Have you ever found yourself scrolling or browsing and coming across that one clothing item that you absolutely love, but can’t justify purchasing? We’ve all been there. But, can I tell you a secret? Afford is a construct of your imagination. Just because an item may seem financially out of reach doesn’t mean you have to let go of the dream of owning it. In this post we’re tackling how to buy clothes you can’t afford.
If you’re new around here, I’m a personal style coach and consultant helping people find their authentic personal style and be brave enough to wear it. As you might imagine, buying high quality clothes and raising your standards of “successful purchases” comes up a lot. As does the refrain “I can’t afford it.”
I tend to see two different versions of “I can’t afford it”.
The first is “This dress costs $2000 and that is the equivalent of my rent.”
The second is “This dress costs $2000 and I routinely spend that on clothing but I’m used to buying dozens of fast fashion pieces so spending it all on a small number of high quality items makes me uncomfortable.”
These are two very different versions of “can’t afford” so we will tackle them separately. In this post we are tackling version 1. And in the next post here we tackle version 2.
But read through them both.
If you’ve ever experienced “that dress is the equivalent of my rent (or entire monthly budget)”, it can be easy to feel like it’s still true, even when you know it’s not true anymore. And reading through how to handle it can help you recognize how far you’ve come.
If you’re currently experiencing “that dress is the equivalent of my rent (or entire monthly budget)”, it can be easy to feel like it will always be true, even if you know that one day it won’t be true anymore. And reading through how to handle the mindset shift when it’s no longer true, can help you recognize when your reality starts to change.
How to buy clothes you can’t afford, version 1
Can’t Afford Version 1: “I can’t afford it. This dress costs $2000 and that is the equivalent of my rent.”
We tackle this by asking: how could I afford this?
You could afford to buy it by… Finding the money:
- Saving money (especially if your monthly expenses are significantly lower than your monthly income)
- Making more money and then saving it for this purchase
- Sell clothes you no longer wear and put the proceeds towards this new purchase
Reducing the cost:
- Stalk the store for sales
- Find it on a resale site
- See if the store offers employee discounts and you now have a new side hustle
- See if the store offers friends and family discounts and see if your sibling wants a new side hustle
- Ask in your local buy nothing group
Changing the timeline:
- Put it on a credit card and count the credit card interest as part of the cost of the purchase. This increases the total cost but changes the timeline. PLEASE don’t do this if you have a problem with debt or can’t pay it off, no item of clothing is worth your financial future. I’m also not saying you should do this, I’m saying you could do this. (PSA over.)
- Use “Buy Now Pay Later” (Again, I’m also not saying you should do this, I’m saying you could do this.)
- Wait until the end of the season to see if it goes on clearance
- Put it on a birthday or holiday gift list (either the item itself or money to go towards the item)
- Use a bonus, a tax return, a surprise windfall, a raise, or some other influx of cash
Changing the item:
- Find a similar item from a different brand
- Or a different item from the same brand
- Or even a different item from a different brand that fulfills the same desire
When the problem we’re facing is “I can’t afford it because I do not have the money for it” we can solve the problem by getting the money for the purchase. When “can’t afford” is a discrete math problem, we can solve the math problem.
“I can’t afford” version #2: “This dress costs $2000 and I routinely spend that on clothing but I’m used to spending that on dozens of fast fashion pieces so spending it all on a small number of high quality items makes me uncomfortable.” Is not a math problem. It is a mindset problem. And we’ll tackle that in part two.
I hope this helps. See you in how to buy clothes you can’t afford, part 2!
In the meantime, you might be interested in the fourth season of Talking About Clothes because it’s all about shopping! Listen here.