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Budget Chic: How to Look Good While Saving Money

Updated on August 6, 2017
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Cardia is a videographer from Barbados with a passion for travel, craft, writing and helping others.


Keeping up with the fashion trends and having stylish clothes can become quite expensive, especially when things are tight economically. However, being fashionable does not always have to break the bank.

This article suggests ways in which you can look good, while staying on your budget plan.

Swap and share clothes with friends.

Had your eye on your best friend’s blouse for a while? Ask her if she’s willing to let you have it, and in exchange, she can pick out an item from your closet.

Some people even host ‘swap parties’ among their close friends where everyone brings pieces of clothing that they no longer wear. Everyone then goes through the clothes, and picks out something that they like. Each person gets to go home with new pieces of clothing for their wardrobes!

Also, lending and sharing clothes and accessories with friends is another great way of saving money. If you and your friend/sibling have similar tastes and you both have your eye on an expensive item (such as a handbag or a piece of jewelry) you can split the costs, and ‘co-own’ it.


Do your own manicures and pedicures.

Having your nails nicely done can certainly brighten your mood (and overall appearance), but frequent appointments at the salon can certainly add up in costs. Instead, do your own pedicures and manicures! Buy some bottles of nail polish in your favourite colours, a manicure/pedicure kit, as well as a bottle of nail polish remover.

It is always recommended to put on a layer of clear nail polish as a top coat, whether you’re doing a solid colour on your nails, or a pattern. This will help to protect the nail polish from everyday wear and chipping, and also let it last longer. Here's an article with some more tips on how you can really make your at-home manicure stand out.

YouTube is filled with tutorials for all sorts of nail polish designs, from the simple but elegant French Manicure, to polka dots, rainbows, even little animals! For these more intricate designs, you'd need to buy a few bottles of nail art polishes (these are little bottles of nail polish with a special thin tip that is created just for doing designs) for this. It might seem costly to buy all these nail supplies, but you certainly get more use out of them then one trip to the salon.

Make your own clothes.

Making your own clothes not only allows you to save money, but also style the clothing the way YOU want it!

Think about it: When you create your own garments, you get to choose what style, cut, colour, pattern and shape it has. You can also choose what type of fabric to make it from, and you can later embellish it with fabric paint, buttons, studs or dye.

You can learn to sew through many different ways. You can attend classes at your local hobby or fabric store, or if you have a family member or friend who is an expert, you can ask for a few quick lessons.

Sometimes you don’t have to make the clothes from scratch. You can use old pieces of clothing from your closet or the thrift store, and customize them to suit your tastes. An old pair of jeans can quickly become denim shorts, and you can always redo that old jacket with metal studs and spikes.

YouTube has thousands of great videos showing how to make or customize your own clothes. The level of easiness ranges from beginner to expert, and you can follow along with the instructions and video clips.There are also dozens of blogs and websites that feature tutorials for how to ‘do-it-yourself’ or DIY. By simply using your favourite search engine, you can find these, as well as more ways to design, create and customize your own clothes.

Trust me, nothing makes you feel better then when someone compliments you on your clothing, and you can proudly say “Thanks! I made it!”


Purchase sale items.

This one's pretty obvious, but sales are one of the best ways to save a lot of money on clothes, shoes and accessories. Some discounts are minor, while some are unbelievable!

Check your newspaper for ads for sales or discounts at stores. Also, keep in the know by signing up for email newsletters, and becoming a member on company websites. Sometimes, simply calling your favourite store and asking over the phone about the next big event can gain you some information.

Also, famous sale events of the year, such as Labour Day Weekend, Boxing Day and of course, the ever popular ‘Black Friday’ weekend hundreds of stores put most if not all of their stock at a low price; not just clothing, but electronics, appliances, furniture and toys, amongst these. Be ready for these, especially the heavy crowds!

let's pop some tags!
let's pop some tags!

Thrift shops = treasure trove.

Macklemore was right - one man's trash is another man's come-up.

A trip to the thrift store is definitely budget friendly. Most items are very inexpensive, therefore your dollar can stretch more. You can find clothes of all styles, cuts, colours and patterns.

Many people that customize and re-create their own clothes depend heavily on thrift stores as a means for obtaining clothes cheaply. It is actually considered quite ‘chic’ to purchase used clothing, then recreating it into something entirely different, with the help of dye, fabric paints and craft supplies.

Just make sure that you thoroughly wash the items before wearing.


Buy a few designer pieces (they often last longer!)

You often don’t see the words “designer clothes” and “budget” together.

However, sometimes buying the ‘cheapest’ and lowest priced clothes isn’t always the best option. They might be made of a lower quality material and might even have defects from the factory (hence the low price). They might not last for very long – some look very worn after only one washing.

However, if you purchase an item made of quality materials, it could last for years, and be used in many ways. For example, if you buy a pair of designer dark blue jeans, you would be able to incorporate them into any outfit. Plus, they would last much longer (in durability) than some low-budget pair of jeans. Think about it – you would be able to get more use out of it, especially if they last for years and not show wear and tear.

Designer items worthy of investing is include shoes (especially heels), handbags and belts If you’re looking to do this, consider buying items that are in neutral colours, such as white, beige, black, dark blues and browns. This way, you would be able to pair them with multiple sets of outfits.

Sometimes you’re lucky enough to find such items on sale, but more often than not, investments like these do pay off in the end.

Coupons, Coupons, Coupons!

Coupons are wonderful things – imagine that a simple piece of paper can instantly give you a discount, or even a free item from a store!

Always be on the lookout for coupons. They often appear in newspapers, magazines, or sometimes on the back of a receipt from the store. Some are featured on company websites. Plus, those flyers that are often stuffed in your mailbox or placed on your car window can come in handy too!

Gift certificates are not exactly coupons, but they are just as fun to use. They come in pre-set amounts of money, and can be used both in store, and for online purchases. When your birthday, Christmas or any other special occasion rolls around, ask for gift certificates and gift cards; it’s a simple request to fill for the other person, and it’s something that you would definitely want and use.


With membership, access is granted!

Most chain stores have the option of becoming a member. This is often free, or you pay a small yearly fee. You often get notifications of sales events through email, and most companies also give you a plastic card to keep in your wallet. This card is proof of your membership, and when used in store, allows you to get discounts on purchases and small freebies. Plus, most companies have a ‘points’ system where for every purchase you make, you earn a number of points. These points can add up, and you can redeem them for items in the store, or gift certificates. Being a member certainly does have its benefits!

The Internet can be your best friend (when finding deals!)

One can find out just about anything on the Internet, including how to buy yourself a new outfit when your budget is pretty tight.

A way to keep in the know of upcoming sales events is to sign up for email newsletters – the company or store would then send you an update via email even time a sale, discount or in-store event. Also, you can ‘like’ the store’s page on Facebook or follow them on Twitter; this would directly send information to your news feed or homepage. In addition, you can find exclusive coupons on social network pages belonging to stores, as well as information about competitions and giveaways! This is not limited to just finding deals on clothing, but also electronics, foods, household products and cosmetics.

Also, sometimes by simply using a search engine, you can also find out about sale events in your local area.


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