Cardinal Rules to Shop By: 5 Ways to Protect Your Budget

Staying fashionable on a small budget is hard, but not impossible. With a few money management tricks up your sleeve, you can update your wardrobe without shredding your budget to ribbons. Follow these cardinal rules every time you shop, and you’ll protect your budget.

cardinal rule to shop

1. Know Your Budget:

First thing’s first: you need to have a budget to make sure you follow it. You should generally spend no more than five percent of your net income (your earnings after taxes) on clothes.

Once you know this limit, you can organize your monthly shopping sprees to fit your budget. Just remember, this rule covers your entire household, whether that’s just you or three kids and a partner.

2. Use Credit Wisely:

If you find something amazing that’s out of your budget, you should put it on credit or take out an online loan to afford it — said no one ever. Financial advisors never recommend using your credit cards like this if you have no plan to pay them off.

The same goes for online loans. If you still have questions (like, perhaps what is an online loan and why should you use one?), note they’re for unexpected emergencies only.

What does a shopping emergency look like? If your house floods and contaminates your entire family’s shoe collection with sewage, you might not have the savings ready to buy everyone a replacement pair. An online loan may be an option here, but not when you want to refresh your sneakers for the spring.

3. Always Use an Extension:

Shopping isn’t an analog experience anymore. You’re probably doing most of your shopping from a screen anyway, so you might as well take advantage of your device. Downloading the right app or browser extension can help you earn cash or save it.

  • Amazon Assistant: If you shop from Amazon often, this extension compares prices and alerts you to the deal of the day.
  • Honey: This sweet extension scours the web for the top coupons and applies them automatically at checkout.
  • Rakuten: As a rebate extension, Rakuten earns you a percentage of every qualifying shopping trip and cuts you a check.

These are just a sampling of the extensions and apps you can use. Be sure to look around until you find the right fit for your shopping habits.

4. Shop Off-Season:

Buying a rain jacket just as spring delivers its annual showers is a bad idea. Demand is high for rain gear, so retailers will push up their prices. But you’ll see its price tag drop if you wait until the summer to nab this seasonal coat.

Keep this in mind for anything you buy. Summer clothes tend to reduce in price during the winter and vice versa. Buying off-season will help you avoid buying anything at full price.

5. Try to Invest in Quality over Quantity:

The fast fashion trend means clothes that fit a small budget are cheap. A small price tag usually means your shirt will rip and jeans will wear out.

Although you paid less for an item upfront, you wind up paying more in the long run because you have to replace it frequently.

It might be worth it to splurge on higher quality items for things you intend to wear a lot (think your staples, like jeans, a blazer, or your running shoes). This will save you the trouble and cost of replacing them every few months.

Staying stylish on a budget isn’t hard when you follow these cardinal rules with every shopping trip. Try them out to see how you can save with everything you buy.