Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Frugal Clothing Finds and Christmas Shopping on a Budget!

It has been a little while since I've posted, but I wanted to give you an update on some things I've been up to lately...Shopping! I honestly don't like shopping. I know, I'm an abnormal female. But I just don't. I hate spending money, I hate trying on clothes...and on top of that, I'm really indecisive, so it's usually quite the chore.

But two things have caused my recent shopping sprees to be a necessity:

1 - After losing about 50 lbs over the past year and 3/4, I was in desperate need of some new clothes.
2 - I've set out to get all of my Christmas shopping done EARLY this year.

I've mentioned in previous posts about how I've lost weight by (mostly) running and (somewhat) eating more healthy. I started my weight loss journey in January of 2009. At my highest, I weighed between 175-180 lbs...and I'm 5'3 3/4", so needless to say, I didn't carry it well. Since then, I have lost about 50 lbs, so I'm down to around 125 lbs now. Which is awesome. I still have some areas that could definitely use some work, but overall, I am happy with my results. I feel much more confident about how I look, and most importantly, I FEEL so much better.

That's the good news! The bad news is...losing all that weight can definitely take its toll on one's pocketbook. For about the first year, I had to buy new jeans nearly every 1-2 months. Now that I've finally started to stay at a consistent weight, that's gotten much better. However, I never really went shopping for new tops. I guess I put this off because I am usually perfectly content wearing T-shirts, and I have plenty of those from all the 5K races I've done! haha...but seriously...I needed some nice casual clothes. Something I could kind of dress up with and look nice.

As many of you know, I am super OCD about our budget. Over the past 6 months, I have been even more crazy with the budget than normal, because I am determined to get us out of debt. From April to May, we paid off all credit cards, and after that, every spare dime I could find went towards Walter's truck. While we still have some student loans that we are working on paying off, now that we are finally done paying off the truck and the Kirby (probably the most impulsive purchase I've ever made...and though I would now never recommend going into debt to buy one, that dang vacuum is worth every. stinkin'. penny.), I feel like I finally have some wiggle room to splurge a little bit and actually buy myself some clothes that fit.

I have gotten a pretty good amount of stuff, and every single bit of it I have bought either on clearance or with a coupon. I refuse to pay full price for clothes for myself. Especially when I know I can find some good deals with very little effort. Here are a few of my finds:

Old Navy Active Wear
So I know what you're thinking...this isn't exactly cute casual clothes that I can dress up...haha. But I got such a good deal on this stuff, I couldn't pass it up. Plus, between my Boot Camp class I'm doing right now and the half marathon I am should be training for, I was in the market for some good workout pants. I love their fleeces because a) they are comfy, b) they are perfect for the fall weather when it's a bit too cool for t-shirts, but too warm for full jackets, and c) they are also perfect in winter, because I can layer them and wear them UNDER my coats when it is super frigid outside (I don't do cold...). Old Navy had their yoga pants, compression pants and performance fleeces on sale, AND I had a 25% off coupon that I found on their website and printed off. Here's what I paid:
Performance fleeces: originally $19.94, on sale for $15 each  + 25% off = $11.25 each!
Yoga pants: originally $19.94, on sale for $10 + 25% off = $7.50 each! (seriously...can't beat that!)
Compression crop leggings: originally $26.94, on sale for $15 + 25% off = $11.26! 

This next little lot is not for me, but I had to share :) For those of you who don't know, I am going to have a new niece in March! Walter's little sister, Alex, is pregnant with a baby girl, and I am so excited to be an aunt again :) I have decided to start picking up a few things along the way when I find stuff on sale to give her for her baby shower early next year...so I picked up a few steals while I was at Old Navy with my 25% off coupon:
Old Navy Baby Finds!
 Striped pants: originally $8.94, on sale for $2.99 + 25% off = $2.24
Ruffle polka dot shorts: originally $6.50, on sale for $2.47 + 25% off = $1.85
White skirt: originally $6.50, on sale for $1.47 + 25% off = $1.10
Striped shirt: originally $7.94, on sale for $1.97 + 25% off = $1.48
Jelly sandals: originally $8.50, on sale for $0.97 + 25% off = $0.73...yep, you read that right! 73 cents!
I also bought a couple of other items for my roommate's baby girl, but I can't post those on here because they are Christmas presents ;) ...but I can tell you this much - I did the math, and I ended up getting almost $63 worth of baby clothes for about 12 bucks! I have already decided that when I finally decide to have a child, I will shop like this for their clothes as much as possible! They just grow too fast!

Maurice's Clearance Rack Finds!
 I absolutely LOVE Maurice's! Their clothes fit me really well and I like the style. Every time I go in there, I head straight back to the clearance rack to see what kind of goodies I can find. I love that they put stuff on sale, and then they have different clearance racks where you can take an additional percentage off the sale price. I also had an old coupon that I received in the mail or something a while back for 15% off my total purchase. Here is what I found last week on clearance:

Flowery spaghetti strap dress: originally $29.99, on sale for $24.99, on the 75% off clearance rack + 15% off = $5.31
Gray tee: originally $16.00, on sale for $12.99, on the 50% off rack + 15% off = $5.52
Marble looking cocoon shirt: originally $29, on sale for $24.99, 50% off rack + 15% off = $10.62
White 3/4 sleeve overshirt: originally $29, on sale for $24.99, 50% off rack + 15% off = $10.62
White shirt with purple swirlies: originally $24, on sale for $21.99, 50% off rack + 15% off = $9.34
White shirt that fades to blue: originally $22, on sale for $19.99, 50% off rack + 15% off = $8.49
Blue and brown tanks: originally $14 each, on sale BOGO 50% off + 15% off = $11.90 for the first and $5.95 for the second
Black wedge sandals: Regularly $34, on sale for $9.99 + 15% off = $8.49! haha I was excited about those :)
I also bought the brown belt in the picture below...it wasn't on sale, but I really liked it...haha. It was $15, so with my 15% off coupon, it was $12.75 :)

Today @ Maurice's BOGO Sale
Maurice's periodically has a promotion where they do buy one get one 50% off...typically they do this for a particular group of items, such as tops, jeans, sweaters, casual, dressy, etc. But currently they are doing BOGO 50% on everything, which I love :) I also found a 25% off coupon I printed online that could be used on any non-sale items, and used my military discount to get another 10% off my entire purchase. Here were the totals for these three items: 

Sweater dress: originally $44, + 25% off and 10% off = $29.70
Hooded sweater: originally $34, 50% off + 10% off = $15.30
Red cardigan: originally $29, 50% off + 10% off = $13.05
I also bought one other item at full price, minus the 25% and 10% of course, to get the cardigan at 50% off, but it is something I am going to give as a Christmas gift, so it doesn't get to go on the blog :) 

As I was on my way out of the mall from Maurice's, I decided to make a quick stop at American Eagle to browse their clearance rack, and I found this shirt:
American Eagle Clearance Rack
 This was regularly $15.50, but on sale for $11.99, then on the 40% off clearance rack, so I ended up paying $7.19 :) I really love that color!

It has taken me a long time to accept the whole boots inside the jeans style. I still can't do the Ugg boots or fake ones that look like it....I think they are hideous (no offense if you like them...just not my thing!). But I found these cute little boots that I could pass off as cowboy boots just in time for the Reba concert, so I had to get them! And I have been wanting a pair of skinny jeans for a while that I can wear with boots and heels and stuff like that, so there you go:

Boots - Charlotte Russe; Skinny jeans - Wet Seal
 The boots were regularly $40, but on sale for $19.99 - AND Charlotte Russe has their boots on sale right now at BOGO $15. So my sister and I joined forces, and I bought a brown pair and she bought a black pair, and we split the cost of the two, so they ended up being $17.75 each before taxes. The jeans I got on sale at Wet Seal - regularly $26.50, on sale for $19.50 :)

Next up - Halloween sales at Target! 

I have no idea why this picture won't rotate the correct direction...my apologies.
I love raiding the after holiday sales at the store to see what I can find for dirt cheap! I normally am against dogs wearing clothes, but last year on Halloween, I decided to dress up my Pit Bulls in Halloween costumes. Koda was a football that I found on sale for $6 at PetSmart and Aspen was a hippo in a tutu that I found for like $9 at TJ Maxx! But this year, when I looked at Halloween costumes for them, everything was more expensive than I was willing to spend on something that my DOGS would wear only ONCE (although I'm not gonna lie, Koda has totally worn the football again a time or two...I just love it :) So when I went to Target this year the day after Halloween, they had all their costumes marked down 50% off - so I stocked up for next year :) Koda is going to be a cow ($6.50 on clearance!) and Aspen is going to be a witch ($3 on clearance!)...I will probably make her a home-made tutu to go with it :) I also got a little My First Halloween onesie for baby Emma for $2.49 (regularly $4.99) - don't worry, I planned ahead and got the 9 months size :)

I went back to Target today to pick up a Christmas gift for my soldier, and they had all their Halloween stuff marked down to 90% off! So I really couldn't resist...I also picked up a ghost and pumpkin T-shirt for Koda and Aspen...regularly $6.99, so they were only 69 cents each! haha!

Now onto the Christmas goods! I think budgeting is very importantly all the time, but I think it is especially important to create a Christmas budget. I also think planning ahead and shopping early can make a HUGE difference. If you know exactly what you are going to get someone, you can shop around and try to find the best deal. I have tried to compare prices online for a lot of my gifts, as well as checking for sale items. Even if I don't have a specific gift in mind, I have decided on a set amount that I am willing to spend on each person on my Christmas list, and I am determined to stick to it. That way I know exactly how much I am going to need, can plan ahead for it, and not worry about overspending to buy things for people. I have already gotten a lot of shopping done, and I have found some really good deals :)

Obviously I cannot post all of the Christmas gifts I've found, because I can't risk people finding out what their gifts are early, but I'm going to hope my sister keeps her kiddos away from my blog, because I just really wanted to post these! 

TJ Maxx Toys!
My adorable niece, Brooklynn, asked for some FurReal Friends this year. TJ Maxx just happened to have some great ones! I found this little lion cub that you can pet and he lays down, sits up, purrs, and you can feed him his bottle and he gets the hiccups. haha. Perfect for a 4-soon-to-be-5-year-old! I think she will love it. I found that little guy for only $19.99. I can't seem to find him at Target or Wal-Mart, so I don't know the exact price to compare...but I do know this - they sell FurReal Friends Newborns that are similar to him, only about half the size for $15-17, and I have seen the big FurReal friends - like the dogs you can walk on a leash - for around $46 on SALE...so I feel like 20 bucks for this was probably a pretty good deal! I also got her a Furry Frenzies Playset, and I am certain that I got a STEAL on it! Again, I can't find this exact one in other stores, but I found others that were similar, just a little smaller, for around $25. This one was at TJ Maxx for $14.99, but it was on sale for $10! She will love it! See the little bunny rabbit in the lower right-hand corner? I actually looked at Wal-Mart tonight to see how much some of the other little animals like that are - they were 10 bucks - just for the animal! Without the playset! I was pretty proud of that find :) 

My nephew, Jaxon, is 8 years old. He has recently decided he wants to be a scientist when he grows up, just like his Aunt Lauren ;) So I found this little at-home science kit at TJ Maxx for $12.99 and picked it up for him. He can do fun things like make fake ice cubes and create green goo! haha. I had looked for kids science kits online prior to finding this, and all of them were really expensive. I did manage to later find one exactly like this for around the same price online, but I like this one better because I didn't have to pay for shipping :) I hope he likes it! I also got him an Xbox Live points card - he asked for that specifically. I am cheap, so I could only afford the smallest amount, which was 1600 points - they normally sell for $19.99 at Target and Wal-Mart, but I found one on walmart.com for $18.96 with free Site to Store shipping! I know it's only a dollar off, but hey, I'll take whatever I can get :)

I also found some great stocking stuffers at TJ Maxx for the puppies! I got Koda a rope and Aspen a tennis ball dumbbell rope thing - each for $3.99 - which I felt like was a good deal, because my little terrors destroy the cheap crappy ropes in record time, so I normally have to spend at least $6-8 when I buy them a new tug-of-war rope (their favorite!) that will usually last them 2-3 weeks...haha. These were good quality, and for 4 bucks, really can't beat it! We'll see how long those last after Santa comes for a visit! haha

Aside from sale prices and clearance racks, I have also found sites like eBay and Amazon very beneficial this Christmas season. I would specifically recommend these for things like video games, CDs (you can sometimes find some cheaper than on iTunes!), and movies. Hopefully some of my gift recipients don't give a crap that their gift is not still wrapped in the plastic...haha. The way I see it, if you can get something that's been very gently used for so much cheaper, why not?! If I can find something for cheaper, it means my money can stretch further and I can get more gifts for the amount of money I have in my Christmas budget. Sounds like a win-win :) 

Do you have any frugal shopping tips or and ideas for planning for Christmas spending?

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