Ms. Shopaholic

Shopping Maven At Your Service

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Through Hell and Back

Due to my grandparents going back to Manila for a vacation, everything at home has turned topsy turvy. That includes where we’re supposed to put away our stuff and that resulted into my not locating some of my stuff since last week. To make sure that I didn’t put it away and forgot about it, I rummaged through the possible places it could have been in in the hallway. I looked at my drawer and found some old credit card billing statements from two years ago and was surprised to see what was written in it.

I was surprised because there were some months wherein I didn’t use my credit card at all and my average monthly bill was only about less than Php2,000.00 per month. Well, that was also the time that I still gave my dad payment for my cell phone bill. I had mixed feelings about it. So, I haven’t always been this mindless, swipe-addicted consumer. What the hell then, happened between then and now? What triggered the dreadful shopaholic in me?

When I first started working, some people knew me as money-savvy, always the wisest when it comes to building up my savings account. Somewhere along the way, I’ve lost control and became known as a shopping fanatic. Maybe it was the emotional instability from events in my personal life but shopaholicism stayed long after the emotional turmoil was over. I, in fact, relished it and indulged in my excesses.

I could remember a time when I would look at my friend Chawdie in disbelief on how reckless she was with using her credit card swiping it left and right for goods, services and gadgets that cost twice or thrice as much as our salaries. Sadly, I’ve become not just a spitting image but exactly like her. I wish I could say it was beyond my control but that is just one big, fat lie. I was well aware of what I was doing to myself and did not do diddley squat about it.

Regrets, truly are, always towards the end of any situation. No matter how many times I wished I could have done differently, I cannot possibly go back in time to undo them all. I’ve hit rock bottom and that made my resolve to change the way things are even stronger. I still struggle every now and then but the path’s now clear to me. Sometimes you gotta go through hell and back for a lesson to hit home.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Shopaholic 'Fesses Up

The song “Santa Baby (Gimme, Gimme, Gimme)” is playing on my laptop right this very minute. I’m thinking of stuff that I have on my Christmas wish list – the ‘Yayana’ variant from Stella McCartney’s footware line at Adidas, the Mrs Fairy ring and the Starissim set from Swatch Bijoux, the Quartz Power Ring from Diane von Furstenberg, the pair of slippers from Philippe Starck (I’m such a big fan of his designs – I’ve collected the 4-piece jewelry-watch line he created with Fossil), Creative’s 20 MB Zen Micro and Motorola’s A780.

Some of these things on my list are well within my budget while some are not but there’s definitely no harm in dreaming that one day, I just might be able to afford some of those goodies. I am, admittedly, a shopaholic (a big time at that) and I’m damn proud of it!

I was watching the Today Show this morning and I tuned in just in time for their feature on the new research that shopping has positive health effects. Campbell Brown, filling in for a sick Katie Couric, had two guests on the show – Psychotherapist/author Olivia Mellan and Money Magazine’s Jean Chatzky. Both guests had a lot to say about the topic (for example, they explain that men “go for the kill” while women are natural hoarders) and answered the question of ‘how,’ ‘why’ and ‘what can be done’ to curtail shopping’s negative effect.

How? It’s pretty much obvious - purchases give the individual an instant gratification and I bet everybody can relate to that. I mean, who wouldn’t be happy if they found the perfect outfit or got to buy what their heart’s desire is with a huge discount attached to it? As to the question of why – shopping triggers the release of the chemical ‘dopamine’ in the brain. Dopamine is primarily responsible for the feeling of happiness and ecstasy. Need I say more?

There’s a saying that what comes up must come down. It’s the same thing with shopping – you get both the highs and the lows. The lows would be being an overspender and having a nasty case of buyer’s remorse. Both are so very true for me at times although some people might disagree ;p

It’s interesting because Olivia has identified 5 distinct shopping personalities – the ‘Money Is Love’ spender, ‘Blue Light’ spender, ‘Overboard’ spender, ‘Esteem’ spender and the ‘I’ll Show You’ spender.

The first shopping personality shops to lift one’s mood; the second one (to which I partly belong to) are “consummate bargain hunters;” people belonging to the third category are collectors (people who have such a huge collection of something that they could open their own museum); Esteem spenders go for designer duds (a tad bit guilty on this one as well) and I’ll Show You spenders are revenge shoppers a.k.a. girlfriends/wives going on shopping sprees using their man’s money or credit card as a way to make them pay for something that they’ve done wrong.

Jean Chatzky gave four useful tips on how not to overspend – Don’t shop when you are not in the right mood as it will allow you to make really bad choices. Know what triggers your impulses to shop as a preventive measure. Think of the bigger reward of not spending your money now and keep a picture of your long-term goals in your wallet as a reminder. Put items that you want on hold and see if the urge to buy it is still strong after a couple of days.

I’ve recently overcome credit card debt and believe me I’ve definitely learned my lesson on making smart choices when it comes to my finances. I’m trying real hard to curb the shopaholic in me and only time will tell whether I win the battle or not. I’ve recently opened a savings account and I’m just about ready to start the practice of putting away a percentage of my salary to use on a rainy day. As much as possible, I no longer go to work with my credit cards to prevent me from buying any more unnecessary stuff. I’m happy that my mom confiscated my other credit cards a couple of months ago.

I’m thinking of buying Olivia Mellan’s book “Overcoming Overspending” to prevent the possibility of having a relapse. It would definitely be a good investment. Also, I now closely follow MP Dunleavey’s column on MSN Money, especially the ones about the Women in Red and the “Take Total Financial Control Campaign.”

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The Inventory

I've finally moved back to my parents' place in Marikina after living with my grandmom, my Aunt Lydia and her two kids for about a year or so. It was Thursday last week when my grandmom talked to me about my aunt's husband coming home by the first week of December (they don't know exactly when, though) and that I'd have to vacate the place a.s.a.p. because they don't have any room to spare (My aunt and her kids and my grandmom sleep in the master bedroom. When Uncle Rudy comes back, the kids would move to my room to give their parents some much needed alone time and privacy). That news just left me stunned because my grandmom's place is very ideal - it's located in between Makati and Malate, making it easy (not to mention cheap) for me to go home after gimiks (especially if I had one drink too many). Plus, I love the fact that my grandmom is not my mom in the sense that she doesn't ask a lot of questions when I go home late or if I go out with my friends.

Saturday that week, I've packed 75% of my stuff (mostly clothes and shoes) while doing my laundry at the same time. I really hate moving - packing up is a bitch and unpacking and putting everything away in their proper place is even harder. Saturday afternoon, I went to UP Kame to meet up with Jewel and Cathy so I could give them their pasalubong. It' my first time to attend such an event and it was so cool - didn't expect Thom to be cosplaying. Going back to my story, went home to my parents' house that night and returned to my grandmom's the next day to get my stuff (my dad's picking me up because he had our van with him).

I didn't know that my aunt packed the rest of my stuff and temporarily stashed them in the stock room. I just couldn't believe my eyes how stuff I have - those items I came to my grandmom's house with and those that I manage to accumulate during my stay.

I’ve decided to do a little inventory on all my clothes, shoes and accessories. Up to now, I’m still not done due to a lot of interruptions :D but the main discovery is that there’s a lot of things that I haven’t been able to use because of the sheer volume of things that I have. Still, that doesn’t stop me from making new acquisitions ;p Now, I’m trying my best to curb my ‘shopaholic’ side and it’s even harder to control than smoking :D So many goodies out there! Sale periods makes it even easier to justify purchases and using plastic makes it a lot harder to track down how much money that I have or don't have that I've already spent.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Vintage Style

After a month of sitting in my shelf for a month, I was finally able to finish reading "Vintage Style: Buying and Classic Vintage Clothes" by Tiffany Dubin, Ann E. Berman. I found it in National Bookstore's bargain bin in the store annual sale period. I didn't regret buying it because the book's quite a good read as it is not only entertaining but informative as well about the origins of a particular style.

Being the clotheshorse that I am, I simply loved the way they created three different looks with each particular piece - casual, work and dressy. Some looks were combined with modern pieces but most were combined with other vintage items from another era that gave it a really unique twist. My favorites would have to be original pink Andre Courtege bomber jacket owned by television personality Sloan and the red princess dress modeled by news producer Su Lin.

I suddenly remembered the Vintage Bazaar in Rockwell last 26 - 28 August. Looking back, it was quite a disappointment because it wasn't really a vintage sale. Sure there were people selling old stuff but most dates up to the 80's only. Also, there were a lot of stalls dedicated to the boho style - urrgh! Enough already! The whole event, in my view, was more like a dignified ukay-ukay whereby people would get to milk money out of their old clothes instead of just giving it away to charity.

There were, however, some notable stalls - the bag and jewelry consigner with the Php10,000 unused, limited-edition Louis Vuitton bag; the designer that alters vintage clothes to give it some added spunk; the stall with a lot of cute-but-you'll-never-see-it-anywhere caboodles.

An unexpected thing also happened - I got to meet up with Emily, an old classmate from college. She and her friends has a booth there. I forgot the name of her friend but she was selling this cute shoulder bag from Prada for only Php3,000! I loved the style of the bag but unfortunately, I deeemed it unsalvageable because of it's lock is broken. When they brought it to the bazaar, the weren't able to close it. When I managed to close the bag, it wouldn't budge when everytime took turns to try and open it. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Oh well, better luck next time. I should also remember to try visiting more often the vintage shops, consignment stores and flea markets when I get back to LA and NYC.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


I am just so chuffed that I got such great bargains from Robinsons' 3-Day-Sale over the weekend. I dismissed my Friday class 30 minutes early and headed straight to Robinsons Place Ermita to take a peek at what they have to offer. I was first disappointed as I didn't find anything good to buy on the first 30 minutes that I was in the mall - nothing that I liked over at Folded and Hung, Mendrez or Mango; the skirt that I wanted from Sari-Sari only had a 10% discount and they also didn't have it in my size; the Victorinox laptop bag that I was eyeing on was not on sale; the Brian Bauffel bag over at McJim's is still out of my budget even though the price was slashed by 50%. The saleslady at McJim also ticked me off because when I was inspecting the bag, she proudly beemed to me that the bag is from Buffalo. I didn't want to embarrass her but in my mind I was saying "Tsk, tsk, tsk you're an employee and you don't even know the correct brand that you're selling to me." Brian Bauffel is infinitely better than Buffalo! Duh!

All that started to change when I got to the other side of the mall - the pair of strappy sandals that I wanted for the longest time from Charles and Keith was on sale for only Php 600 (there is, however, a Php 50 surcharge for payments using plastic) from an original price of Php 1,700! I bought a pair in chocolate brown to match the tweed dress that I got from Mango several weeks ago. Over at Celine, I finally found the perfect satchel that I was looking for. For the last couple of months, I've started a quest for the perfect bag and I wasn't able to find any -- that is, until now (Cathy can attest to that). It was such a sweet deal as well because it went down from Php 2,699 to a mere Php 499! I checked out Rustans and fell instantly in love with a orange and pink high-heeled cut-out pumps from their in-house brand U. I was a little dismayed because somebody put the wrong tag on the shoes - it displayed Php 395 instead of the correct discounted price of Php 595 (original price is Php 1,095). It was such a bummer but the staff's customer relations more than made up for their little boo-boo when I asked one of the sales clerk to give me a better shoe box as the box that came with my shoes was in such a poor condition.

The next day, I went to Robinsons' Place Metroeast with my sister for some quality bonding time. First stop was Bench. I bought a pale mustard-colored cotton and lace tunic that reminded me of the one that Mariah Carey wore for her video "We Belong Together" for Php 399. I also spotted this ingenious keychain that they have - a cute and portable screwdriver (one flat type and one Philips type) for Php 135 (Keychains not included in the discounted items). I then went to Kamiseta to wait for my sister. I was ecstatic because for the price of a regular shirt, I was able to buy 3 items - a white cotton and lace tunic that went from Php 800 something to only Php 200+ (70% discount), a subdued green tank top with stretchy lace trimmings for Php 200+ (50% discount) and their very cute drawstring cotton nightie shorts for Php 300+ (50%).

I found even better discounts when I got to the fourth floor - a blue plaid mini skirt that reminds me of a prep-school uniform for only Php 100 and this funky one-piece plaid dress that closely resembles the cloth used by Burberry for Php 250. Both items I got from Guerilla Wear.

The only damper on this blissful day of shopping is the pesky saleslady from Petite Monde that keeps on tailing you throughout the entire store like a damn stalker and who keeps on repeating "Try na kayo ma'am (Try it on ma'am)" and "Bili na kayo ma'am (Buy it, ma'am)" every 10 seconds or so. I hate those type of salespeople!

Anyhoo, I'll be back by this weekend for updates on the Vintage Sale at the Rockwell Tent in the Powerplant Mall.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Sale Alert

I dropped by Glorietta on my way home Friday night and I was surprised that some stores are still on sale despite the fact that the mallwide Double Midnight Madness Sale was over and done with about a week ago.

Ben Chan’s Human, Bench and Her Bench. What can I say but every Filipino’s wardrobe staple!

Cinderella and the labels under it (U2, Rampage, British India) – minimal discounts ranging from 10% – 30% off. Rampage’s clothes reflect trends in the U.S. one or two seasons ago. It’s okay, I guess but I still prefer Bebe over it. With British India, I love the New Arrivals especially this long and flowy A-line skirt with the flower pattern sewn on it. Most of the clothes that they have on sale are from their Yoga line and tops that would be perfect for the office.

Defect is one of my favorite stores for their unique and off-the-wall pieces that just screams punk and indie rock star. Look for the bargain binge inside their new location in Glorietta near Goldcrest.

Thai brand Greyhound/Playhound is having their very rare Annual Sale and they’re offering as much as 60% discount. I was able to buy an orange sleeveless shirt for about less than Php600.00. I’m also eyeing this white A-line skirt with cut-out flower details at the waistline but it was so unfortunate that they don’t have it in my size! Oh well, I guess that skirt’s not meant for me. They do have a lot more office and gimik pieces that are so very chic and casual. I find their accessories, though, to be not as good as when they were still located in Greenbelt 3. Attention: don’t forget to keep the receipts as they will be issuing discount cards to customers that accumulate Php20,000.00 worth of items in the span of a year.

Guess is once more getting rid of their old collections. The prices are okay but if you want a really great bargain, try to visit their depot store inside Marikina’s Riverbanks Center. The stock that they have there is definitely much older but the discount is certainly much bigger.

Kashieca, a contemporary of Kamiseta, is offering up to 50% discount mostly on tops that could be used for both night outs with the barkada and the office as well. I really love their sleeveless blouse with orange and white vertical stripes and texturized bubble design all over but the sad thing is that they ran out of stock in my size. I love the way Kashieca has revamped their image from their logo to the motif of their store. The designs are absolutely girly and yet you’re never too old to wear their creations.

Lilia Almario’s new collection of shoes and bags have a 10% discount while some of the older items have a price range of Php 600+ to Php 1,000.

Mango’s on its last phase of their clearance sale period signaled by their updated billboard in Guadalupe. They still feature their sale items but this time, it is alongside this season’s current collection. I absolutely love the shoes but most of them are made in the Philippines so I’d rather snoop around to find their local manufacturer and buy them without the Mango label.

Marithe Francois Girbaud has most of their old collection’s wallets and bags on sale for 10%. The discount for their clothing line, on the other hand, ranges from 10% to 50%. Honestly, I’d rather buy Girbaud in New York as the items that they have over there are much edgier compared to what comes out in Manila.

Marks and Spencers, the quintessential British version of our very own S.M. Department Stores puts selected items on a 40% discount. The lingerie section is very good as they have brassieres that are made specifically for Asians. The clothes, on the other hand, is quite disappointing for me as most items are way too big for me including their Per Una line. As for the canned goods, I love the lamb curry!

Mendrez (all branches), my fave local brand of shoes has items on sale from 10% up to 50% for both shoes and bags. I’m eyeing on the high-heeled white, strappy sandals with the middle column sewn with clear, plastic stars. My other fave, the high-heeled beige sandals with wooden detail and suede padding don’t have any more smaller sizes other than 9. Added treat to fans of XOXO and Diesel’s footware line, they’ve put several items on sale from 10% to a whopping 40%!

Nine West (all branches) puts both shoes and bags from a 25% discount to their Further Reductions section. The only thing that sucks is the 5% discount difference if you pay it in cash over card. Their items are just so fab and affordable compared to premium (high-end) designer duds such as Prada or Versace. I don’t really buy Nine West in Manila as I know of a lot of places in the U.S. where I could get them at a much cheaper price.

People are People are putting some of their shoes’ old stocks on sale ranging from Php499 to the ones with a 50% discount (Save The Queen from Manchester, Syrup, Lab etc). The clothing items that are on sale ranges from tube tops to shirts and pants.

Regatta’s discount is not that much compared to the other clothing stores. Their clothes are okay but it’s really not my type. It exudes a nautical aura and would look perfect on a weekend in the Hamptons.

Replay’s (all branches) had their Season Ender Sale for quite some time now. Very minimal discounts (10% - 20%) for the shirts, better discounts for the jeans (up to 50% off). The discount for their slightly defective items are not that much either.

Terra Nova (Glorietta, Megamall, Robinsons Galleria) has one of those dispose-of-the-old-collection sale yet again for the nth time this year. I used to love their clothes when they first arrived in Manila via their flagship store in Glorietta but I’ve noticed (and so have my friends) that the quality of the materials that they’re now using have deteriorated over time. On the other hand, I do love the vibrant colors that they use although Filipinos do have to be on the lookout if the color suits them as such colors tend to make you look darker.

I didn’t really bother knowing how much the discount is at Theme because it’s office wear for the mature crowd, therefore, not my style. The bags that they have are very plain and boring.

Tutto Moda (all branches – Gateway, Glorietta, SM Megamall) is one of my favorite shops after Tyler, Mango and Defect. They have discounted items ranging from 25% to 65% off and have a special section for the Buy 1, Take 1 items. They carry a comprehensive number of Italian clothing labels not available in the country. I love the printed lavender spaghetti strapped dress that was on sale for 50%. A little tip though, if you’re seeking to buy some of the dresses from Zeno, look for it first in Linea Italia as it might be cheaper. I found out about a month ago that they carried the same style of dress albeit with different price tags on it.

Women’s Secret (also their Robinsons Galleria and Rockwell branch) offers 35% to 50% discount their bra and panty sets, up to 40% off on nighties and 35% off on other paraphernalia such as pouches, bedroom slippers, socks and panty sets. What better way to feel good and sexy than a raunchy set of undies underneath your clothes!

I was absolutely thrilled when I went to Greenbelt 3 as I Am was still on sale and that they still have the bag that I was eyeing on. It’s this rectangular, copper-colored hobo from Elle Paris that has a 50% discount on the tag. I normally don’t like anything metallic but this bag is very subtle compared to the in-your-face (metallic) bags that I see on display in Via Venetto. The sporty ballet flats are to die for and the colorful jelly bags are just so cute.

The next day, I went mall hopping from Robinsons Place Ermita to Rockwell and then back again to Glorietta for a despedida I’ve organized for one of my co-workers that’s about to resign. Rustan’s still has some items on sale even though their End of Season Sale ended on July 31. They have clothing and footware items from their in-house labels such as Lady Rustans, U, Jill and Y.V.I.P. to Oleg Cassini and Hollywood Jeans.

When I go to Rockwell, I found the biggest bargain at F.C.U.K. (French Connection U.K.). They have this sale rack at the back end of the store and I was able to buy this copper halter top with black and red outline flower design from an original Php3950 to only Php 895! What a steal! Aside from the blue halter top with embroidered flower design made out of cotton, they have a lot of black blouses and wool cardigans that are just perfect for the office.

I’m running out of words here and my fingers are tired from typing as well so I’d just list down the other stores that are on sale:

Blush Hour (Lifestyle Section)
Calvin Klein (clothing and their underwear store)
Chocolate Clothing Co. (Independent Lifestyle Section)
Cole Haan
Hot Pink Lingerie (Independent Lifestyle Section)
Kenneth Cole
Miko (Independent Lifestyle Section)

Polo Garage
Sole and Co.
Vero Cuio (Independent Lifestyle Section)
The antique store (I didn’t really paid much attention to its name)This small booth in Independent Lifestyle section that sells a gamut of items from funky eyeglass cases to accessories, lotions and my personal fave – the bathrobe made from Egyptian cotton. It’s right before you get to Nothing But Water.

This has been your Bargain Maven at your service.

xs: some stores on Shangri-la Mall are on sale as well:
Polo Ralph Lauren
Homme Et Femme (pick up the Balenciagas while they're still cheap)

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Death by Ukay-ukay

About two weeks ago, my mom texted me a warning about stopping my patronage of ukay-ukays (the Philippines' version of a thrift store/vintage shop, whatever you want to call it). She told me she was able to catch an episode of CSI: New York wherein brides drop dead on the floor on the day of their respective nuptials due to their wedding gowns. A local mortician makes money out of selling to thrift stores the clothes worn by corpses that arrive in his/her facility (I haven't seen this episode yet so I'm not sure about the sex of the mortician). This is after he's just finished embalming the bodies in formalene and all the other chemicals they use.

It was kind of creepy because I was scheduled to meet up with the girls at our fave ukay-ukay by Friday (my mom texted me Monday afternoon). Was that mother's intuition or what? Anyhoo, I had a quick retort to my mom. Discovery Channel's featured the same story in their wonderfully entertaining series on urban legends entitled 'Fact or Fiction.' They interviewed a pathologist to confirm or debunk the veracity of that particular myth.

My mom told me that in CSI: New York's storyline, the wedding gowns' lining got completely soaked in the embalming liquids and that as a result, some of them got trapped in the clothing article until they got absorbed by the victims through the pores on the skin. Completely untrue, said the pathologist. Case closed.

If you're like me who shops at ukay-ukay's, the number one rule should be that you'd have to wash first the items you've purchased before using it - for sanitary reasons. Although the clothes may look great, you can never tell what condition the original owner of that clothing article has.