Tag Archives: budget

Living on a Budget: Thrifting

Budget living is darn hard. Trust me, I know. I live it every single day. Some days are harder than others and some days I don’t even notice it. As the days, weeks, and months go by it becomes more and more of a habit and less like a conscious decision. So if you’re starting a strict budget– keep at it! It will get easier, I promise.

With that, there is one simple and easy way to live on a budget and still have all you need. Obviously we all pretty much already have what we need. If you’re on a computer reading this, I’m assuming you do. But we still want things. We’re only human, right? That’s where the thrift stores come in.

I know for some people the idea of wearing clothes bought at a thrift store is so disgusting you don’t even want to continue reading. That’s okay. You can stop. But to those of you who are only slightly skeeved or not the least bit skeeved to you I say head to the thrift store!

I’m new to thrifting and to successfully thrift, which I don’t think I’ve fully done yet, you have to be willing to dig. And dig. And dig. And when you think you’re done, you’re not. Keep digging. Dig like you’ve never dug before. And you should probably bring a friend along to dig with you. Or a willing participant if you don’t have any friends.

Now that you know you need to dig you might be wondering, what else should I know?

Know that not all thrift stores are alike so don’t knock them all based on one.
Know that thrift store trips have their good and bad days so don’t knock one store on the basis of one trip.
Know that some thrift stores really are nasty so go ahead and feel free to cross that one off your list.
Know that you can’t get exactly what you want, but you can get what you’re willing to get. What does that mean? That means when you go there searching for the perfect black work pants you might not find them, but with a little alteration they might be perfect. It also means that although you went there for black pants you just might leave with some awesome green ones instead.
Know that some stores do smell.
Know that with a little soap and elbow grease you can make it almost shiny and slightly new.
Know that some clothes are unworn!

Case in point:

I went to the new Goodwill in Langhorne, PA last night hoping to find some black work pants. Instead, I left with two pairs of pants with original tags: one a emerald/jade green and one grey. Ummm score! I had just been telling the friend how colored pants are a skinny goal because I didn’t want to spend full money on them right now and I found a pair new with tags for $7! So for $14 I got two new pairs of pants I didn’t intend to get. Btdubs– if you live in the area, that Goodwill is the shiznet. It’s clean, doesn’t smell, is organized pretty well, and has lots of dressing rooms.

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Here is a blog who thrifts and does it successfully!

Thrift & Shout

P.S. Stay tuned on Monday for my Blogspiration post featuring Thrift & Shout!

How do you thrift? Any tips for us new thrifters?

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Living on a Budget

As most of you know, since I’ve beat it with a stick, I live on a strict budget.  This is for a few reasons:

1. I’m trying to clean up finances.  Between school loans and poor choices, my finances need some cleaning.
2. I want to.  I’d like to make this a habit when I’m able to be flexible so that when my financial tie-ups become more serious (mortgage, wedding, family) I’ll already have laid the foundation and formed a habit.
3. My consumption is ridic and I really don’t need anything.

But I am human and even though I don’t need anything, I definitely want things.  That’s why I am so happy to have found other bloggers who also live on a budget and shop cheaply.  It’s inspiration and proof that it can be done.

So what is my budget?  Well budgets are really personal and what you need or are willing to cut back on, I might not be and vice versa.  So I won’t go into details, but suffice it to say it is cut down to almost no unnecessary spending (again, what is necessary to me might not be necessary to you).  Instead of telling you about mine, I thought I’d share a few tips on how I made mine.  Here goes nothing.budgetlogo

  1. Get comfortable with Excel. I can’t say this enough. Excel is a life saver when it comes to budgets and numbers. Learn how to use formulas in Excel. Especially sum.
  2. Know what you get paid monthly. This is a no-brainer, but a lot of people don’t know this number. Know the amount and when. Do you get paid every other week, once a month, or the 15th and last day of the month? Do you get a bonus? Do you rely on that bonus? Know all of your numbers.
  3. What are your non-negotiables? These are items that you will not adjust or budge on. Of course, sometimes adjustments have to be made, but your non-negotiables are the last items to be adjusted.
  4. What are your needs? These are things that are not an option. You need to eat, commute, pay bills. Make a list (in Excel) of those items. Because I just moved back in with my parents, my needs are a little different than yours might be. My grocery budget isn’t nearly as high as it was when I lived alone. But I still have to commute, and I commute far for work, so my gas budget is high. Make sure to accurately figure these budgets out. I calculated the mileage to work, how often I drive to work and other places, and used an estimate of current gas prices to figure out that monthly need. Do this with your other needs as well.
  5. What needs to be paid off? Loans? Credit card debt? These come before your wants. In fact, these are considered a need in my book. I don’t adjust these numbers– they are fixed for me and non-negotiable.
  6. Figure out what is most important to you. Is having the latest fashion most important? Accessories? Clothes? Eating out? Groceries? Fitness? Alternative health? Knowing this will help you prioritize your wants. For me, alternative health/fitness is the most important. This is an area I really won’t budge on. Clothes aren’t important to me right now for a few reasons—I’m trying to lose weight, I need to reduce my consumption, and I have enough clothes. So I have a zero clothing budget, but a generous budget for yoga and the chiropractor. It’s all about knowing what you want and what you don’t care so much about.
  7. Plug and chug. Fill in your needs, non-negotiables, and debts and subtract that from your salary. See what you have left and start adding numbers to your wants. If you set up your excel so that it automatically subtracts from your salary, you can see how the numbers change.
  8. Now that you have all these numbers and you know your budget, what are you going to do with it? You need to find the method that works for you. Some people are less inclined to swipe plastic, I am more inclined. If my debit card is in my wallet I will use that before cash and have no idea how much I spent therefore completely ruining all the hard work I did on my budget. So I decided to get the cash out each paycheck and put it in labeled slots in my wallet. The debit card stays in a safe place at home and I can see my cash going down each time I spend it. It definitely makes me think twice before throwing anything in the cart. Some people like to use their debit/credit card so they can see where they spent their money on their statement. Whatever it is, find what works for you and do it!

Now for a few helpful links:

  • Dave Ramsey’s Debt Snowball
    This works amazingly for me.  I love having a simple plan and seeing my debts reduce drastically.  I also love that there is a light at the end of the tunnel: I might be paying a lot towards debt right now, but by doing that I will be out of debt quicker and all of that money will be allocated towards more fun/smart things.
  • Excel Help and How-Tos
    You can learn formulas here!
  • A wallet with multiple pockets.  I found mine for $4 on sale at Target (budget living) and it has multiple pockets that I labeled (yup) with each category.  I put the cash in the appropriate pockets and it helps me keep to my budget!
  • A simple spreadsheet.
    I created this simple spreadsheet and uploaded it to Google Drive.  You can download (let me know if you have an issue and I can email it to you) and use it as you please.  The sums are set up for you.  I like to color code my spreadsheets so you’ll see it is color coded.  This is a simple spreadsheet to start plugging and chugging with to see how quickly your salary dwindles down.  Note: my tax break is 25% so that is set there.  You can do without those columns and just enter your after tax salary or look at a few paychecks and figure out the average of what you get paid each payperiod.  I hope this helps you 🙂

I hope you’re able to find something useful in this post.  Keep my zero clothing and accessory budget in mind as you view my fashion posts: all of my fashion posts are with clothes/accessories I already own unless otherwise noted.  I am human after all and might use some money from another budget area to buy a new item every once in a while.

How has this post helped you?  How do you make a budget?

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Fashion and a Thank You

I am so excited to see how well received my two recent fashion posts (here and here) were. I was lucky enough to have J from J’s Everyday Fashion tweet my most recent post. I contacted her to ask permission to use her photo and she not only gave me permission, she offered to tweet it! Thanks, J!

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I was definitely nervous about including fashion posts onto the blog for a few reasons.
1. Who really cares what I wear?
2. I’m not always so fashionable… I only get dressed when I have something to do and then quickly return to yoga pants.
3. It opens me up to unkind comments.
4. I’m not too happy with my body right now and am working on fixing it. But the internet is unforgiving so these photos will never disappear.
5. I’m currently on an extremely strict budget with a ZERO clothing budget. All of the outfits I post will be using clothes I currently have in my closet. So there might not be much variety or clothes you can currently buy in the stores.

With that being said and considered, I ultimately decided the fashion posts will help me, and maybe you. To decide this I answered each of my concerns.
1. I do. And maybe you do too.
2. Well, not everyone is always fashionable. We all resort to comfy clothes from time to time and changing back into them is the best way to preserve your fancy clothes (anyone else spill something on themselves every time they eat?).
3. What doesn’t open you up to unkind comments? Bonus: it opens you up to even more kind and supportive comments!
4. It’s just motivation to work harder to get where I’d like to be. Ain’t no shame in that!
5. I’m not the only one who doesn’t have an unlimited, or even limited, budget. This is more motivation—it forces me to be creative about my outfits and hopefully inspire you to be as well.

I hope I can count on your support as I work to incorporate more fashion posts. I’m working on learning more about photography and need to find the perfect spot in my house to take the photos.

What do you do when you’re on a limited/zero clothing budget? Any specific kinds of outfits you’d like to see?

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