- A PERSONAL ESSAY BY MARY NO -
When I was younger, I used to complain that I never had anything new to wear. My mom used to say, “it doesn’t matter what you wear; you have such a pretty figure!” As I got older, I realized I did, in fact, have a great figure (thanks mom!). But let’s be honest, she was clearly using that line so she wouldn’t have to buy me new clothes. In all fairness though, I get it, it’s expensive to keep up with trends – and I’m realizing that I don’t even want to buy myself new clothes. I mean, I do...but my wallet doesn’t!
Reasons To Buy New Clothes
I’ve always been one of those people who’d rather pay for experiences over stuff. That said, sometimes we actually DO need to buy new clothes. Maybe our weight has changed, maybe we need more grown-up clothes for our more grown-up job, or maybe it’s a break-up shopping spree. Or the #1 reason I get the shopping itch these days - social media. After seeing myself in the same green sweatshirt in photos from 5 years ago (thanks “Facebook memories”) I felt the pressure to make the trip to American Apparel to buy three new colors.
So how can one buy designer jeans and still save into their Roth IRA? As I was trying my best to "adult", I realized that the concept of an emergency fund should probably take precedence over my next Marc Jacobs bag. But in an attempt to have it all, I decided to check out the outlet center that I drive past almost every weekend (with blinders on). Needless to say, I held no grand illusions that this would be the place where all my shopping dreams would come true. Thinking of the crowds, “irregular” merchandise, last seasons rejects – in hindsight, I’m surprised I didn’t do a donut in the parking lot and drive right back home.
But I stuck to my guns + here’s what happened next.
After some browsing, I stumbled upon my favorite jeans that usually cost $198 - they were marked down to $80, score! Then, a trip to J. Crew where I’d usually spend $600 (easy), rang in at $240. Sure, I had to spend a little extra time sifting through things and some of it was “irregular” and even outdated, but with a little extra shopping determination and an open mind, I was dressing in designer style on 60% off the retail cost! I swear there is no better feeling than knowing that you didn’t pay full price for something.
Added bonus for the New Yorkers reading this: we are so used to schlepping around the city from the UES to Bleecker Street to Soho in order to cover all the various shopping ground but to have multiple stores all in one place is SO refreshing.
And even if you don’t live near an outlet center, simply getting in the habit of going to the online factory store vs the regular retail site is a total game changer. Thanks Buzzfeed for this list of 14 outlet stores that you can shop online.
I challenge you to take my “Shop for Less, Save the Rest” challenge…when you find an item you LOVE (that you WOULD have paid full price for in a normal store), take the amount of savings listed on the receipt and actually save it! Open up a savings account. Start funding a Roth IRA. Build your Emergency Fund. Or even better, rack up the credit card debt at only HALF the rate you used to! (totally kidding here).
But seriously, we work hard for our money and want something to show for it - that we can flaunt in public or via the growing balance of our bank account :)