(the important stuff…smiling, and enjoying time with family – my dad is taking the photo, there in the window)
There it is, the “B” word. I’m ashamed to admit that as an adult I’ve never really made myself stick to a budget. I’ve never even created a budget for myself. I just paid my bills and whatever was left over I spent. Which, as you can probably imagine, didn’t leave any room for savings, unexpected expenses, or anything else for that matter. But dammit, I had all the “stuff” (i.e. clothes, shoes & bags) I wanted.
Yeah, I’ve made more than my fair share of mistakes with money.
Now though, Leo and I have made a plan for where we want to be financially in a couple of years, and there’s no room in that for “extras.” And it’s time I start behaving like the 41-year old woman I am, and follow a plan to get us where we want to be financially before we’re both middle-aged (he’s younger than me, thankfully…
And that’s where my budget comes in.
If you’re a regular reader and have been paying any attention at all, you’ve probably noticed that I buy a lot of clothes (James Perse, ahem.) And maybe you’ve wondered how I can spend $500 or so a month on clothes. I look back and wonder that too.
I’m not going to get in depth into my financial/emotional history here, but I’ve been specifically spending a lot more on clothes since we moved to Dallas, and Ozzie died – which happened basically simultaneously. I used shopping and buying stuff as a reason to get out of the house, and socialize, since I’ve yet to make many friends here. And losing Ozzie hurt more than I cared to admit; it affected me so deeply that I’m still trying to cope. But it’s time to pay the Piper, as they say, and start to put myself in a better position.
And I think it helps when you get a glimpse in to my personal life a little bit – I have always tried to be relate-able and open about nearly everything. But not about how much money I spend. I never thought that I needed to be, I guess, because I never tried to make this into a “budget” shopping blog. And I’m still not going to do that with regard to the things I feature, but I am going to be more accountable for the things I bring into MY WARDROBE, and why. Because ultimately, I want to have MUCH LESS STUFF. Having a budget is going to help that a lot, and maybe be inspirational if you’re trying to pare down too.
The fact is, that I don’t need much anyway, but I AM a shopping blogger, and I started Grechen’s Closet to talk about and wear new items from designers I love. I’m going to keep doing that, but within a strict budget from this moment forward: $200 at Shopbop every month, and $200 “discretionary” every month.
I earn store credit at Shopbop every month for displaying a widget on Grechen’s Codes, which is where the $200 at Shopbop comes from. My $200 “discretionary” fund has to cover hair cuts/color, beauty supplies, and any other “personal necessities,” so I’m not going to be using that for clothes, unless I have some left over.
Suffice it to say I won’t be spending much on makeup/beauty products for a while…I’ll need a haircut and color soon, and that’s not cheap!!
You may also have noticed that I’m not like a lot of other fashion bloggers now who tend to wear more “courtesy of” items than items they paid for. I don’t get a lot of free stuff. I’m really picky about what I do accept, which is why I DON’T get a lot of free stuff. I would never accept something or wear it for you guys that I wouldn’t buy myself, which that eliminates about 90% off the stuff bloggers receive as “c/o” items.
I have been lucky to have created a wonderful relationship with Everlane, and they periodically send me items to review for you, which I always note in my reviews. I have received $15 credit for purchases from new customers who click on my link, but I’ve also spent A LOT of my own money there.
So, I don’t expect to be adding as many things to my wardrobe going forward, which is great, because I don’t need anything. I can still use my Shopbop credit for fun stuff, and if I just need to splurge, so I’m thankful for that, but otherwise, I know I need to be purging my wardrobe, not adding to it. Which actually makes me very excited to have a budget now; it just won’t be possible for me to add so much anymore.
And that is it. In my “Week in Review” posts on Saturdays I’ll keep track of the clothes/shoes/accessories I bought that week, in addition to the things I got rid of. My goal with this is to become financially healthy not only by spending less money overall, but also by REALLY reflecting on what I NEED and don’t need given budgetary constraints. Believe me, I’ve discovered that I don’t need a new nail polish every week (that’s $40/month!!!) or random stuff from Target if that takes away from other more important things.
I know…took me long enough. But better late than never, right?
Grechen….I LOVE that pic of you! What a great one.! You look happy, and that shirt..is that JP? …so cute!
I’m just like you…on the budget. I love clothes! I love fabric! I have no budget! LOL. But, I have cut back over the last 3 years. It is tough, but a wonderful thing to do. We don’t need it all. We cannot even wear it all LOL. And I HAD to cut bavk for financial reasons. I’m getting more used to it. I can still appreciate…not not buy. Good luck! I think it is a wonderful idea! Xoxo
Thanks for being so open and honest about your budgeting. I love aspirational fashion as much as the next girl, but I know that so many style bloggers out there must be either a) deeply in debt, or b) bankrolled by their spouse or parent. As much as someone can love style, at some point you have to decide if you would rather have a $2000 bag (which will depreciate) or $2000 in your IRA (that will hopefully appreciate), and which one will you really remember in 20 years? Anyway, thanks for the dose of realism.
Grechen Reiter says
thanks shannon – and yes, that is a JP top 😉
i’m trying to learn how to appreciate and not buy. i’ve never really tried to do that before! i only thought i could really appreciate something in my closet LOL – but i see that I can appreciate things in the store, or on someone else also. and really, what I think i NEED at the moment I see it in the store passes. more quickly than it used to . which is progress!!
Grechen Reiter says
yes. this is what frustrates me about most bloggers nowadays. not that anyone should be obligated to share their finances, but at least be open and honest about what you actually pay for (and even with FTC guidelines, etc., a lot of bloggers ARE NOT open about what they receive for free). and it’s nice to see one or two pieces or even one or two posts that aren’t sponsored or paid for by a brand. but don’t even get me started 😉
As always, I appreciate your openness. It sounds like you and Leo made a good decision. It’s very hard to lose a four-legged family member. I’m still grieving over my cat’s death, and that was over a year ago. So I’m sending empathy energy your way.
Cathy Benavides says
Oh girl, I totally feel you!! Now that we are saving for a wedding, I’ve had to get really serious about my budget. I’ve always justified my shopping with “hey, I’m a blogger” and done my best to use coupon codes and sales and such. But looking at the numbers on a spreadsheet has shown me that I am a HUGE overspender. Having my Gwynnie Bee subscription has really helped curb my shopping, so now I just try and focus on what I need, as opposed to just shopping for fun. For me, any type of window shopping always leads to buying something. So I have to be careful about that. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one that has this difficulty 🙂
Cathy Benavides´s last blog post ..Plus Size Outfit Post – A Whole Lotta Gray
Grechen Reiter says
i’m sure you can imagine how moving here, amidst a real live james perse store and a neiman marcus on every corner, affected my ability to shop without buying. it went badly LOL. i actually haven’t “shopped” in quite some time, because like you, it always seems to lead to my buying something i don’t need.
It’s plenty of time, to be starting. And that is a great photo of you, so whole and relaxed. My sister and I think that just seeing the beautiful thing is often as good as owning it:). Not always, but more than we used to believe.
Lisa´s last blog post ..A “Mixed” Border With Only 3 Plants
Sarge in Charge says
YES, Grechen- and that enthusiasm is not because I am a meanie happy that you have to budget yourself, but because I appreciate the honesty and a real look at how someone handles her spending. I always look at blogs and ask myself, “how do they DO that” (even yours occasionally, I will admit)??? It is not so much the size of the budget itself- I read interesting blogs at all levels of spending- but it just bugs when it all doesn’t seem to add up. I am also excited because I know you will write honestly about the tradeoff between the great bag you might have had vs the peace/satisfaction you may get from reaching your financial goals (I say that without judgment, as someone who has typically picked the “stuff” every time).
Grechen Reiter says
haha. meanie 😉
the struggle for me is definitely going to be getting used to being satisfied, and even happy about that tradeoff though – i’ve always chosen the “stuff,” never really caring about financial stability/goals/etc., (obviously), so i’ve not had the opportunity to feel really good about choosing “the right thing,” i.e., the financially responsible thing, before.
i know it’s all in my head, and eventually that stupid little voice in there that’s saying “you must have all the stuff!!!” will die out and the one that’s proud to have money saved up, and a little leftover to do meaningful things with will win. in time.
Thank you for sharing this! I love the transparency and your acknowledgment that we all should budget and spend wisely, within our means! That is something that many people forget in today’s consumerist world (I am also guilty of wanting more and more pretty clothes, all the time). I never let myself rack up credit card debt and always kept a small emergency savings account, but it was shocking to realize that I could have started a Roth IRA a couple years before I did, or that I could have been paying extra toward my student loans, etc. I started tracking all my purchases a couple years ago (clothing, home, miscellaneous stuff) and then instituted a monthly budget, which I admit I have difficulty sticking to, but I really try and am slowly improving. Good luck with saving and budgeting! And thanks for sharing.
Yeah, nail polish is an item that I think is “cheap” but it adds up quick. I haven’t purchased any nail polish in a few months – oh, I still look when I’m at Ulta, but I remind myself that I have enough 🙂
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I know this isn’t the point of your post, but I LOVE the picture of you!
So many of us ate going through the same thing in terms of shopping and our immediate gratification vs. planning for our future. I am constantly minimizing my purchases…”It’s only a lipgloss…t-shirt….etc.”. And you’re so right: It adds up!
I’m taking this seriously. But it isn’t easy. Not at all.
I hear you girl. I think what it comes down to (for me), is that somehow I am always on the lookout for the next “best thing”, rather than just truly appreciating what I have. Somehow I fantasize about a “capsule” wardrobe, but don’t really take the time to encapsulate what I already have and love. I can always find something else I feel like I “need”. Aargh. It is frustrating, as I love fashion and style, but really should be buckling down and paying off debt. I find that the less I look, the less tempted I am to spend/buy. Out of sight out of mind. I have also found buying can fill an emotional void, which is definitely not financially healthy. I also fluctuate between wanting to be “boho chic”, or “preppy/nautical classic”…and getting rid of things prematurely, or spending money I regret later. I pride myself on being a “stylish” mom, yet envy my friends who don’t seem to care. It actually makes me question my own parenting, which is a whole other topic…whew. That being said, isn’t it ok to live for your child more or less, but also want to look good?!
Way too much. Sorry. 🙂
See? This is why I love your blog, and you, the writer, so much! You’re so honest with us, even when it’s painful for you. And because of that, you make me THINK. not to mention that you have great readers with great ideas!???? I’m going to try to focus on “appreciation of the thing” without having to own it. After all, I love the Georgia O’Keefe in the museum, but I can’t take it home!
Amen to that, Lala! Not too much, btw. Just honest.
Grechen Reiter says
you know what i do, end up buying something only to discover that i have nearly the EXACT match already at home..ridiculous…
no new polish for me!!!
Grechen Reiter says
thanks for your comment renza! i always felt so proud that i didn’t use credit cards for my clothes, etc., that i was paying cash for everything, all the while ignoring other debt and creating more temporary debt because i didn’t have any emergency funds set aside. ozzie’s end of life was very expensive and i’m just now paying that off, but it could have easily been taken care of with some savings.
live and learn i guess. i just wish it hadn’t taken so long!!
Grechen Reiter says
so funny…i’m reading “the rosie project” right now and the main (male) character responds to the lack of art on his walls by saying that basically you can only appreciate something you see all the time for such a short amount of time, it’s better to visit museums to view art rather than hang it on your wall. the roi isn’t there.
i don’t think it’s the same with clothing, but it sort of is since you get diminishing returns the more items you add to your wardrobe.
and i think that sometimes i appreciate things MORE when it’s on someone else than when it’s on me. i’ve always thought that’s a reflection of jealousy, or whatever, but maybe it’s not, maybe i can turn that into “healthy” admiration instead … thoughts…
Grechen Reiter says
not way too much!! thank you for sharing 🙂
i fantasize about a capsule wardrobe also, and i think that’s part of the problem. that and “the perfect ________” issue we talk about so frequently here. i’m beginning to think that striving for perfection is very unhealthy – you can really never get there, because there’s no such thing as perfect. that is a struggle for me, definitely, because of how i was raised. but i think it’s time to get over that.
and i’m also torn, obviously, because i LOVE fashion & style also. and shopping. i LOVE shopping 🙂 so i’ve also been brought to this crisis of confidence in terms of this – my blog – my work. if not for this, would i have so much stuff? i go back and forth, because i had a LOT of clothes before i started this, but i didn’t appreciate them very much. now i do appreciate what i have, but i still have too much. if this wasn’t my “job” would i feel compelled to buy a new pair of jeans, or whatever? i think i would. i am not trying to keep up with the jones’ or prove myself to anyone, i just love to shop & buy new things. yes, to fill an emotional void, but also because i just love to acquire and OWN stuff. which i guess is also filling an emotional void LOL
And i am totally with you on fluctuating – i go from black & white minimalism to slouchy to boho in one day – so it’s hard to really have a coherent wardrobe. maybe the answer is to have a “capsule” wardrobe for each style?
finally…obviously i can’t speak to being a mom, the i get really really frustrated with moms who seem to give up on their own style, and having their own life in general in favor of taking care of the children. again, i have no experience with this, and i’m not trying to judge, but i have to think that it’s okay for you to still care about being stylish and your own appearance. i mean, how could it NOT be?? you must still be your own person if you want to teach your children how to be themselves, and confident in who they are at their core. and the best way to do that is to be YOURSELF – they learn more by example than anything else, and i think your taking pride in your appearance will go a long way towards showing them how important it is. because it IS IMPORTANT.
I agree with you completely Grechen. A constant seeking of “the next best thing” is dangerous, and will ultimately always end in disappointment. I lived in NYC throughout most of my 20’s, and remember thinking about this often when it came to dating in the city. It seemed like everyone (myself included- guilty!) was always looking for the next best thing. So silly and superficial. Somehow I managed to find my husband during those years, but it was definitely after a lot of fun and mistakes! Ha.
As a mother I do put my child first, but I also take care of myself because it is important to me and has an impact on how I feel. If I don’t feel good about myself, it will start to show in other areas of my life. I imagine this is true for all of us. It’s getting a bit harder to find time to keep up with certain things (for example…I workout after I put my two year old to bed each night…can be exhausting, particularly after working all day), but it’s a routine I’m in and the results are worth it…physically and mentally. When it comes to style, my love and interest in fashion and design hasn’t left me since having my son. I do think a bit more practically now, not only to stay within some kind of budget, but also because I stop to think about what I’ll actually wear, given I’m with my son most of the time, and a working professional part-time.
Example: Just ordered this top that I LOVE. It’s exactly the kind of top I’ve been wanting to find, but the pom poms are making me think twice. I want to wear it all the time, but am not sure whether the pom poms will start coming off and then things won’t look quite right. I don’t want to keep it just for “special” occasions, as I would love to wear this often. Aargh. We leave tomorrow for our month overseas so I’m trying to pack. I can picture wearing this in so many ways, but am just not sure it’s the right piece for travel!
Oops. This top: http://www.shopbop.com/shell-top-pam-gela/vp/v=1/1598537503.htm?folderID=27236&fm=other-shopbysize&colorId=10811
Grechen Reiter says
oh! love that top, it’s beautiful and interesting, something i definitely need MORE of in my wardrobe…. hopefully the pom poms will stay on, but if they don’t, i think the top wouldn’t look terrible if you cut all of them off – i only mean after they start falling off. because it would look a little funny with some missing here and there!
it seems nice for travel, actually, easy to layer, and interesting even under a sweater or whatever.
i really want to hear how your packing went for your month away – that must have been quite a challenge. i’m getting anxious just THINKING about it!!! hope you have fun!!!
It’s a great top! Thanks for your input. 🙂 Decided to keep it and it’s going in the suitcase! It’s a really lovely style and a perfect fit. I have tried lots of other similar styles, but this one really stood out to me. Reminds me a bit of some of the older Isabel Marant styles…loved her back in the day before she got so trendy and out of control expensive. The top is cute for layering and lightweight on it’s own. It seems to have sold out a lot of places, so I’m happy I snagged one. I even put a cute grey hoodie on top and it looked great- ok, it’s a winner! If I returned this one it probably would have been something I’d regret…as maybe this is as close to “perfect” as I’ll get in this kind of style…
Packing for a month away has not been so bad. I’ve been thinking about it for months, so I’ve been mentally making lists and putting this aside. I spent some time last weekend trying different outfits on and seeing what works together, what I can mix and match, etc. I made some good purchases that will be easy for travel, stylish, and are also pieces I’ll wear when I get back. I try to travel as light as I can, especially since I have to pack for two (my husband isn’t joining us, but packing for a two year old is not nothin’…;))
I think being really organized and thinking about it for a long time is what helped me. That being said, I still have to actually pack my suitcase. Oops. I should probably go do that now!
Thanks again for the feedback on the top. 🙂
Lala and Grechen, you nailed it for me when you said it’s the constant seeking of perfection…the perfect dress, top, pants, etc. that will make me look the best I can possibly look. SO unrealistic, and a goal that can never truly be met. I do that with hair and makeup, too.
Maybe more love of self, forgiveness of my faults, and not focusing on such an “inward looking” issue, but instead, think of how I can best use my gifts to help others. A work in progress…
Amen! You’re preaching to the choir, Val.
Best readers in the blogosphere! And most supportive. ??Thx, RJS!