MANHOOD: Six Keys to Budget Balling (w/ Pro Tips and Deluxe Content)
I didn’t really notice what I started wearing until I was in the seventh grade. Clothes had never really mattered to me until I suddenly became aware that girls cared what boys wore. A revelation, truly. From then on, I began to take care of myself for myself, and for nobody else. Charm is a skill, organic as it may seem for most, and only one variable contributing to the definition of a debonair and ravishing man. To reflect that externally is a bit more of a challenge, especially as the culture grows so hell-bent on defining masculinity and sexual orientation by weak identifiers such as how we dress or how much we care. Not to mention, straight up, clothes are expensive, and to care remotely about fashion is often, as we are conditioned to behave and believe, to spend money in quantums of a royal magnitude.
Why? To make other people rich, and to only dress like we are? Stop that. I’d rather ball on a budget than pretend like I got it like that, when I know I don’t. It is possible to dress dapper and not break the wallet. I laugh at the unmarried me of years ago that felt the urge to blow hundreds at Men’s Warehouse and Banana Republic, when Old Navy and Salvation Army were right across the street. Here’s my advice to you: express yourself so wisely that your wallet never has to shed another tear!
On that note, here are actionable methods you can start today, so you won’t be tempted at the mall tomorrow.
Google “promo codes” for everything.
Last time I went to Best Buy to purchase a Christmas gift for my wife, the young lady who was facilitating the purchase was oddly impressed that I had ready on my smart phone an e-coupon I’d found online just hours prior that offered 20% off any small appliance item there. It was no scam; I showed her the bar code from my email, she scanned it, and her register computed the discount. Before I left, she asked me what I’d done to find that coupon because she didn’t see it in the Best Buy paper fliers they send out in the newspapers each Sunday. So I told her, just as I’m about to tell you: Google search “promo codes” for just about anything you’re planning to purchase online.
PRO TIP 1: Be sure the online codes or coupons are recent and still usable (not expired). PRO TIP 2: Be sure that the promos are particular to your search; don’t expect an Xbox One discount to apply to PlayStation 4. At that, it would behoove you to know what you want to purchase before looking up promo codes for discounts. PRO TIP 3: Be sure the discounts are worth it. If you’re required to spend $300 for “free shipping” when your budget maxes out at $150, then guess what? Buck up and move along--not all “discounts” are “discounts”.
2. Try different stores!
This one can hurt to read because yeah, we all have certain tastes, and the truth is that some store simply don’t accommodate how we want to look (or how our wives and girlfriend demand). Yet, the beauty of trying new stores is that well, if we neglect ourselves the opportunity, we’ll never know how much money we could be saving while purchasing the same clothes that fit our style. For years I was obsessed with the Gap and the styles they promoted, and that was only because I hadn’t ever even given the less expensive Old Navy a shot. They’re both part of the same brand family and largely have the same types of clothes! I've saved a LOT of money in the past few years shopping at Old Navy. And I never fully had give up on the Gap--I just know now that I have an excellent alternative. Open up your mind and you’ll be rewarded!
PRO TIP 1: When those cheap clothes are rusty and you’re ready to scope out some new ones, you’ll likely be more willing to contribute your cheaper clothes to a clothes drive, give them away to those in need, or hand them down to your knucklehead siblings. This is another reason why trying new stores, and hopefully finding those less expensive alternatives, is a plus: if a Banana Republic rep tells you their $200 dollar sweater is so highly priced because, due to their fabric quality, it’s going to last forever, you’ll probably never want to let it go, even when it’s time to. It’s retail psychology. Don’t fall for it. PRO TIP 2: Thrift stores are your friend. You're only robbing yourself of money if you're too high-society to consider them. In a week or two, you won't even remember you purchased that new sweater at Value Village.
3. Keep an eye out for sales ads
There’s nothing wrong with rocking those third-party promo codes online to save some scrilla on your next shopping trip. But sometimes, the best deals are actually in-house. Take the time to see what stores are selling what. If you thoroughly enjoy window shopping and thinking ahead, this is a particularly great tip to put into action.
PRO TIP: If the gas or the time can be spared, head to the physical store instead of going to that store’s website. Unless a better sale is exclusively online, then we’re only doing ourselves a favor by actually going to try on the clothes to see what they look like on us, and how comfortable they actually are. Plus, we don’t have to worry about shipping costs if we’re picking it up, right?
4. Keep a loose inventory of what’s in your closet
When I say loose, I mean loose. This isn’t Resident Evil; I wouldn’t ask a man to check his inventory every few seconds like his life depended on it. This isn’t a budget, either--there’s no spreadsheet to fill out, no list to write down. It’s simply taking a few extra seconds to look at everything in your closet or clothes drawer whenever you’re there to pull something out to wear. Look and see if you really need twelve pairs of slacks and eight designer hoodies. I mean having nice clothes is nothing to feel bad about, but if you have seventy-two hipster blazers in your closet and can’t even afford to make drop biscuits for dinner, it might be time to re-evaluate. That's all I'm sayin'. You'll never even be close to getting rid of your clothes you don't need if you aren't aware of what you even have.
PRO TIP: Think of clothes like batteries for your closet. You gotta swap out the old ones put new ones in there regularly to keep it functioning properly. So yes, I reiterate: check regularly, remain aware of what you have, and donate those old clothes or pass them along. Heck, don’t be afraid to make a few bucks off them either by putting them on Craigslist. Not an ounce of shame in that. Just put into practice getting rid of what isn't absolutely necessary.
5. Freaking budget.
It was bound to come to this. Y’know, the difference between simple and easy is basically the process of the action. Having a budget has few complexities that cause it to be anything challenging, but getting off our rusty hides and, busting open “the books” and exposing ourselves to utter shame as we realize exactly how much money we were actually spending on all those Gundam blu-rays, Hello Kitty mouse pads, and Street Fighter V season passes...well, that’s not easy. Simple, yes...but not easy. And it sure isn’t easy to stick to it. But a budget is truly applicable in almost any realm and situation.
PRO TIP: Be specific in your budgets. Be sure you have a “shopping” portion of your budget if you know you like to buy clothes. Only take money out of that section of the budget, and try to use cash instead of debit or credit cards so you can feel the pain of your money shortening with every transaction. It does help, and it will keep new clothes accessible for you without lightening your wallet to depressing degrees. Be smart.
6. Ask more freaking questions.
That’s right. Annoy the retailers. It doesn’t matter how attractive they are, rude they are, or whether you know them personally or not. Fact of the matter is, the customer is always right...especially when you are that customer. Ask employees about sale signs that may be improperly placed, about when a certain sale is set to expire, or if they can fix some online sales issues in-store and hook you up with a deal that’ll save you some bills at the jump as compensation for your troubles. You may not always win this battle, but you’ll be very surprised at how much you do, simply by showing actual interest in what you’re buying and why you’re money is worth the spending on it. Better than shopping like a mindless drone.
PRO TIP: Connecting with a particularly kind employee is a great way to stay informed on what new kicks are fresh from the back or which new hats have special discounts. The best employees will already tell customers the truth about what’s worth buying and when to wait for sales, but when you show vulnerability and trust to one particular employee and try to only give them your sales (especially if they aren’t on commission), they’ll become accustomed to your style, know what you like, and try to make sure you keep coming back even when you don’t buy. But be genuine; even naive folk can smell when they’re being manipulated, so be completely genuine, or skip this tip altogether.
Being financially responsible is courageous, mature, disciplining...heck, it’s even scriptural. So despite what consumer culture tells us about how we need to spend our hard-earned money, I say it’s time to cut the TV off and start our own game plan about what’s realistically in our wallets (I have a FREE download below to help get you started). Dress up nice, playa...just don’t go broke trying to do it!