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Lifestyle Choices: Fashion on a financial budget

How do you look fashionable on a limited budget?

Keeping up with trends can be an expensive business, especially in the run-up to Christmas - which is harder on the pocket than most times of the year.

But buying all those fabulous gifts for others doesn’t mean you have to miss out on a little something for yourself. You just need to be a bit financially and fashion-savvy about it – which is why we’ve rounded up some top ways of spoiling yourself a little bit, without breaking your budget.

Keep an eye out for thrift store bargains

Charity shops/thrift stores are often overlooked – they don’t feel like a place you go to treat yourself when the urge to shop strikes, and it’s easy to think that in this day and age that everything good goes on eBay anyway – but that’s not so. There are still a lot of people who can’t be bothered with selling on eBay, and charity shops can still be a treasure trove at times. They do vary from place to place both in terms of what donations they get and also in terms of how they move their stock around, so a little time invested in finding out where the good stuff gets taken should net you some complete bargains if you keep your eyes open.

Trawl the vintage stores and markets

Both vintage clothing stores and markets are great places to get less-than-high-street priced bargains. If you know what you’re looking for and can tell a good second-hand designer piece from a hole in the wall, you can walk away with something that looks like it cost a fortune, even though it didn’t - and who other than you will know where it came from? If you’re going around the vintage stores, take a friend – if you both spot something you like you can sometimes get a discount for multiple purchases. The trick is to ask respectfully and don’t sulk if the answer isn’t yes (they have a business to run, after all).

Use eBay to its best advantage

Of course, eBay’s hardly a well-kept secret these days, and shopping there can be a false economy if you get lured into a bidding war because the have-to-have-it lust has taken hold. However, if you can keep that in check, and use some of the great tools out there you can still end up getting the fashion items you want for much less. Searching for items listed with spelling mistakes, for example, is one good way of finding low-cost pieces (simply because most people won’t find them), so run searches on your favorite designer labels with a couple of letters out of place, and see what turns up. Some tools sweep eBay for items that are close to closing with no bids on them (try Lastminute-auction.com), and tools that can automatically bid for you at the last possible moment, to avoid you bidding early and encouraging the price upwards.

Don’t forget too that eBay is a tool where you can make money – so if things are hiding in your wardrobe that hasn’t seen the light of day for a season or two, think about listing those to raise the cash for a new purchase.

Go high street - but cheaper

If your pocket is feeling the strain but you simply must go shopping, either because something needs replacing or because you need retail therapy, then ‘downgrade’ one level from where you normally shop. You’ll still need to buy your wardrobe staples at your normal outlets, but you can pick up some great little wear-for-six-months-and-throw-away fashion pieces at the cheaper end of the high street.

Check online for freebies and offers

Lastly, don’t forget to ensure you’ve got the health and beauty products to go with the financially savvy fashion items you’ve picked up. It’s fair to say that there’s always a beauty product on offer somewhere - the trick is to find them. And that’s where the internet is invaluable – some sites collate information on the latest offers and give-away on everything from lip-gloss to spa treatments – check back regularly, or even sign up for updates so you never miss a good one.

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