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10 Questions to Ask Yourself at Fast Fashion Stores

10 Questions to Ask Yourself at Fast Fashion Stores

Shopping at fast fashion stores is fun—it’s affordable, trendy, and feels like a reasonable splurge. Make it a habit though, and you’ve got fast fashion problems on your hands (and in your closet, under your bed, all over your floor—not to mention on your credit card statement). Before you hit the mall, here’s what you need to ask yourself to avoid a shopping hangover.

1. Why am I here in the first place?

Gossip Girl Blair Waldorf

    Do you actually need something, or are you just looking? And if you’re just looking, what led you there in the first place? Sure, maybe you’re just killing time on your lunch break, but if you find that your default activity is hitting the stores, think about what makes you go there. Are you bored, stressed out, or unhappy? Shopping, especially when you feel like you’re getting a deal, gives you a quick mood boost. That said, it doesn’t last—and it definitely doesn’t solve your actual problem (plus spend too much money, and you’ve created a new one). Next time you find yourself wanting to go wander through Forever 21, try to get in touch with what you’re really feeling first, and think about what you need to do to actually tackle the issue.

    2. Do I already have something just like this?

    Rachel Zoe self restraint

      We all have certain styles that we absolutely love, or everyday basics that we can’t get enough of. But if the main reason you like a fast fashion item is because you already own something just like it, you probably don’t need two of them! (Or ten, or twelve.) If the answer to your question is yes, but it’s ripped-stained-pilled-etc. and you actually need a replacement, fine. But if the answer’s yes, I can add it to my pile, skip it. Clothes aren’t Pokémon—you don’t need to catch ’em all.

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      3. Do I need something else to go with it?

      Clueless Cher Horowitz Closet

        You found a silky asymmetrical jacket you absolutely love. Okay, great—what are you going to wear it with? If the answer can’t already be found in your closet, you’re going to need to buy something else to make it work. That mean your inexpensive fast fashion find just cost you more money. This isn’t always an easy question to answer (though there are definitely apps that claim to be like the closet computer from Clueless), but if you’re really scratching your head, you’re probably better off leaving it on the rack.

        4. Does it actually fit?

        blind-side-wear-this

          Especially when clothes are inexpensive (getting a deal!), it can be really tempting to buy something that doesn’t quite fit. After all, it’s not like you’re going to flag down one of the H&M salespeople and ask them to find that skirt in your size—if it’s not there, it’s not there. But if it doesn’t fit you, it’s not worth it. If you’re looking for a bargain in the first place, you’re probably not going to pay to have a too-big piece tailored down to your size. If it’s too small, don’t tell yourself you’re buying it for after your diet or workout plan, or as motivation to lose weight or get in shape. Only buy clothes for the life (and body!) you have now.

          5. Am I going to be able to wear this more than once?

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          Mean Girls Regina George

             

            Fast fashion can feel like a wedding season savior: if you can’t repeat the dress, you don’t want to drop a wad of cash on it. That said, if it’s just going to wind up at the Salvation Army, maybe you shouldn’t be spending money on it in the first place. If it’s a one-time item—whether for a formal event or for a costume party—why not see what your friends have first? Shopping each other’s closets is a fun excuse to hang out, and you get all the gratification of a trip to the mall without spending money.

            6. Do I just want this because it’s on sale?

            Honey Boo Boo Coupon Queen

              Fast fashion stores are already inexpensive, but once stuff goes on sale, it’s easy to get into the “I can’t afford not to buy this” mentality. Here’s the thing: You can. It’s one thing if something you actually need, or one piece you’ve been ogling for a month, goes on sale. It’s another thing if the sale rack is just stuff that’s marked down. Ignore the price tag and ask yourself: Is this in season? Is it in style? Do I even look good in yellow? It’s hard to resist the siren song of the sale rack, but if you do you’ll avoid drawers that are stuffed with “amazing deals” you never actually wear.

              7. Is this trend going to last?

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              Beverly Hills 90210 uggs

                There’s a reason fast fashion is called fast. These stores are able to jump on any trend and get it into stores virtually immediately, as opposed to the old six-months-ahead fashion show cycle (which does, strangely, still persist). Just because an item’s trendy right now doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right for you. If you aren’t going to love that lace crop top in six weeks or six months—let alone six years—it’s probably not worth it. The exception: If something you’ve always loved becomes an “in” thing, go for it. Then it’s more about your personal style than about what’s hot at the moment.

                8. Can I afford this?

                Confessions of a Shopaholic Isla Fisher

                  Remember: cheap isn’t free. Even buy-one, get-ones add up, because after all, you’re still buying one. If you’re even remotely close to owing money on your credit card, put that pencil skirt down! Paying interest on lots of little purchases means that for each of those mini-splurges, you’re paying more. Don’t have the cash? Then it’s not coming home with you. That kind of discipline doesn’t always come easy, but having a healthy bottom line is more important than a fashionably-clad bottom.

                  9. Do I actually like this or am I just paying for the name?

                  Ex-Porn Stars Manolo Blahnik

                    Ever since Target and H&M started doing designer collaborations nearly a decade ago, high fashion names regularly cycle through the fast fashion world. The premise is that it’s exciting (and come on, it is), and that it makes these designers styles more accessible and affordable to everyday people. That said, these collections tend to be much lower quality than the designer’s actual pieces, and they’re highly recognizable—no one’s going to mistake your Rodarte for Target for legit Rodarte. The sense of scarcity and getting a designer deal means these collaborations regularly sell out, but they tend to hit the Goodwill just as fast as they leave the store racks—in the calm, clear world where you haven’t just waited in line to get Kate Moss for TopShop, you may find you’re just not that into it. If you really love a particular designer, why not save up so that you can have a real splurge? Being able to choose something that’s better quality and that you’ll wear way more is worth the price.

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                    10. Am I really going to regret not buying this?

                    Parks and Recreation Donna Treat Yo' Self

                      It’s not like every piece you pick up at a fast fashion retailer is going to be a no-go. Some stuff you just plain love, and you know what? If you absolutely adore it and you can say with certainty that you’ll regret leaving it in the store much more than you would buying it, go ahead. Every once in a while, it’s okay to treat yo’ self.

                      Featured photo credit: Paramount Pictures via mashable.com

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                      Last Updated on August 20, 2019

                      How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

                      How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

                      Finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. And that’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

                      In this article, we will explore ways on how to set financial goals and then actually meet them with ease.

                      5 Steps to Set Financial Goals

                      Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task but if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps:

                      1. Be Clear About the Objectives

                      Any goal (let alone financial) without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream. And this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

                      It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it is for. It could be anything like kid’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car etc.

                      Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives, however small they may be, that you foresee in the future and put a value to it.

                      2. Keep Them Realistic

                      It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going out of the line will definitely hurt your chances of achieving them.

                      It’s important that you keep your goals realistic in nature for it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

                      3. Account for Inflation

                      Ronald Reagan once said – “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman”. And this quote sums up the best what inflation could do your financial goals.

                      Therefore account for inflation whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far away in the future.

                      For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years hence, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is mere 3%. So always account for inflation.

                      4. Short Term vs Long Term

                      Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach towards achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It is important to bifurcate goals in short term and long term.

                      As a rule of thumb, any financial goal, which is due in next 3 years should be termed as short term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short term vs long term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

                      More on this later when we talk about how to achieve financial goals.

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                      5. To Each to His Own

                      The journey of setting financial goals is an individualistic affair i.e. your goals are your own goals and are determined by your want to achieve them. A lot of times we get on the bandwagon of goal setting only to realize later on that it was not meant for us.

                      It is important that your goals are actually your goals and not inspired by someone else. Take a hard look at this step at all the goals you’ve set for after this step, you will be on the way to achieve them.

                      By now, you would be ready with your financial goals, now it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

                      11 Ways to Achieve Your Financial Goals

                      Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a 2 step process –

                      • Ensuring healthy savings
                      • Making smart investments

                      You will need to save enough; and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals. So let’s get down to ensuring healthy savings.

                      Ensuring Healthy Savings

                      Self realization is the best form of realisation and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

                      This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

                      1. Track Expenses

                      The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your monthly expenses. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you would be surprised to see how small expenses add up to a sizeable amount.

                      Also categorize those expenses into different bucket so that you know which bucket is eating the most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pump up your savings rate.

                      2. Pay Yourself First

                      Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classical mistake which almost everyone of us do. We pay ourselves last!

                      Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and then manage all the expenses from the rest.

                      The best way to actually implement is to put the savings on automatic mode i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (for example – mutual funds, retirement corpus etc) every month.

                      Taking the automatic route will make us lose control of our money and hence will compel us to manage in what’s left with us thereby increasing the savings rate.

                      3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick with It

                      Budgeting is the best to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be made.

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                      Nowadays, several money management apps and wallets can help you do this automatically. It’s easy and who knows, you may just end up doing what people fail to do.

                      At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

                      Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

                      You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

                      4. Rise Again Even If You Fall

                      Let’s be realistic. It’s not like the world will come to an end if you made one mistake. This isn’t called leniency but discipline.

                      If you fail to meet your budget for a month, don’t give up the entire effort just like that. Instead, start again.

                      Remember that flexible plans are the most realistic plans. So go forward and try to follow your financial goals as planned but if for some reason, the plan gets out of hand for you, do not give up on it just yet. This has a lot to do with your psychology rather than any material commitment.

                      All you have to do is to stay on the road and vow to stay on it, no matter how much you fall down.

                      5. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

                      In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

                      Make Savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counter intuitive to many but there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

                      Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Usually weekends are expensive. Make it a habit and you would in turn be saving a great deal.

                      If you are travelling buff, try to travel during off season. Your outlay will be much less.

                      If you go out for shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

                      So the key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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                      6. Talk About It

                      Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission. And it would be rather easy to lose the grip over your discipline.

                      Therefore in order to stay the course, it is advisable that you keep yourself surrounded with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

                      7. Maintain a Journal

                      For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

                      So if you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

                      Use this journal to write down all essential points such as your short term, mid term and long term goals, your current sources of income, your regular expenses which you are aware of and any committed expenses which are of recurring nature.

                      When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energised to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot more easier for you to follow you and track your progress.

                      At this point, you should be ready with your financial goals and would be doing brilliantly with savings; now it’s time to talk about the big daddy – Investments.

                      Making Smart Investments

                      Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However savings when invested wisely can do wonders and we are at that stage where we will talk about making smart investments.

                      8. Consult a Financial Advisor

                      Investments doesn’t come naturally to most of us therefore rather than dabbling with it ourselves, it is wise to consult a financial advisor.

                      Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

                      9. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

                      Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about them.

                      Just like “no one is born a criminal”, no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference.

                      Do you remember we talked about bifurcating financial goals in short term and long term?

                      It is here where that classification will help.

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                      So as a general rule, for all your short term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less as compared to equity instruments.

                      10. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

                      Einstein once remarked about compounding,

                      Compound Interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.

                      So make friends with this wonder kid. And sooner you become friends with it, quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

                      Start investing early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

                      11. Measure, Measure, Measure

                      All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments; taking stock of how our investments are doing.

                      If there is one single step where everything (so far) can go wrong, it is at this step – Measuring the Progress.

                      If we don’t measure the progress timely, then we would be shooting in the dark. We wouldn’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not; whether financial advisor is doing a decent job; whether we are moving closer to our target or not.

                      Do measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

                      The Bottom Line

                      This completes the list of tips for you to set financial goals and actually achieve them with not so great difficulty.

                      As you can see, all it requires is discipline. But guess that’s the most difficult part!

                      More About Personal Finance Management

                      Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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