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Three Steps to Shop, Spend Better

by Sherrin Smith, Alvernia University

Three Steps to Shop, Spend Better

The idea of shopping sounds fun to many of us. However, some of the fun can be drained out of the experience by having to worry about a budget. How can we shop while also enjoying it?

Sherrin wearing a crop top from Forever 21, flannel from Goodwill, and jeans from Rainbow (photo taken by Sherrin Smith)

As someone who enjoys shopping, in person or online, I have created steps to prevent over-budget shopping. It is very tempting to scroll through the stores catalog or rummage through every rack and grab clothing that is appealing. To build up your tolerance, I recommend creating a list of items you need or have an interest in buying. For instance, I would like to buy more graphic T-shirts and ripped, ‘mom’ style jeans. Typical 90s outfit, but we’ll get back to style later. The second critical step is deciding how much I am willing to spend.

I normally like to shop when I get my paycheck, but I do not spend it all on shopping. In this scenario, I would limit myself to fifty dollars. This is a typical budget for me because I believe it is a reasonable amount of money to spend. Knowing my budget tells me where I can shop, the third step. In this case, I would choose to shop at Forever 21, H&M, Rainbow, Target, or Amazon. These are the typical stores I shop at so out of this group I would choose Target and Rainbow. The Target in Wyomissing has a great selection of graphic T-shirts. My personal preference is the selection in the men’s section which is perfect for oversized shirts. I would then get the jeans from Rainbow. There is a wide range of ‘mom’ jeans from ripped to no rips and light denim to dark denim.

Some people may have a different method when it comes to shopping. Junior, Kendra Quaglia, says she starts her shopping trip off by going to a specific section. “First I check the clearance section because sometimes they have cute stuff,” she said. While she is shopping, she enjoys trying clothes on before purchasing them. When it comes to purchases, Kendra does one big purchase a month. Unless, “if it’s a necessity, I’ll get it. Like a pair of shoes, I’ll get that,” she said.

To get a different perspective, I asked junior Ryan O Hanlon. His method is similar Quaglia and mine. “I normally have specific item in mind, however, most of the time I also pick up extra stuff,” he said. O Hanlon also added how he manages his budget when shopping. “I normally go shopping at the end of the month [be]cause I’ve paid rent and stuff…so I know what discretionary cash I have.”

Sherrin wearing graphic tee from Target and cargo pants from Amazon (photo taken by Sherrin Smith)

While my method may have more steps than Quaglia and O Hanlon, it is important to note two things: know what you want to buy and to set a budget. But what if you want to add something that is over your budget, cheap or expensive? If you know you would like something that may cost more, that is when you begin saving for that item. From time to time, I put money to the side for bigger shopping trips or for more expensive items. That way, when the time comes, I can afford what I would like.

Sometimes you can find something inexpensive in a thrift store. While they may be used, many items are in usable condition. For instance, there are three Goodwill stores near campus; Lancaster Avenue, Saint Lawrence Avenue, and 5th Street Highway. Shopping at thrift stores does require you to be open-minded about the items available for they are not always going to be in the best condition. But this is an opportunity for you to try out different styles and to save money. I personally enjoy shopping at thrift stores because the items typically match my style of 90s grunge, streetwear, or casual.

Whether or not you find use in my steps or the others’ methods, it is important to remember that you should shop based on what is available to you. If you have a small budget, buy things you need instead of things you want. Discover new stores where you can discover a new style. For the best outfits are not made of expensive items but items that represent you.