Swap With Friends

Have you caught it yet?  Spring cleaning?  You know it will get you as the weather starts to get a little warmer.  I think we all go through times, maybe not even in the spring, when we just have to get rid of the stuff we don’t use anymore.  We have the urge to purge clutter and get something newer and fresher in.  Maybe it’s from staring at it too long during the winter.  Maybe you have changed weight over the winter and need something new.  Maybe you’re moving.  Maybe you are just incredibly bored.  Maybe your students have made your clothing choices into a game to see how many times you wear the same type of pants in a month… oh… that’s just me?

Getting a whole new wardrobe seems out of the question, though.  I mean, with everything I just had to pay for with taxes, there is no way I could ever afford to buy a bunch of new clothing, even at Goodwill and thrift store prices.  A few pieces here or there would be cool, but a full new wardrobe?  My husband would have my head.  So what is a bored girl to do?  Clothing swap!

For those of you who are new to swaps, they are when you bring a bunch of clothing you wish to be rid of and have others do the same.  You then swap your old clothing for new-to-you pieces that others have brought with them.  It’s pretty simple in concept and pretty awesome in execution.  I went to the SwapMaine event last October (can’t wait for their spring event!), and it ROCKED.  I was hooked on swaps from there.

Then, when I was still on that misguided adventure of only spending $10 a month on clothing, my friend Amy sent me a giant box of clothing she didn’t wear anymore.  Amy lives in Texas, and I guess their thrift shops down there just aren’t as great as here, so she thought her clothing would do more good with me here in Maine.  And when I say it was a giant box, I mean giant.  Look, I fit into it!Within that box was a treasure trove of clothing, some of which I have made good use of and some of which will be going to the SwapMaine event for the spring.

New York and Company Streetwear Gray Linen Skirt:  Paid: $0 / Retail: $29.95, on sale right now for $8.98

Verdict?  Keep for now.  I think I can rock this when it gets warmer at work because of its length.  The waistline is a little on the big side, though, so I might pass it on if I reach my lower weight goal.

Gap Tan Bermuda Shorts: Paid: $0 / Retail: $39.95

Gap Black Bermuda Shorts: Paid $0 / Retail: $39.95

Verdict?  Both are keepers.  Again, these are pieces that fit and I can wear to work when it gets warmer.  They are also incredibly soft and in great shape.

Gap Tan Shorts: Paid: $0 / Retail: $39.95

Gap Brown Shorts: Paid: $0 / Retail: $39.95

Gap Teal Shorts: Paid: $0 / Retail: $39.95

Verdict?  Keep, keep, keep!  I am always in need of different shorts that fit, and these fit the bill.  The teal is also super on trend for the summer, which will add some lovely color to my wardrobe.

Gap Tan Pants: Paid: $0 / Retail: $49.95

Verdict?  Well, originally, it was keep, but now that I have worn them once, they need to go.  I could button them all the way up and then pull them off without undoing anything.  I don’t think that means they fit.  They are great pants, but they could be great pants on someone else.

H&M Gray Wide-Leg Pants: Paid: $0 / Retail: $34.95

Verdict?  These will be leaving me as well, only because the legs are way too wide for my taste.  I like pants with slimmer profiles, and these don’t fit into that category.  They fit okay, but if I don’t like the style, I am sure someone else will get better use of them.

Old Navy Black Side-Zip Trousers: Paid: $0 / Retail: $29.94

Verdict?  Super cute, and they will be staying.  They fill a niche that my other black pants don’t fill, so they add a little bit of variety to my black pants menagerie.  Well… as much as black pants possibly can…

Old Navy Red Terry Cloth Skirt: Paid: $0 / Retail: $26.94

Yuva Wide-Leg Trouser Jeans: Paid: $0 / Retail: $35.00

Verdict?  They’re going.  Both of them are waaayyy too big for me, and with my weight goals, I don’t want to keep any clothes in my wardrobe “in case” I get larger.  No thanks.  I was really hoping that they would both fit, but sadly, they didn’t.  Someone else can rock them!

WWF “Green Chic” T-shirt: Paid: $0 / Retail: $31.00

Verdict?  It’s pretty cute, but the fit isn’t totally what I want.  I’m keeping it for now, but it may end up in the swap pile last minute.  We’ll see.

Iz Black Dress with Studded Belt: Paid: $0 / Retail: $48.00

Verdict?  Keeper!  I know how many black dresses I have, but this (yet again) is a different style.  I like it, and the belt is awesome!  Worst case scenario, I keep the belt and get rid of the dress at some point.

So I got some great pieces for spring and summer just by encouraging people to donate clothing.  Sounds pretty awesome, right?  Well, you can do it too!  Get some friends together and swap!  You can start small with accessories or you can just go for it all at once.  Try it out!  It’s totally worth the effort.

If you would like tips for hosting your own swap party, check out this post on Goodwill New England’s blog (nope, I didn’t write this one!).

So, thanks Amy!  I love the clothes, and the ones I’m not keeping will be loved by someone else as soon as SwapMaine hosts their spring event.

Have you ever gone to a swap event?  What do you do when you get tired of your clothing?

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The Clothes that Broke My Goal

You all are bad influences!  Look what happens with a little peer encouragement pressure!  Remember how I had this grand plan on only spending $10 a month for the year on clothing?  Yeah, well, I’ve kissed that goodbye.  Because of the responses I got on Twitter and Facebook, I decided to have a little more freedom in what I find thrifting (well, I did, but now I am completely cut off for a little bit… but that’s for another post).  So these are the purchases that started out so innocently, but they were the budget plan killers.  Granted, these shopping trips were rather spaced out throughout the month, but still!  Look!  (Oh, and enjoy!)

TARGET

Merona tan faux-fur boots with tassel:  ORIGINAL PRICE: $35 / PAID: $14.38 (no longer available online)

The first piece (or pieces) were from Target.  Now, I was fully willing to let these eat up my monthly budget until April because I really did need new winter fashion boots (sorry, L.L. Bean, your boots just don’t look good with anything but snow pants).  These babies were totally worth it.  I call them my “grown-up Uggs.”  The tops are faux fur with a suede boot body.  The lining is quite thick and the shafts of the boots stay up on their own.  And how cute are those tassels?  I found them on clearance, so they were quite a bit off from what they originally were.  I snatched them up and resigned myself to no more purchases until my birthday in April.

But then.  Then there was…

GOODWILL

Ralph Lauren black wool coat with faux-fur collar:  PRICE ON TAG: $9.99 / PAID: $9.00 / RETAIL: ~$130

It’s always Goodwill, isn’t it?  I should have seen it coming.  Well, I guess I kind of did.  When I found this jacket, though, uggghhhh.  I knew it was a great steal.  I KNEW IT.  I put it back the first time I saw it and tried to stay strong.  That didn’t work.  It was Ralph freakin’ Lauren!  Hi, my name is Erin and I am a label snob.  (Hi, Erin.)  If I kept going with my budget plans, this would have thrown me into no purchases until May.  May.  And it was January.  No bueno.  So I decided to give it up.  I wanted that jacket.  Yes, it’s gluttony.  I fully admit my problem.  But the fur collar sold me.  It’s in pristine condition and looks so great on.  Sold and sold.  Sorry, budget plans.  Check you later.

So thus my budget died.  Oh well.  It just makes way for a more interesting closet and some excellent hauls!  You know you love it more now that I could spend more… you know it.

Hey Bandwagon, This is My Stop

Okay… I have some confessing to do…

I broke up with my $10 a month clothing budget.  Yeah, I know, we’re not even out of January.  Yeah, I know, I’m pretty weak when it comes to knowing my limits and sticking with my goals.  Yeah, I know, I set up a lot of this blog with the intention of documenting my $10 journey.  Will you forgive me?

If you follow me on Twitter (which you all should!  I’m super interesting… kind of…), you know that I was asking around yesterday on whether or not I should stick with it.  I also asked on Facebook, and everyone responded that if the clothing is worth it, it’s worth getting over my failure of a goal and just pick up what I find.  See, I’ve been toying with how doable this goal was since the beginning.  I went into this with the best of intentions; my main reason for setting the goal was to make sure I am keeping my personal spending in check.  And I still want to.  That goal isn’t going away. It’s incredibly important for me and B that we always look at what we are spending our money on with the possibility of him going on to get his Ph.D. in the near future.  That takes money, people.  Money that I shouldn’t be spending on clothing.  However, as long as I don’t go overboard and I do consciously scrutinize each purchase – be it food, clothing, home goods, or entertainment – I make, we should be alright.

I also wanted to give myself a challenge.  There’s the caveat.  Of course sticking to $10 a month is a challenge.  We live in a world that seems obsessed with purchasing power.  We are mass consumers.  I’m part of that, and I wanted to be able to keep myself in the back of the pack, being someone to not buy into the message of having to have it NOW.  I still think of myself as one of those people, but it turns out that I am more susceptible to the need to shop than I realized.  I wouldn’t call it an addiction, but it’s certainly one of those feelings like if your parents told you you couldn’t date a certain boy.  Oh, you KNOW you want to date that boy now!  And damn!  When my fashion winter boots (fake Uggs) had half of the sole fall off, they were expensive to replace!  Not super expensive, but like a month and a half’s budget expensive.  On one pair of boots that I needed?  Sigh.  It proved to be too much of a challenge, I guess.

It was also a strange challenge because of what I am becoming known for.  At school, people have been reading this blog a little and have started to figure out just how much I love thrift shopping.  There may or may not be a whole group of us going to the next SwapMaine meet if there is one in the spring.  With that knowledge comes questions, like what I found shopping that weekend.  In no way was this a means of telling me I should shop more.  It was just curiosity.  Then add on this here blog.  If I am going to be talking about thrifting, shouldn’t I be doing some thrifting?  I thought so.  My purpose and my goal seemed to go together, but they were just a smidge too juxtaposed.

So here I am, 28 days into a resolution and it’s broken.  It kind of sounds like a Sandra Bullock movie.

But.

But that doesn’t mean it has to be over.  Oh no, this is like that ex-girlfriend your current boyfriend can’t seem to shake.  It just keeps. coming. back. for. more.  My goals for responsible spending, consumerism, and thrifting still stand.  I’m just going to carry on in a different way.  Instead of putting an absolute limit on what I can spend, I’m going to just keep it as low as possible.  My new mantra is “house, not blouse.”  Saving for a future house means paying off student loans, which then means saving money, which means not so much shopping.  It makes sense to me!  Plus, I think that going into not spending much with a specific reason will work better than just jumping in without a particular goal.  A house is a good goal.

So, in summary:  I broke my $10 a month, I feel bad, my goals are the same, I’ll keep not spending much.  This means more thrift blogging for all of you!  Hooray!

Stay Strong!

December through mid-March is One Act season around here.  Being a high school theater director (yeah, I don’t think that one was on my ten-year plan I filled out in high school, but I’ll take it! [And oh my God… ten years?!  What?!]) means doing all of the dirty work to make theater productions go up, and at our school, we compete.  We compete with other schools around the state in One Act competitions.  Last year was my first year as a director and as a One Act competitor, and let me just tell you now, oh baby it’s on this year.  None of the doe-eyed “oh I’m new to the process” business like last year.  Bring it, other same class schools!  Bring it!

This year, I need to outfit my kiddos in some fancy duds.  We’re putting on a one act play that has the girls and guys donning the clothing of princesses and princes, almost a la Disney.  Almost.  I want the dresses to be poofy and the suits to look military-esque.  However, with all of these drama dress-up dreams comes the reality of not having much dinero.  (See all of that alliteration there?)  We have a very small costume budget – scratch that, an ANYTHING budget – and compared to our competition, we need to be very creative.  We need to be inventive.  We need to be thrifty!

That, of course, means multiple trips to Goodwill.  Cue the dramatic music.  Goodwill, my love and time-suck extraordinaire.  Do you know how hard it is to go into Goodwill and not look for insanely good deals on clothing for myself?  Yes, that is the reason I started the whole $10 a month quest, but come on.  Let’s be serious.  How can you stick to a budget like that when I keep finding deals like this:

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A Ralph Lauren blazer with a fur collar.  For $10.  Ralph freakin’ Lauren!  For $10!  Seriously, shopping Gods?  Seriously?  It would normally cost at least $90.

So let me open this up to all of you.  Should I go back and see if this beauty is still there, breaking my $10 a month project?  Or should I stick to it and ignore the jacket?  Help!

$10 a Month: January’s Haul

It’s not even properly halfway through January and I’m already doing my “this is what I bought. Seeeeeeeeeee?” post.  Oops.  Oh well!  I’m pretty excited about the pieces I found, and I am even more excited to show them to you.  And guess what?  You don’t just have to read about them!  I tried out YouTube videos and decided to start off my short lived YouTube career with a vlog (video blog) on how my $10 was spent this month.  Check it out!

The shirts was pretty great, and I am super excited on a personal level because of their size.  Ladies and gentlemen, I have reached a size small in button up shirts!  I have gone on for years trying on button up shirts that were always too big in the body but just barely big enough in the chest area.  It’s incredibly frustrating trying to buy clothing when your waist and, well, the rest of your being are one size and your chest is another.  Many tears have been shed over trying to get clothing to look right, be age appropriate, and FIT.  Now, they fit and they look pretty cool.  Isn’t weight loss great?

So here is the breakdown for how much everything cost:

Goodwill:

Express bright pink button shirt: Price on tag:  $4.99/Paid:  $2.25/Retail:  $49.90

Express light pink button shirt:  Price on tag:  $4.99/Paid:  $2.25/Retail:  $49.90

Merona brown pencil skirt:  Price on tag: $4.99/Paid: $2.25/Retail:~$22.99 (Similar style)

Salvation Army

Express pink leopard print wrap dress: Price on tag: $1.99/Paid: $1.99/Retail:  ~$49.99

She Wears the Pants cropped pinstripe jacket:  Price on tag: $3.99/Paid: $0.99/Retail: ~$40

Body by Victoria’s Secret black straight leg trousers:  Price on tag: $5.99/Paid: $2.99/Retail:  $39.50

TOTALS:  Prices on tags: $26.94/Paid: $12.72/Retail: ~$252.28

Overage into next month:  $2.72

What do you think?  Do you think I spent my first $12 well?  How would you have spent the same money?  Also, should I keep doing vlog posts?  Who wants to go thrifting with me?!

$10 a Month: The List

Along with the rules comes the list of what I want to look for.  Some months will be completely open-ended, and I can search to my budget’s limit and my heart’s content.  Others will be more structured according to what I need to add to my closet to make it more functional from season to season.  In Maine, you have to be ready for any type of weather.  We get everything from -10 degrees F days in the winter to above 100 degrees F days in the dog days of summer.  We have super humid air and super dry air.  We even have a fifth season to add onto spring, summer, fall and winter:  mud season.  I need to have pieces that work according to what I might face.  It’s a challenge, to say the least.

Either way, I want my list to reflect the list of essential pieces I shared a week or so ago.  Remember this one?A lot of these pieces are great for certain seasons, so I thought I would try to categorize them into their “months” in order to make the most out of my spending.  Plus, some may be more available than others at certain times.

So here is my tentative list of what I will look for for the next twelve eleven months (come on, guys… you know January’s money is already gone):

JANUARY: School/office appropriate clothing with pizazz – CHECK!

Only… a little less… frumpy.  {Source}

FEBRUARY: Black tall boots / fake Ugg-like boots to replace my dying ones

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MARCH: Skinny jeans / straight leg black and/or tan pants

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APRIL:  White rimmed sunglasses / Tortoise shell sunglasses, and new running sneakers (if I can find a good price)

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MAY:  Classic string of (fake, clearly) pearls / Dressy tank tops

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JUNE:  Tunic for over bathing suits

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JULY:  Pink shorts! / Cotton mini skirt

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AUGUST:  New bathing suits

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SEPTEMBER:  New basic t-shirts for layering

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OCTOBER:  New styles of jeans

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NOVEMBER:  Silk blouse

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DECEMBER:  New sweaters

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There will also be pieces that I will always be on the hunt for, like a great boatneck striped shirt, great coats, and statement jewelry.

And, you know, you could always send me this stuff so I could come up with new ideas to look for… right?

What should I add to my list?  Any suggestions?  What months do you look for key items?

$10 a Month: The Rules

We all know I’ve already spent all of my January money.  Yep, I can see that $10 currently sitting in my laundry pile, waiting for B and I to make our way to one of our parents’ houses to do laundry.  What?  You love free laundry, and you know it.  It’s not like we make our parents do our laundry.  That would be totally different.  We just like having washers and dryers that don’t charge us $1.50 a wallop.

It has become apparent to me, though, that my new year’s resolution to only spend $10 a month needs a few more set-in-stone guidelines to really get out of the metaphorical hamper.  Rules that I will hold myself to, and rules that will hopefully inspire other people to try this masochistic daring adventure in shopping.

A Wife of Material’s Official $10 a Month on Clothing Rules

1.  I will have $10 to spend on clothing and accessories each month.  This includes shoes, hair supplies like barrettes and headbands, jewelry, etc.  It does not include makeup, elastics, shampoo, etc.  It encompasses things that will go directly on the outside of my body to clothe me or add to a look.

2.  Crafting supplies, even if these include t-shirts, headbands, etc., will not be included in the monthly $10 count.  I have a need for craft projects to keep my creative brain happy, and while most of them don’t include items that would be considered clothing, it would be really hard to draw a line if I included some craft projects in there.  Would beads come into the budget if I happened to make a bracelet?  What about embroidery floss?  I know I have to make a t-shirt with my coworkers for staff spirit for Winter Carnival events in February, and I don’t think that should count since I have to make it for work.  So, I am making all crafting supplies outside of the budget.  I will, however, try my darnedest not to stretch this rule.

3.  If a clothing item or haul costs more than the allotted $10, the overage will come out of the next month’s money.  This, however, does not count for December 2012, as I cannot put any overage into the following year.  I may or may not have gotten $2 into February already.  What?  Don’t judge.  I’m learning.

4.  I will try to stick to my list of “What to Shop For” each month first and then look at other pieces after.

5.  I will document everything that I purchased with my money each month.  Because you know you want to see what this girl can do with only $10, and otherwise, what’s the point of talking about clothing, this challenge and having a blog?

6.  The following items will not count in the final counts for any months:

                          ** Bras – Come on, this would cost like five months’ worth of clothing spending.  Plus, a girl needs a quality bra.  The ladies will never forgive if they aren’t comfy.

                            ** Running Sneakers – My shins won’t forgive either.  With the working out I do and the running I do in the summer, I NEED good running sneakers.  It’s a health thing.  And good ones don’t come cheap.  These aren’t something you want to skimp on.

7.  I will only be allowed to spend more than $10 a month when Bestie Al comes to visit in July. This rule seems like a cop-out, but I am teaching Bestie Al how to thrift, and with the locations I plan on exploring with her, I am leaving my options open.  I will, however, not go over the second part of this rule to keep myself in check.

7A.  I will only be allowed to spend $20 in the two week window that Bestie Al comes to visit.  That money will count as all of July.  I do not get to add another $10 as my “monthly” allotment.  The $20 for July is it.

8.  I will buy clothing and accessories that will work for longer than a trend will be in style, i.e. I must buy clothing that I will get a whole heck of a lot of use out of.  Shouldn’t this be everyone’s goal when buying clothing?  I want to make sure what I have is great and not something that will end up donated again in a couple of months.

9.  I am allowed to accept clothing from friends and family, as well as take part in swaps as long as their entrance fees do not go over the monthly money limit.  The entrance fees will count as spending money on clothing.  I went to a fabulous clothing swap back at the end of October, and their entrance fees were $5 with a bag of clothes to contribute or $10 without a bag of clothes.  I did a little research, though, and found that if you brought a bag of clothing and a plate of cookies to contribute to the food table before the swap began, you could get in for free!  I want to take part in more events like this because I ended up getting some amazing pieces, and the prices was absolutely right.  I want to leave myself open to taking in free clothing as resources and styling them to fit my personal visions.  Plus, free doesn’t break the budget!

See?  Now those don’t sound so bad, right?  Now let’s see if I can stick to them.  I hope to come out of this with a closet that I am really proud of, and a purse that still holds a lot of cash.

How are you tackling your closet and your new year’s resolutions?