budget update: week 10/52

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Remember my less-is-more budget project that I launched back in November? In case you missed it, in an attempt to reform my shopaholic ways I gave myself a strict budget of $100 per month for clothes, shoes, accessories and beauty buys. Originally, I planned to stick it out for four months; but I’ve been so encouraged by my progress I’m stretching it to a year!

Giving myself a little accountability in my spending has reframed my perception of wants vs. needs. It’s also helped me patch the holes in the other areas I tend to overindulge in, like pricey drugstore hauls — am I the only one that can’t make it out of Walgreens without three different kinds of lipgloss? I knew I was doing something right when the extra cushion in my checking account came in handy for some unexpected year-end expenses, and it was just the little boost I needed to stay on track.

I almost made it through December without buying a thing {what?! who am I?!} but alas, I caved at Marshall’s last Saturday after delivering a wedding order nearby. It didn’t take long for those old familiar feelings to kick in, and before I knew it 45 minutes passed and my arms were filled with cute spring tops and clearance temptations. I took a beat. Pulled out my phone and started tallying up the damage on the calculator. All of my finds added up to around 90 bucks…

I thought about it. Reasoned with my newly responsible self. Even if I bought all the things I pulled, I’d still be under my budget. But did I need it? Where would my hard-earned money be better served elsewhere? A special date night with my mister? Applied toward a credit card balance? In that weird subaccount that’s attached to my checking that I think they call savings? ;-)

I took another lap around the store and carefully returned everything to the racks; but I held on to two pieces: a Violet & Claire blouse in the most gorgeous shade of orangey red, and a Steve Madden foldover clutch on clearance (an item that’s been on my wish list for a while now). I made it to the checkout, paid in cash, and for the first time in a looooong time I drove home without the tiniest bit of buyer’s remorse.

37 thoughts on “budget update: week 10/52

  1. I challenged myself to only buy second hand… (expect for shoes and intimates) for the Autumn season, and now I’m hooked. Saving money and finding unique looks — A perfect match!

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  2. Ah I am so impressed! And you’re not only on the drug store impulse purchases, only mine seem to be nail polish. I may have 20 shades of pink. Good luck with this and you’ve definitely inspired me!

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    1. Ugh, I can’t seem to escape the nail polish temptation, either. My drug of choice is Essie polish, and at $8 a bottle I can ring up a pretty substantial receipt quick! I’m glad you’re inspired — let me know how you do!

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  3. Sounds like some good shopping wisdom! I totally agree with you, once you set a definite limit and realize what else you could use the money for…well, you end up realizing that you don’t HAVE to have all that stuff you want to buy :) One of my strategies is to take an item home and see if I can make ten outfits out of it, then leave it in my closet for a week — if I still REALLY want it that badly and know I’ll get good use out of it, I keep it :)

    <3 Cambria
    jupefashion.blogspot.com

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  4. It is so awesome that you are expanding your goal for a whole year! I’ve cut down my impulse buying loads recently but I’m still really bad for picking up things I don’t really need, even if it is only £5. Putting stuff back down when you have it in your hands is always the worst bit! When it is in my hand I may as well have already bought it. That clutch is lovely though xo

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  5. This is just the best idea!! I am a student with a tight budget, and my love shopping really puts a strain on this ha!! I am going to take a leaf out of your book!! Great finds aswell!! Xx

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  6. way to go! i am working on coming up with a similar budget. being a college student it is always helpful to have that extra in the bank! thanks for being a person i can look up too when it comes to cutting back and living with what you have.

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    1. Crafty things are easy to splurge on! In your mind, you tell yourself, “I’m saving so much money because I’m going to DIY this!” but you end up spending just as much on the supplies to do-it-yourself! ;-)

      I try to stay away from the craft stores, and only visit when I have a coupon or know they’re having a sale.

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  7. I’m so proud of you! You are doing SO well with the budgeting…surpassing your goals and actually learning from it! I’m still working on my “shopping problem”…it’s hard bc I am single and pay all my bills so I don’t end up in debt…BUT I know that $ would be better spent in some traveling/experiences OR saved for a rainy day/future. I’ve started by going back and writing everything I’ve bought since 9/1/12. It’s good for me to see it in writing, see the numbers so that I can find a way to be more grateful for what I have and to figure out a budget that works for me. It has helped somewhat but there is still so much more room for improvement. Thanks again for all the inspiration!!

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    1. Thank you for the encouragement, Lidia!

      You’re right, writing things down is a great way to find the holes in your budget. I used to pretend to do this, but I only wrote down the big stuff and skipped all the little latte and lipgloss purchases. But those count just as much — if not more — than the big ones because they add up FAST! Being able to see all the ways you’re spending is a great way to reign things in.

      I’ve also stopped using my debit card completely. I give myself a small amount of cash every week for spending, and write checks for all my groceries and bills. Most places don’t take personal checks anymore, so it makes me take a beat before going to buy anything; “ugh, do I really want to go to the bank and withdraw cash for this?” Nine times out of ten, I decide I don’t need it and totally forget about it a few days later.

      Good luck with your budgeting in 2013!

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  8. Good for you!!! I had a similar experience with money recently. Instead of immediately spending the money I got for Christmas on clothes, I put it in my savings account for travel after graduation. It was hard, and I keep thinking about all the new clothes I could have bought but at the same thing I am happy that I put it away!
    xoxo
    Megan

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  9. Good for you! I have a tendency to make quick, snap decision purchases. A lot of the shopping I do is online, and my intention this year is to make more well thought out, saved for purchases rather than just buying something because it is a good deal. Sounds like you are definitely learning!

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    1. I am the queen of a good deal. I’m my very best enabler… “It’s only $20, I’d be stupid NOT to buy it!” But before you know it, I’ve bought six $20 things and I could’ve paid my electric bill instead. Good luck to you in the new year on following through with your intention!!

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  10. This is an amazing resolution, and I think with enough will power and determination, you’ll eventually have enough saved up to maybe take a trip somewhere? Y’ never know!
    Happy New Year!

    Kathleen of whenjmetk.com

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  11. I love the accountability you have, you are quite inspiring. Hubby and I recently started saving to purchase a home, and the budget reminders are needed and very appreciated. Keep up the good work!

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  12. Well done! We are on the same page here.

    Both pieces will serve you well into the Spring/Summer months! I am doing the happy dance for you.

    Shon

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  13. i can’t tell you how inspiring these chronicles are to me. i’ve started an email to you at least twice to tell you about it, but i get all embarrassed and weepy and leave it in my drafts so i’ll just comment. having a shopping problem is a real thing. using shopping as therapy is a real thing. ending up with credit card debt because of it is a real thing. now that i’ve got my student loans to pay back, i have an awful amount of money on a Gap card i just can’t seem to get rid of. since you’ve started writing about your own experience, i’ve not let myself purchase anything with that card and i’ve increased my payments every month. i may not be able to afford a 100 shopping budget right now, but if i want it in the next 5 years, i’ve got to start putting my money towards my debt instead of digging myself deeper into a hole.

    you’re so wonderful and i love that little clutch.

    xo
    writesliekagirlblog.blogspot.com

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    1. Oh sweet girl, I have SO been there. Store credit cards are the worst. My first retail credit card was for Express (it was also good at its sister stores, Victoria’s Secret and Bath and Body Works) and it didn’t take me long to burn it up. I got a job at Express in college, and I spent every penny I made AND racked up a $1200 balance on my Express card, before the store closed and I was laid off. Which looking back, was the greatest blessing to remove me from all the temptation. When I got married, my husband paid off my Express card and I promised to never let a card get so out of hand again.

      I’ve had many a sleepless night because of high balances, missed payments, and collection calls in my early 20’s. It’s taken me years to get a grip on my finances and learn to live within my means. Hang in there. You’re being so smart by putting all your resources toward eliminating your debt. Email me any time if you need an understanding ear :)

      Hugs!

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    1. Kelsey, I read Words of Williams on the regular for advice on budgeting and family finance! You guys rock. Just curious, do you roll over any unused portion of your $44/month budget? I’ve mandated a use-it-or-lose it policy for myself.

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  14. the buyers remorse feeling is exactly why I had to start budgetting. if you can’t fully enjoy what you are buying, its not worth it. Im so proud of you for making this a year long (and ya know, probably longer) decision. you’ll end up loving everything in your closet and never feeling bad about purchases

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