Save $45, Instantly

The clothes we wear define us. They should make us feel good. Mesa Walk, licensed, affordable open edition art print at Great Big Canvas

Say what you like about shopping, it plunges you in the midst of humanity. Before reality TV, this was reality, without the bleeps for people’s language inadequacies, or the blather stream of a host who is overly impressed with whatever qualities he believes he is endowed with.

Recently, in my alternative reality world, I was in one of those one-stop warehouses when I passed by a husband and wife “discussing” a flatfold pile of men’s shorts:

“I don’t know,” he said. “They’re kind of ugly.”

“But they’re $15 each,” she replied. “So pick out three.”

Poor man. He was 40, but in that moment he was 9 again, shopping with mom for school, which would put him back to 1982, and we all know what the clothes looked like in the early 80s. And the hair.

Returning to 2013, this fully grown adult was faced with the choice of ugly, uglier, ugliest, or butt ugly, which is what any of the four shorts options on the table would literally look like on any man’s body, and he needed to decide which one he wouldn’t buy.

Just one. The other three were mandatory.

If I had felt like being any more intrusive than I was by eavesdropping, I would have approached the couple before anything made it into the cart and said,

“I know how to save you $45.

The only place where that hapless man will wear those ugly shorts is in the midst of a wild place like this, where no one will see him. Indian Hill, licensed affordable open edition art print at Light in the Box.

“He’ll never wear these, you know. You, the wife, will buy them; you’ll feel good about saving $10 per pair retail. You’ll get them home; he’ll stuff them way back in the back of a drawer, and put on the pair he’s wearing now.

“You can save money, and stress in your marriage, by walking away.

“See? He’s smiling.”

Really, when you think about how easy the average man is to dress: five t-shirts, two pairs of shorts, two pairs of jeans, or a variation thereof, there’s no reason not to buy something that he likes and doesn’t make him feel like Ralphie in the Christmas Story. Metro males aside, most women who poke through piles of graphically repulsive, but $15 each, pairs of shorts at warehouse retailers, are married to men like this.

Which brings me to a major principle of saving money: if you (or he, if that’s the person who is the body in question) doesn’t love it, don’t buy it, because you/he won’t wear it.

You want to feel good and look good in whatever you wear. Cadence, original painting at Steve Henderson Fine Art; licensed affordable open edition art print at Great Big Canvas

That sounds so ridiculously simple, doesn’t it? But like most principles of household money management, it is less a matter of complicated formulas and budgetary magic tricks as it is a way of thinking, a philosophy, an attitude toward stuff and how we acquire it.

Some people are like Barbie or Ken; they like lots and lots of clothes hanging in their closet — not necessarily on their body because after the first or second wearing they decide it doesn’t look right, an observation they sort of made in the dressing room but overruled because the price was so perfect.

Other people — men or women — have limited wardrobes of higher quality items that look good, feel good, and are the first thing they reach for in the morning. It doesn’t matter that every item is navy blue or black.

It’s interesting when the two meet and marry, but at least Barbie/Ken can negotiate for extra, much needed, closet space.

Nobody wants to look like this. Do not do this to the person you love.

As with any two extremes, most of us are somewhere in the middle, with more clothes than we need or want because we bought something for the price, not the fit, but with enough clothes that we love and wear on a continual basis, seeking hallowed ground for burial when a beloved sweater is so holey that it couldn’t be used to wash the car.

Ideally, we look reasonably well put together, without a lot of waste in that closet space.

And, we regularly save $45, every time we pass by a table of graphically repulsive clothing and Just Say No.

Saving money is not so much a series of tricks and tips as it is a lifestyle, and part of this lifestyle is learning to say No and Yes at the right times.

Learn the lifestyle of living happily while saving money.

We don’t STOP buying things, we just take time to make sure that we’re buying the right things. One of these right things — and of course I’d think this way — is my book, Live Happily on Less, which draws on a lifetime of living well on less than whatever we’ve been given.

If you’ve got a digital reader, then you’re already saving money, as one of the reviewers of my book pointed out, and the book is $5.99 in digital form at The paperback retails for $12.99 but is frequently discounted 20 percent, and if you get one good piece of advice that makes you change something in your life, then you have more than made your money back.

I am self published, so this is how I promote myself. You’ll notice that I don’t pack my website with ads from other places — just information about my books, and the Norwegian Artist’s original and licensed art. That’s because we KNOW these products, and we know that they are good.

This article was originally published in

This article is linked to The Chicken Chick, My Joy Filled Life, Alderberry Hill, Mopping the Floor, Tough Cookie Mama, A Mama’s Story, Memories by the Mile, Growing HomeCoastal CharmHope in Every Season, Simply Helping Him, A Little R and RAdorned from AboveA Wise WomanDeep Roots at HomeRaising HomemakersMama BZZFrugally Sustainable, Thriving Thursday, Live Laugh Rowe, Enchanted Homeschooling, Thrifty Thursday, Christian Mom Blogger, Bible Love Notes, The Thriftiness Miss,

7 Responses

  1. Oh wow, Carolyn, I congratulate you on your remarkable restraint!

    These are my rules for clothes buying: 1. I have to LOVE it, 2. it has to fit or be alterable, and 3. it has to match 3 things I already own.

    I recently read “Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion” by Elizabeth Cline. Her main premise is that clothing is getting cheaper, more abundant, and less well made. She talks about the quantity of used clothing taken to thrift shops; they cannot sell it all so it gets bought by brokers, bundled up and shipped overseas to poor countries. She believes that it is becoming increasingly harder to find quality clothing even in thrift shops, because so little of it is manufactured any more.

    Keep knitting!

    1. Jana — wise words, and I agree that the predominant clothing available to most of us is cheap and quickly tossed aside. That’s an interesting observation about it moving up in the fashion circles and price ranges, but it only makes sense — and as skills are lost, they’re lost.

      I like your qualifications for buying clothing, and they’re mine as well. If you don’t love it, you won’t wear it, and if you don’t wear it, you’ve spent money on something you don’t need.

      I do, indeed, keep knitting, and I am pleased with the garments and socks that I make. There is a sense of pride in having made them, I keep developing a skill, and a have a garment that fits right, is completely individual, and will last for a long, long time. — Carolyn

  2. I heard a talk show guest years ago say,
    If you buy a garment even expensive as it may seem
    And wear it often then it costs you less.
    Say you buy a $50. Shirt and because you love it,
    You wear it say 25 times, it cost you $2 each time you wear it.
    If you buy the cheap $15 shirt and only wear it once, if has cost you
    $15 per wearing. Jus’ sayin’.
    Hmmmm, I wonder if this formula could apply to other things…. Like
    Kitchen utensils or……

    1. Indy — You are correct, and this is a principle that I mention in my book, Live Happily on Less.

      And yes, it pretty much applies to anything we use, because if we buy something — no matter how cheap — and never use it, then whatever money we spent on it is lost.

      Kitchen utensils — you bet! While I know that we feel like we’re fooling ourselves so we can buy whatever treat it is that we want, if we USE it, on a regular basis, and it’s doing good things for us, then we’ve definitely made a wise purchase. — Carolyn

  3. This was a fun post to read – but there is some sad truth in it as well.
    What a novel idea – save money by NOT spending your $$ on items you do not need and do not want. Hmmm, how many of us stop to think about all the $$ we DO spend on things we don’t need and don’t want.
    Thanks for sharing, Carolyn – enjoyed it!

  4. You had me laughing so hard I could hardly read this post to my husband who also began laughing. Your punchline: “I know how to save you $45” was the best.

    And aside from the humor I saw in this post (and in your personality), it’s true…very, very true.

    And I’ve been guilty of buying something on sale more for the price than the quality/need/fit/desire.

    Sound advice (and funny too).

    1. Gail — it makes me smile to see you laughing — I am so glad that the story brought you joy — and that you read it to your husband! Although you sound like a person who wouldn’t foist ugly shorts on your mate, perhaps he gave a sigh of relief knowing that it would never, ever be a problem. (If the price got low enough, I know that even I would be tempted: “Oh, please, can’t you just close your eyes and wear these things? They’re $2.95!”)

      Please come back. I love your perspective! — Carolyn

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