Spend vs. Save: Staying in Style on a Budget

When it comes to staying up-to-date with the latest trends in fashion, technology and home décor, we all find ourselves wondering how we’ll ever be able to keep up. With trends changing every day, it’s virtually impossible to know what’s “in” at any given moment. What we do know, however, is that there are some products and brands out there that we’ve grown to love over the years and have become loyal to. Some people have their favorite fashion designer, others may have a favorite tech company and some may even have a favorite place to buy household goods. And when it comes down to it, some brands and items are worth spending the money on. The problem is, they’re bound to become outdated sooner or later. While a trendy new sweater and a great living room paint color will eventually become outdated, there’s one thing that never goes out of style — making smart purchasing decisions. Although we may find ourselves spending more than we intend to from time to time, it’s still worth the effort to decide what will fit our budget and to figure out when to spend versus when to save. Here are some of the ways in which you can live in style by doing so on a budget. Fashion (staple vs. stylish) When to spend As we all know fashion trends change in a heartbeat. What was in style yesterday may be out by next week, and this may cause you to get less use out of many items in your closet. To save money in the long-run, try purchasing high-quality staple pieces. Items like well-made suits, cardigans and shoes can truly stand the test of time. Through proper care and use, you can extend the life of your clothing, justifying your initial investment. Traditional pieces and cuts also tend to have greater longevity in your closet, as it takes them longer to go out of style. When to save It may be very tempting to spend a hefty sum of money on the latest fashions, but chances are, they won’t last in your wardrobe as long as you’d like to think. To save money on these extra trendy, new items, try purchasing them at outlets, online or at other discount retailers. By doing so, you can get a quality item at a lower price. Technology (new model vs. old model) When to spend Often changing even faster than fashion can be technology. It seems as if every time you turn around, a newer, faster, smarter device is released. The allure of having the latest and greatest phone, tablet or TV may be very tempting, but it’s not always what you absolutely need. Before making a technology purchase, be sure to determine what features are important to you and what price range you would like to stay within. You should also check out online reviews to get a better idea of how the product will perform. This will help you make an educated decision when making these often expensive purchases. When to save Pay close attention to the differences between older and newer models. New tech products are constantly being released, but the differences between the new and old models are often minimal. If this is the case, you may be better off looking online for the item at a discounted price or maybe even a used or refurbished product. The savings from doing this can definitely add up, giving you extra cash to spend on other things. Home (new vs. used) When to spend With the advent of websites like Pinterest, it is incredibly easy to find new ideas to improve our homes and home décor. Seeing a wide variety of perfectly-decorated rooms can even cause us to want to transform our own houses into our dream home. The trick to all of this is knowing when to spend more and when to spend less. Much like the fashion world, there are some staple pieces in your home that you should not be afraid to invest in, like mattresses, hot water heaters and other large appliances. These are necessities that are likely to be around for a while, giving you more reason to spend money on them. Also worth the money are purchases that will help you maintain and repair your home. Performing preventative maintenance and making repairs as they come up are always good ideas if you want to save money in the long run. The last thing you’ll want is to end up with a big problem that was once very small and easy to fix. When to save Aside from the big staple items in your home, there are many other elements of a home that you can save money on by making them yourself. This is where Pinterest can really come in handy. The website is full of do-it-yourself (DIY) projects that often involve used and recycled items. Sometimes, all you need to do is pick a new paint color or re-purpose your old furniture to give your home an updated look. There are even many smaller home décor project ideas that can be completed without spending much money. If you find yourself becoming interested in thrift shopping and crafting, this could be a good option for you. You can also save significant amounts of money in your home by purchasing other used items that you will only need for a certain period of time. Take baby furniture, for example. Buying a brand new crib doesn’t always make sense if it will only be used for a little while. Finding used or discounted products for your baby and for other areas of your home can be the right option when it comes to saving money, and you can even put your DIY skills to the test by upcycling items prior to use and recycling them when you’re done. These are just some of the ways in which you can live in style on a budget, but they can all make a significant difference when it comes to your wallet. Understanding when to spend and when to save can help you get one step closer to achieving your financial goals.

Tags: Financial Facts, msu federal credit union


Sarah Bohan

Sarah Bohan is the Vice President Corporate Relations at MSU Federal Credit Union. MSUFCU's headquarters are at 3777 West Road East Lansing, MI 48823. Contact Sarah at sbohan@msufcu.org or (517) 333-2208.

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