Simplicity – Small & Cheap

Living simply & cheaply…wherever you are!

Planning Your Wardrobe

At first glance, having a wardrobe plan or having your colors done seems like something rich people do.   It just isn’t something for us regular joes.   I’m here to tell you that after 30 years, I’ve realized that everyday people need it more than ANYONE else.

In moving to our camper, I had very limited space available for bringing clothing.    It was surprisingly easy to pack.   I packed only my very favorite clothes that fit, I felt good in and were weather appropriate.    That amounted to about 10 shirts and 2 pr pants, 2 capris, and a skirt.   The rest I haven’t missed…well, there are a few pieces but generally, I don’t miss the rest.

I have a walk-in closet the size of a small child’s bedroom.   It’s full.    It’s full of clothes that don’t fit, are in the wrong colors, I don’t like them (but they were CHEAP!), or don’t match anything else I have.

Missus Smarty Pants is a very affordable way to get the services that wealthy people pay lots of money for.   For $10.00 she will determine your season and show you what makeup and clothing colors are best for you.    In addition, she will ID your body type and tell you what types of clothing will play up your assets and camouflage your flaws for less than $50.00/year.

I have found her services to be completely invaluable.    In addition to confirming that I look best in some of my favorite clothes, she has shown me concrete tips to make sure that I can INTENTIONALLY look for those items.

The best thing that I have learned by reading her emails is to have a wardrobe plan.

What kind of life do you live?   The clothes you purchase should be in proportion to the amount of time you spend in them.    I am a SAHM.   I don’t need to buy another suit, no matter how cute it is.    What I DO need is clothing that is easy to nurse in, easy to clean (no dry clean only!!), and is comfortable and classically stylish since I will be spanning years between maternity clothes and non-maternity clothes.

What do you need for your climate?    Now we are in a warm climate.    I don’t need 15 pair of black work pants.    Now, I need capris and shorts that fit well as well as a lot of short sleeved shirts.   I no longer need 4 winter coats and a box full of scarves, mittens and hats.

PLAN a wardrobe to mix and match.   MSP offers a list of items to build the basics of your wardrobe with suggested numbers and types of items in your wardrobe.    I just got my colors done and decided to plan all future purchases (and keepers from existing wardrobe up north) around them.   My MAIN neutral is brown with my secondary neutral as a soft gray.   Thanks to MSP, I now have a signature color – aqua.    And most of my other purchases will be in 2 coordinating colors (soft pink and a lime green) and a coordinating neutral (ivory).   This will ensure that all my clothes will be able to be mixed and matched.   I also picked 2 secondary colors (lilac and yellow) for accessories that will coordinate with my 3 core colors.

Once your basics are in place, you can add things like stylish current pieces, handbags, accessories and shoes.    Having a plan enables you to have a plan on how to spend your money.    No more wasting space and money on clothes that you only sort of like and therefore never wear.    You will no longer need to go out and buy an outfit for an occassion because you have a closet full of nothing to wear.    That’s frugality at it’s best–being prepared and avoiding “emergency” expenses.

How has having a wardrobe plan saved you money?


February 25, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Coupon Craziness 5.5

Let me just start off by saying I HATE Florida pricing laws. I never realized it was different until I left Michigan. In Michigan you are required to put a price on EVERY item (except 25 or something like that). And if you are charged the wrong price, you have to fix it and then some.

In Florida, nothing is labeled. And it’s probably on the wrong hanger or over the wrong shelf tag. And the stores never put up their sale taggies in front of the items or take their sweet @$$ time doing it. It’s enough to make me go batty!!!

Okay, rant over. Today was a mixed bag.

First, I went to Publix. The Grocery Game (referral info: jensteed.08 at gmail dot com) had listed a great deal on Cover Girl lip gloss for $0.75 each. My Publix, however, doesn’t carry cosmetics. Talk about moving from Podunk to Podunk South.

Then I went to CVS.

I fared a little better there. I bought:

Huggies Wipes – 2/$5, less a $0.50/1Q = $2.00

Huggies Baby Soap -2/$5, less a $1.00/1Q = $1.50

Crest Pro-Health Mouthwash – $3.99 – $0.75/1Q – $1ECB = $2.24

Kotex Long Pantyliners (16ct) – $1.49 – $1.49/CRT = FREE!

Stinky Foot Powder Spray – $4.99

And finally, the basis of my rant, 12 Hershey Bars, 50% off for Valentines day. I THOUGHT I heard someone say they rang up at $0.25 yesterday, but what they SAID was $0.75. When I got out to the car and looked at the receipt and found out they were 3 times more than I thought, I couldn’t decide whether to take them back or not. $0.75 a bar? That’s almost full price! 50% off my butt!! Then in my pissivity, I opened one and started chowing away. They are a LOT bigger than normal. These bars were 3.5 oz each; normal bars are 1.45 oz. So I kept them :).

Total Regular Price – $44.59

Total Sale Price – $27.47

Less Coupons Used – $3.74

Total OOP – $23.73

Less ECB’s Earned – $22.73

Savings – 50%

I also made a quick stop at the WinnDixie. I don’t like it as much as the Publix (it’s dirty), but they have better sales. The Grocery Game also pointed out this deal that I got:

2 boxes of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes (12 oz) – on sale for $1.77 each – $1.50/2Q = $1.02/box.

Total Regular Price – $6.58

Total Sale Price – $3.54

Less Coupons – $1.50

Total OOP – $2.04

Savings – 69%

February 19, 2009 Posted by | coupon craziness | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Frugal Friday – Smart Shopping Online

There are tons of places to shop from online.   How do you know if you are getting a good deal?    Shipping can get expensive and there are SOOOOO many choices.   It can be paralyzing!

First of all, if you are looking for something in particular (like a particular model of electronic, a certain toy, or a book), the best place to start is a price comparison site.   This usually works best for expensive items as many lower priced items are within pennies of one another due to transparency.   There are several sites that do this:

Also, when you shop, use a site that gives you cash back for shopping there, if possible.   This is usually only possible with the major retailers.   You can earn rebates on your purchases from most major retailers such as Staples, Target, Walmart, Home Depot, Old Navy, etc.   There are a lot of websites from which you can earn rebates.  Since I do not believe in debt, I’m not advocating this, but if you use it anyway, you can get a double percentage back by using a credit card that gives you cash back AND a website that gives cash back.  Neat!

My personal favorite, because I earn money for my children’s college education, is Upromise.    Not only can you earn a percentage back when you shop online via their shopping page, but if you register your store loyalty cards from participating stores (such as Meijer, Publix, CVS, etc.), you can get a contribution when you buy participating products (again, usually big brands).   And recently they’ve added eCoupons.   At the beginning of every month, you can activate coupons you think you will use and attach them to the store cards.   When you make a purchase of the coupon you’ve activated, it will deposit that amount in your Upromise account.

Other options include:

You can also go to MyPoints and earn points for shopping (as well as emails).   It seems to be comparable to the percentage that cash back sites give you.

One of the keys do doing well with these type of sites is to pick one and then stick with it.   Most sites have the same stores and approximately the same percentage.   Sign up for them all if you want, to compare, but just pick one and go with it.   It is also helpful if you find one that has a toolbar to install pointing out earning opportunities.  People who install one typically earn more because they don’t forget to use the site.

Next, take a few extra minutes to find a coupon code to go with your rebate!    Websites like RetailMeNot offer coupon codes for merchants big and small and have a  handy search feature to help find them.    This is a great resource for finding free shipping and $$ off codes.  Many times they will have  coupon codes provided by people just like you.   They also have GREAT forums.   Not only are sales and coupons frequently updated, but you can earn money for the ad revenue on the threads you start via a AdSense account.   How cool is that?   You get to help people save money, keep up on getting good deals AND you earn money to boot.

Another way to find coupons is to sign up for the newsletters of a handful of merchants that you use the most.  Not all of them, they fill your email like mad!   But maybe 5 or 6 and filter those messages to a folder in your email.   When you want to buy something from them, look at that folder to see if they’ve sent you a coupon lately.

So in short, the best way to save money by shopping online is to:

  1. Find the website with the best price…
  2. That you can get a rebate at…
  3. With Free Shipping.
  4. Find a coupon code to go with it (for a % or $ off, a free item and or free shipping).

February 13, 2009 Posted by | Frugal Friday | , , | Leave a comment

Publix Nibbles

I made several trips to Publix during the last week or two but didn’t get things entered very timely. Since I want them all posted as a price book of sorts, I’m putting them in and backdating the post so as not to distract those who don’t care about a lengthy grocery store post.

I was hoping to get more on my run last Friday (2/6) but I didn’t do my homework well enough and some of the stuff that was on sale and had coupons for wasn’t stuff we would use or wasn’t otherwise what I thought it was. Isn’t that part of the art of couponing? To not buy things that will go to waste just because it’s a good deal?

Anyway, on Friday, I picked up some sale items and perishables. There was no menu plan because we have friends in from out of town and we are all winging it based on the kids schedules. I bought:

On sale, with coupons:
4 boxes of Uncle Bens rice – $1.49 each, on sale BOGO and I used 2 $1/1Q from their website = $0.25 each.

3 Idahoan potato packets – $1.39, on sale for $0.50, used a $0.75/3 coupon = $0.25 each

On sale, no coupon
French bread – $1.29
Pepperoni – $3.00

No sale, with coupons
2 Kraft shredded cheese – $3.89 each – $1Q = $2.89 each

No sale, no coupons
Donut holes – $1.79
Bananas – $1.29 ($0.69/lb.)
Pineapple – $6.49
4 Peaches – $3.28 ($1.99/lb.)
6 eggs – $0.95
Quart of milk – $1.59
Quart of Silk – $2.35
Chicken breast – $8.42 ($3.99/lb.)
Tortillas – $2.59
Miracle Whip – $2.39
2 Pizza Sauce – $2.75
Olives – $1.29
Spicy Chili Beans – $0.81
Salsa – $1.99

Total regular price – $64.52
Total sale price – $57.36
Less coupons used – $4.75
Total OOP – $52.63
Total savings – 18%

Monday, I went back for some sales that I saw on the Grocery Game list. I’m not sure if I’m going to continue that. By the time she gets it up there are only 2 days left and the good stuff is picked over AND it’s so expensive down here that her prices are always lower than I will find them. So what am I paying her for again? I guess I’ll have to see what I buy based on her info this month to find out if it will pay for itself.

BUT, I did find a few deals from here that I went back for and a few staples.

On sale, with coupon:
2 knorr sides that were BOGO ($1.69 each) and I had a $0.75/2Q to use = $0.47 each. NOTE: they were the Garlic & Butter Cajun Sides–the most terrible thing I ever tasted! Good thing they were cheap!

On sale, no coupon
2 Land O Lakes Spreadable butter – $1.50 each
White vinegar (gal.) – $2.29
2 loaves of French bread – $1.29 each

No coupons or sales
Steno pad – $1.29

Total regular price – $15.62
Total sale price – $11.43
Less coupons used – $0.75
Total OOP – $10.10
Savings – 35%

Tuesday, I went back again because I found the coupon I was looking for Monday.

On sale, with coupon
3 starfish pouch creations on sale 3/$5 and had a B2G1 coupon. This made them $1.11 each. I’d like to eat for fish so I’m happy with that price to try it out.

No sale or coupon
BBQ Sauce – $1.29

Total regular price – $6.95
Total sale price – $6.29
Less coupons used – $1.67
Total OOP – $4.62
Savings – 33%

I’m liking that finding good deals means I get to try new things.

February 10, 2009 Posted by | grocery shopping | , , , | Leave a comment