I have such a complicated relationship with clothes.
On one hand, I absolutely adore them. Nothing makes my day quite like someone complimenting my outfit or asking where I got something.
On the other hand, I used to spend way too much money on clothing.
Since going through shopping addiction therapy, I've had to learn how to get my spending under control and identify my spending triggers.
This is important because impulse shopping can be extremely dangerous for your bank account, and it's important to figure out where you should draw the line.
But at the same time, it's not like you can go without clothes.
So, what's the baseline?
What's the hard and fast rule for spending limits when it comes to clothing for both work and play? How much should you spend on clothing in one year?
Let's find out.
How much should you spend on clothing in one year?
Most financial experts say around 5 percent of your budget.
So, take whatever your monthly pay is and multiply it by .05. So, if you take home $3,500 per month after taxes, you would (in theory) spend no more than $175 each month on clothes, or $2,100 a year (for those who like to shop just two to three times each year.)
For me and my budget, I like having a rough guideline of what's acceptable and what isn't.
Still, clothing can be very emotional.
Maybe it's a dress you feel sexy in, a perfect pair of tennis shoes or even a splurge on the softest sweatpants of your life. How can you put a dollar value on how something makes you FEEL?
So 5 percent might not be right for you. If you are on a limited income, have a high rent or are paying off debt, 5 percent of your income is definitely better used toward other things.
The truth is, the exact number will be different for everyone.
But you definitely shouldn't let shopping control your finances. If you're in a tough spot with your money, stick to the tips below to help make your wardrobe work.
Once you've got a bit more “play money,” keep in mind 5 percent or indulge in 5 percent and beyond guilt-free!
So, how much do you spend?
It's important to start tracking your expenses to a) figure out where your money is going and b) have a rough idea of what you've spent in months and years past.
This is the first step to figuring out how much to spend in any category of your budget.
Looking into my own finances, I see I spent $2,550 on clothes in 2015. I took home $51,000 (after taxes and expenses) that year, so I'm actually right on track for spending only 5 percent of my income on clothes.
I estimate what I actually spent is less this year, as I wear less clothing now that I work for myself full time and have been pretty busy. Almost too busy to shop!
I know that in years prior, I spent more because I had a work wardrobe to manage, and my weight fluctuated quite a bit in my early 20s.
How to save money on your clothing budget each year
There are other ways to curtail clothing spending (if you're overly indulgent like me) or want to sock away extra cash for debt repayment or other financial priorities.
If you don't have a budget already, what are you waiting for?
A budget should always be your first step in finding out how much “play money” you have to shop, dine out or do any other fun stuff.
The important part about creating a budget is that it will give you a hard limit for your spending. You shouldn't be sacrificing meals to buy a new dress, and if you're sticking to your budget, you won't have to.
Embrace what you already have.
How? Shop your closet.
It might sound goofy, but sometimes you don't really know what you already have. It's been proven that people only wear about 20 percent of their closets (unless you're a sworn minimalist).
I don't think anything feels better than having that "new purchase" feeling with something you forgot about in the back of your closet.
By shopping your closet, you're able to see what you have to work with, and you can find out what you really need.
This means that when you do go shopping, you'll have a better idea of what you should be buying as opposed to blowing your budget on a pair of boots you already own.
Try a no spend challenge.
I'm a big fan of experimenting with new routines to whip our finances into shape and learn more about ourselves and our spending habits.
Having a no-spend challenge for a month or even a year-long shopping ban can be a great way to take the focus off your closet and on to your finances.
This article was originally published on the author's personal blog.