Frugal Beautiful

Posts Tagged ‘Shopping

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.



Stupid 30-Day-No-Shopping Challenge!   I love Etsy though, if you want to splurge- (meaning, you can unlike myself) do so with an amazing small-business owner that crafts her own goods.  I truly believe that a few treats once in awhile will help your frugality goals in the long run.  All work and no play is not good- but at the very least, enjoy some Etsylicious eye-candy 🙂







Dainty shaped soaps and guest towels are no longer for Grandma’s guest room.  These colorful soapy confections are great for a new generation.

Get yours @SatinandBirch








Donuts are the new cupcakes.  Find this and other retro-delicious designs @ CollisionWare
















I ❤ Pugs!  Find an adorable item with your breed @ MauStudio

















Oh laudy- isn’t this just gaudy (in a really, really good way)  Totally perfect for spring.  Made by ThreeWildnCrazyLadie






Customizable for your favorite breed- but you know, “pug” is probably the best bet 😉  @ KeepCalmShop

Stupid, stupid 30 Day No-Shopping Challenge.  It’s nowhere near my birthday and I have done nothing notable worth gifting (aside from posting on this blog begging for some biblio-esque goodness).

Here my “Books Worth Swooning Over” (and then purchasing!):

I adore me some  Jen Lancaster- she is like a far more articulate version of myself (you know, with like a smart-ass opinion about everything).  She has written of her love of pugs and has excellent taste in handbags- what is there not to love?  I read her first book, Bitter is the New Black and was hooked.

If you need a good laugh but want it coupled with witty commentary and a vocabulary that is expansive and still hilarious- this is the author for you.  You will not go wrong with any of her books- and when I am off this damn challenge I am buying pre-ordering her book and demanding the rest of them for my shelf.  This will happen.

Jen’s sure-to-be-fabulous new book comes out May 3rd and is a stupendous deal at $13.64 for hardcover.

Pre-order If You Were Here on Amazon or other fine booksellers.


Jenny Blake is a popular person in the blogosphere. I adore posts, and her personal journey to getting this published is nothing short of notable and inspiring.   I have already pre-ordered her book- it was available on Amazon for $9.10 with free Prime Shipping.  It’s coming out later this month, but dude, that is a fabulous deal- $9.10??!

Ms. Blake’s book comes out March 29th and you can buy it here (or somewhere else if you are so inclined).





This little gem by Gretchen Rubin just came out in paperback for the fabulous price of $7.72 with free Super Saver shipping on Amazon (By it with Wish You Were Here perhaps, or you can always buy a copy for both of us?).

The Happiness Project just makes me happy- I have heard great things about this book and have totally enjoyed Gretchen’s vlogs and posts online so this is bound to be a great read.

Strawberry Vanilla Votive CandlesBuilding a small gift inventory is one of my favorite frugal tips.  When you have the time and money to get a really personal, thoughtful gift.  When you don’t have the time or money, having something in-hand for an last minute event or celebration could be a lifesaver!

I always have a few gifts on hand (usually purchased on clearance or saved as a re-gift)  for last minute housewarming and dinner parties, birthdays or when I can’t afford to run out and buy something.   Having a hassle-free gift with the right wrapping can make a great statement for a small price!

-Candles of all sizes:  Pillar candles wrapped in a wine bag are great for nicer gifts.  Votives in a cute holders are great small gifts- many come pre-wrapped to throw in a gift bag.  To complete the gift, add a book of matches or lighter if you have one on hand (which can be bought in bulk).  I’ve given small votives and tealights to people that “light up my life,” as a very small/affordable gift of gratitude.  Target has tealights in bulk and great candles on clearance.

-Stationary: I have several sets of stationary to gift, several of which are from the dollar section or I got on clearance.  For a nicer gift, take the stationary out of the cello and wrap it with a fabric ribbon and add a pen, postage stamps or an address book/photo frame.  Gifting thank you notes with stamps is great for a graduation party or for a young adult.  When I was moving, I stupidly packed my stationary.  Someone gave me a set with a gorgeous pen, I kept that in my suitcase so I could get my thank you cards in my mail sooner- what a help!

-Spa Supplies: I am a notorious regifter!  Often we receive bubble bath when we don’t have a tub, or a scent that we just won’t get around to using, there is no shame in regifting to someone who might!  Pairing bath supplies with a hand knit/crochet face cloth or a loofah, tied on with a fabric ribbon makes for a fabulous gift.

-Coffee Mugs: Throw a single serving coffee/tea bags in a mug  and wrap in the cellobag for a quick gift.  I have found like-new mugs at thrift stores, but I usually shy away from dollar-store mugs since I’ve heard of questionable lead content at some of these stores.


-Small bottle of dish detergent in a fun color with a sponge  (Cost:  $2.50)

-Blank printable labels and instructions so someone who is relocating can print their own return address labels (Cost:  $4)  Paired with other office supplies.

-Photo frames can be a great gift, especially if you promise the recipient a flashdrive of event pictures so they don’t have to worry about photography while hosting!

-Magnetic Notepad or Post-its from the dollar bin can be thrown in to any gift to make it more substantial (Cost: $1)

-Hershey kisses/clearance candy is great to keep on hand (if you can stop yourself from eating it) can be thrown in a cello bag and paired with another small gift or stand on its own.

Always Keep Gift Wrap On Hand-  This is key to saving time and money!

Cello Bags:  These can be found in the dollar or party section of Target, etc.  Throw a small gift in a cello bag, tied with wire garland or fabric ribbon and it will look great and is typically cheaper than a paper gift bag.  To conceal the gift, just wrap in tissue paper first!  Using cello bags is also a great way to make small gifts look more substantial.

Paper Gift Bags and Tissue:  I always save my gift bags to reuse, but have picked them up for cheap on clearance.

Having small gifts on hand- whether it be a tea light or a nice bar of chocolate can make a profound impression when it’s unexpected.  Being prepared, to reciprocate for a  friend’s help or an invitation to an event is a great way to foster an “attitude of gratitude,” without having to break the bank!

Part of being in control of your financial life is being aware of what really matters to you.

Many frugal-gurus advise you to cut down on your “latte factor”…small purchases that may only cost a few dollars but add up over time.

My advice stems from this-prioritize your spending based on what you can’t live without, or simply what brings you the most joy- even if it’s small purchases.

I used to love having my nails done. I would get a pedicure once a month and I had gorgeous acrylic nails. They were great for back scratching, looked great, and I totally loved them. They cost me $25 every three weeks, and $23 for a pedicure. For a flat fee of $25, I could buy my own supplies to do at-home mani/pedis. I calculated that I could roughly save $438 a year if I simply did my spa treatments at home. I can’t do my own acrylics, but I can choose from some gorgeous nail colors, and the security of knowing I’m able to pay my bills each month is totally freeing.  Now I love to do my nails, and have freed my money up for something that brings me greater fulfillment.

When I moved to Chicago, I had to rethink my priorities- number one being the security of having my bills paid in full without additional stress. I then had to categorize my spending based on what would make me the happiest. What did I decide? I decided for me, I didn’t need to get my nails done, pay for cable, purchase books and use the library instead, and I’d brew my own coffee and cook more at home. I also decided to sell any books, shoes or video games I didn’t need to earn some extra coin to pay for things I really wanted. I chose to get a cheaper apartment that with utilities, was under $400 a month (And note to my friends that tease me for being frugal in my living space? Well “friends,” my stuff is PAID FOR, now come over for some boxed wine!).

What did I decide to spend money on? Getting stylish clothing appropriate for midwest weather and to look hot in the cold Chicago winters, getting a dog (that will probably cost me $450), signing up for yoga, and starting this blog. I also decided that I was willing to spend more on purchases to support small businesses for groceries, clothes and yarn- that makes me happy. I was willing to cut back on my shopping in other arenas and look for savings to make this happen.

Plus, you can still have everything you want/need by looking for cheaper alternatives, searching for coupons/discounts, swapping with friends or negotiating cheaper rates on your monthly bills.  Everything is attainable!

Am I happier despite the sacrifices? You better believe it. Being financially efficient is different for everyone- cutting back on your lattes might be cost effective and motivating for one and yet depressing for someone else.  You know what is worth spending money on in terms of your own joy and security- if you can afford convenience in one area, but can D.I.Y. in another- you have the power to make that judgement call!

Take a few minutes to evaluate what matters to you, and allocate your money accordingly to maximize the happiness from each dollar.

I’m going to be posting several small articles that will help you tackle your finances and be your most powerful self in quick, do-able steps. Today’s step?

Take 5 minutes to look through your wallet, bank statement and credit card bills.  Taking stock of what’s going on with your spending habits will give you powerful insight to take control of your life!

It is time to get real with your finances, because you know you aren’t doing what you should!  Take a good hard look at what’s going on in your wallet (or how many swipes away you are from wearing a hole in your credit card) and evaluate what’s happening in your life.

Your finance habits correlate with your thinking and living habits.  I can tell you when I relocated to Chicago, my spending was out of control!  While I bought a lot of things I needed for the new place and new weather conditions, I was so desperate to get “settled,” that I didn’t think my purchases through.  Needless to say, I ended up with two pairs of boots purchased online I don’t use, and three very high credit bills.  I was so stressed about feeling secure in my personal life, I was doing the opposite in my financial life!  Take stock (and a good hard look at  where your money is going) and spend just 5 minutes quickly spotting any red flags or things to simply be aware of.

It’s that simple.

Check out some of my favorite sites that will make this goal a breeze and give you ideas!

www. – (MY FAVORITE TOOL)- online or on my phone!   In 10 minutes you can see every penny you have saved or spent in savings, CD, investments and credit cards.  PLUS they generate great tips and leads for better ways to save money on purchases and gain more for your savings! -their daily emails are fabulous! -they so totally are! -I love the forums, any question you want answered from a variety of perspectives!

Up next? Two simple things you need to be doing to live a healthy financial lifestyle- and it doesn’t have to be painful!

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January 2020
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