Capsule Re-Cap(sule): How my New Wardrobe is Going

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It’s been about four months since I started my capsule wardrobe experiment. I’ve gotten a lot of questions, such as how do I decide what clothes to keep? How do I decide what new clothes to buy? Don’t I get bored? Happily, there are an equal number of questions I have not asked myself over the last few months, such as what should I wear today? How do I have so much stuff in my closet yet nothing to wear? Where the @%$# are my favorite pants?

Based on this last bit if nothing else, I am calling the capsule experiment a tremendous success.  Continue reading Capsule Re-Cap(sule): How my New Wardrobe is Going

So long 2015, Onward and Onward to 2016!

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Ever since I was a kid I’ve been very goal oriented and weirdly motivated by the endorphin rush that comes from checking something off my to do list. So it should come as no surprise I enjoy this time of year — reflecting back on what goals I accomplished the past year, kicking myself with a few face punches (metaphorical) for the ones I didn’t, and looking ahead and making lots and lots of lists for the coming year.

2015 was a mixed year for me, though I would say I leave it with a sense of generally pretty spectacularly amazeballs awesome — overall, financially, it was a very solid year, though not without some important lessons. Personally, it couldn’t have been better — Sweetie Pie moved closer to me after being in a different city for two years; I traveled a lot and saw many, many old friends; I started to feel like my house is becoming my home; and I started exploring all sorts of new pursuits outside of work (like this blog!), and somehow managed to achieve some balance of not feeling perpetually “busy” (I chalk that one up to good old fashioned gratitude!). Professionally, however, last year was a disappointment — I had some tough days at work and have been embroiled in some deep soul searching about where I might want to go next, how to get there, and the best recipe for lemonade in the meantime.

In terms of my specific goals, here’s the rundown: Continue reading So long 2015, Onward and Onward to 2016!

Trying a Capsule Wardrobe on For Size

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You might remember I set a $500 clothing budget for myself this year. This has been hard for me, in a number of ways — it’s hard to stick to a budget, but even acquiring a few pieces here and there, I’m left feeling like I have a closet stuffed with clothes but I still wake up and struggle to get dressed because I have nothing I want to wear. Part of this is a hangover from years past where I bought far too many clothes because they were on sale, or a bargain at Goodwill, or I thought might spice up my otherwise drab wardrobe, but part of it is also my lack of planning or organization or ability to give a hamster’s ham hock when it comes to clothes.

I’ve always struggled with picking clothes and feeling good about what I wear — I don’t know if this is because I went to school for eight years in a very strict uniform (I did), because my mom never let me choose my own clothes as a kid (she didn’t), or because I fall somewhere awkward on the social-graces spectrum and it took me more than 30 years to learn that maybe this is something that I should and could learn to care about and navigate in an appropriately professional adult kind of way (I do, it was, I’m trying).

It was in this context that somehow through the great graces of the frugal gods, I ended up stumbling upon a blog post describing a “capsule wardrobe.” The idea in a nut-sized capsule is that you winnow your wardrobe down to just a handful of pieces (well, 37, so maybe slightly more than a literal handful) that are versatile and generally coordinated, with a few “statement” pieces thrown in for good measure. The idea of getting my closet down to 37 pieces seemed impossible, but I had reached a place of such frustration with owning so many clothes that I would put on in the morning and then immediately take off and exchange for something different that I had to try. I also had a clothing swap coming up (more on that!), so it was a good excuse to spend the weekend emptying out my entire closet. Literally. Everything came out and on to my bed, floor, chair, and an incredibly tolerant Cheddar Pup.

I didn’t get down to 37, but I got pretty darn close. I haven’t done a full tally, but not counting gym clothes, underwear, and PJs, it’s at about 70 for all seasons (made much easier by the fact that there are only two “seasons” in Seattle: wet, slightly cool and dry, slightly warm). AH-MAZING.

I’m very curious to see how it works, but a week in, it’s pretty spectacular. I haven’t changed clothes when getting dressed in the morning or felt “stuck” to pick out an outfit. There are one or two basic items that I’d like to add to the mix, but other than that, I’m happy — and it’s nice to know exactly what those items are that I “need,” rather than being tempted by bargains or the artificial scarcity of my $500 budget. I’ve been wearing more of my “work” clothes in my casual life and more of my “casual” clothes to work, and making better use of what I already have and use, which I know is going to be good for my budget bottom line!

Who Ate My Pie?

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August Spending Roundup

You guys, I did SO MUCH BETTER this month. Like a jigalillion percent better. Here goes:

  • $29.99 — Ikea — Utility cart for my newly spiffified laundry room
  • $13.34 — Amazon — Between the World and Me, because even though I don’t believe in buying books anymore (hello, library!), I believe in buying this book.
  • $9.99 — Amazon — New swim goggles after my old ones finally fell apart
  • $16.43 — Walgreens, for new sunglasses to replace a broken pair, stepped on at the lake, and 400 yards of dental floss. I think that will last me a while …
  • $42 — Gas
  • $5.99 — Goodwill — new black leggings

A whopping total of $116.74.

That’s it! $116.74!

It’s not zero, and clearly I could have avoided some all of these expenses had I put my mind to it, but about as close as I’ve ever gotten as a [semi-]functioning adult. Progress.

FTPH: Lost, Annoyed, and Bored by Investing

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Dear Cheddar,

You know what I hate the most? Trying to figure out how to allocate my retirement investments. I know some of the basics about retirement: I’m comfortable with a considerable amount of risk/aggressiveness at this point, I put quite a significant percentage of my income into retirement pre-tax, I also have a Roth and max that out every year. But when it comes to choosing the funds where my money should sit, I am lost. And annoyed. And bored. Is this conversation over yet?

I have tried to figure it out, I’ve talked to a complimentary advisor my financial institution provides, I have bribed myself with rewards like wine or chocolate for doing the necessary research on funds, I am sort of familiar with the online tools. But my money is still strewn around funds haphazardly, because for some reason this is the most tedious subject in the history of the universe to me.

How do you choose funds wisely? What are the most important indicators to look at? Is it worth paying someone and what do these people even charge? I know the socially conscious funds aren’t necessarily as progressive as I might hope, but I do hate guns; how do I choose a good socially conscious fund? Will you send me a reward if I get my act together and allocate better?

Sincerely,

Maybe I Just Need More Chocolate

Dear Chocolate,

Congratulations! You are doing amazing things! You are saving for retirement, max out your Roth every year, think about where to put your money, and ask great questions! You know what? You are beating 143% of the people out there who are not saving for retirement, and that is a statistically accurate fact. Continue reading FTPH: Lost, Annoyed, and Bored by Investing