I Spent My Savings to End a Bad Relationship. Now I Want to Treat Myself

A woman in a store holds up a dress to see if she like it.
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Dear Penny,

I just made one of the hardest decisions of my life and ended the relationship I had been in since my early 20s. After a decade in a bad relationship, I’m super excited to be single again. The problem is my wardrobe.

Over the past few years, I haven’t paid much attention to my appearance, and I don’t have many outfits that make me feel confident. I want to splurge and invest in some clothing that makes me feel fabulous. I depleted much of my savings when I moved out — I had to pay first and last month’s rent and a security deposit, buy furniture and appliances, and fix up my old place. I plan to replenish it in the next few months, but I’m thinking of updating my wardrobe before I build my savings back up.

It feels irresponsible to spend money on clothes after I’ve just spent a substantial chunk of my savings. But now that I’m starting to date and socialize after being in an isolating relationship, I’m very aware of how much I’ve missed out on, and I don’t want to wait to give my confidence a needed boost.

Dear Suddenly Single,

What an exciting time for you! Despite the anguish of breaking off a long-term relationship and uprooting the comforts of home, starting anew probably feels like sighing gigantic sighs of relief. Enjoy this unfettered time, and allow yourself to truly relax.

Here’s the difference between your breakup and everything you’ve ever seen in the movies: There is not a makeover montage filled with peppy music. You don’t come out of the mall with 14 bags and a new outlook on life.

Take a look at your current closet. You didn’t get all of that stuff at the same time 10 years ago; rather, you built up your wardrobe over time.

Take the same approach when it comes to getting comfortable in your new social skin. When you’re trying to build up your reserves again, you don’t want to go on a shopping spree only to find that you spent too much and everything is too trendy to withstand the test of time. (If you buy any of those tops with the cut-out shoulders, I will show up at your house and make you return them.)

If you’re making a plan to build up your savings a little bit each month (and you’re making a plan, right?), build a wardrobe refresh into that plan. Maybe, for example, you decide that for every $50 you put in savings, you can spend $25 on clothing. Whatever works for you is fine by me — just spread it out over a few months so you’re not digging yourself a deeper savings hole to refill.

Now, about getting the most out of whatever modest clothing budget you decide on. If you can get to one, I highly recommend visiting a consignment shop. Steer clear of any that are clearly marketed to the teens, and instead, visit those that claim to have higher-end brands. You’ll spend more money at these locations than you might at a thrift store or at your favorite discount spot, but you’ll get better-quality clothing that will likely last longer. Plus, since someone has curated the selection for you, you’ll save some time.

Less time spent shopping, more time spent having fun on dates. Now there’s a slogan for the remainder of 2018 we can all get behind. Right? Are you with me, people?!

Have a tricky money question? Write to Dear Penny at https://www.thepennyhoarder.com/dear-penny

Lisa Rowan is a personal finance expert and senior writer at The Penny Hoarder, and the voice behind Dear Penny. For more practical money tips, visit www.thepennyhoarder.com.