Frugal Beautiful

Posts Tagged ‘Frugality

The famous line “People first, then money, then things,” comes from financial guru Suze Orman.  I adore Suze- I am watching her show right now on Itunes.  Fabulous stuff!  While her other advice is great- “people first,” is really something I’ve been focusing on.  I’m currently on the 30-Day-No-Shopping Challenge and I realized that time not spent shopping needs to be filled with something else in order to succeed.

Filling your life with people, not things is a way to free up your money for greater opportunity: retirement, starting a business, going on vacation, cutting your work hours and living comfortably…or how about this:  not bursting into tears when the credit bill comes each month?  That sounds pretty darn good.


Shopping keeps us busy.  It also gives us a sense that we’re building something- a more beautiful home, a more savvy wardrobe to spur more confidence,  a repertoire of things to make life better, faster, more efficient.  But what it all boils down to is people.  We want a nicer home to invite friends over and gadgets to entertain them with, a wardrobe that inspires awe and praise from people at work,  a birthday gift that shows our appreciation.  While things can be useful- it’s a distraction from the sometimes intimidating work of making personal connections with people and building community based on our own personalities and effort.

I recently had some friends over for drinks after hitting up a discount pizza place for their Monday night specials.  Honestly, I was embarrassed to have them over- my new apartment was sparsely furnished- we didn’t even have enough chairs for everyone.  I found myself fretting over the appearance of my apartment, but of course- as you can imagine, nobody cared.  Everyone was just happy I opened my home and we had cheap beer and wine and sat around and talked.  They were happy to get together, and in the end, I was happy to have done it.  Relying on personal connections and not things can be scary-  but often the experience is more genuine.

To ensure the success of my No-Shopping Challenge, I’m filling my life with EVENTS and not stuff.  I’m going to knitting meetups and attending health workshops.  I walk my dog each day and finally tackle projects that have been nagging at me.


Shopping has been a distraction for far too long.  It makes you feel accomplished, productive and successful when you can buy something new- especially when you’ve hunted down a good deal, but the activity of shopping usually distracts from other activity.

What are you using shopping to hide from? How are “things” holding you back from genuine experiences and connections with people?  Does debt keep you in a constant state of stress or does shopping hide the fact that you haven’t explored what really makes you happy?  Do you feel you don’t have the right “things” to start your goals?  (Trust me, having a cute pair of Nikes will not really encourage you to go to the gym).

People first– the money will sort itself out and the the things will matter less and less.  You will have exactly what you need.



Victoria's Secret Black Friday at Westfield San Francisco Centre 2009While I am not in consumer debt- I seem to have a penchant for spending as much as I make- if not sometimes more (which is easy to do when you work part time and go to school).

I find that my spending habits are irregular- sometimes I’m very aware of my income level for the month and spend accordingly- other times I feel as if I make all of my purchases at once leaving for one month of an unusually high credit bill.

I just recently took in a foster pug named Ralph, and while some expenses are reimbursed, much is not- such as kibble, treats, grooming and a bed -$80.  I also a month ago signed up for a student gym which was -$96 ( if I go to yoga at least once a week it’s the cheapest rate around, even better when I go twice weekly!) +$6 for yoga gloves to help my grip on the mat.  I got a great rate to fly back to the west coast for a 5 year reunion with my friends from the non-profit, which was a round-trip ticket for -$305 with taxes.  I also purchased two books from Amazon for -$20.  Needless  to say, it’s gonna be a wee-bit tight for the next two months since I make a meager income and I’m going to challenge myself to BUY NOTHING for 30 days.

I tried to challenge myself and not shop for 30 days at the beginning of this year and failed around day 20.  I had to chip in conjunction with a gift card to buy a pair of boots I needed for winter so that was $25, and a few days later I gave in at Target and got a pillar candle and a picture frame.  Seriously, THAT is what mucked me up- $33 in 2 days.  I have to try again- both because I’m broke and because I’m prideful.

The Challenge Parameters:

-No purchases except food, medical care and necessities for the dog (if the dog needs a crate I will get him 0ne).

-Gift cards may be used, but not if the purchase exceeds the card amount.

-My grocery bill must be under $200 for the entire month.

-Purchases for the reunion dinner are applicable since I am in charge of the food/prep/setup.

What else am I forgetting?  Oh, ya, probably how challenging it’s going to be. Grumble. Grumble. Grumble.


I want to set up a reward for myself at the end of the 30 days, but what can I do as a treat for myself that wouldn’t defeat the purpose of saving money? Suggestions are appreciated.

See you on March 1st, 2011 for a challenging challenge!

Can name-brand and designer pieces be frugal?

This post was inspired by a discussion I had on BlogFrog with Sally of Already Pretty (whose fashion I adore BTW).  She asked some of her fellow bloggers if they believe premium denim is worth the price, or if bargain brand jeans are just as good.  It got me thinking.

Oh my Gawd, have I loved to shop!  Just for the sake of having “something new,” I would go out and buy cheap items from mall retail stores just to “freshen up” my wardrobe and I thought it was totally justifiable because I wasn’t spend much on the items themselves.  Only problem was, the way I was going about it was totally backwards.  They say it’s hard to chase two rabbits and catch either one- and this was true of my wardrobe.  My wardrobe was not “fresh” and purchasing high quantities of low quality items didn’t save me any more.  I simply ended up with a lot of clutter and items that didn’t hold up or wash well and had too much to consider when putting together my outfits.

I always seem to tie in my time vs. money comparsion-  but I find with fashion, I am far more happy when I spend more time considering what to buy and subsequently- more money into the items I’ve decided on since I love them so much.

Consider this:  I probably had 8 pairs of cheapy $5-10 sunglasses.  I had a pair or two in my car, thrown in my backpack, in my bathroom…everywhere.  They were cheap so I didn’t care- and they ended up scratched, broken or lost.  In fact, one off brand pair I bought on the net were totally wonky and sat crooked on my face so I never wore them.  I remember going into the Coach store and finding a pair of sunglasses I absolutely adored- they came with a cleaning cloth and case but they were, GASP- $80. ( Holy cr*p).   Needless to say, I bought them, have worn them almost constantly since and they are in great shape.  I adore them, they are classic and I take good care of them.   I spent $80 on 8 pairs of sunglasses previously that seemed cheap so I treated them cheaply.  I also spent $80 on one pair that goes with everything and I treasure.  It’s the same amount of money but I’m way happier minimizing my clutter and caring for what I have.

This approach of minimalization of instant-gratification “stuff,” and the maximization of joy through less, but more powerful purchases is bringing me a lot of joy.  I went to the Coach outlet and found 2 bags, another pair of sunglasses and a wallet for 75% off retail and I use those 4 items for everything.  I can’t afford more and I don’t want more.  Now- don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating anyone buy anything just for the name- designer clothing is not always synonymous with high quality (but it can be with high prices).  If you are just buying something for the label without it being a meaningful purchase or something that will be the highlight of your wardrobe and you pay full price for it-  that, in my opinion, is wasted money.  I purchased my Coach items 75% off retail, as “foundational pieces,” for my wardrobe (more about this later) and budgeted it in with gift money I’d received.  I supplement the pricey pieces in with things I can get for cheap.

I am now on the hunt for the perfect pair of jeans.  I previously bought American Eagle brand because they were cute and cheap with my fluctuating weight…only problem was- new jeans should highlight your new figure, not create a “muffin top” look that you wouldn’t even have unless you purchased a poorly designed cut of jeans (facepalm).

Suggestions for this, along with other awesome have-to-try brands are recommended and can be posted in the comments section!

cowgirl pinup


Hope y’all had a great week!

Here are some of my favorite postings from the blogosphere-

Read some, learn some, and have a great kick-a$$ week!


Money Links:

Financial Myths College Grads Should Stop Believing @TheFinancial Blogger

Kickoff to 2011:  Mind-Maps, Passion and Pancakes @LifeAfter College

How To File Your First Tax Return @WiseBread

I Don’t Have Time to Be Frugal! @TheSimpleDollar

It’s Harder to Get Started Today @TheSimpleDollar

Life/Happiness Related Links:

Get More Bang For Your Buck:  Revel In Anticipation @Happiness Project

How to Make Life Work in Your Favor @PickTheBrain

Love Yourself First @Already Pretty

Skipping The Latte:  Why Cutting Back Could Cost You More @Pick The Brain

Frugal Fashion & Beauty Links:

How to Make Headbands- 21 Free Patterns @

10 Places to Find Inexpensive Accessories @WiseBread

Combat Dry Skin @FrugalVillage

How to Make Simple Outfits Sparkle @Already Pretty

Heart Sympathy FlowersRelationships can be changed or strained in times of stress-  being responsive and supportive in times of grief, illness or personal troubles is probably the most important time to foster your relationships, and it doesn’t have to cost anything.

Illness and death are two facts of life that usually come at unexpected times.  It’s vital to promptly show  your support as fastidiously as possible, but also to do a follow-up weeks after.  We often think of sympathy cards and flower arrangements, but as we know, the best things in life are free- or at least, inexpensive!


-Have Sympathy, Thinking Of You and Get Well Notes on Hand: Promptness is key and sometimes it’s impossible to get to a store to buy cards and get it in the mail quickly.  Sadly, sometimes the hassle of getting to a card store might prevent us from taking steps to express our condolences.  Purchase a pack of cards ahead of time, so that if you’re in a pinch and cannot go hand-pick one out, you can at least get something in the mail with a heartfelt note promptly.  Cards can be picked up 2/1.00 at a Dollar Store, or in a 10 pack at Hallmark or other card stores.  The card doesn’t have to be expensive, but getting it out quickly and with the right sentiment is what counts to make a statement.

-Realize You Don’t Have to Send Expensive Flowers: It’s easy to feel intimidated when someone you know is going through a rough time, especially if you aren’t sure how to express yourself to them- having a bouquet or plant sent can be an easy way to show you care without having to verbalize your sentiments, but sending flowers will easily cost $40-$100, and purchasing them remotely might yield less than great results.  A house plant, hand-delivered will be cheaper and quite possibly, more meaningful.

If you feel the need to give a gift, know a small donation to a charity in honor of someone in any amount can be a very heartfelt gesture.  You don’t have disclose how much was donated, but knowing that a charitable gift was made in their honor, or for someone they’re grieving could let someone know you care.

-Know That Even When You Don’t Know What To Say, You Need To Say It: Everyone deals with bad news and loss differently- I admit, even though I have lost dear loved ones and know what it can “feel like,” it sometimes is hard to reach out and articulate my sadness for someone going through that process on their own.  Step out of your comfort zone (we all have to in these situations) and make a phone call, send a card, stop in and bring food.

-Offer A Helping Hand: When someone falls ill or passes away, often their family has a hard time taking care of themselves.  Offering to walk their dog, babysit their children, bringing a meal or bringing in their mail and other small gestures are often what’s overlooked.  If you’re good friends with someone who just lost a loved one, stopping by for a visit or getting them out of the house for a bit of distraction or a heart-to-heart talk might be the best course of action.

-Forgive One Another: Nobody is an expert at grieving or healing.  An unexpected diagnosis or the loss of a family member can unearth an array of unanticipated feelings in both the people directly affected, and their circle of friends.  Some people shy away from confronting their feelings, other simply shy away from reaching out because they don’t know how.  Do you best, offer your help- and if it isn’t accepted or you see other people not offering to help, realize they are just dealing with the stress the best they can.

-Know There Isn’t A Set Timetable For Coping or Supporting: Whether or not you expressed your support initially after hearing of someone’s sad news- it is not too late to show it now.  Additionally, if you were able to reach out promptly after an event happened, it’s probably a good idea to call, email or write to follow up with that person.  Small gestures, even weeks after can mean the world to someone.


I understand, as both a person who has gone through it, and one who hasn’t reached out when I should have, that it’s difficult to navigate times of loss and illness.  Two years ago, I lost my Gram (who I took care of and loved like a mother) and my dear friend/ mentor in the same weekend.  In the wake of that loss, I became closer with some and alienated with others- I realize now, some folks just didn’t know how to reach out or didn’t know they should.  During that time, small gestures made a world of difference to me, and every day was different- some days I needed to be alone, others, friends knew “being alone,” was a cop-out and dragged my butt out of the house or simply stayed in to visit, to which I am so grateful.  Events like this leave all of us feeling lost- we don’t know how we “should” act, but the truth is, either as the bereaved or a friend of the bereaved, it’s not as important to stress over you “should” do, but simply that you do it.

Many of us turn to frugality to save money and thus, to be happy.  But perhaps being happy is the key to saving money and frugality?

I was listening to some podcasts today at BlogCastFM where the podcasters were discussing the correlation between following your passions and saving money.  David Cain, the session guest, explained that while he was working a full time job, he found he was making more money, but he was often really stressed and paying more money for the sake of convenience.  When he was following his passions, he was so enraptured in the experiences, he was making less but needed to consume less to sustain himself emotionally and physically.

I think we’ve all had instances where we work ourselves to exhaustion- and shopping can feel like a great escape.  After all, we’ve worked so hard, we need something new and shiny to reward ourselves, right?  Especially if we hate our job, it’s easier to justify buying things we haven’t given much thought to.

I’ve written before about the issue of what our time is worth– and I admit, it’s hard to imagine cutting back your work hours in order to focus on yourself, but what would you do with that free time?  If you really spent just 4 hours a week less at work, would you be able to fill your time with something you love?  Perhaps it’s helpful to think of it this way next time you’re staring down an impulse buy that you just “gotta have”- how many hours of work will this item cost and why are you really buying it?  Perhaps you’re buying it to feel better about yourself, or to zone out after a long day, or to reward yourself- but are these little things distractions from the bigger (and happier) picture?

Now of course, this is not to say that everyone has this choice-  some people have intense work schedules because they absolutely have to.  Not everyone is financially stable enough, or works in a career that allows them the flexibility to be able to cut back on their work week- but that’s not who I’m speaking to.   I’m looking at those of you who “work to play,” and then have to “work to pay it off,” -perhaps it’s time to stop the cycle?

How much do you spend on fast food because you simply “don’t have time too cook?” or are you paying other people to do things you simply “don’t have time for,” (like walking the dog, watching the kids, mowing the lawn, etc)  since you’re at your job?  Sometimes having extra help is a luxury to help us out with chores we’d rather not do- other times though, the luxuries of quick food and hired help are a distraction from a work life that robs us of our personal life.

Our jobs enable us to sustain a living- to buy food, to pay for housing, to be able to afford gifts and trinkets and perks- but what is your job holding you back from?  Are you afraid that taking a dream vacation, or even taking time off work to just veg-out and relax would “cost” too much?  But how much are you spending to sustain a life you aren’t enjoying?

Since starting FruBu, I’ve noticed my spending has decreased dramatically. Though I read way more fashion blogs, and see way more ads than I have before, but I’m buying far less.   I am often so consumed in blogging and am so satisfied and challenged by it, that the compulsion to “fill up” my life with stuff is nearly gone.   Taking a step back from the daily grind to schedule in more personal time seems like a cop-out, but honestly, I’ve never felt more in control- especially in terms of my finances.

The more time you have that is truly “yours” the less time and money you will spend on what doesn’t matter.

Tiffany - boxI have been writing here on FrugalBeautiful for about a month now.  I originally started this blog because I was obsessed with Tiffany & Co. without the money or even a clue how to get it.  My idea at first was to vent about my obsessions with expensive things I was just discovering as newly transplanted city-dweller, and the frustrations of not being able to afford any of it!  But FruBu became a lot more than that that fixation.  It has gone beyond the material beauty of the marketplace and has helped me to reconnect with the beauty of life that never gets featured in the shiny allure of the high-end Michigan Ave. storefronts.

After some soul searching and some writing on FruBu, I’ve realized that my obsession with the shiny allure of Tiffany was just a symbol for my search for love, beauty and simplicity, not so much the items itself.  Granted, I am rather fixated on a few pieces, but let’s keep this on the intangiles here… haha

I’m new to city life, new to being a grad student, new to the midwest, and new to an increasingly restricted budget- and doing this all as a single gal who previously didn’t know a soul in Chicago.  Focusing on the material can be a fabulous distraction, and sure, it can be a great outward status symbol, a way to validate yourself and your hard work,  and yes I’d kill to be able to afford any of it- but for me, obsessing over things I can’t afford was simply that- a distraction.   Sure, I still want my Tiffany, but I know I’m going to have to earn it myself, and owning a shiny bauble won’t create the fabulous life of my dreams- I am now working on making a frugal beautiful life on my own- the jewelry won’t make it for me.

In my less than 6 months in this amazing city I have discovered that love comes in many forms.  The city will break your heart many times, and you’ll fall in love with it again, and again.  Frugal living isn’t about living on rice and beans (I tried, it was awful), and there will be times you fail at sticking to a budget or living within your means.  Keep your eye on the prize and keep marching forward.

I’m learning that some things are worth spending your money on and can bring a lot of joy- you can’t deprive yourself of a cold glass of your favorite beer when you really need a pick-me-up.  I’m still saving for my special Tiffany piece,  but I am no longer waiting for some man to show up and buy it for me, nor am I using it as a measure of my success.  When I finally get my hands on a piece I can buy myself- in cash, I know it will simply be an accessory to a life I have crafted to its own fine beauty- and it is that day to day living, the fulfillment and experimentation, not so much the jewelry itself that will make the boldest statement.

Every once in awhile, I want to post a Bliss List. My friend Kassie and I used to post these for each other online before she passed away last year.  It’s basically a list of things that make us smile, things we’re thankful for- whatever makes us happy and comes to mind.  Here’s to Valentine’s Day, the life and the people I love, and here’s to Kassie:

-2.14.2011 Bliss List-

Those sexy little aforementioned blue boxes

Walking down Michigan Ave. in the snow at night

A cold glass of beer from The Rock Bottom

Unexpected mail

Pink Roses


Jenn Lancaster’s hilarious books

Getting comments from my readers ❤

Cuddling to sappy romantic comedies

“You Don’t Know Jacques!” Nailcolor by O.P.I.

Yankee Candles

That first cup of coffee in the morning, and how it smells glorious in the kitchen

Soft Water (even if it feels weird)

The oh-so-sexy look of liquid eyeliner

Hello Kitty

Post-It Notes

Cross-country roadtrips with friends

Knitting and listening to good podcasts

Pad Thai with fresh lime

When you can feel your heart skip a beat everytime you see that special someone

Kisses- from people and puppies alike

Playing hookie from class 😉

That feeling when your head first hits the pillow after a long day

The smell of Warm Vanilla Sugar

The way fresh snow glitters in the sunlight

Crayola markers

and…  Getting to post on FrugalBeautiful of course.

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