8 Budget Lessons I Learned From Writing A Fashion Blog

Serious style on a budget

by Lindsay Hood, The $30 Project 

With nothing but an enormous credit card balance, three years ago I started a blog called The $30 Project. My goal was to somehow manage my money without giving up on style entirely. I taught myself how to shop on a budget, taking pictures of my outfits along the way. I paid off that evil credit card bill this year and my sense of personal style has changed in leaps and bounds since then.

Below are the tips that I found the most helpful. I hope that you put them to good use!

1. Higher or lower? The $30 rule.

Thirty dollars has become my benchmark, the price that makes me pause and consider each purchase. Do I really need a trendy $60 necklace? Do I know that a pair of $22 flats will last me more than one season? Some items are worth more $30 and some are not. Learn to make the distinction.

2. Find your tribe.

Friends are often good for a splurge. They’re not often on board with a budget. But you will discover that one buddy who really loves consignment shopping or another friend who has been making trips to the Goodwill on the sly. These people are your tribe. Learn to love ‘em.

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3. The seasons change much faster in stores than your actual world.

People tend to think one step ahead, but winter can be long. We’re looking at spring clothes in January, but coats and jackets that you can wear for another four and a half months are on sale. Shop the retail off-season. Learn to live in the moment.

4. Your wardrobe is a living, breathing organism.

Your outfits, the way that you dress and perceive yourself each day, can help you adjust your attitude. Don’t label your wardrobe as a frivolous expense. You cannot afford to buy a cute shirt because it is cheap. Does it also go with the pants in your closet? Can you turn it into multiple outfits? Your wardrobe is the sum of its parts and the sum helps you be you. Learn to take your clothes seriously.

5. Secondhand is your good as new. (Practice, practice, practice.)

Thrift store finds do not come easily, my friend. They take time. You will have fruitless shopping days, but you need to keep hunting. Eventually you will be able to scour the racks and emerge with unique items. Your friends will ask where you bought it and you can say (with a smug smile!), “Vintage.” Learn to be patient.

6. You own too many shoes. (Stop buying shoes.)

I get it. I’ve been there. Sparkly, neon, six-inch heels are in fact adorable. Were they adorable when you had to walk more than half a block? My shoe racks have been lined with the discarded corpses of impractical heels while I wore the same pair of boots for three weeks straight. Learn from my mistakes.

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7. Try it on! You can wear more styles than you think.

I started The $30 Project because I dug myself into a hole of credit card debt with online shopping.  Even when you send an item back, you’re still out the shipping costs. Congrats, you just paid $7 for nothing. Use online shopping for basics that you know will fit, otherwise face the dressing room.  Learn to know your body and you’ll be able to start skipping those looks that make you shudder.

8. Hey, guess what? You look pretty damn good.

I’m definitely not a model, but I still take pictures of myself almost every day. I like to wear quirky outfits, try different looks, and feel good about my own appearance. And I find that these good feelings multiply and, in turn, grow their own good feelings. Don’t give up on yourself. There are so many excuses. You don’t look a certain, particular way that you want to look. I understand. I feel that same way each and every day. And I still work with what I’ve got. You can too. I know it. Learn to trust me on this one.

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Lindsay Hood is a Brooklyn-based writer and editor. Her work has been featured on MTV, The Huffington Post, AOL, and The Hairpin. She has been working on The $30 Project for over 3 years.

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