Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Frugal Fashion: Spicing Up Your Wardrobe Without Breaking the Bank

I've seen many personal finance bloggers advise against having a credit card because people, tend to swipe their way into a very deep hole. Specifically through shopping. Sometimes it's for books, games, alcohol, but usually it's for fashion and beauty.

How can a penny-pincher be a frugal fashionista?

Discover Off-Price Department Stores

Have you ever been to TJ Maxx or Marshalls? If your first reaction was a grimace, have you been to one recently? These department stores are being remodelled all over America to offer current season, designer clothing at a lower price. I confess-- 95% of my wardrobe is from Marshalls including my shoes and handbags.

Reinvent with Accessories

Instead of buying a whole new outfit, why not spruce it up with new accessories? Take a look from day to night. Or add some conservative jewelry and a cardigan to make an outfit work appropriate. If you wear glasses, try getting some funky frames. Great stores to accessorize at include Forever21 or an independent seller on Etsy.

Shop Second Hand

This one is self explanatory but there are plenty of great finds at Goodwill or The Salvation Army. You can also check out stores such as Buffalo Exchange, which also excepts second hand clothes for cash. If you are in the LA area, check out It's A Wrap. This is like the Goodwill for film and television. All the dresses those sorority girl extras wore once on Greek? You can find them here.

Need proof there are great finds? I have definitely given away dresses I've worn once to Goodwill. Which brings me to the next point...

Become Sale Savvy
With websites like Retail Me Not, it's hard not to justify buying the whole store because it's at a discount.

Resist. I know it's very hard when you are in J Crew.

First of all, think about if you'll actually wear that shirt dress you are holding. If you try it on and you feel uncomfortable in it--don't buy it. Secondly, is it really a good sale? If the item is a low quality blouse that's only discounted five dollars, is it really worth your money? Probably not.

There are many blogs who can provide more sales tips in advice. One of my favorites is The Budget Fashionista, who also has a great section called Etsy Finds. Also loving a new find: The Poor Couture

Friday, November 19, 2010

Weekend Read: 11.19.10

Today is a big day. Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows opened at midnight today and is expecting a $135 million dollar weekend.

But for other frugal living, personal finance, and career news...check out this week's Weekend Read.

  1. Davenport Family of Florida Camping Out Nine Days for Black Friday Deals [WalletPop]
  2. Gen Y Women: Is "Crazy" The New Normal [Ms Career Girl]
  3. Student Savings [Frugal Diva]
  4. LinkedIn Profiles To Career Introductions: When You Can’t Recommend Your Friend [LearnVest]

Enjoy the reads and have a wonderful weekend.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Giving Thanks This Holiday Season

With the holidays coming up, it's the time of year to spend and to give. Not only to your family & friends but also to the less fortunate. Whether that means the homeless, animals, or arts programs, here are some ways to participate in the Season of Giving.

1) Give Money. The end of the calendar year is when philanthropic organizations make a real push to bring in the donations. Jump in and make a donation. Even the smallest amount counts. Additionally, your employer may have an employee matching program, where they match your financial contribution, speak with your HR department to find out. Finally, charitable giving is a good way to score a year-end tax break. Just make sure you get all the necessary paperwork to claim your tax-deductable donation. Tight budget? Drop the change from your morning coffee into an employee's tip jar or better yet, go give it to the Salvation Army Bell Ringers that pop up all over the United States starting today.

2) Give Time. I am not travelling home this Thanksgiving, flying across the country is too expensive. I will have a lot of free time on my hands so in addition to some holiday shopping on Black Friday, I'm hoping to volunteer at a local food bank or spend time socializing with a senior citizen.

3) Give Stuff. Many shelters around the country are launching their holiday giving programs. These also include include Adopt-A-Family programs, Holiday Food Drives and Holiday Toy Drives. Though I truly believe if you are going to participate in an Adopt A Family program, try to give to the Adults as well. Those parents are working hard and deserve a reward as well!

I also recommend contacting your local shelter or food bank and asking what there needs are. Maybe they need toiletries or baby diapers for new mothers. Diapers are expensive and it's a really special if a new mom's basic needs are provided for so she can put the money to buying her child a toy of their own.

4) Shop For Charity. There are many companies that now donate a portion of their proceeds from certain products to charity. I'm thinking of buying someone a pair of TOMS Shoes this Christmas. If you do a large amount of your shopping online, consider shopping via an online store such as OneCause, IGive or GoodShop. Some non-profits like the Ocean Park Community Center even have their own plug-in so when you shop at a preferred retailer, a portion of your purchase goes directly to the charity of your choice.

However you choose to give back this season, in a big or small way, please try to extend your Season of Giving into the the rest of 2011.

Readers, if you have any other ideas on how to give back this holiday season--especially if you are on a budget, please share. I know as much as I want to Adopt a Family this winter, I cannot afford it and am looking for more ways to give.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Weekend Read 11.12.10

A day late but what the heck! Welcome to Weekend Read.

Since I've moved out of my old apartment and into a new place with a new roommate, I'm trying to make this one a keeper! Tips below. Also some posts on getting some holiday shopping deals. I'm eyeballing some American Apparel v-necks.

  1. Splitting the Bills With Your Roommate [Fabulous and Frugal]
  2. Why Your Roommate Might Secretly Hate You [Her Campus]
  3. Best Deals Around the Internet [Fat Wallet]
  4. American Apparel's November Sale [Frugal Diva]
  5. Oldie But Goodie--Memo:You Are Not Your Job [Life After College]
Read on!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Write Your Own Damn College Essay!

This is a letter in response to a craiglist post by Erin, which I am sure will be removed soon so I will have to screencap it.

In case I don't...Erin is offering $60 OBO for someone to write her "world class college admissions essay"--the dreaded personal statement

Dear Erin-

I’m very concerned. Not only for ethical reasons, but also about the path your walking down.

I get it. College admissions is more competitive than ever and many times, it comes down to your essay. But even if you hired Stephen King to write it for you…I’m pretty sure a college counselor would still pick the other candidate. Because guess what? They can tell.

Ultimately, the essay is more about your personality than your writing itself. It’s about your insight, your ideas and what you have to offer not only the university, but ultimately society and the world. I’m not saying your essay has to be about that time you went to some Third World country and saved all the children. It just has to be about a story or a moment that means and says something about you.
Mine was about Christmas decorations. One of my short answer questions was about painting a winter landscape while eating a tuna sandwich (but mostly about the tuna sandwich).

But forging this essay as your personal statement is a step down the wrong road. Does that mean you will also forge your first term paper? Forge your thesis? And maybe you’ll do all that and graduate with a degree from an Ivy League university without getting caught (doubtful). Then what?
Ultimately, you will not have ownership of your work…because it was not your work. I'm not talking propreitary ownership, I mean your personal gratification and pride. This problem will transition from your college application to the real world. It will become habit and it will effect all of your work.

So take a deep breath. You have another month to turn pound out that personal statement and get into your dream school. I know you can write something you can be really proud of and maybe you can hire a proofreader for $60 obo.

Just remember, college, your job, whatever...is a match to be made not a prize to be won.


Empty Pocket Grad

Readers: feel free to disagree.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Weekend Read: Advice about Life, The Universe and Everything

  1. Why Maddi Gilje should Stay At NYU (NYU Local)

To fully appreciate this story you have to find all the Maddi Gilje articles on NYU Local but this really resonated with me, even as a post grad. These articles are chronicling the a new chapter of Maddi's life. How we dream big and are often disappointed with the initial circumstances of this new chapter. Completely applicable to post-grad life as well--the message is don't give up!

2. How Millenial Women Are Shaping Our Future (Huffington Post)

I've always loved Lindsey's perspective on Gen Y and she's got it right here. Look at all the women starting their own businesses today and making a difference in other ways.

And those are my two articles for this week's weekend read. Be inspired!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Staying the Course: Focusing on your goals

Jeez where did October go? It's hard to believe it's been an entire month since I've blogged. Halloween, Election Day and moving to my apartment snuck up on me.

But there is an important lesson in all this.As recent grad, you have to learn to stay the course.

As much as I hate that term coined earlier in this decade by our former President, it's completely applicable to my life as it stands.

When you are in an early entry level job and a new place there are many distractions, including but not limited to new tv shows, parties, and exploring LA. There are even obstacles such as working long hours so you only have time to run errands from 9-12 on Saturdays or going to the gym.

But you have to find time to not only fit these things but fit in the things you like to do.

For example, I like writing and I like fitness. But I've fallen off the wagon in both cases so I clearly need to adjust my schedule.

I obviously can't support a life where I work all day, go to industry events at night and then go to sleep. I'm not making it to the gym and not making time to do what I love.

So how do I fix that?

I'm making a deadline to fix my schedule. I'm going to become an early riser so I can fit these things into my life.

They say it take 21 days to make a habit but I'm going to get my butt out of bed in the morning and be productive. After thanksgiving, we'll be talking about my new schedule like it's a totally normal thing.

How do you stay the course?