Becoming a Recessionista

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’re aware that the United States (like many other countries) is experiencing a recession. One question you may be asking yourself is how to look nice without spending tons of money during these tough times. I don’t proclaim to be an expert bargain shopper but I’ve been helping myself. Here are some of things I’ve been doing:

(1) Shopping at stores like Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, Target etc. on the discount racks. I’ve been successful so far. Yeah, it takes some digging through the racks but I’ve scored some inexpensive but quality items. I admit I used to hate digging through all that stuff but desperate times call for desperate measures…

(2) Waiting for an item I like to go on sale. Sometimes it’s difficult to pass up something you feel that you MUST have. However, I’ve exercised a little patience and come away with some great stuff. For instance, I have been eyeing this shirt dress at Target but couldn’t bring myself to pay $40 for it. Since I’m in Target pretty often I kept checking back to see if it was on sale and sure enough, I just saw it on sale today for $18. Now, this plan doesn’t work all the time. (Especially if need a bigger size like a large or extra large). I guess the point is that you must think strategically…as if you’re a stealth ninja preparing to attack. Sometimes you can wait, other times you might need to grab the item before it’s gone.

(3) Go shopping- in your closet! If you’re like me, you have some clothing that you don’t wear very often. I’ve started thinking about how I can wear them more. Can I pair it with a new shirt, jacket, or a pair of pants that I recently bought? Would a new accessory make it pop? How about different shoes? Surprisingly, I’ve found some use for my infrequently worn items.

(4) Utilizing consignment shops. One of my favorite stores is Buffalo Exchange. Not only do they have used and new clothing you can buy but you can also sell items too! In some instances you might be able to trade. So if solution number 3 didn’t work for you maybe this one will.

(5) Shopping at a thrift store. Okay, this one was hard for me. I come from a culture where people frown upon wearing used clothing. I had a whole psychological thing about thrift stores.  I’d start itching just imagining whose skin the clothing had been rubbing up against, LOL! Finally, one day I took the step and went to a thrift store (way out in the suburbs, lol.) Anyway, I spent $20 and came away with a nice blazer and two shirts. I just washed those bad boys in hot water!

(6) Wearing a different hijab with an outfit. As I mentioned in another post, most people seem to think you have on a different outfit if you switch up the hijab. I was shocked when other Muslimahs didn’t seem to notice my little trick either! Unless your outfit is a very memorable one, if you space out the days, people won’t notice it’s the same outfit. It seems like if your hijab is pretty or memorable in some way, people are focused on it rather than your entire outfit. 😉 You can also switch up the accessories, shoes, and jacket (if you’re wearing one.)

(7) Work that plain abaya! If you wear abayas then I’m sure you know by now- a plain abaya is three or more outfits in one. That’s right! Rock different accessories, jackets and shoes for a new look. I’ve found cheap jackets at the thrift store and on the discount rack in Target!

Fellow recessionistas, what other advice do you have to offer?

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6 responses to “Becoming a Recessionista

  1. As salamu alaykum.

    I didn’t know what a recession is and I still don’t. I just know it’s very difficult for me to get a job right now and it’s making me crazy subhan’Allah. I’ve been waiting to buy new abayas/jilbabs and a few new hijabs for a while and can’t seem to get the darn money. I applied to so many places for jobs and it’s not working out. A lot of my relatives were laid off too.

    Also, I was thinking of getting this scrapbook die-cut machine and it’s about $300 without the cartirdges (without them, the machine basically doesn’t work; cartridges are about $60-90 each in retail) I figured all that money spent on that, I could’ve already done a simple scrapbook without being so greedy and want more. Plus to find out the price of the machine, and the constant replacements (if the mat is not sticky anymore, you’d have to spend $11 + tax for a new one and I have to order online because there are no craftstores nearby, AND mats do not stay sticky for too long.) Also you have to replace the blade (Maybe $20) after every 1000-3000 cuts they say which is very little if you’re a big scrapbook person. I decided I might not need it but something in my mind is tempting me to want one. I guess it’s because I get jealous when I see other peoples’ scrapbook rooms, tools, items, designs, etc.; I start to something just like that too. I am ashamed for feeling this way.

    If you think that’s bad, I also want a new aluminum MacBook!! That’s $1,599 for all the good specifications too. I should stop wanting so much and stop being greedy eh? I already have a laptop 😛 Help me out, sis! Lol.

    Anyway, I love Target and I’m not a big shopper, I just have a lot of stuff in my head. I am planning on going to Ikea for all my furniture and home needs because everywhere else, the prices blow my head off. I’m glad they built an Ikea nearby masha’Allah, it’s very convenient.

    For item being on sale — this is very difficult if you’re always in the latest sneakers. When I used to be a sneaker fanatic, I wanted these pairs of Jordans really badly in 2003. My parents argued with me and said to wait for it to go on-sale. Ok so I waited, and when I went back there, they never sold them again. As a matter of a fact, those sneakers now are not made anymore and cannot be found anywhere unless people sell them to you through ebay, craigslist, or some small shop in the city. That’s also a risk because you don’t know if people are selling you fakes or ripping you off. I also waited for that scrapbook machine to go on sale, but still I do not have the money for it, and it was only $185 in Walmart during Black Friday! I missed out on a deal due to the lack of money and the lack of a Walmart nearby!

    For the thrift store, I honestly don’t mind, but every time I tell people this, they assume I am a cheap person and make fun of me. Then again there aren’t many thrift stores I know of around here. Any top-named ones you know of? Do share, insha’Allah!

    I actually agree with the hijab and switching around. I’ve told a sister this before, but unfortunately all her abayas are very noticecable and she and I agreed that we’ll get plain ones soon insha’Allah. UNFORTUNATELY, no Islamic clothing store nearby really sells PLAIN abayas/jilbabs. They usually have some weird, overdesigned, or bright-colored ones and they are sometimes sewn badly or they try to rip you off on it.

    I also do not have much to switch around with. Before all this, I had only two abayas to wear everyday and I had to live with it. Although one was black (with a very unnoticeable line going down the center with a design) and the same one for the navy, I just wasn’t comfortable, I felt very dirty. So this is why I’m planning/trying insha’Allah to get about $400 and just shop for 6-7 new abayas and probably 10 new hijabs that will last me forever! ❤

    Sorry for the long post!

  2. Oh yeah sorry, also, I read the Buffalo Exchange site but it was brief and I didn’t understand exactly. They have one in Brooklyn, NY! ALHAMDULILAH!!! Anyway do they take ANY clothes that looks new or could they be like a little worn, worn, or never worn? Do they pay you for the clothes? May you give me an approximate price of what they paid you for? I tried selling some very new (never worn) clothes on craigslist but no one is buying. Do they take accessories too like earrings, bracelets, etc? This would be so fun, because I have TONS of clothes that are almost new and hardly worn but I spent so much on them I didn’t want to throw them out 😦

    If you could, also reply to me on email if anything insha’Allah.

  3. ASA Jihan,

    I think you just have to go to Buffalo Exchange and let them price your items. I have not personally sold anything but I have accompanied a friend of mine on several occasions when she has sold items, bought items and also traded items. I think they’re looking for slightly worn items though- not something that looks really worn. It sounds like you might be in luck with the items you have. 🙂

    Also, about the on sale items. As I said, you need to have a strategy. As you pointed out, sometimes you can’t wait for an item to go on sale, you need to grab it. If you know that then you need to set aside some money in your budget for it. (And yes, I recommend having a budget).

    As for the job search thing…tell me about it. I was unemployed since January of this year. I started working temporary positions in the summer (anything I could land). Finally, alhamdulillah, I just got a job working for the county. It’s not a prestigious position like my last one but it’s a job and a stepping stone for better things., insha’allah. Keep fast to your du’as and put your trust in Allah, s.w.t.

  4. Alhamdulilah, Samah.

    It’s really better than no job. I can’t even pay for my college tuition right now. I do not want my parents to constantly spend on me. I plan to pay my mom back a lot for all this time she took care of me. I felt like I wasted her money too much, especially with the unworn clothes. They were like $15-20 a piece! Such regrets!

    I also have two pairs of sneakers I bought (they have 3 colors and they are very nice; if you are curious they are Jordan 8s) I wear the aqua colored one but they hurt my feet sometimes. I have the orange one and red one in storage and I don’t know if I should just wear them or save them. I feel wasteful to wear it because I always wanted a pair (remember when I said I waited for them to go on sale and they never sold them anymore.) They recently came out with the same ones in different colors and I kept these in storage. I don’t know what the heck I’m saving them for. I feel like they will be worth a lot of money later on or something.

  5. Assalaamualaikum-

    I’ve definitely been shopping my own closet. I discovered these soft black dressy cords in the back of my closet that will be perfect with the purple dress I’m wearing to Eid tomorrow. I’ve only worn the dress once before.

    Do they have Ross where you live? They have a really nice selection of affordable dresses that are perfect for hijabified outfits. The scarf I’m wearing to Eid is from there.

  6. Salaam ladies
    (I’ll chime in on this topic!)

    I like to shop in my closet too! I find some real bargins in there – lol.

    Hijabs:
    If you like square hijabs, another thing I’ve done is just go to a fabric store, paroose their clearence racks and buy big squars of fabric. To get a good square; if it’s a 45inch wide fabric – purchase maybe an extra inch and fold the square in half, (so it’s a triangle) make a little cut and tear it. It will always come out square that way. Also tear the “salvage” off the fabric and pull enough threads out to have “fringe” on your scarf. It works very well, don’t need a sewing machine (or have to know how to sew) and you can get a good scarf for a couple of bucks.

    If you want a shala (this requires some sewing though) – just have them cut a longer piece, tear it down the center and you can have one to share too. You can frey the ends of the shala and just sew the long part.

    The “remnent” bins of fabric stores are also good for finding strech lace or other fabric to make head bands or hoods. (Again – some sewing required.)

    Clothing:
    Big thing around me (up-state NY) is consignment shops. You take clothing there and consign it to sell. (sort of like the Buffalo Exchange) except they are usually smaller businesses and they establish an account for you and you can either use the money you’ve earned in new purchases or you can have them pay you once your items sell. This works out really well for name brand items. Consignment shops are usually 50/50 – you get half of what your item sells for. The stuff in consignment shops in generally in better shape than thirft stores.

    Best thrift store(s) around me is “The Good Will”. They are an organization that employes the visually impaired. Other non-religiously affiliated thrift stores are VOA (volenteers of America) and many cities have thrift stores run by military veterans organizations. My experiance with VOA or Veterans thrift stores hasn’t been great. Some times it’s hard to find good stuff in those ones.

    If your not offended by Christian organizations than there’s the Salvation Army and church (or community) rumage sales. Watch the signs outside churches in affluent neighborhoods. Rumage sales are usually in the spring and fall and it’s very common that the last few hours of a sale you can fill a bag for $2.00. (This is a great place to find fabric too – if your someone who likes to sew.) Also (usually in more rural communities) many churches and even colleges have clothing closets where the stuff is free.

    Selling or otherwise riding yourself of extra clothes:
    Another idea that’s a good one – which many religious communities do (especially if the clothing they wear is somewhat spacific to their faith) is women all get together and have a “closet swap”. They bring clothes they don’t wear all to someone’s house (or even a place of worship) and trade! This works really well in large cities or at “convention” type gatherings, because who ever is hosting the “closet swap” can post (via the web or other networks) where and when this swap is taking place. That way your more apt to get more people of a variety of clothing sizes than might be in one particular community.

    As far as selling stuff. I’ve had good luck on e-Bay. Scarves go better in “lots” (2 or more scarves together) and if you put a pin or something with them – they usually sell. The trick with e-bay though is you got to get a “nitch”. Once you got a nitch, you establish a constumer base and a good reputation – stuff sells well. I don’t think Creigs List is as well known as e-Bay.

    Also via the internet there is somethign called “free cycle” – it’s postings on a sight in a particular city where people can come and pick up free items. All kinds of things go on “free cycle” – furniture, tables, chairs, baby items, large boxes of clothing, sporting equipment, electronics ect. This is stuff people have that they want to get rid of – you have to come pick it up. Usually the listing will say what kind of condition it’s in.

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