Small Business Saturday Redux

With Leo out of town this weekend, I decided to tackle Christmas. I’m aiming for a silver, gold, white and hints of red in my decor. With a bit of a rustic touch. Being up in Aspen a few weeks ago inspired me!

Aspens!
Aspens!

Friday started with a trip to Goodwill to buy Christmas items which were then all painted a matching matte white. I wanted to find an vintage/rustic Santa, a few tall vases and candleholders. I found all of those items and then some! Some (ahem, husband) would argue I needed none of this stuff, but we are in a new, larger house than ever before, and I wanted to spruce up my holiday decor. Supremely successful.

Then, on Saturday, I participated in my own little Small Business Saturday. Starting in the Highlands, I popped into the flower store VaVaBloom who did my wedding flowers. I grabbed a locally made glass cheese plate for a family member – first person checked off my list! The owner had a few birch buckets, and I all but begged her to sell them, and remnant birch bark to me. She obliged. I’m one happy DIY camper.

Then, I visited Jewelius, fell in love with three sweaters, and left with a scarf for someone on my Christmas list. Next up, I headed over to Cherry Creek North unsure of what I’d find. Nervous about shopping within reason, I was quite surprised to find some great gifts under $50.

Nest Fragrances Birchwood Pine Candle, $36, is my new favorite and likely the only holiday candle I’ll ever buy again after lighting it tonight. It is perfection. Shop at Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, etc., if you can’t find a local store with these. A Big Sky candle also almost came home with me, but had to resist.

The Nest Fragrance - Birchwood Pint

A book, meticulously wrapped, from Artisan Center, will make its way to a family member overseas. Followed this with a visit to the Hermitage Books, and then on to Division West for some husband gift hunting.

Phew – that’s a wrap! I still visited a number of not-so-small businesses to finish up my holiday shopping. But I’m proud to say I managed to knock out 90% of my Christmas shopping list in just one afternoon. Tomorrow, the decoration begins!

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Let’s talk money – in-depth and longwinded

I’m a worrier, it is what I do. I worry about money, I worry about job stability, I worry about budgets, I worry about bills, to put it simply, I worry. To help quell my worrisome ways, I like to dedicate a substantial amount of energy to the things that I can control. Hmmm, are you sensing a theme here?

Anywho, my worrying ways are usually really funny and mostly irrational. I have a great job, I am fairly cautious with my money, I split bills with Leo, and I have almost no debt. And the debt that I do have is 100% interest free. Under no circumstances (except for school loans, so I guess that’s one circumstance. whatever.) will I not pay to borrow money – interest is the devil, I’m not interested. But budgeting – thats a real worry of mine. Last year, my finances were horrific (in my eyes). Sure, no debt and some savings and I bought a car. BUT, I also spent an ridiculous amount on shopping. Do you use Mint.com? You should for one year to fully grasp your spending habits.

I did it and now I’m assessing. I don’t like starting budgets on January 1st. It is so close to the holidays and starting your year off worrying about how much money you spend on the holidays is no fun. Buying presents for others makes me happy, I shouldn’t feel bad about it. Here’s the other trick – February is a short month meaning your money will go further if you are a salaried employee. Those two days? It counts.

Please note, for all of 2010 and part of 2011, I had two jobs. Cutting that second income was rough but it makes me be way more cautious. So, looking back last year on where my money went:

  • 22% Home (Rent, Home improvement, Furnishings, etc.)
  • 21% Auto and Transport (Bought a Car, Insurance, Public Transit, Gas)
  • 14% Shopping (this is a real zinger. need to cut this number by a third this year)
  • 11% Food and Dining (I’ll break this down later)
  • 10% Travel (went to some great places this year)
  • 7% Bills & Utilities
  • 5% Non-categorized (Not sure what this is, but by going through my Mint account at the end of each month I can categorized these charges and understand where this dinero is going.)
  • 10% Other stuff that adds up  

Budget_2011_w_numbers

For the month of January – here’s what it is looking like:

  • 30% Home
  • 24% Food & Dining
  • 16% Auto and Transport (Me and the City of Chicago got in a fight about parking tickets…that was most of this amount and the City won, it always does)
  • 8% Shopping (Late Christmas Gifts, hobbies)
  • *These percentages do not include savings

Jan_budget

For the rest of the year, I have some big goals budget-wise:

  • 25% Home
  • 20% Food
  • 15% Travel (Atlanta, Colorado and maybe Costa Rica? We’ll see!)
  • 10% Savings
  • 8% Shopping
  • 8% Auto & Transport
  • 8% Everything else (gym, hair, entertainment, student loan)
  • 6% Bills & Utilities

To get to this budget, I’ll be investing in more important things (travel, eating good food, loving my home) and be careful. No self-deprivation here, only prioritization. One month in to the year, I’m confident that I’ve done really well without really trying. To be honest, I’ve spent more on shopping (in cash only) because I pay for groceries and Leo pays me back in cash. It’s called lying to Mint.com and it is a terrible habit that I have. Oh well!

How are you tracking your 2012 financial goals? Are you a Mint user? Lover? Hater? Cheater?

    Losing my Lululemon Virginity and Comparisons

    My bestest friend texted me on Friday morning asking me if I wanted something from the Lululemon warehouse sale in Chicago. 

    Lulu_1

    Yes please, I’d love something. I gave her a budget ($100-$150) and told her to go have fun. I much prefer to let someone else do my shopping, so easy, and I don’t have to think! I sound like I’ve done this a hundred times, I haven’t, this is the first time I’ve done this, but it is the way to go. Anyways, I trust the girl with my life, so obviously I trust her with my closet. She re-organized it once too.

    Lulu_3Lulu_2

    So, she grabbed me that grey hoodie on the left and a purple bag (below). Love them both, I’ve been living in them for the past two days.

    Lulu_4

    This is where I started thinking – am I on the Lululemon bandwagon? Bags? Yes – super functional, great storage cute as can be. Hoodies? Pretty freaking great. It fits great, looks awesome on my body, hugs the smallest part of my waist fully accentuating the limited curve that I have. Yep, I’m in. So, I’m in love with the clothes that I will never actually wear to work out. But then I got to thinking, what about the pants? What about the workout tanks? 

    I wanted to do some super comparison shopping because that is what I do. Lululemon’s workout clothes are similar to Oakley’s workout clothes. But are they worth paying almost twice as much? In full disclosure, I worked for Oakley for three years and am horribly biased to LOVE everything they do. But…. Their workout tops are really close in price to Lululemon’s, and from what I’ve heard Lulu’s tops are killer for workouts and lounging. So the big L wins this battle.

    But let’s talk about the yoga pants. Again, disclosure, I don’t workout or do yoga in any of this stuff (rugby or soccer shorts and cotton tee/wifebeater are my preferred workout gear) so my opinions don’t go too far. Oakley wins this battle – for half the price at the Oakley Vault store I can buy crops for $20-$40 and full-length yoga pants for $40-$65. My butt will look just as good in $50 yoga pants as it will in $100 yoga pants. Oakley wins this battle. 

    Source: oakleyvault.com via Eliza on Pinterest 

    If you want to see the full breakdown of pant/tank comparisons, take a look at my Pinterest To Purchase board. To all the ladies that braved the Lululemon warehouse sale, I commend you.

    What is your favorite athletic clothes brand? How much are you willing to pay for yoga pants? Tanks?