Tuesday, December 22, 2009

How to Lower Your Bills - Clothing

This is the next part of my reader's question, "How do I lower my bills?" Without knowing the specific bills you want to cut, I can only give general info on this one. (Please let me know specific bills you want to cut.)

There are two questions to ask your self when trying to lower a specific expense. 1. Is it possible or have I already slashed this as low as I can? 2. If it is possible, HOW can I do it?

The HOW is where you need to think about it from many different angles and be open to possibilities that aren't mainstream and some you may not be totally comfortable with at the beginning.

Also keep in mind the Three E Rule. Look at my older post at this link for the specifics. http://thecouponbinder.blogspot.com/2009/06/three-e-rule.html

Let's do an example...Clothing.

Most Americans buy their clothes from a department store of some kind. We'll call this retail. Now there are different levels of retail. Full price, sales price, and clearance rack. If you want to keep buying your clothes from a retailer, those are the levels you have to choose from. Each step down will take a little more patience to find the style and fit you want and work in terms of going to the store more often or going and not buying anything because it isn't in your price range, but your savings will increase with each step down.

You can also get an additional discount if you actually work at a specific store. This would also allow you to see the items on the clearance rack before the customers do and it will get you to the store everyday. So if you are REALLY into brand new clothes - especially a specific brand, this might be a good idea for you.

Now if I were at the retail level, let's even say the clearance rack level. I need to ask myself, "Is it possible to get this cheaper? If so, HOW?"

YES I can get clothes cheaper. HOW? By going the next tier down. Thrift Stores. This is a bit more work then retail, but again, the savings will increase. Here, there are no guarantees that you will find what you need at that moment. But if you don't have specifics in mind and are willing to wait to find the fit and style you want, this is a great option. Again, if you are into having many clothes to wear, you will need to go on a consistent basis. Or you can drop your expectations.

This is a step that a lot of people aren't comfortable with. I know I wasn't for a LONG time. I wasn't raised "Thriftin' " (a term my friends and I use). It took a good friend that I looked up to, to introduce me to this realm. Funny thing, she actually has more money than I do. I figured if she could do it, so could I.

We also turned it into a game. It was time we could spend together, shopping for our families, and when we found a good deal we both get excited. If something is over priced we say out loud across the store, "Really? $5 for this?!! Waaay overpriced!" We also laugh at the goofy stuff you find there. So there is an entertainment factor as well.

Now again the question, "Is it possible to do this cheaper? HOW?"

YES, cheaper is possible. Yard sales. It took another friend to get me to dive even deeper. I wasn't completely comfortable with this realm because you had to negotiate and I didn't know the market prices for yard sales. Again, there is a bit more work at this level as compared to the levels above it, but your savings increase again.

There is also fun in this because negotiating is SO MUCH FUN!! Many people (women especially) are afraid of it, but it is so empowering! And what better place to learn it when there are only a couple of dollars riding on it. Better to learn it here then when you want to buy a house or car.

So this level actually can give you skills to save money in other realms. Also, when you see how much things depreciate it turns you off to buying ANYTHING new ever again. (In the spring I will be posting more on yard sale tips so stay tuned for that.)

Now again the questions, "Is it possible to do this cheaper? HOW?"

FREE. HOW? People give us clothes for free and I LOVE this, so do my girls. I have a reputation for being super frugal - which is true. People know that we will accept all donations without feeling like we are a charity case. In fact we are VERY grateful and try to thank the giver profusely. When we wear a given item, we also make it a point to show the giver we are wearing it, (if it works out that way). Or I will make it a point to tell them how much we are enjoying it and how cute the girls look.

If someone is thinking about giving something to the thrift store, they will ask us first if we can use it. I will always say yes. It is better to go through a bunch of stuff, find a few items you can use, and then donate the rest. It also means I will make the thrift store run instead of the person who gave us the stuff, but I think that is a fair trade off. (I have to say with clothes we keep most of them.)

We don't have a lot of outfits that are the cutesy matching kind. But our oldest in is 2nd grade and the kids aren't really into fashion yet. I have been to her classroom and she looks just the same as everyone else.

Some people won't be comfortable with getting other people's cast offs and that is okay. However, try to do something that stretches you. I had to go through every step down this ladder one at a time. Each one stretched me and I learned great skills in all of them.

Now again the question, "Is it possible to do this cheaper? HOW?"

No, it is not possible to do this cheaper than FREE and this is where it ends. Merry Christmas!

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