Friday, October 24, 2014

I Pledge to Not Shop on Thanksgiving


A blog friend wrote a great post this week about shopping on what is now being dubbed as "Black Thursday". I'm taking excerpts from her original post and adding some of my own thoughts in today's post. :)

First of all, I will cut whoever invented the name "Black Thursday". No. Just no. It's Thanksgiving. Not Black Thursday. That irks me to no end because it's completely removing the meaning/spirit behind the holiday that symbolizes thankfulness, family and humility and replacing it with a consumeristic term that is equated with greed, materialism and anxiety.

It's been a going trend over the last few years for stores to open earlier and earlier for "Black Friday" which is now just being open on Thanksgiving. This is so not cool. Why? Because Thanksgiving is a holiday meant to be celebrated with friends and family. It's a day to rest, relax and refresh...AND...stuff yourself with food. But if you're shopping on Thanksgiving, that means someone is working on Thanksgiving. Someone is not able to spend time with their loved ones because they are ringing up your blu-ray player that you are buying for $20 or those boots that you just HAD to have.

I whole-heartedly agree with Steph on this:

I like shopping as much as the next person. And I love love love a good deal. Do I need the good deal so badly that I'd sacrifice my lazy Thanksgiving night in my pajamas with my family? Not on your life. Even in years when money was tight, I wouldn't consider it - because time with my people is worth more than a material gift. As for those crazy must have kid gifts, they'll live if they don't get it - I did and you did too. I'm sure they'd rather have the memory of a full relaxing day and night with their parents than the gift they'll forget by the time they're 18. And if you're going out after they're in bed, that doesn't mean the lady ringing you up at Toys R Us isn't missing out on a night home with her older kids who are still up.

What's wrong with us as a society? We need to stop being consumers first and humans second. If none of us showed up at the stores, they'd stop opening on Thanksgiving and taking people away from their families.


I know people that work in retail. And I know that for a lot of them, Thanksgiving isn't a special day. It's actually a day that people in retail dread because it brings out droves of people demanding things, pushing and acting anything other than "thankful". And even though people in retail have come to expect to have to work on Thanksgiving now, it wasn't always like this. I can remember the first year that a mall decided to open at 5 am on Black Friday for specials. That was a big deal. Now? Retailers start their "Black Friday Specials" at 3 pm on Thanksgiving. When is it going to stop?

The answer is, it won't. It won't unless we, as consumers, decide to take action. As Steph says...
Vote with your wallet! Stay home on Thanksgiving and enjoy your family and some late night turkey to fortify yourself for the Black Friday shopping you may or may not do. Start shopping now to spread out your spending so you don't need to be out on Thanksgiving doing it. If you need an activity or are alone that night, visit friends, take a walk, binge watch a show you've been wanting to see, or consider volunteering to help those in need. I'd rather vacuum my furniture to give me something to do over going to a store where my presence takes someone away from their family and friends. "So I want to go shopping, so what?" So stop thinking of only yourself.

What's an easy way to vote with your wallet? By shopping at these retailers who have taken a stand against opening on Thanksgiving. (source)

DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse
Costco
Nordstrom
Publix
Pier 1 Imports
Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores
BJ's Wholesale Club
Gordmans
Crate and Barrel
T.J.Maxx
Marshall's
Sierra Trading PostDillard's
HomeGoods
Barnes & Noble
Publix
Burlington Coat Factory
American Girl
REI

And by NOT shopping at retailers who are open on Thanksgiving:

Walmart
Target
Sears
Toys ''R'' Us
Best Buy
Macy's
Big Lots
Shoe Carnival
Kmart
Michaels Stores

I can't think of a better way to close this post than with this quote from Time.com...




Black Thursday is a loser for everyone. Retailers say it dilutes the actual shopping weekend around Black Friday, "cannibalizing" sales that would already take place later in the shopping season. It ruins the holidays for store employees an...d it enables Americans to forget those things they're thankful for and instead lust for material items.
 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Coping With My Couponing Obsession

First of all, I've only been couponing for about a month. I'm not anything like the people on Extreme Couponers. I do use coupons and I do have a coupon notebook with clear plastic holders to organize my coupons. But the most of any one thing I've ever bought at a time is 4.

I call it "couponing for normal people". While I'm sure I'll use 27 laundry detergents or 421 toothbrushes in my lifetime, I don't have the room to store all of that stuff right now. So, I buy a few of one item when a deal is great. Or, I'll just buy one of an item and continue to buy it whenever it goes on sale.

With that being said, I have reached a point in my couponing journey that I've developed enough of a stockpile to stop buying certain items. A true couponer would tell you that when your supply of an item gets below like 20 then you should stock up...for me...I usually don't have more than 4-5 of anything at one time.

This works for me. I'm still getting good deals but I'm not overrun with inventory. Anywho...all that to say that now it's become a rush for me to see how much my grocery bill goes down each time after my coupons are scanned. Just last night I hit up my local Harris Teeter to take advantage of the last night of Super Double coupons and my grocery bill went from $75 to $42 just from coupons. Insane! It's kind of like a runner's high. Or what I would imagine a runner's high to be??

Here's a fairly recent picture of my "stockpile", minus a few items I purchased last night. It's not nearly as organized as I'd like it to be...that may be a weekend project. This is one part of my upstairs linen closet. I might get some of those flat board things from The Container Store to put on the shelves so the items don't fall down in between the wire slats. Is that crossing a line? HAHA.



To combat my couponing obsession, I'm only allowed to clip coupons for things that I still need. I currently have about a 1 year supply of laundry detergent, shampoo, toothpaste (hidden to the left of the Tresemme shampoo), deoderant, tissues, lotion, razors (hidden behind the Listerine) and hand/bathroom soap. I have about a 6 month supply of toilet paper, paper towels, Lysol wipes and body wash. So I'm not clipping coupons for any of the items listed above until I use these items. As a wise M said, "you won't save money until you start using all of these items". If I keep buying, I'll never use them and take advantage of the savings from buying them on sale and with coupons (as opposed to paying full price).


Another way I'm coping with my couponing obsession is only clipping coupons for name brand things we use...and still buying generic if it's cheaper. In most cases, a sale + coupons (often doubled) on a namebrand is cheaper than the generic. But if it isn't, I don't buy it. That's not a good enough deal. And then I also only clip coupons for the items we exclusively buy the namebrand of. (Deoderant, toilet paper, etc.)

Has my couponing gotten out of hand? Maybe. But hopefully I'll really get into a groove where I'm savvy enough to know what is and what isn't worth it and when the deals are the absolute best. I've joined a few FB groups/pages that post great deals and coupon matchups with sales. And my new favorite email every week is the Harris Teeter weekly deals email. Either I've become obsessed with couponing/sales or I'm just getting older?

These are some of the ways I cope with my couponing obsession. Do you use coupons?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Current Fashion Obsession: Coatigans

You might call them sweater coats or wrap sweaters...but I call them awesome. I think the official term for them is Coatigan (coat + cardigan) and thank you to my Memaw for informing me of the name!

These are a huge fashion trend this season and are so comfy looking. I can totally picture these with some jeans or leggings and boots. Something about them just makes me want to curl up with a mug of hot chocolate and watch football...or a Christmas movie.:)

What is a coatigan? In essence, a long sweater that may or may not have any front closures on it. They tend to be a chunkier knit and don't have a lot of structure. Pairing these with a more slim fit on the bottom is the best look. (think skinny jeans or leggings/jeggings) Boots, booties or even some really cute loafers would be great with this look. A chunkier knit/loose fit is better with a more substantial shoe...so I wouldn't really do ballet flats with this look.

Are you jumping on the coatigan train?

Here are some great budget-friendly coatigans: Target, Old Navy, Old Navy, Forever 21Forever 21, Forever 21+, Target +

Friday, October 17, 2014

Fashion Finds: Old Navy

Old Navy used to be one of my go-to stores. Now, it's a bit more hit-or-miss. I like to buy work-appropriate clothing there and usually their dresses and skirts are some of my favorites. They have some really cute items right now and a lot of them are on sale. Here are some of my favorites.

 
I feel like this is the "normal person" version of a tulle ballet skirt. (Which I absolutely adore...but know I could never pull it off. It is not for those graced with larger hips.)
 
 
I own one very similar to this that is navy and textured and I'm obsessed with it. This appears to be the same dress but with a different fabric. This dress is universally flattering and could be worn in almost any season. (Tights + boots+ cardigan in cold temps and with sandals like in the picture above in warmer temps.) Bonus...it's a neutral! So I can wear any of my statement necklaces with it! :)
 
 
I'm obsessed with peplum and this shirt looks like the perfect color and fit! It also comes in black and would be so cute under a cardigan for fall.
 
 
 
I LOVE this and it's a nice alternative to the more expensive versions from Banana and JCrew. It's really a very versatile layering piece.
 
 
I love this! It's totally cute for work or with jeans and a tee on the weekend. It also comes in gray.
 
Do you ever shop at Old Navy?
 
 
 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

How I Save Money on Christmas Gifts

Something for the kids | Carolyne Roehm

Yes, you are reading this correctly...I am writing about Christmas mid-October. But, now is the best time to share my information with you...why? Because now is the time to start planning for your Christmas gifts for friends and family.

The key to saving money on Christmas is PLANNING. 

Instead of putting yourself into debt or spending an extraordinary amount of money between November and December, start planning now. Buy one or two gifts with each paycheck so the cost of the gifts are spread out over a few months. This is how I do it and it's very effective. It also allows you to take advantage of sales early. Now, I know that sales for Black Friday and such are good, but retailers often raise prices of their inventory in order to discount them a lot for the holidays. By purchasing something that's on sale from the normal price instead of the jacked up regular price discounted to a "sale" price, you are saving money.

Does that even make sense?

Let me also say that some things like electronics and movies/games ARE cheaper after Black Friday. So, do your research and know what the normal retail price is so you can gauge whether or not you are actually getting a deal. 

For example, it's mid-October and I'm finished shopping for my mother, my mother-in-law, my father and M. I still have a few gifts to get but I can do so over time...avoiding a financial burden right around the holidays.

Now, please don't get preachy on me about gifts and the true meaning of Christmas. I know what the real meaning of Christmas is, thankyouverymuch, and I know that Christmas presents have nothing to do the original meaning of Christmas. HOWEVER, unless your entire family puts the kabosh on gift-giving (which mine does not) you give gifts. And if I'm going to give gifts I want them to be good gifts that are in my budget. End rant.

What if I don't know what to get someone so early before Christmas? (this is a frequent question I hear) Well, there are some people...I'm looking at you, sister...who are difficult to shop for and don't make up their mind on what they want until later in the year near Christmas. I just plan for her those people accordingly and get the gifts that I DO know or have planned out beforehand. I had a good idea of what I wanted to get my mother and mother-in-law, so when a store put the items on sale, I scooped some up. The other thing I do is keep a note on my phone of gift ideas for other people or things they mention they'd like in passing. Even if it's February...keeping that list helps to jog your memory when it comes to gift purchasing time. I know my father-in-law will probably want a gift card to a store he goes to all the time...so I get that early too. By knocking the "known" gifts out of the way, you can focus your time, efforts and budget on those "unknowns" closer to Christmas.

Really, the key in all of this is planning, planning, planning. The more you can purchase ahead of November, the better. Also, do not even hesitate to purchase online. I buy Christmas gifts for my friends and family almost exclusively through online shopping and you can score some great deals. The beauty of online shopping is that you may find an item cheaper on a site like Amazon than in the original retail store. (Example: A Columbia fleece is cheaper on Amazon than it may be at the Columbia store or Columbia website.)

I'm happy to offer more advice if you're interested. This is what works for me and my budget so maybe it could work for yours too?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Anjolee Jewelry Review

I’ve got something pretty awesome  to share with y’all today. I was contacted by Anjolee jewelry to review one of their products and I chose this GORGEOUS ring.


It’s item EB1007 and I was able to customize it with CZ and garnet (my birthstone). I’m obsessed with this ring and I’ve received a ton of compliments on it the first day I wore it!



Anjolee jewelry was founded in 1977 and is based out of San Diego, CA. They’ve been a big player in the high-end jewelry game for 40 years or so but branched out in the virtual world of jewelry in 2008. Since then, they've been one of the leading diamond jewelry retailers on the market and sell amazing custom pieces directly to the consumer. 


With the holidays right around the corner (eek!!) you or someone you know might be interested in buying a custom jewelry piece for a loved one and Anjolee is the place to go! One of my favorite parts of their website is their Information section where you can learn about finishes, settings, metals, diamond cuts and clarities and more! I wish M and I had known about this resource when we were shopping for our wedding jewelry…however, you better believe M knows about this awesome education source for any future (hint hint) jewelry purchases. J

I’m thoroughly impressed by the quality of my ring and am certain that anything with the name Anjolee on it will be top quality! Visit Anjolee for some of their awesome jewelry items like the Diamond Tennis Bracelet.



I love wearing my Anjolee ring by itself or stacked on top of my wedding band when I’m not wearing my engagement ring. It’s so pretty! I really just think I need a few more to stack on top of it. HA! You should check out Anjolee jewelry if you are in the market for a custom jewelry piece.

Disclaimer:  I was not compensated for this post. I was provided with a product, free of charge, in exchange for my review. All of the opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Weekend Recap

Normally I'm a stay-at-home-and-take-it-easy type gal on the weekends. But this weekend was jam-packed! Recap is below!


On Saturday morning I ran a 5k with my mom. I beat last year's time by over 3 and a half minutes. My official time was 45:05 (pic above was from what I was tracking on my phone). I want to start running more of these because it's addicting and I'm anxious to run more races! 


After the 5k, we made the 1 hour trek down to Columbia to the SC State Fair. Let me just say that it was a good thing that I ran a 5k in the morning because pretty much all we did at the fair was walk around, look at the animals and exhibits...and EAT. 




And man, did we eat. Deep fried Double Stuft Oreos, Deep Fried Reese's Cups, Corn Dogs...mmmm! Also, for the first time this year, we really enjoyed seeing all of the agricultural exhibits. SC sure does grow some pretty things! 


Sunday, my best friend's baby was being dedicated at church. Below is a pic of her and I on Thursday night. Isn't she adorable??


Sunday was wrapped up with grocery shopping and bargain hunting at Dollar Tree, Dollar General and Publix. I did score some great deals. But I've realized that I have a bit of a problem when it comes to couponing...the problem being that I can't stop. Seriously. My non-food stockpile is taking over the linen closet. 

My whirlwind weekend has come to a close. I can say with certainty that I'm ready for the week to start! 


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