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October 8, 2013
Is it possible to look a million dollars on a shoestring budget? Money expert Kerry Lotzof gives her top tips for frugal fashionistas.
Stylist to the stars Rachel Zoe is known for her chic fusion of high end designer fashion with vintage touches and quirky second-hand accessories. You may not have Rachel’s budget, but by channelling her open minded approach to style you can put together fashion forward looks that won’t empty your bank account.
Whether you take inspiration from Dita Von Teese’s impeccable retro look or mix it up like Kate Bosworth, with her irreverent combinations of high and low fashion, these tips will help you build an enviable wardrobe for a lot less than you’d think.
1. Shop like a collector
Stop thinking about yourself as a shopaholic and start thinking of yourself as a collector. Once you’ve got all your basics covered an item that looks “ok” shouldn’t be enough to have you reach for your wallet. If a new piece doesn’t move you and make you want to wear it every single day, put it back on the rack. Collectors wouldn’t spend on something second rate or ill fitting and neither should you. Whether you’re shopping at Target or Chanel, keep an eye on the detail and make designers work for your hard earned.
Spending time at vintage fairs, flea markets and second hand stores in posh neighbourhoods can yield amazing finds like immaculate vintage dresses and unwanted Ferragamo or Bally heels for less than $10. You can also check out what’s available online through Etsy and eBay, and mix it up with high street basics and the odd designer splurge. Behaving like a collector (and the fussier the better) will give you an inimitable style and ensure your closet doesn’t fill up with unloved impulse purchases.
2. Designer crush? Find it cheaper online
If you’ve fallen in love with a designer piece that’s a must-have budget breaker, take a deep breath before you swipe – a quick coffee with your smartphone to shop the item out online can save you hundreds of dollars. You’ll be surprised what current fashions can be found in as-new form for a fraction of the price. Savvy fashionistas treat stores as a place to look and try then go home to buy online.
3. Coupons – not just for grandma
Today, coupon websites like retailmenot.com.au and Ozbargain.com.au are making it ridiculously easy to take your fashion dollar further. Don’t swipe your card or proceed to checkout ever again before checking if there’s a coupon for what you’re about to buy. A 30 second search can bring up coupons for things like free delivery and loyalty gifts, and anywhere between $5 and 75% off your fashion purchases. On average, retailmenot.com.au customers find a way to save $20 from a quick visit to the site and most retailers will accept them at the counter as well as online.
4. Make sure your shopping loyalty is actually being rewarded
How you pay can make a big difference to how rewarding your purchase is. The bad news for loyal ‘points collectors’ is that the goalposts keep moving. In fact, Mozo recently found that over a third of rewards cards now lose you money, charging higher annual fees than can realistically be earned each year in rewards. If you’re spending less than $17,000 a year on your rewards card it’s probably not working in your favour meaning you’d be much better off with a low fee credit or debit card. The fastest way to find out if your card is eating into your fashion budget is to jump on mozo.com.au and see how your card compares. If you aren’t getting a good deal, be ruthless – a better card means less fees and more shoes!
5. Swap, sell, up-cycle
Most of us only use about 10% of our wardrobes, throwing on the same easy favourites every day and neglecting a growing pile of barely-worn impulse purchases. If you don’t love an item, think about swapping it, selling it or up-cycling. If you have friends the same size as you, organise a closet swap to freshen up your look, or pop unwanted items on eBay and free up the cash (and closet space) for new stuff you really want. Also if you’re handy with needle and thread a little embellishment can go a long way, turning a neglected T-shirt or cardi into a compliment generator.
Kerry Lotzof, a.k.a. “The girl in the green” is a vintage fashion addict and writer, covering lifestyle and finance topics for comparison site mozo.com.au, Australia’s money saving zone.
Over the next few days and weeks, many thousands of families across this mighty nation are getting ready to fill their pantries, fridges, freezers and receive those Christmas gifts that they have been paying for all year. Painstakingly selected about 12 months ago, 26 or 52 payments later, here it comes. There might be some cool toys for the kids, a bar set for dad, some grog for the old uncle or even a five-star holiday for the family.
You might have guessed that I’m talking about Chrisco, Hamper King, Castle Hampers and others that cash in on Christmas via payment plan industry. These have been around for years and now the variety has stretched way beyond the humble tin of baked beans in a Chrissy hamper.
Now, I’ve looked into these before and seen many friends and family members empty their energy-sucking fridges and freezers to accommodate the goods they’ve purchased. Not only have they paid decent sums of money for this stuff all year, but then they pay overpriced energy companies for food storage all the way through summer and beyond. What, the air-con isn’t going to add to the price; you need to store excess food as well! Bad luck if the power goes out or someone mistakenly turns off the freezer. Now, I’ve seen that happen too. OMG what a waste!
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been handed catalogues and marvelled each year at the ever-increasing range. Gee, that quad bike looks amazing, the kids would love that Metallica pool table and OMG I’d love that new computer. Now, that stuff I understand why people would be tempted. But tempted is all I’ve ever been.
My main deterrent has always been the price. I fail to understand why intelligent women and some men, for that matter, still go through these companies to load up at Christmas time. If I were to head down to the local shops or jump online and have it delivered, I’d be paying around 25% less than what people are paying these companies. That’s $25 for every $100, people!
I’m not the greatest mathematician, but I can certainly see when I’m being ripped off so significantly! So why is this still popular? Why are many struggling families doing this each year? Doesn’t anyone have a smartphone, table, laptop or PC where they can shop on-line and get a Christmas delivery to save a bit of cash? Personally, I’d rather pocket that extra cash. Don’t people do this because Christmas can be so difficult to afford?
Not necessarily. Sheer convenience is all that I can put it down to. I totally understand that it’s much easier to break down Christmas spending into a weekly or fortnightly payment, but there are much better ways to do it.
For example: There are some smaller supermarket chains which you can deposit funds into specifically for Christmas shopping. They offer the same thing and don’t charge you any extra; 100% of the money you pay each week or fortnight is given back to you to spend in-store. They provide a voucher and you don’t need to spend it in one big hit either. You can shop when you like and won’t end up paying extra for food storage.
Then there’s banks or saving institutions. Why not hunt around for a low-fee, high-interest account where you can get a small portion of your pay slipped in there each payday and withdraw the lot at Christmas and shop where the specials are? You can do the Christmas crawl to the shops or shop on-line. It doesn’t matter, because it’s your money to spend anyway you like.
You certainly won’t be limited to what’s in a few catalogues, that’s for sure! You can even pay off holidays and cruises these days, so why on earth are people still doing this? My only advice is, that before you order next years goods, check out the supermarket prices on-line and look into other options. You might still want to pay for the convenience, but with on-line shopping and other options, you can still have that, without the hefty price tag.
Anyway, hopefully I’ve given you something to think about while you’re gearing up for a great Christmas!
Image source: http://automediya.ru/wa-data/public/blog/img/Christmas-Delivery-Dates.jpg