Do Clothes Make The Woman?

Prompt: How important are clothes to you? Describe your style, if you have one, and tell us how appearance impacts how you feel about yourself.

  It has always been important to me to have clothes that make me look good ever since I was a little girl. When we were poorer and did not have so much money I hated that I had to wear second hand clothing from some other little girl but I knew we were poor so I didn’t complain much about it. I have had to buy my own clothes since about grade eight and I did not have much money to buy clothes until I was in university. Before that, Christmas or my Birthday was a grand affair because I got to go shopping and buy whatever I liked at the stores I liked. But I still always bought only clothes on sale to stretch my funds.

Luckily in highschool, we wore uniforms but there was always one day a month where we got to wear street clothes so it was a big deal to have a new outfit every month. I had a bit of money so most often I was able to scrape enough money together to buy a new shirt at least. In university, I wore what I wanted and mostly had the money to shop a bit and buy what I liked every so often. Luckily, my tastes ran to Gap, Jacob, and Hollister and those stores had sales very often. So usually, I could always find a shirt or two and occasionally I would buy an item from Lululemon since wearing yoga clothes to school from Lululemon was a big deal. 


 My style now runs more to what I like to wear. Every couple months I can get an outfit I like and I can buy it from where I would like to which is usually Banana Republic, Anthropologie, Lululemon, or Victoria Secret. I enjoy shopping but I also learned from over shopping about 3 years back, that too much shopping can get you into debt (along with other things). I have a budget of what I can spend on clothes or even makeup and I stick to those budgets.

I think you can tell that appearance is quiet important to me but you have to wear what suits you and looks good on you. I am almost 30-years-old and I’m a couple sizes bigger then what I was in university and I can’t wear the tight bar tops and short skirts I use to on a night out. I can’t wear tummy revealing tops tops to school and I would rather people see me as professional or at least well put together. I would always care about this because my mother taught me to but also because I am sick and can’t work I look a lot more approachable, intelligent, and with it if I dress nice. This does not mean I will always be able to shop at Anthropologie but wherever I can shop I will shop to look nice.

  I feel better if I am dressed nice as if I have my armour on to face the world. I feel more confident, and more like myself. I feel ready to face the day and take on the tasks I need to get done. Even if I am just going to a doctors appointment I dress up and don’t wear yoga pants. This makes me feel I am on the same level with my physician and that he or she knows I mean business and can comprehend well what they are saying because I am educated and have insight into what they are saying to me. Do clothes make the woman? No, the woman makes the clothes and they help her present herself in life.

How I Learned Not to Shop

This blog is an update as well as an advice providing write-up. When I first started getting paid for my job as a receptionist in 2007/2008, I was more like a kid in a candy store then a responsible graduate who had taken business and math courses that had focused partially on dealing with money.

But the year I became ill with a psychotic episode via Depression I started to not spend my money even less well. Luckily, I was only $1700.00 in debt so my Dad could pay that off for me with money he had saved for me from when I was paying rent at home. But 4 years later I really got into debt to the tune of $17 000 and with interest once I had my Dad co-sign a loan so I could pay down almost a small car with interest. I have been doing that paying down $381.00 a month every month since I got into debt.

This was a very stupid thing to do although I must mention I think it did have something to do with a mini-episode of depression or some type of mood disorder during this time as even at that time I could not remember doing it. Just that I came back after a small vacation in Montreal that was all paid for and sometime between paying for that vacation and returning from it in May, I got into debt in approximately 3 months.

By this time I was on disability and making even less then the little I made as a receptionist. And making even $380.00 less then that amount has made my budget very tight. I wasn’t able to save that little amount per month for a small vacation a year, I wasn’t able to shop anywhere even near the amount I had been shopping, even keeping a budget that would provide enough so I could get everything I need each month would become a challenge with medical costs etc.

So, I stopped shopping online altogether at first. Then, I only shopped for what I needed. Every time I saw a dress or pair of shoes I wanted a great deal but I didn’t have the money for I would pin the item on Pinterest. As you can guess, there was a lot of pinning going on at first especially with my impulse spending ways. Eventually I might keep items I liked in my shopping cart and if I very much liked the item, after a a month or two, I might purchase it providing I had an event to wear it to or nothing similar in my wardrobe.

That was the worst of my shopping. At the mall I was pretty good even before I had debt. The tactile quality of an item made me a lot more careful when spending my money. I preferred to spend my money at malls on makeup and I only had so much cash to spend at one time because I rarely used credit cards, and still practice that. And if I spent on them I always paid them off.

The other way I spent less money was quitting a weight loss program called Herbal magic which saved me about $400.00 a month and was the bulk of my debt. It paid for my loan payment every month. It was hard to do but I had only lost about 10 lbs on it due to my medications and it was simply too expensive. The only thing that worked about it was the idea of losing weight by cutting your portion size. All the herbs required were a crazy amount of money.

Now, I have stayed out of debt a year and a half. I’m still budgeting carefully according to what I need each month and I pay careful attention to what I but and the balance on my credit cards and bank account. I think if this is possible for me to do on a very small budget, it is possible for anyone, even on a large budget. It is also important, to know your weaknesses and walk away when you don’t have the money to buy the item you want.


Budgeting The Grown Up Way


I am not sure what your parents taught you about how to manage your money when you were growing up but mine taught me to lay everything out on spread sheet and give yourself an amount of money for each area of spending you require ie.) food, clothing, rent, personal needs etc. I always hated this method of budgeting when I was a little girl because it was so restrictive. So when you actually wanted that $80.00 pair of jeans and only had $50.00 in your clothing budget you were not supposed to take another $30.00 from another category to use, even though you had the money. But generally, that’s what I did.

I would save away for things I needed to save for and than whatever cash was left over in my bank account was ‘mad money.’ It was mine to spend on whatever I chose. This method worked for me for quite along time and still does to some degree. For instance, I will overlap between medication and healthcare ( such as money for the dentist or if I need extra-medication one month). I also overlap between clothing and entertainment. This means that some months I spend a lot of  money on clothing or household goods and other months I spend more on going out with friends and drinking and having dinner.

My point is, this method can and does work to a degree. But only certain categories in my budget are flexible, not all. What probably is a better method to work with is is to have a certain amount you have set aside for clothing each month and a certain amount set aside for entertainment. That way you always have a little bit available for each category in your budget and any extra money can carry over to the next month. Essentially, this is what I do now. Being more restrictive with your budget has it’s benefits though.

It really does seem as if you have more money when you set aside some money for each of your budget areas and all of your bills get paid. This also means that if you use a credit card you can pay off whatever you spent right away or as soon as possible because you take the money out of the category you spent it in right away. So if I use my credit card for a cab to Whyte Avenue to meet some friends, immediately, $26.00 or so is taken out of my transportation budget and I payoff my credit card when I get home with $26.00 or however much I put on my credit card that evening. This method works really well for me because if you do not let your credit card build up, it’s not such a hassle to pay it off. Meaning, a little bit to pay off all the time is easier to pay off than $600.00 at once.

These are just my personal  thoughts and experiences with budgeting. Some of the other things I can tell you about budgeting this way is you cannot buy everything you would like or sometimes need at once. You need to spread out items you need progressively throughout the month and throughout each month. I was used to getting all that I needed done at once, now if I can’t afford a professional bikini wax this month but have wax strips at home I have to do it myself. Or if I don’t have the money left to cab somewhere and that is the only way I can get to a place and my friends are going to some event I sometimes have to opt out of the event because I can’t afford the taxi ride, booze money, and the event ticket. What I might do is catch a ride from a friend and take the bus home and not drink. Sometimes when you budget you have to make choices such as that and those choices are not always fun. But budgeting your money does help with your waistline because you watch where you eat out and drink a lot more and that is a good idea for many people.

I also have to watch what I buy in clothing now. I am a lot more conscious of how much something costs. I don’t just look at how nice the fabric is and how good the item of clothing looks. I look at that first then I decide whether it is worth the price and whether I can afford the item that month. $200 boots for me might be worth it because we have winter 8 months of the year and the boots are a leather classic style a can wear for 2-3 years. But some things like fad items, may not be as worth it to me especially if they are made cheaply. If I really want that cheaply made $80 sparkly tank top I can wait until it goes on sale in a month or find a cheaper version of it because odds are I won’t be wearing it more than a season or 2.

But budgeting has been going really well for me and I’m actually glad I got into trouble with my money so I learned again, how to budget properly. The only thing I regret, is the debt payment I make every month 😦

What are some budgeting strategies that work for you? Do you manage your money well or are there times that you do and don’t?