When it comes to shopping, are you getting fair, good, great, or no results? The reason I ask is that there are lots of hazards out there that can throw you off course. Here are three tips that will better prepare you for successful, rewarding shopping trips.

STOP AND THINK

Cruise your closet before rushing to the stores. Make a “needs” list. Plan to check those items off first. This will provide you the direction you need to avoid overspending.

Has this happened to you? You’ve skipped lunch and you’re finding it impossible to make decisions. Instead of going home empty handed, ask the sales associate to hold your items for the next couple of hours and go get lunch. When you return to the dressing room, you’ll have fresh eyes and a clear mind.

Do you shop when you feel upset or impulsive? This is a dangerous time to go shopping with real money or credit cards. Recognize when you are in that mood to purchase just for the thrill of it or to let off steam. Instead, step back to debrief. Consider another way to vent your emotions or comfort yourself. Try another activity such as walking in nature, meeting up with a friend, or listening to music. Shop when you feel calm and rested.

FULL SPEED AHEAD

When it comes to investment shopping, know your best colors. When you shop for coats, blazers, or jewelry be sure they enhance or highlight your eye color, your skin tone, or your hair coloring. Chances are great that these items will stay in your wardrobe for years ahead, simply because they flatter you so naturally.

Shop your best when you look your best. Don’t even think about shopping for a wardrobe right after your spin class. It’s easier to imagine how the clothes you’re trying on will look in your real life when you look like you do in real life. Do your hair and makeup and then go shopping. It will make it much easier to see what really works well on you.

If you come across something that’s not on your list but you absolutely love it, give it a chance. Ask yourself if this item enhances your style, is within your budget, and brings something new to your wardrobe that’s been missing. If the answers are yes, buy it.

BE CAUTIOUS

Sale items can be tempting but are not always a bargain. They can be more expensive than you realize when you take into account the complicated cleaning instructions, the other pieces you need to buy to make this “bargain” work, or the new makeup required to pull off the color of this purchase if it’s not a color you normally wear. Even high-end designers make mistakes. Don’t get sucked into buying it just because it’s a designer label.

Be aware of the return policy of the stores you shop in. If you can only receive store credit within seven days, is that really going to work for you? If yes, fine. If no, go shopping at a clothing store that has generous return policies.

Plan ahead for your shopping trips and do a bit of research first … you’ll be more focused, spend less money and make fewer mistakes if you do.  Always have a list of what you need … and stick to it!