As a teen I babysat. A lot. The kids I babysat regularly were…let me put this nicely: not easy. I worked very hard for every dollar I earned. Although it was tough earning my own money, I loved the feeling of independence it gave me.
As a teen girl with some cash, my cousin and I would frequent the mall as shopping buddies. I loved that I had my own money and I could spend it however I wanted! My thoughts were pretty much the same on each shopping adventure—it went a little something like this:
Oh this is a cute shirt! [Immediately check price tag.] OK it’s $22, so I had to babysit (do the math in my head) SAY WHAT?!?! I’m not babysitting over FOUR HOURS so I can buy a freakin’ shirt! [Put item back on the rack.]
Equating an item of clothing to hours of time spent babysitting really put the value of a dollar into perspective. It killed me to spend my hard earned money and I definitely became a saver. With this way of thinking I became BFFs with the clearance racks, and the $10 rule was born: I only buy it if it’s $10 or less!
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The $10 Rule
Now that I’m a mom and time is a commodity in short supply, I don’t have as much time to really dig through the clearance racks. I’m also in a different financial position than I was in high school/college. Although I still stick to the $10 Rule for much of my shopping (shirts, dresses, accessories, etc.), I now occasionally fudge the rule and give myself a little more wiggle room when needed. This is especially true with shoes. I have found that it’s worth it to buy a high quality pair of shoes that may cost a little more. However, when not applying the $10 Rule, I still make sure to get a good discount of at least 50% off.
After years of putting myself on such a tight/strict budget, I have seen that it really is possible to find great items for super cheap! Here are a few tips and tricks to get yourself some awesome low-budget finds:
Shop Discounts: Hello! This is obvious. If you’re shopping on a budget, shop the clearance racks! But don’t stop there—use coupons! There are few things that make me happier than a stackable discount. If you sign up for emails, stores will often send you coupons as a thank you. Some stores will send you coupons regularly. Kohls and Old Navy are a few of my favorites that send out great discount coupons. Getting an item on a major clearance and then topping it off with a 30% off coupon? It’s my way of getting high.
Download the App: So many stores have coupon/money saving apps! The Target Cartwheel app is my absolute favorite! The Walmart Savings Catcher app is also great. If you do a lot of online shopping, Ebates is awesome! Oh and the best part about these apps? They’re all free!
Buy in the right/wrong season: You gotta do your shopping in the right season—which often means doing it in the wrong season. For example, I just got a pair of $110 ankle boots for just $22! How? I waited until the end of the season. Now that it’s practically Spring here in California, I probably won’t be wearing them until Fall. But to me, the savings are worth the wait. Coats and swimsuits are also great to buy at the end of the season. You end up saving so much money and you have a great item(s) you can’t wait to wear when the appropriate season rolls around.
Ask for discounts: This is gold. Search every item before you buy it. Is there a bead missing? A loose thread? A scuff on a shoe? If there is anything wrong with the item, ask for a discount. I get a discount nine out of ten times that I ask. I just got a pair of beautiful heels for only $12 because I noticed a tiny insignificant scuff and asked for a discount. Ask and ye shall receive!
Birthday money reserve: This is one of my favorite parts of the $10 Rule. Whenever I am given a gift card, or any kind of birthday money I don’t force myself to stick to the rule. I’ll use the birthday money to buy something that I know could be more expensive—purse, shoes, etc. This is where I let myself splurge on whatever item is catching my eye at the time. It’s fun to splurge once in a while. After all it is a gift from someone to you! Spend it however you want!
For years, the $10 Rule has worked for me and has saved me hundreds if not thousands of dollars! For you, it doesn’t have to be $10—figure out what number works for you and give it a try. Choose a rule to stick to, use these tips, and be amazed at the finds! Happy shopping!