1. Sale does not mean buy. You are no Pavlovian dog, so stop barking like one. Some of us instantly salivate upon seeing the word sale. We fall victim to the retailers elaborate and savvy marketing strategiesno wonder, because theyve spent millions in research dollars just to get us in the store. Start at the other end. Begin at zero dollars and work up to what you believe to be the items true value, not the discount from the arbitrarily assigned retail price.
2. Start at home: shop in your own closet. One of the most delightfully surprising places you can shop is in your own home. The stuff youll find in the back of closets, drawers, and shelves will amaze you! Theres that cute sweater youd worn but forgotten because it got shuffled under some other things. The new lipsticks that rolled to the back of the drawer. The scarf youd bought as a gift several months before your friends birthday, but forgotten about. Your own home is a chic boutique just waiting to be mined.
3. Leave your baggage at the door. (Thats emotional baggagefear, frustration, guilt, depression, self-sabotage, self-pity, etc.) Check your motivation before you sprint off on that spending spree. Do you shop because you were passed over for that promotion or your boyfriend is annoying you? Better to indulge in a warm bubbly bath, a hefty workout session, or a gabfest with your best girl pals to relieve stress than a shopping binge that will jumpstart the cycle all over again.
4. Gently used is also brilliantly smart. Allow someone to else pay for your wardrobe. Enjoy the largesse of a stranger and purchase her designer clothes (which shes gained too much weight to wear) at consignment shops for a fraction of the price she paid. Don your new previously owned duds and giggle all the way to a happy retirement!
5. Its not cheap if you dont need it. That I got it on sale! thing is not only a misnomerits totally the opposite. When you buy $120 shoes on sale for $70, you did not save $50. You spent $70. How many great deals on final sales did you bring home, only to discover it didnt fit all that great, the color wasnt exactly right, and you really had something similar that looked just as good or even a little better?
6. Know where your credit is (dont let it slink out of sight). Dont be an unconscious consumer. You are smart and you are all over it. Always keep tab of your current credit card balances so you know where you are and what you can comfortably manage to buy. Dont flippantly make that sweet smooth swift swiping action across the card reader, which is flashing a sugary, innocent, and distracting, Thaaank youuu. Meantime, its brazenly cracking into your financial future right before your eyes.
7. Shop like a man. Be purposeful, have a plan of attack, get the right equipment, head into battle, and expect to win. All of which means: Develop a shopping strategy. Create a list before you go. Dont shop when fatigued. Stick to your plan like a burr on army fatigues. Research quality, price, and available options before you leave the house. Dont be seduced into something off your list or outside your budget. Its perfectly fine to be flexible, just dont veer miles off the course.
8. Shop in the right sequence. When you know just what you need, head to the warehouse stores first, discount department stores second, and boutiques last. I know a woman who wears Prada and Chanel, but sports a lovely cashmere coat that she claims to have bought at Costco.
9. Mix low-cost (dare you say, cheap?) accessories with your designer duds. Said Star Jones, co-host of The View and owner of 26 pairs of Payless shoes, "Trust me, I can put on a $15 pair of shoes with a $1,500 dress and look like a million dollars. It's about putting it together." (The New York Times online, Celebrity Promoter Says the Words and Has Her Say, by Stuart Elliott, 25 November, 2002.) I get the biggest raves of compliments on cheap jewelry Ive collected from those little kiosks at airports around the world.
10. Dont fall in love. Love men, love family, love books, love parties, love conversation, and love your country. But dont love stuff, because it cannot satisfy. The more you focus on your craving for stuff, the more it will suck the life out of you, rendering you lifeless, languishing, and lacking for party invitations.
11. Trust your intuition. Time and a practiced ability to exercise patience are your best tools in the war on shopping. If its the last, best, final deal on the planet, well thenfine! Simply pack your bags and move to Mars (thats where the men are anyway)! If the shopgirl coos that youll never find such a fabulous deal again, but youre still indecisive, obey your intuition. Your intuition is a well-honed intellectual and emotional meter thats been years in the developing. There is so much stuff in the worldtrust me on thisyoull find something else, and it will probably be better. Pressured and panicked purchases are typically high price margin and regrettable purchases.
12. Go ahead and splurge like crazybut smart crazy. When youre simply dying to overindulge; when youre desperate for some retail therapy to beat the blues, when you simply must shop, just to shop, do it smart. Better to treat yourself to some waay overpriced bath oil or body cream than overpriced shoes or a bag that will set you back a rent payment. Better you blow twenty bucks than hundreds of bucks if it will slow down your urge to splurge.
13. Dont be the empress who has no clothes. Or the babe in a gorgeous dress but with an empty bank account. Ive known a few cheeky gals who stripped their finances naked in a sorry attempt to dress to the nines to attract dreamy and wealthy husbands. That strategy will backfire fast as you can say Tiffany brilliant-cut diamond in a platinum setting. Sometimes its best to forgo the shopping and focus on your sassy, girlie, fun-loving attitude. You look gorgeous in what youre already wearing, you beautiful chickadee, you!
14. Know that frugal is not the F word. Well, it is, but not that one. Frugal is back as the fun, smart, meticulous, considerate, self-loving, stylish, and sassy girl of the aughts. Doesnt mean you dont take off for a long weekend to Paris. You just buy cheap last-minute fares because youre hooked into the right Internet sites. You tote your luggage from Sams Club, knot your Hermés scarf from the consignment store, and stroll your self right on over to the Champs Elysees and the Place des Vosges.
15. Meet your girlfriends later. Like for lattés after you shop. Have you noticed some kind of crazy mad-girl disease overtakes the cleverest of women when they shop en masse? I cant even see your hips in that clingy silk bias-cut skirt, your girlfriends will chirp. Buy itjust get the thing! They actually do love you, but theyll get some crazy notion you should spend all your money. You end up buying amazing things youd never get when not overwhelmed by the mass psychology that causes an ordinary woman to throw caution and her credit cards to the wind.
Copyright 2002 by Sharon Durling. All rights reserved.
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