How To Stay On a Budget and Avoid Over-Shopping

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Overspending? Here’s my guide to how to stay on a budget and over shopping (especially with children).

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How To Stay On a Budget and Avoid Over-Shopping

Shopping is a big part of my life. I think about it, dream about it, and live for it. Shopping for me is a past-time, a hobby, a special treat, and on some days – my cardio. Whether I am shopping for the newest season’s accessory, tampons, or groceries, I do NOT (and, I REPEAT, DO NOT) ever start shopping without a very clear shopping plan mapped out. I always, always have a budget and a plan mapped out. So if you find yourself wondering how to stay on a budget, I’m sharing my shopping strategy with you.

You may think that I am crazy, or you may think that I am a genius–either way, it’s just not safe for me to walk into a mall, a grocery store, or a SOHO boutique without my head screwed on straight.


How to Stay on a Budget

1. Do Your Research

Before I go shopping, no matter what kind of shopping, I do my research ahead of time. I find out exactly what the hottest new items are, what’s on sale, and overall what I am looking for and wanting to purchase. I cannot emphasize enough how important this is to do, so that you do not end up spending unnecessary money and buying things on impulse that you do not need.

After I have done my research, I come up with a very detailed list of exactly what I am looking for during this shopping trip. Check out my post Wardrobe Staples for Every Woman to use as a great reference tool! My list typically includes the item, the store I can find it in, and the price that I either found online for the item or how much I am willing to spend on it.  Another advantage of this strategy is that if you actually have a print-out of the price on-line, some stores will match a competitor’s price.

2. Map it Out

Before I enter any shopping establishment, I know the exact route that I am going to take. Yes, sometimes I get distracted, but for the most part I know where I am going and how I am going to get there.  And if I see something not on my list, I add it to my “Lust List”  to be considered for another time, if it passes all of my above research criteria!

3. Come Prepared

Whether I am shopping with Branden or alone, I always come prepared. First, I think about snacks and fluids. This helps me avoid spending unnecessary calories at the food court, restaurants, or  the ubquitous and popular NYC food trucks. I try to pack low calorie snacks and water ahead of time so that I am prepared to beat any cravings and quench my thirst. After all, shopping burns lots of calories. (YES!)

In addition to drinks and snacks, it’s important to come prepared with my wallet, shopping list, and coupons. This way, I am always getting the best deals and not buying unnecessary items.  And I recommend that you consider taking advantage of charge card offerings, as long as you know you can pay off the balance each month, because you can often get additional discounts, sale prices, or privileges such as free alterations by using a store card.

Finally, it is equally important to bring along what you need in order to decide on a purchase.  If you need a jacket for a specific dress, it might be wise to bring the dress with you.  And think about what you are wearing when you leave your house. Wearing sneakers to try on dress pants doesn’t work too well. Nor does wearing lots of bulky clothing when you intend to try on bathing suits. And most especially, don’t forget to wear the right under-garments.  How do you know how the cocktail dress will really look if you leave your Spanx and push up bra in your drawer at home?

4. Avoid Distractions

Ever have that horrible experience at the mall where you are walking, minding your own business, and then all of a sudden you are dropping $200 at a kiosk on an item hustled to you by an aggressive salesperson?  And you go home with a purchase that you’re really not even sure what it is? This can be tricky to avoid, but I have to say I have mastered this little difficulty. I call it my “keep your eyes on the prize” tactic. Simply, I don’t make eye contact with ANYONE (unless of course I’m shopping with a friends or family). I keep looking straight ahead and keep thinking about the next store I am trying to get to and the easiest way to get there.

I know that it’s not nice to purposely ignore people, especially whenever they are working on commission sales of these products. But, sometimes it just has to be done. And if that fails, a polite but firm “NO THANK YOU” while you keep on walking should do the trick. (The same strategy goes for ignoring items that are not on your list, too!!)

And a bonus “how to stay on a budget” tip:

If you are going shopping for clothes, especially for yourself (but this can also work for your kiddos), go shopping in your own closet.  Seriously. I have a huge guide for doing this that you can check out here but since we all have moments of weakness and do over-buy clothing items and forget about them, this will give you all the know-how for conquering your closet. And if you need some extra fashion storage advice, I’ve got that, too – because there is no way to be organized without it! 

Fashionably Yours,


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