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As a freelance writer and marketing consultant, I wear a lot of hats. One of those hats is creating fashion content for online publications and blogs where I share the great styles I’ve found. So basically, some days I get paid to shop. I already pinched myself and no I’m not dreaming — but there is a catch. When it’s your job to find clothing and accessories that you love, there is a lot of temptation to buy those things for yourself.
In order to keep my spending in check and stay on budget, I knew I had to put some precautionary measures in place. Here’s how I curb the urge to shop.
Do the Math
Whenever I find a great dress or bag I feel like I have to have, I first calculate how much the item is going to cost in hours of work. Trendy costume jewelry that will take me six working hours to earn probably won’t make the cut. But eight hours for a sturdy pair of jeans I’ll wear consistently is worth it to me. I don’t have this method down to a perfect science, but taking the time to think about what I have to do to afford something gives me a chance to decide what is — and isn’t — worth it.
Fill Your Cart
It sounds counterintuitive, but filling up digital shopping carts actually saves me money in the long run. The key is that after I add the things I want to my cart, I walk away. If I’m still thinking about it in a couple of days, I can easily find it (and sometimes it’s even on sale). Usually, though, I forget all about it. Turns out, I didn’t need it as much as I initially thought.
Review Your Finances Regularly
Every Sunday I like to check in on my financial progress. I find that spending a few minutes looking at what I earned that week, what I spent and how my savings goals are coming along, leaves me less apt to shop during the week. Those new boots are a lot less tempting when you realize how close you are to booking your dream vacation or making that down payment.
Make the Purchase
My goal isn’t to stop shopping completely, just to make sure I’m not over-shopping because of my job. I love fashion and that’s why I work on projects that require me to check out the latest trends. And when I am ready to buy something, here are the questions I ask myself to make sure my money is well spent.
- Can I wear this style now? In college, I prepped for life in the working world by stocking up on sleeveless shift dresses I was sure would be put to good use post-graduation. Then I landed my first job — and found out the dress code didn’t allow bare shoulders. So, the shifts were a no-go. Next, I moved on to a creative startup environment where jeans and sneakers were de rigueur. Now, I work for myself and I’m still not wearing those dresses. The lesson: Only buy styles that work for your current circumstances.
- Am I being swept up in a trend? Trends are a tricky business. On one hand, they’re fun, fresh and hard to ignore. But, they can also leave as quickly as they arrived. When it comes to shopping, I don’t ignore trends, I just embrace styles that I know flatter me and can transition with time.
- Will this piece fit into my wardrobe? Similar to the work clothes I never wore, I also have clothing that’s waiting for its perfect pair. Who knows if I’ll ever find the right blouse to go with the skirt that’s been collecting dust in my closet for three years. Nowadays, I only buy styles that fit in with my existing wardrobe and are easy to pair with multiple pieces. That way I can start getting bang for my buck right away.