Friday, July 30, 2010

How Much Do You Spend?

Today's post is on a topic that I've always been curious about - on average, how much do you ladies spend on your wardrobe each month? How do you manage or control that spending? I'll share my own "info," but I'm more interested in hearing your thoughts.
^ 2 things I tend to splurge on - Burb Coats and Coco

Before I started PAG/ExtraPetite I had a blog called "Fashionable Finance" for over one year, on which I babbled about savings, investing, retirement accounts, etc until I bored readers to tears. To avoid that happening again, please continue reading at your own discretion! Snoozefest to ensue!

I consider "wardrobe expenses" to include apparel, shoes, handbags/accessories, AND alterations. I have several credit cards and do a lot of returns, so it's critical for me to track exact net spending. I've used Mint.com (free) for two years and it's pretty simple. Here's a step-by-step:

Step 1. Transactions automatically load from all of my credit cards. "Categories" are applied.

Step 2. In the Trends tab (my favorite) you can select any time frame and view your total spending.


Step 3. Click on any piece of the pie to drill down on the spending. For my "Wardrobe" category:
So there you have it. $193/month so far this year, but not including July and NOT including my annual coat and handbag splurges. Those haven't happened yet, but can easily bump this monthly average number up another $100-$200. 


Some tips I've read about for managing wardrobe expenses: 
1. Budget by % of salary (Elle tweeted an article that said 4%)
2. Analyze "cost per wear." Let's say I spend $800 on a coat that I'll realistically wear 2x a week, for 4 months in the year, for a minimum of 3 years. The cost per wear is about $8.


Personally, I hate budgeting and cringe at the thought of analyzing cost per wear. I have no debt, so my spending guidelines are simple: save and/or invest 30% of each paycheck, use 30% on rent & fixed expenses, happily spend from the rest and save anything else that's left over.

62 comments:

  1. Ah interesting. I think I have fallen off the edge because I don't really track at all. I created this excel model once that had an output showing each category, but then I switched computers and lost it and got unmotivated... I do have a mint.com account though from college so maybe I'll start using it again... I don't think I'll like what it tells me.

    How do you invest? do you have a brokerage acct? I'm going to start one this month! How do you allocate between stocks, etc? I am so nervous about putting money into the market -- i haven't ever! Any tips?

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  2. Wow that outfit is gorgeous! I probably spend like only $50.00 on clothes monthly. Going back to preschool teaching I don't need nice clothes and wear what I have but I will occasionally find a dress I'll want to buy for the weekends. I spend most of my money on lipgloss. It's a ridiculous obsession. Heheh!

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  3. Jess - that's so funny, I also made this excel model and then one day was like, why am I not just using my Mint account? Excel is tedious!

    I stopped tracking last year, until I checked it in December and was a lil' horrified at the lax spending due to blogging & reading all these fashion blogs.

    I use ING and Fidelity. Both have their perks but I would say ING was MUCH easier for me to use as a beginner. I was also nervous about investing so I own all ETF's (real estate & energy) instead of corporate securities. I'm lazy and hardly manage it now...just set up buy/sell limits and it's been working okay so far!

    April - Lipgloss...a good obsession! We each have our own things that we like to spend on : )

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  4. Heehee...i do not budget at all. I keep track of my spending in my head...not a good idea. lol. I only have 2 credit cards and manage to pay off everything I buy each month. I do save. But I do spend a lot of money ... probably because I don't budget. I also eat out every meal too... that gets expensive. I guess...in my thinking as long as I don't have debt, I am doing okay.

    i love everything...from designer to forever21. it's all about the fit and how cute an item is. i just love to buy STUFF...its a weird high. lol. i sound like an addict.

    i have some designer stuff such as my LV bag, $1k costume national boots, & so on....but I tend to wear my cheaper stuff more.

    overall i spend at least 1k -1.5k every month on random shoes, clothes, and what not.

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  5. Oh I just refreshed my mint and it says $293 a month this year... except that includes the trench and boots i plan to return! that's not bad =P except I spent an EQUAL amt per month on electronics =X so bad that I like all the things girls like + guys sigh. need to control this!

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  6. Well, luckily I don't have a job so my spending is extremely limited(but I also don't think someone my age should be spending that much a month anyhow) I probably spend about less than 20$ a month. Sometimes I go months without buying anything, and I used to buy makeup all the time . I just tend to buy a lot of items at once. I hate seeing my online cart with only one or two items, I feel it's not worth the time for shipping =P
    I think keeping yourself away from actual stores is a good way to save. For example, every time I would go do groceries I would hop to the Marshall's that was right next to it and spend quite a bit. So it's not that hard to control myself, what's hard is coming up with the money for unexpected cost(I recently broke my flat iron that I can't live without, and need a new phone too) So those things always come first, splurges later on!

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  7. I used to use Excel to budget my spendings before i discovered Mint.com. I actually stopped using them because it was a little confusing going from Excel to that! LOL I don't know why. But I guess I was so used to manually typing things in and creating formulas that Mint.com made me feel dumb for doing so at all :p I think I will give Mint another try since you seem to be doing well with it :) I'm happy to be debt free as well, so my main goal is to save and always pay off credit cards every month :) An to keep a 8 month emergency fund! Learned it from Suze Orman :p

    It's so interesting how you do the Cost Per Wear. I never thought of it that way, but when you explained it, I can see why it makes sense to see if an item is worth buying or not. Interesting stuff! I won't ever be bored to tears if you write finance things! I love reading anything on investments and ways to maximize assets. I am looking into ING as I write! LOL :)

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  8. I actually did read your old blog Fashionable Finance (don't remember how I found it) before you started this one!

    I have no idea how much I spend on clothes because of all the returns I do, but I'm trying to start to keep track now. I tried Mint.com but hubby didn't want me to use it because they might sell your info or shopping habits... so I got the new Quicken for Mac which was designed by the same people so it's like the same thing except offline. Question, when you apply a new category on Mint, does it remember to apply the same category to future transactions from the same place?

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  9. Wow, that's such an interesting website! I'm gonna check it out when I have time because I spend a LOT of money on clothes and stuff, but I always make myself feel better by using the "cost per wear" method. haha

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  10. wow, thanks for this post! i wish i was organized as u are lol i've never heard of mint.com, but i'll definitely check it out. u have an enviable collection of burb coats:)

    TheOwlsCloset.blogspot.com

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  11. This is very interesting! Someday I'll invest in the good stuff when I have any money to invest with hahaha. For now it's Forever21 purchases that my parents won't freak out about. Oh the little I make as a psychology experiment guinea pig at school ($10 an hour isn't too bad).

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  12. Can you give advice for college students with a lower salary on investing and how much to save and all? I'm actually intrigued! I had to sign up! Anyway, is it possible for me to still read your old blog? I love love this and I'm quite the curious cat because I don't know how to get started on investing. Thanks! btw, I sent the package out on Wednesday or so.. Sorry for the colored saran wrap, it's from Xmas! Also, sorry for the haste packaging, this week was thrown off by hearing some bad news.

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  13. I guess I spend a lot...this year hovers around $200/month. Last year, I spent $100/month.

    I think my spending balances out over time. This year in particular, I bought a lot of big ticket items (heavy coat, 2 Theory pants, a purse, and boots) that I probably won't be purchasing in the future. So it's probably my most expensive year in preparation for the next five years of relatively low spending (I hope!)

    I used to do the Excel thing, did Mint.com for a while, but really, I like a simple notebook to write everything down. I have no debt, but I try to keep my shopping budget capped at $200/month.

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  14. Hmm, I obsessed over Mint for awhile but then realized it didn't track everything - like cash, reimbursements, shared roommates expenses, etc. I actually prefer manually entering into an Excel doc every 2 weeks or so what's coming in and going out of my wallet. Although I do like the "trends" tab that Mint has..

    I agree that so long as you're saving a good chunk of your salary (is your 30% before or after tax?), the rest should be yours to spend freely. After all, that's the point of working so hard! I've always been really interested in personal finance, but instead of focusing on where to shave my spending, I've been looking into expanding my income - which is where investing comes in. I just got started so we'll see how the year goes.

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  15. This is a great post! I cringe at the thought of how much I spend on clothing, shoes, and handbags. I've tried not allowing myself to buy any clothing/shoes/handbags for a certain amount of time in order to save for something big. It's really hard to curb the shopping habit but in order to buy the big ticket items (like a lovely Marc Jacobs purse), you have to save.

    Good tips! I'd hate to know what percent of my salary goes to clothing but I guess it's neccessary. I'll have to check out Mint.com

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  16. These comments are interesting to read...everyone is a little different and has varied situations.

    Janice - whatever comes in on the paycheck, so post-tax. I totally agree, if you're good at investing then these clothing purchases are just a drop in the hat. Too bad I'm not that great at it and can't spend time during work to watch the market.

    Diane - oh no! Hope you are okay. I'll email you, but about Fash Finance - I've decommissioned it.

    Petite XXS - oh how embarrassing. I'm shocked that knew about FF, lol! Yes you have the option to save categories for every future transaction. I accidentally put Target as 'clothing' for every purchase and it threw me off a little. I know you mentioned Mint may sell info but I haven't had any issues so far over the 2 yrs...I'm curious as to what kind of info.

    Ushishi - $20...very impressive, that's amazing self discipline. I'd bee too depressed if I only had that much in purchases each month!

    Rainy days - Mint used to suck and many of my accounts wouldn't connect, plus they had fewer features. They've definitely improved on the "trending" tab tho and that's pretty much the only tab I use! If you alerady have an online bank account I'd recommend using the corresponding brokerage...it's so much easier to transfer money that way. Also look for coupon codes! ING gave me $50 for opening an account but that was years ago.

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  17. This Mint.com site sounds interesting! and a really good way to organize spending and expenses! I'll definitely have to look into it to control and manage my spending a bit more haha. I think it's really neat that you used to have another blog that was fashion-related but completely unrelated at the same time. It reminds me of how my day job is in the finance industry but after hours is spent blogging about fashion - good times :)

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  18. OMG... You look absolutely stunning! You're making me miss cold weather, sweaters, and jackets. I have a black BR wool trench coat that I love. It will never go out of style! (It better not for what it cost. Even at half off, it was still more than I wanted to spend.)

    It's funny... I spend a lot less on clothes than my hubby. (He's a bit of a clothing snob... I don't think he owns one shirt or tie that costs under $100.00!) We actually don't shop too often, though, so it sort of balances out.

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  19. Yaaaaaay! You already know I love this post! :) a personal-finance related post after my own <3! hehe.

    My average overall is $150 according to Mint.com. I'm another Mint advocate.. I've also been using it for 2 years and have not had any problems whatsoever. Actually I used Yodlee Moneycenter for quite some time before Mint.. but Mint is much prettier and easier to navigate :}

    As I've gone through high school and college my taste in clothes has become much more selective as far as quality goes. My taste is getting progressively more expensive but I'd like to think this is a good thing.

    I used to be crazy insane about sales; I bought things that were just 'okay,' but were too cheap to pass up. The #1 rule that helps me now is to buy things that you absolutely love and not to settle.

    Now just gotta save for emergencies, invest for my future, spend less than earned, and everything should be okay. :D

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  20. Oh and btw...

    Mint DOES have the capability to track cash spending now, but you have to enter those in manually.

    They are then deducted from a previous ATM withdrawal.

    Hopefully that makes sense :)

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  21. I kept track of everything besides shopping (for clothes) expenses. I am not sure why. Maybe because I bought things and had to return them later and it's too much to keep track of. I'll take a look at Mint. It looks very interesting and easy to you. I'd like on average, I spend about $150.00 per month on clothing/makeup/shoes. I am not a lucky girl who can splurges on Chanel and Burb coat yearly :) But one thing I don't mind spending money on is travel and vacation.

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  22. Hi,
    I recently started reading your blog and other fashion blogs. I'm not sure how much I spend. What I can tell you is that it's increasing the more time I spend on your blog!! I think I will start to breaking down my expenses by category though! Thanks! And I find finances very interesting, not boring at all!

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  23. This is good, thank you for sharing Mint.com with us! I think you have a good crowd of readers who will read any fiance advice if you do feel like you want to post another. Ahahaha, smart choice in posting a picture of Burberry AND Chanel, we definitely won't leave the PAG! (just joking)

    I personally don't spend nearly *that* much in order to use Mint. I'm very much repulsed by the idea of buying when I look at my bank accounts. However, I hope to be financially organized one day ... when I get a grown up job that is.

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  24. Unfortunately, now that I've started following several blogs that involve fashion, I have spent a lot more! I need to curb that a bit.

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  25. Each month the husband and I set aside 2% of our total monthly income (post tax, post maxed 401k contribution) as discretionary spending. We can spend the money on whatever we want, no questions being asked. Our finance situation is too complicated to track the expenses and incomes on our own. We hired a personal accountant to go over the numbers every 3 months.

    It's so great that you're investing into retirement and other things at such young age. I'm glad the husband introduced me to them when he and I met.

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  26. Very interesting! Great post :) You really don't spend that much at all although you have a lovely wardrobe. :)

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  27. This is my favourite topic ever. You probably know I haven't spent much on clothes and I still "sort of" continue with my no buy policy.

    Reading fashion and beauty blogs are extremely tempting and I seriously want to buy everything I see but I am (mentally) stronger than ever these days and don't easily give in lol. In the past I probably spent around $250 on clothes and beauty related products. Budget is the most effective way to manage my personal finance and savings, I am a firm believer. It helped keep me on track and achieve my short term saving goals in the past, it worked. I do not like mint so much so I have been using a simple Excel spreadsheet.

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  28. Interesting topic. Makes me nervous thinking about how much I'm spending insteading of saving. My concpet of budgeting is saving for a pair of shoes or a new purse, terrible I know. But if i have to take a guess... 25-30%? I need to tone it down though...

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  29. I love how organized you are about spending! I don't really budget anything - I still live at home, so I don't pay rent/utilities, and I don't buy groceries other than stuff for my packed lunches and the occasional stop for random things my mom forgot.

    I DO have debt, however - I pay about $400/month in student loans and paying off my credit card that I (stupidly) used up to my limit in college, plus I pay for my own cell phone plan and car insurance (and since I still live at home, I fill my gas tank up 2x/week, which is a big expense). I save a lot, though - just over 40% of each pay check (10% goes to my 457 plan (like a 401(k)), the rest goes into a savings account). After my savings, everything else is bills and fun money - I would say I average about $200/month on clothes? It's gone down a lot recently, though - I've finally been out of collge for one whole year, so I have an appropriate work wardrobe for all four seasons, where as last year I was having to buy work appropriate stuff every time the weather changed.

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  30. oh wow that's a great picture! I love everything about the outfit!

    I'm not so organized about the outfit spending, I think I spend about $100-200 average per month on clothes etc... sometimes I keep tags on and if I think I spent too much I return things lol

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  31. WOW! I wanted to open a MINT.COM account, but then my hubby wouldn't agree to it. However, it's quite useful to see where money is going. Sadly, most of my money goes toward the phone bill since it's a family plan.
    Anyway, I would have to say that my monthly expenses on my wardrobe is probably less than $100/month. I don't have that much time to invest in shopping...and I'm a cheapo (F21 fanatic). However, I hope to invest in my clothes more, but I think it's such a hard habit to kick since I've grown up shopping the sales rack and whatnot.
    But you're so lucky to have no debt and husband, yet. HAHAHA
    I hate debt, but if it's to get a doctorate's degree, I might as well incur some kind of debt.
    Anyway, too much rambling on my part, but I love this post. It's informational and interesting.

    <33 Rena

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  32. I have to admit I spend...$0 a month. I haven't bought new clothes in about a year. Maybe more. I can't even remember. I LOVE fashion, but I need things like food and have bills to pay. Hoping sometime in the near future I can buy SOMETHING, because most of my clothes are at least 5 or 6 years old. And don't really fit. Ugh.

    So keep up the wonderful blog. I'm living my clothes life vicariously through you!

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  33. Cool post.:) 4% a month sounds about right in my case! I love your 30-30-40 rule. Will try to apply it!

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  34. Great post. For a second there I thought you were reviewing your new Nordy Burberry Trench, which I have been eagerly waiting for. Is that coming up soon?

    This is coat Burberry as well?

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  35. Great post, I was asking elleandish about all this stuff and she suggested mint as well.

    I have to look into it more as it might be only a US site and I'm not sure I want my financial information to be linked to it, but it sounds very useful.

    I have no tracking or budget right now. We have mortgage debt but that's all. We tend to splurge on vacations each year which is also when I do most of my shopping. I would like to be saving for more than just retirement but we're still figuring that out!

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  36. I think this website will be a great eye-opener for me. Thanks for bringing this up!

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  37. I think Im going to have to bookmark that site. I honestly do not know how much I spend each month on clothing, but $200 does seems a lot. We do splurge a lot on going out to eat and buying grocery though.

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  38. btw..i just check the site..you have to put ur bank saving # in there? hmm i dont know how i feel about that..

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  39. As little as possible. It isn't even on a monthly basis...more like a tri-monthly basis.

    Thanks for posting this! Mint.com is an excellent tool for money management! Whenever I get out of the hole long enough to shop every month I'll definitely be using it more.

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  40. Strange, I just blogged about this a few days ago. My average over the past year is $270, which is too much! I put myself on a three-month shopping boycott.

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  41. lizzie

    Currently my boyfriend and I both spend too much on clothes in my opinion, over the last few months I'd say I've averaged $200 a month lately, but there were several months where I bought nothing at all (because nothing would fit!!!)

    I do plan to cut back and save more (though this is partially hindered by the fact that I'm paying grad tution out of pocket), but I've sort of justified it for the time being because he and I are recent college grads. All through undergrad I think I spend about $200 a year on clothes total, and not nice clothes. Needless to say when I started my job I had nothing to work with-so I've been investing in nicer key work items.

    mint.com sounds really cool! I'll have to check it out.

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  42. I have kept a loose budget over the last year or so.

    At first the idea was not to spend more than I was making (novel, right?), but once I started a professional internship last summer and would get paid gobs of money every week, I decided to save half of every month's salary. The money came in handy later on when I needed it.

    Now that I'm full time, half of my paycheck goes to boring things (rent, utilities, phone, food, car, etc), and I plan to use only 25% of the remaining funds as "fun money" including gym memberships, etc. with the rest going into savings. It should make for a tidy sum in a year's time.

    I seem to spend a lot of money when I'm at home with my family, and not shop when I'm on my own. Thus, it's not so much monthly wardrobe spending as bursts of spending around holidays :)

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  43. Hi: Interesting post. In my case it is about 5%take home pay. I did do a lot of shopping and selling on ebay(can not stand to see much clutter in my closet) to save and purge. Work clothes, classic style and popular brand always come first becuase they represents best secondary market value. I treat my purchases as invesetments sometimes.

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  44. I use Mint.com as well to track my spending...I love it, and I wish that I had discovered it sooner. I'd say I spend about $200 a month on my wardrobe on average. I used to be a lot worse, but I've been so much better this year!

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  45. No way! Not a snooze fest at all! I love how your blog discusses price points of fashion and how you go about getting a good deal. I wish I could have read "Fashionable Finance." Is the blog still up by any chance?

    I checked my Mint account and found that I spend $23/month on clothing. However, I am a poor grad student who receives my stipend on a monthly basis.

    I cringed to see that most of my disposable income went into lenses/camera gear. Lol, but now that I've discovered the petite community, my interests are starting to shift toward fashion, so I suspect that my average will increase. ;) But I do feel like reading these blogs has definitely led me to become more of an educated petite shopper and that I'll end up with quality pieces rather than a year's worth of F21 type stuff.

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  46. I spend too much but I sell my old seasons stuff on ebay and then re-invest that money back into items for the new season so I find this works for me I would say I spend about £300 a month on clothes and accesories. xoxo

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  47. I need to put the breaks on my spending. I think I'll de-list from the online sample sites (Ruelala, iDeeli, Gilt, HauteLook). They are addicting. As for my shopping habits, each item I buy is usually well under $100. I might spend $250+ on shoes, $500 on boots (once in a blue moon), $150 on a purse, and $500 on a suit that's I MUST MUST HAVE. I don't do $1K+ splurges on a single item of ANYTHING, ever, much less a handbag or coat. There's always a little voice in my head saying: You're paying for a BRAND and the aura of exclusivity, not an article of clothing. I don't begrudge PAG and others who sport those lovely luxury items, though (drool).

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  48. Thank you guys for sharing your thoughts. Like I've mentioned before, everyone has different things they enjoy spending on, and come from different financial situations, so I just want to reiterate that I brought up this topic from a curiosity standpoint and not to judge or make anyone feel "guilty!" As long as you find a good balance for yourself/your family and you are happy with your spend/save balance. By year end I will probably exceed $300 a month on average, but it will be guilt-free.

    Lawgirl - The sample sales are the devil and I have a few hefty credits sitting around in some accounts from returned merchandise. I'm happy you mentioned that you don't begrudge those of us who enjoy a good splurge. I've met too many people (my family especially) who are quick to judge others' spending : )

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  49. This post was super helpful, I would have loved to have read your previous blog... prolly would help me out a lot!! Btw, I love your outfit, sooo simply and classy!

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  50. Hi PAG, you're such a sweetie. I'm so not judge-y, because I'm not innocent! Let me clarify: I spend that same $1,000 you spend on 1 Coco/Burb, trust me! I just spread it around with: $119 blazer for iDeeli, $50 suit from Smartbargains, $200 Cole Haan Bag, $80 Stuart Weitzman @ 6pm.com, $30 jewelry at mall, $300 silk suit from Saks, $300 St. John's poncho from Neiman's, etc etc. Oops, $1K+ already! You get the picture ;-D

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  51. I think it's really neat you shared this! I always wondered approximately how much it was costing to keep you in such chic clothes. :)

    As much as I love the fashion of your blog, as someone who started out as a PF blogger, I'd love to see more about the financial side as well.

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  52. I've kept a record of my expenses for the last couple of years, but this is actually the first time I've looked at it! It's odd...I just record everything but never analyze it so I guess I'm not getting the full utility out of it.

    For the past 3 years ~ $100 per month.

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  53. I try to do a few no spend on clothes months a year to help balance out the months that I do spend. It works out to an average of $200/month. Reading all of these fashion blogs has made me evern pickier with what I buy, but I still have expensive taste!

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  54. I do keep track, and I have averaged $185 a month over the last year, which is an all time high for me. Since I have gotten into buying quality over quantity, I have been spending a lot more money, even though I am buying fewer things. But I am hoping once I have finished building a wardrobe full of long-lasting items, that my cost will go down.

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  55. i have not been keeping track, but probably 250 to 350 per month.

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  56. for the past 12 months...I'd say way less than $100/mo. Maybe even as low as $50/mo once averaged out. The 12 mo before that though...eesh. I don't even want to know. Wouldn't be surprised if it was $400-$500/mo.

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  57. What an interesting topic! I've just recently started tracking my expenses. For clothing/accessories, my total is under just about $300/month. :)

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  58. Wow you're so organized! I'm trying to cut down my expenses. It's hard though especially during Christmas and birthday months! :S

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  59. Its nice to know that I'm actually under-spending but I don't think I"m as stylish as some of you ladies.

    I budget $100 per month. I don't shop every month so sometimes I save it for a big sale. I only allow myself $100 per month, no excuses, no justifications for over spending. It includes shoes, apparel, handbags and accessories.
    Cosmetics don't count but I only get the usual staples (foundation, powder, blush, lipstick) every 4 months.

    Great topic!

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  60. Wow..I have no idea how to really budget things, and savings/investments? forget it..Is your "Fashionable Finance" blog still up by any chance? I want to learn more about this sort of thing..but have nowhere to start.

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  61. i'm also new to budgeting and would like to learn more about it. Can we still read your "Fashionable Finance" blog? or maybe you can post more of these tips in future blog entries :)

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  62. Jean - I am trying to get a budget plan and routine down for the next year. I have been following you for a few years now and fascinated by how you're able to eat out, shop often and still able to afford a beautiful high quality wardrobe! Is this the way you still manage your spending? I would love to know you're tried and true methods!

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