(Weddings) - The Perfect Dress Part 3: Designer Knock-offs

Wedding dresses are expensive… there is no other way to put it but on your dream day it’s also something completely worth it.

To be completely honest I hated the entire thought of dress shopping – the cost, finding the right style, the right fit – and my first attempt at finding a dress was anything but a success. 

That being said I turned by experience around and learned a ton of ways to save money depending on your dream dress wish list.

In Part 3 we cover an often controversial area - designer knock-off dresses - a cheap alternative to the 'real' thing.

(Part 1: Preloved Dresses)

(Part 2: Discount Bridal Season)

Designer Knock-offs

This is a category that many people have strong view points on.  There are lots of companies (mainly China based) that sell designer styles for a fraction of the price – the reason being quality and it’s something to be very careful of.

I looked at this option quite extensively as I have a dear friend who went this route for her dress and it was stunning – it was a process that definitely worked for her so I can’t discount it completely but it wasn’t a route I was willing to take especially since I wanted lace, quality lace.

There are endless styles – many made by more than one manufacturer but you need to carefully read the reviews, make sure they have sold hundreds of the dress you are looking at with feedback confirming that what you see is what you get.

They use designer photos but that’s not exactly what you get – I’ve heard stories of colours being wrong or material being cheap looking and feeling.  The biggest issue however is also size – your dress is made to order so if your measurements are off or theirs are then you might be left with less of what you’re looking for.

As I mentioned however, people do have success so if you have the time and are willing to have a back up plan ‘just in case’ then this might be the route for you.

The discounts are the biggest with this route as well so there is much to be gained if it all works out.

 

(Money) - Bargains and Bucks – Your Guide to Online Buying and Selling

We all have a lot of stuff – after all we live in a very materialistic society. 

That being said, recently there has been a shift in perception from wanting to have to wanting to be – to be free from stuff dictating and cluttering our lives.

So what better way to make a little cash than to sell that, which is no longer serving a purpose in our life?  You might consider something trash but to someone else it is quite often a treasure – a treasure that you can make a few bucks on.

Many people find obscure or vintage things they’ve been wanting on eBay – a few years ago I found a vintage 1980’s Optimus Prime there for my husband– something he often fondly talked about having in his childhood – it was a wonderful surprise for him.  To think someone was still holding on to this after so many years and just decided to sell it.  To me.  Everything has a buyer.

I’ve only had a few experiences buying (never selling) on eBay so I’ll leave the specifics of that to others out there – many resources found with a quick google search.

Still, I have had much success selling on Gumtree – the local online buy and sell here in Australia.  Similar to Craigslist and Kajiji in North America, Gumtree provides a space for people to connect in their area to find or trade almost anything including jobs, services and rentals.

There is even a free section where some awesome things can be found if you’re willing to watch the site closely and are ready to act quickly.

My husband thinks I’m a bit of a gumtree addict but I have to proudly admit I have gotten some amazing deals on things we needed and also sold things we didn’t – often times at a profit.

The best part is – it really doesn’t take much time. 

When I’m looking to buy something it’s best to have a clear picture on what you want and then watch the ads for a week or so and see where the price point for that item lies.  This is the best way I find to determine how much I am willing to pay for an item – sometimes free if I see the same thing consistently being posted in the free category.

For our wedding, my husband and I wanted a sit down dinner at one large table for our 30 guests.  We held the wedding in our backyard and therefore needed to source tables to make this happen.  I kept seeing free outdoor tables on Gumtree for free and since we had some time to make it happen we managed to acquire 3 large tables (exactly what we needed) with very little effort and with no cost other than our time to pick them up.  I consider this a win.

I also picked up a queen bed for our spare bedroom from a lovely woman who was moving to another city – it was free and from our guest reviews, also very comfortable.  We still have it.

Over the holiday season we had extra guests and were looking to add a futon to our home office.  I kept an eye on what was out there – prices ranging generally from $50-$100.  When I saw an add for what we needed in quality condition for only $30 I jumped and was once again successful.

The trick is to know both the typical asking price and what you’re willing to pay – for some this might be a bit more but I generally love a great bargain and am willing to wait on it.

Lately, I’ve also become quite adept at selling (on Gumtree specifically) as well.  Once again the same principle applies – understand the price point.  I find with just a bit of ad watching it’s easy to track – you also always have the option set a price and include the option of negotiation so you don’t lose the interest of buyers who perhaps want to pay a little less.

Again, be confident in what you will accept and be willing to say know at the people who negotiate a price that’s barely worth entertaining.

It’s even better if you have the time to wait on a sale.

Just yesterday I had a response to an ad I posted a month ago and had almost forgotten about.  I haven’t made the sale yet but it’s all lined up for tomorrow.

I also love getting more value for an item than what I paid – again; in some cases people value things differently.

I had a long bench seat from the wedding that I posted and almost immediately started getting responses.  I posted it at $10 more than what we paid and from the interest saw that I probably could have asked for more and still sold it but was happy with what I got.

Oh, and that futon I mentioned above – we recently moved and no longer had space for it so I sold it on the same site I bought it – at a profit of $50.

My gains/ losses on Gumtree is currently at about $55 in profit which doesn’t include things I still have that were received for free.

I’ve heard from people that it can be a bit of a hassle and people are often flaky but I haven’t had any issue with this, do the right thing and take your ads down when they’ve sold and everything will work out just fine.

It’s not going to make big bucks but it’s a fun little game that I play to clear my space of excess stuff and gain a little money for a nice dinner out or a few coffees at the local café.

There are also many specialty Facebook pages or forums to sell more specific items including Lululemon apparel and Crossfit gear to name a few I am a part of.  A quick search and I’m sure you’ll find something that works for you.

What’s your favorite online buy/sell resource?  What bargains have you found or great sales have you made? Let us know in the comments.

(Weddings) - The Perfect Dress Part 2: Discount Bridal Season

Wedding dresses are expensive… there is no other way to put it but on your dream day it’s also something completely worth it.

To be completely honest I hated the entire thought of dress shopping – the cost, finding the right style, the right fit – and my first attempt at finding a dress was anything but a success. 

That being said I turned by experience around and learned a ton of ways to save money depending on your dream dress wish list.

In Part 2 we look into Discount Bridal Season, or end of year shopping a way to save big money on the sales rack. 

(Part 1:  Preloved Dresses)

Discount Bridal Season

If you’re lucky enough with timing you can find end of season sales at your local bridal shops.  This was the route I stumbled upon and found the dress of my dreams. 

I was shopping in June; the end of the fiscal year here in Australia and much to my surprise when I booked into a store many had recommended it was their sample sale.  All dresses on the rack were 50% off.

It’s a bit tricky to find a style you love in a size that fits.  I tried on many dresses and was about to walk away empty handed but on my way out I somehow spotted the dress I had been imagining all along – and in a size for me.  More luck was definitely involved.

I tried it on quickly and off I ran to the next booking I’d made where I had zero luck – the only thing in my mind was that dress.  It was the dress for me.   It’s true that when you know, you know.  I bought it then and there.

Along with luck in style/ size you also have to buy these dresses then and there so that’s something to be prepared for.  There are no holds or payment plans, it’s definitely first come first served.  Also, as the dresses have been tried on numerous times there may be some imperfections that a new dress would not have but that comes with the price – my lace gown had a few holes and some minor pulling but with a solid seamstress doing my alterations and some time it looked like brand new on my big day.

(Wellness) - Buying Fruit and Vegetables on a Budget

I often hear people exclaim "it's expensive to eat healthy" or some variation there of but yet I find with a little variance from the norm it's really not that hard to save some money and eat not only healthy but fresh and in season as well.

If you’re looking to save a bit on your weekly shop definitely leave those expensive and often imported fruits and vegetables on the shelves in your local large chain grocery store and find a market near by and if not a true farmers market then search for your local independent stores that will often source their produce from nearby farms.

It’s often a benefit to become a regular at whatever market or small store of your choice and get to know the vendors.  Often they are the best resource on what’s in season, what’s on special and at times even open to bartering or throwing in an extra bag of something for you as well.

For several years I would go to the Fremantle markets that are open only on weekends and public holidays.  I quickly learned that midday or later on a Sunday became the best time to go, as they needed to discount their wares to sell them or risk having to toss them away. 

There are always great deals to be had and my local guy became a market friend who would always give me 8 for $10 rather than the standard 7.  Produce was bagged up and prices clearly marked which meant it was never a guessing game as to how much an item would weigh in the $/kg category.

It became a weekly habit for me and now that I have moved further away I often miss it and go still when I can.  That guy, he still remembers me.

Relationships through going local make a market trip both a fun adventure and a source of stocking up for the week ahead.

I’ve have now found another local market that’s bustling on Saturday mornings – I add it to my schedule as I find when I miss it I’m off balance for the rest of the week and have to resort to the lesser quality and selection at my local big chain.

I’ll add a bit of a disclaimer that we are extremely blessed here in Perth, Western Australia to have yearly farmers markets that bring us locally grown produce that’s in season. 

I understand that not all cities will be like this and maybe you only have a local market during spring and summer or it’s monthly rather than weekly – regardless of where you are I bet if you dug around a little bit you can find something that suits.

Eating with a bit of planning and a sense of adventure can be both fun and inexpensive.

Where do you love to buy your fruit and veggies?  Is there somewhere in your city that’s a favorite?  Comment below and let me know all your secret gardens.

(Weddings) - The Perfect Dress Part 1: Preloved Dresses

Wedding dresses are expensive… there is no other way to put it but on your dream day it’s also something completely worth it.

To be completely honest I hated the entire thought of dress shopping – the cost, finding the right style, the right fit – and my first attempt at finding a dress was anything but a success. 

That being said I turned by experience around and learned a ton of ways to save money depending on your dream dress wish list.

In Part 1 we cover buying a preloved dress – people these days are less sentimental and therefore willing to sell their used dress rather than having it sit in a closet for many years to come.

Preloved Dresses

A quick google search for “used wedding dress” will pop up an endless list of places to look into.

One that I loved was Still White Australia, the largest online marketplace for preowned, used and second hand wedding dresses.  I spent hours searching through their pages but at the end of the day nothing that I loved was close by (I wanted to be able to try the dress on in person before buying) so I found another route to save a ton on my dress.

Gumtree (or Craigslist in North America) is another option and many times risk free if you’re able to try the dress on in advance which many people do allow.

If you’re looking to save a bit of cash and have no qualms about wearing a preloved dress then this might be the path for you to walk down.

If you’re buying preloved online and having it shipped to you then there is a risk in the quality/ unseen damage that may come with your choice though some of the bigger online market places have a form a guarantee against this happening – you might also be off on size/ style for your shape so it’s still best to shop around in local stores to nail these things down in advance.

Part 2: Discount Bridal Season (to come)

Part 3: Designer Knock-offs (to come)

(Money) - The Internet in your Home

The internet, something we often take for granted these days as it’s always at our fingertips. The only time it seems to concern us at all is if there is an outage or perhaps if it’s being ridiculously slow (welcome to Australia!)

Often times we move into a place and one of our first calls after the gas and electricity company is to our internet provider of choice and month after month the set amount rolls out of our account to keep us connected.

I ask you this – when was the last time you looked at your usage? 

Each company will have a way to find this – generally their tool box of choice will show by month how much of that allowed data you have been consuming on your home network (same goes for your mobile phone as well but I’ll touch on that bill in a later post).

It was only about a year ago that I checked out my bill in just this way and I was surprised by both the changes in my allotted data (increased) and the amount I actually used (not much change).  The difference between the two however was huge.  I was using just a fraction of what I could have been.

Now knowing my usage was very unlikely to fluctuate much I realized that I could easily change my plan (and for no cost) and reduce my monthly spending by $10 per month. 

While ten dollars doesn’t sound like much – merely the price of a couple of coffees here in Perth – over a year it’s $120 – and that was just reviewing one bill.  I was paying more than I should have been and had no idea until I looked a bit further.

It’s far too easy to set up a plan and pay the monthly fee through direct deposit without giving it another thought but over time things change – plans increase, usage changes, options increase.

So I ask you – look at your bill and see what you’re paying for that you’re not even using, is there any way to minimize your payment and still get exactly what you want/need?  Let me know in the comments what you find – it might just help someone else in return.

(Weddings) You're Engaged... Now What?

So You’re Engaged… Now What?

A quick google search of the above will lead you down a rabbit hole with list after list of what you should do immediately, what you shouldn’t do and what you don’t know among many other alarmist headings.

You might not know any of those things but you don’t need to.

The first and most important thing you need to do is to savour the moment with your partner – it only (hopefully) happens once in a lifetime and the best thing to do is to be present and enjoy your happiness.

Often this gets overlooked in the rush to call family and friends, to update your status on facebook and post a photo of the ring. 

Stop.

Breathe.

Take just a moment for yourself, the rest will come in time.

Then in your excitement jump into the rest – telling everyone in whatever way you choose.

Call family or friends, send emails and photos, update facebook (if you choose) or shout from the rooftops.  There is no right or wrong way to tell those you love, do what feels right for you.

Most of all, enjoy these moments – a step into the next bit life adventure.

You’re Engaged… enjoy every minute.