How To Save Money Without Giving Up Shopping

I share exactly how I save money without giving up shopping (which means you don't have to give up Sephora)


We’re often told that to save money we need to make sacrifices. We need to cut the objectively ‘unnecessary’ expenses to save our money for what ‘should’ be our financial priorities – a house, bills and a couple of weeks of holidays a year.

But this is a load of crap.

You can decide what your financial priorities are and yes, one of them can be shopping. If shopping is something you love you don’t need to cut it. You can save money and go shopping. Truly. It’s possible.

Most of the money advice we’re told forgets that if you like doing something, you’re probably going to keep doing it unless you have a really good reason not to. And for most of us, there’s no seriously compelling reason. We want the clothes more than we want to be ‘good at saving’.

So instead of trying to ‘ban’ things (which only make me want to do them more), I’ve been embracing the fact I love doing certain things with my money and trying to figure out a way I can keep doing them while meeting my other goals.

My goal is to travel at the end of the year and for that I need money (especially since Australia is so far away from everything!). But I also just got my first ‘real’ job and would really love to buy some pretty dresses for work.

So how can I save money and go shopping? Like most problems, there’s a solution if you look hard enough. And even better, the solution doesn’t make me feel that sense of lack that drives me to go on a shopping spree (despite my best efforts).

So how am I doing it?

1. I’m still going shopping

Ground breaking, right? To save money without giving up shopping I still go shopping.

But even though it seems so obvious, I know a lot of people who LOVE shopping (and who will definitely end up going shopping at some point anyway) that try to avoid it. They try to use good old ‘self-discipline’ to curb their shopping habits. And to an extent this does work, if you’re not in the store you’re a lot less likely to spend money. But really the fix is only temporary – if you love shopping you are going to do it. Embrace it.

2. I only buy things I love

This is super important – I still go shopping whenever I want but I don’t run around like a mad woman grabbing every bargain I see.

I only buy the things I LOVE.

I find this is easier when I go shopping often (once every week or so) because I don’t get that feeling that I have to buy everything I love right there and then. It gives me a feeling of abundance and that I’ll be able to find it again if I still want it.

I know that whenever I start umming and ahhing about something in the change room it means I shouldn’t buy it, and almost every time I don’t (I’m not perfect).

And when I slip up (and I notice it) I make the effort to return the item. Even if it didn’t cost very much or I do kind of maybe like it and I might maybe possibly be able to wear it, that’s money I’d rather put towards another purchase and it also keeps my wardrobe from getting dragged down by items I don’t love.

(If you’re not sure if you should return something, a good question to ask is ‘if I didn’t already own this, how much would I pay for it?’ We naturally have a bias towards things we already own).

3. I have money set aside just for shopping

This is another really important thing – I have a spending plan. I put aside money that I can spend guilt-free on clothes and accessories and whatever else  I want.

You might be reading this and thinking that you don’t possibly have enough money to put aside some cash just for shopping. But I would like to put it to you that if you ever find yourself spending money shopping then yes, you do have money to put aside.

One of the things with shopping is that, if you love it, you’re probably going to spend money on it regardless of whether you’ve put that money aside or if you have to pull it from that savings account you’re not meant to touch. So why not put money aside for shopping and enjoy it guilt-free?

For me, this amount of money is $40 per week. This could sound like nothing to you or it could be heaps. But remember, the point of this is trying to meet two goals at once (travel and shopping) and at the moment, this amount is allowing me to do both.

If you want to find out more about how I figured out how much money to put aside see this post (I take it from my ‘play’ account).

4. I stick to my spending plan

Having guilt-free shopping money comes with one little condition – that is the total you can spend on shopping. For you that could be $20, $100 or $500 a week. But no mattter what it is, this whole thing really only works well if you stick to your spending plan. Don’t forget – this is about shopping and saving put together (because you probably already know how to shop without saving).

And that’s one of the reasons it’s important to be honest with your spending plan. Don’t make it so little that you constantly find yourself dipping into savings. Play around with it and try to find an amount that you can stick to that doesn’t make you feel a sense of lack.

5. I do my best to be grateful for the things I already have

This one is kind of huge too.

Spending money on clothes makes you want to spend more money on clothes. Your appetite grows as you have more and more and you get to a point (pretty quickly) where you don’t even appreciate anything you buy because, almost the second you buy it, you’re already thinking about what you want to buy next.

I’ve been making the effort to be grateful for the clothes, make up, jewellery, shoes, bags, hats and belts I already have. When I’m honest with myself, I have quite a lot of things. And at some point in time I bought those items and I was pretty damn happy about it.

So I try to savour a new purchase a little more than I normally might. And I try to catch myself when I get into that ‘more is more is more’ feeling, especially whenever I’m looking on Instagram and seeing my favourite bloggers in an amazing new outfit everyday.

What do you think?

Do you struggle with saving money because of your love of shopping? Have you ever thought about whether there’s a way you can embrace both?

Don’t forget that comments are always welcome and appreciated – I’d LOVE to hear what you think!

Sam xx

Author: Sam Brown

    • Hey Sophie,

      Thanks so much for sharing! It definitely depends on the type of person you are but I don’t think cutting something altogether is the way to go (if you’re the type of person that will end up doing it anyway). Good luck with the job hunt!

      Sam xx

  • This was really helpful! I totally agree with you in that if you love something, you shouldn’t just stop doing it. I’ve been cutting my spending for awhile now and I’ve found that I’ve grown a lot pickier and guiltier. This just means, like you said, when I try things on in store, if I’m not falling in love, I’m not getting it, even if it’s a great deal because I know I’m still spending money. When I do slip up and buy something I’m not so happy about, I feel extremely guilty about it when I get home and have to go back and return it ASAP. I’ve got shopping in store all figured out, but it’s always online shopping that gets to me. I always end up spending more than I want to get free shipping or because I want to try them on or it’s a good deal.. etc etc etc. That is what I’m trying to work on now.

    • Hi Joycie,

      Thanks for your comment! I am actually having the same struggle with online shopping, still haven’t completely figured that out yet! The best thing I’ve found is to not buy something as soon as I see it. I’ll put it in my ‘wishlist’ or shopping cart and leave it there for at least a few days (telling myself I’m waiting to see if it will go on sale). A lot of times I actually forget about the item after a few days so I know not to buy it. But it really is still a pretty huge struggle for me! It’s way too convenient (but at least returns are getting really convenient too).

      Another thing I do when I’m shopping is that when I’m trying it on at home I try to pretend it’s like I’m trying it on in the store. Because we have a bias towards things we’ve already purchased (so when we try on something we’ve already bought we’re looking for the reasons we keep it) I try to make sure I am thinking of whether I would buy it if I hadn’t already bought it. I just bought a couple of things from The Iconic the other day and am returning both of them because I didn’t love them. Even though I could probably justify keeping them I knew I wouldn’t have bought them if I hadn’t already paid for them so I’m returning them. But it is a struggle!

      Sam xx

  • I totally agree with you about being grateful for what you have. In the last few months I had to cut back my spending quite a bit as I went back to school and we are only living on my husband’s salary. When I feel the need to spend money, I really have to evaluate why, and whether or not I actually have something that is already working for me. I still loving shopping and will never stop, but I definitely enjoy it more when I’m doing it because I actually need something and not just for the sake of spending money.

    Kristi
    http://www.beloverly.com

  • I so agree with not buying items you’re hesitant about. If it takes 10 minutes to decide if I want it or not, it’s probably not worth it!

    Great post, Sam! I hate the actual process of shopping because I am really picky, but I love that feeling of finding something absolutely perfect.

    http://www.theblissfulmind.com

  • Great tips, lovely! I also only buy things I really and truly love. My rule is that if I’m not excited enough to wear it out of the store right then and there, I don’t buy it. That leaves me buying things that might be a little pricier up front, but they are better quality and I’m excited to wear them, which means they don’t go to waste and sit in my closet for a year. I also am strategic about my purchases, so if I see something I love but is a little pricey, I keep an eye out for sales. I also think that gratitude for what you have and enjoying a feeling of abundance are key. They send the message to the universe (or whatever you believe in) that you’re grateful for what you’ve got but you’re open for more. I loved this post! Also, we have some serious catching up to do! Also, congrats on the new job!!

    • Hey Alex!

      I totally agree on buying better quality items (that are a bit pricier) because they last so much longer than and I love wearing them so much more than most of the cheap things I’ve bought.

      And thanks so much for your email!! I will be replying asap!

      Sam xx

  • Great tips dear Sam. This is the first time I am on your page. I was looking for a specific expression that I hat in mind to use in my post but was not sure how to pronounce and if it was an actual expression. Sorry I know this post is not about English 🙂 But anyway, I was looking for “umming and ahhing about..” ….Now I know this expression really exist 🙂 Thank youuuu

    <3 <3 Mahshid مهشید

    http://www.thankstofashion.com

  • I am totally feeling this post! I went on a 6 week trip to the USA over Christmas (living in NZ) and saving for that was my main priority. It was hard slog but I found if I didn’t treat myself every now and then I started to resent the holiday, and started to feel miserable. Every so often I made sure I had some “guilt free” money aside that I could spent on beauty/clothes/a meal out. It made the whole saving ordeal much easier to deal with as I had way less FOMO haha x

    http://www.jackiejean.co.nz

    • Thanks for your comment Jackie! Yes I know exactly what you mean – if you feel deprived then it’s so easy to just completely blow your savings so it’s always a good idea to preempt that and make sure you don’t leave yourself feeling a complete sense of lack! So happy to hear you were able to save for your trip 🙂

      Sam xx

  • These are seriously some amazing pieces of advice! 🙂
    I also used to spend loads of money on clothes but I really managed to cut back my spendings. I especially pay attention to the specific things that I’m purchasing. I find it quite helpful to calculate the prospected ‘price per wear’. For instance, I would rather spend a little more on a nice basic that I’ll get a lot of wear out of and avoid spending a lot on a trend piece that I might only want to wear for one season ^_^

    http://la-fille-lumineuse.blogspot.de/

    • Hi Lena!

      That’s such a good tip – I really need to start thinking of cost per wear because I always find that I am happy to spend money on something super nice (but I’ll only be wearing it once) and I’m more hesitant to spend my money on some really nice basics that I’ll wear all the time – and it should totally be the other way around! I’m definitely going to start asking myself that question when I’m shopping!

      Sam xx

  • I love these tips. I needed some realistic advice on saving money instead of spending it every time I see something nice on a store. I’m so week! 🙁 But hopefully these tips will work! Thank you, lovely blog 🙂

    Marielisa
    http://www.primpandwear.com

  • Great post and I love your tips! I am trying to save at the moment but it is so hard. I love shopping so much – it’s like therapy for me. I agree with your ‘I only buy things I love’ and try to follow it x

    Jana // Life of Jana

    • Hey Jana 🙂

      Thanks for your comment! Haha yes it is quite a struggle to not spend all my money on shopping but in the end I know I’d much rather have experiences than heaps of clothes and it’s definitely possible to build an amazing wardrobe on a small budget by only buying things you love and buying good quality items – but I’m still figuring it all out haha it’s easy to slip up!

      Sam xx

  • Great tips Sam! When it comes to my clothes I like to remix my outfits as much as possible (accessories are a big help for that too). Then I will work with what I have unless its for a super special occasion or necessity. Plus I like to use Polyvore and Pinterest for style inspiration.

  • You couldn’t be more right, the key to saving money is budgeting! You have to tell your money where to go, but what’s great about this is you get to decide. Rather than trying to convince yourself of what you shouldn’t do, I find it’s more effective to take control and plan and set aside funds for what you want to do.

    http://www.thestyleweaver.com

  • Hey Sam, I love this advice! I definitely have a problem with saving and shopping. Just last week I had a massive spending spree while trying to save for an overseas trip and my student accommodation just because I had denied myself shopping for so long. Thanks so much for the advice and I will definitely be taking it on board.
    Kelly xx
    anneinthedollhouse.com

  • I absolutely love this advice! I’m about to graduate college and have no intentions of letting my wardrobe or shopping get put on the backburner. I think it’s important to keep things you love like shopping a high priority. For me, I like to feel good about how I’m dressed. I think being well-dressed makes me more successful in other areas as well. Great, relatable tips!

    strugglesofatwentysomething.com

  • This is the first time I’ve seen someone give actually PRACTICAL advice!! Hah! You’re right that avoiding spending/shopping is only temporary. I’ve been trying to work with myself by, as you say, setting aside money for shopping AND only buying what I know I’ll like. I’ve been really good so far, in fact, most of the time I’ll empty my cart before I leave because I just can’t see myself LOVING anything. Like you write, returning is always a good thing to try to do, too. And being grateful! What an awesome post!! Thank you for sharing.

    Much Love!!
    -Stephanie Eva
    http://www.stephanieheva.blogspot.com

  • I definitely have a love of shopping and will sometimes splurge on clothes. I’m in a situation where I need to save and watch my spending, so I’ve found what’s helped is having a $20 limit for the week. I usually stretch out that $20 too.
    I like your tip about savouring your new purchases because not only does that curb your spending, it also makes you realize how versatile your wardrobe can be if you try different outfit combinations. An unexpected but helpful way to curb spending is to redirect your energy elsewhere. Bicycling has really helped distract me from shopping because I was using shopping as an excuse to get out and take a walk. I still have the urge to shop but am much more careful and particular about my purchases.

  • I do really like to shop. Not just for clothes but I have a soft spot for home decor. I can never walk out of Home Goods empty handed. I’ve tried cold turkey which resulting in a splurge. I tried weening which was okay and I’ve tried budgeting. You are perfectly right to say that I’m going to do it anyway so just do it wisely. I actually started shopping in thrift stores and on sales racks. It may be last seasons trend but I’m more into my own style then anyone else’s. Great advice and I’ll be sure to keep up the budgeting and spending wisely.

    *TJ
    http://www.hardlyfocused.com

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