>Financial Fitness & Floggers

>I drank a Diet Coke at 11:00 tonight, and while lying in bed trying to come down off the caffeine high, I started having one of those late night stream-of-conciousness conversations in my head about a topic that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Then I decided that I needed to share it, and since C is fast asleep, here I am — posting at 2:00 a.m. while my whole neighborhood snoozes. 

Let’s talk about the ugliest of four-letter words: debt.

I’ve experienced my fair share of credit woes over the years because of a nasty compulsive shopping habit, coupled with a general lack of respect and responsibility for my finances. I’ve always been a member of the “buy now, pay-later, credit equals free money” set; beginning in college with a renegade Express store charge card and blossoming — more like festering — into several other revolving accounts and high interest “introductory” credit cards.

When I read Confessions of a Shopaholic, I felt like Becky Bloomwood was my kindred-spirit-soul-sister… I had to remind myself more than once that it was a fictional and satirical story, and the fact that I related to it was both humiliating and terrifying at the same time.

I really love consumerism, and I shop for a whole myriad of reasons. I shop when I’m bored, or stressed, or anxious (or happy and optimistic, for that matter). I love the high I get when I walk into my favorite stores, the smell and the visual overload, the seemingly endless possibilities, the {false} feeling of empowerment when purchasing what I want, and the thrill of imagining all the ways that the things I’m buying will make me feel better/prettier/more fulfilled/etc. And the high lasts just a little while, until the gut-wrenching buyers remorse kicks in and I reflect back… “I spent how much on clothes this month?! My minimum payment on my Macy’s card is what?!” Then the high turns to panic and anxiety, and the whole vicious cycle starts over again.

Before I started this blog, I was really out of control. Shopping was my hobby, and my only outlet in an over-stressed and over-worked lifestyle that was running me ragged. {Of course, I couldn’t see at the time that the financial stress I put on myself constituted the majority of that raggedness} On top of that, I was chronically bored and dissatisfied with my wardrobe. Even in a closet full of brand new, tags-still-attached items, I “never had a thing to wear.”

I knew that I needed to channel my love of fashion and style into something productive, while simultaneously overhauling my spending habits and making some intensive changes to my financial health. A.P.P. was born.

I recently read “Finance and the Fashion Blogger: Ignore-ance” and was relieved to hear that I’m not the only blogger who has found herself in this predicament. It’s a given that as style bloggers, we all love clothes/accessories/beauty. I think it’s also safe to say that many of us are working within limited budgets and resources, and handfuls of us are probably up to our eyeballs in out-of-control debt to try and keep up. But as Ashe Mischief  points out in this post, fashion bloggers aren’t really talking about it.

However, there are a few fearless floggers (as Merle, of one of my favorite reads, calls us) that are speaking out about the dirty d-word and focusing their blogs on style and financial fitness, like Grace at Money Smart Fashion. There are also tons of great personal finance blogs (my favorites of which, by title alone, are Punch Debt in the Face and Budgets are Sexy) that can help with tips and motivation for getting things back in order.

I’m happy to report that I recently had the kick-in-the-pants epiphany that I’ve needed for a long time, and I’m starting to understand the importance of eliminating debt altogether and ending my torrid affair with retail. While I’m not sure that I’m ready for something as radical as the Great American Apparel Diet {although it would do my skinny and malnourished wallet good} I do know that the raging shopaholic within me seems to have quieted for a bit.

I have a much greater appreciation for the things I have (including my home, my nice car, my secure and comfortable lifestyle, and all of the things in my closet) and how quickly getting in over your head with debt and poor money management can jeopardize all of those things. If you’re in a financial hole, or in the process of digging your way out, and need a buddy to help talk you through, email me. I’d love to try and be a support for someone else, because I think that’s one of the best ways we can help ourselves.

Finally, to my sweet sleeping husband who reads my blog every day… Thank you babe, for the beautiful life that you’ve given us, for being responsible enough for the both of us for all these years, for your endless patience with me when I come in the front door with shopping bags full of things I don’t need, for putting up with my flighty forgetfulness, and for all of the other things we both know about that don’t need to be said here. I love you.

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  1. 4.2.13

    This is such a wonderful post. So many of us fall prey to this at one point or another im sure. I agree with yourself and the bloggers you’ve linked here we do need to speak about this more and realise that we shouldn’t have to spend as much as we do. I know from this month alone (when my car needed its engine looking at) how much a little less spending would have helped me for everything else I need in life!

    Great post and I have just fallen head over heels for your blog its excellent!!
    Jess xoxo

    • 4.2.13

      Thank you, Jess!!

      I recently started budgeting $100 per month for clothes, shoes, and accessories. You can read more about it in this post: http://prettypennyblog.wordpress.com/2012/10/22/when-is-enough-actually-er-enough/

      It’s made me think a lot about what I purchase, and helped relieve some of the stress when unexpected expenses pop up, like your car service you mentioned. “Budget” used to be a dirty word for me, but these days I’m all about it! :)

  2. 8.5.11

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  3. 5.17.11

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  4. 9.9.10
    Anonymous said:

    >Yeah, thrift shopping is like methadone for addicts!

  5. 9.5.10
    Jodi said:

    >Great post. Being new to fashion blogging I have wondered how some of these bloggers do it, all these fancy new clothes and never duplicating an outfit… AND I get my inspiration by finding deals at thrift stores, trying to simulate up to date trendy styles as well as creating timeless outfits that will last. Thanks for the authentic post!!

  6. 9.4.10
    Cynthia said:

    >I'm doing the GAAD this year, in part because I need to be more responsible with my finances and do a budget. I'm not in a situation that I can't control, but I'd really rather have more savings at this point in my life and wean off easy credit. So, I feel ya.

  7. 9.2.10

    >Lovely blog. I found you through IFB and I can tell that you have a great sense of style.Lets become fashionable blogger friends and follow each other.Check out my blog and maybe you'll want to make your own Recessionista Chic Post. And mention my work too next time.www.thedollsfactory.com

  8. 8.31.10

    >I love socially responsible posts on blogs and this piece is definitely well-written. Even before I started my blog, I've read about bloggers going in debt or shamelessly seeking sponsors to keep up their postings and it wasn't a pretty or sexy picture.xoxo,http://twentyyork.blogspot.com

  9. 8.30.10
    Yelena said:

    >Great post!

  10. 8.30.10
    Courtnee said:

    >Thank you for this post! You touched on lots of things I've been thinking and feeling lately. I am a consumer and I will always love to shop. The past few months I have really been thinking about like v love and need v want. I find myself purchasing things I actually love. I'm also buying more vintage pieces that have a more "timeless" feel to them. Debt/finance is something that needs to be discussed in the "flogger" community. Thanks for sharing your point of view:)

    • 7.22.11
      Janay said:

      Woah nelly, how about them appels!

  11. 8.30.10
    Jeanna said:

    >This post was so great! I am definitely an advocate for living within your means & having as few debts as possible (I work in the financial field IRL). I think it's fantastic that you're using your blog as an outlet for your love for fashion; I know my blog has made me re-evaluate my closet, and it forces me to come up with combinations from things I already have. Best wishes for becoming debt-free!Also, it is AWESOME that you offered to support others trying to eliminate debt. So I thought I'd mention that if you need a buddy, feel free to contact me! :)

  12. 8.29.10
    Angeline said:

    >Props to you on this honest post…and for getting on the road to being debt-free! I agree shopping can give a really nice high (I do miss it). Wishing you all the best on your path to kicking that debt in the butt!

  13. 8.29.10
    J. Money said:

    >Thanks for the shout out! Keep rockin' it girl ;)

  14. 8.29.10
    MARISA said:

    >this is such a beautiful post.

  15. 8.29.10

    >This was a great post. I recently decided I was going to go 6 months without buying anything retail (except, you know, undies and stuff) and the weird thing is it's almost a relief. I don't feel like I'm on the hamster wheel of purchasing stuff that "I have to have" and then the guilt when it's in the Goodwill pile having only been worn a few times. Thank you for sharing your story. It definitely resonated with me.Jennwww.thesuburbexperiment.blogspot.com

  16. 8.29.10

    >Yes! I love it. I agree 100%, especially with the "kindred soul" part. As women we are feed fashion and consumerism from the beginning and it becomes a hard cycle to break especially when you don't have the person in your life that tells you no. I spent spent spent until the day SSBF and I moved in together. A big reason I stopped is because I could see the disaapointment in his eyes when I bought stuff he knew I didn't have the cash for. Life became about more then just me. awesome post, thanks for the shout out too!

  17. 8.29.10

    >I had to delurk to comment on this. Thank you for posting this. I think this post actually gave me the outlook I've been needing for a long time. My debt isn't exactly "out of control" but I'm well on my way to having "out of control" debt if I don't start budgeting and paying off my credit cards.~Kadye

  18. 8.29.10

    >This is so well written! It was really refreshing to read a responsible perspective on the challenges of personal style blogging. I am a Consumer with a capital "c" for sure but I think admitting it is the first step toward controlling it..

  19. 8.29.10

    >God, when you mentioned resonating with Becki Bloomfield, I thought, "Oh yeah, I did that too!" and it IS an emabarrassing and terrifying feeling.You're also such a bijoux for offering support for other bloggers with debt, needing support, etc…

  20. 8.29.10
    Ashley J said:

    >I LOVED your last night blog post, you need to do this more often:) A couple days ago I had not one, not two BUT three packages awaiting me outside when I got home from work and my poor hubbie was not pleased. We need to be saving money for a new home, possibly a baby and just the future in general but I cannot seem to kick this shopping habit in the butt. I am trying to do better but like you said, I am glad I am not alone!

  21. 8.29.10

    >great post and links to other fashion bloggers who talk about the realities of shopping! even though most of my purchases now come from the thrift store, a purchase is a purchase and can add up over time. this post is really in line with your 30 for 30 challenge. although i don't have a fashion blog (just a blog about my adventures in austin with my husband) i think i am going to try my own 30 for 30 challenge. thanks for the inspiration!

  22. 8.29.10

    >This post really resonated with me. I blogged earlier in the year about my shopping ban and the realities of my budget. (I was on an all out ban from buying clothes, accessories, music, dvds, etc. from January 1 to March 15.) I think it takes a great deal of courage to talk about debt because it tends to carry a lot of shame and prejudice with it, even after so many of us have had great difficulties in this recession. Thanks for posting this!

  23. 8.29.10
    stylepint said:

    >Great post! It's nice to hear bloggers talk about finances because I know we don't all have unlimited funds! Since I've started blogging, I did notice that I spending more than I usually do, I try to tame it down so it never gets out of hand. You're doing great!=)

  24. 8.29.10

    >You are correct in saying that things can get "out of control" if you let them…..I pretty much shop every weekend, for something or another….but Id never not pay my bills first….work with what you have is my motto….great post!!