Southern Belle in Training

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle Blog || Est. 2012 || Virginia Beach, VA

July 25, 2014

How to be a Fashion Blogger on a College Student Budget.

Huge thank-you to my blogging bestie Gina from Gina Alyse for designing this adorable blog graphic for this post! Head over to her blog to tell her she did an amazing job! :-)

      This is a blog post that I have been wanting to write literally all summer, but am finally getting around to doing so! The post has been slowly forming in my head in the meantime. ;-) As many of you may have noticed, in the past six or so months my blog has made definite shift from being a Christian college lifestyle blog to a fashion blog, and this a shift that I'm very happy about, and was a long time coming! I still love to do lifestyle and faith posts a couple times a month, but I've really been enjoying diving more into fashion blogging.

     But it is no surprise that fashion blogging is a hobby that can very quickly add up to cost a lot of money. Between the clothes, shoes, accessories, a quality camera... the list goes on! When fashion bloggers portray their wardrobes on social media it can often seem as though they are very entitled and perhaps have an unlimited budget towards their fashion expenses. But I am here to tell you today that while that may be the case for a few select bloggers, that certainly is not the case at all for me, and I think that a lot of other fashion bloggers would agree with me! I am a college student who is on a strict budget, and while I do like to treat myself at times, I stick to that budget. I have still been able to build what I think is a pretty decent wardrobe for an incoming junior in college while sticking to my monetary limits, and I would like to share with all of you how I did that in a list of smart steps! These steps are written especially with college students in mind, but I think that anyone on a budget could take something from them.

    I will quickly say before I start the post that I have an almost full-time summer job, and this is my fourth summer of having one! I also babysit during the school year when I am in Charlotte for extra income. I try and save the majority of the money that I earn, and in the past year I have begun to tithe as well (perhaps I should write another post on that?).

    I start out with four rules regarding money, and then four tips for shopping and bargain hunting skills!

Photo credit to Meredith Sledge in March 2014- she made me feel like I was in a fashion magazine shoot here! :-)


     1. (Especially for college students) Avoid credit cards! When I turned 18, I thought it would be fun to open up a credit card or two at some of my favorite stores, so I could get a bunch of rewards points and extra benefits and such. But my parents told me absolutely not. They said that credit is a huge responsibility, and the promise of "buy it now, pay for it later" can cause a lot of trouble, especially for someone who is still young. So I didn't open any of those, and goodness I am glad that I didn't! I have a debit card, and I also use lots of cash to pay for things. Some people say that it is good to start building up good credit for yourself while you are still in school. I don't think that building credit while you're in college is a bad thing, but I think that students should be upperclassmen before taking on the responsability of a credit card, and I think that it's best to use it for payments that occur every month at the same time (such as a Netflix account or cell phone bill), instead of random expenses that can add up or get you into trouble. For me personally, I will probably choose to get a real credit card (not the store type, I mean like a Mastercard or Visa) once I am graduated form college and have a steady big-girl job- for now I am fine with using cash or debit. Maybe during senior year, but I'll probably wait until I'm done! I personally feel that if there's a purchase I'm making that is too big to pay with on my debit card, then it is too big for me to be making it! (Fashion related or not!)
     2. Always have 1,000 in your bank account for emergencies. I have always believed this to be true, and it was reaffirmed for me after I read it on my blog friend Bailey's blog Becoming Bailey earlier this year. Bailey wrote that she learned how financial guru Dave Ramsey recommends to always keep 1,000 in your bank account in case of emergencies. This money is not supposed to be touched for frivolous expenses. I learned this past semester how important it is to have that extra money saved up after I had my first driving ticket (NOT for speeding- just to clear that up ;-) proud to say I've never had a speeding ticket!!), additional sorority expenses which I wasn't expecting, and some housing fees at my college. All of these things hit me during the month of April, and it was helpful to have money saved up! This summer during my job I quickly worked on building that money back up into my savings, plus much more- including money to spend on fashion and fun stuff! (If you are older then a college student and an adult with a real-world job that I would probably suggest having more on hand then just 1,000, but I think this number is a great range for a college student.)

     3. Sometimes it's best not to set a specific clothing budget. At the start of my last school year I tried to set aside a specific amount of shopping money each month so that I would stick to a firm budget. I found however that budgeting made me way more stressed out about money then I already was! Also when I had money specifically set aside each month for spending on my wardrobe it made me feel like I had to spend it, which also isn't good! You should never shop when you don't see something that you absolutely love and/or feel that you would use a lot. Instead of setting a clothing budget, I just keep really close tabs on my money. I am constantly using online banking to monitor my account, and I usually do this before everytime that I go shopping. (And not just for fashion stuff-  shopping for anything!)

     4. Know what payment method causes you to spend the least amount of money. For most people, it's cash. For me, it's actually my debit card. If I have cash in my wallet and I'm at the mall then I'm always feeling like I have to get rid of all of it!! If I'm using my debit card then I'm a lot more frugal about how many times I'll have it swiped, so I prefer to shop on debit. But if you know that you're a problem shopper with cards then make use of the ATM! Know your shopping habits!


     1. Always stop by the "trendy discount" stores at your mall. When in your local mall, my advice is to always stop by what I like to call the "trendy discount" stores! These would be Charlotte Russe, Body Central, Wet Seal and my personal favorite store and holy grail of good deals, Forever 21. These stores definitely aren't perfect, some of their merchandise isn't of the best quality and can be overpriced. But you can also find the BEST stuff for such cheap prices, oftentimes things that look just like items found in department stores but for a fraction of the prices! My faux-leather jacket is from Wet Seal and it was found on a clearance rack for under $10, my favorite romper is from a Body Central clearance rack and was bought for $5, and I can't even begin to tell you how many amazing things I've bought at Forever 21: everything from jeans to dresses to jewelry to hair accessories to pajamas to dressy tops to winter coats! These stores are always worth a look- even if you strike out once you might strike gold the next time you're in the mall!

     2. Raid clearance racks at department stores. This is where the good deals truly are found. Department stores like Macy's, Dillard's and Kohl's are notorious for marking up their full-priced merchandise quite high, but amazing deals are often found by those who take the time to really dig through the clearance racks! My best department store find was an adorable black dress that was originally $60 that I found on a Belk sale rack for $7.50 last year. Score!! (I still haven't featured it on my blog yet- that needs to change!) 

     3. If you love a designer, research how to get it cheaply. It's no secret that I love all things Lilly Pulitzer, and it's also no secret that Lilly Pulitzer items are not cheap! Want to know what else I'm not keeping a secret? I have never paid full price for a Lilly item (minus my agendas ;-) )!! I have put the time and efford into finding how to get Lilly items at lower prices. For example, I know that in SouthPark Mall in Charlotte that the Belk department store marks down their older Lilly merchandise more then the official Lilly Pulitzer store located in the same mall! I also know that Rue La La and 6 are great websites to find older and discounted Lilly items on sale, and that the Lilly signature in my hometown frequently marks stuff down at higher rates as well. My knowledge of where to find Lilly at lower prices has literally paid off and has allowed me to start building a little Lilly collection! Another example for me would be the fact that I usually shop at J. Crew Factory over J. Crew!

     4. It's okay to splurge on a big item once in awhile. Such was the case with my recent #NSale purchase of what was literally my dream pair of shoes (Tory Bur riding boots!), and also the Kate Spade wallet that I purchased this winter. I firmly believe that if you have the money up front (again, my no credit rule comes into play!), and have thought about and wanted said item for a very long time, and know that you will truly use it (the wallet matched all of my purses and the boots match literally every fall item in my closet) then go for it!! You deserve it after sticking to your budget! ;-) 

     I almost forgot to add too that a perk of being a fashion blogger is that I also sometimes get free stuff to review from the fabulous companies that I work with here on my blog!! So that is a another way to supplement my closet... but I suppose that could be another post altogether. :-)

      Now that I have shared my tips for being a fashion blogger on a budget, what are your thoughts? If you are also into fashion or fashion blogging, do you have any thoughts to share? Or even just thoughts on budgeting in college. 

     xoxo Miss ALK



  1. Fabulous tips, Annaliese! I definitely follow most of these (except for the credit card one but I always pay it off)! Shopping from the clearance racks is always a must. It's the first place I head to when I enter a store!

  2. These are great tips! I'm not a college student but money is definitely tight in my household, so I always shop clearance racks and I've found some great items at thrift stores too! :)


  3. These are some awesome tips! For me, I've always found that budgeting my money toward different things is always helpful, but I think my budgeting will have to change when I go off to college in the fall! As for the shopping part, I'm right there with you in raiding the clearance racks! Clearance racks and discount stores are such a great way to get the most out of your money!

  4. Definitely some great tips! I've always heard that college is the best time to get a credit card and I stand firm on that - its just all in how you use it (and thats where people, especially college students, get in trouble!). I'm also a HUGE fan of thrifting - once I found a Lilly coverup for only $3!! If you're interested I actually just put a post up about how to budget your general finances in college, you can read it here :)

    Pick Your Beau

  5. Thank you so much for the tips! I definitely feel a little overwhelmed looking at some of the other fashion bloggers and their seemingly NEVERENDING collection of clothing and expensive accessories. Clearance racks and stores like poshmark and rue la la help my wardrobe out so much!

    Michaela || The Monogrammed Midwesterner

  6. I know all my friends will love my new dress, especially my husband, he couldn't believe the price either. Thanks to the seller, the dress came in earlier than expected.
    tween clothing


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