Tisinger: A few tips for saving money on your college wardrobe

Sarah Tisinger

Ben Franklin said, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” I had heard it many times as a child, but it never really made sense to me until I had to grow up and pay for things myself. You have to work to make the money and you must continue to work to save and make the most out of it. That’s where I come in.

After a semester absence from the opinion crew I am back with a goal. I want to impart my wisdom with all you fellow students on how to make your hard-earned money stretch without sacrificing the all the great things. Clothing, entertainment, living, and traveling — the topics will change. Keep an eye out for me, you freshman. Next year you’re gonna need this advice.

As a college student, I absolutely appreciate underwear that doesn’t fall apart. That being said, I hope all of you college ladies were able to take advantage of Victoria’s Secret semi-annual sale. I mean really, this event should have a special place on the calendar you just got for Christmas. Forget standing in line for hours in the freezing cold during Black Friday, now is the time to buy.

Everywhere you go businesses are giving discounts. This is for many reasons. One is because retail companies want to get rid of their holiday stock to make way for new shipments. Also, companies know that people want to spent their gift cards now, and people usually spend over the amount on their card. Another is to boost revenue. Everyone buys during the holidays and now your money is spent, so offering discounts gets you back through their doors. For whatever reason, it’s really a win-win situation here.

Now back to Victoria’s Secret. I really meant it. I’m a college student, and as such, I can’t exactly afford to buy bras and panties that fall apart and crap out on you when you least expect it. There’s nothing worse than sitting in a lecture class and the only thing you can think about it how the elastic on your underwear is riding up or making your skin pinch. Or you’re on a hot date and instead of keeping up with the conversation you are cursing the dorm’s harsh dry cycle for making your underwire poke out in funny places. Remember, this store isn’t all just sexy lingerie.

Take it from me, it’s better to shop in stores that have higher quality and buy a few nice things than to buy a lot of low quality products at Kohl’s or Wal-Mart. Higher quality stores offer clothing that’s more durable, lasts longer and just a hell of a lot more comfortable. The secret here, no pun intended, is knowing when to shop.

Stores like VS and Express ask for your e-mail and definitely, definitely, definitely offer it up. Not only do they send you discounts and coupons to print out, but the e-mails also serve as a reminder to get your butt in the doors. Plus, many of their coupons aren’t BOGO deals. They offer a lot of “$10 off your next order” deals. Who wouldn’t take that? While we’re at it, take a bus to the North Grand Mall to save on gas!

Express is a clothing store that offers style and class to your wardrobe. As college students, this isn’t a place you’re likely to buy a lot of items at full price, but they do offer adorable dresses and interview clothes, both for men and women. Give ’em your e-mail and address. Their coupon cards give you an excuse to finally buy that LBD you’ve been lusting after. Maurice’s is also a great place to buy some interview and casual/everyday clothing. End of every month and season is a good time to find these items on sale. Their Take Ten card is great for frequent shoppers. Double the punch card with fall back-to-school sales and you can get a new pair of Silvers fairly cheap, for Silvers anyway.

Another option for clothing that is often overlooked is buying from Goodwill. I used to be a believer that all of my clothes must be purchased new, until I bought an almost brand new skirt suit in my size for less than six bucks. Many part-time jobs also require certain uniform styles like khaki or black pants. Goodwill is full of them. Buy a few pair new and a few pair from Goodwill. You will save money and have a longer time until you need to do laundry. Trips here are hit and miss, so don’t let one bad visit ruin your shopping experience at pre-used clothing stores. Go back and check out the new items once a month.

Although it is advisable to consider making clothing purchases at Goodwill, it isn’t necessary to just assume that you will be donating your old clothing to the store. Consignment shops like The Loft and Duck Worth Wearing on Main Street buy fashionable and gently-used clothing and accessories. So all those items your parents bought you from Abercrombie in high school before you gained the freshman 15? Sell them to a consignment shop and use the credit to make new purchases there. The same goes for your old prom dresses. Be honest, are you ever really going to wear them again? Sell them to consignment shops before the dresses go out of style.

Iowa State even helps to support clothing recycling. Throughout campus denim jean recycling is offered. The old denim is used to create insulation in low-income housing and just for donating, Vanity gives you a coupon for 25 percent off a new pair at their store. Last October the ISU group Closets Collide collected student’s gently used clothing and accessories for a weekend long clothing swap.

If you still insist on carrying the expensive designer handbags, please stay away from shady alleyways looking for cheap knockoffs or possibly stolen bags. Check out sites that offer them for rent like bagborroworsteal.com. I totally have my eye on the Louis Vuitton Tivoli handbag currently on wait list. They carry such brands as Gucci, Coach, Juicy Couture and Isabelle Fiore, among others.

The point here is, there’s no reason to punish yourself because you need to save money. There is an outstanding number of ways to still do all the things you want to do, but on a budget. Check around for the best quality at the best pricing. Remember, just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean it’s a good deal. You’re hopefully only going to be a student for a few years and saving money now will limit your amount of loans you will have to pay back later.

Be smart, be classy, and I’ll see you next week.