I’m Back!

Yeah, so I fell down on updating. It happens. I’ve had some ups and downs on my my little journey. Lot’s of downs, not going to lie. But does that mean we give up? NO!

So here is what’s new with me: Not much. Financially I have made some advances, but it’s most definitely taking more time than I’d like, so I have decided I need more money and I have been searching for ways to quickly and legally obtain some.

Enter my friend who racked up tons of credit card debt shopping online. As a result, she had also been looking for a way to make extra money and pay off her debts and she found Poshmark. During her overshopping days, she has more clothes than she could possibly ever wear, some that are really nice brands. Poshmark lets you sell your gently worn clothes and get just a little bit of that money back.

I just signed up today, and I don’t have the quality or the amount of clothes that my friend has to sell, but ya know what? I sell a Forever 21 Top for $3, that’s $3 I didn’t have before. I’m very excited to see what happens!

I’ll be posting my “closet” for you all. I just need to take some pictures and such. If you are on there, and want to follow me, my username is elizscox.

Hope to update you all much sooner than I have been!

<3, Elizabeth

 

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$20 (and under) Selfie Highlights

So, I guess really I could just suggest you buy a highlighting kit and let you follow the directions but #1 I find a lot of people are very intimidated by the prospect of highlighting themselves, so I will show you that your average, non-beauty school educated joe shmo can do this and #2 Who doesn’t like to watch people make fools of themselves on the internet?

So, this all started because I hate my natural hair color. I’m a pale girl, with mousy brown hair and it’s just blah. I’ve been highlighting my hair (professionally and then selfie) for over 15 years, and I swear, no matter what my genes say, I am a blonde, but it takes some  effort to stay that way!

Unfortunately, salon highlights run a bit out of my budget currently. According to my google search, you’re looking at roughly $75 for the highlights alone, and thats not counting the fact that you’re probably there to get your hair cut as well, putting the final bill, after tip, anywhere from $150-300 every month or two. Yikes.

I, on the other hand, spent less than $20, and my highlights look pretty damn good if I do say so myself.

This time, I started out by dying my hair all 1 shade of medium blonde first. I call this “starting from scratch,” getting rid of any uneven hair color, roots, etc.

Base color, before highlights

Base color, before highlights

I do this about once or twice a year, the rest of the year, I touch up and highlight the ROOTS ONLY! If you dye/highlight your whole head too much, you are going to cause some crazy damage and end up with brillow pad hair. I have been there before, it’s not pretty don’t do it!

For my highlights, I got  Loreal Paris Frost and Design for about $13. I got it in “champagne,” but there are several different colors and brands.  Make sure you get a kit that will go with your hair color. There’s almost always a guide on the box as to what hair colors the highlights are for. However, there are solutions for brassy color,  which I will touch on later.

Brush your hair really really well. ZERO tangles! You’ll thank me later when your hair doesnt knot up and get pulled. There is a cap in the kit which you need to put on over your hair and tie tightly without choking yourself (preferably). This cap will make you look super sexy (as demonstrated).

There are holes in the cap, some circled, some not circled. Follow the directions in the box to get desired highlight pattern. I myself pull my hair only through the holes that have circles around them, as I think it looks more subtle and natural. There will be a metal or plastic hook in the kit. Stick the hook in the holes that acheive your desired highlight look (again, follow box directions on this one). Pull thin strands of hair through each hole.

The back IS a challenge. If you are a novice at this, I suggest getting a friend to do the back. I have been doing this for so long, I pretty much just stab blindly in roughly the same pattern I’ve done the rest of my head.

When you are done, you will look like what people thought aliens looked like in the 1960’s.

Next, mixing chemicals. Again, each kit is a bit different. Follow box directions on this one, but usually there is a liquid part and then a powder that makes you cough if you accidentally breathe it in (I know, I make this sound good. To be fair, all I promised was cheap and nice highlights). Once you mix it together, it should look a bit like cake frosting. I then use my (gloved) hands to spread the mixture all over the hair that is sticking out of the cap.

Once its saturated, you want to top it off by putting the included plastic bag over your hair and letting it sit for the recommended amount of time.

At this point you will have achieved what my roommate and I call the Full Sex Bomb look. I recommend hiding from any newly acquired significant others while in Sex Bomb mode. It might scare them.

Let it sit, rinse it out, follow any post shampooing and conditioning directions, and voila! Highlights!

 

Tips:

  • I deep condition a day or 2 before the highlight and then in the shampoo after the highlight. Chemicals can really take a lot out of your hair, salon or no salon.
  • Toning shampoo is my JAM! Your color comes out a bit brassy? Just want to make sure your highlights stay fresh? This is your solution, It’s deep purple, so it offsets any orange or yellow tints. I use it once a month just to keep the elements from turning my blonde brassy, but I did initially purchase it because of a root touch up oops. I use Clairol Shimmer Lights . This also comes for different shades of hair color.
  • Post highlighting cap, detangler is your friend
  • If you have red undertones in your hair (as I do) look for more neutral and ashy colors if you are dying your base hair color before you highlight. This will help you avoid looking like Tony the TIger.

Have fun saving money and looking beautiful!

<3, Elizabeth

Update and What Comes Next

Hi all! I’m working on a couple posts for you currently, but I just wanted to share that I have not overdrawn my account in ONE MONTH! Whoop whoop!

I definitely had a rough start. I had no money in the the beginning and the only way I was able to do this was my mom giving me food from her own pantry because I was unable to afford food without overdrawing. My brother loaned me almost $200 toward my rent, which, after not overdrawing to pay rent, I was able to pay back to him on the subsequent payday. I know a lot of people don’t have these options or this kind of support from their family, so I just need to acknowledge how blessed I am, not only in family, but how supportive my friends and everyone from facebook has been. And this journey is very far from being over, but it is all about the little steps that lead to reaching your goal.

So, I’m thinking for my next post, I will be putting any sort of sense of shame aside and show you some money saving beauty regimens. (Two words: Highlighting cap) It’s truly good for entertainment at the least, and if you decide to follow my lead, you can have awesome, salon worthy highlights for less than $20. Stay tuned!

❤ Elizabeth

Popping Tags: How to Stay Stylin’ While Poor

macklemore-thrift-shop-review

So, as we saw from my last post, my budget is set, I am formulating a plan for paying off debt. I’m nowhere near out of the woods yet, but I also think that, if you have stuck to the plan, it is ok to treat yourself and splurge just a bit.

Because I do have so little fun money, I have followed the lead of great lyricist of our time Macklemore, and I have learned to pop some tags like nobody’s business and go thrift shopping. Something I literally had never done before beyond looking for an outfit for an 80s Prom party. And you know what? I love it! It’s like an adventure almost, digging and searching through all of the clothes like a Good Will Indiana Jones until I find the Holy Grail of ensembles. Best, most accomplished feeling ever!

So here are my tips to having a successful, economical thrift shopping experience.

1. Look at your Pintrest boards. Are there a lot of recurring articles of clothing in there? Anythjng you dont have that you specifially want? Make a list of them, as specifically as you can. (If you need help I LOVE this list!) When you walk into a thrift store, it can be a bit overwhelming, but having goals can break it down for you a bit. And if you happen to find something you absolutely love thats not on the list? More power to you!
2. Wow! You just got a bunch of clothes for $20!… But did you get them because you loved every piece of clothing, or did you get them because they were cheap? Spending money on clothes you will never wear is a waste of money, no matter how much money it is. It’s ok to walk out empty handed if you don’t find anything. Thrift stores are constantly getting donations, try again another day!
3. Quality is important. I have shopped at cheaper stores like Forever 21, Papaya and H&M for years. They have really cute things, but you get what you pay for. Colors fade after a couple washes, fabrics stretch, seams fall apart. These stores clothing also sometimes show up in thrift shops, but I stay away from them. Why? Because often times, each type of clothing has 1 price ($2 for t shirts, $4 for skirts) I don’t know about you, but I want the most bang for my buck. Since shopping at thrift stores, I have some really quality brands wo my closet that I never dreamed I could afford to have in there. Cynthia Rowley lace pencil skirt for $4? Don’t mind if I do….
4. You can’t always find everything in a thrift shop. I have found that there are some things that are are nearly impossible to find at a thrift shop and you have to venture out into the mall or the world wide web, namely  jeans. Really, who gives away a good pair of jeans? You don’t, you wear them until they practically fall apart on your body. With jeans, and other items, it is actually worth it to save up and spend good money on something you really love.

Another way I’ve gotten some amazing clothes is through friends. If you have a friend whose style you love, ask if they wouldn’t mind you going through their donation piles before they turn them in. I got my favorite leather jacket that way!

Just because you are on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t buy things for yourself, it just means you might have to get creative. Which, so far, for me, has been really fun!

Feel free to share your favorite way to splurge frugaly!

<3,
Elizabeth

Step One to Financial Peace: The Bill Binder

It took a lot of courage (and my best friend holding my hand), but I finally opened everything in the huge pile of bills I kept next to my bed. And now I don’t know why I was afraid! I feel so much better now! (read: so if you have a similar pile, you too will feel better once you open it) This is not to say that these envelopes contained very nice messages, but now that I know what the messages say, I have the power to do something about them.

My best friend/roommate went through a similar situation as me a couple years ago, so she walked me though her early steps in getting back on track financially: The Bill Binder, which I originally called “the Binder of Doom,” until roomie pointed out that it was NOT a binder of doom, it was a Binder of Hope, because getting these off my plate was the only way out.

Needed Materials:

– 3 Ring Binder (mine is green, like money)

– Tabbed binder dividers

– a hole puncher

-paper clips

– A pen

Step 1: Open ALL of your bills! It’s ok! There is probably less than 1% chance of you dying while you do this, and if you did, it would probably have nothing to do with the bills at all. (Death by papercut?)

Step 2: Divide the bills into piles, however it makes sense to you, but I did it by medical bills, taxes, parking tickets, etc. If there is more than 1 notice for the same bill, keep all of them. On the subsequent notices, write “2nd Notice, ” “3rd Notice,” etc.

Step 3: make your tabs, you can customize them to a certain point, depending on your bills, but this is how mine goes:

  1.  Due Immediately- In here you put everything that is past due, or is urgent, that cannot be put on a payment plan.
  2.  Payment Plan- It contains bills that may be past due, but are from doctors offices etc. Most of these places will work with your financial difficulties. Call each of the places you received a bill from and see if you can break the bills up into something more managable for you. I had 3 places to call, and all of them agreed to the payment plan.
  3. Questions/Call: Didn’t I pay this already? Do I really owe this? Can I actually afford this service I’m  paying for right now? Call them. You may find you have 1 (or more!) less payment to worry about, because someone screwed up. You might be able to freeze the service for a bit while you get back on your feet, or, sometimes, you just have to cancel. Is it absolutely essential? Ask these people about your options. Could they do a payment plan? Could they extend your due date? You don’t know unless you call!
  4. Tickets and Court Fees– I have several tickets for having an expired registration and inspection sticker. I have the inspection done, but I cant afford to pay the tickets, which means my registration can’t be updated. This is pretty urgent, and to me, warranted its own tab

Customize yours as needed, but I highly recommend “Due Immediately” and “Payment Plan” tabs.

Step 4: 3 hole punch your bills and put them in their respective place. Try to keep everything together in pockets or with paperclips.

Step 5: Create a budget for your next paycheck that includes the payment of a couple of these bills. I’ve chosen to pay off lenders and people who have loaned me money first. (have you seen how much interest you pay on loans when you have bad credit?!?!) Be realistic, don’t forget to feed yourself. It’s ok to budget in a little fun (Halloween is coming up!)

EXAMPLE:

Pay Day 10/17:     $1200

Food ( 2 wks):         -$ 80

Gas (2 wks):             -$60

Metro (10 Days)   -$120

Total after necessities: $940

Credit Card:                    -$25

1/2 Phone Bill:               -$50

Loan Payment:            -$400

Car Payment:              -$240

Pay back Brother:       -$200

Gas Bill:                          -$40

Speeding Ticket:           -$40

Misc. Money: $125

So I have $125 left over for 2 weeks. In that, Halloween needs to be included. I already have my costume and need a wig, we will say that I’m willing to spend $20 on a wig. That leaves me with $105. $105 to eat out, drink (during Halloween week…), shop. When you only have 105, do you really need that $5 coffee? Or could you get a bag from the store for $5, wake up a bit earlier, and brew coffee for yourself for the 2 weeks between paydays? You can’t be as lazy, you have to plan meals you can make in advance, make grocery lists, keep in mind any dinner plans with friends and budget for them. Wouldn’t it suck to have to cancel, because you just HAD to go to Sonic for lunch and now you can’t afford a nice dinner catching up with friends? I recommend doing this budget sheet a only few days before you get paid, you’ll have an accurate depiction of what will be happining in your life on pay day. You can do it in advance too, but you may have to change it several times for it to be accurate, as unexpected things may pop up, and mistakes might be made, especially in the beginning.

I’ve been a seriously bad example of this thus far, doing whatever I want, overdrawing on purpose to afford my life, ignoring bills. It might feel better in the moment, but at the end of the day, I was a mess. Waking up in the middle of the night worrying about money, hitting the ignore button on my phone for bill collectors, that is no way to live.

The way we spend our money is a habit, we just have to change it into good habits. And maybe, someday, when you have less bills to worry about, and more of your income goes into that “Miscellaneous” category, you can afford more of the things you want.

Love,

Elizabeth

The Chronicles of Chaos

Before Closet Makeover

Before Closet Makeover

After Makeover

After Makeover

You will probably not find Narnia in my wardrobe, but up until a day or so ago, you would definitely find pure chaos.

As you can see, I am not a huge fan of hanging up clothes. This is partly because I also hate to do laundry, so when I finally do, (usually about once a month) it is the mother load of laundry, and I simply run out of steam with putting these things away.

I’m trying (with my new cleaning schedule, that I am so far only semi-sucessful at, but hey, baby steps, right?) to do my laundry more frequently to avoid this. I also figured that I should have a fresh start, so this blog project called for a bit of a closet make-over.

Using my handy dandy cleaning and orginization board on pintrest, (Follow me!) I chose a a couple methods of closet organization that I thought would best fit my purposes.

1. The 40 Hanger Closet from blog “Living Well Spending Less “- I will admit that it ended up being more like a 60 hanger closet. I attribute this to the fact that I am actually good at cleaning out my closet on the regular (once or twice a year) so I already liked the majority of my wardrobe. Even with being better than the average gal at giving up clothes, I was able to fill a garbage bag to donate. Namely, professional things I thought I should have, but never wore, (suit jacket with shoulder pads? Maybe it was all in my head, because the pads really weren’t that big, but it made me feel like a linebacker) and some really cute things I’d had since college, but screamed “college kid” rather than “young professional.” While I didn’t follow this blogger’s advice to a T, it definitely gave me the push I needed to get rid of some things I had been holding on to that could be better used by someone else. I also think I did achieve what the point of the blog was, which is to get rid of all of the “nos” and “maybes” in your closet. This leaves you with less clothes, but they are all “Yes” clothes, and now you can actually find them to wear them without having to dig!

2. How to Organize Your Closet from site Who What Wear – Very aptly named article, right to the point, I like it. The article itself follows suit, with only 3 steps on how to do this. How simple is that?

  1.  Get Rid of Your Old Clothes: Did that with my first article I used in this process! Check AND check!
  2. Call The Pros—Or Find Your Own Storage Solutions: As I may have hinted in my initial blog post, I am pretty tragically poor due to bad past financial decisions that I have continued to perpetuate out of habit and fear, so I decided to find my own storage solutions, and I did it for free! Thanks to Mom and Dad having too much stuff in their house, I was able to procure a shelf to put in my closet for extra shoe storage and I used a cute colored bin I alraedy had to organize belts and other outfit accessories. I emptied out some boxes that were on the top shelf of my closet. Boxes of things I thought I might need someday, but really was mostly a bunch of junk collecting dust. I got rid of a bunch of these things, consolidated some things that may actually come in handy (office materials etc.) and put them in a storage closet elsewhere in the house. I also put my larger suitcases in storage and kept smaller, overnight bags. Again, I’m poor, I don’t see myself going on any big vacations any time soon.
  3. Start Organizing: My closet is now organized by type of garment, and color. My shoes are now displayed on a shelf, rather than grouped into a hanging shoe storage thingy (that’s definitely the technical term). This whole process actually helped me pair down my shoe collection. The shoes that were actually still in the hangy thingy rather than scattered around my room and house? I don’t wear them. Into the donation bag they go!

The closet doors do make it a bit hard to see some of the changes I made, but I think even so, you can see that it looks a heck of a lot better than it did before. And I’m one step closer to making my room a place of peace rather than a place of stress and chaos.

More to come on the room project, but for now, I think focusing on and learning to maintain this success will do for a bit! In the mean time, I can get to tackling the really scary problem… my finances…. dun dun dunnnn!

<3, Elizabeth

How Did I Get Here? The Downfall of a Delusional Princess

The way I got into this financial predicament is a very simple one word answer: Me.  Not because my parents are “unfair”. Not because my job doesn’t pay enough (although I have had some jobs that pay appallingly bad considering I had a degree… $7.50 an hour?!). I did this. I have lived outside my means for my entire adult life and now I am paying for it.

My father was never vague about how things were going to go down after I graduated college. No sooner did I have the diploma in my hand that my dad gleefully dragged me to the AT&T store to get me taken off the family plan. Fine, fine, I get it, I’m on my own now…. but actually, I didn’t really get it.

Fast forward about a year and a half, I quit my first job and moved home with my parents in the Washington, DC area where it seemed like NO ONE wanted to hire me. I was working a bunch of odd jobs, at one point I think I had like 5, but this still wasn’t getting me to 40 hours a week most of the time. Bill collectors were calling constantly, I was waking up in panics. This was a very rude wake up call.

I did get finally get a job. So, clearly, I quickly paid off all of the debt I had accrued in the past year and a half and took advantage of not paying rent and put money away every month, so I could have a stable future.

Ha, just kidding.

I got mani pedis, waxes, went out to bars 3 nights a week, ate out pretty much every day, went shopping, to football games, on trips with friends. Yes! This was the life I dreamed of and deserved! And then I quit my job with no back up, AGAIN and moved out to California. Oh wow, rent sure does put a kink in fun! Did I stop my lifestyle? Nope. I’d earned it, right?

After another move back home at 26, I was finally ready to be serious, build a career and settle down a bit. I even got somewhat on top of my finances, I was at least paying everything, usually on time. I still had not saved one cent.

To bankroll my  “groovy” lifestyle, I had not only been skimping A LOT on savings,  I had definitely been neglectful of my car, my health, and other things that lots of young people tend to overlook in lieu of fun. This has landed me with hundreds if not thousands of dollars in needed car repairs, medical bills, debt owed from loans I took out to try to pay these bills, parking and traffic tickets gotten for my car not being up to code (I’ve gotten 10 so far at $75 a pop).

I am not sharing this because I want anyone to feel sorry for me. I am sharing this because there may be other people out there in similar situations and I want them to know they are not alone, and I am going to figure out how to get out of this, and maybe I can help them do it too, by example.

This is scary and hard, and actually, I have no idea what I’m doing, but that’s ok, because that is the point of this blog. Being someone who has no idea what they are doing and finding a way to better and educate themselves, because if there is one thing I have learned in all of this is no one is going to do it for you.

In the next 2 weeks, I’m going to gather up my bills, tickets, debt and face exactly where I am on this and look into my options. I plan on being really candid on this, but also staying as positive as possible, because debt, while it sucks, will not in itself kill you. So we have that going for us!

Stay strong!

<3, Elizabeth