For college grads or others who are entering the workforce for the first time, one of the biggest adjustments can be shopping for work-appropriate clothes. Building (or refreshing) your wardrobe might seem like an intimidating task, especially if you have a tight budget.

The good news is, you don’t necessarily need to break the bank to find professional clothing. Here are just a few strategies you can follow to make a wardrobe that works for you.

What do you need?

Before you hit the stores or start browsing, take a look in your closet to determine which pieces of clothing you need the most and which pieces you have plenty of. Are you short on shoes or need a few more button-down shirts? Taking stock of your current items will allow you to shop strategically for clothes.

Did you know: Our associates take advantage of a casual dress code, so it’s not at all uncommon to see Nelnet-branded t-shirts wandering the halls of our locations. (If you’re already an associate, check out the summer Nelnet store next week!)

Make Room in Your Budget

If you already stick to a budget, make sure to designate a small portion of your monthly funds toward clothing to build your wardrobe over time. By having money intentionally set aside for this purpose, you’ll avoid feeling guilty for spending money on new items and make sure that your finances are organized all at once.

Tip: Don’t have a budget? Check out our financial wellness video to learn how to set one up.

Get Thrifty

Don’t be shy about checking out local thrift shops or consignment stores to find clothes that cost much less than they would at full price. Spending a Saturday afternoon treasure hunting at Goodwill can pay off in a big way when you find hidden gems.

Hunt for Sales

Department stores tend to be more expensive than their secondhand siblings, but with the right sale, you can get brand-new clothing at a great price.

Many stores use apps or social media pages to advertise sales and coupons, so being a loyal online follower can mean you’ll be the first to know about deals. See if your favorite shops are online to keep up to date on new sales and promotions.

Out with the Old…

Have clothes you don’t wear anymore? As long as they’re in good shape, you can try selling them online to make some extra spending money and free up closet space.

Keep in mind that creating your own wardrobe doesn’t have to be an overnight project. Take your time and collect a set of clothing that works for your needs. In the end, you should feel confident in the clothes you wear to work.