Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Frugal Fashionista?

Is that an oxymoron?

I'm willing to admit that for the last few years, I was not making an effort to look the best I could possibly look. There are a number of reasons but the main reason is that I was trying to be au naturel and also striving for modesty in my dress. Well, recently, I decided I was tired of looking frumpy, blah and old and decided to try to get my game back together. I stopped wearing sweats and workout clothes in public and started making a consistent effort to give myself a once over before I leave the house. It certainly helps my frame of mind and how I feel about myself.

If you read this blog though, you know that frugality has to be one of my top priorities in order for me to continue being a stay-at-home mom. Getting my game back, though, costs some money. I was trying to hook up my makeup game again. Even though I'm not a big makeup person, I realize a little foundation, lip gloss and eyebrow pencil can go a long way to giving you a polished look. But then I also realized I simply do not have $45 to drop on foundations and stuff. I was trying to revamp my wardrobe with some nice pieces. Now, believe me, I don't really shop other places besides the thrift store but I realized something else the other day while reading an excellent blog that I was recently introduced to: Wildflower. She advocates thinking really, really, really hard about every penny you spend and asking yourself, while looking through the lens of potentially difficult times fast approaching, the hard question: do I really need this ? And if you don't, you don't spend that money.

The thrift store is my slow money leak. I try to go on half-off days and all that but any good thrifter knows that the key to doing well at it is going often. So I go having the idea that I need a pair of nice fitting jeans or something. It's not that I don't have jeans but since my body proportions have changed, what I have doesn't fit quite right. I don't find what I was looking for but I do find 3 or 4 children's books, a cute purse, a nice shirt for one of the boys, or a lovely pair of shoes that would go with a particular blouse. I pay the $10 or whatever--it's great because I know that the stuff I have just purchased could easily be worth about $50.

But this is a slow money leak . . . I'm buying things I don't necessarily need. Just buying them because they're nice to have and more importantly, in relation to me upping my look game, it would be a nice addition to my wardrobe--something that would add pizzazz.

I could very well save that $10 or use it to pay for one of the childrens' activities.

But I also want to look cute. I want to accessorize and feel like I'm stepping out when I go out.

I've talked about this before but recently, it's come up again. So I'm asking myself again, how do I find the balance between being frugal and fashionable?

When I'm talking fashionable, don't get the wrong idea. I'm not a trendy person. I like classic looks with a hint of "what's in". And when I'm talking frugal, I'm talking about frugality with the goal of working toward financial security. I'm talking about saving enough money so that if an emergency hits, we can make moves. And even if no emergency ever happens, having financial security in our old age. Being fashionable is not an absolute necessity. I mean, , strictly speaking, neither is having high speed internet but the whole family uses the computer for entertainment, learning and business especially since we don't have cable. I'd say that things would have to be really hard before we got rid of the internet at home. A new pair of hoop earrings? Another bottle of nail polish? An eyebrow wax? I've thought of growing out my hair and getting it braided . . . These things make you feel nice and like a girl. Taken individually, they don't cost much. Frugality, in my mind, says wear the jewelry you have. Says you have enough nail polish. And no one but you notices your eyebrows.

You see, frugality in my mind has never meant being chic. It means being very practical. It means putting out $100 for a good pair of classic winter boots (which you bought at the end-of season clearance sale for $70). They might not match anything--no one would ever say you put together a cute outfit--but you'll be wearing those boots for years to come. Ah, but sometimes I'd rather pay $70 for the cheaply made boots that look oh so flyy with those jeans I managed to score. Is that irresponsible knowing what I know? Have I been tainted by American consumerism? Or is it the simple fact that I'm a woman and wearing cute stuff induces felicity? I'm constantly amused by those TJ Maxx commercials that talk about Maxxinistas . . . a play on the term fashionista and the newer term "frugalista". I mean, really, how important is fashion and being cute when it comes to survival and thriving in difficult times? Is it important at all?

So is it a necessity? Is your cuteness something you need? Something to really consider and take into account when you are trying to prepare for an uncertain future? It's a challenge weighing out those things that make you feel nice against the a very real reality: that the times are a changing and bank will make the change more manageable.

So, yes, I'm on the lookout for other slow money leaks but I've just identified one glaring one. Plug those small money leaks and you can easily sock away another 10%. The hubby's been saying that for years but I don't know, somehow it just clicked in a profound way the other day. Sometimes, someone else has to say it.

Do I plug the leak?

(((insert Z1's best whiney voice here)))But I don't want to!!!!

A little more money in the pocket, though, might just end up feeling better than being a frugal fashionista in the long run.


Chi-Chi, The Original Wombman said...

I happened to read this today:

The quote that stuck out to me? "Being frugal is about saving money on the things that don't matter so that you have money for the things that do." I like that definition.

Looking good does matter to me. I guess the question is should it? Of course! So . . . umm . . how to find a good balance? How to be frugal and still look the way I want to?

Anonymous said...

You know I like to thrift, well agree thrifting is a money leak because you are thinking its only $10 or $20. The thing is at least for me, too many times I overspend at the thrift store and buy things I wouldn't buy it they were at a mall.

I also have learned this past month that not dropping in thrift stores weekly, I can better afford my costly shampoo or foundation.

I read the non consumer advocate and she makes a lot of good points.

Just wanted to say I don't know if you are like me but I find that side from skirts at thrift stores, I rarely find pants or tops for myself at the thrift store that fit and I really want to wear. Last year, I spent over $40 on thrift shop jeans which always fit a tad off. I finally broke down and went to the mall and scored some decent jeans for less than $20.
I am reminded that sometimes thrifting is not a bargain. This past month was good staying out of the thrift stores.

I think its possisble to be a frugal fashionable person but it requires a lot of thought. There is nothing wrong with getting an occasional lipstick. As long as you plan in advance and don't go to the makeup counter and buy 5.

I am gonna check out that wildflower blog you mentioned.

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