Thursday, February 13, 2014

Countless Cardigans

I'm back with the contuning story of my wardrobe downsizing. I'm calling this one "countless cardigans" because it really feels like I have so many that they are not quantifiable! I had a great idea, which was to get out all of my cardigans and start pairing them with outfits. Anything that doesn't go with more than one outfit gets the boot. I started with this pile:
7 cardigans

I thought, wow, that's a lot of cardigans. But little did I know that I had more hiding! After a half hour, this appeared:
Now 8 cardigans

An hour later, another one:
9 cardigans!

Why so many? Why!?

One reason for the many cardigans might be that I don't do a good job of remembering what I have at home when I'm out shopping. Say I need a skirt. I find one I like, but I don't think about how it would pair with items I have in my closet. This results in me buying a top that goes with the particular skirt at the store - usually what is on the mannequin.

Seeing how many cardigans I have made me think about why I bought them, and how I can stop acquiring so many.

My hope is that by getting rid of some, I can better remember what I have and so when I'm out shopping, I can make sure to buy something that matches what I already have. Or better yet, not buy anything for a while! I think I'll go with option number two since I don't like shopping anyway!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Wardrobe Downsizing

Today's post takes us back to the eyesore of my apartment - the closet. I took a long hard look at it recently and decided that something needs to go. And the "things" that need to go are clothes. This post is the beginning in a series - I don't know how long yet - of me downsizing my wardrobe. Just take a look at all these clothes:

I'm sure for some people, this is just one side of their closet. But for me, the number of items is overwhelming and actually makes it harder for me to decide what to wear. I don't really know what matches and I go long stretches without wearing things because I actually forget they are there! I like looking good, but I'm also a reformed "jeans and t-shirt" girl. Meaning, I'll slide back to that state when given the chance!

Lately, I've come across some blogs on remixing clothes and creating a minimalist wardrobe. See blogs like Project 333 and Putting Me Together. I've read some really great advice from these and others, which has inspired the beginning of my wardrobe downsizing journey. And it begins by making sense of the crap hanging in the above photo!

In order to downsize, I need to understand what I have that works. I also need to understand my style. What do I like to wear? What pieces am I missing that would work as multi-functional items in my wardrobe? Conversely, what pieces do I own that don't fit (I'm talking both size AND style, here)? One way to answer these questions is to arrange my clothes by color. So I did just that.

After arranging everything, I counted the number of reds, then whites, then blues, etc…. This not only told me what colors I tend toward, but what colors I avoid. It also told me exactly how many items I have hanging in my closet. A whopping 106! HOLY COW. I never knew I owned that many clothes. And that isn't counting the stuff in my dresser - like undergarments, pajamas, and work-out clothes. This number shocked me and made me feel a great deal of shame, as well. I'm not a shopper, I swear! I don't consider myself a fashionista, nor do I spend a lot of time shopping or looking at clothes online. Clothes, to me, should be comfortable and functional. Expressing myself has always been tertiary to these other two requirements. But now, I'm wondering if I bought clothes without thinking of how they fit with my overall style. Another reason I have so many clothes is because my mother loves to shop and buys things for me. But I'm not going to blame her fully here - keeping these clothes is definitely my fault and mine alone!

Regardless of how I ended up with over 100 items of clothing, I'm now looking at how to get that number down. Here are the highlights of the color count:

Favorite color: Blue
No surprises here. Blue is my favorite color. It did surprise me that I have 26 pieces of blue clothing, though! Before I did this exercise I would have said I maybe have 10 items that are blue.

Least favorite color: Yellow
Not surprised about this one either. I don't think I look good in yellow.

Rounding out the top five are black, purple, green, and gray.
The results of this exercise tell me that I tend to stay with black and gray, with pops of blue, purple, and green. It did surprise me that red didn't appear more often. I do like the color red and think it looks good on me. However, when I do wear red, I am VERY aware of how much it makes me stand out. I think part of the reason I don't wear red often is because I don't like to be noticed for what I'm wearing, in general. This is the old "t-shirt and jeans girl" coming out of me, I guess!

Now that I understand my color preferences, I can look at my clothes in terms of style. One blog I read suggested picking out your top 10 favorite pieces. This exercise is to help you understand what kind of style you prefer. Modern? Classic? Vintage? Sporty? Here are my picks:

The thing is, this exercise didn't help me all that much! I don't know enough about fashion and style to say what model this fits into. I think it might be classic with a modern twist. Maybe? I could use your help here. This is my call to arms for the fashion gurus out there - what is this style and what pieces could I add that enhance it?

Also - I'm not into modeling, so I'm saying right here that you aren't going to see pictures of me IN these clothes on this blog! :)

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Best of the Blogosphere: 02/08/14 Edition

Every Saturday I feature a blog post in the following categories: Simple Living, Financial, DIY, Before & After, and Random. Here are this week's picks:

Best Simple Living: Why have I not thought of this?! A much better place for my guitar. Via Apartment Therapy.

Best Financial: Mr. Money Mustache always makes me laugh! In the latest article on why the middle class keeps giving itself the shaft, he says, "If you believe the middle class has it even remotely hard in this country, you need to print out a picture of me, make it punch you in the face for 30 minutes and then reconsider the issue."

Best DIY: Holy cow. Someone is making underwear out of t-shirts? Genius. Via The Non-Consumer Advocate.

Best Before & After: MacGIRLver does it again, making an old, dilapidated trunk into a thing of beauty. Why can't I be this good at stuff?

Best Random: For all the ladies (let's be real - everyone - because I doubt dudes read my blog), check out Putting Me Together. It is a fashion blog devoted to "remixing" your wardrobe. I'm using it to get inspiration on how to own less items, wear them more often, and still look good.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

How Much Did I Save By Paying Off My Debt Early?

$10,000 - That's how much!

Debt freedom feels as freeing as this photo!
How did this happen? By throwing as much money as possible towards the debt (utilizing the debt snowball method).

I calculated the $10,000 I saved by determining what I would have paid if I had just made the minimum payments starting in May 2012, when I began this pay-off journey. I took the starting loan balance, the interest rate, and the original minimum payment, then plugged those numbers into this handy online tool. Here are the results:

Undergraduate Loan: 
$18,010.57 @3.5% interest rate.
Minimum payment = $121.30
Total to pay off with interest added = $23,551.57 ($5,541 interest)
Projected date of payoff: October 2029
When I paid it off: December 2013
What I actually paid: $19,133.34
Total interest paid: 1,122.77
Money saved: $4,418.23

Graduate Loan #1
$9,950 @ 6.5% interest rate.
Minimum payment = $112.98
Total to pay off with interest added = $13,500 ($3,550 interest)
Projected date of payoff: July 2023
When I paid it off: September 2012

Graduate Loan #2
$13,136.28 @6.5% interest rate.
Minimum payment = $152.19
Total to pay off with interest added = $17,678.28 ($4,542 interest)
Projected date of payoff: April 2023
When I paid it off: March 2013

What I actually paid (both grad loans): $25,859.09
Total interest paid (both grad loans): $2,772.81
Money saved: $5,319.19

Not only did I save close to $10,000 - I saved 16 years. If this isn't proof that you should pay off your loans as quickly as possible, I don't know what is!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

What's in the Box?

Last week a mysteriously large box arrived at work for me. What could be in the box?

The three-8x10 picture frame I ordered! 

But come on, was that huge of a box necessary? It wasn't. And because I had to set this huge box on the ground while taking the bus home, I managed to get gum stuck on the bottom of the box. Yeah, I had to scrape someone else's gum off my apartment floor. Ewwww!

Gum and huge, wasteful box aside, I am excited to finally frame some pictures from last summer's European vacation! Here are the photos I'm planning to put in the frame:

More on this project at a later date!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Best of the Blogosphere: 2/1/14 Edition

Every Saturday I feature a blog post in the following categories: Simple Living, Financial, DIY, Before & After, and Random. Here are this week's picks:

Best Simple Living: Unclutterer blogged about ways to share your stuff. One option they list is using NeighborGoods, an online lending system. Sounds like something I might want to try!

Best Financial: With tax season upon us, here's a good article by madFIentist with tips on paying as little taxes as possible. Not by avoiding or cheating, but by being smart with your investments.

Best DIY: I'm so impressed by this dresser-turned-shelf from Casey at Waffling. I love it!

Best Before & After: From boring to great - this insanely cheap laundry room redo is fabulous! Via Apartment Therapy.

Best Random: I found a new blog to follow - Frugal to Freedom. This cute and creative couple has bought an entire building and is renovating it for both business and living purposes.