Finance – Sarah’s Financial Fitness – How to Shop Better!!!!!

I love shopping. Bargain shopping, window shopping (not kidding), second-hand shopping. How do I even begin to describe it? The sights, the smells, the endless possibilities… aahhhhhh. I may have little to spend but I don’t have a problem spending it! At the same time, believe it or not, I try my best to be clever about it.

Shopping can actually be fairly complicated if you are trying to make the most of your money. Here are some things that may help if you like shopping too or are just curious. I’ve split it into three parts: Before, During and After. (I will use clothes as the shopping item of choice but it can be translated to other objects-of-weakness.)

Before You Hit The World of Mall (or similar)

  • Figure out when you are at your weakest. For example, I love shopping alone and with time to spare, so if I don’t have the funds to be doing this, I try to avoid it or only go to malls with a friend, then I know I will not be as tempted. On a serious/side note: If you suspect you have an issue on a deeper level, like buying things makes you feel good because you feel ‘in control’ or it is a way of escaping areas of life that are difficult, etc… talk to someone you trust about it. This may not be bad if it is one-off or a short-term thing, but may be harmful in the long-run.

  • Every year or half-year, write down what you think you need in the months coming up. (Something fun to do when you are bored or waiting around.) This list helps you strategise when you are wandering in the stores, so you don’t just spend on random things. For example, a special wedding coming up or new basics, etc. This also helps when you hit end-of-season sales racks. Look through that list now and then, be honest and keep this list as practical as possible.
  • Staples or major buys are worth a think-through.

Items like winter coats, boots, jeans and special dresses need to be carefully shopped for so you focus and don’t overspend.

    • Questions like:
      • What is my budget?
      • What do I want this for? (Everyday wear, evening wear, special event wear, etc.)
      • What sort of style coat/jeans/boot do I want? (Short/long coat, straight-cut/skinny jeans, scrunchy/thigh-high boot, etc.)
      • What weather will I be wearing it in?
      • What colour do I want/will suit my other clothes?
      • What shoes do I already have to match?
    • You may not have to answer all these questions but answering a couple of them will help.
  • Set limits or wait.

If you know you tend to be a new-season buyer, where you see a new lot of clothes come out and you go into a frenzy over the fresh colours and fantastic styles of Spring, or simply see-and-want-now, then anticipate this and set aside a limit OR anticipate and tell yourself to wait for a sale. For example, I know I go crazy for summer dresses, so I may try to think beforehand that I will get one if I find one under $40 (if I have $40) and that will be my summer buy…

  • Narrow the options.

Figuring out your own sense of style, colours and what suits your shape can be really helpful because these will help you narrow your choices.  This involves time and effort to look through your closet with a critical and truthful eye. You may need help from someone else (like a friend who knows what they’re talking about or an actual style expert) but you will need to be prepared for them to say things you may not want to hear. However, this is a good long-term strategy as you will then be spending on things that look good on you instead of wasting money or random items you end up hating. Plus, when you like an item you will probably wear it more times over- which is value for money.

During: When You Are In The Danger Zone

When you are in the shops and have found something you like, here are some things to do.

  • TRY IT ON (YOU MUST)

Note: Unless you are can’t figure out how it is supposed to fit, avoid asking the shop assistant what they think, they usually will be able to convince you to buy it- somehow.


  • BREATHE. Give it some time and thought.

For example, leave the store and come back later. I personally like to look through other stores before I come back. You may find the ‘need’ for it has lessened. Sometimes I even leave it for days and that can be a good judge how great the item is. Some of us may need to go home and stare at the bank statement first too.

  • ASK QUESTIONS

Now that you have tried something on, emotions are running high. Wait! Here are some good questions to ask yourself:

    • Do I have the money for this? (You may want to write this on your bank/credit card with a Vivid..
    • Will this actually match something I have? (Make yourself come up with at least 2-3 things you already have that will match.)
    • Will I wear really wear this? (Picture yourself in it, next to your friends, walking around the house, at the cafe, whatever… stuff often looks better in the World of Mall, than in real life where you may run out of the house with your hair wet and ketchup from your takeaways may not look great on the white shirt)
    • Can I move? (Watch for space to eat, butt crack when you sit, too much cleavage if you had to lean over, etc.)
    • Hello, what exactly is this for? (How many ‘nicer’ dresses do you need when you work Monday to Friday at a gym, Sarah?)
    • Do I already have something that looks SIMILAR? (How many black cardigans do we need people?)
    • Will I need to buy a couple more things for this outfit to work? How much will that cost?
  • Don’t settle for less. If it doesn’t fit great, the colour doesn’t totally suit you, and isn’t really fabulous, then NO. PUT IT BACK. Having high standards also helps you save money.
  • If you are just having a bad day and need to buy something/anything, STOP! Put that top back on the shelf. Go and buy a thing of soap, toothpaste or toilet paper. There is also always scotch-tape for gift-wrapping. Those are necessities that are super irritating to run out of. Or go have an ice-cream cone.
  • SALES- My fave!

These days, sales are going on all the time, not just at end-of-season. Personally I often only consider buying things if they are below original price. But don’t be led astray. Apply the same questions as previously mentioned, and:

Have a strategy. For example, as a visual person, when I approach sales racks I look for the right colours first, so it is less of a waste of time than looking at everything.

    • Go back to point 4 above- is it great? If not then say, NO.
    • If it wasn’t on sale, would it be an item I would look at?
    • If it is at the end of a season, consider seriously if the item is a style you will wear next year, etc.


Aftermath: Back To Reality of Home


  • Try it on again.

    • Response A: If you still like it and spent your money well then feel free to rejoice in your wares!
    • Response B: If you now don’t like it and feel uncomfortable or know that you overspent, RETURN IT or EXCHANGE it for store credit. (Exchanging it for credit may not always make sense but it could work if it is at store you can buy a future items or Christmas presents at.)

OKAY, so some of you may be laughing at how hardcore (and long) this post is or how serious I am about shopping! I don’t do this as often as it sounds haha… but I do enjoy it, as you can see, there are also other aspects of shopping we can expand on another day, like how to buy the right things and how to shop if you have shopaphobia. Meanwhile, let me know if you ever need any help.

Thanks for reading!

Sarah – Fit 4 Life Staff


Fitness – Getting those kids of ours up and moving!!!

When I was a kid, we spent most of our time outside, playing with all the kids in the street and came home exhausted, dirty and happy as could be. Now that I am a mum of two (15 and 10), I realise how life is very different for my kids. They just don’t play outside as much, their friends are busier, they’re busier, there’s a lot more “hazards” to think about to keep them safe.  I don’t think we’re necessarily more responsible in our parenting than our parents, but times do change and new cautions have to be put into place. Another massive change has been the increase in home entertainment – gaming, TV, computers etc…. Lots of fun and has so many great aspects to it, but there’s a downside as well. So, if you’re like me, you’re having a challenge to get your kids up and  moving.

To be honest,  every day it’s a struggle for me to manage the busyness of life and keeping my kids active and healthy. Definitely a HUGE learning curve, especially when I struggle many days to get out for a walk or to the gym or away from my computer. Knowing that activity doesn’t just happen anymore like when I was a kid, we’ve had to be more proactive and we’re still working on it. We are not experts in getting kids active, but rather parents on a journey of trying to figure it out. However, we have done a few things to move in the right direction.

  • Family Gardening – my husband and I are not gardeners. We love looking at them and enjoy them, but we don’t particularly get thrilled by the process. However, we saw the garden as a great way to spend time as a family and get us all outside doing something active. We committed to 1/2 hour a week outside in the garden. We bought enough equipment for us all to use and got stuck into some weeding etc. It was a lot of fun, we had some sore muscles and we got to see something get done around our home. It’s not happened for awhile with winter, but now that spring is here, the garden beckons.
  • Family Housework – your kids might already have chores which is great, but one thing I’ve been doing is on a Saturday afternoon or the morning if they don’t have sports, my kids and I do housework together. It’s great for me and it also gets my kids up off the couch and busy doing something besides watching TV or checking Facebook…plus the house is sparkling clean and they’re learning useful skills for the future. My son is a pretty good toilet cleaner!!! 🙂      (Image courtesy of Hyperbole and a Half)
  • Have at least one of their after school activities be something active – we purposefully haven’t filled our lives with activities so we can sit down as a family and have dinner together etc, but the ones we do have at least one of them has to be active or sports related. Our son has swimming every week and is playing tennis on Saturdays (last year it was softball). Our daughter has Musical Theatre (dance), but has done swimming and netball as well, plus walks to the bus and to Fit 4 Life which is about a 1/2 hour walk from her school.
  • Get them into the gym – Fit 4 Life aims to be a place where families are welcome. We do want kids to be supervised, but it’s a great place to work out with your kids (showing them you care about your own health), spend time as a family and also set new patterns for their future. My daughter has really enjoyed doing some weights each week, some cardio on the Elliptical or rowing machine and going to Zumba. She is 15, but she’s never really been in a gym before and is enjoying it. Our son has his own little programme as well that he can do when we are down there. It’s fun to listen to them talk about how it went that day and improvements they are seeing. This is especially good to do if your kids are not natural athletes. The gym is somewhere they can excel no matter what their abilities.
  • Use gaming to your advantage. We were given a Wii game last Christmas and have had a lot of fun with it. I noticed that my kids are much more active playing Wii than other options and a lot of the games are sports related.They love beating their parents too!!!! If you can invest in one then it’s a great way to harness the technology and make it work for you in your goal to get your kids more active.

So none of this is earth-shattering news, but just some fun things we’ve done. We need to do more and after winter need to get back into some of these habits, but one thing I have realised is that by getting your kids more active, you as an adult becomes more active which is always a good thing especially if you’re someone who is naturally more “sedentary” like me. It also adds to your family life which is always important. We really don’t have these kids for very long so it’s good to spend time with them. 🙂

Hope that inspired you to get active with your kids or get them moving a bit more if that’s a challenge for you!!!!

Christy – Fit 4 Life Staff