4 Style Budget Resolutions I've Formed After an Overindulgent Year

This year, I’m going to stay within my budget and still look fabulous.

style budget tips

Design by Tiana Crispino

On New Year’s Day, my head was pounding—or was that my heart? I was sweaty, uncomfortable, and anxious. But I wasn’t hungover (okay, maybe I was, a little bit). I was looking at my bank account.

I had shopped, eaten, and drank my way through the holidays with reckless abandon. A makeup refresh at Sephora, a few impulse purchases (essentials and maintenance products, I told myself) at Target, the 50% off hardcover sale at Barnes & Noble, an in-demand perfume that was quickly selling out, outdoor drinks and dinner with a friend in town, and a complicated Ottolenghi recipe that I made “for fun.” I had really gone all the way in during December. I scrolled through my bank statement looking for some mistake, but it was all me. It was time to take stock of what led me here—and what I was going to do about it.

First things first: Admitting I have a problem. Though masked in the pretty dressings of self care, grooming, and healthy entertainment, there was no denying it. I had overspent, and overspent significantly, as I looked to an upcoming year chock-full of weddings and travel that I was supposed to be saving for. All wasn’t lost, but I needed to start today and get real about what I could reasonably spend and what I actually need in 2022.

Let’s face it: You know all this, right? You don’t need me to tell you to cull your closet, use the envelope system, keep to your budget. I’m not here to judge! I’m here to share the surprising resolutions I’m making to stay within my budget and still look fabulous all 2022.

Give yourself some credit—literally

Where I live in Northern California, vintage and consignment isn’t just an option—it’s a way of life. I have had a long and mutually prosperous relationship with classic consignment stores such as Crossroads, Buffalo Exchange, and Freestyle since I was a preteen, but it’s dawned on me I’ve been doing it all wrong. Whenever I successfully sell to a consignment or vintage store, I always take cash. But consignment stores offer way more returns on credit—giving you a gift card for when you’re ready to do a little shopping.

If you’re not lucky enough to live in a place that worships pre-loved clothing, the Internet is catching up. Did you know ThredUP lets you trade in your clothes for credit toward their own inventory and also Reformation (yes, that Reformation)? Or that Net-a-Porter just launched its own resale site with Reflaunt for designer goods that will give you store credit, plus 10% off your purchase? In 2022, I’m vowing to regularly cull my clothing that doesn’t fit, physically or mentally, and keeping the credit so I always have a few bucks at some of my favorite stores.

Say buongiorno to a new hobby

We’ve all been there—Zara drops new stuff each Thursday, ASOS updates daily, and my Instagram is becoming a regular Home Shopping Network. Scrolling in my bed, in line at the grocery, while I mindlessly watch TV...shopping is a habit, and I’ve primed myself to browse the aisles of the Internet multiple times a day. It’s no wonder I find stuff I think I need to have all the time.

It may seem to be common sense, but finding a new (and free) focus for my attention in my spare time will give me a new hobby to play with instead of sorting prices from low to high on H&M. Less mindless grazing through my e-commerce favorites means less talking myself into purchases that I simply know I don’t need. I’m downloading Duolingo and Libby, two apps that give you a ton of fun for free, as we speak. I’ll be working on Italian to fill my time while I’m waiting in line instead of perusing the sale section of The Outnet.

Impose a cooldown period

What is more thrilling than when the perfect—and I mean perfect—thing shows up in your line of sight? If you’re looking for someone to tell you to put that object of beauty down, look elsewhere. I am the friend who whispers in your ear that you need the periwinkle sequin skirt or platform knee-high boots. “Perfect for brunch...” I’ll hiss, as we coo at your new look in the mirror. When it sits in the back of your closet, I’ll shrug and chalk it up to one of life’s minor regrets. I’ve practiced justifying purchases with myself enough to throw your caution to the wind as well as mine. And, thanks to the end of 2021’s bank account scaries, I’ve come up with a new approach. Going forward, I’m going to give myself a holding pen for things that catch my eye.

I’m a lifelong pinner and a lover of life organizer Notion; both are great ways to organize links visually into boards. My simple rule will be to give it a few days before I make any purchases on things I think I absolutely must have. That way I’ll know it’s love and not just lust. Over time, I’ll be able to see recurring themes in my fashion sensibility and how new purchases can blend together all in one place.

Plan for shopping tantrums

I’d love to admit that thanks to these resolutions, my weaker impulses will simply disappear. That I won’t try to soothe myself about bad interviews, bad dates, or simply the state of world affairs with a quick run to Aritizia. But I’m human, and I’ll always be working on separating my happiness from commerce. In the meantime, I can make sure these outbursts of capitalism don’t ruin my savings and financial goals. I’m very taken with digit, an app that lets you save for different goals little by little. I immediately saved $50 in a new category with a setting to save just a little bit every day. When I need a new nail polish after a stressful day or a workout outfit for a little gym motivation, I can check my shopping tantrum pot and see if I can afford to treat myself to something unexpected.

You might notice a theme in these resolutions. None of them are a direct rejection of who I am, which is clothes-obsessed and style-minded. If there’s one thing I’m not going to do, it's set 2022 goals I could never achieve. These resolutions are designed to not be punitive, or to suddenly become a still, mindful person–that’s not me. They’re all about actionable strategies that honor who I am without disrespecting my savings goals. Happy shopping—and saving—fellow fashion girls.

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