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Ahh, the holidays. Michael Bublé on blast, holiday drinks at Starbucks, and Christmas party hookups (we’re kidding, please stay in). The holidays will look pretty different this year with ‘rona still rampant, but regardless of how you spend it, gift-giving with friends and family is probably still on your mind. Now, we know retail therapy is real, and let’s just say 2020 is giving us even more reasons to want to fix our problems by buying things we don’t need. But before you start maxing out your credit cards and landing in that pool of tears and regret (like you did after you drunk-texted your ex, oops), make sure you’re not falling into one of the following traps this holiday shopping season.
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Mistake #1: Not Setting Your Budget Beforehand
Before you buy anything, be sure to get organized and craft your budget. Start planning out your holiday shopping by making a list of every single person you’re planning on buying a gift for and how much you are willing to spend for each of them. Then remember to include white elephant gifts, potential travel expenses, or (virtual) office parties. And of course, smaller expenses like wrapping paper, shipping fees, and decorations. They’re small, but they add up! Once you’re done making your budget, stick to it! Impulse-buying is real, we get it, but you do not want to end up spending more than you can afford. This especially applies to people who recently entered the workforce and started making money. We know it’s tempting to go all-out and splurge once that paycheck hits, but be sure to slow your roll and think savvy!
Mistake #2: Buying Gifts Last-Minute
Like that presentation you need to work on for tomorrow’s meeting (we see you procrastinating on Betches, girl), you will not be on your A-game if you wait until the last minute. Retailers know that shopping tends to spike closer to the end of the holiday season, and they often raise prices because they know buyers will be willing to drop more. To make matters worse, if you don’t shop ahead, many items may be out of stock or otherwise unavailable, which could lead you to settling with higher-priced alternatives. You don’t want the stress of having to rush to finish up your holiday shopping. Start hunting down deals right now! (Bonus: It gives you an excuse to procrastinate at work, just saying.)
Mistake #3: Overspending On Credit
If you haven’t started saving up for this holiday season, it might be tempting to just swipe your credit card and deal with the expenses later. But patience, young padawan. You do not want to end up drowning in exorbitantly high interest rates and fees or to ultimately take a hit to your credit score. It’s noble and generous to give extravagant gifts, but do not jeopardize your financial health for the sake of it! Remember that handmade gifts and sentimentality (self-care craft night, anyone?) can be just as appreciated as store-bought gifts. If you do take on debt, set strict goals to pay it off by January or February of next year—do not let those interest rates accrue!
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Mistake #4: Splurging On “Great Deals”
So you’re perusing stores looking for gifts, and you see it. 50% off the MOST FETCH handbag you’ve ever seen. Or free shipping if you spend just $10 more. Or even 10% off if you apply for a store credit card. It always feels like an opportunity we just can’t pass up! I get huge FOMO when shopping for deals, and we’ve all been guilty of spending extra when we really thought we were spending less. Retailers know how to take advantage of human psychology, and they push just the right buttons to make us buy things that we don’t really need, or even want. So this holiday season, ask yourself if you would still buy the item if it was full-price, or if your money would be better served elsewhere.
Mistake #5: Impulsive Buys
Now if you’re like me (I have definitely bought a dress because yes, I totally saw myself wearing it while eating a pain au chocolat in a cafe by the Eiffel Tower like Emily), you have also totally shoved that dress in the back of your closet, only to collect dust. Impulse-buying because we think we need the item makes us vulnerable to overspending and maxing out on our holiday budget. Stick to the 7-day rule: if you like something, think about it over the course of the week, and then act on it! You will be surprised to see how much your opinion can change when you’re out of the spending mindset.
Mistake #6: Sh*tty Gift-Giving Strategies
Like any good investment (read more on investing here), the best gifts aren’t necessarily the expensive ones—they’re the ones with high value. Before you buy a gift for someone, ask yourself: is this something they need and will use daily, or will it just end up being re-gifted? Have you taken a look at their Pinterest boards, or any of their wishlists? The best gifts are useful and high-quality; think tickets to an art museum your BFF is dying to go to (after COVID ofc!), or a standing desk extension for WFH. And also, if you are tight on cash this holiday season, consider doing a gift exchange with family, setting maximums for gift exchanges, or just planning a virtual get-together instead. Normalize that money talk!
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Mistake #7: Not Shopping Savvy
As you’re shopping for gifts, don’t take prices at face value; do your research and compare prices across retailers. Now more than ever, it’s easy to automate your deal shopping by adding a couple of browser extensions like Honey or Rakuten. Like any potential cuffing season bf/gf, be sure to shop around and compare prices before you commit! Don’t leave money on the table.
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Mistake #8: Not Planning For Next Year
If you’re like me and are just waiting for 2020 to be f*cking over, start off next year on the right foot by determining how much you will need for gifts the next holiday season. Establish a small fund early on and divide it into months, so it’s easier to manage. It’s also worthwhile to throw that moola into a high-yield savings account or a brokerage account early to earn some bank without breaking a sweat!
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Images: Ben White / Unsplash; @her.capital / Instagram
Even though more womxn are working and earning higher salaries than ever before and breaking glass ceilings all over the damn place, we’re still behind when it comes to retirement and investing—yet we live longer than men do. So what gives?
Well, a lot of the womxn I know in my life feel like they have time to wait, they can invest later when they have more available cash, after they save for a wedding, or after they pay off student loans or credit card debt. Or it’s just not that important right now. Even worse is my biggest pet peeve: that they can rely on their spouse’s 401(k). In other words, they’re contributing to their spouse’s retirement for THEIR future. Well, I’m here to tell you that in most cases, you’re wrong.
You need to be investing what you can, right now. Not only for your future self, but for your present self. So you can change things in the world, literally put your money where you mouth is (or values are), and invest in ESG or SRI stocks (aka, socially, environmentally, and ethically conscious investments). Plus, if you walk away from a marriage or a relationship, you need to have your own damn money to fall back on. Yes, you can have a healthy relationship while still prioritizing your own financial well-being.
And if you’re over there thinking you’ve got it all figured out because you have a good chunk of money in a savings account, kudos. Money in savings is a GREAT first step, but even in the highest interest savings account you can find, your money is still worth less with each passing year. The only way to combat that decreased buying power is by investing that money in something that beats the rate of inflation (which has been an average of 3.22%/year).
First, I’m going to define a few important terms I’m going to use throughout this article:
Compound Interest/Compounding Returns: Interest/returns paid on both the principal balance and on accrued interest/gains.
Retirement Accounts (SEP IRA, Roth IRA, 403b, 401k, Traditional IRA, etc): A plan for setting aside money to be spent after retirement. For the purposes of this article, the retirement accounts I refer to are all qualified retirement accounts per the IRS. Some of them help you pay less in taxes now (SEP/Traditional IRA 401k), and some help you pay less in taxes later (ROTH). For these accounts, you can’t take your money out without incurring a 10% penalty before the age of 59 ½. This is to incentivize you to keep your money in here, and not touch it until you’re actually retired (and also why I recommend also having savings accounts and non-retirement investment accounts).
Investment/Investment Account: A type of account that is post-tax, doesn’t have any long-term retirement benefits, but money can be withdrawn at any time, regardless of your age.
Inflation: A general increase in prices and fall in the purchasing value of money.
Why You Need To Invest
We’re going to talk about compound interest here for a minute. One of my strongest beliefs is that you should get retirement and investment accounts set up first, followed by a savings account. That’s because your retirement and investment accounts will generally give you an 8% average return over a 10-year period.
Now we’re going to do some math (I know, but trust me, it’s important).
If you’re 25 and invested $5,000 now, contributed $100/month to retirement for the next 40 years, and retired at 65, you’d have somewhere around $470,467.71. If you waited until you were 30, invested $5,000 and contributed $100/month for 35 years and retired at 35, you’d have $310,851.00. That’s a difference of almost $160,000, and the amount invested only decreased by $6,000 (5 years of $100/month).
Even crazier, if you’re 20 and invested $5,000, contributed $100/month for 45 years, and retired at 65, you’d have around $708,271.99!!
So when I tell you that compound interest is important and that investing something now is better than investing a larger amount in a few years, trust me on it.
How To Invest
Invest in yourself and your future right now, even if it’s only five dollars a month. Something is better than nothing, and like I talked about above, compound interest is your friend when it comes to taking care of your future self.
If you have a retirement plan offered through a job, you can start now by:
Opening a retirement (or multiple) accounts (if you don’t have access to one through a job).
If you have one through your work, you want to contribute to both a ROTH and regular option. ROTH contributions help future you with taxes, and regular/traditional pre-tax options help you with taxes.
If you’re self-employed or don’t have a retirement plan offered through a job, you can start now by:
Opening two types of retirement accounts: a ROTH and a Traditional IRA (or a SEP IRA if you’re self-employed).
You want to open and contribute to both types of accounts because post-tax ROTH contributions help future you with taxes, and regular/traditional pre-tax contributions help you now when it comes to taxes.
Whether you have a retirement plan offered through your employer or not, I recommend splitting your pre- and post-tax contributions 50/50, so if you can set aside $50/month for now, I’d send $25 to a ROTH and $25 to a Traditional account. I also recommend opening an investment account, then a savings account. I like Ellevest and Betterment.
That’s it. Your step-by-step guide to starting investing today (in like 15 minutes). You’re worth it, and the world needs more womxn investing and taking control of their financial future.
Images: Startup Stock Photos / Pexels
Sponored by Rent The Runway
Look, I know you think I should be honored and #blessed to be invited to your wedding, but in all reality here, given how much money I have to spend on your wedding, I’m pretty sure it’s actually the other way around. So like, you’re welcome for gracing you with my presence. Given how much money you’re forced to spend on the hotel, gift, etc., it’s nice to know that there’s a way to avoid spending half your paycheck on a dress you’re only going to wear once (because we all know that once an outfit has been on the ‘gram it gets banished to the back of your closet for the rest of eternity.)
Instead of shelling out money to actually buy a gown, you can just rent one of the amazing dress options from Rent The Runway. The cost of renting it is wayyy less than what your gown would retain for, and some dresses start as low as $30. This way, you can still look amazing and wear a $1,200 designer dress without spending anywhere near that. Here are some of the best dress options on Rent The Runway right now that will be perfect for attending any fall wedding.
Black Halo Naples Gown
$575 retail / 4 day rental $70-85
This yellow dress is similar to the iconic dress Kate Hudson wore in How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days, and I’m totally here for it. I mean, anything reminiscent of Kate Hudson implies an effortless beauty, which is something we’re all constantly striving for. Now, I know yellow may seem like an odd choice for fall, but hear me out. This yellow is a deep and rich enough tone that it doesn’t scream “summer,” and when paired with a cool cropped leather jacket or faux fur shawl, you’ll be perfectly stylish and seasonally-appropriate!
Catherine Deane Red Lace Lena Dress
$680 retail / 4 day rental $90-105
This lacy dress is chic and sophisticated, while also subtly sexy. The intricate details of the red lace against the nude fabric elevate this midi dress from other, more basic lace dresses. Not to mention, the red color combined with the lace gives it a flirty, feminine vibe. This is the kind of dress that demands attention and makes a statement, which is the ideal kind of dress to rent rather than buy.
ML Monique Lhuillier Midnight Lace Gown
$650 retail / $65 to buy
This tiered gown is EVERYTHING. I’m obsessed with the perfectly fall rich navy color in the baroque-adjacent lace pattern. The whole vibe of the gown is very gothic princess, but like, in the most elegant way possible. What I love about this gown is how unique it is and how it’s pretty much guaranteed to flatter all body types. You’ll legit look and feel like a princess, and who doesn’t want that?
Christian Siriano Knit Drape Dress
$1,595 retail / 4 day rental $270-280
I know this may come as a shock to you all but, as a 26-year-old Communications major who just moved out of her parents’ house, I can’t afford a Christian Siriano dress. However, I CAN afford to rent one (well barely, but that’s a personal problem). This dress is classy and conservative, making it the ideal dress for attending a wedding when it might end up being like, freezing.
Cooper Street Midnight Lucky Gown
$389 retail / 4 day rental for $70
So this is the type of glitzy gown I would have dreamed of my mom letting me get for prom, but of course there’s no way in hell she would have let me buy a $400 dress. Which like, fair, she had to use her Macy’s coupons. But now I can finally live out my prom fantasy of wearing such a gorgeous dress, just now as a wedding guest instead. And I can even do so without actually having to buy the dress! With the sequins and the silhouette, this dress is beautiful and classy, making it the ideal dress for an elevated bougie Black-tie wedding. You know, the kind with an open bar that’s fully stocked with top-shelf alcohol.
C/MEO Collective Take Seriously Dress
$198 retail / 4 day rental $30-35
Honestly, the name of this dress embodies it perfectly. It’s the type of dress you wear to a wedding where you don’t mention that you went to a Big 10 school and once did a beer bong on the roof of a frat house. This is the dress you wear to attend the formal wedding of your boyfriend’s fancy lawyer friends. Like, where you know the other women will already be judging you regardless, so you come in looking like a class act. It’s all around very Amal Clooney vibes. Plus, pleating is very in for fall, and this dress has just the right amount without being over-the-top trendy.
Slate & Willow Metallic Flounce Hem Dress
$128 retail / 4 day rental for $30
For a cocktail attire wedding, this dress is beyond perfect. The bronze color paired with long sleeves make it perfect for fall, while the metallic sheen elevates the dress and gives it a touch of trendiness. At a retail price of $128, this may seem like the type of dress you’d just blindly buy right out. But a wiser woman than you would recognize that a dress this cute is sure to be remembered, which means it’s highly unlikely you’ll wear it again. Hence, the more fiscally responsible thing to do here would be to rent it rather than buy it.
Shoshanna Navy Montrose Gown
$649 retail / $65 to buy
This gown is stunning, and even better, it’s pretty much guaranteed to flatter everyone. The keyhole cutout and fitted silhouette give it a touch of sex appeal without being over-the-top. But the best part is probably the fluttery off-the-shoulder sleeves, which always give the illusion of perfect arms without even having to strike the “skinny arm” pose. The midnight color plus minimal mock turtleneck give it just the right amount of fall-appropriate vibes.
When the rental price of your RTR gown costs a fraction of the retail value, you’re guaranteed to look incredible while also making a smart financial decision. Even though you would usually justify buying the dress by claiming you’ll wear it again, we all know that’s a lie. And realistically, you’re probs too lazy to even attempt to resell it. So save yourself the buyer’s remorse and utilize Rent The Runway’s amazing selection of wedding guest dresses. Plus, you can even get 30% off everything on Rent The Runway (including their monthly subscription to Unlimited and Update memberships too) if you use code: RTRXBETCHES.
30% Off Everything on Rent the Runway (that includes Unlimited and Update memberships too!) use code: RTRXBETCHES
Images: Naku Mayo / Unsplash; Rent The Runway (8)
“Broke college student” is a stereotype for a reason. Many of us don’t have jobs, or if we do, we’re being paid minimum wage. Tuition, books, room and board, and everything else
our parents we have to pay for are f*cking expensive. But there’s good news, too. College students are the future. The tremendous power we hold can and should be exploited! Brands know this, and companies view universities as the perfect test market, a place of young tastemakers whose opinions matter. We are as relevant as we’ll ever be in college, and it’s up to us to take advantage of that. And that means finessing as much free sh*t as we possibly can before our powerful student status runs out. If you’re wondering how your friend with under 1,000 followers is able to post #ad on her latest Instagram, or simply looking to save money, here are six ways to make money and get things for free in college.
1. Become A Campus Brand Ambassador
The days of being an unrealistically hot Instagram model in order to be an ambassador are long behind us. Today, the standard for entry is lower—MUCH lower. Companies are on the quest of gaining brand awareness. They’re increasingly willing to pay or give free sh*t to students to be campus representatives. Free bar tabs, merchandise, and even food can be major perks that come with being a rep. Your feed is probably sprinkled with
subtle yellow Bumble hats, #Beanoutsider, and #Aeriereal captions. However you choose to embark on your ambassador career, make the most of it! Becoming an ambassador is as easy as sliding in a brand’s DMs on Instagram or applying to be part of the ambassador directly through their website.
2. Be A Notetaker
Are you literate? Do you attend classes? Do you have a laptop? If you answered yes to these three questions, which I sure hope you did, you’re qualified to be a notetaker! By being a student notetaker, you can make hundreds of dollars for your class notes by the end of the semester. Make money for something you would be doing anyway! Whether it’s through an academic center to help someone who is actually unable to take notes, or a
dumb rich douche who doesn’t show up to class—money is money! There are general platforms, like OneClass, that let you apply to online, or you can reach out to your campus’s version of the Student Accessibility Services Department to see which classes are in need of notetakers.
3. Join A Research Study
I’m not talking about a Stanford Prison-type experiment. You won’t be locked up by some power-hungry fraternity dude or forced to do anything that requires crazy bodily commitment. I mean you can volunteer to be a test subject for various surveys and in-person studies on campus. Often times you can find out about these studies via flyers posted around campus hubs or by simply searching online for “research opportunities” at your university.
There are some really low-key research studies, and some are actually pretty fun. Payment for participation varies depending on the study and level of commitment. But honestly, any added value to your college bank account is worth it. For example, I made $300 just for talking about my feelings for two hours. It was like the therapist was paying ME for once. Win-win!
4. Pocket Points
Sitting in class. Texting your ex retracting the drunken Snapchats you sent. Making eye contact with the professor every few minutes to make it seem like you’re paying attention. Typical lecture behavior.
We’ve all done it, but if every few classes you feel guilty for having learned nothing, you’re in luck. Pocket points is an app that gives you rewards for turning your phone off during class. You just have to open the app while you’re on campus, then lock your phone. A few hours of actually paying attention and you can earn points. Points can be redeemed at a variety of local stores, restaurants, and even Lyft. What’s better motivation than that?
5. Student Discounts
Beyond a great education, the second most valuable thing your tuition gets you is a little plastic card, aka your student ID. Not only is your ID a lifeline to school, it also often gets you at least 10 percent off at salons, clothing stores, restaurants—you get my drift. You’ll either have to flash the merchant your student ID, enter a student email, or login through UNiDAYS to get the deals. But seriously, a sh*t-ton of places offer student discounts, you just have to do a little digging to find them. Hoooowever, since you didn’t read this whole thing to be shortchanged on intel, here’s some places I know off-hand* that give student discounts:
Clothes: Madewell, J. Crew, Steve Madden, Urban Outfitters, Toms, H&M, ASOS
Workout: Corepower Yoga, SoulCycle
Media: Wall Street Journal, New York Times
Tech: HBO, Apple Music, Spotify, Adobe Software, Amazon Prime
Transportation: Student Universe, Amtrak
Food: Dairy Queen, Arby’s, Chipotle, Buffalo Wild Wings
*Sometimes, participation may vary by location, but I haven’t had any problems with this list thus far!
As you can see, student status presents a multitude of opportunities for capitalization! Be creative, think outside the box, and reach out to random brands you love. Hell, maybe become an ~elusive~ female club promoter. Society values
its ability to exploit youth and for the next four years, we’re here to provide it.
Images: Joel Mott / Unsplash; Giphy (2)