Thriftstyle Saving: Not spending money isn't always easy...but it can be fun!

Its my most favorite time of year: FALL!

And its also my least favorite time of year: FALL!

Most favorite for the crisp weather, the apples, the squash, the festivals with hot apple cider, the soups(!), the events, the wine, the cuddling under warm blankets with tea watching movies, the EVERYTHING I LOVE!

Least favorite because I love fall fashion. But I'm also trying not to spend a ton of money (or shop for clothing anywhere other than thrift stores).

Saving money instead of spending it is hard.

Especially when there are things you really, really, really want to spend money on. Again, its not at all difficult for me to not spend money on sweet treats or lunches out or coffee in the morning or fancy workout gear or expensive home decor or the latest, fastest car. But I can see how some people really, really, really want to spend money on those things.

For me, its difficult not to spend money going out to dinner or drinks with friends. And its difficult not to spend money on looking put together and stylish. Its hard to read all the latest guides on how to transition to fall and not want to immediately open a new tab with my favorite clothing sites.  Its hard to check out outfits over at Refinery 29 and then look down and see that every single one of the pieces in each outfit costs over $50. Its hard to see some great outfits on my favorite fashion blogs and then quickly realize I'm just not going to find those exact same pieces at a thrift store. Saving money instead of immediately spending it on awesome sweaters and tights is hard, people.

But I'm not going to give in that easily. I'm stronger than that. And so are you.

Its time to find pride and happiness in the long-term rather than in the short-term. Anytime I see a $50 or above price tag on a piece of clothing I find online, I think about how much better that $50 will look in my savings account than that item of expensive clothing will look on me. When I turn down lunch with my friends (or suggest instead that we do something free with the added bonus of some exercise and time outside like taking a trip to the library or walking around the park) I know I'll feel a lot better when I get to have more than an hour with them at dinner later on. When I spend $40 on several items at the thrift store instead of $40 on one single item I know I'm making my money stretch farther and work harder and, for a much longer period of time, I'll feel more pride and happiness about that.

And, in addition to finding long-term happiness over short-term happiness, I'm making saving money instead of spending it a fun game. I am turning the quickly approaching fall season into a challenge. A challenge to "make it work" as our good friend Tim Gunn would say. I am making my bank accounts work. I am making my current wardrobe work. And I am making my thrift store finds work. And I'm not putting a cent towards brand new clothing.

Here's what I am doing (and I imagine I'm not the only one trying to beat the Fall wardrobe blues):

  • Making lists, lists, lists. I can't talk enough about the power of lists. They help you solidify everything you need so you're not just buying random pieces that don't work together. I'm taking stock of what I already own and listing out the pieces I need to find to complement them. So I have a fully functional wardrobe and I make each new piece I buy work (instead of just sitting around in my closet).
  • Hitting the fashion blogs so I know how to style. One of my biggest issues is knowing how to put things together. This is partially the result of growing up around a lot of boys in a not-so-fashionable neighborhood and partially the result of growing up with a mother who was all about matchy-matchy, coordinating outfits and not so much about mixing everything together. So I am hitting the fashion blogs hard and saving pictures of the outfits I love. Its a great way to find inspiration for new outfits, combining things in ways I never would have thought of, learning what important accessories I can buy so I don't necessarily need a whole new wardrobe. You just can't get too attached to the look of specific pieces (because more likely than not you won't find those specific pieces, especially at a thrift store) and you need to get creative. The other day I found this great outfit over at J's Everyday Fashion

and was making a list that included mustard skirt, bright peach blazer, blue striped blouse...when I realized that I had all of those same pieces, just in different colors. I have a beige pencil skirt, a similar blue striped blouse and a green blazer. And a similar brown belt. Now I have a new outfit I can wear and repeat! So looking at fashion blogs not only has helped me learn about what to add to my list but its also helped me find ways to use what I already have by...

  • my closet. There is a ton of stuff I still have yet to wear in my closet. And endless combinations, once you know what you're doing (by hitting the fashion blogs, as outlined above). I'm making a game out of using what I already have to build awesome new outfits. So far I have made a different, completely new and never before worn outfit everyday last week (and they all got mega compliments!). I don't know that I'm brave or fashion-savvy enough yet to do something like the "30 for 30" challenge as outlined on the Kendi Everyday fashion blog (basically you don't shop for 30 days and instead choose 30 items -- shoes and accessories included -- and remixed them into 30 outfits), but I think after one more trip to the thrift stores this weekend (don't forget about the Village Discount Outlet half-price sale this coming weekend!) and a couple more weeks of Fashion Blog University I might be ready to do the 30 for 30 challenge for November. I'll keep you posted! Its a great way to both be creative and have fun without spending a cent!
  • Finding other way to update my look. Whether its trying a new hairstyle, making a new accessory, or experimenting with makeup (which I don't tend to do since I worry about messing with my skin too much) there are tons of new ways to update your look without spending on new clothing. For instance I've been trying a lot of new top-knots. And I found a skeleton key stuck in a window pane in my new bedroom that I made into my new favorite necklace by putting it on the chain of another necklace I was no longer wearing. Be creative. I can't stress this enough!
  • Making  cheaper shopping into a social event. This combines my two favorite things: not spending a ton on clothes while also spending an enjoyable afternoon with family or friends. My roommate and I are going to try to hit some garage sales. I'm trying to hit the thrift store sales with my mom and sister. As long as it isn't stressful to shop with other people, it helps to know there are other people being thrifty right along side you!

And even if fall fashion isn't your vice, there are tons of ways to make whatever it is into a challenging game. If you love spending on coffee, make a game out of making your own coffee at home or finding ways to cut back on costs at your favorite shop (for instance some will charge less if you use your own reusable mug). If you love cars, make a game out of fixing up your current car or finding the best cars to rent through zip car. If you love video games or movies, make a game out of swapping with your friends or renting from the library. If you love home decor, check out some awesome DIY projects that cost way less and look the same as more expensive store-bought pieces. If you love lunches out, make a game out of finding the cheapest lunch available with your friends (and hit up some food trucks!).So don't give up when saving instead of spending gets difficult. Get creative. Get a challenge. Get fun.

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