How to Save Money on Clothes (or Why I LOVE Outlet Shopping)

How to Save Money on Clothes (or Why I LOVE Outlet Shopping) _

A few days after my disappointing Stitch Fix experience, I got to do one of my absolute favorite things: shop. I hadn’t been shopping, like full-day, cover-the-whole-mall kind of shopping, in at least four months. If you’re not a shopper, that might not sound like much, but it is for me.

See, despite my generally frugal ways and desire to live a financially responsible life, shopping is a big vice. I talked about this a bit during my discussion of lifestyle inflation and the key factors that have led to it over the years. Shopping is a major line item in my budget; at times, it is a far larger line item than I’d like to see.

But personal finance is personal, and shopping for clothing is something that I really enjoy. I enjoy not only the act of shopping and purchasing new clothing, but also wearing that new clothing – going to my closet each morning to pick out a pretty outfit to wear, and feeling extra confident knowing that I both look and feel good. It is still a struggle for me to accept that it is OK that I love shopping, that I am allowed to spend money on clothes if that is something that I value, but sometimes I just feel frivolous. Continue reading

That Time I Tried Stitch Fix

That Time I Tried Stitch Fix _

Have you heard of Stitch Fix? It is an online personal shopping service, and for a $20 styling fee your stylist will select five pieces of clothing that get mailed to your home. You can try the clothes on at home, keep what you want and send back what you don’t. If you buy something, the styling fee gets applied to your purchase. If you buy everything, you get a 25% discount.

I first heard about Stitch Fix a few years ago, and was always intrigued by the concept. I love the idea of someone else making style selections for me, since I tend to stick with a fairly narrow design aesthetic and like the idea of pushing outside of my fashion comfort zone. Recently, I’ve had a few friends give it a try, and I decided that it was finally time for me to take the plunge myself. My new job was is a bit more casual and funky than my old job, so I thought this might be the perfect way to spice up my wardrobe.

My biggest concern with Stitch Fix was the price. Since you can’t select your own pieces with Stitch Fix, the price is a bit out of your control. The website states that the average price per piece is $55, which is a bit higher than I’d prefer but wouldn’t be unreasonable for unique pieces that I can’t get elsewhere. But I figured I’d give it a try. The worst that could happen is I’d be out $20. Continue reading

Dining Out Without Breaking the Bank

Dining out without breaking the bank _

After learning just how bad my lifestyle inflation has gotten in the last few years, I’m trying to do what I can to cut back in certain areas. One area in which I noticed particularly egregious spending is in eating out. BF and I don’t indulge in too many luxuries, but we do really enjoy going out to eat regularly. This has come to cost me a pretty penny over the years (don’t even get me started on the madness that was our restaurant spending in France this summer). While I have no plans to cut out eating out entirely (it’s something we really enjoy and value), I have been thinking a lot lately about how we can get the same dining out experience without spending quite as much money.

Today I thought I would share my thoughts on how to dine out without spending a ton. You can still enjoy great food, atmosphere and company without going over your budget. Continue reading

Lifestyle Inflation Part 2: Key Drivers

Lifestyle Inflation Part 2, Key Drivers _

After looking at how my spending has changed over the past four years, I found that I had succumbed to the dreaded lifestyle inflation monster. I learned that two categories were especially troublesome for me: food/drink and “other,” a mashup category that I use to track all of my irregular spending. Today, I’ll look deeper into those two categories to see what is really driving the lifestyle inflation and if there is anything I can do to curb it. Continue reading

On Balance

Why is balance so hard to achieve?

On Balance | Anything You Want, A Personal Finance Blog

During my summer in Europe, let’s just say that I ate a few too many pastries. As I sit here writing this, my pants are just a bit too tight. It’s got me thinking about two things.

First, capsule wardrobes. When you’re feeling a bit out of shape, don’t you just want to reach for the same five outfits that make you feel great? Which makes me think I should really be wearing those things that make me feel great all the time. But this is a topic for another day.

Second, balance. Balance is such a tricky thing, and I think finding balance in health (food/exercise) and money are similarly elusive. At least for me. I either eat all the things or next to nothing. I work out every day or never. I buy everything or save all my money. Why is it so hard to reach a happy, sustainable middle ground?

One of my primary goals with this blog is to help people (myself included!) find balance when it comes to money. I’m not trying to promote extreme frugality, early retirement, or rapid debt payoff (although I completely respect the myriad blogs out there that are). I’m trying to find a balanced, sustainable approach to money that will work for me in the long term, and that will allow me to live a happy life both today and in the future. Continue reading

Guest Post from BF: Graduate Student Finances

I am so excited to share a guest post today from the one and only BF! I hope you enjoy reading his thoughts. I know I did!

Wouldn't you like to know who is behind that hexagon?! I'll give you a hint, he's super cute :-)

Wouldn’t you like to know who is behind that hexagon?! I’ll give you a hint, he’s super cute 🙂

I am very excited to write this guest post. I have been encouraging Ali to invest time and energy in this blog from the very beginning. She not only has a lot to say about personal finance, but also is able to do so in a very eloquent and “relatable” way. I could not be more proud of the attention that this blog is quickly receiving.

As Ali mentioned, I am currently enrolled in a Ph.D. program in the Boston area. I personally love the student life. The income is not great, but is far from shameful. And the responsibilities are actually slim. You basically get paid to take courses and think and write what comes to your mind. Not a bad life for those with nerdy tendencies.

But continuing to live as a student after college also has its down sides. You are basically postponing going to the job market at the same time that your opportunity costs continue to grow. Not to mention the potential anxiety produced by uncertainties and eventual (unhealthy) comparisons with friends, family and significant others and their new jobs, promotions, raises etc. Existential crises are not uncommon. Let me just say that the life of a graduate student is not for everyone.

In this post, I would like to share my thoughts on two topics regarding a graduate student’s finances; topics that I find myself constantly struggling with. Disclaimer: I know close nothing about personal finance. The little I know I learned from this blog or from talking to Ali. So, what follows are my own lay thoughts. They do not express Ali’s ideas nor should they be taken as recommendations about how other graduate student should think about their own finances. Continue reading

Trip Recap: A Week in the Cote D’Azur and Provence

The last week of our summer in Paris was spent exploring beautiful southern France, specifically the Cote D’Azur and Provence. We took the TGV (very fast train) from Paris to Marseille, where we rented a car and drove along the coast and up into the mountains, taking in incredible scenery and visiting many adorable little towns. We stayed in three different cities – Saint Maxime, Nice and Aix-en-Provence – utilizing a mix of hotels and AirBnB rentals.

trip recap southern france-01

Overall, we had an incredible trip and it was a great way to close out our European adventure. Today, I’ll share the details of our travels, including what we saw and how much we spent! Continue reading

Lifestyle Inflation Illustrated

Do you know what lifestyle inflation is? Remember when you got a raise and decided that you could now afford a lease on a new car, instead of driving around your old junker? That is lifestyle inflation. Remember when you finally paid off that car loan and suddenly had extra money in your pocket each month, which you promptly spent going out more often with friends? That is lifestyle inflation.

lifestyle inflation illustrated-01

Lifestyle inflation is the easiest trap to fall into. It is also an extremely dangerous trap. If you fall prey to lifestyle inflation, you’ll never get ahead. You think you’ll be able to save more to reach your goals with each raise or debt payoff, but in reality your lifestyle just grows to fit into your new available income. You likely don’t even feel happier with your life and all your new stuff because you hardly realize that your spending has increased and that your lifestyle has inflated. Spending more becomes the new, subconscious normal. Continue reading