Note: This is a guest post.
If there’s one thing that Gok Wan has taught us, it’s that cheap can be chic – if you’ve got the know how. To get a stylish summer wardrobe for less, just follow these invaluable tips.
1. Plan before you buy
The most crucial piece of advice for getting the perfect summer wardrobe on a budget is to be selective about the purchases you make. Go through everything you currently own and see what could be updated for this season.
This year’s must-have trends include stripes, white shirts and shirt dresses, feminine handbags, split skirts and sporty bomber jackets.
I would advise spending an hour or sorting through your current wardrobe before you decide which new trends to spend your money on.
Anything you didn’t wear last year and won’t wear this year should be cleared out. I sell my clothes for cash using the Internet; it’s the easiest way to get rid of lots of stuff quickly and get your hands on some money for new items.
2. Make sure new clothes suit your body shape
Before you take anything to the till, it is essential to try things on or be sure they’ll suit your body shape and you will feel good in them. Impulse buys when you are in too much of a rush to try things on often end up languishing in the back of the wardrobe, unworn and unloved, while we drag out the same old comfortable t-shirts.
3. Hit the supermarkets and cheaper stores
The supermarkets and cheaper high-street shops are full of surprisingly stylish bargains that your admirers will think came from much more expensive stores.
Do your research before you go shopping, and you’ll know which pieces are thrifty copies of those available in the high-end stores.
4. Shop online
Affordable fashion is now available from a growing number of online retailers and outlet websites. Use Google Shopping to search for a specific item, such as a “white shirt dress”, then browse through the internet’s rich pickings.
Sign up for email newsletters from your favourite websites to receive discount codes to save money-off online purchases, or use discount voucher sites to see if any are available.
5. Charity shops
Charity shops can be treasure troves of fashionable bargains for a fraction of their new cost. In my experience, the best buys can be found in affluent areas, where well-heeled women often drop off barely worn designer clothes.
6. Wait for the sales
If you only buy a few items now and wait for the mid-summer sales you can spread your budget further and get more for your money. The end-of-summer sales, meanwhile, are great for stocking up on versatile basics, such as plain shorts and skirts, for next year.
So, you see, style can be achieved on a shoestring! Follow the above advice and you’ll look great for less, all summer.
Update: It looks like Pinecone Research has closed it’s doors again and is no longer accepting applications.
Last year I earned roughly $575 from completing online surveys. I documented the details of the survey sites I use and you can check out that information here. At the time Pinecone Research, (one of my favorite sites), was not accepting new members, but it appears registration is now open for them. If you are interested in earning money by completing online surveys I urge you to check them out by clicking this link.
Here are a few other sites with open enrollment. Please note, I have not tried any of these myself.
You may also be interested in the Nielson Home Scan Consumer Panel. I have not joined this program, but I do have a friend who enjoys using it.
*Note: This post contains referral links.
In the short time my son has been on this earth our home has been inundated with an overflowing number of toys. It is absolutely amazing how such a tiny little boy can attain so much. I’m a bit of a neat freak so I bought a storage unit to hold all of the toys in our living room, but that filled up quite quickly.
While it was cold outside I moved a bunch of items into our sun-room. It doesn’t have central heat so we rarely step foot in there in the wintertime. I began rotating his toys by moving a couple of things back onto the bookshelf and removing others so that he had new toys to play with every few days.
What I found is that my son’s interests change quickly. One week he is interested in blocks, the next he’d rather play with his toy kitchen or pretend to talk on the telephone. Some days he’ll pull out and complete all of the puzzles in the house and other days he won’t even look at them.
Even though he’s only eighteen months his interests are constantly changing. While I know children who play with the same toy day after day, my son becomes less interested the moment he masters one.
A few months after my son turned one I wrote about the financial lessons I learned from his first year. In that post I mentioned the importance of hand-me-downs. Six months later I now believe they are more valuable than ever. Ninety percent of the toys in our house were hand-me-downs, another 8% were gifts from friends and family and the remaining 2% were gifts from either my husband or myself.
I can’t imagine how much money we saved by accepting gently used items from friends and family. Many of the toys would’ve cost well over $20 to $25 new. It’s tough to buy a toy for that much money and than realize that your child will only play for it for a short period of time. At this age you never know what might interest a child. My son has played with toys for weeks that I never would have imagined he’d be interested in and ignored toys that I was sure he would love.
With hand-me-downs you don’t have to pay any money. (A win.) You don’t add any more trash to the landfill. (A win.) And if your child gets bored of a toy easily you simply pass it on to another child without feeling guilty. (A win.)
If you do have someone in your life willing to hand down toys make sure you profusely thank them for their generosity. Send pictures of your child playing with the toys and if they provide you with a lot of stuff make sure consider giving them a small gift to show your appreciation.
Of course, not everyone is fortunate enough to have friends and family members with toys to pass on. If this isn’t an option for you try visiting local consignment shops, online auctions and co-ops for good deals. Remember that at this age your child doesn’t know that a toy isn’t shiny and new.
If you have friends and family who want to buy your child gifts tell them to consider buying used too. Remind them that children outgrow toys quickly at this age and that you’d rather have them save the money. Of course, if you can convince them to avoid toys and provide a monetary gift towards your child’s education or savings all the better.
If they do want to buy a gift try to encourage them to buy something other than stuffed animals. Unlike plastic toys that can be wiped down and disinfected stuffed animals are often difficult to launder. Once your child outgrows these it is difficult to pass them on to another child. This doesn’t mean children shouldn’t have any stuffed animals, but rather that you might want to keep the amount to a reasonable number. Once my son filled a small box I began asking close friends and family members not to buy him anymore.
Lastly remember that kids don’t always need or want to play with toys. Children often make toys and games out of the items around them. There are lots of every day items that can amuse them. My son has just as much fun with real pots and pans, toilet paper rolls and cups filled with water then he does with the mechanical toys that eventually bore him.
Over the years I’ve written a lot about purging clothing and other unwanted items from my home. Although I’m primarily a minimalist I still struggle to get rid of sentimental belongings like my son’s baby clothes and toys. Usually my clutter-free mentality wins out over my more emotional side. I tend to convince myself, (and rightfully so), that removing unnecessary and unused stuff frees emotional and physical space for my family to live. With that in mind I’m usually able to bag stuff up and carry it off to the local donation center and truth be told once it’s gone I rarely if ever think about it again.
This weekend as I was cleaning out a downstairs closet I came across four duvet covers that were never used. Each blanket was a beautiful pastel color either turquoise, purple, pink or yellow. I bought them from a Linens-N-Things clearance bin over seven years ago! The original price was over $100, but I believe I bought them for either $19.99 or $29.99 a piece. At the time I couldn’t resist the bargain.
I’ll be honest. When I bought them I thought they were just small blankets. They were used as store displays and weren’t in their original packaging. When I got them home and discovered that they were duvet covers I should have returned them immediately to the store, but back then I bought things because they seemed like good bargains and kept them because I was sure I could buy duvet inserts or find some other use for them.
I placed them in a closet with every intention of using them, but the years passed and they continued to sit unused and abandoned. A year or so ago I found them in that closet and took them out of their wrapping determined to find a use for them. Yesterday when I found them staring back at me I decided it was finally time for them to go.
I was gathering items for our location donation center and pulled out a large trash bag to hold everything we intended to deliver. I opened the bag with one hand and held the blankets in the other. Even after seven years I had a hard time donating them. I couldn’t believe I wasted somewhere between $80 and $120 on them. I found myself asking, “Shouldn’t I keep them? Can’t I find a use for them? Won’t I use them?”
I considered using them for other purposes. Maybe cutting them up and making something out of them. In retrospect I could have made some really awesome pillows out of them, but I rarely sew, I’m not very good at it, so I don’t know how well they would have turned out anyway. It almost seemed a shame to cut them up. It seemed like someone should use them for their intended purpose before taking scissors to them. After holding those blankets out for a minute or two and contemplating my options I ultimately decided that someone else would probably make better use of them.
But I’ll be honest. It was difficult to throw those duvet covers into that bag. I hated the very notion of getting rid of something I spent good money on and never even used.
Do you struggle to get rid of things you’ve never used? Do you try to convince yourself that one day you’ll wear them or find a use for them?
Tell me I am not alone.
If you were about to pay off your mortgage would you throw a party to celebrate? It’s an interesting question for me. Although my last post may have been viewed as bragging, (at least I received one email letting me know it was perceived that way), I am not usually one to toot my own horn in real life.
When I purchased my beach house I didn’t tell my close friends or family. While my husband and I have worked hard to secure our finances I also know that we have been quite fortunate in life. I certainly didn’t want my success to make anyone else feel bad, so I kept my home a secret for nearly a year.
When I finally leaked the news to my close friends they were thrilled for me. If they were envious of my success they certainly didn’t show it, nothing in their body language gave any sign of animosity or jealousy.
When I make new friends and meet new people I almost never tell them my husband and I own a home in North Carolina. I feel like people would view me differently and not in a good way. When it does come up in conversation I always downplay the details. I tell them our house is only one story and a bit farther back from the beach than most. I try to be modest and fear that a mere mention of my beach home will be perceived as bragging.
While I would absolutely love to throw a party to celebrate the end of a mortgage I’m not sure that other’s would be so quick to celebrate alongside me. If you were invited to a mortgage free party would you be happy to celebrate with the homeowners or bitter that you weren’t in a similar predicament? Given my current situation I would be happy for my friends and family, but if my finances were in a not-so-fortunate state I’m not sure how I would feel about it.
I am extremely open about my finances on this blog, but only a few of my close friends know about it. I hate the idea that people would perceive me differently if they knew how much I owed and how much I was worth. In fact that’s the primary reason I blog anonymously.
What about you? As you write the last check to your mortgage company would you consider throwing a party to celebrate?
It seems kind of crazy to think that I haven’t driven to an office in over a year and a half. In November of 2011 I held my newborn son and simultaneously waited for my severance check to arrive. My unexpected layoff and associated severance package was a blessing, but I still wasn’t prepared for life without work.
I interviewed and accepted a new job just weeks after learning about the elimination of my position. I’ve received steady paychecks since the age of 15 and couldn’t imagine a life without them. I worked out a deal to begin the new position six months after the birth of my son, but from the moment I accepted the offer I struggled with my desire to stay home full time. A month or so before the new job was set to begin I reversed my decision.
I know I made the right choice. The past year and a half has been a magical journey and I feel both fortunate and grateful for the opportunity to stay home with my son.
But now that I’ve been home for so long I wonder if I shouldn’t make a plan to return to work. Initially I planned to stay home for six months, which quickly turned into a year and a half. It’s been nearly eighteen months since my son arrived and I am still home with him. Now I wonder how much longer I’ll be here.
My son was born in October and in our state he can’t start kindergarten until after he turns five. If I wait until he’s school age I’ll be out of the workforce for almost six years.
I started thinking about this while I was walking around the neighborhood. Pushing the stroller on a beautiful spring day I thought, “six years seems like an unbelievably long time to be out of work,” so I asked my husband for his opinion and was quite surprised by his response. He said, “I assumed you would never go back to work.”
I can tell you that I never considered a future in which I would not return to work. So after I stopped laughing at his response I asked him if he was serious. When he said he most definitely was I asked him for more details.
Here are his thoughts:
- My son won’t start kindergarten for another four and a half years.
- If I got pregnant with another child, (the jury is still out on that decision), and I decide to stay home until he or she starts school you can easily add on another couple of years.
- In a little over nine years we will own both of our homes outright.
- If we include additional principal payments we could pay off our primary home within seven and a half years.
- Once our primary home is paid off we could apply the money we previously spent on our mortgage to pay off principal on our beach home. That would decrease the life of that mortgage by at least one year.
- By the time both of our houses are paid off our monthly expenses, (due to the lack of mortgage payments), will drop dramatically.
- Without a mortgage our rental home would finally return a profit or at least break even.
- If all goes well, the market remains high, my husband’s business flourishes and our investments continue to do well we will have a healthy sum of money in our bank accounts.
I certainly never considered a future in which I didn’t need to work, but now that my husband mentioned it my mind is swimming with possibilities. Rather than searching for a high paying job in a very lonely cubicle I could find a position that I really enjoy. If things move according to plan I could do just about anything.
I’m not sure how we will proceed as the years pass by. I always question prepaying mortgages during a time with low interest rates and you never know how the market will perform as time progresses, but I must say it’s nice to think about a life in which I don’t need to work anymore.
I believe if you want to help people do good you have to make it easy for them to do so. My in-laws are a perfect example of this. For years they threw all of their recyclables in with the regular garbage. Whenever we visited I was dismayed at the amount of plastic and glass commingling with the trash.
One day I had enough. I bought a plastic container, (a laundry basket of sorts), and placed it right next to the trash. Every time they finished a drink I placed their can or bottle into that container. I told them that I would carry them down to the recycle bin at the end of the night.
I’m not sure why no one thought of this solution before, but sure enough by the end of that week they bought a large plastic trash can to hold their bottles and cans and started emptying it out every night. Just like that they went from a family that threw away everything to one that consistently recycled.
If you want people to do good you have to make it easy for them to do so. That’s one of the reasons stores now ask if you want to donate money at the checkout counter. Most people won’t go out of their way to write a check to charity, but offering a dollar when you’ve just paid for $200 worth of groceries is certainly easy enough.
I love companies and charities that understand this premise, so I was especially excited to hear about Save1. Save1 is a a family owned coupon and loyalty site representing more than 5,000 of the top online merchants.
I know there are a ton of coupon sites out there, but this site is different from all the rest. Every time you shop through Save1 they provide a healthy meal to a malnourished child through one of their non-profit feeding partners. Since it’s launch date in October of 2012 they have provided more than 96,000 meals!!!
So how does Save1 work? It’s simple. Use an online coupon or special offer from the Save1 site. Save1 receives a small commission and uses that money to provide a meal for a hungry child. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.
I encourage you to read the Save1 story. If you plan on shopping online consider using this site. You’ll save money on your purchase and a hungry mouth will receive a nourishing meal. It’s an easy way to help a child in need.
Over the past fourteen years my husband and I have owned five vehicles, which included the following:
- 1994 Oldsmobile Regency Elite
- 1998 Jeep Wrangler
- 1999 Toyota Camry
- 1999 Ford Explorer Sport
- 2000 Honda Civic
We purchased the Explorer Sport and Civic new off the lot. The Oldsmobile, Camry and Wrangler were all purchased used from either friends or family.
We paid cash for all of the cars except the Honda Civic. I financed that car through the dealer and paid off the loan within one year. I sold it five years later because my medical problems made it difficult to climb in and out of and painful to drive.
Believe it or not I replaced that reliable, gas efficient vehicle for a 1994 Oldsmobile. It was not the most financially sound decision I’ve ever made, but I needed a larger vehicle that was more comfortable to drive. Rather than purchasing another new car I sunk $900 into the old clunker. In retrospect it was a horrible decision. I spent thousands of dollars in an attempt to keep it running and ultimately ended up donating it to charity.
On the very day my Oldsmobile was towed out of the driveway I purchased a Toyota Camry from my grandmother. The timing couldn’t have been any better. The new to me car was literally owned by a little old lady who only drove it to the grocery store.
I currently use the Toyota as my primary vehicle. It is the only car we own with a functioning back seat. The jeep doesn’t have a back seat at all and the front seats in the Ford Explorer are always breaking so I don’t trust putting my son in the seats behind us.
The Jeep is a gas guzzler so I’d really like my husband to start using the Toyota as his commuter car. It’ll definitely save us money on gas, plus it has four doors, which will make it easier for him to share the driving when he goes out to eat with his employees and coworkers.
I’m a little nervous about purchasing a new vehicle. For the past fourteen years all of our cars, (except the ones we bought new), have been purchased from friends and family. This will be the first vehicle we’ve bought in a very long time from someone we don’t know.
I’m also struggling with the preowned versus new scenario. I’m a little nervous about buying a car from someone who may not have taken good care of the car or performed regular oil changes. I had very bad experiences with the used car my dad bought me when I turned sixteen.
As you can see from the dates our cars were built we tend to hold onto our vehicles for as long as possible, (the exception was the Civic which was just to uncomfortable for me to continue driving), so I definitely want to purchase a car with a good reliability rating that will stand the test of time.
We aren’t in need of a new car immediately, but it would certainly help to have a slightly larger vehicle that can transport clothes, toys and other items between our house in Maryland and the one in North Carolina. Also, as our son gets older I’d like to be able to take his playmate and her father on field trips or take my parents to the beach with us. That really isn’t possible in our current car.
So, is it time for us to buy a new car? If so should we look for preowned vehicles or buy new?
A few weeks ago I received our rate renewal form from our electric supply company. I read over the documentation and noticed that there were two options available.
Here are the original rates in the renewal notice I received:
- .0929 per kWH for 5% wind
- .097 per kWH for 50% wind
As you can see if I want to receive 50% of my electricity from a renewable source, (in this case wind), I have to pay more per kWH hour. Here is some information on wind power from the company who provides my electricity.
Wind power, the world’s fastest growing energy resource, displaces conventional power, reduces carbon dioxide and your carbon footprint, and helps eliminate air pollution problems such as smog and acid rain. Plus, wind is an unlimited resource with an unlimited supply!
I googled wind powered energy and after reading some very interesting details about wind farms I decided that I was willing to pay a higher premium for clean, renewable energy. Of course, before sending in the renewal form I called the electric supply company to inquire about rates. I also researched comparable rates for other companies offering clean energy alternatives.
Over the phone I was provided with the following rates:
- .088 per kWH for 5% wind
- .092 per kWH for 50% wind
I had already decided to select the 50% wind option, but hearing the new rate sealed the deal. I received the environmentally friendly choice at less than I would have paid for only 5% wind power, (.092 versus .0929), if I had sent in the original renewal form.
I certainly could have saved more money by choosing traditional energy sources, but from an environmental perspective I feel good about my decision.
So what about you? Would you be willing to spend more money for clean, renewable energy?