Spring into seasonal clothes shopping

It seems every early March the weather in Indiana teases us just a bit. The sunshine bursts through otherwise gray skies. The temperatures warm. Even the daffodils and tulips in my front yard can be fooled. They pop their green up from the cold ground.

So we pack away our winter coats and our stocking caps. We toss the gloves and boots aside and retrieve our light jackets. Whether or not the weather remains warm or snaps cold again, we’re reminded that soon a wardrobe change is on its way. We can soon pack up sweaters and wool socks, replacing them with short sleeved t-shirts and sneakers.

In those first few days of spring-like weather, we typically discover a couple of things about ourselves.

We may or may not have eaten a few too many carbs during comfort food season.

Our warmer weather clothing favorites from years past require replacing.

If you find yourself in need of a spring wardrobe overhaul, fear not. There are plenty of smart strategies to help you save money when shopping for clothes.

Focus on needs

While you probably do need to replace an item or two this spring, you do not need an entire new closet of clothes. None of us can afford to replace all of our apparel with each new season. You need to focus in on what you actually need.

Focusing in on your needs means you may need to take a brief inventory of what you already have. This simple exercise combines a bit of gratitude with reality. You may have forgotten about long lost pieces buried deep within the recesses of your dresser drawers. Keep a running count of how many tops and bottoms, socks, shoes and other essentials you already own. Then, determine what you may need to add to what you already have.

List your needs

Probably the biggest temptation when we discover holes in our wardrobes (or worse holes in our clothes) is to head directly to the store and browse. This is problematic for a number of reasons. Primarily, if you don’t list specific needs you’ll either overbuy items you don’t need or you’ll underbuy those you do need.

Plus, each time you visit a clothing store or the mall with multiple clothing stores, you’re surrounded by thousands and perhaps even millions of items. The wide variety of choices can be distracting. This leads to a condition aptly termed choice distraction. Every time you tell yourself you may not purchase a particular item, your resolve weakens. With more items, you must say no more times. Each time you tell yourself no, you grow weary. In the end, you may make numerous impulse buys.

Here is where a targeted list becomes indispensable. When you list your needs, the demand to say no decreases. You already know which items you plan on purchasing. So your brain relaxes into those boundaries, unconcerned with the other potential unnecessary items. Your list focuses your mind and will in on only the items you require.

Maximize rewards

When you clothing shop, you should know as much as possible about the stores you frequent. Does the store have a rewards program? JCPenney and Kohl’s all have customer rewards programs featuring special coupons and even reward certificates of $5 and $10 after you hit a designated spending amount. If the program is free, you should be a member of whatever a store offers.

You may also want to talk to an employee or customer service representative to find out how to make the most of your store’s rewards programs, coupons, and sale cycle. Make the most of what your store offers to stretch your dollars further.

Buy only what you love

While we were paying off $127K in debt, there was little room in our budget for clothing purchases. So I began the intentional practice of only buying those items that I truly loved. If I didn’t love the way a piece of apparel looked on me, I put it back. If the shoes didn’t fit perfectly, I didn’t buy them. It sounds too simple to work, but not settling has saved me plenty of money while also keeping my closet free of ill fitting clothes.

But when I do find clothes or shoes that I love? I search in store and online to replace those items with the exact same piece when the time comes to buy new. If I find the same item on sale or clearance, I’ll purchase it and put it back. When you know the shoes fit your feet well or the style of a dress causes you to feel comfortable and confident, buy it again.

Greenwood resident Cherie Lowe and her husband paid off $127,000 in debt in four years and now live debt-free every day with their two kids. She is the author of “Slaying the Debt Dragon: How One Family Conquered Their Money Monster and Found an Inspired Happily Ever After.” Send questions, column ideas and comments to newstips@dailyjournal.net