Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Let's Get a Little Honest. MONEY.

OK, lovies. Yesterday, I was contacted by Prosper.com, a peer-to-peer lending site*. They've decided to dedicate this week to talking about one of the most difficult things for us shop-a-holics to face: Money. And budgets. And, well... stickin' to 'em. They've dubbed it "Fashionably Talking Taboo week," where we're challenged with being totally honest with our money sitch so we can better exercise financial fitness. Here it is, straight from the horse's mouth:

"The Talk About The Taboo Campaign has been launched by Prosper to try to get more people to open up about one of the last remaining social taboos, personal finance. Prosper believes that sharing a problem is often one of the first steps towards solving it and that this campaign may be a means of helping the incredible number of people struggling with their personal finances. The Talk About Taboo site is a place where people can share their stories about how they’re tackling debt, and celebrate your milestones as they strive for better financial fitness, as well as helping them find guidance and practical help. We encourage people to share with us, and in return are providing them with a simple way to be heard and supported."

How does this affect our little blogging niche? Well, this discussion is super-important, especially when we're surrounded by other gals and bloggies with significantly varying financial stability. Just because Bloggie X can afford it doesn't mean I can or that I'm entitled to it, too. Let's just say I know it can really put some stress on the bank account! So, I hope that by letting ya'll know my story, you'll 1) know how I shop and budget my money, and 2) realize you're not alone if you have a tight budget, too!

As for my story: I was lucky to grow up in a house that had good financial means. However, I never really learned the value of a dollar despite having worked since I was 16. I was always "bailed out" when found in sticky financial situations. After graduating from college and being on my own fiancially, I had a lot to learn about budgeting and not racking up the credit card debt.

So here's what I've learned to do: my husband and I sit down and calculate our current costs vs. income. Then, we figure out what's left after stashing some money to savings and divide it between eachother. Every paycheck, I get a sum of money that's appropriate for our income/costs ratio and use that on whatever I want. The best thing about this is that it allows for us to be 100% honest with our spending. Because of my tight budget, I do a lot of shopping at sites that have very affordable fashion, like Forever 21 (duh, I shop there too much!), Charlotte Russe, Urban Outfitters, and GoJane. I also always search for coupon codes before online-buying... never know what's out there until you try!

I'm definitely still tempted by my credit card, especially because my budget is teeeeeeny tiny (in my opinion), and my wants are usually way over my financial means. On top of it all, I'm about to go back to school and incur some serious debt. My little budget is most likely about to get even smaller, and I definitely worry about how I'll handle that. But hubs and I plan on figuring it out, and I trust that we'll budget the way we need to. In reality, it's hard to say no to those $300 shoes, but it's much harder to think about being over-my-head-in-debt and questioning if I'll ever get to retire. I have to get honest: I can't afford Louboutins. I can't use every promotion code that comes my way just because it's a good deal. I can't keep up with the Joneses. But that's ok, and someday, I hope to be stable enough to indulge in those things every once in a while. Good things come to those that wait, right?

If you want to share your story on their site, you could win $1,000! I really think the more we support each other on this, the easier it will be for all of us to be honest with ourselves with our spending. Just know, at least coming from me-- you're not the only one who has to say no. Sometimes, it's just nice to know you're not alone.  :)


*Side note and disclosure: This blog post is not an endorsement for Prosper.com or their services, nor are they a sponsor of Fetching Fashions. I know nothing about the soundness of the site (i.e. the use of peer-to-peer lending) but just feel that their desire for us to open up about financial responsibility was laudable and important.

17 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing this. It's honest, and very much true. As fun as it would be to have a large budget to afford things like Louboutins and Chloe bags, I simply can't. I've struggled with whether or not I dress "nice" enough, but you know what? I think I do, just at a smaller price range.

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  2. this post is SOOO true of my situation now too. I'm going back to school full-time in a few months (will not be working at all), and as it is my budget is small (only work part-time, because of school now)

    and i love to shop!! blogging helps me stick to my budget actually, because then i post about what I get, and so I think about what I want more, and whether I can get it or not. Not that I always do....but it definitely helps!

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  3. I have a similar story - my parents paid for my college (mostly...they (ahem, unexpectedly) turned my student loans over to me when I graduated) and I've worked since I was 16, but never saved any of it until recently.

    I got way in over my head with credit card debt and when I met my husband, he too had a large sum of credit card debt. We finally paid it all off last year (it took 3 years and a lot of large payments). We're currently working on paying off his car and the rest of my student loan. We should be finished late this summer. Then we won't ow ANYONE money! But, all this budgeting and paying off means I shop for clothes on extreme sale and at Target.

    I doubt I'll ever be able to afford or justify spending $800-1200 on shoes or bags, but, there are plenty of other less expensive options out there. Thanks for all the posts about your wardrobe, it truly inspires me to be more creative with mine!

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  4. Totally! Some of my fave outfits are head-to-toe F21, and I do hope that my
    blog can help people feel secure in their look even when they're wearing
    less expensive items. I mean, I know I worry about that but when I see
    people's sweet comments, I'm reminded its more the attiutude than the price
    tag! :)

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  5. that's great! I'm glad blogging helps you, and I think you're right about
    making more sound purchases. I know it's helped me in the past say no to
    some things I prolly would've gotten and then regreted. :)

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  6. that means a lot to me, Tracy, thank you! and congrats for getting to where
    you are financially!!! kudos to you. I definitely worry that ya'll would
    rather follow the gals with more money and prettier stuff, but it's so nice
    to hear that ya'll like me in spite of my budget, hehe...

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  7. I have been reading for a while, but haven't commented yet.
    Thanks so much for such an honest post.
    I have been on both ends of the spectrum when it comes to what I can afford, and right now I am about in the middle. Honestly, I still have days where I feel crap about myself because I "can't keep up," which is a ridiculous concept and kind of sad. I wish more bloggers were honest about this sort of thing, because I think it would make us all a little more rational!

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  8. The Coastal ChicsterMarch 23, 2010 at 3:34 PM

    i loved this post. i've been slacking about posting recently, and you know why? because ever since i started my blog, i've been going overboard with the spending! i love discovering new products and sharing them with my readers, but sometimes i feel kind of pressured by all the other bloggers out there who have such cute stuff!! a month or so ago, i had a "Financially Chic Week" on my blog, and honestly, i think those were my best few posts on that blog, to date. i'm looking forward to turning over a new leaf in a few weeks - i'm going to take a little break from blogging until i've gathered my thoughts enough to write meaningful posts that don't make me (or my readers!) feel like they need to spend tons of money to be chic. :) i value leading a financially sound lifestyle, and a lot of my friends in real life look to me for financial advice and how to find good deals on things they buy. :) thanks for sharing this. it got me thinking about starting to post on a regular basis again.

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  9. Great post, Justine!

    Fashion blogging + financial situations is always a tricky topic to talk about, mostly because I unfortunately was raised with the old school mentality of YOU DO NOT DISCUSS. It's a private matter between you and your spouse, and that's it, that's it, that's it.

    I was raised in a family with almost no money- my parents are both extremely hard workers, but my dad is a truck driver, and my mom always worked little jobs so she could be home with us before and after school. She's a smart lady and no doubt could have had a bangin' career, but she decided on what was more important- to be with my sister and me, and I still appreciate that immensely to this very day.

    I remember going "back to school shopping" and putting things on Lay-a-way, christmas where times were tight (one year I only got a dictionary and an off-brand Barbie Van, I remember feeling devastated at the time but totally understand now! It was a tough lesson to learn at a young age). My parents have great ideals, and the ideal of lots of money = a successful, happy person is not one of them. Thank goodness. :)

    I do think people need to read fashion blogs lightly, and to keep things in perspective. When I blog, I am only giving you one side of the story. That's it. Whenever someone posts, "So jealous of your _____!" I want to write, "Eh, don't be" because you're only seeing one side of things. My husband is a business owner and a workaholic, he works extremely hard to give us that life that we lead. And don't get me wrong- I do feel somewhat lucky (hey, roof over our heads, food on the table, I get to pursue my passion as a job)and appreciate how hard he works, but on the other hand, people need to realize the price it comes with- see above. Husband is an extreme workaholic and business owner. He works in a field that is sitting at about 27% unemployment right now, and has been horribly slow to recover. He works his ass off daily to make a profit and stay in business for not only us, but his employees (and their families) as well. It is SO stressful.

    And the price that comes with? We haven't had a nice vacation in nearly four years. Our honeymoon was the last nice vacation we had! He can almost never take a good chunk of time off! So see? Pretty much, my handbags are my vacations. Ha!

    And, well, I also hope that my readers understand when I explain that I can afford things because we don't have kids. Kids aren't always a money-suck, but the decision was made for me with my diagnosis of Lupus. I can't have kids. I could undergo some stressful and tricky procedures to have 'em, sure, but given the fact that I need 14 hours of sleep every night to function normally? Kids aren't on the radar for us, ever. I am being entirely facetious when I say that I just know my handbags will take care of me in my old age.

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  10. And 'cuz your little message thing apparently wants to HINDER MY WORDINESS (hee hee hee), so I don't exceed 3000 characters, here's the last half of my post:




    See? Perspective. I am not saying that anyone should feel sorry for me- that certainly isn't the case, but I to think it's important to realize that everyone has their own stories and battles in life, and again- you're only getting one side of the picture when you read a blog. :)

    Again, great post. It's awesome to be able to discuss these things, hm?

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  11. I loved this post Justine.
    I know way too many people who are so consumed with keep up with the Joneses or just plain ole Keeping Up "Appearances"!
    I find the hardest thing is seeing an item, whether it be accessories,shoes,clothing and knowing exactly how you want to style it and being able to see the whole ensemble in your head.
    It makes me want to buy it just to put it together, when in reality I may only do it that one time.
    The things I love the most in my wardrobe are the staples that stand the test of time...so I must ask myself, "How much wear am I really getting out of this?" and if that doesn't stop me...paying cold hard cash will.

    Thanks for sharing this with all of us!

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  12. Wow... thanks for sharing, lady! I think you're right about the blogging community being one side of the story and not really knowing the half of it, but it's still sometimes hard to keep perspective when wants always exceed needs-- for everyone at every financial level. Talking about it is so helpful for everyone, and I hope people read all these comments. So great. :)

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  13. This is such a great topic Justine. I love fashion and I love to read blogs to get ideas on outfits and to find out about other people's sense of style. It is such a fun way to find new friends and meet great people. I never felt pressured to keep up with other bloggers on what they have or what they buy. I guess I learned from an early age to be very careful on how to spend money. I have learned through the years that impulse buys sometimes end up at the bottom of a drawer or in the back of my closet. I take time to decide whether or not I really need an item, and as I grew older I have decided that though I love to get items at H&M because they are trendy, I also try to get items that are classic. I basically think hard about what I want vs what I need. I live on a budget, I always have. Regardless of my financial situation, I have always done the best I can I stick to a budget. Always. I think that sticking to a budget really helps in terms of deciding between wants and needs. This is a great topic and I hope more bloggers are as honest as you are Justine. I think your style is awesome and you show your readers that you can look amazing even if you are not wearing Prada or Gucci. And I think that it's what we all need to learn from these blogs. We do not have to go and buy everything other bloggers have or feature in their blogs, we can look as good as them, we just need to stick to a budget and shop our closets.

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  14. post-fab princessMarch 23, 2010 at 9:22 PM

    What a great post! Agree with Chloe that finances are a bit of an elephant in the room when it comes to fashion blogging. I don't feel that anyone owes anyone else any explanations, because finances should be kind of personal if you want them to be.

    As for me, I spend a bit too much on clothes (mostly J. Crew!), and I know it. BUT, I am fortunate enough to have not one but two jobs I enjoy, and I have made a choice to work like a mule while I am (semi??)young and responsibility free. To compensate myself for the long hours I work I treat myself to some things I love and get a lot of satisfaction from putting away savings at the same time. I feel a little guilt though, because if I didn't buy so many things I would be able to put away even more savings, but heck...life is for living (in J. Crew cardis).

    (:

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  15. What awesome responses. Again, thank you Justine for a great post. Makes me feel even more secure in my thrifty fashion finds!

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  16. lol... I hear ya! I definitely think its respectable when you work your bootie off for what you have and allow it to pay off a little in what you like (clothes, vacations, whatever it is).

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  17. you do have great bags chloe!!

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