Your inner fashionista screams for an unlimited clothing budget, but your bank account needs a break. Balancing your wardrobe desires with your budgetary constraints is often a challenge, especially if your career requires a professional look. A workable wardrobe budget means you won't be stuck sporting clothes from high school the next time you hit the town. Shopping the clearance rack, waiting for sales and taking advantage of store coupons allows you to get more for your money, stretching your clothing budget even further.
Look at your general budget to determine how much money is available for other expenses. Use this number as a guide to set a realistic wardrobe budget, keeping in mind there are likely other expenses, such as gifts, car repairs and date nights with your spouse competing for that money.
Estimate how much you spent during the previous year on clothing. If you don't have records of your purchases or can't remember that far back, track your wardrobe spending for a few months to gain a sense of your average.
Visit your closet to evaluate your current wardrobe, eliminating items that are never worn. Consider how you can build off of the pieces you already own, which can help you save money in your wardrobe budget. Note areas that are lacking in your wardrobe that will need replaced soon, such as dress-up clothes, work attire or lounging clothes.
Evaluate your work attire and how much of the clothing budget it needs. If your career requires formal business attire, allocate a larger percentage of the budget to professional clothing. If you wear casual clothing or have uniforms provided, your work clothing budget will be much lower. Consider potential job interviews you might have in upcoming months that would require a new interview outfit.
Make a list of your normal activities outside of work, which might include exercise, entertaining at home, volunteering, traveling or going out to clubs. Consider whether of your time at home or out on the town, where fashion is more of a concern. Use this list to determine what kind of leisure-time clothes you need and how much of the budget is needed to cover it.
Evaluate the climate where you live to determine what type of seasonal clothing you will need, such as a fashionable winter coat and boots that will go with your work attire. Allocate money in the budget to go toward seasonal clothing items based on your specific climate and needs.
Write notes about your current clothes shopping habits. Include the places you usually shop, how often you make purchases, whether they are well thought-out or on a whim, they types of clothes you buy, and the average amount you spend.
Review your calendar for the upcoming months to identify events that might require formal attire. Determine if you already have appropriate clothing or if you need a new outfit. If you will need new clothing, estimate the cost of the outfit and add it into your clothing budget.
Calculate a rough estimate of how much you need each month for your wardrobe, based on all of the gathered information. Compare that number to the amount of extra money you have in the budget. Cut back on the wardrobe budget figure if the dollar amount comes out too high.
Allocate specific percentages of the clothing budget to different types of clothing based on your habits and needs that you already evaluated. Spending more on classic clothing items to get higher quality is a better investment because you can wear them for years.
Track your spending on wardrobe expenses each month, comparing it to the clothing budget for that month. If you go over your limit, subtract the amount you went over from the next month's budget. If you came in under the allotted amount, add the difference to next month's budget. This helps you even out the wardrobe budget throughout the year.
Adjust your wardrobe budget if you find yourself consistently coming in way under or way over budget, if your overall budget can handle the adjustment.
- Withdrawing the set amount for your wardrobe budget each month might help you stay within the allotted amount. Simply save any leftover money and add it to the cash you withdraw for the following month.
Based in the Midwest, Shelley Frost has been writing parenting and education articles since 2007. Her experience comes from teaching, tutoring and managing educational after school programs. Frost worked in insurance and software testing before becoming a writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education with a reading endorsement.