Shopping can be an expensive hobby. According to the Singaporean government survey of household expenditure, an average household spends about S$200 on purchasing clothing, footwear and other personal effects on a monthly basis, amount to S$2,400 of shopping expenses per year. For avid shoppers, this budget could be easily be multiple times bigger, given that even the cheapest Chanel bag can be thousands of dollars. If you are purchasing 5-10 new pieces per season (20-40 pieces annually), you could easily end up spending way too much while clogging your home with an ocean of clothes that you never wear. Here, we discuss some easy ways of reducing this cost by correcting some of the common mistakes shoppers make without much consideration.

Smart organisation can help you save money

The very first thing you should do is to organise your wardrobe in a systematic way, such that you can build a very good sense of what exactly is in your wardrobe. For example, you can compartmentalise your wardrobe by category of clothing (dress, pants, shirts, accessories, etc.), by color, and by theme or occasion (daily wear vs special occasions). By doing so, you can keep track of what you have, and plan what you may want or need to buy: if you find that you already have more than as few black dresses, the next list on your list should perhaps be something else. Not only that, you will probably rediscover a few pieces of clothing that you used to love wearing, but have completely forgotten about for a long time.

Once you know what you own, then you should start taking count of what you actually enjoy wearing and what you never wear. For most people, this exercise should result in a pretty clear guideline in terms of how they should shape and alter their shopping lists. For example, you should expect to replace some items that have gotten old because you’ve worn them frequently, while you should really cut back on purchasing things you tend to never use. If you are in mood for something new, this guideline should still be able to help you assess if it fits into your style and goes well with your other clothing.

More tips on organising your wardrobe

  • Aim to buy one item per category: for most fashion goods, you only need to own one or two items per category, like one small bag vs big bag or one red dress vs yellow dress. For a truly budget friendly wardrobe, aim to get one per category and expand the selection of your wardrobe instead of increasing the overlap among your clothes.
  • Sell rarely used items: If you’ve identified some items that you almost never use, you should consider selling them in the second hand market. Platforms like Refash or Swap & Buy can be great venues for you to earn some cash while also freeing up more space in your home.

Buy quality for staples, cheap fast-fashion for trendy items

The fashion industry is built on convincing consumers to purchase the “it” or “must have” items every season. When every website, storefront and instagram post is relentlessly showcasing the newest, trendy wears, it’s not difficult to understand why some shoppers get tricked into spending more than they would have to.

If you are intent on staying on point with the latest trends, you can still reshuffle your shopping habits to be more budget friendly. First, it’s generally advisable to purchase high quality basic items that you use often, even if it means higher prices. For daily staples, it’s important to emphasize quality since you want them to be durable; in a way, you are optimising for cost per wear, instead of the cost of purchase. A basic, simple black dress that lasts years can actually be cheaper than constantly rebuying a cheaper one that becomes unwearable after a wash or two. Not only that, high quality basic items always look great, and can easily be jazzed up with cheaper accessories that you and mix and match anytime.

On the other hand, fast fashion brands like Zara can still provide economic ways of following the newest and hottest trends. These companies have shortened the fashion cycle, such that they are constantly changing their floor selection on a weekly basis. That also means that what was hot last week may not be so popular the next month. Fast fashion may not provide high quality clothes may not last long, but their combination of affordable pricing and trendiness make them ideal for spicing up your style once in awhile.

More tips on purchasing

  • Avoid dry cleaning: Some “quality” items actually be much more expensive to own than their price tags suggest. In general, we recommend avoiding items that must be dry cleaned.
  • Avoid buying cheap shoes: Shoes are the epitome of “staples” item that deserve a good investment. No matter how pretty a pair is, you are likely to never wear it if it’s uncomfortable.

Rent for special occasions, especially luxury items

Every once in a while, you may need some specialised clothing for special occasions, like weddings, prom or even pregnancy. Instead of buying expensive, luxury items that you are going to wear only for a short time (if not just once), you can save an incredible amount by opting to rent them. There are many platforms in Singapore whose rental costs can be only 20-50% of the actual purchase price. Below, we’ve summarised the most well-known fashion rental websites for your convenience.

Website Description
Gowns4Rent, Runway Rent, Rent a Dress, Covetella, Style Lease Rent or buy dresses, gowns and accessories at 50-80% discount to retail price
Style Theory Monthly subscription service for unlimited rental
Luxe for Lease Rent luxury bags
Maternity Exchange Rent or buy maternity related goods

Purchase with a shopping rewards credit card

To attract shoppers as their clientele, many banks in Singapore have created credit cards that provide attractive rewards specifically for shopping. Some of these cards provide up to 4 miles per S$1 spent on shopping, which can yield 4% to 32% net value to the cardholder depending on her method of redemption. Some other cards provide an immediate saving via 5-10% of rebates directly credited to your statement. By wisely choosing a card designed for shopping, you can easily shave at least 5-10% off of your bill.

Shop late in the season, or around holidays

This is probably the most obvious and well known tip. Brands and department stores always create sales events around holidays, especially when they need to clear out the old styles to make space for new ones. These are amazing opportunities to acquire your coveted items at up to 70-80% discounts. In general, most brands introduce seasonal items about a month early, and start discounting them half way through the season. Therefore, you can save big time by resisting the urge to purchase the latest fashion items and instead buying them when they are actually in season.

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