Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Countdown to Christmas

Too early to start you say?  Not at all!  I start buying stuff in the after Christmas sale from the year before.  The reality is I, like most people, am on a budget for Christmas.  I want to be able to buy nice things.  If you spend $20 on junk you've wasted $20.  My favorite bargain purchase from last year was a necklace that  was originally $100 and in between Black Friday (more to come about that day later) and a coupon it cost $20.  That was a truly great bargain, however, if I'd let the woman talk me into buying one for myself it wouldn't have been the same bargain. :)  I had decided on a $2o limit per person so I was thrilled.  I'm not militant at keeping to the exact number per person - but I really strive to not go over the overall budget.  

This post I'll discuss steps one and two and some general money saving tips.

Step One: Set a budget


Total: $430
For gifts: $405
For decorations: $20 - I saved everything from previous years, but I'd like to buy some disposable plates, napkins, or other odds and ends.
For cards and wrapping needs: $5 - hopefully I have enough left over from last year to only have to make minimal purchases in this area
Food: $0 I plan on fitting this into my regular food budget

Starting two months in advance I have room to adjust as I go.  I can find a way to make some extra money - or figure out the best way to cut the budget further.  If I waited until the last minute I would be forced to work with what I had - unless I was willing to charge money I don't have (BIG NO-NO).

Step 2: Determine who is on your gift list

Ideas for saving money:

- No gift cards:  You can't find a bargain if you simply buy a gift card.  If you're family regularly exchanges gift cards see the next tip.

- Ask the adult members of the family if they'd like to just focus on the kids.  This year will be the second that I don't buy gifts for my 22 and 20 year old sisters and their significant others.  One sister wanted to buy me a gift card, and she wanted a gift card back.  I thought that was equivalent to exchanging cash except that you no longer get to choose where to spend it.

- Don't buy for yourself while Christmas shopping unless you know it's 1. a great deal 2. Fits in your clothing budget (not your Christmas budget) and 3. most importantly it something that already on your list of things you need.  Only if you have the budget and don't have something you need to buy first is it a good idea to buy a want.  I bought my favorite jacket on Black Friday last year, and I have definitely gotten my money's worth from it.

- Get creative.  Hopefully I'll spend far less on the adults in my family since I plan on making most of their gifts.  I've already made some great home made jams and preserves.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Columbus Day Purchases

I went Columbus Day shopping looking for a coat, but I also wanted to keep my eyes open for Christmas presents.  


The only coat I really liked was 55% off, but unfortunately, it was still $81.  I've decide

d to wait for after Thanksgiving specials.  I don't think I'll need it until December anyway.

The coat was similar to this one, but it had an inner vest layer that you could zip up and leave the outer zipper open.  It was warm and didn't make me feel like a plump penguin, but I’m not ready to spend that much until I check out other options.


What I did find was the most adorable little girl outfit for my soon to be arriving niece.  It’s so much fun to buy for little girls!  I already have some great outfits I picked up at an outlet store for 40% off, but this outfit was an even better deal.  I found it at Macy's.  It was reduced to $4.99 from $32.00.  That's a savings of just about 85%.  :)

Monday, October 13, 2008

No Coat

I didn't find a coat, but that doesn't mean I didn't find anything useful.  More to come!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Columbus Day Sales

I went camping two nights ago.  I was cold the entire time.  Not only did the temperature dip into the 30s it was WINDY.  It is especially cold when the warmest thing you’ve brought is a hoodie you’ve borrowed from your husband. I have plenty of cute little jackets and one black trench coat that I got 6 years ago for $40 at a T.J. Max, but none of these items are warm enough – or functional enough for a camping trip.  I do live in San Diego, but I’ve already needed a warm jacket several times in the last year.   



I’m going to go shopping Columbus Day sales tomorrow, but to make sure I know what is a good deal.  I decided to start with a little research.  From the Sunday paper I learned that JCPenney has a sale of 55% off women’s outwear.  Macy’s advertised a big sale and included a 10-15% off coupon.


Next I went on line and found -


Burlington Coat Factory has coats at $30 for about 60% off. 


Sears – outwear 50% off


I’ll report back tomorrow!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Work Challenge

Today’s Challenge:  Work looks for $50 or less

Bonus:  Weekend clothes without having to buy any more pieces.


The outfits are organized from most conservative (perfect for a business meeting) to casual Friday.

1.  Classic Black Pencil Skirt (14.99) + Japanese Style Jacket (12.99) + Satin Printed Camisole (10.00) + Black Heels (7.49) = 45.47


2.  Low Rise Grey Trouser (20.00) + Black Ruffle Tank (4.99) + Black Wedges (4.99) + Black and White Plaid Jacket (19.99) = 49.97


3.  Denim Pencil Skirt (16.99) + Leopard Ruffle Tank (14.99) + Blue Patent Ballet Flats (9.99) = 41.97


4.  Floral Wrap Dress (16.99) + Tan Open Toe Wedges (5.74) + Blue Cardigan (12.99) = 35.72


5.  Skinny Jean (12.50) + Pinstripe Vest (17.80) + Black Ballet Flats (4.99) + - Square Neck Puff Sleeved Top (9.99) = 45.28

The weekend look is made by remixing the work day items for a more casual look.

6. Skinny Jean + + Blue Patent Ballet Flats + Leopard Ruffle Tank

7. Denim Pencil Skirt + Black Wedges + Satin Printed Camisole

Total Cost = 218.41

Cost per Day: 31.20

Total Number of Pieces: 18

 Nearly every piece is currently on sale, but I did my best to make sure there is a range of sizes still available for each piece.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Fashion, Philosophy, and Reality

Dictionary Definitions

Fashiona prevailing custom or style of dress

Philosophya system of principles for guidance in practical affairs

Reality (philosophy definition): something that exists independently of ideas concerning it

Personal Application

FashionI love pretty things, but I don’t want to look like everyone else. 

Philosophy Clothing affects how others perceive you and may even affect how you perceive yourself.

Reality: I have a tiny non-essential budget ($50 a month).

What Does Affordable Fashion Mean?

Is it possible to build a fashion conscious wardrobe with that budget?  According to the fashion magazines I read it is not possible.  I disagree.  This blog is all about looking great in the real world.  

Affordable Fashion is turning into quite the popular phrase.  A lot of fashion magazines focus on the fantastical (a $82,000 brooch)[1] and the merely expensive (watches ranging from $425-$9,950).[2]  As fun as these items may be to look at they are impossible to fit into a sensible, working person’s budget.

Fashion editors and talk show hosts have decided they might increase their readership and viewership if they provided more options applicable to women who operate on a budget, unfortunately, their idea of a budget does not translate into my real world.  A two hundred dollar outfits does not equal “affordable fashion” even if Tyra Banks says it does.  If I had her salary perhaps I could consider that affordable. 

How about Oprah’s “Fall Fashion Steals?”  All items are under $100, which is pocket change to Oprah, but for me a $58 dollar scarf is only a fashion steal if I literally stole it.  The $25 dollar ballet flats from Old Navy I can consider, however, I know they’ll probably be on sale soon (which they currently are for $9.99). 

One of the blogs on the Lucky Magazine online site is Elise Loehnen’s.  She writes about “style steals.”  She wants a pricey leather jacket but isn’t sure she’ll get enough use out of it.  Her solution is to buy the cheap ($128!) version first.  Thrifty – I don’t think so.  In the same vein the “Under $150 Bag Guide” or the “Fall Classics Under $100” from the September 2008 issue do not make my heart leap for joy.

So what is a “I-have-$50-dollars-and-want-to update-my-wardrobe-girl-to-do? Stay tuned!

[1] Allure October 2008 page 314

[2] Allure October 2008 page 134