Adventures in personal style.



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On Budgeting and Investment Purchases
Friday, 18 March 2011 / 18:14

I've been getting a bit frustrated with myself over my failure to post OOTDs. Honestly, the technical hurdles (like my lack of a tripod or a decent mirror) could easily be worked around; I'm just very, very camera-shy and insecure when it comes to body image. Some might ask "what were you thinking, starting a personal style blog when you can't even take photographs of yourself?". The answer is, I hoped style blogging would force me to confront and deal with my shyness and body image issues. I still stand by that theory, and whilst I haven't made as much progress as I'd like, I'm not giving up yet.

Anyway, writing more posts that don't require me to photograph myself might be a bit avoidant, but I'm not just posting for the sake of posting. As I strive to dress better and build up my wardrobe, figuring out a workable clothing budget/spending strategy is crucial. Believe it or not, I never budgeted or recorded what I was spending on clothes until January 2011. I never spent outside my means or got into financial trouble, but it was still far from ideal, so at the start of this year I made some simple changes.

- I worked out how much I could spend on clothes/shoes/accessories per quarter, after setting aside various amounts for other purposes (savings, etc).

- I started recording every purchase I made, what it cost, what I had to pay for shipping, whether I made any savings, and so on.

- As well as the above, I created a text file with details about my budget, what I'd bought so far, and the items on my wishlist and wardrobe building list. That feature was key because it reminded me what my (self-defined) priorities were and helped me stay on track.

I've also gone back and listed everything I bought in 2010, with details on cost, how much I wore it and so on. When 2011 draws to a close, it'll be interesting to compare the two years and see whether my budgeting and planning made an impact.

At the end of the current quarter, I'll review everything and decide what I can improve on during the next three months. I'm still quite naive about budgeting and financial planning, but I think that just recording and analysing my shopping habits has taught me a few things... for one, that I'm prone to hesitating far too much. Last night I bought an ASOS dress that I'd been coveting for two weeks, during which time it was temporarily discounted twice. Thanks to my uncertainty, I paid the full price of £30 when I could have got it for £21 if I'd made up my mind faster. ASOS offer free shipping and returns so I knew I wouldn't lose any money if the dress didn't work for me, but I still hesitated, even though I loved the dress and had been looking for a classic, versatile LBD for months. I don't want to swing to the opposite extreme and become an impulse buyer, but I could stand to be a little more relaxed sometimes.

Some recent blogosphere chat about Chanel bags got me thinking about "investment purchases" and whether it's worth setting aside some of my clothing budget for that sort of thing. Not designer handbags - they don't hold much appeal for me - but things like a classic coat, pair of shoes or LBD that will last for years. For example:

The gorgeous Aquascutum Lana Raincoat, currently £575. I can't afford it, and I don't expect to be able to afford it any time soon, but I tried it on the other day and fell in love. It's convinced me to start saving towards a classic black trench from a quality brand, even if it takes me years.

I'll wrap up this post with something unrelated but still worth sharing: today (March 18th), Forever 21 is donating 100% of online takings to the relief efforts in Japan. For other ways to contribute to the earthquake & tsunami relief efforts, Jen of From Head To Toe tweeted this list of organisations; there will also be donation boxes instore at Uniqlo and other members of the Fast Retailing Group.

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Blogger Rachel said on 18 March 2011 at 21:29  

Just wanted to make sure you know about eBates.com. If you sign up thru my link we both get a bonus. Basically, go thru eBates first when you are going to make an online purchase and you get a % back! I thought there would be a catch, but there is not. I actually didn't know about it until Jean over at ExtraPetite had a giveaway with them. Anyway, it makes shopping pains easier when you know you are getting cash back! They send it to your paypal account or by check quarterly. Here's my link:


Or just go to ebates.com

Blogger En Bouton said on 19 March 2011 at 11:21  

@Rachel - Thanks! I did sign up to Ebates back in January, but since I do most of my online shopping at UK-based sites (international shipping and customs fees can be steep), I haven't made any qualifying purchases yet. However, I found a good UK cashback site (topcashback.co.uk) and I've already earned a little bit that way.

Blogger aki! said on 19 March 2011 at 20:07  

I write down all of my purchases too. It's a good way of budgeting. I also noticed that you said you keep a lot of your info on a word document. Perhaps try excel or mint.com for something more numbers/financial? I hope it works out for you.

I also gave you a Versatile Blogger Award. Check it out. =)

Blogger En Bouton said on 20 March 2011 at 09:48  

@aki! - Thanks very much for the award!

I looked into mint.com, but so far it's only available for the US and Canada. Until that's an option, I keep a spreadsheet as well as recording purchases in a text file.

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