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Developing a method for my shopping madness


I was talking a friend the other day about shopping. She hates it, to the point where she almost has to be forced to get new clothes because the old ones are falling apart. She said to me:

Since I hate shopping, I was thinking maybe I should go into it with some sort of method. I usually just get hot, tired, and overwhelmed after the 2nd trip to the dressing room.

I think that’s a great idea, for so many reasons! Recently, I started talking about the shopping process. It sounds so scientific, almost like we’re taking the art (and the fun) out of shopping. But wouldn’t a more scientific method help us in several ways? A plan could save us money, if we can avoid wasted purchases. A plan could save us time, if we spend less time looking through things we know we don’t want. A plan could save us anguish, by avoiding dressing room disasters.

So, I’m proposing a four-step method to shopping.

  1. Budget. Sure, there will be times when I don’t have a budget and I can spend whatever I want, but today (like most days), I should begin with an idea of how much I can spend.  I should start shopping with that amount in mind, and once I’ve spent it, I should go home. I will not spend more than I budgeted. This means I need to prioritize.
  2. Prioritize. Is there something specific that I’m looking for? This could be a particular item, a type of item, or even a particular store. Do I need clothes for work or vacation? Am I looking for a dress for a wedding?  Those items should take top priority and I should look for them first. I don’t want to waste my budget on things that are less important. However, if I’m not going to look for anything specific, then I can just browse around as I please.
  3. Discriminate. For me, one of the hardest parts of shopping is buyer’s remorse. Something that looks cute in the store does not always look cute at home, especially if it’s dramatically different than what I already own.  However, I know there are a set of styles, shapes and colors I like, and I should stick to those. I need to buy colors and styles that are consistent with my current wardrobe, focusing on high-quality and classic items, things I can wear more than once. I’m not saying I never add anything new to my wardrobe, but I am careful how I mix it up so that I don’t end up with a bunch of expensive closet stuffers.
  4. Enjoy. Even given these guidelines, there’s lots of room to have fun, without suffering later. I think that if I can stick to a budget and buy only the things I know will work, I am more likely to simply enjoy the shopping experience without the guilt of spending too much or buying things I’ll never wear.

So, in the interest of science I’m taking the afternoon off and heading to one of the outlet malls near Austin. I love outlet shopping. I think this is the perfect opportunity for me to test out my new shopping method. I’ll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, I would be very interested in hearing about your shopping process. Do you have a method?  What works for you and what doesn’t?

Jenn @ June 22, 2008


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  3. Christine June 27, 2008 @ 4:38 pm

    For me, shopping usually ends near tears. However, I did go out on June 22 with a plan for what I wanted and a budget, and I have to say it wasn’t a horrible experience. I got lucky on the budget front because I received a gift card, so how much I could spend was taken care of. Before I went I decided I only wanted to get work clothes, and only once I had found enough work clothes could I look at other things. It really made a difference for me. I didn’t decide that I needed specific colors, but I did say, ok I need dress slacks or skirts and at least one top. It made it much easier to just skip over everything that was not appropriate for work. It never works for me to just go to a store and “SHOP”; I end up buying one thing I will never wear again or I get completely overwhelmed and leave in a sweaty huff after 45 minutes of trying on all types of clothing items. Let’s hear it for science.

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