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It always pays to check coupons and gift cards for expiry dates. My mother-in-law gave me 2 cards to use at Reitman’s in February…yesterday, I checked those cards and they expire…today! So, today is a shopping spree (and hopefully a tear-free spree). I haven’t been shopping since Christmas. I find that when I shop a lot, which happens when shopping for gifts for loved ones, that it just gets too easy to spend money. And since I’m not working, I’m living on a budget. Even if I was working, I was taught how to save and how to spend…in other words, I like frugal living (note: there is a big difference between being cheap and being frugal…but more on that another day)! Anyway, I could use a new outfit just in case my application for a make-over on a TV show is accepted. Yup! I sent it in yesterday!

In order to make the most of this experience (with a deadline), I decided to do a little research to learn how to shop. Here are some of the things that I have learned:

1. Have a plan – check your closet and make a note (mental or written) of what you could use. I could use just about everything. My closet is full of clothes that are a) seasonal; b) old; (c) stained; or d) too big/too small. I am afraid to throw out or give away too much because then I really will have nothing to wear!

2. Set a budget and stick to it. Not a problem – I’m limited by my cards.

3. Dress for shopping. Wear easy on/off clothes. Style your hair and apply some makeup. I’m guessing this is so I don’t look like an ogre in the dressing room mirror? If I feel I look good, then I’m apt to start with a more positive attitude.

4. Shop by yourself. If you really need a second opinion, put the item on hold and bring someone back with you later. Or even better, bring along a totally trusted, stylish friend (or in my case, my Mom. She’s honest without being brutal!)

5. Don’t be in a hurry. Give yourself time to think it through so you don’t make a snap judgment or just plain get overwhelmed! Who has time for buyer’s remorse?

6. Check the care tags as you shop. You’d think after the years of doing (and hating) hand laundry, and suffering carpel-tunnel like symptoms as a result,  I would remember to do this.

7. Ignore sales and promotions. Stores put enticing promotional items at the front. Chances are you’ll blow your budget right there unless you stay on task.

8. Try it on! I have found that sometimes things that look great on the hanger, look terrible on me…so maybe, on a good day, it will work the other way around? Walk, sit, and bend in the clothes. Do zippers, buttons, etc. work properly? Does it pucker, gape, bunch, or sag anywhere? Check out every angle in the mirror…what may look good in the front, may not be so complimentary in the back.

9. Can you use it in your existing wardrobe? It’s not a bargain — even at 90% off – if it hangs in your closet for the next 10 years, attracting moths and dust bunnies. Avoid the “I’ll buy something to go with it” route when it comes to sales; that would defeat the point of the bargain!

10. Don’t forget to have fun!

Reference: http://fashion.about.com/cs/tipsadvice/ht/shopclothes.htm