Budgeting Bloggers: April

April budget breakdown

 

Well friends, it was another epic month for my wardrobe. I got so much new stuff, it doesn’t even all fit in this collage. Of course, money doesn’t grow on trees (and even if it did I’d be out of luck because I can’t keep a cactus alive), so how did I swing a nearly $700 budget? Well, I chug away at this blog thing everyday and pick up a few cents at a time through affiliate links, waiting to hit the minimum, and the stars happened to align this month and give me two nice payouts. Plus, I sold off more old stuff, including a Marc by Marc Jacobs bag for almost $100! Finally, I didn’t spend all of last month’s budget, and I got to add all this to my modest starting amount of $150. Here are the details:

April Budget

  • +$196 ($150 starting amount + $21 unspent in March + $25 for shoes I returned)
  • +$285 (blog income)
  • +$212 (sold old clothes)

         = $693

This was my biggest budget yet! Next month’s should be significantly smaller because I don’t expect any blog income, and I don’t have much left from this month to carry over (only $4). I just swapped out my winter clothes for summer over the weekend, so I have a couple bags of clothes to try and sell. Still, I’m sure that won’t add up to a huge amount. It will definitely be a challenge to take it down a notch and spend, you know, a normal amount on clothes.

What I Spent

  • -$74 on a floral baseball cap and black panama hat from J. Crew (total orig. $116, both purchased during special promos)
  • -$12 on round oversized sunglasses from Nordstrom
  • -$141 on white jeans and windowpane jacket from Ann Taylor (total orig. $264, both purchased during promos)
  • -$110 on colorblock heels, gold sandals, and silver bag (not pictured) from DSW (total retail $238, DSW total price $157, minus $20 off during special promo, minus $10 rewards certificate, and the bag was on extra sale!)
  • -$59 on cobalt dress from Madewell (orig. $130, on sale plus additional promo)
  • -$171 on Rebecca Minkoff bag from Nordstrom Rack (retail $295)
  • -$40 on crop top from Kate Spade Saturday (orig. $45, got 15% off for signing up for newsletter)
  • -$42 on cobalt pumps from 6pm.com (retail $89)
  • -$22 on snakeskin pumps from Target (orig. $30, Kristin and I both got shoes during a BOGO 1/2 off deal and split the cost)
  • -$18 on floral clutch (not pictured – similar ones here) from C. Wonder (orig. $48, on sale plus additional promo)

         = $689 (total retail value…drumroll please… $1,267!)

What I Received (gifted items)

Keep an eye out for Fran’s next budget post to see all the other budgeting bloggers’ posts! I’ll be linking up with them.

Follow along:

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Budgeting Bloggers: March

March Budget Breakdown

 

March 2014 was another great month of shopping for this girl! And no, that $571 budget is NOT an April Fool’s joke. Thanks to a lot of closet purging, I was able to pump up my budget by more than $200! The discovery of a couple women’s resale boutiques near me has pretty much changed my life…well, the part of my life that involves shopping anyway.

In March, I got A LOT of tops, shoes, and accessories. So for April I might try to find more dresses and bottoms. But I already have my eye on a couple more pairs of heels…what can I say, I’m on a roll. I’m also on a roll with getting some good deals; below I’ll show you not just what I spent, but what I would have spent on all this stuff at full price. I was lucky to have a couple of gift cards burning a hole in my wallet, plus I took advantage of several store promotions.

Without further ado, here’s the breakdown for March’s budget…

March Budget

  • +$212 ($150 starting amount + $62 unspent in February)
  • +$135 (blog income)
  • +$224 (sold old clothes…a lot of them!)

         = $571

What I Spent

         = $550 (total retail value…drumroll please… $1,003!)

What I Received (gifted item)

There you have it…another successful budget month is complete! I can’t wait to check out how the rest of the Budgeting Bloggers did!

Saturday Shopping: Madewell Sale

Madewell sale picks

Yesterday I pretty much proclaimed my Madewell dress the best thing since Netflix streaming, and it just so happens that the dress – along with A LOT of other stuff – is now on sale, with an extra 30% off through March 10th! I hate to be the one to encourage others to break their budgets, but considering it’s early in the month, I’m hoping that won’t happen to anyone.

So (keeping responsible spending in mind, of course), here are a few of my favorites from the sale. If you’ve never shopped at Madewell before, the name doesn’t lie. I have absolutely no complaints about anything I’ve ever bought there! Madewell is part of the J. Crew family, so sizing is similar. Happy shopping!

Gray dress: $85

Leather trim shorts: $70

Beaded sleeve tee: $50

Necklace: $36

Bien Fait bandana: $12

Striped pocket tee: $39

Bow flats (also in black): $47

Striped skirt: $46

 (all prices reflect extra 30% off using code DAYLIGHT, rounded up to next dollar)

Shop the full sale here.

Budgeting Bloggers: February

February Budget Breakdown

You guys. I ROCKED February shopping-wise. It was a good month: First of all, I had a healthy chunk of extra income to pump up my budget. Second, I managed not to blow it all, which is a miracle for me. Third, I got some really great stuff.

My biggest purchase was a dress from Madewell. I tried it on in the store on Feb. 1 and immediately fell in love, but I knew it was a bad idea for me to spend $130 that early in the month. I decided to wait at least 2 weeks and reassess my budget. I sold some old clothes so I had enough to buy it at full price, but I was hoping there would be a sale. I decided I would wait until Feb. 20 for a sale and if there wasn’t one, I would just take the plunge. I couldn’t risk it selling out! Lo and behold, on the morning of the 20th I woke up to see an email from Madewell: 30% off spring styles and free shipping. Like it was meant to be. It just came in the mail yesterday so you’ll see it on the blog soon!

I also got the final touches for my Barristers’ Ball (aka Law School Prom) outfit. The old Sarah probably would have made some excuse like “well, it’s a special occasion so it doesn’t count toward my budget.” But the new Sarah isn’t making any more excuses! The Ball is this Saturday, and I can’t wait to show off my outfit. If you want a preview before it hits the blog, just stalk me on Instagram this weekend.

Anyway, here’s the breakdown! You might remember from my first Budgeting Bloggers post that my budget is sort of a moving target. For more details on how I come up with my shopping budget, see this post.

February Budget

  • +$129 ($150 starting amount minus the $21 I overspent in January)
  • +$109 (sold clothes at local consignment and resale shops)
  • +$223 (blog income)

          = $461

What I Spent

          =$399 (retail value $650)

That’s $62 under budget, people! *pats self on back*

As for gifted items…

What I Received

So, how did the rest of you do this month? Have you just given up on shopping until the weather gets nicer and you can buy pretty dresses? That’s not a bad idea actually.

Linking up with Fran’s Budgeting Bloggers

Budgeting Bloggers: January

January Budget Breakdown (Bloggers Who Budget)

Exciting news! This year I decided to join Fran’s “Budgeting Bloggers” group and share how I budget my shopping each month. To be clear, this is not a new year’s resolution. I don’t believe in them, mostly because I’m so close to perfect I rarely need to change or improve myself. I actually started keeping track of my shopping budget in April 2013. It has definitely been good for me to log what I spend, but I found I was regularly going over my budget and then trying to catch up the next month…and then doing that over and over again. So the next step to get better at this budgeting thing is to make myself accountable to someone besides myself.

That’s where Budgeting Bloggers comes in. Now I have to fess up to every dollar I spend, and the whole internet can see it! And even worse, my mom and my wife can see it. Yikes.

So before I tell you what I spent my money on in January ’14, I guess I should explain how I came up with my budget. Even before I started blogging (or making money from blogging), I estimate I spent $200-300/month on clothes, shoes, and accessories. Then I got figuratively punched in the face by a massive bill from my dentist. (“Dear Sarah, Remember when you got your wisdom teeth out last summer? Turns out we were wrong about your insurance…You owe us $2000. That’s not a problem, right?”) So with the extra $150 I now I had to pay toward my debt each month, I decided to cut down my “fun” spending to $150/month.

So. I start out each month with $150. But if I went over budget the month before, I subtract that from the $150. Before you get too sad, I also have the potential to add to my starting budget. I’ve been taking old clothes to a consignment shop, so when I get a check from them, I add that to my budget. Out with the old, in with the new! I also add any income I make from this blog, which includes commission from affiliate links and payment for sponsored posts. My goal by the end of this year is to make enough from my blog that it covers all my shopping!

Phew, that was a lot of numbers. Let’s look at some more numbers to find out how my budget worked this month!

January Budget

  • +$40 ($150 starting amount minus the $110 I overspent in December…I blame it on Christmas sales)
  • +$68 (sold clothes at local consignment shop)
  • +$211 (blog income)

          = $319

What I Spent

          =$340

Only $21 over budget…not too shabby! I’ll subtract that overage from my starting budget for February. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll also be including in my monthly budget posts any gifted items I receive. While these items don’t take away from my budget, they’re not exactly “free.” Like they say, there’s no such thing as a free lunch (or a free necklace)! I wouldn’t get complimentary items if it weren’t for all the work I put into this blog. Here are the perks I got this month.

What I Received

A Confession

I also bought one and a half suits at Ann Taylor this month. Since I’m working for a judge this semester, and hopefully I’ll have job interviews before too long, it was about time to grow my professional wardrobe a little. I decided not to apply these to my budget. They would have blown most of the month, and I see these pieces as investments in my future career so I don’t want to skimp on them. Don’t worry, I don’t plan on “cheating” like this again for a LONG time, if ever!

Here’s to a successful February! Be sure to check out Fran’s blog “Franish.” She’ll probably have her budget post up soon!

How to Wear Ankle Boots (Part Deux)

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It’s been almost a year since I originally wrote about how to wear ankle boots. Back then I only had like 4 pairs, and now I have…you know…more than 4 pairs. I’ve learned so much since that first post. Most of it is about law, granted, but some of it is about ankle boots. So it seems like a good time to build upon last year’s advice. Welcome to How to Wear Ankle Boots (Part Deux)!

So. People seem to be wary of ankle boots for a couple of reasons. First, they’re worried they’ll look shorter and/or fatter because of how these boots are cut. Second, they just don’t know what to wear with the boots. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The key to wearing ankle boots is elongating your legs as much as you can while still showing off the shape of the shoe.

Here are a few ways to wear ankle boots, and what to keep in mind along the way…

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I don’t know why cuffed jeans used to be a big fashion faux pas, but somewhere along the way things changed. Please. Do not be scared to roll ’em up. Roll or fold your jeans so the hem just barely hits the top of your boots. In case it isn’t obvious, this just applies to skinny/straight leg jeans. Don’t roll flared jeans – that’s crazy talk.

Keep in mind: This look should work well with wedge and heeled boots, but it can be a little trickier with flat boots. Ankle boots can easily make you look shorter, so if you’re already short (like me), just be really careful about proportions. And what about socks? That’s also a tricky issue. I think a peek of sock can be OK, but it can also ruin everything. You can play around with options, but if you want to err on the side of caution, I’d say stick with hidden socks.

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For shorties like me – and probably for most average-height ladies too – even chunkier ankle boots can work with skirts and dresses as long as they’re above the knee. Showing more leg makes your legs look longer, but let’s keep it decent, shall we?

Keep in mind: This shorter-is-better rule applies mainly to more causal boots, meaning ones with wider openings and chunky heels. A dressier ankle boot (like I’m wearing in the last photo in this post) is likely to work well with any length skirt!

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In case it hasn’t sunk in yet, making your legs look long and lean is pretty much my main piece of advice for pulling off these tricksy little shoes. Dark leggings are one of the most lengthening and leaning kinds of legwear I know of. In the photo on the left, I’m even wearing them with flat ankle boots.

Keep in mind: If I see you wearing leggings without a top long enough to cover your lady junk, I will yell at you in public, and it will be very embarrassing.

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When it gets too cold out, you might not  want that sliver of exposed skin between your boots and the bottom of your rolled up jeans. That’s when tucking comes in handy. I sometimes put my socks over the bottom of my jeans so they don’t ride up too much.

Keep in mind: This only works with skinny jeans, otherwise it looks pretty tucking weird. Ha…get it?

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Some ankle boots are basically just pumps with some extra coverage on the top of your feet. When the boots are nice and fitted to your feet with narrow openings and thin heels, you can wear them with just about anything you would normally wear pumps with.

Keep in mind: All those other rules are just some tips to get you started. Depending on how daring you are with your style, you could very well break some or all of them! But I saved this for last because otherwise you wouldn’t have read the rest of the post. And I worked hard on it.

Follow my blog on Bloglovin’ or Facebook to see future boot-tastic outfits (and some other fun things too).

See more “How to Wear” posts:

Army Jacket     Oxford Shirt     Denim Jacket     Flared Skirt

Won’t You Take Me To…SPARKLE TOWN

What is it about New Year’s that makes people want to dress like disco balls? I don’t know but I fall victim to the sequins, too. I feel like there’s a very stereotypical “NYE dress.” It’s very small and very sparkly. And probably very itchy. And you’ll probably never wear it again.

Recently I’ve been keeping an eye out for sparkly things that are NYE appropriate but are also re-wearable (as the queen of remixing, I always have this kind of thing on my mind). I gathered up a few of my favorites (all under $70) to give you some ideas. All of this stuff would also be right at home at a wedding, your birthday party, or a fancy date night. A few of them might even be OK – dare I say it – for everyday wear. I happen to have my eye on the sequin pants just because they’re a little ridiculous and I love them.

NYE & Beyond

Shop here:

What’s your favorite?

Shopping Trip

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First thing’s first: Don’t forget today is the last day to enter the $25 Magnolia Boutique giveaway! So far there are 42 entries, and you have the option to enter up to 3 times! So your chances of winning are…um…cross multiply, do a permutation, multiply by 10,  solve for X, divide by Y squared. You figure it out.

Now. I know what you’re thinking. This is supposed to a blog about “real life” style. What normal person gets this gussied up just to go to the mall for some Christmas shopping? The answer is almost no one. But when I’m in the middle of finals week and I’ve spent 2 straight days in the same t-shirt and sweatpants and I’m starting to go cross-eyed from writing SIX essays for a take-home exam, I tend to go a little overboard. To make up for the 2 normal outfits I would have worn if I left the house those days, I wore 1 extra sassy one on day 3.

And I know what else you’re thinking. How am I not freezing in these flimsy little pants when it’s 18 degrees out? Never fear friends. I snuck some leggings under there. 🙂

To my fellow college/grad school/law school friends who aren’t yet done with finals: may you stay sane and warm. And may you like my blog page on Facebook. Thanks.

Sweater (on sale under $25) // Pants // Sunglasses (on sale) // Shoes (in suede) // Bracelet (30% off w/ code GIFTNOW) // similar Coat* (on sale) // Bag (on sale) // similar Necklace (50% off w/ code HOLIDAY50) // Lips “Crush”

*Coat purchased with gift card provided courtesy of H&M.

Wardrobe Workhorse: J. Crew Peacoat

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I got the J. Crew “Majesty” Peacoat last fall, and for two winters now I’ve seen quite a few people find their way to my little blog by searching for reviews of said coat. I never really did a review of it before, but I do love the heck out of it and I’ve worn it a lot, so it got me thinking…How about making the peacoat the next Wardrobe Workhorse?!

I put a lot of thought into making this relatively pricey purchase. I managed to get it on sale, but it was still $200+. Gasp! I know. But honestly I have never once regretted this purchase. I’m more likely to regret spending $50 on a sweater I wear once before it starts pilling. I’ve already gotten my money’s worth. Here are just a few times I’ve worn it already, and there are sure to be many more over the years.

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A few things you might be wondering…

  • Is it warm? YES. It’s made of wool and is fully lined; nice and thick without being bulky.
  • How’s the fit? While I’m short enough (5’3″) to fall under the “petite” category, I went with the regular fit just because I didn’t want to have exposed wrists. I got this coat to help me survive Indiana winters. Not just to look cute. As for number size, I’ve found J. Crew often run small, and I normally wear a 0 in their tops. However, I went with a 2 in this coat to make sure there was room for a sweater underneath. (I did try on the 0 but it felt just a tad too tight for optimal comfort.)
  • How’s the quality? Excellent! I’m sure you can find a similar looking coat for less, but when you see this baby up close and personal, I think the details make it worth the extra cost. It never looks wrinkled or rumpled; I’ve worn it a couple dozen times and the fabric looks the same as it did on day 1. Not to mention the buttons are adorable and luxe looking.
  • What color do you recommend? I went with a neutral, classic color just because I didn’t have one already and I wanted to make sure I would get plenty of use out of it. The exact color I’m wearing isn’t available this year, but there are new great colors each year. You really can’t go wrong.

If I’ve convinced you to get your own J. Crew Majesty Peacoat, you can find all your options here! Some colors are on sale, and be sure to check for additional deals going on (right now (as of 12/12/13) you can get 30% off and free shipping with the code GIFTNOW).

Get Under My Tree

Remember when you were a kid and people would ask: “What did you ask Santa for this year?” Have you noticed that people stop asking you that once you’re an adult? I know, I know, it’s better to give than to receive. No argument there. But why is it cute when kids tell everyone the presents they want, and it’s greedy for a grownup to do the same?

 

I’ve seen a lot of “gift guides” around the style blogosphere recently, but very few wishlists. I don’t think it should be taboo to tell people what’s on your Christmas list! I mean if we were all 9 years old, hanging out on the playground, we would be comparing notes – “Which American Girl doll do you want?” “Well I already have Felicity, but I want her canopy bed.” If anything, we’re more mature now and better equipped to handle jealousy, right?

 

So with that speech out of the way, here are a few things I would be excited to unwrap in a couple weeks! More importantly: What did you ask Santa for this year, little girl? 😉

 

Christmas List

 Shop here: 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8