Frugal Beautiful

Posts Tagged ‘Wise Spending

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

heart in your handsConfession time!  1.5 years ago, I sat in my undergrad advisor’s office and had a “moment.”  I realized that I was all set for graduation that next spring and I thought to myself:  “That’s it?”  I felt I hadn’t learned nearly enough as an undergrad and thought the remedy for my ignorance was more education- but I think I was wrong.

For me, 1.5 years ago, the decision to go to grad school was twofold- part one being my desire to be a smarter, better, more worldly person, and and part two was simply that I was about to graduate college and had no friggin’ clue what to do.  Of course, reason number two was hiding in the shadows of the glorious and over-publicized reason number one.  1.5 years ago, I saw a graduate education as my ticket to a new life- means to validate myself as an intelligent person, to secure myself one additional rung on that stupid “ladder of success.”

The process of applying to grad school, and then, getting in, was just the transition I needed to adjust myself to that scary “Oh sh*t this is really adult-time and it’s happening now,” that we all must face.  Granted, I saw myself as “more adult than most,” having taken care of my elderly grandmother and built a repertoire of philanthropic and travel experience that made me feel “adult,” bu never before in my whole life had I felt that I was about to face MY WHOLE LIFE.  In the manner of how I normally do things when I think I need to figure things out immediately, I completely freaked out and crafted my “Plan to Go to Grad School And Become An Adult.”  Which was really just a panic attack under the façade of a well thought-out plan which was categorized in a three-ring binder and researched meticulously.  But as we all know, “book smarts,” are not “street smarts.”  You can analyze something endlessly, but until you get out there and experience it- you pretty much have no idea what it’s really like.

Enter the present day- I am writing this blog and looking back on my life.  Getting in and going to grad school has accomplished it’s initial goal- I feel I’ve learned a whole heck of a lot in these past 7 months, but I’m not sure if what’s been gained in the classroom is worth the price tag.  What I have learned- much of it now fueling entries for this blog, was learned in the actually experience of getting to this point:  Moving across country.  Clearing out all my junk.  Starting over in a new city I’d previously never been to.  Looking for love and finding it within myself.  Dodging unstable drunkards on the EL train.   All of this transition and hard work has lead me to the life I now fervently adore.

But, I wonder now- have I already accomplished what I set out to do?  Will finishing my degree and shelling out an additional (I don’t even want to say how much it is, but it ain’t cheap) really serve anything?

This is something I’m grappling with.  I feel that there are other avenues to which I am far more excited about, and learning on my own doesn’t cost me a dime.  I truly feel you can be “busy,” without being “productive,” and while I’m not saying that my time in school isn’t teaching me anything- is it truly worth the price tag and is it distracting me from other things?  Is a graduate degree really worth it if I can’t use Photoshop and I can barely install Windows Office?  Will taking on college loan debt impede my chances of further happiness, or am I just being silly about wanting a down payment on a house/wedding/car/Roth contribution instead?  Can I have both?  I’m not even sure if I should see the money I’ve spent already on tuition as a “mistake.”  Even if it wasn’t a mistake and brought me to a life I am now proud of, it sure is an expensive “experiment.”  I’m trying to be positive about this- grad school isn’t “bad,” but it’s too expensive to waffle about.

Needless to say- being an adult is scary.  Nobody will ever have the perfect advice- for every person that told me going to grad school was a great idea, I’ve seen evidence that it might not be.  Being an adult is really about freedom- and that’s what’s so scary about it, if you fail, you have nobody to blame but yourself.  It’s all your choice, your life, your consequences- both good and bad.  No matter what path you take- that life?  It’s YOURS…and perhaps that’s why I love it so intensely and totally intimidated by the power of it all.  I’m not sure what to do, but I’m going to keep writing until I muster the cajones to figure it out.

P.S. I could have written this to PostSecret, but this was way better.

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.

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.

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August 2020