Tell me I’m not the only one who has coloured-in scuffed shoes with a whiteboard marker. Or used the ribbon from a gift as a hair-tie. Or rubbed a Jaffa onto my lips to make it look like I was wearing lipstick (OK, I only did that last one when I was a little kid).
Most of the readers of this site will be blessed enough to have never known true poverty, but plenty of you have known what it’s like to be short on cash, especially when it comes to spending on yourselves. When we spoke to 150 women with kids, it turned out that nearly four out of five felt they would look significantly better if they had more to spend on clothes.
So when money’s tight, how do you justify spending it on looking good?”
We put that question to you a while ago and you came back with the answer: you don’t! You just work out ways to get more out of what you’ve got. So what are your top 11 ways to be frugal and foxy?
1. Who needs new?
So many of you said op shops were your first stop for bargains. As well as raising money for charities, second-hand shops can be a treasure trove of unusual styles, vintage finds and sometimes even expensive brands, all for pocket change.
It’s always the op shop clothes that people ask me “gee, where did you get that?”
For tips on bagging a bargain at a thrift store, click here.
Along the same track, garage sales and markets that have second-hand clothing and accessories can turn up some unique pieces. Look for good quality fabrics and don’t be afraid to haggle if you’re dealing directly with the current owner of the goods. For items that don’t quite fit, go for larger rather than smaller sizes where possible, as these are more easily altered. Speaking of which…
2. Get fitted
My Mum is a big fan of taking her ‘old’ clothes to have them altered. It invigorates her wardrobe without having to buy new things!
Ah, the power of tailoring. Not only can tailoring make your clothes fit in a more flattering way, it’s also a way to breathe new life into clothes that you’ve worn nearly to death. Do as Mjtidball’s mum does and shorten a long skirt to create a new summer favourite, or transform a long-sleeved shirt into a breezy sleeveless one.
One of our more crafty commenters, Pene, said she sometimes sewed her own clothes – genius! Those with the skills and inclination can download patterns, many of them free, from burdastyle.com. But make sure you share your creations with us!
3. Buy and sell online
If you know what size you are in a particular designer, then eBay is fantastic. After all, great designers, cuts and fabrics never go out of fashion. But shh, I don’t want to have more people to bid against!
As well as buying on ebay, selling on the site can be a great way to get rid of items that no longer fit or work with your style, while freeing up cash for more shopping (or, you know, groceries and stuff).
When shopping online, make sure you factor shipping costs into your calculations and see what the returns policy looks like. Some online stores, such as shoe store styletread.com.au, offer free returns if something’s not quite right. And some overseas sites, such as Britain’s ASOS.com, have Australian-based returns centres so you’re only paying domestic postage on returns.
For more tips on scoring a bargain online, click here.
4. Invest where it matters
I focus my money on items I know will last a few years – such as jeans and shoes. But for singlets or styles that will only be around for the season, you can’t go past the department stores.
Wardrobe basics that will outlast any trend, such as classic jeans or pants, a great blazer or a kicking pair of shoes, will save you money in the long run, and have a very low cost-per-wear. Try a couple of these staples:
5. Hello, testers!
I can not walk past a perfume counter without spritzing myself. So, if I know I am heading to the shops, I skip my perfume, knowing I’ll be drowned in Chanel soon.
6. Pick your time to buy
My mantra is NEVER PAY RETAIL!”
Buy during sale times — which can sometimes seem to be all year round – for true bargains. Big retailers have the biggest discounting power. Major department stores will often have 75% off the original retail price during post-Christmas or stocktake sales, transforming items that would have once been a huge indulgence into an affordable splurge.
And don’t forget the value of a GWP (gift with purchase):
I only ever buy name brand [cosmetics] when they have those fabulous gifts with purchase! Hardly ever need to buy a lipstick!”
7. Cheap bling
I honestly do not think you need to spend big bucks AT ALL to look good – half of it is attitude and half of it is putting on some cracker accessories to oomph it up.”
Diva, Collette, K-Mart, and stacks of online stores sell accessories that look gorgeous and still give you change from a fiver. Scrape your milk money together and see if you like the look of any of these:
ASOS multipack zip earrings $4.78 (two pairs of earrings for less than $5!)
8. Become a VIP
VIP memberships and reward cards can pay off, especially at stores where you shop frequently.
Last year, I got the following (sometimes more than once!): $50 voucher from Sussan, $25 voucher from Myer, $55 voucher from Mimco, 20% off full price Leona Edmiston, $15 at Just Jeans, $30 at Country Road / Trenery.”
9. Keep some things for special occasions
I use cheaper makeup for everyday wear, but keep a few expensive items for when I’m going out or for a special occasion.”
10. Cutting costs
I get my hair cut and coloured at home by a mobile hairdresser. I miss the luxury of a salon at times but this way it’s a lot cheaper than at the salon and no need to worry about someone looking after the baby, I just book her in when I know the bubba is having his afternoon sleep and enjoy a sneaky wine with her.”
Hairdressers aren’t the only mobile service around either. Some massage and beauty therapists will make house calls too.
11. Don’t stop it, just swap it
I’m a huge fan of clothes-swaps. My girlfriends and I get together before each season and bring the clothes we haven’t worn for at least 12 months, it’s amazing how much we have! The trick is to be brutally honest – if I didn’t wear it this time last year… it goes.”
Think you could host a swap party? Planet Ark encourages people to get swapping for National Recycling Week, held in November each year. Find out more here.
What’s your frugal foxy tip? And what’s one of the weirdest things you’ve ever done to save money?