Budget fashion and luxury fashion can be found from every corner in the world, but one thing never changes, money can’t buy style and class. 🙂 You either have it or you don’t. Sulistiany Ichwandi is originally from Indonesia and she doesn’t need thousands of euros for stylish clothes and accessories. Well-fitting clothes, suitable colors and comfortable shoes are the key for a classic and feminine style.
Sulistiany’s dress is 40€ ($47) from Body & Soul, summer sandals 60€ ($71) from Les Tropeziennes and her bag is 25€ ($29) from Rattan. So even if you can’t afford international traveling (like me at the moment), you can order most international and more exotic brands online. Happy shopping everyone. 🙂
Who says you can’t combine luxury fashion with budget fashion? Definitely not Julie Kim, a business coach, multiple six digits business entrepreneur with 18 years of experience as a designer and a creative director in the fashion industry. Her own jewellery line, Arium Collection is an elegant but affordable collection of timeless pieces for women with well-paying jobs. The collection is not for budget fashion and penny stretching women like me lol, but as Julie Kim likes to style herself, you can combine luxury jewellery with very affordable clothes.
Julie is wearing a turquoise jumpsuit bought on sale from Zara for 16€, sunglasses from AliExpress for 10€, her leopard print heels are Purificación Garcia for 210€ and her mustard yellow handbag is from Carolina Herrera for 510€. Julie’s jewellery (pictures below) are Love ring from Cartier (left) Ribbon ring (Arium Collection approx 190€, left), mini pearl open ring (Purificación Garcías, 70€), Ría rings (Arium Collection, 180€ x 2pcs in Gold and White Gold). Of course for budget fashion you can just copy the jewellery style and find cheaper alternatives from online stores, such as Jewellery Box. For long-lasting high-quality accessories, however, you have to invest a little, but of course only when you have the budget for it. 🙂
So Glamorous Sonia finally got out of Finland after sitting here alone for three years. I decided to go back to Sofia, Bulgaria. I worked there for a couple of months in 2016 and it’s a very pleasant and affordable destination from USD/ EUR currency perspective. Bulgarian leva is quite weak compared to USD and Euro, so that’s why it’s a cheaper destination than Paris for example. I would also say that it is more fun than many European cities and people are very respectful and polite towards tourists and foreigners. Though if you travel with a good looking man, Bulgarian women can be a bit intrusive. 😂😬 In any case, I had a very fun and social one week where I spent about one hour alone in seven days. Anyway, I calculated that I spent about 825 euros (1007 USD) in total from my pocket with some costs shared with my Italian friends, such as food. (Check out my Italian Food Culture video) Here’s the breakdown of my expenses:
Airplane ticket with return, 271€ ($330). I flew from Helsinki, Finland via Frankfurt, Germany to Sofia, Bulgaria with Lufthansa.
Airbnb apartment, 175€ ($214). The fee per night was only 20€ ($24). It was a big spacious apartment with two floors, a balcony and a mountain view. It was walking distance from Bulgaria Mall.
Covid test in Finland, 0€. (For Finnish citizens, in private clinic it’s 150-250€/ $180-300) The good thing about Finland is semi-free healthcare. You have to pay some fees for basic treatments, but Covid tests have so far been free of cost and you get a certificate in English for traveling.
Covid test in Bulgaria, 46€ ($56). I went to a private laboratory next to Bulgaria Mall. It’s called SMDL-Medilab and the address is Bulgaria boulevard 51 A 1404.
Traveling to the airport and back in Finland, 69,80€ ($85). Well I got a friend to drop me to the airport when I left Helsinki and I paid 10€ ($12) for gas. On my return, I took a train to my friend’s house in Helsinki to pick up my cat and spent 2,80€ ($3,40) for the ticket. From Helsinki I took a taxi to my house (outside of Helsinki) with my luggage, cat and cat’s stuff, 57€ ($70). You can order online Kovanen taxi.
Airport taxi in Sofia x 2, 25,60€ ($31). From Sofia airport to Bulgaria Mall area is about 12€ ($14,65) so this is what I calculated both ways with tips. Really something amazing compared to crazy prices in Helsinki!
Car rental for 24 hours, 59€ ($72) + gas 41€ ($50). This was definitely luxury and not budget traveling, but it was a quick and easy way to see other parts of Bulgaria, such as historical city of Plovdiv and Starosel spa and winery area. We didn’t stay at the spa resort as it’s not budget traveling. Highways are good in Bulgaria for road trips.
Cash for food, tram, nails, taxi etc. for the whole week, 292€ ($357). I really kept my budget to the minimum and avoided spending money on beauty and fashion even though I’m writing about fashion too. This time however, I focused on relaxing, food, socialising with my Italian friends and refreshing my mind and mental health. However, as an example, a tram ticket costs only 0,82€ ($1), where as in Helsinki it’s 2,80€ ($3,42)! A manicure with gel polish is 18€ ($22) in Sofia and in Helsinki you have to pay 45€ ($55)! No wonder I look like a cave woman in Finland lol. 😅
Lunch, 5€ ($6,10). An average price of lunch for one person in Sofia.
One beer/ a glass of wine, 1,50€ ($1,80)/ 2,50€ ($3). An average price for beer and wine in bars and restaurants in Sofia.
So in total I spent for a one week trip from Helsinki to Sofia after some shared Airbnb, food, taxi and car rental costs with my Italian friends, 824,80€ ($1007). I recommend to visit Bulgaria, an excellent destination for budget traveling, fun, peace and relaxing your mind. Please notice, however that more than half of my trip’s budget was spent in traveling from Finland, so if you travel to Bulgaria from some other country, chances are you’ll spend less money.
Let’s break the myth about becoming wealthy. No matter what people say, you will always need money to make money regardless where you are and what you do. Life coaches and business millionaires love to give advice how to make money and how they became wealthy. The problem is that they usually start their story from when they were already wealthy. If you are completely broke, unemployed, single, living on social benefits, it’s impossible to save money to start a business. You also need FRIENDS. Nobody became an overnight success by themselves. You need money, customers, and business support to succeed. Kylie Jenner is NOT a self-made billionaire, she had seed money from her family to launch her make-up brand.
People who encourage you to quit your full-time job and “risk it all” shouldn’t give business advice. I tried to succeed ALONE without ZERO help and ZERO money and here I am, writing a blog that nobody can find because I can’t afford advertising. When I started writing my blog, I used WordPress’ free platform, but then soon realised I need a paid version to start somehow monetising my blog. I found a friend to invest the minimum seed money for my blog. Before that, I was searching online with a super nerd for FREE website platforms with online store features and surprise surprise, there are NONE. So forget about the advice that you just need to risk everything to become successful and you’re so brave if you do it alone without friends’ support. They are NOT your friends who give you this useless advice. They do not want to see you succeed. So here’s what you need to make money:
A well paid job/ investor/ seed money from friends or family. If you’re working one day per week and suffered from many years of unemployment, forget about a bank loan. You need to get your seed money from the above sources and yes you need money. Everything costs money, when you want to become an entrepreneur.
A business mentor. Even if you went to the best business schools, nothing prepares you better for entrepreneurship than talking to other entrepreneurs. Just make sure you don’t pick someone who says you will get your seed money by buying real estate and collecting rent money from the real estate. 😆 Surprisingly many people don’t want to share their secrets for success. Don’t buy their “I started my billion dollar business with only five dollars”. It’s a fantasy they’re trying to sell you, reality is something different.
A team. Even for solo entrepreneurs, such as bloggers, Youtubers, hairdressers etc., you need some kind of help in things like website management, accounting etc. You need a small team, even if they’re not full-time.
Customers. Again you need people. Nobody will become successful ALONE. I’ve been left alone to “succeed”, even people have refused to help me do promotion videos for my blog that costs them nothing but one hour of their time. It’s a no-brainer that every business needs customers, so make your product, service or social media channel attractive for your target market and forget about the people and their “advice” who are NOT your target market.
Entrepeneurship is an exciting challenge, an opportunity and in best cases, you will earn much more money than any day job could offer you. Just be smart about it and don’t quit your day job.🙂🙌 (My Youtube video for this blog post: https://youtu.be/i9LsWrE4uFI)
When I was a student, I had friends who literally had like 50 pairs of shoes and 100 tops and dresses. None of them lasted more than six months however. I have always tried to invest in quality instead of having hundreds of pieces of clothes. Probably also because I have moved A LOT in my life, so I’ve always got rid off extra clothes and never bought too much. I like quality and prefer to own one or two pieces of good quality instead of twenty pieces of low quality. In the end, if you buy 100 pieces of 10 euro ($12) shirts or one 100 euro ($120) shirt, your 100 euro shirt will last longer. Quality over quantity.
So I made this quick post for styling tips, because I was initially supposed to style a female model, but they cancelled on me. Here’s a short list of my styling tips:
1. Invest in quality, you will save more in the end.
2. You can find great quality in second-hand stores. If you’re poor like me, you can go bargain hunting in second-hand and thrift stores. Even though I prefer to utilise sales sections and outlets from big brand stores, sometimes you can find amazing gems from second-hand stores. I found once a 200 euro ($241) Hussein Chalayan sweater for 5 euros ($6) in perfect shape!
3. Donate your old clothes to charity if you’re too lazy to sell them online/ second-hand store. I had a roommate from Hong Kong when I was studying in Ireland who was going to throw away in the GARBAGE all her old clothes. So I stopped her and dragged her with me to nearest charity container for recycled clothes. She was surprised this system even exists because apparently in Hong Kong people don’t recycle old clothes.
4. Buy neutral color winter shoes. Cute winter shoes that can handle Nordic freezing temperatures (can go as below as -30 Celcius degrees/ -22 Fahrenheit in Finland) is very difficult to find. So buy grey/black to make them as invisible as possible so you can wear any colors and styles you like with them. I see a lot of camel brown winter shoes and they are very noticeable and do not match with colors like green and red.
5. If you’re short, don’t wear below the knee skirts/ dresses. Your legs will look even shorter. I personally don’t think even tall women look good on below the knee skirts. It’s either full length or above the knee/to the knee. I’m 163cm/ 5 feet 4 inch and always wear skirts that make my legs look longer.
6. Avoid short sweaters. This grey sweater is size M. Otherwise it’s a perfect fit, but it’s too short. Sweaters should be a bit large, because you don’t want to freeze your stomach in winter. 😃 It also looks better if your sweater isn’t too tight.
7. Less is more when accessorizing with jewellery. You don’t want to look like a Christmas tree. There are many posts online about which neckline goes with which type of jewellery. Here’s a quick summary, short necklaces and heavy big pieces with open neckline, long necklaces with closed neckline like I have on the picture.
We all know moving is a pain. I should know as I have moved more times in my 35 years of life than most normal humans on this planet.
Jetsetter lifestyle can be exciting and fun when you’re young, especially for students. It does, however, get exhausting the older you get. So since I have moved nationally too many times for my age and internationally to eight different countries, I have created a short list how to move with the least amount of stress, spending extra money and avoiding drama and illegal stuff. Especially moving abroad alone can be challenging for many young people.
Here is a short list to keep in mind when you move to a new apartment/ city/ country:
Don’t rely on advertising. When I moved to Dublin to do my Master’s degree, I found an apartment online. Very expensive, brand new building with a jacuzzi on the roof. So I asked my friend in Dublin, Ireland to go check the neighbourhood, if it’s shady or not. He said, it’s a good neighbourhood. Once I arrived (and had already paid for full semester rent), I realised the “good neighbourhood” started from the end of the road. The other end was full of crackheads and drug dealers. 😆 This was a developing part of Dublin, they were cleaning out the bad neighbourhoods by building new fancy buildings, but failed to mention that 200 meters from the fancy area, you might get mugged by a crackhead. Obviously, my friend NEVER went to check out the neighbourhood hah. Also, there was no jacuzzi in that building. It was from the gym in the NEXT building. So don’t rely on advertising or your (lazy) friends. Similar false advertising fiasco happened to me in Barcelona too. A brand new luxury hotel I booked online, looked amazing in pictures, but once I arrived with my friend, we realised it was built in the middle of a shady neighbourhood. So instead of walking to the city, we had to take a taxi everywhere.
Visit a country before you decide to move there. Don’t rely on your friends’ opinions. I moved to Ireland without ever being there, though some female friends warned me of some stuff. I also moved to Sofia and Malta without ever been there before. So to avoid disappointment, I would suggest to first visit once or twice a country you plan to get a permanent job in. It can be adventurous to move randomly somewhere new and exotic, but it is also very expensive to move around a lot and starting from scratch many times is exhausting.
Get a proper moving contract. Movers can try to trick you by adding extra hours AFTER the job is done, so make sure you have a valid contract from a REAL moving company. Check their website. Don’t go for cheap and shady. Ask for references if possible.
Get a crime report of the area. Even in “safe” countries and areas, there can be criminal activity and violence. In the States for example, there’s a great website to find out if your area has hate groups based on different ideologies, such as Neo-nazis, anti-immigrant, anti-LBQT, male supremacy etc., it’s called SPLC Southern Poverty Law Center. (Resource: https://splcenter.org/hate-map) In the States, there’s also a national sex offender public website, where you can check if your area is safe to raise children. (https://www.nsopw.gov) Unfortunately, most countries aren’t so organised with public safety, but you can always try to investigate on your own.
Check local hospitals. In Europe, it’s relatively easy to move around because EU and ETA countries and Switzerland have a unified European medical card that permits EU members to receive medical care in another EU country like a local.
Be cautious with Airbnb. It’s great for short term stays and sometimes even for longer terms, but make sure the apartment and landlord are real. In Airbnb, trust the reviews. The more the better. Also make sure if you are a female solo traveler that your Airbnb host is reliable.
Do your research on subletting laws. When I moved to NYC for job-hunting, I was recommended to search for apartments in Craigslist. So I found a relatively cheap place in Manhattan, just to find out that it was actually an illegal sublet. In NYC, it was VERY common. You need to make sure that the apartment owner or the original rental contract permits subletting. Also, be aware that in NYC they also try to trick you with illegal rental apartments. If you find “a room in Wall Street for 1000 USD/ month” and go there to see the room and the “room” is a corner of a shared apartment without a window, it’s ILLEGAL. You are not allowed to rent a divided space (sometimes separated with just curtains) of another room or of the apartment as a room if it doesn’t have a window. You might think that 1000 USD/month is cheap in Wall Street, but even for that price, you really need to have a window.
Ask for electricity bills before you move in. There are huge differences in electricity prices in different countries. So don’t assume anything when you move to a new country or even a new apartment. Even if it’s the same size or smaller, there might be some hidden costs that you need to check before moving in.
Check if there is a water meter in the apartment. Read the small print in your rental contract. It came to my surprise that my tiny studio had a water meter. I was used to paying fixed monthly water costs in rental apartments in Finland, but then I was shocked when in my new apartment I got a HUGE water bill. I thought it was a mistake since I was already paying 20 euros/ month for water for one person, but then realised they charge based on the water meter (which is very rare in studio apartments).
Check local laws and customs from local people AND expats. Local and expat reviews clash REGARDLESS of the country. 😄 Trust me, I’ve travelled enough to know this. So to get a full picture, ask both sides about your future homeland or city.
Use a taxi instead of hiring movers. This obviously only works if you don’t have big furniture or a lot of stuff. It’s perfect for in-city moving, like NYC. It’s expensive to hire help, so just give your taxi driver a generous tip and you’re good. Especially in big cities like NYC, everything is expensive and distances are far, so be smart.
Do your OWN personal research on the new country/ city. As I mentioned before, don’t rely too much on your friends or other people’s opinions. It’s good to ask questions and get advice, but then also keep in mind that a wealthy Western single man will have a different experience than a single young woman or a Middle Eastern male student, or a family with young children. So ask questions from people you can relate to and also do your own personal research. I was once recommended to stay in a hotel in the financial district in Bangkok. It was a very safe and comfortable yet affordable hotel, but also super boring for a female solo traveler. The hotel was full of families, couples and older tourists. I met some young tourists when I took a guided tour to go sightseeing and they told me that they are also traveling solo, but booked a hostel where they could meet other young solo travellers.
When you’re trying to save pennies, utilizing free things can turn out to be very lucrative. Free trials, free parking, free museum entrances, free food (at public events), free (legal) movies etc, just to name a few. Be smart enough, however, to not rip off people who are already broke, such as living for free at someone’s house while earning money for yourself. 😆 You might just end up loosing more money than you saved on your free rent. 😆 I personally don’t like to buy used clothes because nowadays you can great quality for 80 percent discount and I tend to buy last season from outlets. They are brand new timeless classic pieces, but of course not the latest season for the most precise eye, but I don’t mind. Especially with second hand shoes you should be careful, because feet bacteria is more difficult to remove.
So here are some good things to utilise for free so you can spend your money on clothes/shoes instead:
Online trials. Instead of renting/ buying a movie, you can sign up for a 14-30-day free trial for the online provider, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. Once you have watched the movie, cancel your subscription before they charge you.
Face masks. Face masks can be expensive, but in public places, such as health centres and some schools you can get some for free. Check also your local library.
Beauty treatments. Spas and beauty salons can sometimes offer free facials, massages and other beauty treatments as an introduction to their salon. They often advertise on social media.
Haircut/ hairdo. My friends used to go for hair modelling a lot when we were 16-25 years old. They do your hair for free, just make sure you don’t leave the cat walk with bright red or orange hair.😝 Some salons don’t require professional models or model hight, check with them first.
Coffee. Many places offer free coffee, especially at events and trade fairs. Nespresso boutiques are great because they have good quality espresso and a comfortable place to sit and enjoy your free sample coffee. I noticed that some student cafeterias have very expensive coffee, so go for the free coffee whenever you can.
Business consultation. Many consultants offer free 30-60min sessions to introduce and sell their services. Pick the most suitable for your needs, such as coaching for entrepreneurship or personal branding.
Workspace. Many startup hubs and co-working spaces can actually offer free meeting rooms and space for a couple hours. Do your research and check with big corporations first such as Google, IBM and Microsoft.
Internet. Libraries, startup hubs, and railway stations are a better option than cafes, so you are not obligated to buy anything.
Online courses. If you’re unemployed or just looking to change careers, doing some free online courses might be a good start. For example, Google offers free digital marketing courses with a certification and some prestigious universities also offer free courses. Define first what you would like to pursue.
Books. I don’t read traditional books anymore, but for traveling it’s a safe choice when you’re unsure of Internet connection. You can get free books from bus stations, libraries, vintage book stores, second hand stores, online market places, and friends, family and neighbours.
So as a thumb rule, don’t use or rip off ANYONE for free stuff, simply utilise what people themselves offer to you. Trust me, it’s not worth it in the end. 🙂
A funny story about styling came to my mind when a friend posted a joke on Facebook about the Capitol riots in the States. There was this meme that it’s easier to get into the US Capitol than into Berghain, a nightclub in Berlin. 😃
So then I remembered when I TRIED to get into Berghain in 2007 when I was studying in Berlin. Nobody told me how to dress there and I went with a group of students directly from another nightclub. We patiently waited the long line, I was judged head to toe by the bouncer and finally he said NO. I was crushed haha. Until the next day some of my friends told me that you need to wear all black to get in. So I guess I wasn’t cool enough, but lesson learned. Not all outfits fit into all places even when you think you’re wearing a stylish dress. I like to dress well in a classic clean cut style most of the time. It doesn’t unfortunately work everywhere, even though smart casual is supposed to be the “neutral” look for every occasion.
I also learned my lesson when I used to hang out in startup parties. Slush is one of the biggest startup events in Finland and of course they like to party, but weirdly I was also overdressed to their parties too.😄 Startup scene is not the most fashionable scene, because they go for VERY casual looks, such as hoodies, jeans and sneakers, both men and women. It’s not a problem as long as you do your research how to dress to events/ nightclubs/ meetings before hand, because cocktail dresses and suits aren’t safe choices after all. Happy styling everyone! 👗👕🙂
If you want to save money, you need to look at the interest rates. Reducing debt with the highest interest rates is the first thing you should look at. It doesn’t matter if it’s a credit card, a house loan, or a monthly instalment for a new TV/ phone/ laptop/ car, you need to eliminate the highest interest rate FIRST. High interest rates are only good for your investment savings account.
For unemployed people, struggling entrepreneurs and women with low paying part-time jobs it can be a real challenge to pay off your debt and prioritise bills with the highest interest rates as their payment date isn’t scheduled according to the highest interest rate unfortunately. Wouldn’t it be great if your first monthly bill was the one with the highest interest rate. 😛
Don’t fall for despair though. There are some tips and tricks you can do to keep track of your bills.
Go through the interest rates of ALL your bills. When I had a full-time job, I didn’t pay attention to interest rates, bank fees, and other extra costs but these things matter more than you think.
You can’t avoid credit card payments. Some bills can be postponed and negotiated with the bank, but unfortunately most credit card payments can not. Keep this in mind when you use your credit card.
Negotiate mortgage loan payments with the bank. Another bill you can’t postpone, but of course it also depends on the country, bank and type of loan you have.
Avoid buying stuff with monthly instalments. Check the interest rate first! If you buy a new phone, check how much you’ll actually end up paying in the end of your one or two year contract. (It’s A LOT more.)
Avoid getting a loan to pay off your bills. These high interest loans that private companies offer to EVERYONE without checking your credit score are tempting and easy to get, but as usual, when something comes easy there’s a catch. They charge huge interest rates. Calculate how much your debt is, your interest rate on that debt and is it worth paying off that debt with another high interest loan.
For more information and tips, you can buy my Budgeting Tips 2020 from my Shop. (Also available in Finnish.) This post wasn’t sarcastic by the way. 🙂 These tips are real and serious. Be safe, happy and don’t spend your pennies on stupid crap my dear readers. ☺️💰