Thursday, June 19, 2014

Summer Shopping on the Cheap(ish)

I love to shop, specifically for good deals. Stores like Nordstrom Rack are my playground. I can stay for hours! But, with this whole trying to save money business, those frequent Marshalls or Rack trips are gone.

I decided to allow myself $100 or less for some summer basics that are versatile, easy to mix and match. After taking stock of what's already in my closet, I made a very crude moodboard and got to ordering.

Old Navy T-Shirt Dress (Tall)

This dress has pretty good reviews, comes in tall sizes, and was under $20 with a promotion. I ordered a Tall medium and Tall large. The medium fit well but was fitted enough that it was a little sexy and required I be more mindful of my undergarment choice. I wanted something more casual, so I went with the large. After a couple hours of wear, it stretched out so much I was embarrassed to be wearing it in public. I hope it shrinks in the wash. (PS: There was also a bodycon version of the dress, but I'm not sure if it's still available)

Old Navy Linen Blend Shirt (Tall)
I got this because it looked comfortable for the hot summer and work appropriate. I always forget how long Old Navy shirts are in Tall. I'm 5'11" and most of my height comes from my legs, so most regular sizes are long enough in the torso for me. Sleeve length, dress/skirt length, and inseams are where I require tall sizes. Anyway, in a Tall medium the shirt was tunic length, which wasn't what I was looking for.

Array of Old Navy and Gap denim shorts
Oh, the shorts! I ordered six pairs of shorts, at least. I got different styles, washes, and sizes, but I had my heart set on the Gap boyfriend shorts. I was going for the 90s throwback light wash, a color that inspired a look of disgust from my husband. Turns out, I'm too curvy for boyfriend shorts. In my regular size, the thighs were tighter than I wanted, and when I went up a size, the shorts were just too big overall and made me look kind of huge.

I went with these Old Navy boyfriend shorts in my normal size, ultramarine wash. The inseam is a little short (3 1/2 inches, no clear difference between the Tall and regular sizes) and the thighs slightly fitted, but they got a thumbs up from the husband and are comfortable enough, especially for $20. 

Target Maxi Dresses

I started with the black and white dress, which I loved. However, I went with the black dress because it's easier to wear. It doesn't show off your body's imperfections as much and, like the large ON dress, has less specific undergarment requirements. It was $20 with an apparel coupon on the Cartwheel app. Both dresses are plenty long for wearing with flat sandals.

I also ordered some sandals and a pair of Keds from Nordstrom using a giftcard but they haven't arrived yet. Not to mention a J Crew order due to an untimely return of some work clothes I ordered in the Spring that left me with store credit instead of a refund.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

When 21 Days Becomes 26 Tasks: Crap Cleaning Challenge

So, the point of these challenges is to do one task per day, right? Well, I'm failing that part miserably. Do people quit their jobs and neglect their other responsibilities during these things??

I also have to break down some of the existing tasks, so this will probably be a 30 day challenge after all.

The update, broken out tasks in italic:

  1. Linen cabinet - top
  2. Linen cabinet - bottom 
  3. Craft cabinet
  4. Under kitchen sink
  5. Under bathroom sink
  6. Freezer 
  7. Refrigerator 
  8. Mail/Paperwork
  9. Mail counter
  10. Bedroom closet – clothes 
  11. Bedroom closet – drawers
  12. Bedroom closet - bookshelf
  13. Bedroom closet - shoe storage
  14. Bedroom closet - misc storage
  15. Utensil drawers 
  16. Baking and spice cabinets
  17. Dishware cabinet
  18. Pots and Pans
  19. Hall closet 
  20. Medicine cabinet/storage
  21. Media stand
  22. Under bed
  23. Handbag 
  24. Work bag
  25. Car 
  26. Balcony closet
 Who knows how long it will take me to do these 26 things? We shall see.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

How I'm Trimming My Grocery Bill

Before I started OperationGet Shit Together, I think I was spending around $500 a month on groceries, maybe more. We were also eating out a lot, either because I bought food all willy-nilly and couldn't actually make many meals out of it or because I didn't end up cooking, letting the food go to waste.

Now I'm spending about $400 a month and we are rarely eating out for lunch or dinner. We have probably spent that savings on date nights, but I am 100 percent okay with that.

I was feeling good about myself until i found bloggers who only spend $40 a week for 2 people or even $200 for a family of four. Impressive, until I noticed that people were achieving that kind of savings by getting all their toiletries at the dollar store, cutting out things like alcohol, cheese, and bacon and replacing butter with margerine. You gotta do what you gotta do to make ends meet, but things will have to be unimaginably grim before I allow margerine to pass through these doors.

If you want to trim your bill even just a little, a couple simple steps will help.

1. Meal plan based on what's on sale. Check weekly ads for your favorite stores, take stock of what's on hand at home, and plan meals accordingly. Pro tip: plan meals with like ingredients. Something call for 1/2 cup buttermilk? You will have a lot leftover. Make a salad/slaw dressing with it, buttermilk pancakes for breakfast for dinner, buttermilk chicken. Better yet, make your own buttermilk. You get the point.

2. Throw a coupon in when you can, and/or take advantage of double ad days if available. A lot of coupons are for crap I am not interested in, but organic brands sometimes offer them if you sign up for their newsletters, and my local natural food store has a monthly coupon booklet.

3. Cook what you buy! This might require meal prep days, depending on your schedule. Make friends with your slow cooker, whatever you need to do so it doesnt go to waste.

4. Eat leftovers for lunch.

5. Get some low cost recipes in your repetoire. Shredded meats are your friend. E.G. - pork shoulder on sale? get 2-3 pounds and cook it low and slow and use the meat for tacos, sandwiches, over mashed potatoes, on nachos, on homemade pizza.

6. Stock up when prices are way low. Get your freezer in on the action.

7. Cook from scratch as much as you can. jarred sauces, packaged cookies, and the like will quickly drive up your bill

Number 1 is the first step, I think. I check the ads, put together my meal plan, and make my list on Saturdays.

I still buy organic cheese, sour cream, yogurt, and high quality butter. We still have beer or wine in the fridge. I go organic with meat as often as I can or go to a local grocer whose meat is not technically organic but is raised in the area without antibiotics or hormones. I buy mostly organic fruits and vegetables. and so on. Point is, we eat in much the same way as we did before but still manage to save some money.

Eat well, enjoy your food, and save a buck.

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