Tiffany Aliche makes being frugal fun, fanciful and fabulous. She can help you look like you just walked out of a store on Rodeo Drive or Fifth Avenue and barely break a twenty. Yes, you read that right. This is a woman who, when she was making just $35,000 a year as a pre-school teacher, saved more than $40,000 in two years. She is a person who traveled to over 14 countries last year and spent less than $4,000 total — for all 14 countries.
Who is this person? She is called “The Budgetnista,” the fun financial friend who’s guested and/or been written about on MSNBC, USA Today, Black Enterprise and Essence magazine.
Admit it: we like financial constraints about as much as we like walking into a port-a-potty in middle of August. But Aliche is a person who has somehow made budgeting fashionable and hip. Usually, getting financial advice is about as exciting as scrubbing your kitchen floor with a toothbrush. But @TheBudgetnista has turn it into a participatory sport. And she wants to teach you how she plays the game – and win.
“Being ‘The Budgetnista’ is not about money. I want to teach you to live a richer life. I want you to get out of the mindset that, like, ‘I don’t have enough, I don’t have enough.’ It should be ‘how do we make your lifestyle enough with the money you are already making?’ It has nothing to do with what you make. It’s what you think about money and how you respond to it.”
TheBudgetnista has broken down the art of frugality – yet live a fulfilling, purposeful life – to such a science that she should walk out of her home with a lab coat and a clipboard.
So, sweep away the clutter that’s clogging up your brain, sit down with an open mind, and read what TheBudgetnista has to say:
“First of all, if you don’t have enough, you’re going to have to take down your pride and use unconventional means to get [premium products and clothes],” The Budgetnista begins. “Once you get over your pride, then you go to a thrift store. That’s where all my friends and I shop now. I can’t remember the last time I went to a department store. You can go to a thrift store and get stuff for $10-20 dollars and then get them tailored for another $10-$20. But every time I step out people are like ‘oh, wow, where did you get that from?”
Not only does TheBudgetnista dress like she’s a member of Beyonce’s entourage, she applied the same concept to your home and furniture. [But that’s for part II of The Budgetnista interview].
Okay … so I’ve swallowed my thick pride without choking and gagging, and put consignment and thrift stores on my mental radar. But thrift stores don’t ever carry good stuff, do they?
“Wrong,” TheBudgetnista proclaims with authority. She enumerates the ways you can benefit and look good with mathematical precision:
- “The best places to go to are thrift stores are in wealthy neighborhoods. Because wealthy people throw away new and great stuff all the time,” the New Jersey native instructs with the patience of a pre-school teacher, which, she was once.
- Fire up the internet, The Budgetnista says, to locate multiple thrift stores in proximity or adjacent to elite communities. “If [for example] the town is Beverly Hills, then go to the thrift store in the town over because that neighboring town is going to get that overflow of good clothes. I’ve gotten stuff like Christian Dior. My sister [Carol Aniche] got a Hermes scarf, which is normally like $300-$500,” she says. But that’s not all, TheBudgetnista testifies. Her sister, who owns Retro Fitted, just casually grabbed the scarf for something to protect her head during workouts. It turned out that it was a limited edition Hermes that was sold during the Los Angeles Olympics in the 1980s. When the sister took it to the department store, they not only told her it was authentic Hermes, but that it was worth $700. The cost to TheBudgetnista’s sister: $2.50, as in two dollars and 50 cents.
- The first time in a thrift store might be overwhelming, so The Budgenista suggests starting out simple. “The easiest thing to get from the thrift store is a coat. My friend got a fur coat from the thrift store for $50. And you know that fur coats don’t cost $50.” she says. “My sister jokes that getting her clothes tailored cost more than the clothes themselves. But she looks great. She was mad that she spent $2.00 on a dress and had to spend $10 on a tailor.”
- The Budgetnista recently conducted a seminar for “Dress For Success”, a national organization that helps underemployed and unemployed women dress for interviews and for marketplace preparation. She began the seminar by standing up and flossing her expensive-looking ensemble. The women are always surprised by what TheBudgetnista says. “But that’s how I open up all my classes. I stand up and say from head to toe, this is $40.”
The Budgetnista can help you procure pristine, premium wares without setting your checkbook on fire. This concept of shopping and living can be read in her book, The One Week Budget, of which some can be read free by clicking on either Twitter.com/TheBudgetnista or http://bit.ly/hYlVKs/
“My goal is that I want you to look good, too. I want you to live the same lifestyle for less money. And you can. You can wear nice, designer clothes and be the envy of your friends for a quarter of the price,” she implores. “So why would you pay full price to look the same? So that’s what I’m trying to teach people.”
Better break out those notebooks if you want to improve your financial game. And The Budgetnista is an All-Star. — terry shropshire