Thursday, January 6, 2011

My Clothing Budget

Yesterday I wrote about my budget. Today I'll tell you a little bit about my clothing budget. When I sat down and created a serious budget I did so based on a combination of how much I wanted to save each month and how much I realistically would spend having examined my spending habits over the past year. I settled on an annual clothing budget of $900. I don’t know if this is good or bad. For a girl with a Nordstrom habit, it’s probably fairly conservative. For a girl with a Nieman Marcus habit it would probably be impossible. On the other hand, if you’re shopping at Good Will you probably think I’m ridiculous and are wondering how the hell I can claim to be a penny pincher.

I read a local blog pretty regularly in which the author has discussed her clothes spending habits many times. They kind of blow my mind. She basically aims to spend $10 or less on every item, although there are some things she'll spend (slightly) more for and others she wouldn't dream of spending as much as $10 on. Since we live in the same area I can't exactly claim that the high cost of living is the reason I spend so much more than her on clothing.

I also recently discovered a Portland based blog that I love, and after jumping around the site for hours I discovered this post about thrift store shopping. Mostly the idea of thrift store shopping has made me queasy in the past. But I'm a new person, a penny pinching person, a frugality-equals-sustainability minded person. So could I do it?

He mentions that he's lucky enough to live near a high end thrift store. At first that derailed me. I thought maybe when I visit Portland I'd give thrifting a try. Then I realized that there have got to be high end thrift stores. The one that popped into my head immediately was Plato's Closet which specifically buys and sells brand name clothing. I'm not actually in the market for new clothes, so I decided to gather up some old things that I've been meaning to get rid of for awhile and head down to check it out.

I have a few dresses and tops that I purchased from Bebe a few years ago hoping to wear them on vacation. I spent about $500 because I was buying online and figured I'd be returning things I didn't like or that didn't fit. Unfortunately, my online order arrived after I'd left for vacation despite paying for rushed shipping. By the time I got around to returning everything the 2 week limit had expired - I had never purchased from Bebe online before and had no idea they had such stringent rules. The penny-pinching-me now would have kicked up a fuss about the shipping coming in late and the fact that I'd been out of town for the majority of those 2 weeks. The could-care-less-about-money person I was then shrugged her shoulders and took a $500 hit. All of those clothes have been hanging in my closet ever since with the tags still on them.

I took them into Plato's Closet and wandered around the store while they looked at my items. They told me they pay out 1/3 of what they expect to sell the item for, and when I realized that virtually everything in there seemed to be $12 I was cringing at the possibility of getting $4 for an item that still had a $150 price tag on it. Turns out I wasn't even going to get that. They told me they weren't interested in anything I had because it was outdated. Pride deflated. It wasn't until I got home that I realized they hadn't given me back a cheap t-shirt I'd also taken in. The shirt was too worthless for me to waste the gas on a drive back for it.

So, if anyone is keeping track, so far it's PigPenny - 0, Thrift Stores - 1.

I’m hoping this will turn out to be a blessing in disguise. I have the clothes ready to be photographed and put on Ebay, and I'm thinking I might get more money for them there anyway. I've also determined that Plato's closet would be an okay bet for me if I'm shopping for weekend clothes or summer things, but is probably aimed at a demographic too young for me to do the majority of my shopping there. Despite getting (accidentally) robbed, the place wasn't so bad. I'm definitely going to look further into what other thrift store options I have in the Seattle area and give them a chance.

Listing my old clothes on Ebay is a work in progress. I'm going to start out listing some of my cheaper things at the under $0.99 price that doesn't carry listing fees. I'm also going to try out some of the nicer items on Craigslist before I pay to list them on Ebay and risk not even getting bidders. I'll post again once I see the results of this experiment. I'm also going to work on chipping away at that $900 clothing budget. I'm thinking my days of purchasing $200 jeans should be a thing of the past.

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