Written by Danielle Kubes
Wednesday, April 11th, 2018
Canadian households spent an average of $3,374 on clothes in 2015 according to Statistics Canada.
Whether you spend more or less, chances are you're still spending a fair bit on clothing, accessories and shoes every year. In an era where we're constantly being Instagrammed in our threads and it seems like everywhere you turn someone is wearing a $1,000 winter coat, it's natural to want a high-turnover closet.
But think about it: if you can cut in half the amount you spend on clothes, assuming you spend what the average household does, you'll save $1,750 a year. Over the next decade, that will add up to $17,500 — a nice cushion for retirement, savings toward a down payment on a home or an emergency fund.
No one's saying to go on a clothing purchase ban, but if you find yourself spending more on clothing than you'd like, then here are 3 strategies to help you spend less:
1. Consider Whether or Not it's an "Investment"
A phrase of choice among retail salespeople is "that tight black dress is an investment! You can wear it to your work holiday party, your friend's wedding AND a funeral!" You're more likely to spend more on an item if you feel it's an investment, which is why you keep hearing this phrase.
Some people need to look a certain way based on their career, and in that case may need to spend more on clothes. But for some, it could be more of a marketing trick — it's easier to justify an expensive designer purchase if you couple it with the word "investment." In the end, you might look back and feel you didn't get your money's worth.
That being said, buying a pricier, but well-made clothing item can save you money in the long run compared to constantly buying cheap clothes that fall apart.
It's up to you to decide whether an expensive piece of clothing has the long-term value you need in order to be comfortable with the purchase.
2. Consider Using the Services of a Tailor and/or Cobbler
Maintaining your clothes helps them last longer, which could keep you happier with your current wardrobe and less likely to splurge on new clothes.
Here's a real-life example. In 2010, I bought a high-quality, made-in-Spain, basic pair of leather boots. Once a year I take them to my cobbler, and he shines them and fixes the heels for around $20. I still wear those shoes today, almost every day in the fall and winter. Instead of letting them fall apart and then going out and buying replacement boots, I maintain the ones I have, saving at least $80 a year.
3. Consider a Clothing Swap
I totally get that sometimes it's just nice to have new things. Shopping can be fun. But here's an alternative to shopping that won't crush your wallet.
Once every two years or so I love to hold a clothing swap. I bake pumpkin bread, serve tea and invite around 5-10 ladies to bring over their previously-loved clothes. It's always a success.
That baggy sweater your friend is sick of might be exactly what you're looking to wear on icy mornings. That chunky necklace you don't wear anymore could be great for your friend who's looking to spice up her all-black wardrobe. Everything left can be dropped in a charity clothing box.
Reflect on Your Purchases
If you're spending more on clothes than you'd like, it never hurts to reflect on what you're buying and whether you're getting the most out of your purchases. Thinking about the clothes you've bought in the past can help you make decisions in the future.