How to Shop for Clothes on a Budget 

The harsh reality is that my budget for clothes is limited. I know, heart breaking ;) But for most of us, it’s something we must accept. And if you’re really like me, you want to buy clothes ALL. THE. TIME.  It’s quite the dilemma. After years of being obsessed with fashion and far from a spending money like Corinne on The Bachelor, I’ve figured a few things out.  Today, I’m sharing my finance tips for how to shop for clothes on a budget.

How to shop for clothes on a budget Long layered gold necklaces and Black and white striped maxi dress
Photos by Michelle Dorman Photography

1. Set a Specific Monthly Budget

This might seem obvious, but even I forget to do it. The key to staying within your spending limits is to know exactly how much money to allocate to your shopping obsession per month. Each month, I start with my monthly pay and deduct expenses, utilities, savings contributions, and all the boring stuff. Then, I decide what amount of the remainder I want to dedicate to shopping. Starting each month with a specific amount you allow yourself is the foundation of discovering how to shop for clothes on a budget.

Bailey Blue Black and White striped dress

2. Make a List

Have you ever gone to the grocery store for food only to shop around for an hour and come home with a bunch of random things and $100 less? The same thing happens to me at Sephora or Nordstrom. So just like at the grocery store, make a monthly list of what items you are looking for. If you’re dying to rock a pair of mules this spring…write it down. If you know you need a new bathing suit for summer…write it down. Making a list will help you focus your wandering eye while shopping and get what you really want.

How to Shop for Clothes on a Budget

3. Prioritize Your List

So if you can imagine, I could write a pretty long list every month of everything I “need.” So the next step is to prioritize your list from your most desired item to your least. I know, not easy…but it’s necessary.  But you can get creative – if you need shorts and it’s April, you might be able to put that on your May list to buy during Memorial Day sales. But, if you need a formal dress for a wedding at the end of the month, prioritize it at the top.

Light blue suede strappy sandals with chunky heel

4. Assign a Cost to Each Piece

Now you have a prioritized list of everything you’re looking for this month. I assign a price range of what I’m willing to spend for each piece. I usually put more value on pieces I will use more often, but that’s not always the case haha. Also, if a big ticket item exceeds your monthly budget, you can assign how much you want to save from your monthly allowance.

Long layered gold necklaces and Black and white striped maxi dress
Jewelry from Get a free month with code HOTDRESSHOTMESSXOXO

5. Don’t be Afraid of a Credit Card

For many people, credit cards can be intimidating. But as long as you don’t go crazy and always pay your bills, they can be really beneficial. Online shopping requires ordering multiple sizes of the same item or buying styles you aren’t sure will look good on you. Don’t drain your debit account online shopping when you know you’ll be refunded for half the items you purchase. Put it on your credit card and pay off your balance after you make returns.

Bailey Blue Sydney striped dress with layered gold rings and kendra scott quartz bracelet

6. Manage your Budget Throughout the Month

Learning how to shop for clothes on a budget is a process so, keep track of how much you’ve spent on both shopping and other expenses during the month. Using apps like Mint or programs within your online banking can show much money you’ve spent for the month. After that, you can determine if you need make any adjustments.

7. Balance it at the End

At the end up the month, see how much money you’ve spent on shopping and make any final returns or last minute purchases! Oftentimes, being more strategic with your purchases can allow for extra money at the end of the month to roll over to next month or….to continue shopping :)

Bailey Blue Black and White striped dress

Do you have any tips on how to shop for clothes on a budget? Comment below!

Dress provided by Bailey Blue Clothing – check them out for dresses and rompers! All opinions are my own.

About Bailey

Seattle fashion blogger at

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