Happpppy Tuesday! Eek, it’s a little scary pressing “schedule” on this post, but…I’m going to have to rip off the bandaid! And no, this is not an early April Fools joke—it’s just something I’ve been curious to try and I figure now is the time. Yes, that’s right—starting April 1, I’m going one month without shopping and will chronicle the “challenge” here. So, what exactly does this entail? Well, several things, which I’ll explain below.
Let’s start with the basics.
“Why, Sarah, why? What made you decide to do this?”
I was pretty motivated reading the Refinery 29 Money Diaries I shared a few weeks ago, and they made me want to be better at managing my budget. I’ve always been curious about doing a 30-day no shopping challenge, but it never feels like the right time (December, for example, would be an extremely difficult month to do this because of the holidays, and this past fall I was still purchasing several items for my apartment). This month, all I really have on the docket in terms of major events (aka major spending) is a friend’s wedding in Seattle. I’ve already purchased my airfare, paid my share of the Airbnb, ordered my registry gift, and picked up dresses for the wedding and a pre-wedding event (one was only $17 at Buffalo Exchange, and the other was on sale at LOFT). Of course, my friends and I will be going out to do some sightseeing and eating/drinking at various restaurants and bars, but when I think of Seattle, I don’t think, “Omg, what great shopping!” (Don’t tell me if I’m wrong!). Also, we’ll be taking advantage of experiences, not things, while we’re there, and that’s really what matters most.
While I’ve picked somewhat of an “easy” month to do this challenge, it’s really my day-to-day life that will be hard to regulate. I actually do most of my shopping online, which is somewhat of a contrast to when I lived in New York. So, the biggest thing I’ll have to work on will be resisting the temptation to click “add to cart.” With Amazon Prime and other similar services (and the fact that Google Chrome automatically fills in my billing and shipping information!), it can be really hard to sit down and think twice about a purchase. This challenge will force me to really contemplate whether I “need” something. I’ve also read advice that recommends putting off purchases for multiple weeks anyway (something that can be difficult for this little bargain shopper!).
“Can you actually do this?”
I don’t know! I’ve read other accounts of 30-day challenges (I recently read this one pertaining to drinking), and people slip up from time to time, whether it’s out of frustration or because they feel like breaking the ban is super “worth it” in a certain situation. So yeah, if Gray Malin decides to start selling his artwork for $50 instead of the usual $200 during April, I’ll buy one! That ain’t gonna happen, but you get the point. The goal will be to not have one of these slipups, but nobody’s perfect. Even if I can begin to be more mindful about my purchases, that’s still a valuable lifestyle change. But yes, I’m a pretty goal-oriented person and aim to please, so I’ll really try my best to stay on track.
“You’re doing this as a challenge? Is it really that hard?”
I wouldn’t be referring to something as a challenge if I didn’t think it was, well, a challenge for me. If this wouldn’t be a challenge for you, all the more power to ya!
Obviously, this challenge in itself is a #firstworldproblem. Many people wouldn’t have to take such a challenge because discretionary shopping simply isn’t an option. And I definitely want to acknowledge that here.
I have to remind myself that while I’m frustrated with my habits in this area, there are many other ways in which I’m on top of my game. We can all improve in one way or another (or in most of our cases, in multiple ways), and it’s a good thing we don’t all face the same challenges, or we wouldn’t be able to look at one another for inspiration!
What will you buy and what will you avoid?
I’ll still buy things like groceries and drugstore items, use transportation services, and go out with friends. But I won’t be actively “shopping” as a hobby. I don’t think you need to deprive yourself of fun and nourishment to stay within budget (just read the Money Diaries!). I don’t spend a ton of money on groceries as it is, so maybe I’ll allow myself some more wiggle room in that area. I’m sure food shopping can be just as satisfying as shopping shopping if I let myself go in with that mindset! I can’t decide if it would be cheating or not to treat myself to something like an exercise class…it isn’t technically “shopping,” but it’s still an unnecessary indulgence. Buuuut it’s good for you. Thoughts?!
How are you going to motivate yourself?
I’d love to eventually host a (very belated) housewarming party at my apartment, but having a large group of people over can get expensive! I’d like to be able to invite friends from various parts of my life over for a fun night without worrying too much about the cost (one of the reasons it always seems easier to do this type of thing with roommates!). So that’s definitely on the to do list once the challenge is over.
Also, even posting this for y’all to see is motivation enough. Setting goals that involve lifestyle changes are hard. It’s like when you set your alarm for 5:30 am promising yourself that you’ll work out before work…except in that situation, no one has to know but you. So I’m posting this on here so that you guys can hold me accountable. Please do (kindly).
Check back halfway through the month for an update on how this is going…and wish me lots of luck!
If you’ve been reading for awhile, you may remember my obsession with this hat last summer. While in Florida last week, I decided to make my own! I was wandering around Walmart when I remembered their amazing craft supplies section (they have tons of great fabrics, ribbons, and more). I was able to score some pom pom ribbon, black sequins, and a glue gun for about $12 total, and I then went to the women’s section to grab a plain straw hat for $3.
I had previously read Audrey’s tutorial (her hats turned out wonderfully!) but opted for an even simpler approach. After plugging in the glue gun (warning: the glue can get pretty hot and I definitely touched it too many times while applying the sequins!) I began applying the pom pom ribbon to the hat. I chose black because it went well with the black sequins, but Walmart also had pink, teal, and some other colors. I was considering skipping the sequin lettering all together and just adding some colorful pom poms to a plain hat (still would’ve been cute and festive!), but I decided I wanted a little more of a challenge.
In Audrey’s tutorial, she used permanent marker to write out her phrases before applying glue and sequins, but I couldn’t find a marker and decided to wing it. Oh, and as for the sequins: the only sequined ribbon I could find at Walmart was a thicker style, so I actually ended up cutting the ribbon down the middle to get thinner strips. This took a bit more time (and made a bit more of a mess), but it was an easy way to improvise. The letters still turned out thicker than I would have liked, but I don’t mind having a hat that’s a bit different from all the rest. After cutting the sequined ribbon in half, I glued on one letter at a time (I used the glue gun to draw the shape of a particular letter and then immediately stuck on the ribbon). At first, I started forming the letters on my own, but I eventually Google-imaged a similar hat to see how other people had done the cursive lettering. Looking at a completed project definitely made the process a lot easier.
After what felt like no time at all (15 or 20 minutes max!), I had a brand new sunhat to wear to the beach! While I don’t think it looks like it’s professional quality, I still think it makes for a fun, simple DIY project that requires minimal spending and will last for summers to come! You can get really creative with the phrasing, but I just stuck with the classic “out of office” saying…let me know if you have any other phrase suggestions, though, because I’d love to make another one at some point!
Happy Friday! I’ve been posting a lot because I’m on vacation and have had extra time to write, which has been wonderful. Going forward, my goal is to post three times a week, which I think is pretty manageable. Help me hold myself accountable!
I’ve come across some great websites/series lately, and because sharing is caring, I’m going to pass them along to you all…
1) If you’re like me and you’re 1) nosy and 2) trying to be better at budgeting, you’ve come to the right place. I don’t remember how I discovered Refinery 29’s Money Diaries series (one of the stories may have popped up on my news feed), but I found out about these pieces about a week ago and have been hooked ever since. I was so inspired after reading several that I sat down to reevaluate my budget in order to be better at staying on track!
I found it super interesting to see how different women spent their earnings and how factors like location and relationship status played a role. I also noticed that barely anyone was doing any shopping! People spent a lot more money on groceries and going out to dinner but really steered away from things like Amazon Prime and impulse buys…food for thought and definitely good inspiration!
2) If you love Diptyque candles but are looking for a discount…check out C.O. Bigelow. Traditional Diptyque candles don’t go on sale (unless you’re talking about a sample sale in New York City, and even then, they go quickly!). But C.O. Bigelow offers a $10 discount upon signing up for emails, and when you pair that with free shipping, you’re getting a better deal on a splurge-worthy candle. I’ve also snagged some of the holiday candles on sale here, and combined with the $10 coupon, they were a great deal — think $7 for a mini and $25 for a regular size!
3) I am always looking for tips on how to improve my poor, damaged hair (which has been straightened nearly every day since I was 13…eek) and I’m hoping to try out some of Danielle’s tips. Fingers crossed! I always love trying new products, so I may check out some of her recs. Let me know if you have any advice to send my way.
Ok, so I never thought I’d be saying this because 1) I’m not really a shoe person (I know) and 2) DSW is just one of those big chain stores, right? However, they have some awesome stuff that’s both affordable and on-trend. Seriously, I want it all! Think scallops, springy styles, classic work totes, and more…
It all started with these shoes, which I spotted in an issue of Real Simple (such a good magazine) that I was reading on the plane the other day. I made a mental note to look them up online when I landed (they were listed as $39 in the magazine) because they were too cute. Well, what do you know? They’re actually on sale for $19! I quickly clicked add to cart (oh, and they come in black, too) and arranged to pick them up at my local store, because I’ll do anything and everything to avoid shipping costs. Will report back once I get ’em!
I’d heard of the Kelly and Katie brand before and immediately went to check out their other stuff. Omg, this tote, y’all. Need. I can’t decide if coral or black is better? I’m thinking black is more classic and versatile, but the coral kind of reminds me of this Kate Spade option. The light pink would be cuter if it looked more like the shoe color, but here it looks tan-like and also seems like it would show dirt faster. Leaning toward black at the moment, but either way, it’s super cute and only $34!
And below, a few other adorable finds…
The cherry blossoms have been on such a weird schedule this year! They were blooming at the end of February and then got all frozen during the storm…I’d been hoping to see them since I’ve been away during this time for several years, but we’ll see. I’ve heard the best days to go to the Cherry Blossom Festival are later this week or this weekend…I’ll be out of town, but if anyone can makes, report back and take lots of pictures for me!
When I was googling the festival, I spent some time browsing its website and saw that they’re selling the cutest merchandise. Anyone who knows me knows that love a good piece of wall art, and what’s better than a fun DC-themed print? I ordered this one, and at $12, it’s super affordable and also a great size (18 by 24). Now I just need to figure out where to put it when it arrives! The colors are super springy and make me happy.
Fingers crossed that I can see the blossoms in person soon! We had a cherry tree in our front yard when I was growing up, and it was beautiful (although I’ll admit that the blossoms got stuck on our shoes and ended up all over the house when the tree was in bloom!).
Image by Hado Photo
Ok, disclaimer: I definitely have moments where I’m not at ALL on top of my sh*t. But because I get motivated reading about other people’s organization tips, I figure you all may feel the same way. We can all learn from each other, right?! Nothing groundbreaking here, but these are a few ways I stay on top of things around the apartment and beyond:
Bill Paying: I am probably the most old-fashioned bill payer ever, but here goes. I keep all of my bills clipped on my fridge with a magnet from my university (so glamorous, I know), but I never forget about them because I see them several times a day! I also pay most of my bills via mail because
I’m 80 there can often be fees associated with paying with a card online, and sometimes it’s just easier to toss something in the mailbox (make sure you know that the mail in that mailbox is actually getting picked up, and be sure to stick a stamp on firmly…not that this has ever been an issue for me 😉 …).
Outfit Planning: When I was in middle school, I would actually write down all of my outfits for the coming week on a sheet of notebook paper (yet somehow I’m not a fashion blogger…hmm) so that I could keep track of what I was wearing and be prepared in advance (middle school started early, guys!). My cousin actually did the same thing, but she would keep the paper after the week was over to make sure she didn’t repeat outfits later. We were fashionistas, y’all. I also used one of those sweater hangers (with the different slots) to lay out my clothes for the week; I had a separate compartment for each day. Maybe this will inspire you? But currently, I follow a much simpler method and sometimes lay out outfits in my closet or just think of a few go-to options (depending on what I have clean). I’ll then set out my clothes the night before so that I can grab them in the morning (because my job now starts even earlier than middle school…cringe!).
Social Calendar: I use my trusty Lilly planner to record both work events and assignments as well as social events. If I have an upcoming date, happy hour, girls night, etc, I’ll write it down so that it’s on my radar (this can also help with budgeting for the week!). I know some people swear by Google or Outlook calendars, but I’m a pen and paper gal (see a theme here?). I also use the notes section on my phone to keep track of this and that…errands I need to run, things to buy, books I want to read…and it’s always helpful to quickly jot down information there if I don’t have a pen with me.
Hair Styling: I try (read: try) to look somewhat presentable and straighten my hair every day, and showering at night (which works out great since I do evening workouts) makes it super easy to get ready in the morning without having to shower/blowdry/straighten all at once. Blow drying my hair before bed or letting it dry while I sleep has really been a HUGE time saver when it comes to getting ready. I don’t know how people can do it all in the morning without waking up super early!
Images by Hado Photo
If you use Gilt or similar sites, you may know that they have awesome city-wide deals and clothing sales, but did ya know Gilt also sells adorable furniture? They also frequently email out additional coupon codes (for an extra 20 or 30 percent off the site), which can make for a great deal. Prices can range from affordable to $$$ depending on the item and the brand, but overall, I’d say there are definitely some amazing finds!
I’d love this Rifle Paper office set to use at work. I have a Rifle Paper notepad on my desk right now, and it’s perfect for my daily to do lists (but I also don’t want to use it up too quickly because it’s so cute!).
This little box would be fun for jewelry or on a nightstand.
Oh my goodness, how perfect is this business card holder??
This striped storage bench would be a perfect addition to an office, bedroom, or living room.
A gorgeous bar cart.
I think spring is right around the corner. At least, I hope. But that doesn’t mean stocking up on off-season essentials is a bad idea. In fact, there are lots of great sales going on right now that make it super easy to grab some adorable items for next fall and winter. Here are a few of my faves…
At $16 (yes, that’s right, SIXTEEN DOLLARS!), these adorable Nordstrom Rack booties are necessary for next fall. You can bet I snatched them up in brown!
Snakeskin is cute all year long, and I’m loving this adorable crossbody for nights out.
Oh my goodness…be cuter, camel-colored peacoat. Perfect for next fall and under $40!
These ballet flats would look perfect at work, at brunch, wherever!
A few other must haves…this time, for spring and summer:
2) So I actually ordered this J.Crew scarf (it was only $3.90 with the coupon I posted the other day!) with the intention of framing it. I’ll have to see what I think when it arrives, and I know framing can be $$$, but how cute would it be as artwork?! I’ve been obsessed with the idea of framing scarves lately and would love to try it out!
3) Speaking of J.Crew, I also picked up this nautical sunhat which will be perfect for my upcoming Florida trip!
4) This anorak is super classic and will be perfect as the weather warms up a bit.
What’s in your shopping cart at the moment? I’ve been trying to really search for deals and purchase items that I know I can wear for both work and play. As much fun as it was to shop for going out shirts in college, I like to find items that I can wear to the bar and at my desk. Right now, I’m loving anything with lace (whether in shirt, tank, or dress form), so if you have any recs, send ’em my way!
Happy Friday! And Happy St. Patrick’s Day–are you wearing green? I am! I love dressing up for holidays, even as an adult (it’s a good thing I work at a school where people actually notice these kinds of things). TGIF. I’m looking forward to a fun weekend catching up with my sister, who’s home for her college spring break, and going out on Saturday night with friends. I’m heading to Soul Cycle tonight (woo!) but also need to do tons of laundry and cleaning and mail out a few Poshmark sales from this week (blah!). Any fun plans?
I don’t know about you, but I need to do something creative at least once a day, whether it’s at work or at home. Whether you prefer to do something on the computer or journal away, I’m sure you can relate! Here are 5 ways to incorporate a burst of creativity into your day.
1) Pin away. Honestly, just going on Pinterest for a few minutes can help me feel so inspired (and a little bit overwhelmed!). I love filing away new pins, especially those that link to blog posts which I can read when I have a bit more time. Seeing examples of other people’s creativity definitely helps me feel more motivated.
2) Make a playlist. I love making workout playlists to share with my friends, but making a playlist for your eyes only is fine, too! I was bored on bus home from work and ended up making an awesome playlist with all of my favorite mellow songs from college.
3) Write down a big idea (or two). The other day, I took a five minute break at work and wrote down an idea I have for a novel (and promptly emailed it to my mom, haha). Who knows if/when I’ll get around to pursuing it further, but it was nice to develop my ideas into a few sentences!
4) Get in the kitchen. I’m not a fan of cooking, but I could definitely get behind learning a new cocktail recipe or two. Creativity + productivity (getting dinner on the table) = a win win.
5) Journal. I’ve never been great at keeping a journal, but sometimes I’ll feel really inspired and write down pages and pages of reflection (usually on the computer!). Writing can be so therapeutic, and it’s up to you whether you’d like to share your creation with anyone…no stressing about turning in a perfect “A” paper here!
What tips would you add?