Money In Your Closet

Unless you’re one to have a piggybank or safe stashed in your closet, you might be thinking “What?” You are not alone; many people don’t realize that there is money in their closet, both money to be made and money to be found. Here are some strategies you can use to better manage your money in the closet:

1. Figure out how many pieces of clothing you actually need.

Most people spend way too much money on their clothing, buying things they don’t really need. Using a simple wardrobe formula can help you simplify your closet. One of the easiest to remember is the 1, 2, 3:

1 Jacket + 2 Bottoms + 3 Tops = 1 Wardrobe Module
(plus accompanying accessories)

Wardrobe Modules are the foundation of any well-planned wardrobe. You’ll need to make some careful choices so that the tops can be worn with or without a jacket and so that all the colours and textures of the pieces go together. If chosen carefully, you can get 6-12 outfits from just 6 pieces of clothing. One Wardrobe Module should give you 20 hours of wear, so if you’re doing a standard workweek, you’ll need two modules. Check in your closet to see if you can build modules and see where you’ve got more than you need.

2. Sort and purge!

Once you’ve figured out what you really need, you can let go of those things that aren’t necessary. You’d be surprised to learn that you can consign many of your clothing items. You’ll typically make 40-50% of the cost of the item when consigning. Most consignment stores will require you to open an account with them and some have minimum dollar values you’ll need to meet, but consigning is a great way to get rid of those things that you’ve never worn but are in great condition and relatively recent. Top consignment store choices include Turnabout (several locations) and Changes (W. 10th Avenue in Vancouver).  Remember to check your pockets when doing your sort and purge – often suit jackets are put away with bills tucked in the pockets.

3. Budget for replacement.

Now that you’ve let go of what’s not working, you might have found some gaps in your modules, so it might be time to shop. Think carefully about what it is you need the new item to do and plan your budget accordingly. Take ‘cost per wear’ into account. A $20 shirt that you wear once or twice isn’t as good a deal as a $40 shirt that you wear 40 times. Quality counts! It’s also good to take the time of year into account. If you like a deal, then you’ll be shopping a season behind, stocking up on winter essentials as the spring rolls in. If you like choice, you might spend a bit more and get what you like rather than just what’s on the sale rack. A good budget guideline for clothing is 5-10% of your annual income; you can then parcel out your spending over the year to get the most bang for your buck.

4. Make more money.

There is something called ‘The Beauty Premium”, first discovered by two economists (Hammermesh and Biddle) in the 90s. In their research, they discovered that attractive people earned 10-15% more money than their less attractive counterparts. Personally, I feel that attractive is a wide umbrella – choosing clothing that works for you instead of against you will help you earn more in the long run, so it’s worth making an investment in your appearance. Pay attention to fit, quality, colour and style to put your best foot forward and enjoy the results.

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