Monday, February 21, 2011

"How To Be A Budget Fashionista" by Kathryn Finney

Some people find out early on in life what their interests are and if they are lucky, they get to pursue that as a career.  The career may last a lifetime, or their career goals may change over time, but basically you'll find that their career goals all relate back to their main interests which have preoccupied them for most of their lives.  

Such a person is Kathryn Finney.  She became interested in fashion and style very early on in life, and through her careers as fashion stylist, fashion blogger (www.thebudgetfashionista.com) and personal stylist, she has been able to pursue her interests.  Lucky for us, the fashion and budget conscious public!  

Kathryn Finney is a decent writer.  She is witty, has funny stories to tell, and delivers her information in a breezy, fast-paced style, as if your best fashion-conscious friend came over to deliver the low-down on shopping on a budget and scoring designer goods at significant reductions.  

The book is chock-full of information, and it's information everyone can use.  The book is geared mostly toward women, but men who are interested in getting quality goods for their money could use this book, too.  

To outline the book, it's divided into three steps, with separate chapters covering each aspect of the step.  The first step is "Know Your Budget" which deals with the financial aspects of shopping and offers tips for creating a shopping budget that won't break the bank and leave you broke and penniless, or in debt.  Ms. Finney is big on getting out of debt and staying out of debt, which is one more reason to like her.  She gives you tips for raising cash for a new wardrobe.  She discusses the meaning and purpose of a FICO score.  She gives you tips for how to use your money wisely.  One tip she came up with that I liked was to use a reloadable Visa or American Express gift card and put the money you've saved for your shopping budget on the card.  No more money on the card, shopping is complete.  This forces you to be aware of what you're spending, and to spend conscientiously.  She also discusses the wise use of credit cards.  

Step Two is "Know Your Style" and covers methods of finding your own style, going through your closet and doing a closet purge, the importance of good undergarments (something my sister schooled me in, but which I only recently have begun to appreciate), and accessories.  Beauty 101 contains many home-made beauty lotions, potions, masks and other beauty and hygiene solutions, as well as an interview with celebrity makeup artist and author, Elke von Freudenberg.  Practically any question you might have about how to establish and maintain a beauty and makeup routine on a budget is answered here, including when to save money and when to splurge.  She also discusses trends and the people who decide them and how YOU can become one of those people and predict trends ahead of the curve.  The final chapter in "Know Your Style" is titled, "The Shopping List" and it shows you how, using the information from the chapter "Finding Your Personal Style" you can come up with a workable shopping list that will allow you to spend within your means and get the items that will provide you with the most style bang for your buck.  In other words, clothes and accessories that you will actually use and LOVE.  Because Ms. Finney's main belief is that if you don't LOVE it, you shouldn't buy it.  So don't buy that $4.99 blouse just because it's on sale if you don't love it and it has no place in your wardrobe.  That's no bargain.  

Step Three is "Know Your Bargains" and covers in detail the different shopping meccas where you will be spending your time and money:  Department stores, outlets, shopping centers, sample sales, warehouse sales, thrift and consignment stores, and the Internet.  The next to last chapter is "Putting It All Together," in which Ms. Finney responds to letters from women with specific style issues:  Putting together a work wardrobe on a budget, how to dress for a life change or a career change and staying current in style as one ages.  

The Conclusion is titled, "Congratulations - You've Made It!" and it covers the highlights of the tips in the book and features a plug for her website.  I like the website, but I'm still learning how to navigate it in all its spectacular detail.  Like the book, there's a lot of information there.  After reading the book, you can plug in a special code that will allow you to receive a certificate as a Certified Budget Fashionista, and you receive coupons.  

Considering that the book only costs $14.00 full price, and you can get it for less on Amazon, and taking into account the money you will probably save using her tips, I would say this is a pretty good way to spend $14.00.  Heck, I go to the deli and spend that much on a day's worth of groceries, sometimes.  

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to know how to save money, improve their budgeting and financial skills, and improve their style all at the same time.  Who wouldn't want to do all that?  

In other, related news, I dropped out of the book club, so now I will have UNLIMITED TIME to devote to reading books and reviewing them.  Watch, it will take me even longer.  GAH!!!  Hope not!