Real Life On A Budget

Stay Fashionable On A Budget

People ask me all the time where I go shopping for clothes. In today’s video, I’ll break down my six favorite clothing stores, plus what I look for when I shop at each one.


  • rondavue66

    You can also shop at Goodwill or thrift store and find some awesome buys. Go to the higher income areas and shop these place for the best deals or do a clothing swap with friends.

    • Holly Tegeler Morgan

      We go to Goodwill every other weekend on “half price” day when everything except black tags are half price!! My kids don’t even ask to go to the mall or anything anymore!! They know they get a heckova lot more going with me to Goodwill and taking the time to LOOK!Q!!!

    • kirstenwilliams

      I thought that they distribute the merchandise from many different location and that each thrift store get somewhat of the same items so why is it important to shop and the higher Income areas, im just curious?

      • rondavue66

        Goodwill is supposed to distribute evenly but they don’t. Thrift stores in high income areas will have better quality clothes too. Always look for the color of the day at Goodwill and buy that color for the best deals.

        • Kir2u


        • sorilea

          The goodwill in my area sells cheap clothing from stores like Walmart and Target for higher prices than you can find them on sale at those stores. I hope other areas have it better!

          • philliesthoughts

            That is a great observation that I have made also. The trick is to have some idea if what you are getting at the thrift stores actually IS a bargain in comparison to buying it new at a department store clearance. I have found new clearance clothing to be cheaper than thrift stores on several occasions. That is why I usually check both when I’m on the hunt for an item(s). Also, stores that use coupons and other discounts (not for opening or using a credit card though!!!) can make your items cheaper too. I wait for clearance sales at places like Dress Barn and then use my coupons and other discounts (they often do two-fers, percentages off or dollars off for buying two of their dresses) to get really awesome bargains on brand new clothing and accessories.

          • Jennifer

            Absolutely! I bought my daughter sale shorts for $4 at Old Navy and went to Goodwill today and their very ratty shorts were $4. You do have to be careful…

          • LegendsOfBatman

            HA! That’s what I find too. LOVE your description “very ratty shorts”. nI found the same at a local thrift shop, and by chance went to (Oh no, not Wal-Mart— yup) Wal-mart, and found several nicer looking shorts on clearance for $3 (originally $20).

  • momof5

    I was also going to suggest Thrift stores. I found a pair of like-new Talbot’s trousers for $10!! I love Nordstrom for bras because their salespeople are trained in fitting, and when I tell them not to bring me anything over , they actually listen. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • philliesthoughts

      A good fitting bra is well worth the price!! Of course, getting it on sale is good too!!! I think that my bras are the only things in my wardrobe that I will actually spend big money on simply because a well fitting bra makes a big difference in how clothing fits and if you are big breasted and small chested like I am (sorry for the indelicacy) it makes a significant difference in how your back, shoulders and neck can feel at the end of the day too. I’ve tried cheaper bras and they did nothing but give me fits (no pun intended) but I’ve found going to some place that will do actual fitting even if the bra is much more expensive is a life as well as a time saver. May not have as many bras but a couple of good bras is all I need!!

  • Annick

    I love your 3 cheap stores as they are MY stores where I shop too!! JCrew is my “expensive” store as well! I’ve been going there with my mom for years!!

  • Julie

    I think it’s funny she doesn’t hit the Thrift stores! I get basics at Target and add on’s at thrift stores or clearance racks at Kohls, Macys etc. I think it makes a difference if your a bigger size too, easier to find bargains if your a 3 or 5!

    • Mark

      I also ALWAYS browse the clearance racks at End of Season time. JCPenneys, Dillards

    • Leah McLaughlin Faught

      She grew up on thrift store clothing, though. When you live like no one else, later you can just write the check!

  • miss_metallic

    Cute! Love consignment shops too, that’s where I get all of my designer clothes as a college student who’s also a clothes horse ๐Ÿ™‚

  • jennc, too – it’s a bid site like ebay, but the money goes to goodwill! Thanks for the great video!

  • Very good advice, especially if you’ve worked hard to stay out of debt and have the cash to shop. However, since my wife and I have started getting serious about changing our lifestyle, we have to take a different approach. I haven’t bought clothes in 2 years (except for 2 pairs of shoes for work), and my wife shops exclusively at good will. It takes a bit of humility and a VERY methodical approach to shop thrift, but if you do it right — it works REALLY well. It’s not unusual for her to find clothes with the tags still on. Two keys: Pick a location in a more affluent area and literally look at everything on the rack. You might find 6 items to try on in the whole store, and you only end up with 2 that work, but that’s okay… go back in 2 weeks and try again. You can easily get an entire wardrobe for $30 over the course of a few weeks. If you do it right, no one will be able to look at you and have any clue that you thrifted your outfit!

    • I’ve shopped at local thrift stores for years, goodwill as well but usually go to a local thrift first. No shame in that! I have some great staple items that I love and have saved money on hiking attire that would be easily 4-5x the cost to get at REI, as well as a nice leather purse for $8 (googled for about $300). Gotta just dig for the gems and like you said, come back another day if you can’t find anything. I’ll also buy books and then re-sell them online and make a little money back.

      • LegendsOfBatman

        Don’t know about where you live, but the thrift shops, esp. Goodwill actually charge MORE than the stores they came from! nI was not sure if I was supposed to cry, scream or laugh when I told someone I was shopping with that a T-shirt cost almost as much as it would brand new, as a joke, and the very next shirt cost a dollar more than a brand new one. I knew the price, because I was wearing the exact same shirt!nnBtw, there are bargains at thrift shops, but, they aren’t as bargainy as you might think.

        • I live in Portland OR, so the thrift stores sometimes are NOT a better deal. But I’ve found a few that I can get lucky on, usually the days their tag-color is an additional discount. But you’re right, many thrift stores these days are not a huge bargains. We have “boutique goodwills” which are a laugh when it comes to prices but I just don’t go in those. I’m really not a big shopper anyway, and a tightwad, so my idea of realistic pricing may be off in general.

      • Sue Pio

        Where do you sell them online?

    • kirstenwilliams

      However you must be very aware of BED BUGS and other critters that make thrift stores their “breeding” ground.

      • Lynn

        Anything you buy at a thrift store should be automatically washed before you wear it. I do that with new clothes too–dye residues, etc. Also, don’t buy things that need dry cleaning at thrift stores–it adds significantly to their cost.

    • Vatermann

      We’re all over the thrift shopping. I have 7 kids, and we hardly ever buy anything new, and we hand it all down. My kids dress every bit as nice as the kids at school but for very little money.

    • Erica Esser

      Thrift stores are awesome!! I have found some amazing deals for my kids! And kids grow so fast, who wants to pay full price for something that will be out-grown in a matter of months? Unfortunately, I can’t find much in thrift stores for myself or my husband because it’s hard to find thing in our sizes even in regular stores….I’m 6’2″ and he’s 6’10”. I get all of my kids’ clothes at second-hand stores or clearance racks while they’re still young….they’ll both be super tall soon enough and I’ll have to pay extra for clothes to fit then.

      • txmel

        Erica, you should look for your local Clothes Mentor store! They have NAME brands at u2153 of their prices! Get Banana Republic, J.Crew, Coach, Ann Taylor and a lot more… for LE$$!!!

        • That would be awesome, but there is no local Clothes Mentor store…I’ve never even heard of it. I just googled it. The closest one is 6 hours away. Bummer. But thanks for the tip! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Christine Luken

    I couldn’t agree more! I do the same thing – get trendier styles at places like Target, Kohl’s, and H&M. I’m a big fan of the clearance racks and outlets for Macy’s, Banana Republic, Calvin Klein, and Ann Taylor. I also love and for name brand career clothes at 50-70% off retail. “Never pay full price!” is my motto, too!

  • Elise

    Check out Consignment website for women and kiddosu2014love it! And they won’t sell anything unless it’s in IMMACULATE shape! Consignment is definitely the way to go to find quality stuff at 75% of the price!

    • rondavue66 is wonderful. I bought a light weight sweater there for $2 recently. It was a $75-80 sweater when purchased new..

    • Jo Ann

      I’ve also sold a ton of stuff to Thredup. They send you the bag, pre-addressed, postage paid. All you have to do is fill it and take it to the post office. They pay you for it as soon as it’s sorted out, so you don’t have to wait for it to sell. They just deposit it to your pay-pal account.

    • Kristi

      thanks Elise!

  • LizzieM

    I went to my local consignment shop for a dress for a fancy occasion, got a 100% silk dress for $35. If you need special occasion clothing, consignment shops are a good place to look first because there’s usually a huge selection of dresses that have been worn maybe once and the price is SO right!

  • Krista Norris Andersen

    If it’s not on sale, it’s not for sale ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Holly

    Thank you for giving the inside scoop on where you shop – you’re too stinkin’ cute and always look adorable! Love the balance between trendy and classic pieces and your philosophy on shopping. Your video blogs have such great practical advice – it’s always exciting to see a new one has been posted!

  • Jaym

    Eh, just because we shop at thrift stores doesn’t mean she has to as well! ๐Ÿ™‚ I do agree you’d be surprised at the awesome things you can find at a Goodwill from time to time. If you’re getting out of debt or saving for a large purchase (car, house, etc) then perhaps a “new clothes hiatus” would be the thing to do! Things like that can really help you to reach big goals! That is a nice yellow jacket, Rachel. I’d borrow it! lol

    • Jo W.

      I usually buy seasonal items at thrift stores (things like heavy sweaters that I really can only use three months of the year, or maternity items that don’t need to have a long shelf-life). Things like jeans and shoes, I will spend a little more on because they are versatile and can last a long time if you take care of them. Case in point, I don’t own a pair of jeans that are less than three years old and only buy shoes when they have a hole in them lol

      • Christi DeVoe

        Why do you buy shoes with holes in them? ;-P

        • Jo W.

          How else would I get my feet in them? :PnnI meant “NEW” shoes when the old ones have holes in them… Pregnancy brain failing me again lol

  • ADuck

    I can relate, Rachel! Thanks for sharing your shopping strategies with us! I, too, ONLY buy clearance/sale items. Last weekend, I got a bunch of stuff at Old Navy, including about 7 shirts for my daughters, for $0.97 each! I was a fan of consignment shopping/goodwill stores like many have mentioned, but it took a lot of time to troll through every rack looking for a “gem”. With little ones and a business to run, shopping time is nil! Now, if I have a chance to sprint out for a quick shopping trip, I go into favorite stores (like those you mentioned) that sell current trend items, head straight to the clearance, and find even BETTER deals than at Goodwill (Seriously –shirts for .97?! I paid 2.99 for girls shirt at second hand store!). Saves me time and $$! Also local selling/trading walls on fb has been a fun resource, and I shop from my seat, sometimes without spending a penny (trade ya!) ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Ima Souperconservative

    I bought my son a like-new GAP bathing suit for $4.99 at Salvation Army, and when I took it home to wash it I found a $5.00 bill in the pocket that some poor kid forgot to spend at the snack bar. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • RettaDetOnYa

    I am teaching myself how to sew. And I love going to thrift stores. If I can’t find something that I already love and can’t wait to wear, then I can usually find something that I see potential in and then I do something to it when I get home.

    • lizajane

      I love the blogs where folks who are talented at sewing take finds and either tailor them to fit or completely redesign them into something new. I’m not talented that way — good for you that you have that skill!

  • Rayme

    I might also suggest The Limited for good quality and if you find something you love, wait a couple of weeks and it’s typically on sale. Also a lot of times they have 40% any retail item. I wear their clothes forever!

  • Martha

    Great advise. In addition to where one shops, there is also the question of how often one shops and how much one purchases. If one shops often, you can spend a great deal even if you shop at low-end stores. What about limiting yourself to only a few items per shopping trip or a few times a year? Or, budgeting for clothing? Great questions to address in addition to “where” to shop.

    • Martha

      Advice… not Advise. My mistake.

  • Caroline Badinelli

    I also love thrift stores for great deals on higher end clothes that last (DKNY, Gap, J Crew, LL Bean, Ann Taylor, etc). Another great recent find is the online garage sale I belong to. People cleaning out their closets often have great stuff (especially kids clothes which I find harder to get at thrift stores) and you just swing by and pick it up!

  • Tracy

    I am deaf and would love to understand what is being said in the video. Can you add subtitles or a at least a transcript? Thanks so much!

    • Stormy

      The main point of the video is that she shops at 3 “cheaper” stores for things that she loves but are more trendy and won’t stay in style long. Those are Target, H&M I think–not familiar with that one, and Forever 21. Then she shops at three nicer stores for more classic, simpler clothes that will stay in style and last a long time because they are better quality. But she only gets things from those stores when it is on sale. Nordstroms, J Crew, and Banana Republic. nnHope that helps! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Jennifer

        Thanks Stormy! It does ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Jennifer

      I’m deaf too Tracy and would agree with you.

  • Tracy

    By the way, YouTube’s CC feature doesn’t always work…it captions incorrectly pretty often so it gets confusing. Thanks again!

  • Lauren

    I am surprised that you find clothes that fit at Banana Republic. I am small petite framed with a long torso similar to you, so I find the best fitting clothes size 0-2 at The Limited, Black House White Market and Nordstrom.

  • love it!

  • kirstenwilliams

    I shoppedvat Goodwill one time and it was horrible. They did not have anything of any real value to me. The Salvation Army is awesome, however, you must be aware of bed bugs hiding in clothes, purses, etc…

  • Cynthia Parker

    I am still very new to all of this. I have thought for years that living on a budget meant sacrificing and doing without some things. It does, to a degree. I have learned that I can shop for things I NEED, like clothes, without breaking the bank. I shop at thrift stores. For a long time I thought tht Goodwill was the only thrift store that carried some fairly nice things. I WAS WRONG! Thanks to my husband and a friendly local clerk, I have learned that the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store carries some REALLY nice things for CHEAP!!! I am about to graduate from college and start going on interviews. I bought one interview outfit at Goodwill (slacks, jacket with top, and a purse) for $10. Then, after seeing the bargains that my husband (who was unemployed at the time and was also shopping for interview clothes) found at St. Vincent. I took my daughter on a shopping spree. We found two pairs of slacks, two sweaters and two blouses, and we only spent….wait for it….$6!!! Bargains can be found just about anywhere. You just have to know how and where to look!!! Thank you for sharing your video blog with us!!

  • cw

    I love the JCrew, Gap, Chico’s, Dillards, & Soma outlet stores. I shop the Anthropologie sales regularly and never pay more than 75-80% off (if it is not under $29.99, I won’t even look at it there). I also shop Ross for dresses–since I lost 40#, I have literally rebuilt my dress wardrobe–and never pay more than $20 for great dresses. I also just got a pair of progressive lens glasses at Zenni Optical online–$62!!!! LOVE!!!

  • jancotten

    I always head to the higher end consignment shops first. In Phoenix, it’s a little trip to Scottsdale, and so worth it. The dress for my granddaughter’s wedding cost me $18.00, and it fits like it was custom made for me. And found a tommy bahama shirt for hubby with the tag still on it, for fifteen bucks!

  • Liz

    Has anyone ever heard of Clothes Mentor? It caters to the 21+ age group, and everything is name brand gently used clothing, shoes, purses, accessories. It’s a national chain, and everything is super cheap!

  • Mom and Pop Shops

    I am a store owner. If everyone purchased like you suggest, on SALE…there would be no Mom and Pop shops left and it would hurt the Department stores also. Retail stores need to sell 25%-50% of their merchandise at regular price to stay in business. Jobs, jobs, jobs…stores and manufacturing would be affected if everyone shopped sale and thrift. Remember, we are America and need to keep American businesses in business with American made goods. Most of the time when you see less expensive stores… you will find they have made a purchase and contract with an overseas company to keep the merchandise priced low enough for sale prices to be attached to the suggested manufacture retail price. What you think the value of the product will be to you is how you need to make a purchase.

    • unoqueen

      I’m just a shopper with no ties to clothing stores, but I agree with you 100%. Money is meant to be spent – you save so you can spend it later – not to take it to the grave with you. The economy will suffer if people don’t circulate their money in a balanced way.

  • 25aweek

    The majority of my clothing comes from my local Community Aid store. I shop there every Wednesday when they have their half price day. I have a closet full of Coldwater Creek and Dress Barn. I’m a plus size, and have no trouble keeping my wardrobe up to date for very little money. This works well with my budget grocery shopping strategies!

  • VickiBender

    I shopped at thrift stores when My boys where young. Like brand new Levi’s. $1.00 each. My son said he did not want his friends knowing where he got his pants from. Guess what no one knows if you don’t tell them. The best part when they’re doing what boys do best getting dirty, getting holes in their jeans. I just let them play. Sometimes I made them shorts or if they where really roughed up it my choice to toss or wash. My neighbors who bought their clothing in high price places would get all upset. They had a great childhood that is what the remember. Shoes I am picky about.Who donates shoes.The family of the deceased.

  • Lynn Davis

    I find some great deals on Ebay! I have a favorite style of pants that retail for $136 at Anne Taylor, but I have found several pair on Ebay for around $30.

    • gilroygal36 .

      I LOVE eBay, too! I have found a LOT of clothing from a favorite line for less than half of what I would normally pay. I get what people are saying about balanced spending, but the reality is that there are ALWAYS people who are willing (and able) to pay full price at stores. For those of us living on a smaller budget for whatever reason, these tips are (no pun intended) priceless. I personally don’t like to “shop” so I enjoy the ease of eBay. I am supporting small businesses that way, as I’m sure that many eBay sellers are using the money to pay their bills and/or put money back into the economy the way that they see fit.

    • Sue in VA

      We have bought several designer shirts for my husband on Ebay. They sells in stores for $150. to $200., we have recently won 8 shirts paying between 15 and 35 dollars for each.

  • Jacqui G

    Great advice! One thing I’d add is Old Navy. Love their clothes and the prices are not that pricey.

  • Joni

    What you don’t have a Nordstrom’s Rack? That is the saddest thing I have heard today!

  • Amy Bright-Huerta

    I can share with you because I did the walk with buyers from Target once – about 10-12 years ago, Merona for Men at Target is made by the same makers of Banana Republic. Xhilaration shoes are made by same makers for Steve Madden. Target isn’t so cheap any more…I often find great deals elsewhere for similar or same items. but they do now print out coupons at Target for apparel and shoes.

  • Jaime Lila Donovan

    Thank you for sharing. I can’t believe Dave Ramsey’s kid goes to H & M, Forever 21, and Target. You always look nice during your speaking engagements so I thought you shopped at all high-end stores and clearly that is not the case. I appreciate this video. Thank you.

  • Kelly Jackson

    My favorite place to shop recently is They have higher end brands (Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, J Crew…), slightly used but in good condition. You can also mail in your clothes that no longer fit or are not your favorite, they provide a postage paid bag to mail in, and will offer you cash or store credit for them. If the items are too worn to sell they will donate it to their local thrift store. I have ordered many items from them over the last year and have been very happy with the quality. If you don’t like something once you get it, you can mail it back for a full refund, and postage is paid.

  • ashley

    If you love Nordstrom, check out Hautelook. It is their sale app and they have awesome sale stuff everyday.

  • KMOM93

    we have several very nice consignment shops in my area and when i do buy clothes i buy almost exclusively from them. not only am i saving amazing amounts of money i’m also helping a women who are 1) selling their clothing for cash and 2) small business owners. the clothing and shoes are in excellent to brand new condition (many times i find things with the tags still on them) and i pay even less than Target or store sale prices. i’ve bought many pieces from Talbot’s and Ann Taylor Loft, my “dream stores,” for up to 90% off. my biggest score of all time – an absolutely brand-new Land’s End storm coat – fully lined, mid-calf length, with Thinsulate – for $28. GO CONSIGNMENT!

  • Bonnie Jean

    I plan my wardrobe around just three basic colors and three accent colors so everything coordinates. Also, I only buy to replace something that is worn out. I take good care of my clothing as well. I have a basic navy knit dress that I bought on sale in Chicago, 32 years ago. Yes, and I wear it at least three or four times a month… sometimes more often. It has short sleeves and a nice square neckline. I can pair it with sweaters, jackets, different belts, necklaces, whatever. When people compliment me on my outfit and I tell them about the dress they are floored. It cost me $30.00 on sale in a boutique in the Watertower Place (I think that is what it was called then). Another factor… stay in shape. I have been the same size since High School except when I had my two sons. It too takes work and discipline, but it also helps financially. I work out at home, although I have taken dance classes and worked out in a gym for awhile to learn how to do things properly. Now videos and my own routine are fine. (Videos also bought on sale). I just turned 57. Some things I did right, but still have other financial lessons to learn.

  • Mrs. Clean

    I would like to know where Sharon shops for clothes. She is closer to my age. lol

  • LegendsOfBatman

    Male here. nOne of my best clothing experiences ever was at Harris’. I do not buy “sale”, as sale prices are generally regular prices, except for the rare times the item has to be at regular price to avoid a government intervention. My best friend at a dept. store is “Clarence” (Clearance). nBack to the Harris story. Showing my age here, I purchased Z Cavaricci pants, retail $99+ (back in the 80’s) and paid LESS than $20 a pair. And, yes, I went back two days later, and got back more than $5 a pair! nnBeing a guy, and not in high school any more, I don’t care about High Society fashion. I wear my Batman T-shirts and basic jeans. Always in style (for me). When I need dressier clothes, I go to higher end stores, buy white cotton shirts, long sleeves, and dress slacks. Since classic business attire never goes out of style, I can always find a nice pair of name brand black or charcoal slacks and a nice silk tie on clearance, saving 60-75% (as opposed to 20-50%). nnnnI find it rather exhilarating to shop at Nordstrom’s, Macy’s, Robinson May’s etc. and yet pay Walmart prices.

  • mamabear

    I have shopped both at Goodwill and the Habitat for Humanity Restore and Salvation Army and sometimes can find a bargain.However, if you really want to save money go to rummage sales., most of them are much cheaper than the thrift shops . Plus you can find all kinds of other things there too.

  • Kathy Hall

    Check out in your areas for the Church ran thrift stores, I have found SAS shoes new in the box for $1.50 at the 1 go to, The pair that way my size I kept. The other I sold in a Garage sale for $20.00.

  • storie

    These are some great tips.

  • Sarah

    Target x-small is too big for me because of their vanity sizing. This is the problem with a lot of the cheap stores.