How to Save on Your Fall Wardrobe

The fall season can be financially stressful, what with back-to-school spending and the upcoming holidays. No doubt you and the family need some new clothing, including pricey duds like coats and boots. We identified five strategies to help you save on your fall wardrobe.

Buy Gently Used Apparel.

You may be a little hesitant to buy second-hand clothing due to concerns about the quality and cleanliness of worn garments. However, most used clothing stores are quite diligent about checking items and ensuring that they are truly gently used. Used clothing stores often sell high-quality, brand-name apparel for extremely discounted prices, sometimes up to 75 percent off the original tag, which can save you tons on your fall wardrobe.

Thrift stores are an obvious go-to source for budget clothing buys. Goodwill is a well-known and readily accessible option, and many communities support at least one home-grown operation. Several retail chains with brick-and-mortar locations here and there, such as Plato's Closet, Kid to Kid, and Once Upon a Child, sell gently used clothing -- mostly for children, but the first specializes in teens and young adults, the second caters to expectant mothers as well as kids, and the third adds toys and baby gear into the kids' clothing mix.

Don't forget about the Internet. Dresm.com is an online marketplace filled with used garments for men, women, and youth.

Sell Your Clothes.

Take your gently used clothes to a used clothing store to get a few bucks, which you can use to reduce fall wardrobe expenses. The same stores that sell used clothing often purchase like-new apparel (including the retailers noted above). Some purchase clothing from a previous season, which is definitely a bonus if you're trying to get rid of whatever makes you feel dated or anything that will be outgrown by the next season.

Sign up for Online Mailing Lists.

Most retailers maintain mailing lists and offer incentives to join. H&M, Old Navy, Kohl's, and Piperlime.com extend discounts on first purchases. Signing up for sale alerts delivered via email from Kohls, for example, yields a $5 saving on your next in-store purchase plus a 10 percent discount on your next online purchase; registering for mobile sale alerts earns a 15 percent discount on the first online purchase.

An online mailing list is one of the easiest ways to receive legitimate discounts and sale offers, including birthday coupons and holiday deals. Your inbox may be inundated with emails on a daily basis but you can always create an account solely for promotional emails, something the new Gmail template has already taken care of with its "promotions" tab.

Shop Early.

At the beginning of each season, clothing from the previous season generally goes on sale. The onset of winter is the perfect time to shop and save on next fall's wardrobe, for example, and the beginning of fall is the perfect time to shop for next-summer apparel. Retailers are eager to rid their shelves and warehouses of out-of-season stock so there will be room for new, trending clothes, shoes, and accessories. There's less than a month left of summer, so start shopping for next summer now.

Use Cash and a Calculator.

For years money experts have advised consumers to use cash when shopping; it's far easier to keep track of your spending. If you have a budget for your fall wardrobe, withdraw that amount from a savings or checking account and you'll be able to see how fast your wallet is thinning. Relying on a debit or credit card can camouflage your outlays and lead to overspending.

Finally, take a calculator along when you shop and total up the price as things get dropped into your basket. This little trick for saving on your fall wardrobe will give you an instant read-out of the bottom line before you arrive at the checkout -- when it's sometimes too late to turn back. The moment you see you have exceeded your budget, eliminate the non-essentials and/or the higher-priced items until you're back in balance.