November 08, 2012

My Online Shopping Addiction and the Dreaded Budget


My Online Shopping Addiction and the Dreaded Budget


From the time I cashed my first pay cheque from KFC (yes, my first real job was a greasy one), even earlier if you count the meager amount I made from my Pennysaver route when I was 12, I knew that I had a love for spending money. The anticipation of what I would spend my hard-earned money on once Friday rolled around was almost as good as the thrill I got from heading to the mall the next day to blow it all on cheap clothing, make-up and probably CD's, since this was the pre-iPod era.

Looking back, I really wish that I had saved at least a little bit of that money, having worked steadily since I was 15 years old. I really have nothing to show for those early years where pretty much 100 percent of that money was disposable income; my one bill at that time a pay-as-you-go cell phone plan. To be honest, saving money had never even crossed my mind because we all know that teenagers are not usually planning their futures or investing in an RRSP. I remember something my grandmother once told me when I first started working: “Save 10 percent of everything you make, because even though it isn't much but eventually it will add up.” I scoffed at the idea and of course went on spending as I had been. Boy, do I wish I had listened. If I’d known then what I know now about compound interest, I would have started my RRSP way back then and started saving for a down-payment on my first home.

Hindsight is 20/20, as they say, and that's probably one of life's greatest ironies… learning things the hard way!

Fast-forward to now. I have never been much of an online shopper, having always preferred the instant gratification and experience of going into the store and taking the goods home with me that day. Now a new mother, it’s not always convenient to take baby traipsing through the shopping mall. It conflicts with naptime, and screaming infants aren’t favourable to many store patrons…not to mention having to breastfeed in public… There lies the beauty of shopping online. Yes, the satisfaction of strolling and browsing and trying on clothes, and skipping out of the store with bags in hand is lost. And you have to wait 5-7 business days (I am too cheap for express shipping you see) for your purchase to arrive. Yet the excitement of filling up that virtual cart and "checking out" is as good as the real thing if not better, because there are many deals to be had in the online shopping world.

Budgets are never fun (unless you are an accountant), and they are even harder to stick to (unless you have amazing self-control). While great in theory, there are often hidden expenses, and the old-style budget is not always realistic in this day-in-age. I have, however, realized that if you don't have rules in place with how you spend your money, when it comes to everyday expenses things can get more than a little out of control. So I have decided to try the money in jars method from that show Till Debt Do Us Part. If you've never seen the show, it's a cash only budget with a certain amount allocated to each jar. Each jar is labeled for a specific category of spending; such as gas, groceries, etc. The jury is still out on whether or not this will work for us as it’s still in the infant stages, but it has forced me to take a good hard look at how we spend (and overspend) our money, as well as realize that using a debit card rather than cash can be a recipe for disaster if you are not keeping regular track of those purchases.

I don't know that I will ever be able to fully stop spending money gratuitously, but I am thankful for the money that I do have, and the self-control I have gained over the years to prevent me from putting everything on my credit card. I have also learned that if I really feel the urge to go out and blow some cash, there are always little purchases that might, for a brief moment, give me that instant charge of satisfaction. After all, Dollarama likely won’t break the bank.
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October 17, 2012

Mama's Got Style: Fashion After Baby

Fashion After Baby


Does this even exist? I have to admit that as someone who considers herself fairly fashionable, I wondered if   I would ever regain my pre-baby sartorial skills. During my pregnancy I bought as little maternity clothes as I could get away with, I was also lucky enough to get some hand-me-downs and most of my pre-baby tops still fit until the last month, where I lived in a few stretchy dresses. So throughout that time I still felt fashionable, fast forward to the post-partum wardrobe of someone who's had a c-section and you'll probably hear this phrase, "I have nothing to wear" or "Nothing fits me". What are you supposed to wear during that period when you still have a belly (smaller but still very much there) but your maternity pants are too big, and yet even though you have lost some weight you are nowhere near close to fitting into your skinny genes, plus everything hurts your incision.

I often look to celebrities when it comes to style (who doesn't?) and there are plenty of famous moms out there that have a baby and are still fashionable; Victoria Beckham, Kate Beckinsale and Nicole Ritchie come to mind. Now I know that I shouldn't compare myself to these women because they have jobs that require them to be fashionable, they are constantly in the spotlight (hello tabloids and paparazzi!) and they have the stylists and money that I will never have access to in my lifetime (but my fingers are still crossed). So why put myself through the torture of trying to measure up? Well for one thing, fashion has always been important to me, for as long as I can remember I have loved shopping and clothes and more recently (say the past six years) I have been paying alot more attention to the runways and fashion magazines. So I figure that just because I'm a mom now, doesn't mean I should give up my cute Marc Jacobs purse for a bottomless mom sack, or trade in my skinny jeans for khaki chinos. The problem is; I do feel that I have outgrown (figuratively speaking) the majority of my pre-baby wardrobe, my closet is filled with years of quantity over quality shopping  buys and now I feel like I've reached a new milestone in my life not unlike graduating college or getting married, I feel like my wardrobe needs a bit of an overhaul.

Finding an appropriate style after having a baby doesn't have to be frumpy but I have realized that shorty shorts and any tops that show too much skin are not projecting the right image for me at this point in my life (not that I wore anything too crazy). There are certain stores like Garage and American Eagle that I will leave for the younger generation in favour of some higher end stores that can offer me the quality I have been craving all these years. This will mean less is more, I may only be able to shop for myself once or twice a year or spread the shopping trips out every few months but the main thing will be; finding quality pieces that will stay in my wardrobe for a long time while staying within a tight clothing budget.

If there were three items I would say I couldn't live without in my closet I would say; blazers, ballet flats, and skinny pants. With those as my staples everything else is just the icing on the cake, so I guess I know where most of my clothing budget will be going!

Next time: Meeting Other Moms (When Your Friends Don't Have Babies)


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