Friday, April 12, 2013

Downsizing and Living Larger- Trying to Look Good On Almost Nothing

A few quick Colorado thoughts: 
  •  I actually saw a coyote yesterday-in town!!  (of course we had rattlesnakes in Texas..)
  • It would seem that March and April are actually Denver's snowiest months-my timing was not the best. Next year, I will be heading south for Feb, March and April and adding that to my budget.
  • As you can see, my sister may not have her botanical garden outside, but she sure has a jungle inside. She definitely got my share of the green thumb thing!
  • I'm ready to move. I need my stuff!!

Earlier I wrote about my new post-Colorado budget looking specifically at my fixed expenses.  As I showed there, I saved a base of five hundred dollars easily, without adding those home improvement savings (mainly because I had no real way to quantify these expenses from year to year).  Total savings could well be a thousand dollars per month.  Now, it's time to talk about those less fixed (generally more fun) expenses. Rather than a essay on all semi fixed expenses at one time, I thought I would cover each one with a shorter missive. 

My low budget goal for clothing and accessories, shoes and skin care is around $600 per year, with an upper limit of $800.00. Because many of my purchases are done a specific couple times I year I make this a monthly budget putting aside the money  and pumping end of year savings into other funds (I'll talk about how I plan for annual expenses on my fixed income next time). A fair portion of this money is spent on really good shoes and skin care items.

My strategy in this area is as follows:  Outlet malls, end of season rock bottom sales, thrift store shopping (for the clothing portion only), coupons and free items through department stores and drug stores (for the personal care), and the occasional earned gift card. My last strategy is keeping the same style of mixing and matching and updating through accessories only when it comes to style (see below). The items in the picture were all purchased at a thrift shop for two dollars each. They are all like new (these are not mine).

 I'll say here that clothing shopping is not my "thing". I despise malls. I do like to look good and care about how I look, although I am not a fashionista. However, when it comes to purchasing clothing, I like to look good, but prefer to save as much as possible for quilting, travel and so on.  Have no fear, I am generally not a schumpalumpa (although I have been known to hibernate in the house in sweats or PJ's during snowy days like today).  Yes, you heard me, I don't consider it a punishment to not be able to buy the newest and best.

I have kept my same style for years, and retired with a  "full closet" so to speak. My day to day attire tends to consist of black slim knit pants, leggings, or crops along with colorful sweaters, tunics and tanks. I also wear dresses and skirts, especially in the summer.In texas I wore maxi dresses at home.  As mentioned above, updating is done through accessories and the occasional new sweater or jacket with a longer or shorter line. I prefer to remain classic rather than trendy. One thing that helps me (women will probably appresciate this more): Years ago, I had my "colors done". In my case, the gal was straight on when she called me a spring. I wear a small group of colors (warm yellow, turquoise, any shade of warm blue, soft green, lavender, cream) and manage to mix and match those colors. It works for me. The only downside with seasonal colors of course is that they are sold primarily during a single season. I buy most of my clothing at the end of the spring season. This is why i have an annual budget that I contribute to monthly, even though I have no purchases many months.

Everyone has a place where they splurge and my place is shoes. With a damaged knee,  I wear Clarks and only Clarks, no matter what.(I also gave up heels, even for formal wear. I wear sparkly flats).  I generally allow my self two pair per year, but it depends. My "walking shoes" were bought in Denver in 2008 and are still going strong.  I'm used to wearing sandals or skimmers most of the year, with walking shoes thrown in. My son says I can do anything I want in Denver, except wear socks with my sandals in the cold cold weather. Clarks can run from fifty to one hundred dollars, so my shoe budget is approximately two hundred out of the six hundred.

When it comes to the personal care thing, I have a short spiky haircut that can even be cut at great clips as long as the person follows my direction. Short hair eliminates most styling needs and products. (one of the advantages to short hair is that "bigger" jewelry can look good even in casual styles) I've decided to go gray (yes, I know, I need to change my picture) since because my hair is cut every four to five weeks I would be coloring it constantly. It works for me. I understand others feel more comfortable coloring that gray. I use medium to upper priced skin products (generally three items).  I'll say here I know about all the books that say you can use Vaseline, ponds or whatever. To that I say bah humbug in my case. I have very dry and sensitive skin, so  purchasing good skin products twice a year when they are on promotion makes sense.. While this would be two hundred dollars per year for most people, because I shop using freebies and deals and discounts, my budget is one hundred dollars for all personal care items, plus fifteen dollars every two months for my hair.

Finally, I've downsized my makeup in a big way (for personal, not financial reasons). I wear a light blush because even after exercise my face is not rosy or pink. I wear foundation once in a blue moon, and the same with eye makeup-a maximum of one day a week. On this one I a not sure what my total is for sure. I get all my makeup free with my drug store shopping, and this includes chap sticks and the like.

So without makeup figured in, my six hundred breaks down to one third spent on clothing, one third on good shoes, a sixth on personal care with a balance left. As I said, if I go over this a little bit, I do not panic, but it's where I begin.

This year, for example, I expect I will go above that budget. I arrived in Colorado after the end of winter sales. I will need some more Colorado worthy clothing and expect I will pay close to full price. The family joke is that I never wore socks (except for working out) in Texas and had two pairs of knee highs. Besides warmer footwear, sweaters and other cool weather items may be needed to be added to my clothing requirements. While this is not normal spending, I allocate and plan for it if it happens. This is not something I normally do, but it's also something I allocate for if it happens. .

I also have a new goal (to travel or visit the gulf coast for at least two months next winter), so I'll be find tuning this expense to plan for that -but more about that later.  Soon, more about my irregular budgeting and further Colorado Experiences.........and the rest of my budget!


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Linda, hopefully these posts are some food for thought!

  2. Hi Barb,

    As always I LOVE READING YOUR BLOG! You have such a great attitude and great ideas. Myself, I love clothes and shopping but in the last few years have transitioned from shopping the sales at Macy's and Nordstrom's to shopping at Goodwill and online shopping at a few sites where I know I can purchase quality, stylish clothing for at least 75% off retail. And I feel good about how I look in terms of my clothes and get frequent compliments. When I do I often reply -- as I already did this morning -- "Oh! I got these pants new with tags still on at Goodwill for $6!" I need to learn to just say thank you but I love my bargains so much. . . Anyway, while I probably still spend $1500 a year on clothes or shoes that is a FRACTION of what my wardrobe would cost purchased at retail. And, I love "recyling" by frequently purchasing at thrift stores and then just as frequently donating to thrift stores. Also, I am still working full time so am not yet on a super fixed income. Once I retire, I anticipate spending less because 1) I won't need a 5 day a week professional wardrobe (I'm a government lawyer) and 2) I will need to be even more frugal than I try to be now. I am impressed by your $600 figure, something to aspire to! Anyway, thanks so much for your blog, it is a treat.

  3. I dont love clothes, but I do love looking good. I wore casual clothing before retirement in my employment, so I had a basic retirement outfit to begin with. Also, I do laundry every two weeks, so i have enough clothing to not repeat for any occasion-I have lots of clothes-just gotten very cheaply.....

  4. I love the Goodwill for clothes. Like you, I am more picky about shoes and will tend to spend more on a new, quality pair of shoes because they will last for a very long time (plus the idea of wearing other people's shoes is kind of icky to me!).

  5. Ten months in Colorado and two months on the Gulf coast ... sounds like paradise. Don't forget to budget for flip flops!

    1. Yes sir, flip flops and margaritas!

  6. Barb, I love the new look on your blog. Great choice!

    1. Thanks, I just get in the mood to play every so often


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