Finance Friday: Fasting & Binging

And no I don’t mean on food!

Fashion bloggers across the webishphere are embarking on personal challenges to control their spending and overflowing closets with the realization that the more pieces they accumulate the deeper they went into financial debt.

There are bloggers who only wear high end pieces and I wonder how they could afford such a wardrobe and others that acknowledge they currently cannot afford luxury designers but are fashionable nonetheless. Generally speaking, we all subscribe to a mixture of both. One for inspiration and the other for practical application. The question isn’t only “Where’d You Get That?” but “How’d You Pay For THAT?”, something that often is left unsaid.

These days not only are we envious of the Joneses but we invite them into our homes. The Joneses  are online and have created a host of websites showcasing their latest finds. They tell us exactly what they are wearing, how much it cost and where to buy one just like it. Sometimes they direct us to the lower priced option. Nonetheless we feel pressured to be just like them.

I too suffered from closet envy which led me to charge up my credit card (at one point I was free of the C3’s). I’ve since recovered and no longer feel such pressure but I relapse from time to time. I hadn’t been shopping in a while. With my new job, my pay schedule changed and I wanted to get use to it – making sure all my bills are paid on time – before I started spending. Well… it all started with these babies:

Alloy - Sayla Oxford

…and then went down hill from there with these (this is the short list):

French Connection - Fast Dandy Voile Dress

Laudme - Josephine Baker Elephant Tank

ASOS Striped Midi

Vince Camuto Mista Platform Stiletto Pumps

It’s like Christmas to me — but the feeling doesn’t last long. I tear open the boxes and included packaging and proceed with an impromptu fashion show. In the past as soon as the show ended, I started to feel regret for the debt I just incurred and for purchasing  three dresses of the same style in different colors (pick one!). I felt B.R.O.K.E (Buyers Remorse Over K-rappy Expenses)!

My shopping binge lasted only three days and was done completely online. I did NOT use any of my credit cards. I paid for it all using money I had saved just for this purpose (more next week).

I believe these diets, challenges and fasts would not work for me. In the past, they have not worked for me.  Some people have children, hobbies and other things to focus their energy on (?), I have style. Not just fashion, but “style”  – encompassing all things personally attractive to me. I get just as much pleasure out of shopping for clothing and accessories as I do perusing the aisles of Lowes and Ikea.

Maybe you need to purge and fast first. I commend each blogger for (1) acknowledging they have a problem, (2) acknowledging they have bigger goals then being trendy at the moment, (3) for doing something about it, and (4) for going public with it.

"Finance & the Fashion Blogger: Ignore-ance" by Miss Ashe Mischief

Here at MNM, we believe that a woman can have it all! Manolos & Mutual Funds! And with some understanding of your financial style and a few easily coordinated steps you can. Some things to remember are there is no one size fits all financial tip. Your money is not that of your favorite fashion blogger. We shall not judge.

Read more about each of these challenges here:

Please feel free to list any other challenges out there!

Good luck Missy!

What’s that smell? A Recycling DIY mess

I like to use candles, oils, and sprays to keep my home smelling fresh. Now I have empty votives, plug-ins, and oil bottles scattered around the house. Most of the time I can’t bring myself to pay the exorbitant cost of these scents and often you’ll find me waiting for a smell I like to go on sale. This is a simple DIY Eau de Parfum for your home. This recycled aromatic concoction lasts for days and is refillable by simply adding water.

Take:

Orange Peels, Cinnamon Sticks, Cloves

Plus a:

Simmering Pot of Water

Add:

Cloved orange peels and two or three cinnamon sticks

Then:

Inhale...Its ok

To make this blend last even longer I plan on making candles out of what’s left over. I can see it now, little hints of orange and Cinnamon peaking out of the candle wax. Careful not to let this sit in your cookware for too long — as it will start to stain.

I’m also experimenting with the aroma’s of other citrus fruits. Something that can be “boiled” for Spring. This combo is great for the Fall / Winter seasons but can be a bit out of style for Spring / Summer.

Any suggestions?

Finance Friday – “Get bent TAXMAN!”

Ok–don’t panic. Today is not Tax Day. The day which has been embedded in our heads since filing our first W-4 falls on April 18th this year. Why? Well, it’s so we can  recognize Emancipation Day, the day President Lincoln signed an act releasing over three thousand enslaved persons from servitude in Washington D.C. , a precursor to the Emancipation Proclamation.

Now that you’ve had your dose of history…let’s talk tax. I’ll be gentle.

I used to subscribe to the theory that receiving a tax refund was a BAD thing. That was my money and why should the government have it? I wanted access to my funds during the year and not one lump sum of overpayment. It wasn’t until my tax refund came through for me in the clutch. Due to poor planning at the time, I needed about $900 to pay for a trip to Panama. Lo and behold, Uncle Sam kindly said “I got you” and released the money he kept in my account. With the vacation paid for, I was able to properly save for spending money while there and to this day it was the best vacation ever.

I noticed that without the looming thoughts of lingering debt back in the States PLUS the ability to feel like a “Baller” while overseas where money was no object, I thoroughly enjoyed my holiday. The plane landed in the US and all that remained were the memories.

Panamanian Paradise
Panama Canal

Me @ the Panama Canal

My refund this year is destined to go to Lowes. I want to install a storm door with ventilation screens so I can capitalize on the changing weather and cool summer breezes.

When it comes to refunds, to each her own. If you are Miss Tax – remember the commercial for Raymore and Flannigan? “Her taxes are done in January” – then by all means monitor your paycheck and taxes carefully. Read the manuals and take the classes to ensure you are being taxed at the right rate. I’ve been her. OR, do as I do now and what a number of other Miss Americans do, use your tax refund to:

  1. Enhance your emergency fund
  2. Pay down debt
  3. Add to your holiday / vacation fund
  4. Buy a pair of the most expensive shoes on your “Wants” list – yes I am advocating for this but only in this order

After your financial fetishes have been addressed, it’s fine to buy yourself a little something pretty!

Lanvin Patent Leather Wedges ($1280)

Treat yourself! Youve saved all year for it!

“Excuse me, Would you like some Pixie Dust?”

 

Where dreams do come true!

This weekend I went to the happiest place on Earth….Disney World! As a first timer, I did as the regulars do: Ride the Dumbo ride, dance with Goofy, and pretend you’re a Princess for the day.  It was all in celebration of my favorite (and only) niece’s third birthday …

Happy Birthday!

She was a little star struck!

This will be in my house somehow, somewhere...

Oh, and we fed the Gators!"When in Rome..."

Yes – Please continue“. All of this is said to distract you from the fact that I have taken an almost five month hiatus from blogging. I was getting my life together Missy. And boy was I.

I got a new job (“HALLELUJAH!”) and am starting a new side career (more on that later). I’ve been decorating my house (“It ‘s so pretty!”). I’ve been working out (“Just getting ripped“). I’ve been fixing things in my house (“So it isn’t broken, you just had to turn the handle you say?”). And, I’ve been traveling (“Disney! SPEED!!!!”). Life has been good to me.

But how I have missed blogging. You’ll see some different things around here lately. I’ve had a ton of ideas being tossed around over the last few months so this officially kicks of the experimentation phase of the blog. I’ve tried a lot of things. But a lot of those things were concepts that worked on other sites that I’d hoped would work here. Turns out they didn’t because I wasn’t feeling them. So….I’m-a do ME!

I’ve always had big plans for this site but let life and laziness get in the way. No Mas! (That means ‘No more’ for my uni-lingual Misses) It’s a new day, a new dawn and I’m feeling motivated!

The year really started off well. Yes – I made resolutions and set goals for the new year and was so amazed that I meant the biggest one of all within the first two weeks. Plenty more to come on that one!

Thank you to all my Misses who continually checked the site for updates! Please continue to read and post comments as you feel fit. I am here to continually entertain and educate YOU!

Still working on Thanksgiving Leftovers

The Turkey - He lost his skin in the process but was still the best Turkey EVER!

The table - While not every plate matched, it was the perfect table setting

Ok. So I know Thanksgiving has come and gone and people are ready to start charging celebrating the Christmas Season, but I have share some of my Thanksgiving memories with you all. It was my first Thanksgiving as a host and cooking the Turkey. Here are a few shots of my house and all of the eatable decorations (Pears make for a lovely centerpiece).

An intimate view of the table...

 

Lemon/Vanilla Pound Cake...Yummm...

Pomegranate Jello: Take #2

Now – we can get ready for Christmas!

I don’t watch scary movies. Real life is scary enough.

I went food shopping today. Well it was more like candy shopping. I admittedly have a big sweet too. I keep a “snack draw” where I stash my stash of treats in a very organized and adult fashion. There seems to be an abnormal amount of Halloween leftovers this year. From candy bars to household decorations,  the lonely aisle still remains. Even onDemand movies are being discounted to stock up on Christmas stories. A genre I once loved – I now couldn’t fathom considering one of those movies as entertainment. I realized,  I don’t watch scary movies because real life is scary enough. Here are just a few of the terrors present in my life (and yours) on a daily basis:

Decision 2010

What’s happened to our politics? Has everyone gone and drank the juice? I’ve never witnessed something so vile as the political ads and professional jabs taken at each other by this years selection of politicians looking to replace and/or stay in office. The times, they are a changin’. But what remained the same was the political promises and campaigns of yesteryear’s. I can’t understand how we in one breath we uphold our representatives with such esteem but find nothing wrong with the words they used to get in office. Miss New Money for President!

Economic Recovery?

Can we all agree to stop talking about this? It’s fear that’s keeping us down now. If we haven’t done so yet, we all need to work on our own internal banking institutions. Build your personal bank by sticking to the basics ( read more, here, here and here) and let’s face it, by not trusting everything you hear. If you are set on a solid foundation, it doesn’t matter what happens on Wall Street.

Growing career pains

My latest professional move (well I’ve been stagnant at this place for a year now) has lead me right down the self help/spiritual guides aisle in Borders. Happiness, is not something that’s experienced often here, let me tell you. But needless to say, it’s opening my eyes to a number of life realities I may not have ever known — or would have known, just much later. And for that, I am grateful – still frightened- but grateful.

Other frightening things:

"Aaaahhhhhhh!!"

  • Uggs…
  • Sub degree weather AKA Global Cooling…
  • Mexican Drug Cartel…
  • Divorce…
  • Little Wayne’s Release from Jail…
  • Harem Pants…
  • Being kidnapped…
  • Personal Failure…
  • New Year’s Resolutions…
  • Mama’s Boys…
  • Spiral Staircases…
  • Constant Nightmare: My roof is collapsing while I’m asleep from an obscene amount of rain water collected…Oh! And I won’t have the money to fix it…
  • Constant Thoughts: I won’t become rich and successful…

It’s real out there. That’s why I watch Saturday Morning Cartoons (K-U-Z-C-O!) and listen to Justin Bieber. (Baby, baby, baby, Oooohhhh!!!)

The Return of ‘Investment Clothing’

The recession is over. Ding! Dong! The witch is soooooo not dead!! Just sleeping at the moment. Though the recession is over (June 2009), people nationwide have little to celebrate. The one escape we used to have? Fashion Week. Every year, fashion week brings us the imaginations of those more talented than ourselves. A dream world only possible of achieving and visiting through the fine stitches of Alexander McQueen, and the classic shapes of Ms Coco Chanel. This years fashion was…wearable! Dun, dun, dun!!! [Insert dramatic music here]

Investment Clothing

In response to the played out “economic downturn”, Fashion Weeks’ and Fashion Houses from  across the globe showcased a ton of “investment” pieces this year. No it wasn’t the return of the Plain White Tees, but it was the comeback for – brace yourself – wearable fashion.

“Wearable”, a phrase that haunts the halls of high fashion magazines and couture designers alike. I know its scary but its practical. (Aaahhhhh! Stop the bleeding!)

Wearable? But why?

While fashion is and always will be about uninhibited creativity and self expression, at the end of the day, most of us shop for items that can be worn to the few places we frequent (i.e., work, school, dates, etc.). Usually, tops, sweaters, jackets, pants and skirts are classified as genres of clothing you should be purchasing as an investment. But finanshionistas alike shop for style and sales; we mix and match the highs with the lows, combining high fashion with complementary ‘boutique items’ from favorite vintage/thrift shops or the all to irresistible Target (Don’t act like you don’t shop there!).

But this year our designers have done us a favor by focusing on the demure; quality pieces we see as investments that will last well into the next season and years to come. No, it wasn’t (all) about the glitz or extreme glam but about quality sportswear infused with this years trends.


Photos courtesy of iFashion.co.za.

A few great designers took it a step further and created a separate (and new) collection/line for less expensive but still uber chic styles. Zac Posen, known for his glamour, tailoring, dramatic details and high priced gowns, continued to wow the audience with the launch and introduction of Z Spoke.

“I want to show clothing with the ability to be sold to the people,” says Mr. Posen. “The young people following the blogs, I want to create pieces they can afford so they can become Zac-ettes.”

Pieces range from $80 to $700, a far stretch from the usual $1,000 to $12,000. [Photos courtesy of IMAXtree.com and Matteo Volta via Elle.com]

While, yes, they (the designers) may have helped out a few finanshionistas who might have been struggling to stay in line and in style on her new budget, they did it for selfish and strategic reasons. They also wanted to help themselves out and their retailers by making options that were more commercial and sell-able. Before, secondary lines were showcased in private, far from the tents of Bryant Park, for a select group of buyers. To have them front and center in Lincoln Center is a definite sign of the times. [Photos courtesy of saksfifthavenue.com and style.com.]

The quality hasn’t changed but the materials have. Badgley Mischka featured its contemporary line, Mark + James, “made of cotton, linen and silk blends, rather than the double-face satin, chiffon and six-ply crepe used in the couture collection”.

The times, they are a changing, and designers need to stay current. Not only with setting the latest fashion trends but to the sensitivity of the price points of their consumers. Fashion is a business and sometimes the customers decision to buy an item or pass, is as well. Because in Fashion, ‘One day you’re in, and the next, you’re out!’. Let Heidi tell it…

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