Money & Power
How to Be a Smart Shopaholic
Style and spending guidelines for the constant shopper.
IMAGE COLLAGE Yzabella Cruz
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Given that you haven’t won the European lotto, there are certain maxims that are good to keep in mind while shopping for shoes, brand-name bags with all the decorative hardware, designer gowns, first editions, vintage wines, and other life-saving devices of this sort.
    
The fastest route to being a good shopper (not necessarily a great one; that’s reserved for people like Jackie O) is to put yourself in the hands of a good couturier for a couple of years preferably before you turn 30. The reason for this is so that you’ll learn your good points (narrow hips, small waist, long legs, long neck, etc.) or bad points (piano legs, flat chest, uneven skin tones) and how to use the good to advantage and downplay the bad.

It’s much more interesting to buy a luxury label top and pair it with another designer’s trousers or even something you picked up at Target.

Under his tutelage you will learn what colors suit you best, what lines complement your figure, what angle of your face should favor a camera. He will direct you to a good makeup artist, show you where to find great accessories, and the best bargains to be had.

Depending on how much you’ve managed to absorb you are now ready to venture out on your own. It will be clear to you by now that a sexy branded shirt may be on sale for a song but it makes you look even shorter because the print cuts your figure. Anyone less than 5’5” should keep this in mind; stick to monochromatic colors and simple prints.

Expensive doesn’t necessarily mean elegant. Wearing Prada or Chanel from top to bottom—and it’s been known to happen—is gauche. It’s much more interesting to buy a luxury label top and pair it with another designer’s trousers or even something you picked up at Target. An item of clothing cut well will automatically fall properly and will not fail to complement you.

Expensive doesn’t necessarily mean elegant. Wearing Prada or Chanel from top to bottom—and it’s been known to happen—is gauche.

We may not have a Garment District in this country but we certainly have more than a handful of good couturiers and any number of excellent modistas. In the event that you have a favorite dress, pair of trousers, or blouse that is falling apart from overuse and you failed to buy more than one of them (two is good, three is even better), you could find the same material or the closest equivalent and have it taken apart to be copied perhaps even in different colors.

While the fashion may dictate huge tote bags as de rigueur, bear in mind again that you need height to carry it off. What’s the use of having everyone know you can afford the latest designer bag when it makes you look like a bag lady? In a word, don’t be a fashion victim. Because something is in fashion doesn’t necessarily mean it will look good on you.

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Experts caution that cardholders should not spend more than what they can quickly repay, and that credit-card spending ought to be part of an overall spending plan.

All bets are off when it comes to diamonds, rubies, or pearls. On this score, if you’re wearing the Kohinoor it doesn’t matter if you’re a midget. Nobody would notice the rest of you anyway, and you wouldn’t care if they did.                                                                              
Befriend thy plastic
By now it is conventional wisdom that your credit card could be your best friend or your worst enemy. Similarly, “Use your credit card wisely” is the main injunction that should guide all cardholders.

Financial experts cite Three Commandments to deliver you in the path of wise credit-card use. Pursue these with single-minded determination to ensure that your name doesn’t land on an infamous blacklist. Credit cards grant you spending power but not money, so do:

1. Know the interest rates. Rewards like free miles and cash rebates are well and good—but only if you judiciously pay off monthly balances. Experts say it’s best to shop around for the best rates by checking the annual percentage rate (APR) rather than just the nominal rate so that you know how far you want to go. Is the interest computed based on your outstanding balance or on your average daily balance? Knowing these could find you the card that best suits your payment capacities.

2. Pay in full. Merely paying the minimum could mean you’re biting off more than you can chew. A balance of P100,000, with a 3.5 percent monthly rate and a 5 percent minimum payment would take you an entire year and 9 months to pay off. Experts caution that cardholders should not spend more than what they can quickly repay, and that credit-card spending ought to be part of an overall spending plan.

3. Pay on time, all the time. Put off most everything else except settling your credit card bills. Late payments can hurt you with penalties and charges, and who needs that? If tardiness can’t be helped because the city was chest deep in water on due date—and if you’ve generally been a good cardholder—you’re likely to get a reprieve if you ask for it.

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Bambi L. Harper
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Jocelyn de Jesus
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