If you love buying new shoes and want to become a certified sneakerhead but have been putting off your collection-building efforts due to a lack of funds, you might be wondering if there’s a way for you to “ball on a budget” without breaking the bank. While there will inevitably be certain shoes that you simply won’t be able to afford as a financially restricted buyer, there are many more that most people can easily save up for, and there are numerous ways to obtain decent brand name sneakers for anywhere from $30-$70 or less on a regular basis. With a bit of strategy and the help of the following ten tips, anyone should be able to step their sneaker game up, even on an ordinary income.
1. Air Force 1s Are Your Friend
The Nike Air Force 1 is like the budgeting shoe collector’s best friend because it comes in thousands of color variations, new styles are released every season, and you can find pairs for anywhere from $50-$80 very easily. While there are some rare collector’s editions that sell for hundreds of dollars and exceptionally rare or exotic pairs can go for as high as $1,000+, you can easily find diverse selections of affordable AF1 releases online.
2. Go for “Athleisure” Style Sneakers
Saving up enough money to buy causal, athletic, and luxury shoes can be difficult when you’re operating with limited funds. Some shoes fall under an in-between category that combines the best of all three worlds into one design e.g. the aforementioned Air Force 1 or Nike’s Air Max line. These are shoes that look nice enough to be considered luxurious casual wear, yet functional enough to be useful for any athletic or active use. By opting for shoes that can work for any occasion, you can keep yourself from having to rotate through a small selection of pairs in each style. The only time you may need to deviate away from your athleisure collection is when you require dress shoes because you’re going to be dressed formally in a suit and tie – obviously, sneakers might not be the best option then.
3. Take Advantage of Promotional Deals
If you’re really trying to save money as much as possible, it’s best to only buy sneakers that are being sold at a discounted price and shop online. There are plenty of shoe sales happening online at any given time, so it’s really just a matter of paying attention to the sale start and end dates. Subscribe to the newsletters and weekly updates that are offered by many shoe retailers so you can be instantly notified about upcoming promotions.
4. Try Your Hand on Auction Sites
You might be wary about placing bids for sneakers on auction sites like eBay because there’s always the concern that you might not get what you paid for, or the sneakers could be in worse than condition than advertised. However, if you’re thorough about checking seller feedback and you set a maximum bid amount, you can often get in on some excellent second-hand deals for hard-to-find sneakers. Many sneakerheads use auction sites to liquidate their old pairs, and the market is so busy that you can often find auctions with very little bidding competition and sometimes with no minimum reserve price.
5. Give the Local Thrift Store a Try
Buying shoes from a thrift store is usually not an option that most people would want to consider, but in rare cases you can stumble upon some very gently used name brand sneakers for incredibly low prices. This is an especially good tip if you wear a smaller size, as often times sneakers are donated to thrift stores for no other reason than the owner grew out of them – aesthetically there may be absolutely nothing wrong with them. In terms of affordability, you really can’t beat thrift store pricing, so stopping by and seeing what they have is always worth a shot, even if it is a long shot that they’ll have something appealing in your size and style preference.
6. Sort Catalogs by Price
Every online sneaker retailer will provide sorting options that you can use to filter your results based on a variety of criteria. The fastest way to find the cheapest deal on any site is to use the “sort by price: lowest to highest” option. This can usually be found somewhere near the top or side of the search results after you search for a specific term. To get the broadest range of cheap options, simply use a general term like “sneakers” and then adjust the sorting options once the initial results are returned.
7. Clean and Maintain Your Shoes Regularly
If your goal is to expand the size of your collection, it doesn’t make sense to go around ruining the pairs that you already have. At that point, you’re just buying new sneakers to replace the ones you’re tearing up. Set rules about how and when you wear certain shoes. Designate a pair or two of old shoes for play and leave the rest of your collection for special occasions. Wipe down and clean shoes when you’re done wearing them. Store them stuffed with newspaper and in their original box to prevent creasing and dust build-up.
8. Sign Up for Rewards Programs
Most online footwear retailers offer rewards programs that will give you a certificate for $10 or $20 every time you spend a couple a hundred dollars on their site. Some of them will also send you certificates worth at least $10 for your birthday. One of the best feelings comes when you stack up enough rewards points and certificates to obtain already discounted shoes at a next-to-nothing price.
9. Wait Until the Release Hype Dies Down
Buying the latest sneakers on their release date is a horrible move for anyone who is trying to save money. Often times, you can find the same exact shoe 6 months later for half the price. In the case of expensive or rare collector’s editions, the price may actually go up with time, but in the case of most new releases, it’s a lot like any other technology – it’s much cheaper after it’s been out for a while.
10. Shop Around
Settling for the first price you find is a sure-fire way to expose yourself to the risk of overpaying. Why pay more when you don’t have to? Check local sneaker and clothing outlets for surprising deals, and try using shopping comparison plugins or search aggregators like Google Shopping to find the lowest price for each pair you buy.
10 Pairs of Sneakers is a Good Starter Collection
While saving up money and gradually building your collection over time is definitely a feasible option, sometimes it’s better to just go ahead and sacrifice a chunk of a pay check on a $500-$800 in order to stock up on a collection of 10-15 pairs and get your collection rolling with the basics. From there, you can buy one pair a month, or one every other month, and you’ll already have a sizeable line-up to build upon.
Ultimately, you don’t have to be rich to have an extensive sneaker collection. Here’s an example that illustrates how just about anyone can have a collection of sneakers after 1- 2 years of collecting:
Let’s say you only make $30,000/year (roughly $625/week). If you spent 4% of your income on shoes, you could buy seventeen $70 pairs (about $1200 worth of sneakers) every year – about one pair every three weeks. After two years of doing that, you would have roughly 35-45 pairs, considering you’ll be getting discounts by putting the tips above to good use.