Category: money and happiness

How To Find The Best Stuff In Any Thrift Store

Want to find the best stuff in the thrift store? Looking for thrifting tips or budgeting tips? You're in the right place! Click through for my best tips on second hand shopping!

It brings me an immeasurable amount of joy to tell people how much my belongings cost.

Like my sofa? I’ll fall all over myself to tell you that it was $90 on Craigslist.
Those brass bookends? $5 at Salvation Army.
My red velvet flats (which are, amazingly, Crocs!) I got ’em at Goodwill for $7.
One of my biggest not-so-secrets to living the proverbial champagne life on a beer budget is buying many, many of my belongings second hand.
There’s an art to thrifting but there’s also an art to finding things that you really, really love … not just stuff that’s pretty-cool-it’s-cheap-and-funny, which then gather dust and suffocate you.

Here, are my best tips for creating a gorgeous space filled with wonderful, cheap things  – but not dying under a pile of bad oil paintings.


14 Ways To Make Your Apartment Look Great On A Budget

Want to make your apartment look great on a budget or find cheap decorating ideas? You're in the right place! After 14 apartments, here are all my favorite ways to decorate on a budget!
My first post-college apartment had dark, dirty 1970s cabinets, a yellow stove and a green fridge, and a full-size window directly in front of the toilet.

And I loved it.

I took so much joy in making that weird, cheap apartment cute! I scoured thrift stores and Craiglist, I repainted and disguised and replaced and I positively

After 14 rentals, here’s everything I know about how to make an apartment look great on a budget.


How To (At Least Start To) Get Your Finances Under Control

These are simple, easy baby steps most of us aren't taking to get our finances under control. Click through for five things you can do TODAY //

Gosh, but money is a touchy subject, isn’t it? When we’re not good with it, we feel embarrassed, ashamed, and overwhelmed with but-I’m-smart-why-do-I-keep-screwing-this-up? And when we manage it wisely, we just might be the source of jealousy or even how-does-she-do-it gossip.

To make matters worse, most of us feel weird talking about it. Yes, I want to know how you can afford that shiny, new SUV. No, I’m never, ever going to ask about it.

But devotedly ignoring things rarely gets anyone anywhere. With that in mind, here are five things you can (and should!) do if you’re serious about getting your financial life in order. 

5 ways to get your finances under control

1. Make a real budget

Yes, I know. You’ve heard this a million times before. For good reason! We manage what we monitor and you’d be amazed how quickly those $4 lattes and $17 Target sweaters add up.

Your budget needn’t be anything fancy – it can just be a spreadsheet listing your monthly income and recurring bills. If you want something more involved, check out Dave Ramsey’s free forms or Once you’ve decided how much you can spend, make it easier on yourself by leaving your credit cards at home, freezing them, or covering them with a photo of something you’re saving for.

My trick? Give yourself a ‘fun allowance’ and withdraw that amount from the ATM each week. Once the cash is gone? It’s soup and library books for you, my friend.

2. Actually understand your job benefits

Back when I was working for other people my understanding of my benefits was exclusively limited to vacation time. 401k matching? What’s that? HSA? Home shopping account? Life insurance? Who caaaaares?

Be ye not so stupid as me, friends. Really, actually read through that huge binder your HR person gives you. Google what you don’t understand. Schedule a meeting with HR to go over anything that’s not clear. It’s estimated that benefits can add as much as 30% value to any job – you might as well understand them and take advantage of them!

3. Put your school loans on auto-pay

Do you have school loans? (Dur. Yes.) If you put them on autopay you a) don’t have to worry about writing a check once a month b) can save .25%. I realize that doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re repaying tens of thousands of dollars, it adds up! And remember, you can deduct student loan interest from your taxes!

4. If you know you can use a credit card wisely, get one with great rewards

If you know you struggle with impulse purchases and you’ve had credit card debt in the past, take a pass on this one. But if you can manage a credit card, getting one with good rewards can make a huuuuuge difference.

I have a Capital One card because it has amazing travel rewards and I put ev.ery.thing on it – I even pay my utilities with it! I pay it off every month and I’ve already received hundreds of dollars worth of rewards this year.

5. Think about ways you can cut spending

I’m a big believer in putting your money where your happy is. If you don’t care about that painfully hip new restaurant, don’t go there. If name brand clothes don’t bring you joy, don’t buy them. If you need a three week beach trip each year, budget accordingly. It’s a lot easier to cut your spending when you know you’re saving for something important and joy-making.

You can find a million good ideas for living a good life on a budget here.

How’s your relationship with money? How do you save + manage it?

P.S. 10 ways to feel rich and How to save up for big ticket items.

Photo by Clarisse Meyer on Unsplash // cc

My problems aren’t your responsibility (and, ahem, probably vice versa)

For too long I expected other people to cater to my needs and whims or work around my issues. Putting our happiness or contentment in the hands of other people is an exercise in managing disappointment. Let's stop. Here's how >>
When I was 12 years old I convinced my parents to let me be a vegetarian.
I’d spent at least five years battling their two-bites-of-everything rule.  If memory serves, my mom finally caved after I theatrically gagged some summer sausage back onto my dinner plate and worked up some crocodile tears + puppy eyes.
I remember her standing in our dining room, hands on hips, and sighing “You don’t have to eat meat anymore but I’m not fixing you anything special.  There’s enough food on the table.  You’re not going to starve.”
In our current state of helicopter parenting, this might sound overly harsh, but I think it’s completely legitimate. To this day, I’ll happily pick pepperoni off the pizza my friends ordered or dig the pork out of the soup.  Being vegetarian is my deal.  Which means I’m the one who has to deal with it.
Because I’m The Most Fun, I have plenty of other deals. Want to hear them? 
  • I get really motion sick and I’ll puke if we’re driving through the mountains (even if I take Dramamine).
  • I don’t like it when people eat cocktail shrimp in my vicinity.
  • There are various exes I’d prefer not to run into.
  • I don’t like amusement parks or the State Fair.
  • Wearing cashmere or angora makes me feel like the walls are closing in.
  • I don’t like to be around large groups of drunk strangers.
  • After about four hours of conversation or group engagement, the light turns off inside me and I need to go sit in a quiet place by myself. And preferably read lady magazines or nap.
And there was a time (um, embarrassingly not-that-long-ago) when I thought it would be really, really lovely if everyone ever went out of their way to accommodate my various neuroses.

You know who likes constantly accommodating one person’s needs?  Absolutely no one. 

If I don’t like it when you eat cocktail shrimp next to me, maybe I should move.

Rather than asking you not to invite my ex to that party, maybe I should go early.  Or late.  Or go whenever I want and then not talk to them.

You’re having a birthday party at an amusement park?  How about I buy you a drink the day before?

If I feel myself reaching my social quota I can just excuse myself and go the eff home.

And nobody’s going to hold me down and make me wear angora.Of course it’s nice when the people in our lives work around our stuff!  When they take into consideration our gluten intolerance or our fear of snakes or the fact that we’re on a really tight budget!

But ultimately, I am the only person who is responsible for myself, my happiness, and dealing with my issues. And I imagine you’re in the same boat.

If reading fashion magazines makes you feel bad about your body, don’t read them.

If a specific friend always brings you down, stop hanging out with them.

If a friend invites you to a cabin weekend that you can’t afford, don’t go.

If you’re a vegetarian and your friends invite you to a steakhouse, either don’t go or go and order a baked potato and a martini.

If you’re gluten intolerant and you get invited to a potluck, bring a dish that you love so you’ll have something to eat.

If you’re having a rough, grumpy day, don’t take it out on your roommate/partner/parent.  Go to the gym, go for a walk, write in your journal is a sulky, dramatic manner.

As  harsh as it sounds, I find this approach really empowering.

Making my wellbeing someone else's responsibility is an exercise in disappointment management. Click To Tweet

When I decided that I was the only one responsible for working around my stuff, life got a lot easier and friendships became a lot more fun.

(People like you more when you’re not asking them to stop eating that shrimp so loudly.)

What issues are you working through?  How do you work around them without expecting everyone to make exceptions for you? (and have you ever been guilty of being too demanding?)

P.S. If you like this kind of stuff, I have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to ‘Life Advice’!

12 thrift store DIYS you should try today

Looking for clever, cheap thrift store DIYs? Click through for DIY ideas for four things you can always find at thrift stores for cheap: hardcover books, vinyl records, silk scarves, and dishes!
I’ve been a voracious thrifter for ages.  I’ve been pawing through racks of second hand clothing since plaid and high-waisted jean shorts were cool – the first time around.
(You can read my thrifting tips here and here.)
These days I don’t thrift as much because, well, I don’t need anything.  I’ve got all the cute dresses and vintage t-shirts a girl could want! (Or at least, as many cute dresses as a girl who hates having excess stuff that she doesn’t use could want.)
Every time I pop into a thrift store I see shelf after shelf of the same items – there are always piles of vinyl records, dishes, silk scarves, and hardcover books.  These items might not be too exciting in their current state, but with some elbow grease and creativity, they could be amazing!

Click on the photos to see how to make these adorable things!

DIY project you can do with Records

Looking for clever, cheap thrift store DIYs? Click through for DIY ideas for four things you can always find at thrift stores for cheap: hardcover books, vinyl records, silk scarves, and dishes!
Vinyl record DIY
Vinyl record DIY

DIY projects you can do with Hardcover books

Hardcover book craft ideas
Hard cover book crafts
Crafts to make with hardcover books

DIY projects you can do with Silk scarves

silk scarf craft ideas
Shorts made from silk scarves
Silk scarf pillows

DIY projects you can do with Dishes

DIYs with dinner plates
Crafts with dinner plates
Crafts with tea cups
Do you have any favorite DIYs for things you find at the thrift store?  Leave links in the comments!

5 Tricks To Make Cheap Clothes Look Expensive

Do you want to make your cheap clothes look expensive? Interested in budget fashion tips? Click through for tips on how to look bougie! #budgetfashion #budgetstyle
Do you want to make cheap clothes look expensive? <- That’s pretty much a trick question because most people would prefer to
a) spend less money
b) look polished, put together, and as though they spent a bit of money and effort on their appearance

If you’re not sure why you should trust my judgement on the matter of ‘making cheap clothes look bougie,’ let me tell you that right one of the crowning moments of my life was being complimented on my outfit on the in street NYC.And everything I was wearing cost less than $20.

If you, too, have a budget to stick to but want to look like you don’t, read on.

5 ways to make cheap clothes look expensive and bougie 

1. Invest in a slip or an inner layer

I think one of the things that separates Cheap Looking Foolishness from Fancy Looking Poshness is lining.

High-end stuff is lined. Stuff from Target isn’t. Just go buy a slip (yes, they still make them) and all of a sudden you don’t have to wear Spanks and your dress fits and flows so much more elegantly. Try to find a white or neutral slip without any lace – you don’t want the texture of the lace showing through the top layer of your $12 dress.

2. Fake leather + shiny metal = no. Canvas + wood = yes 

Pleather is obvious from 8 feet away and shiny metallics look tacky. Matte metal isn’t any more expensive (or real) but it looks much nicer. This bracelet is only $15 but it looks fancy and like some rich relative gave it to you.

Also: canvas. It always looks posh and it’s not expensive. See? Wood bangles are cute and make people think you a) bought them in a pricey museum shop b) spent some time abroad.

3. Take good care of your cheap clothes

These pieces were not built to last. But you can extend their life by:
* Only washing them when they’re really, actually dirty
* Washing them inside out, in cold water, and air drying them
* Using one of these fabric shavers. No exaggeration, this purchase will change your wardrobe life

4. Only wear one trend at a time

Oh, this is terribly boring advice you’ve read a thousand times before. And, really, you should wear whatever you want.

BUT. If you’re in a situation where it would behoove you to ‘pass’ as higher-income or if you’re rubbing elbow with, like, middle-aged donors or board members or the like, you might want to limit the trendiness.

We all look waaaay classier when we pair our sheer neon tops with a black boyfriend blazer and jeans and cute black t-strap sandals, rather than with sequinned dropcrotch pants and those wedge sneaker things. (Again, ‘classy’ can be very overrated so feel free to ignore this advice)

5. Shiny hair + lip gloss + clean nails always look good

Your mom was right.

How do you make your cheaper items look good?

P.S. How to purge your closet without losing your mind

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash