Let The Chicks Hatch

http://www.jeffbullas.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Are-You-Making-This-Huge-Mistake-On-Your-Blog.jpgI have to say… I never thought I’d be irresponsible with money. My mom and dad gave me a GREAT start into the financial world, and gave me every tool a parent could give for me to get and keep financial stability. I took less than $11,000 in student loans for a four year degree, I have a degree as a Respiratory Therapist in the “recession proof” health field, and I am married to a man who has never done less than provide a comfortable life for us. We had everything good going for us. It’s amazing how quickly the feeling of stability can fall away from you!

Here’s my first and hopefully ONLY major financial mistake:

I was only six months away from graduation when I decided that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to look at getting a new car. Fast forward a month, and I was the proud new “owner” of a 2010 GMC Terrain. Oh did I ever have stars in my eyes! A beautiful, nearly new SUV with good mpg’s was sitting in MY driveway. It was my early graduation present to myself, because who would ever think that a Respiratory Therapist would have a hard time finding a job? The payments were easily managed, and I would have a great paying job within six months for sure, right? Wrong. I wish someone would have slapped me and said:

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How I Purchased a New Wardrobe for Less Than $500

How I Purchased a New Wardrobe for Less Than $500Hi everyone! I’m excited to be guest posting here while Michelle is enjoying her (much-needed!) vacay. I write over at The Happy Homeowner, a personal finance blog where I write about budgeting, saving, and spending wisely—and everything in between!

Although I haven’t done much shopping for clothes recently due to a variety of other savings goals, I want to share some of my tips and strategies for how I purchased a full wardrobe for under $500 after changing jobs/industries last year.

 

1.    I had a realistic plan of attack. I knew I wouldn’t be able to purchase everything I wanted, but I knew that I had to try my best to purchase everything I needed. That meant shopping in a variety of stores including department stores, thrift shops, and consignment stores. I also made a list of what I hoped to purchase, and I stuck with a time frame of one day because I knew I’d lose focus or become subject to impulse buys if I gave myself too many opportunities to shop (yes, it was a fantastic Shop-a-palooza kind of day).

2.    I used coupons. One of my favorite ways to save on clothing is to stack coupons on top of store sales. It’s a little-known secret, but most stores will honor expired coupons if you politely ask the manager to do so. Doing this at Kohl’s allowed me to save 30% on top of an already amazing sale. When the cashier handed me my receipt, we both were in a bit of awe when we noticed it said I had saved over $652.

3.    I made “versatility” my shopping mantra. Before I even tried on an item, I quickly ran through its various uses in my head. If I couldn’t figure out at least 3 ways to wear it, it went back on the rack no matter how much I loved it.

4.    I sought out the diamonds in the rough. I was not too proud to sift through the clearance sections of virtually every store I walked into. When most saw trash, I literally saw treasure as I kept my versatility mantra in mind and quickly learned how to style a few not-so-common threads I found along the way (such as a loudly printed maxi dress that I’ve worn at least 30 times by now that was marked down to $1.50 because it had been in the store since the previous spring!).

 

In the end, I walked away with enough clothing to stock my closet in a way that would provide me outfits for work, casual weekends, going out with the girls, etc, etc, etc. I even picked up a few new running outfits because they were on such a steep clearance and I still had money leftover in my budget. All in all, my total expenditure should have been over $3,750 if I had paid the original retail price. I’m proud to report that I spent a (whopping) $483.67 on that same haul.

 

How do you save money on clothing purchases?

My comment: Thanks for guest posting for me! Just so everyone knows, The Happy Homeowner is one of my favorite blogs. There’s always such great information that’s super relate-able.

As we all know, clothing is something that I’m horrible with. My closet is disgustingly packed with clothes (as are my dining room table, laundry room, guest room, and my bedroom). This is something I need to tame.

Travel and Packing Tips

Travel and Packing TipsToday I have a guest post from Becky over at House of Sykes! Enjoy. Be sure to check out her blog!

My husband and I are leaving next month to spend a week in Mexico. While daydreaming about our vacation since we booked it today, I started to compile a sample packing list for someone taking an all inclusive tropical vacation. Of course, the amount you pack is contingent on how many days you are staying, so adjust accordingly.

Here are a few of my suggestions (aside from obvious ones like a toothbrush and underoos):

  • 3-4 bathing suits: you live a bathing suits during the day in the tropics. they’re tiny and lightweight – perfect for carry on luggage.
  • Tervis tumblers: most all inclusive resorts will fill up your tumbler instead of the tiny plastic cups on the beach or by the pool. tumbler = more drinky drinky and no sweaty glass!
  • medicine: everything from Tylenol to Immodium and everything in between. be sure to also pack a small first aid kit.
  • electronics: some of you know that we LOVE to stay in touch with home while we’re away, so we take the laptop and cell phones with us. this also includes the DSLR camera and a point and shoot. having so many electronics with us also helps back up the photos we’ve taken. we keep them on the SD card, laptop, I-pod and smart phone. if we lose something, we’re sure to have the photos backed up somewhere!
  • snacks: we discovered on our last trip to Mexico that US Airways no longer provides complimentary snacks in flight. not to mention, food in the airport is crazy expensive. take your own snacks that are high in sugar – nabs, honey buns, granola, etc. to keep you energized while you’re traveling.
  • pens, passports, travel documents: when flying internationally, you will need these items with you in flight. take your own pens so you don’t have to borrow someone else’s to fill out your customs forms. this prevents the spread of germs too. (did you see “Contagion”?)
  • 3 dresses: you rarely eat with the same people each night, so no one will know that you’re wearing the same dress to dinner on Saturday night that you wore on Wednesday night. pack jersey type material so if it gets bunched up during your travel, it won’t wrinkle.
  • 3 pairs of shoes: 2 pairs in the suitcase; 1 pair on your feet. come on ladies, you’re on vacation, not a runway. there’s no need to pack your entire wardrobe. you are on vacation to relax, not impress.
  • plastic bags: include a quart size freezer back for each carry on. include a plastic grocery bag to pack wet bathing suits for the journey home.

Hope these packing tips help if you are going on a vacation somewhere fun and hot!

Michelle’s comment: Thinking about packing puts me in such a good mood! I’m a horrible packer though. If I’m gone for just 2 days, I will still bring 20 dresses. I actually counted last time, and when we went to Miami last August for 3 days, I brought 19 dresses (plus shorts).

How do you pack? What are your traveling “essentials”?