I often wonder what my friends think when they ask me to go shopping with them.  Are they worried I’ll judge them?  Is shopping with a financial planner like going out to eat with a nutritionist?  Will they think I’m mentally calculating how much they are spending and thinking, “You know if you put that money in savings and earned X, you would have X amount?”  Well, none of that is true.  For one, I am terrible at math calculations in my head.  I just can’t do it.  Secondly, I want to help people; judging doesn’t help anybody.  Not to mention, I’m right next to them spending my money versus saving it.

Personally, I believe that as long as your priorities are in order there is nothing wrong with shopping.  Let’s be real, we all have to buy clothes at some point.  Clothes wear out, styles change, we change shape, all resulting in a need to buy new clothes.  In fact, I’ve read enough articles and seen enough “What Not To Wear” episodes to know that what you wear makes a strong visual statement about how you see yourself.   Being financially responsible does not mean you have to sacrifice style.

I had the opportunity to go on a little shopping spree this past week with a friend and shop all for me!  I don’t usually have a problem buying things for my son or my husband but when it comes to me personally, I often feel guilty.  (Which is a topic I’ll elaborate on another day.)  I am happy to report however that I very much enjoyed myself and feel great about my purchases.  No guilt!  I don’t have one regrettable purchase.

So here are my tips to help you get the most out of your shopping sprees and stay on track with your priorities.

Know Your Habits.  We all have different shopping habits.  For example, I don’t shop for clothes every week or every month.  It’s more like one or two big shopping trips a year with a few smaller purchases in between.  (Hint, if you track your spending, you’ll be able to better understand your own habits.)

Make A List.  Lists, lists, and lists.  I love lists!  Make a list of the pieces you really need to add to your wardrobe and others you’d really like to have.   It helps that I usually purge my closet before I go shopping, getting rid of the clothes that no longer fit, that are stained or too worn, or I just no longer wear.  This helps me be more aware of what I already have and where I need to fill in.

LOVE It.  When I’m shopping for myself without my son, I try everything on.  Even t-shirts.  If it doesn’t fit well or I don’t LOVE it, I don’t buy it.  If it’s questionable in the dressing room, I’ve learned that it will likely just sit in my closet, never being worn becoming a waste of money.  I also make sure I have other pieces that coordinate with what I’m buying.

Evaluate The Value.  Even if it fits well, is the perfect color, would be a perfect addition to my wardrobe, it has to pass one last test for me.  Am I comfortable with the price tag?  This means you might find me crouched down in the dressing room with my calculator crunching some numbers. (Like I said, I’m terrible doing math in my head.)  If it’s questionable, I don’t have a problem leaving it and giving myself some more time to think about it.  Most stores have no problem holding something for you until the end of the day so you won’t have to worry about someone else grabbing it while you’re thinking.

Shopping With A Friend.   Despite that sometimes shopping with friends can lead to trouble, having a second opinion can be really helpful.   The key to shopping with friends is first to be confident and comfortable with your own spending amounts.  If you’re shopping beyond your limits just to fit in, you’re asking for trouble.   If your friends are true friends and you layout ahead of time what you’re looking for and a spending range, my guess is they will jump on board to help you make that perfect purchase.

So the next time you head out on a shopping spree, set parameters you’re comfortable with and allow yourself to have some fun!  Being mindful as you shop will help you get the most out of your experience.