Fashion Budgeting 101: Calculating Your Budget

Certainly the most important thing to determine before you go crazy with your credit card is the budget itself.

There's no hard-and-fast rule for calculating budgets. For some, clothing is just as insignificant as what brand of flour they buy. Others will drop $2000 on seasonal favorites to placate their style cravings. A variety of factors will determine the correct budget for you, such as climate, occupation, background, and -- perhaps most of all -- salary.

Personally, I'm of the belief that whatever your income, your wardrobe budget should be a percentage of your earnings from the previous season and should remain consistent through the year. It just doesn't make sense to spend money you don't yet have. Especially on fashion. I don't care how much you (or I) love it.

For example, imagine if you spent $180 on clothing last summer. In fall perhaps you spend $210. It would be reasonable to estimate $200 as your seasonal clothing budget, right?

Only so long as your income is consistent, and the rest of your budget is predictable.

Let's say on November 29th you find the perfect wool coat for your winter wardrobe. Assuming you'll have $200 to spare, you purchase the coat as soon as December hits. On December 15th, your car won't start and you pay $300 in repairs. On December 20th, an unexpected holiday gift arrives and you have no choice but to return the favor. All of a sudden you could really use an extra $200... When you budget before the fact (save for fall spending in summer, winter spending in fall, etc.), you sidestep this problem. You're spending what has already been determined excess.

Budgeting a percentage of your earnings, rather than a firm figure, will allow for flexibility within your income. If you make $3000 a month, setting aside 4% leaves $360 to spend for the upcoming season. Say one month you come up short, at $2500 -- Just apply the same percentage for an adjusted seasonal total of $340. This strategy keeps your spending habits in line with what's actually available.

Adapt your budget to suit your habits. I'm quite practical-minded when it comes to clothes; factors like weather and daily to-dos weigh quite heavily in what I purchase. Thus, a seasonal budget suits me best. If you're prone to spending money as soon as you have it, creating a monthly budget might work better for you. If you live somewhere with unvaried climate, or if you hate shopping, a yearly or biyearly budget could be ideal.

Finally, once you've budgeted your funds, don't be afraid to spend them! If you don't use it all, you can always roll the excess money over to next season.

Coming Soon: Shopping Tips!

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