Shopping On A Dime

Someone who effortlessly combines personal style with financial savvy — that’s the definition of a budget fashionista given by the self — proclaimed patron saint of budget shopping, Kathryn Finney. In her book, How to Be a Budget Fashionista: The Ultimate Guide to Looking Fabulous for Less (Ballantine Books; $12.95), Finney, the syndicated columnist who runs, shares her shopping secrets with financially challenged style mavens.

There’s more to cheap chic than buying designer goods for less, as Finney shows through her three — step plan: know your budget, know your style, and know your bargains. To help you manage your dollars and cents, Finney offers tips on how to create a budget, manage your credit score, and earn extra shopping cash.

Once you know how much dough you have to spend, Finney introduces the concept of reality dressing: “dressing for whom you are physically, emotionally, and financially at this point in your life.” To help you achieve this lofty goal, there are exercises designed to uncover your personal style and a list of the “perfect 10” pieces every woman should have in her closet.

Lastly, the book is devoted to finding bargains — at off — price department stores, outlet malls, sample and warehouse sales, thrift and consignment stores, and on the Web. Along the way, you’ll get the inside scoop from industry professionals such as personal shoppers, dry cleaners, makeup artists, and style editors. There are also tons of Web resources directing you to free fashion info to use on your next shopping spree.

Secrets of the Budget Fashionista
Many of Finney’s tips are tried — and — true strategies.
But just like with bargain hunting, there are some gems to be found:
Open a separate interest — bearing bank account. It makes it easier to save up for big purchases or to track your spending. Or, purchase reloadable gift cards and shop only with those.

To avoid overspending, write motivational sayings on blank address labels then stick them to the front of your debit and credit cards. Finney’s favorite saying: “You ain’t Oprah.”

Keep receipts in a coupon folder, sorted by date. File them at least three days before the last day to make returns or exchanges, to give yourself enough time in case you change your mind.

Find this season’s trends at significant markdowns at end — of — season sales. These events happen in August for summer fashions, November for fall, February for winter, and May for spring.
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