Tuesday, February 19, 2008

How to Spend Wisely in an Uncertain Economy

The plethora of fashionable "it" and non-"it" items leaves a fashionable girl in a conundrum: how does one satisfy the fashionable urge without being financially irresponsible? Suze Orman's mantra at the end of each show is a wise one: "people first, then money, then things." Yet, for women, "things" are a part of putting "people first."

As a "normal" person, I find myself juggling this very issue. As a woman, I must consider that financial recklessness is akin to loosing one's self-esteem and financial options. But if you are willing to shop in an unconventional manner, you can find a resolution that satisfies both your bank account and your closet.

1. This may seem like a no-brainer, but wait until sale season. For many women, this option is about as pleasing as snakes on a plane (I happened to watch about half an hour of this monstrosity before I had to shut the TV off). The trick to this option is to know what items will sell out and which ones won't. Shoes are unlikely to sell out, and unless you are considering a "limited edition" bag, chances are they won't sell out either. Clothes, however, do sell out, especially if you have a common size.

2. Consider shopping at high-end consignment shops for non-"it" items at a fraction of the cost. I discovered this amazing one on my way to the Barneys Warehouse Sale the other day (total madness, BTW). I snagged a pair of emerald and diamond earrings for a ridiculously low price and crocodile belts (one was Chanel, the other one was Barneys' brand) for a shockingly satisfying price. I also noticed that they had a copious amount of REAL Hermes bags--Birkins and Kellys--for a marked-up price but at least they were readily available (no wait list!).

3. Shop at sample sales. I have snagged many a deal, but it does require a "Rambo Mentality" (my phrase). Prepare to do battle. (See my earlier post for war tactics that work.)

4. Create a shopping list for each season, and stick to it. Evaluate your closet, and be mindful that each additional item will bring either worth or dross to your closet's real estate value. (Do you really need another black dress?) If there is one hot dress that you have to have, buy only that one. Save elsewhere (manicures, coffees, taxis, and take-out are all items that are unnecessary costs that you can cut).

5. Mix high and low. You don't need every item in your closet to be "designer." H&M, Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, JCrew, and Kenneth Cole all are low-end stores to find cute, trendy tops, tailored slacks, and cashmere cardigans. Standout items should be designer, but peripheral items can be low-end.

And remember: set aside some money to save as well as to spend. Set up an automatic savings plan from one account to the other (I recommend ING Direct, as they have one of the highest interest plans--you know that you are making money on your savings). Good luck!

No comments: