How I Saved Money and Found Happiness

November 10, 2017

Hey loves! So in a blog post that went up in September, and since I am such a prolific writer😒, I will link it here, I talked about creating a minimalist wardrobe.  Creating a versatile wardrobe that precludes you from spending money on fast fashion or buying pieces that don't really add value in creating  your overall style.  I may be aging myself here, but hey you don't age without learning a few things along the way, but style and fashion are two separate things.  Fashion is buying trendy pieces all year round and sometimes it adds to creating your "look" but often times, it doesn't.  These are pieces that you score at a relatively low price point, they work for a season and then they are cluttering your closet, your discard pile and your life.   You might have picked them up or out on a whim, you felt adventurous and avant garde and said "WHAT THE HELL?"

Style is a bit different, obviously we style fashion, duh.  But style is signature, its elevated, its simple and effortless. Think Audrey Hepburn, she IS watching you know!
You don't fret every morning or every night trying to decide "What to wear tomorrow?" Actually, the less you acquire the more creative you can be, crazy right?  Ok, well the point of this blog post is not to repeat my minimalist post its to update you on something else that results from thinking this way about your style, ready? YOU SAVE MONEY!!!

Now I will admit I am guilty of what I am now condemning.  I would spend a few hundred dollars a month on "wants" sometimes the impulse was a result of having a bad day and wanting to treat myself to something nice in order to feel better.  Waiting and tracking the delivery gave me such a high, but when I finally got it that feeling was fleeting and I needed another fix.  Sigh. It is an addiction, I can't say that I ever NEEDED any of the things that I purchased, I would visit the websites when I was bored or if I received an email from the company about some site wide sale.  They would get me EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.  But just like when you go for that second slice of chocolate cake, the joy and pleasure you got from the first bite is no longer there in that second slice and all you are left with is regret, a food belly and in the case of clothes..stuffing this new "get" into an already crowded closet. Not very rewarding after all.  So what to do?

Well, first I had to admit I had a problem, I also had to admit that it wasn't making me any happier, more stylish or creative as a blogger.  So what did I do?  I decided to cut cold turkey! In August, my son and I made a pact (its easier when you are being held accountable) we would not purchase a single item of clothing or shoes for an entire month! Four weeks, 31 days, NADA!  Do you know what happened?  Well I found a loophole and started to buy more makeup, lol.  Change is never a straight line, be patient.  Once I owned up to "why I NOW needed to get new lipstick and that 3rd highlighter" it became clear.  I was fooling myself and needed to fight the urge if I would ever be clean again.  So, thats just what I did.  If I were honest with myself I would quickly realize that I didn't need any makeup, I don't wear that much to begin with I was just looking for a fix.

Why was I so hell bent on spending my hard earned cash on useless STUFF?  Well my friends, turns out we have been conditioned from the time we watched our first cartoon on tv and were bombarded with 5 minutes of programming and ten minutes of commercials promoting toys we just KNEW we needed and told our parents we wanted!  Its called capitalism and what is most profitable now? Debt!  The more you use your credit cards on things you don't need the stronger the capitalist economy is, you, however will find yourself never able to get ahead of your bills.

Here is where you might ask, "So, Erica, if we have been conditioned from such a young age, what ever should we do?" Keep reading!

Ok, so here is what I have been doing ever since my "shopping ban" to ensure I have cash in the bank, a low and easy to pay credit card balance and still feel satisfied and stylish.

1) Thrift!  

I have talked about this at nauseam but thrifting is AMAZING for your style,  your wallet AND, bonus, the environment!  My go-to when I want to add a piece to my wardrobe that I saw a favorite blogger wear or a look in some magazine that I want to replicate is to check  First I carefully consider the purchase, I say Erica, how often will you wear this piece? How versatile is it?  Can it be styled for work?  Do you have a comparable piece in your wardrobe already?   If the answer is positive for all questions and the piece is available at a good price, I will purchase it.  There was an occasion when I thought I needed a red skirt, I had to add it to my wardrobe, had to have it!  The last question, "do you have a comparable piece in your wardrobe?" forced me to take inventory and turns out I already owned THREE red skirts!  All kinds too, I had a pleated, a pencil AND a mini.  I definitely did NOT need a fourth skirt and with that I styled look below with pieces I already owned.  Check them out and use my code to get $10 off your first purchase.

2) Find Alternatives to Consumerism

Shopping is easy and everywhere you turn.  With no effort at all, you can shop from the comfort of your home, in your jammies or even from your Instagram feed with companies like LiketoKnowIt or ShopStyleCollective.  You don't even need to get your credit card out for each purchase, it is literally two clicks away from being yours!  I get it, look I add these features on my own blog, I get it, I do.  I am not saying you should never buy yourself anything, thats irrational and not very practical for the average woman and the average life cycle of our clothes and shoes.  They aren't meant to last forever and you will need to replace a few items and add a few items in your lifetime, no doubt.  BUT, if shopping is your only pleasure and always your go-to, then that's when you need to diversify and seek alternatives.  I have been finding great pleasure in cooking!  I have channeled my super internet surfing skills for good, like searching for recipes to try. 😍  Guys, I am not even exaggerating when I tell you it has brought me profound pleasure.  I find myself enjoying learning about food, shopping for ingredients and finally preparing and serving the meals to my family.  (My boys don't really care whats in their plate or how creative it is, but my husband loves it!) It really is the best form of self care and love you can show to yourself and your loved ones.  This might not be for everyone, I get that, but won't you just give it a try?

Need a jump start?  Buy this book! It has changed everything for me.  Which brings me to my next point.

3) Cooking at home, means Leftovers for Lunch

Ok, so up until this point in the post I have not referred to this journey as a personal exploration into a purposeful/intentional life but that is what it is.  Shopping/consumerism is a distraction, its a quick fix to other things left unresolved.  I mentioned that I shopped when I was bored, or if I had a bad day etc., in both instances buying that blouse or those loafers never resolved the actual problem.  So here is the deal, when you step back and take inventory of your life, your habits etc a powerful (scary to some) thing happens, self-reflection.  In step 2, I talk about finding alternatives to shopping.  What do you want to spend your time doing? What would lead you to pleasure or happiness?  Think about your life, what are your triggers? What are moments, or times in your life where you remember being very happy?  Ok, I realize that the title of this step needs some explaining, here is my thought process.  I have found pleasure in spending my time and energy in cooking at home which results in leftovers for lunch and means I save A LOT of money (and calories) each week, but the title is also a metaphor. Bear with me.  When you take a moment out of your day to check in with yourself, other things happen.  You begin to work towards a more purposeful and fulfilling life as oppose to one on autopilot and filled with "things".  See, leftovers.  LOL

4) Never Stop Absorbing 

I am a very curious person, my questions lead to other questions which lead to more get the point here.  I do a lot of research and a ton of reading, it doesn't make me an expert in any one subject BUT it gives me a lot to think about, not to mention material for this blog post!  Have you ever heard of Robert Lustig? Ok, he is a Doctor of Pediatric Endocrinology, a Professor at the University of California and the author of a few books including, The Hacking of the American Mind: The Science Behind the Corporate Takeover of Our Bodies and Brains  intense title, I know.  However, he makes a really strong argument, dare I say better than I have in this post? about consumerism, capitalism, marketing and all things that keep us sick and unhappy.  Not a beach read for sure, but I want to share his concept.  The Four C's needed for happiness, that marketing agencies and corporations don't want us knowing and they are: connect, contribute, cope and cook.  Read about it here.

I will admit I am a novice in my endeavors, but even in the short time that I have been tailoring this new lifestyle approach I have found it to be very rewarding and fulfilling. My looks/style has never been better, I have never felt this creative with my style and level of confidence, I have lost a few inches and gained a few extra hundred dollars in my bank account.  Not kidding, this last paycheck I had $650 leftover in cash AFTER I paid my bills.  That's money that would go towards paying down my credit card debt, that is bananas to me AND that, my friends, also makes me happy!

Thanks for reading!

by Erica 💋

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