Blog Swap: Pretty Lil' Things

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The following post was written by Adeline of Pretty Lil' Things as part of a "blog swap" between hundreds of bloggers in the 20SB community. We were all given a suggested topic: Action. What will you do next year that you've been putting off for too long? You can view my thoughts on the matter here, and after you do, be sure to check out Adeline's great posts on fashion, beauty, and shopping. Enough of my rambling, though. Without further ado, here's what Adeline had to say about her big plans for 2011:

calendar

2011 is around the corner and it's the time of the year to review our life in the past year and hope that the bad turns into good and the good turns into better in the upcoming year. So many people make new years resolutions in early January, but many forget them by early March. The most successful case of a new years resolution that I know of was probably the family that stuck through it for the entire year in the book "A Year Without Made in China."

I've never actually made any new years resolutions because I never believed that I could make it past the first month. Now that I've graduated from college and stepped into the "real world", putting forward a realistic new years resolution that I am likely to pull through seems like a logical thing to do. So what is it that I've been putting off for too long that needs some serious action beginning on January 1st?

I have to admit, like many fashionistas out there, I love to shop. Shopping is like a drug; you can get a rush of adrenaline, joy and satisfaction from shopping. The result? Credit card bills and less cash for the future. January 1st is probably a good time for you and me to start working on spending less and saving more on shopping.

There are two parts of this equation: 1) spending less, and 2) saving more. In other words, controlling your budget. How should this be done effectively? Here are my two cents on how to spend less and how to save more on shopping.

Shopping Less

Spending less money consists of controlling your budget and thinking over whether or not you should spend money on something. To control your budget, the most effective way is probably to set a limit on the different spending categories to ensure that you don't overspend.

(1) iPhone Apps

iPhoneIf you have an iPhone, make full use of it! There are currently a handful of apps out there where you can enter your own budget for each category, record your spending, and generate monthly reports for you to make sure that you're in line. While some are free and some require a purchase, they an all help you track your expenses and remind yourself when you go over your budget.

Some personal expenses apps: Expense Tracker, My Spending, Personal Finance, iXpenseIt, and more.

(2) No iPhone? Do It Manually

If you don't have an iPhone, you can still keep track of your expenses either by a simple Excel spreadsheet or simply writing them down in a notebook. Doing it manually means you have to be extra determined because you need to keep reminding yourself to update your spreadsheet or notebook.

(3) Say No to Credit Cards

If you want to spend less, you've got to put your credit cards away! People tend to spend more money when using their credit cards because you don't really feel like you're spending much when shopping is just a swipe away. Until you see your credit card bill. Start keeping some cash in your wallet and you'll be more cautious next time you're spending your cash.

credit card
You can't use your credit card if it's frozen in a block of ice!

Saving More

Saving more on the things you spend is probably an easier first step than actually spending less.

(1) Coupons and Discount Codes

couponsThanks to coupons and discount codes from merchants, we can save a whole lot just by buying at the right times with the right coupons. The best times to buy is the couple days before a holidays because almost all stores will have some sort of sale or promotion. Popular holiday sales are Labor Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Black Friday & Cyber Monday, Christmas, and New Years Eve. Look for coupons regularly on your favorite shopping sites and coupon-sharing communities such as RetailMeNot, Groupon, CouponCabin, and more. If you use coupons and discount codes every time you make a purchase, you could really save a ton!

(2) Buy the Same Thing for Less

Love designer clothing but can't afford the price tag? Shop on eBay, discount stores, and member-only sale sites. eBay is a great place to find new and used stuff from all over the world. Discount stores such as Marshalls and TJMaxx regularly stock up on designer clothing, bags, and shoes at a discount. Lastly, member-only sale sites like Gilt, HauteLook, and RueLaLa probably have the best designer sales! Catching your favorite designer sale at the right time can really save you a whole lot.

gilt.com screenshot
Get designer styles at department store prices at member-only sale sites such as Gilt.com.

(3) Can't Spend Less on Shopping? Save on Others

If you are a true shopaholic and you find it really hard to spend less on shopping, trying saving on other things like food and entertainment. Eating out less frequently can save you a significant amount. Rather than going out for dinner and drinks, switch it up and stay in for your own parties and gatherings at home. Rent a movie instead of watching it in the theaters!

Don't put this off any longer! 2011 is the time to start managing your expenses if you haven't already done so. Make "spend less, save more" your motto of the year and be your own financial advisor in 2011.

Written by Adeline
Pretty Lil' Things
http://www.pretty-lil-things.com
info@pretty-lil-things.com

gRegor

gRegor

Hey Adeline, welcome to Skirtsville.

I have yet to try it myself, but I have heard rave reviews about Mint.com for keeping track of finances / budgeting. Currently I'm using ClearCheckbook.com for some of that.

Rachelskirts

Rachelskirts

I was very skeptical of Mint when it first arrived on the scene, although I was dying to try it. But once Intuit bought it out and started advertising it alongside Quicken, I knew it was time to jump on board. I love, love, love the budgeting features and the recent addition of long-term goal setting. The iPhone app is pretty nice, too.

Thursday's Child

Thursday's Child

Another great way to save more money is to, well, save it.

Open up a second account somewhere. If your employer will allow direct deposit, split your deposit between the two accounts. Make the split something you can live around, so you never even miss it. Sometimes, you'll have extra cash you could stash away there, but the real bread and butter here is that little bit of your paycheck that you never see. And because you never see it, you're a lot less likely to spend it.

Any savings is better than no savings, so even if it's 10 or 15 bucks a paycheck, you'll grow that savings account faster than you might imagine!