Thursday, August 28, 2008

Workin' 9-5

Sheryl Bangle Shop Suey Boutique, $16.00
Isaac Mizrahi Sateen Slim Skirt Target, $24.99
Ruffle Elegance Woven Shirt Forever 21, $19.80
Almond Rattan Handbag Forever 21, $18.80
Kardin Dress Pump Payless Shoe Source, $24.99

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

How? I followed the advice that every frugalist recommends and called my insurance company. I was involved in an accident which was my fault back in September (the day my obsession for finding the best curry in San Diego became my burden), and that upped my insurance from $670 every 6 months to a whopping $1025. Today I started thinking: ok so yes I was at fault in an accident...but what would other insurance companies charge me? Furthermore, what would my insurance quote me at as a new customer? So I used a pseudonym and wham! bam! thank you ma'm (ooer) I saw a nice little quote for $800.

So I called my insurance company and asked if there were any discounts I could take advantage of. I briefly mentioned that I had seen quotes for less at other companies (even with factoring in my accident) and the incredibly nice and helpful rep spent some time with me. So how did they lower my bill? A more accurate adjustment of teh estimated annual miles I drive (this alone reduced my policy by 100). She was ready to send me off when I asked if there were more discounts that could be applied since it was still higher than what I had seen. She questioned me about my profession and since I am college educated and considered a "professional" I received an even greater discount to the tune of $782.00 per month- a $238.76 savings (that they will refund to me for the payment I just made).

Wowza was that the most profitable 15 minutes I ever spent...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I wore a dress a while back, a dress that never fails to get compliments, and I realized it was probably the best 80 bucks I spent. I actually remember buying the dress because I was 18, at the end of my senior year and $80.00 for a kid with no job was a load. But here, 5 years later I still get a lot of use out of the thing, and surprisingly it hasn't faded or become worn at all. Then i think about the $150.00 I plunked down 2 years ago for a Bebe dress. I think I wore it all of twice before getting uproariously drunk one night and vomiting all over it. I later sold it on ebay for 60 bucks (ummm I dry cleaned it first).

Anyhoodle, these little anecdotes makes me realize the value in buying something you truly, truly love versus buying what's hip and something you haven't given a lot of thought to. I think back on some of my favorite pieces and I have a skirt from the Gap that was around 50 bucks from when I was 18 (actually...I'm wearing it right now), a hat I bought two years ago for a forgotten sum, a coupel pairs of jeans that are over 2 years old bought for about 130 each and a brocade coat I splurged on for a few hundred when I was 19.

My favorite pieces are not necessarily pieces that cost a lot of money (though at the time they did seem like hefty financial sacrifices), but rather they are ones I wear time and time again. They are my go-tos for when I have nothing to wear. They are the pieces that sit silently in my closet comfortably at ease knowing that when I come to clean the closet out, they will be left there untouched. Most importantly they are pieces that never grow dated or old.

When buying an item, we've already discussed the value in holding off and determining if it is something you truly want. I think when it comes to fashion, this may not always work. Holding off for a bit may seem viable, but dang it if those gladiator sandals that go up to your shins are still to die for after a week of contemplation. So when weighing the decision to purchase fashion I believe in adhering to these valuable self-tests.

Is the piece timeless or of the moment? I would much rather invest my money in pieces that have a quality shape and material, ones I know will stand the test of time, then throw away 20 bucks on a peasant skirt I would only wear for a season (because, we all know what happened with that trend). By choosing timeless classics, no matter the price, you are ensuring that the piece will be worn for years to come (see: my J. Crew dress, any basic skirt, pants that fit like a dream).

Cost per Wear usage
Ok, so it's no secret I am a HUGE Christian Louboutin shoe fan. I mean, I see those babies and I simply drool and mumble "mmmggggooood" Would I buy a pair? At this point, most likely not. Granted these are shoes that will, most likely, withstand my timeless test, however, have you actually seen a Christian Louboutin shoe? The chances of me wearing those babies enough times to make up for the $600-plus price is unlikely. I have a classic little black dress I bought at Express a couple years ago. It is not necessarily something I wear on a daily basis, but it is a perfect piece when the occasion calls for. Timeless? Absolutely. Low cost per wear? At $50 I can wear it a few times a feel justified in the purchase (and I do).

Mix and Match Capability
Don't you hate when you buy an absolutely gorgeous item, only to be able to wear it with one other coordinating piece? I sure do. Nothing is more frustrating and useless. What good is that adorable little zebra print capelet if it really only goes with those black capri pants? This is why I also put my items through a mix and match test. When I see a piece I melt over, I quickly do a mental invetory of the items in my closet that would compliment it. The desired item must coordinate with at least three pieces already in my closet (shoes, pants, tops, jackets etc). This ensures I squeeze multiple outfits from one piece. Many of you already know how the surrounding items can completely change the look and feel of a single piece, so it's important that I have clothes that can pull double duty.

When in Doubt: Accessorize
You can make an entire outfit feel new with the simple addition of an accessory. Buying costume jewlery from Target, Claire's or the like can up the sizzle factor on a piece with out the fizzle on your bank statement. I am especially a fan of "statement" pieces in which a simple white tank top and jeans is adorned with a necklace that speaks for itself. Exquisite jewlery (and I'm nto talking about the baubles that cost an arm and leg here) needs simplicity as it's background, and there is something so chic about a basic top and bottom combined with a gorgeous ring, necklace or bracelet. Headscarfs and hats are also excellent pieces to enhance with.

Is the piece basic enough? This is essentially all of the tests wrapped into one. If you buy a $20.00 white tank top, chances of you passing all the tests are likely. A basic piece that fits like a dream is the ultimate in frugal dressing. Think of your favorite outfits, or your favorite top. You probably wear it a lot, with a lot of items and it probably has flexibility in the things it pairs with. Buying basics can also be jazzed up with your accesories, making a drab outfit pop. So stock up on all those solid color tanks and tee's, get those blue jeans and then wear the heck outta em.

Hopefully, you have gotten some use from these tips (if you didn't dont' tell me). Also, most importantly, getting a great deal is only a great deal if you use the piece! Never buy what you don't need. Happy frugal buying!

Monday, August 25, 2008

to the Simple Dollar and check out an excellent article for beating all those nasty tricks stores play on you to get you to spend the moolah.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Oh Dearie

I plum forgot yesterday was Thursday and I totally missed the boat. So to make it up to you here is a killer website that features a "Deal of the Day." It's called and each day they bring you an item that is at an unbelievablely low price. Todays deal is an adorable little frock:

Retail price: $175.00
Gomatta price: $49.00

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Simple Things

Sometimes, in our everyday life, we get so wrapped up in our to-dos, suppose-to-dos and have-to-dos we forget to take a moment and enjoy life. Here is a list of some things that enahnace life; simple yes but enjoyable? always.

1. A good read
2. Singing a favorite song on the radio
3. Yoga
4. Unexpected beauty in an unexpected place
5. Flowers
6. Farmers market
7. People watching
8. The smell of freshly baked goods
9. The first sip of a delicious glass of wine
10. Laughing until you cry
11. Having a really good conversation
12. Hugging a child (whether it be your own or a relative...just not a random one you see ont he street please)
13. Performing a random act of kindness (yes letting that car in front of you counts)
14. Dancing
15. Your absolute favorite meal
16. Having a real conversation with a child (you'd be amazed at the way they look at life)
17. Submerging your head under water and listening to the sound of nothing
18. Stargazing
19. The sound of the ocean
20. Ice cream on a hot day
21. Hot chocolate on a cold day
22. Christmas Eve
23. Blowing bubbles
24. Playing with a puppy
25. Having a picnic
26. Going for a scenic drive
27. Watching a fish swim in its tank
28. Ripe, juicy fruit
29. A cool breeze
30. The feeling of the sun on your skin
31. Jumping on the bed
32. Playing hooky
33. Watching an old movie
34. Accomplishing a goal...even if the goal was to get out of bed in the morning
35. Staying in your pjs all day
36. Holding hands for the first time
37. Coffee
38. Laughing at an inside joke
39. Cleaning your house (ok not the actual act of it but the relaxing bit after everything is shiny and clean)
40. The smell of clean laundry
41. Soaking in a bubble bath
42. Face masks
43. Gentle stretching and meditation
44. Old couples in love
45. Blowing a dandelion
46. Running.. no matter the distance
47. Giving a gift for no reason
48. The feeling after you are finally over your heartbreak
49. Getting into a bed of really soft, satiny sheets
50. Taking a moment to recognize your breathing, the air on your skin and reveling in the feeling of being alive

Friday, August 15, 2008

Hey all! Wide Open Wallet hosted Finance Fiesta: The Olympic Edition. Some excellent articles to check out so be sure to stop by and enjoy.

Ready to Be Rich is a man after this girl's heart when he took on Ways to Save Money on Hair.

Looking to make a little cold hard cash on the side? Check out Your Finish Rich Plan where an article tackles this in Making Money Online, Ten Things I wish I knew as a Beginner

An excellent article at Physician Entrepreneur delves into investing: Investing in Bonds-The Basics

Debt Smackdown discusses the concepts and feelings that are often connected with amassing money at What Do You Believe About Money?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Beach Romp

Women's Bikini Bottoms Old Navy, On Sale $10.00
Women's String Bikini Top Old Navy, On Sale $10.00
Women's Terry Empire Cover Up Old Navy, On Sale $12.99

Monday, August 11, 2008

Car Sharing

So I was reading an article on when a mention of car sharing caught my attention. What is it? It's a car sharing service for people who arent' willing to commit to the full time aspect of owning a car. How does it work? Well according to Zipcar you can rent a car for hours or days depending on yoru need. They have value plans that entail paying a monthly fee and a discount on the driving. A sample of this plan is the "Extra Value Plan" that has a $50.00 monthly commitment, a $25.00 one-time application fee and a 10% driving discount that starts at $8.10/hour and $59.40/day. Insurance, gas and 180miles are free.

This all begs the question: but is it worth it?? Ok maybe if you live in a densley populated city where public transportation is sufficient day-to-day and there is the odd occassion where renting (sorry sharing) a car is necessary. But living in a spread out town....I don't know I think that with the money charged to rent you could own a car for slightly more. Anyone care to share their thoughts on this concept?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

ELLE™ Leaf Smocked Knit Dress Kohls, On Sale $29.99
Kinna Hobo Payless Shoes, $22.99

Wednesday, August 6, 2008 $1.00, $2.00 and $3.00 off printer paper
Honey Bunches of Oats Just Clusters: $2.00 off
Nature Valley Granola Bars: $.60 off
Yoplait Yogurt-Original, Light, Thinck and Creamy or Whips: $.50 off
Eight 'O Clock Coffee: $1.00 off
Pepperidge Farm Baked Naturals: $1.00 off

For those of you who have ever tried to lose weight (and assuming that most of you have at least read articles about losing weight), you're probably familiar with the concept of writing down everything you eat. This tactic has proves time and time again to aid the individual in lsoing weight, the underlying principle being that you think twice about what you eat if you have to write it down. I found the same goes for trimming down your budget.

In May I began to not only live by a budget, but to also record everything I spent within the same budget to see what the delta would be in my proposed spending vs. actual spending. My first month I proposed a $2,3000 monthly budget. This budget included all the mandatory bills and entertainment, books, clothes, shoes and so forth. What did I clock in at? $2,600. The great thing about having tracked this? I not only saw that I went over my budget, I knew what it was exactly that tipped me over (the answer is spa treatments). So in June, I kept at it, then July and now into August. After looking at the three months of data I have compiled, I've managed to shave my monthly budget down to $1,800. That's nearly a 70% decrease!

In getting my monthly expenditures within reason, I did make some cuts along the way. I reduced my cable/internet bill by getting rid of cable completely, I haven't been to the spa in a few months and new clothes have become a thing of the past. But what did I find? I found more money to finally pursue cake decorating and yoga, more time to spend reading and satisfaction knowing that I can treat myself to a spa indulgence without feeling guilty. I found that writing down everything you spend works quite similar to writing down what you eat. Several times I found myself tempted to plop down forty bucks for some shoes but when I realized I'd have to be writing that amount down and subtracting from my monthly budget....well that urge sort of fell by the wayside.

Although constructing a budget is the first step in living within your means, it is only of great use when you apply it to your everyday spending habits, particularly in the beginning stages.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Great article I stumbled upon while trolling around You can check it out here at Seeking Alpha: Investment Discipline in the Year of Capitulation

Essentially, it discusses the importance of investment discipline in a bear market. Check it out and let me know what you think