Fashion

Have you ever had consumer cramps?

Author: Elle Canada

Fashion

Have you ever had consumer cramps?

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Like the whooping crane and great-fitting jeans, budgeting is now extinct. The rise of credit and debit cards has made items that our foreshopping mothers had to wait months to purchase as accessible as whipping out our plastic friends -- a major reason so many fashionistas like myself are in debt. Managing your money, including credit, is as big a part of being a budget fashionista as bargain shopping at the local discount store.

Looking fabulous and reducing debt are not mutually exclusive. I'll show you how to do both at the same time. All it takes is a little multitasking and some discipline. Even if you're someone who looks forward to balancing your checkbook, you'll learn innovative ways to track, save, and earn more dough, like the Saver's Rule and hosting a clothing swap party. Many of us dread creating a budget as much as we dread going to the gynecologist. I mean, who really wants to be on a budget? However, the thing you dread most (creating a budget) is exactly what is going to help you be fabulous for less. Read on to find out how.

Budgeting 101
Raise your hand if you have ever experienced consumer cramps. This is not to be confused with the "other" cramps. Consumer cramps, a.k.a. buyer's remorse, is the feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you purchase an item that you know will wreak havoc on your finances. Consumer cramps come when you spend, say, $800 on a designer bag and realize that you now have barely enough money for the rent. In my case, buyer's remorse is spurred on by the excitement of a sale. Like the time I purchased a beautiful black cardigan at a Macy's one-day sale, got home, and realized that I already had two similar beautiful black cardigans in my closet.

1. Place an address label over debit and credit cards with statements to remind you of your goal. Try statements like “What would Suze Orman do?” "Equity is love," "Closet vs. house," or my personal favourite, "You ain't Oprah." Every time you reach into your wallet to use the card, your saying will remind you not to spend.

2. Launder your money. At the beginning of each week take out all your spending money -- I mean everything in cash (including grocery money) -- and hide your wallet in your dirty clothes hamper. When it's time to you do your weekly laundry, it's time to take out more spending money.

Itching to shop? I know we are! Take a look at some of our favourite looks for fall here.



Excerpted from How to be a Budget Fashionista: The Ultimate Guide to Looking Fabulous for Less by Kathryn Finney. Copyright 2006 by Kathryn Finney. Published by Ballantine Books, a division of Random House of Canada. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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3. Window-shop from a distance. Drive to a mall that is very far from your home to go shopping and bring only $10 in cash with you.

4. Shop with an annoyingly cheap friend. This is a particularly effective approach if the person is the type of cheapie who makes comments like "That costs only $2 to make" and sighs every time you select something from the racks.

5. Freeze your credit card. This old savings trick really does work, but make sure you won't need the credit card anytime soon. I once had a very nasty incident thawing out the credit card in the microwave. Let's just say that credit cards aren't made of microwavable plastic.

6. Here is a little-known fact: The more you save, the more and longer you will be able to spend. Budget fashionistas must save at least as much as they spend on clothes per month. For example, if you have $250 after paying all your expenses, at least $125 of it should go into your savings account. Deposit the other $125 into a completely separate interest-bearing chequing or savings account with its own debit card and checks, to be used specifically for shopping. That way you will be able to keep track of the money you spend on clothes.

7. You have two basic choices to improve your budget: You can either increase your income or decrease your spending. I suggest doing both. However, the easiest way to tilt the budget scale toward positive is to cut back on your expenditures.

Now that you have your finances in order, check out the hottest trends to hit the fall catwalks here!



Excerpted from How to be a Budget Fashionista: The Ultimate Guide to Looking Fabulous for Less by Kathryn Finney. Copyright 2006 by Kathryn Finney. Published by Ballantine Books, a division of Random House of Canada. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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