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Gray Skies Are Going to Clear Up; Spread Sunshine All Over Your Closet

Admit it. As those snow piles in your parking lot, yard or imagination take their time in making their exit, you are finding yourself longing for the days when you can leave the jacket, the coat or the itchy sweater at home.

The truth is, the days of shorter sleeves and sunglasses are closer than you think. You might need to freshen up your wardrobe just to be ready for fairer weather. Here are a few tips to help you if your clothes from last year won’t work, either because you’ve shed or put on a few pounds, or if last summer’s clothes were hanging by just a few threads when the leaves started changing colors.

Of course, if you can make do with last year’s fashions, that’s going to be the best for your pocketbook. This wouldn’t be a financial management site if we didn’t remind you of that. If shopping for clothes is unavoidable, here are a few tips to help you refresh your look without giving away all your money.

  • Make a plan. Don’t leave your home without writing out a list of exactly what you need. This can help you from shopping aimlessly, buying things because it seems like it might be a good idea. You don’t want to shop until your mission is clear. This means taking a look at your closet before you go to see what you have to work with from the beginning.
  • Look at the paper ads and online for the deals. That hot item you like might be on sale two-for-one somewhere.
  • Spend cash. Aside from the protection it gives you from the data breaches we’ve been hearing so much about, spending cash helps you set limits on how much you’ll spend. You’ll be less likely to buy a pair of pants that costs $20 more than you want to spend if the money in your pocket is finite. Leave your plastic at home.
  • Thrift shop. OK, the song “Thrift Shop” is probably old by now. Maybe you never liked it. No matter, shopping at thrift shops, once frowned upon by you and most of your friends, is a favorite activity for everyone from the hipsters to the nerds to the cool people to the cool hipster nerds. The thrift shop should probably be your first stop.
  • Once you start going to the regular stores, go to a few of them before you start buying. You’re not only more likely to find better deals that way, you’ll have a better idea of the clothes you will want.
  • One way to convince yourself to be frugal about most of your spending is to tell yourself you will let yourself splurge on something if you have enough money left over.

Despite what it might look like outside, the warmer days are coming. By shopping now you might get yourself better deals on spring and summer clothes. And you’ll give yourself another reason to look forward to sunny days ahead.

Published Feb 18, 2014.