Happy first weekend of the new year! I hope your 2018 is off to a great start, despite the bone-chilling weather sweeping the nation. We have one more holiday gathering today with my dad’s side of the family and then we can finally leave Christmas (and all of those sweets) in the past. Other than that, our weekend should be fairly relaxed. I want to finish up painting the doorframe and closet trim in our office, and we’re hoping to get out for a long walk on Sunday. The temperature is expected to reach the mid-30s, which is 40 degrees warmer than it has been. We can’t miss out on that heat wave!
- Five easy financial goals to accomplish this year.
- Why saying “um” isn’t such a bad thing.
- Madewell’s newest loafer silhouette is gorgeous. I’ll likely purchase a pair in black after my no-shop month is up. Hopefully they’re just as comfortable as these. I’d love a pair of black loafers to bring to London with me.
- I joke that my dream job is to have been a jewel thief, but I don’t think I could ever pull off something as stealthy as this heist in Venice a few days ago.
- How Instagram-famous handbag companies like Cult Gaia created a new formula for success.
- I didn’t think I could love an umbrella stand.
- Kick off the new year on a healthier foot with Bon Appetit’s “Feel Good Food Plan.” The recipes look incredible and a lot more satisfying than some of the dietary restrictions bloggers put themselves through at the beginning of a new year!
- Tips to organize your kitchen this season.
- Did you know that Netflix is filming an updated version of Sabrina the Teenage Witch? Can’t. Wait.
- Closet organization tips for the new year. I’m definitely purchasing some sweater boxes to store knitwear in the off season.
Style Steals Under $50:
- The pearl detail on the sleeves of this blouse is so pretty.
- I usually think that spending $40 on a t-shirt is ridiculous, but I can’t stop thinking about this one after seeing it in person.
- A gingham wrap dress is adorable for spring.
- A striped bell-sleeve sweater.
- Will someone please try this printed dress and let me know if it’s as great as I hope it is?
- Refresh your bathroom with a stylish new bathmat. (I always forget about H&M for housewares.)
Earlier This Week:
January No Shop Update: The first week of my no shopping month wasn’t that difficult. I didn’t leave the house on Jan. 1 and I worked at home on Jan. 2, so I wasn’t tempted by impulse purchases and dining out. I had already purchased groceries for the week’s dinners and work lunches, so we were all squared away there. But, I did buy two non-essential things: a yoga mat and a latte from Starbucks. I’m embarrassed to admit that Tuesday was the first time I’ve exercised since moving in, and I didn’t realize how much wood floors would hurt during a work out! I thought about using a towel for the month so that I could adhere to my self-imposed shopping ban until February rolled around. Dave correctly reminded me that health is essential and I shouldn’t feel guilty about spending $20 to make myself more likely to continue exercising this month. And that latte? I was going stir crazy at work on Thursday and needed to get out in the middle of the afternoon to get fresh air. Had it not been below zero degrees, a walk would have sufficed. Twenty-five days left to go!
The holidays just ended and we’re already bombarded with store emails promoting sales and spring merchandise. As much as I want to head full bore into spring shopping — the dresses! — I need to take a step back and let my bank account breathe. I don’t feel like I’m in a comfortable spot with my finances right now. Holidays aside, a big part of that was buying a house last year and taking a fairly large chunk out of my savings account for things like floor refinishing, paint, hardware, tools, and furniture. I need to get back on track, and taking a month off from nonessential purchasing should help with that.
Let’s be honest, though, this challenge is incredibly difficult for any of us who love fashion and the promise of a spring wardrobe bursting with all of the bright colors, gorgeous prints, and airy fabrics. But, I need to keep my eye on the prize: a healthier financial situation. Here are seven strategies that I’m employing to keep my spending in check this month:
1 – Remember the bigger picture. Going from December, a month of expected overindulgence, to a pared down thirty-one days isn’t the easiest. Keeping the bigger picture in mind helps to remember why you’re doing this in the first place. Do you need to pay off credit card debit? Pad your bank account? Reduce the stress of having too much stuff? Whenever you feel deprived of being able to buy something unnecessary, remember what you’re working toward.
2 – Be grateful for what you already have. You know that closet full of fun things you love and wear? Yeah, go hang out in there whenever you’re feeling the urge to shop. I’m all too familiar with the feeling of fashion FOMO, but there’s likely an abundance of amazing things in your wardrobe that you should be grateful for. Take time to organize your closet and rediscover old favorites, then challenge yourself to reintroduce them into your weekly rotation or remix them into new outfits. (This same idea also applies to housewares, if that’s your weak spot. Try moving decorations to another room to freshen things up.) At the very least, use this time as a chance to carefully evaluate what you own, what you’d like to get rid of, and what holes exist in your collection.
3 – Wish list everything. I have a private Pinterest board that I use for each sartorial and home item that catches my eye. It’s an easy way to add some breathing room to a potential purchase and make sure it’s something you actually want. (Oftentimes, I find that once I add an item and think about it for a week, the piece has already lost its luster.) There will be a longer cooling off period with an entire month, and there’s a good chance it’ll be on sale next month if you’re still enamored with it.
4 – Practice mindful purchasing habits. If you’re narrowing your purchases to just the essentials for a month, you’re already on track to start employing mindful purchasing habits. It really just comes down to being more aware of what you’re buying, how much money is actually leaving your account (or adding to your credit card balance), how that item will be used, and how you’re feeling when you make that purchase. After this month is up, continue practicing these habits in February with a bit more freedom. Are you shopping out of boredom or do you actually see yourself putting that new item in heavy rotation? If it’s the latter, go for it, as long as you have the money in your account and already earmarked as disposable income. Remember, though, for everything you purchased in the past, you were as excited for that as you are for your upcoming purchase. Make sure it’s really something that will add to your life rather than fulfill an immediate desire.
5 – Try new recipes. Dining out is a huge line item for us. It’s unrealistic for us to cut it out completely, so we’re planning to go out to eat just two or three times this month rather than every weekend. To keep things fun and date-like, we’re planning to try new dinner and cocktail recipes instead of relying on the old standbys. It’ll be cheaper than dining out and great activity to share together.
6 – Explore [free] activities. Check your city’s newspaper and online event calendars to find free activities. If you’re in a mid- to large-sized city, there are typically free festivals or concerts that you could go to. If it’s just too darn cold to leave your house, start a Netflix series you’ve been meaning to watch (I just started The Crown), check out an e-book from the library, or finally try some of those Sephora samples that are piling up in your bathroom cabinet. It’s also a great time to reorganize your closet, kitchen, and bathroom.
7 – Enlist a partner. Whether it’s your significant other or a good friend (IRL or online!), having a partner who is also cutting out unnecessary expenses can help keep you accountable.
I’m hopeful that the challenge will also make this year’s sartorial purchases more rewarding. I’ve been putting a small amount of money aside per paycheck and some blog revenue into a savings account dedicated to the Gucci bag I’ve been daydreaming about. I’m almost there, but splurging on it now would feel irresponsible. I’m working my way toward a 2018 goal of “fewer, better things,” and a financial reset button seems like a good way to reframe my outlook on spending. It’s really easy to caught up in impulse spending, new items, and cheap thrills. Those things add up, and while it’s not to say I won’t partake, I want to become more mindful of doing so.
Let me know if you’d like to join in! I’d love to do a link-up at the end of the month to share our successes and struggles.
Before you say anything, I know it’s hard to think about spring with the country is in a deep freeze. But I just couldn’t help myself when it came to putting together a bright and cheerful collage to kick off the year! It’s a little selfish, too, since I’m embarking on a “No Shop January” challenge to curb non-essential spending. So by the time February rolls around, it won’t be too early to add springlike picks to my wardrobe (even if I won’t be able to wear them for another month or two). And I’m likely going to start with a piece in that pretty marigold hue that’s popping up this year!
FEWER, BETTER THINGS
I know this is the Cuyana tagline, but it makes so much sense for where we are in our lives. We have a lot of possessions — which became evident when we moved — and the last thing we really need is more stuff. I’m trying to get out of the habit of impulse purchasing or feeling like I need something new to scratch an itch, or in terms of our home, feeling like we need a transitional piece that acts like a placeholder while we hunt for “the one.” I have a few lofty items that I’d love to own this year, namely the Gucci bag I’ve been saving for, wallpaper for our stairway, light fixtures for the entire house, and a dining room table and chairs. Having clearly defined purchases makes it easier to pass up the impulse items. I’ve also thought about limiting myself to just one or two sartorial pieces each month. It’d be an interesting challenge to whittle down a wish list to just a couple of purchases, but I could see it sucking a lot of joy out of fashion. Maybe worth trying for a few months, though!
TRAVEL SOMEPLACE NEW
This perennial resolution is my favorite. I think it’s important to expand my horizons and see a different part of the country or world. Plus, it’s so much fun to experience a new location! Last year we only took one vacation, and fortunately it was to a new-to-us location: New Orleans. It was difficult to justify additional travel when we just purchased a house and were feeling financially stressed as we adjusted to a new budget. Hopefully we’ll have more travel flexibility this year. We already have London on the books for April (with the flight and hotel already paid for, so that’s taken care of!), and have toyed the idea of going to Iceland for a week in the summer. I’m not sure if Iceland is realistic, so we have a couple of domestic ideas in mind. (After last night’s subzero temperatures, I wouldn’t mind ringing in 2019 somewhere with a beach!) And, while this is more than a year away, I promised Dave that we could go to Japan in 2019 or 2020. (Maybe if I write it down here, I’ll feel accountable for making it happen?)
Challenging myself to lose a certain amount of weight or commit to an ambitious workout schedule isn’t going to happen. However, I am looking to make healthier changes to my lifestyle in 2018. (Gone are the days that I could reliably lose weight just by reducing my calorie intake!) I’m starting an exercise regime that I can accomplish at home (twice a week sounds realistic to start) and once the weather gets nicer, I’m committing to at least one bike ride a weekend to get out an enjoy our neighborhood, Madison’s parks, and the surrounding lakes.
AROUND THE HOUSE
When we purchased this house, we knew there’d be a lot of work to do to make it our own. It was largely abandoned and hadn’t been taken care of or updated over the years. We’ve made impressive strides in the first six months of ownership, but there’s still a long list of things to do! We keep a shared list on the “Notes” app that allows us to jot down every project that comes to mind so that we can prioritize them. I won’t get into all of the projects, but some that I’d like to do tackle this year include:
- Finish painting the trim and doors.
- Finish painting the hallway and ceiling. (We’ll need a professional painter for part of the wall and ceiling that we can’t reach over the stairs.)
- Repaint the guest room since we hate the grey we originally picked.
- Replace the storm door at the front of the house. It’s in such poor shape and incredibly ugly.
- Replace the remaining light fixtures … for seven rooms.
- Buy a dining room table and chairs.
- Purchase a living room rug, preferably vintage.
- Add a screen door to our back deck.
- Have a contractor come in to give us quotes on renovating the bathroom, closing off the opening between the master bedroom and guest room, and renovating our front porch/sun room. (It was originally a porch, but had been closed in at some point. We’d like to add more windows and give it an interior face lift so it’s a space that we’ll use.)
- Get quotes on wallpaper installation for the stairway. (I’d love to make wallpapering a priority for 2018, but it all comes down to money.)
- Get quotes on skim coating the kitchen to get rid of the awful textured walls.
- Have an electrician install exterior outlets.
- Resurface the driveway and add a parking pad to the side of the one-car garage.
- Add exterior lights to our side entrance and the garage.
- Paint or stain our deck and front porch.
- Figure out window coverings. We’re likely going with roller shades because they fit the period of the house and they’re affordable.