 comes from)… The rest of my clothes mostly cost less than $15.  The reason why I’m willing to spend more on shoes is for function, comfort, and health.  They get beaten up and more worn out on a day to day basis, and if we don’t get good ones, our back, knees, and health, may pay the ultimate price.  I was fortunate to get my first pair of really good sneakers in high school from my brother, which lasted me a few years and since then I have bought good shoes when they were on sale.  

That’s the key: “Sale” and “Years.”

Unless you absolutely need it and it’s reasonably priced, wait until it is on sale.  Plan ahead; look through flyers weekly, compare prices, research online deals, promotions, holiday sales, etc.  Sign up for store mailing lists and get promotional codes/coupons, (I often get 20% off). also have promotional codes that people post up when they don’t need it or its for everyone.  I got my prom dress a year in advanced for $12 because I waited until the season was over for the prior year.

Forget about “keeping up with fashion” regularly.   Unless your money making skills is dependent upon it (career-wise), that is not a real need— that is an unnecessary money spending want.  I use what I buy to the fullest, (I even have a shirt from almost 10 years ago) and resist the urge buy new ones if they still look good.  When I go to the store, I immediately go to the discount rack.  If it’s a store I’m not familiar with, I scan the place for those discount signs and make a mental note of its location for next time. You’re on a budget and you need to be realistic.

Forget About Expensive Designer Clothes

Some of my friends and others who don’t want to buy anything but designer clothes are going to hate that I’m saying this, but in the real world, if you’re in debt off the wall (e.g. college student), or barely making ends meet, I don’t think it’s a good idea to be spending that $100 on a handbag, $300 for a pair of jeans, $20 on lipstick, or $60 for a t-shirt.   Yes, I’ve been made fun of most of my life for not wearing designer clothes, but I’ve learned not care.  Not to go Dr. Phil on you, but I’ve learned that friends are supposed to like you for you and not your materials and if that’s not true, you deserve better friends.  My point is I’ve managed to have affordable clothes (on sale), look good, and pay for my necessities by not spending on expensive designer clothes.

I get REALLY good deals at Kohls, JcPenny’s which usually has 75%-90% off rack, depending on locations.  I’ve gotten VERY nice shirts for less than $2 each at Kohls, that I am able to wear when I go out.  Most jeans I get on sale are $7-$15.  I’ve gotten very nice suit shirts for about $5 each at JcPenny, that I’ve used to interviews and work.

If you REALLY want, (notice the word “want”), designer clothes.  They are likely going to be more expensive, BUT let me tell you a “secret,” there are stores that sell designer clothes for less and sometimes “dirt” cheap.  Mandees, Marshals, and TJMAXX.  Kohls and JcPennys does too, but the other 3’s specialty seems like discounted designer products.  I remember trying to ask someone on a budget to go shop with me at those places, but she said “I don’t shop at those kind of stores.  The quality is no good.”  For those who don’t even bother checking it out, it’s their loss (financially speaking as well).  Seriously, they are real brand names.. just a lower price tag.  I remember getting jewlery for my friends and they were like “Ohhh goshhhh, it’s beautiful.  I’ve heard of this brand… this stuff is really expensive!!”  No problem.  It didn’t cost much, really.. and it’s the thought that counts. 😉

Higher Price Does Not Always Mean Better Quality

To tell you the truth, regardless of what people tell you, the higher the price does not always mean better quality.  Sometimes it just means popularity or a designer name.  “Quality vs Quantity.”  Just like I said, you can get the same exact products for cheaper on sale, or from a source that sell it for less.  But there are non-brand name clothes of equal quality that are probably made in similar sweat shops, in similar quality labor, usually overseas in the same countries.  It’s like, just because I’m not famous, doesn’t mean I was created with less quality DNA.  Ok, maybe not quite, but my point is I’ve gotten non-designer items for dirt cheap that outlasted designer items, that ripped apart shortly after getting it.  On contrary what others do, I then knew not to get similar products again, regardless of designer names; (Why spend on something that keeps breaking?)   I’ve also worn cheap non-designer clothes while break dancing, doing martial arts, and trust me, I did not rip holes, split my pants, etc.  After a few years, maybe.  Think about it in terms of function.  Like what are the chances that you’ll rip that $60 t-shirt vs a $10 t-shirt?  If it does the job, that’s what matters.

When it comes to saving money on clothes, set a goal, spend wisely, and be realistic.  You need to compromise among things you really need or just want and sometimes that means sacrifices in order to better your situation.  It also helps to set a limit per item and take it into perspective, like, I won’t spend more than $5 for regular tee vs a $50, because the $45 that I am saving I could spend on 2-4 weeks of groceries, or pay next month’s bill.  Ask yourself, “Do I really need to spend that much on that item?”  If you’re juggling between buying food and paying bills due to an expensive taste in clothes, then you are living beyond your means and likely need to reevaluate your spending.  Also don’t be ashamed to accept hand-me-downs from family and friends… A chunk of my life, I’ve worn hand-me-downs.  Free items could make a huge difference.  Either way, I certainly did not have to sacrifice appearance.  I still get plenty of compliments on my attire, and “Where did you get that?”
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