Friday, March 15, 2019

5 Ways to be Financially Chic

I thought it was about time for a money post today.  Even though I don’t write about money a lot, it’s one of my favourite topics to ponder.

Back in the day I was all about living frugally.  When my husband and I first started working together in our retail footwear business we were b-r-o-k-e.  Not broke-broke, I mean we could still buy food, but we both our incomes dropped severely to get our business off the ground and we watched every cent like a hawk and read the supermarket specials each week like nobody’s business.  We made an art form out of finding free things to do and it’s a lucky thing we both love spending time at home – our little rented place was our sanctuary back then.

Even when we were able to let the purse strings out a little, we were still in that thrift mindset.  We carried on and saved up a deposit on our house at the same time as paying off our business loan.  Once the business loan was paid off we bought a house with that deposit.  Then, and I still can’t believe we did it, we paid off our home in less than five years.  (If you’d like to read more about this, my book ‘Financially Chic’ on Amazon goes more in depth).

Somewhere about that time I discovered the concept of having an abundance mindset; that to only pinch pennies was not the final answer.  I now have a very happy balance of frugality and abundance, and this is something I tailor-made for myself because it didn’t feel right for me to be either one or the other.  And that’s how I came up with the term ‘financially chic’.  It’s about being a good steward of your money and living in a way that is low-stress because you’re not worrying about your finances, but also of living a life of beauty, ease and pleasure.

In that spirit, allow me to share with you my top five ways to live financially chic a la Fifi:

One. Talk positively about money and finances

As much as possible I endeavour to keep thoughts around abundance and money high.  I try not to judge people for spending lavishly and trust that there is enough for everyone.

Some believe that money is like air – you don’t gulp in great lungfuls of air because you’re scared it is going to run out, and you don’t chastise others for taking too much.  It’s an interesting concept, isn’t it?  I remind myself of that when I start feeling panicky because of something like a large bill that’s just come in.

Two. Replace shopping with other hobbies and pastimes

When I used to shop for leisure, it impacted my finances severely.  I was spending as much as I was earning so was never getting ahead.  At that time I was paid monthly and the balance of my entire pay after rent and other expenses went on the credit card not long after I received it each month.  And it’s not even like I was getting that much pleasure from shopping either, it was just a weekend habit I’d gotten into.

Nowadays I might shop for something I need, otherwise I’ll enjoy meeting friends for a dog walk or a coffee, do some writing, sewing or organising at home, or get my shopping fix by menu planning for the week and shopping for my groceries in a leisurely way.  I make better food choices when I am in a relaxed frame of mind too.  When I do buy something like clothes for the new season, or a pair of new sunglasses (which I did last weekend!) I enjoy it so much more and appreciate what I've bought too, because it's not an everyday occurance.

Three. Make home a fun and nice place to be

This could tag onto point number two nicely – imagine if instead of going shopping on a Saturday afternoon you decided to makeover your home instead – a makeover-lite.  For me it this would entail tidying up the main living areas and our bedroom, then adding homemaker touches such as candles, a couple of new magazines displayed, bottles of sparkling water on the kitchen counter and stylish music playing.

My point of reference is always a boutique five-star hotel, so I think how I can recreate that at home and make it feel like I am checking in for the weekend.  When you make the most of your home, you are saving money in two ways – by not going out and spending it, and also by making the most of the money you are already spending on your home (rent/mortgage etc), plus you are creating a beautiful space that you can enjoy every day, not just for the one evening you go out for an expensive dinner, say.  Why not organise a dinner party while you’re at it?  It doesn’t need to be expensive; serve something you’re good at and have fun with your family and/or friends.

Speaking of dinner, I dreamed last night that I went out to dinner by myself at a very fancy hotel restaurant and decided to order whatever I wanted off the menu.  I remember a bottle of champagne that was $1,200… Throughout the dinner the waiter kept coming over to check that I knew how expensive it was going to be with everything I was ordering, and I said yes, thank you, that's fine.  The bill came to $4,798 – yes I recall the numbers – and I was so glad when I woke up that it was only a dream – I just saved myself almost $5,000! If anyone has dream analysis skills, please enlighten me :)

Four. Plan no cost outings (or ‘innings’)

As with dinner-at-home-with-friends, there are tons of things you can do that don’t cost money (or much money anyway).  Just as you can get into the habit of going to things that cost such as concerts, dinners out, skating, bowling etc, you can get into the habit of doing low- or no-cost activities.

Some of my favourites are taking a picnic to a public park or beach (or the winter equivalent, the carpet picnic which is so much fun), getting a stack of books and magazines from the library instead of a retail store, a games night with friends, a movie night at home, dinner parties (pot luck if you want) and afternoon tea (the image on this post is at my aunty's house - she hosted her own ladies afternoon tea for her birthday recently).

Five. Insource something you currently outsource

Think about all the things you pay someone else to do and see if you really value the service or if you aren’t fussed that much.  Is there one thing you could take on yourself without much deprivation?  Some things, I LOVE having done or can’t easily do them myself.

I now have a weekly cleaning service which I would go without other things for, because my ladies do such a great job whereas I can procrastinate a whole day away on a few hours of housework.  I also love having my hair done every couple of months, but for everything else I do it myself – facials, nails, waxing my legs.  I actually prefer to do these things myself, it feels more luxurious to do them at home.

It will be different for everyone, so make a list of your outsourcings and see if you love them all or if you can save some money effortlessly.

And that’s what it’s all about for me – not feeling deprived.  Compared to others, I still live a very frugal life, but I feel so abundant every single day.  I am grateful for everything I have, I don’t take things for granted and I don’t like to waste money.

I hope my five tips have sparked off some ideas for you, and please tell me, what’s your favourite way to feel financially chic?

And if you’d like to read more of my thoughts on feeling abundant on little money, please visit my book ‘Financially Chic’ on Amazon and read the free sample to see if it might be a contender for your Kindle library or bookshelf at home.  My aim with this book is to inspire you, the reader, to feel differently about money and personal finance - to view it as fun and exciting and not scary at all.  I want to inspire you to change your financial life for the better and it totally is possible, because I've done it myself!


PS.  Thank you for all of your thoughtful comments regarding videos versus written posts.  I plan to do a mix going forward, because I love doing both.  I know from videos I have watched of others, I have enjoyed getting to know them more.

Transcripts are just not viable for me at the moment sadly; it would simply take me too long to do myself and I haven’t found a transcription service that picks up on my accent well (and doesn’t cost a fortune as well).

When I do a video I will try and remember to do a few notes while the topic is still fresh in my mind so that if you don’t want to watch the video, you can still get value from my posting.

For me, I prefer to read too, but I listen to YouTube videos on my phone while I’m tidying the house, weeding the garden, going for a walk, washing the dishes, chopping the vegetables...  It passes the time quicker and I learn something new.

Perhaps you could put your headphones in and listen to my videos that way if you don’t have the time to sit and watch one?  After all, it’s just talking, I’m not actually showing you anything so you can happily listen along and not miss out on any visual action.

Also, I have started a new book!  No details just yet but know I am writing, yay!  I always feel so energized with a new project, it’s a wonderful feeling!



  1. Hi Fiona! I really loved this post. I have mentioned before to you how much I too love the topic of personal finance (being an accountant). Nothing makes me feel more in control of my life, chic and organized like sitting down each day with a cup of tea and updating my banking and budget. I actually enjoy this process and it feels like I'm on top of things. When it comes to spending habits, I feel like knowledge is power. So many people like to keep their head in the sand when it comes to their spending habits. People always tell me....Oh I don't want to know what I spend on groceries, or kids activities...etc. I think one of the most important things in being financially chic as you say, is tracking your spending. That way you can make informed, stress-free decisions because you know where you stand. LOVE this topic!!!! (: I could go on and on. I'd love to continue this discussion if you feel inspired to do more posts on this topic (:
    Happy Weekend Fiona!

  2. Sending positive energy to you and your fellow New Zealanders on this dark day.
    You have some great ideas here. I quit buying clothes for a year...and one year turned into three. I work from home, wear the same things all the time and have a very full closet. It is liberating to do other things than shopping for leisure. And to spend on other things than clothes I don't need but would buy because of a desire to be on trend or wanting something fresh.
    Thanks for the tip about listening to the videos. I love podcasts for mental stimulation while doing housework or exercising, and you're right--no reason not to listen to your videos that way.

  3. Thank you for an interesting post Fiona. I think that it is important for all of us to think about how we spend money. It is also important that we are aware of our financial situation and where documents are kept. I was widowed at a young age and found it difficult to deal with all the paperwork that my husband had dealt with. It is a good idea for both partners to sit down and go through their paperwork together so that they are both aware of expenses, location of important documents, contact details for bank etc. Please learn by my lack of knowledge at a time when I had a lot of difficult things to deal with.

  4. Hi Fiona, thank you for the promise to post notes as well as a video. I am hard of hearing and could not listen to your videos on headphones (whilst indulging in chic activities) as I would need to watch your lips, too. The closed captions help (I LOVE subtitles) but they are actually quite annoying (sea-sicky feeling) when they appear word by word instead of in full sentences (I appreciate this is not your fault.)
    Is there any chance you could post, in writing, your 6 tips from the last video?

  5. Hi Fiona, You're on my favorite topic again! Personal finance geek here :) I like your tips and use most of them myself. For at least a decade now I've kept an expense sheet that line items where all our money goes on a monthly and yearly basis. I update it about once a month and also shop for cheaper insurance yearly. We haven't had any debt in so long, it would be very strange to have it now, I feel very spoiled. We've paid off our home (like you - excellent!), buy cars in cash and keep them forever (my husbands is 18 yrs. old but mine is still new at 4 yrs. old) - and this is in L.A. where image and keeping up with Joneses is everything, it's awful. Retirement accounts are fully funded every year, although I do wish we had done this in our early 20's. My nemesis is eating out... I'm working on this one ;) Right before the U.S. Great Recession hit, I did a comprehensive accounting of every thing we spend money on and got a handle on our financial house. It was such an incredible feeling to slash our bills, I called so many companies and cancelled so many unnecessary things, it was liberating. The book, "The Millionaire Next Door" changed my mindset and we practice "stealth wealth."

    For instant financial chic, I go out to my garden and fill up our vases with greenery and flowers from our garden - you can't beat free, simple luxuries!


  6. "Somewhere about that time I discovered the concept of having an abundance mindset; that to only pinch pennies was not the final answer. I now have a very happy balance of frugality and abundance, and this is something I tailor-made for myself because it didn’t feel right for me to be either one or the other. ".....

    I love this! You put it so succinctly. It's very hard to be all or nothing on either side and a good balance is key.

  7. This post was so inspiring Fiona! You made me want to hunker down at home and find more pleasures there. Thank you.

  8. Another inspiring post, Fiona! I especially appreciated #2 "Replace shopping with other hobbies and pastimes" as I used to shop when I was bored. I spent a lot of unnecessary money and kept us in debt for really no reason at all. You're so right that when you spend less time shopping, and then you DO shop for something needed, like new clothes or shoes, or the occasional treat, like a new book, you enjoy it so much more because it's not an everyday occurrence. Additionally, by spending your time doing other things, you have the joy of strengthening a relationship, doing some good in the world, or creating something with your time, rather than wasting it on mindless shopping.

  9. Great (and timely) post once again. Sending love to New Zealand xo

  10. Great post ! Kudos to you for creating the life you wanted by being frugal when it counted and enjoying life, too! My husband and I did the same thing for 42 years of marriage. Cut coupons, shopped for bargains, ate at home, went to the second run cheap movies, even used our tea bags twice...and friends would make fun of us. But...after all that saving we now are retired and can easily afford wonderful trips and living in a retirement community with lots of amenities with no worries. We still shop at the discount grocery, clip the coupons, and when other travel south for months at a time to avoid the winter, we relish it....enjoy our home, our fire, and time to read. Sending all of New Zealand good thoughts and prayers as you deal with the tragedy.


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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