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How to Be a Budget Fashionista
by Kathryn Finney

Chapter 1

Know Your Budget

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.

Somehow we’ve lost the art of shopping anticipation. Gone are the days of layaway, when stores allowed you to “hold” items for months, paying set amounts in cash until the purchase was paid in full. Even if you are a stellar budgeter, you’ve probably fallen prey to “buy-it-now-ism.” Take a moment and think about the last time you actually saved up for something. If you can remember that far back, remember the sense of pride and accomplishment when you saved enough to purchase the item. The immediate reward for saving was the satisfaction of knowing that the item you purchased was completely yours. The ultimate reward was better credit.

Looking fabulous and reducing debt are not mutually exclusive. In this step 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.

In the first chapter you’ll learn how to develop your budget skills and ways to infuse much needed dollars into your monthly budget. By resurrecting the lost art of shopping anticipation, having a clear picture of your financial situation, and realizing that a pair of Manolo Blahnik strappy heels does not constitute an investment in your retirement fund, you will have not only a more secure future but also more money for shopping.

If you’re like me, you’re probably tempted to skip this step and head on over to “Step 2: Know Your Style” (page 39). 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 this section and find out how.

Chapter 1

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 Macy’s one-day sale, got home, and realized that I already had two similar beautiful black cardigans in my closet.

Budget Fashionista Tip #2: Keep the Receipts

Save all tags and receipts for at least two weeks after you purchase an item. Go to your local Office Max or Staples and purchase a coupon or bill folder. Number each tab in the folder according to the days of the month and place your receipts in the folder at least three days before the last day to exchange or return the item.

Learning how to spend and save wisely is the Advil for consumer cramps; you will enjoy a lifetime of relief. In this chapter you’ll learn how to create a budget that is both savings and shopping friendly. At its end you will feel empowered to make the financial changes necessary for becoming a budget fashionista!

Telling a fashionista not to spend money on designer clothes is like telling the sun not to rise. It’s just not going to happen. Fashionistas love to look great, and, unfortunately, that does cost some money. However, the most important element to looking great is style—something you can’t buy. No matter how many Manolos you have stuffed in your closet, you won’t look good if you can’t afford a pedicure to remove the crusty dead skin from your heels. Having a Louis Vuitton bag won’t increase your style quotient if you’re so broke that you can’t afford a studio apartment on skid row.

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