Life In Balance

Project #1: Bathroom Organisation

There are various elements of my life that I feel like I need to work on, and when it comes to setting goals for myself nothing works better than putting things into a ‘project’ format. I’ve decided to start a series of posts which will be about me tackling these various elements of my life one project at a time. I would love it if people jumped on board with these weekly posts, feel free to work alongside me on the projects that I post about, or start your own! Also, as I’ve mentioned previously, I am in the initial stages of building a house so eventually these projects will be setting-up-a-new-home focused.

I decided that my first project be about something that some of you can probably related to; the desire to reduce the amount of beauty products that I own, and the need to put some bathroom organisational systems into place. I own a ridiculous amount of beauty products and I’m close to being someone that could be featured on an episode of Hoarders. The thing is though,, I hate clutter and I really dislike owning an excess of things. Life for me is far more peaceful when it’s uncluttered and structured, and yet I’ve managed to get myself to this point:

Yep, I should probably do something about that.

Now, in the name of being honest I have to admit that around 75% of the products that I own were sent to me for consideration for review. Regardless of how I came to own this gargantuan amount of beauty products, it’s my problem now and I am determined to make the most of it. Ideally I would like to have a small amount of products that I know and love, and that I can replace when necessary. In order to do that I am going to have to take an honest look at what I own, and figure out a way to whittle my collection down to a reasonable amount.

I already have my Project 100 Pan in place, but I am considering extending that indefinitely until I work through my whole collection. This would probably take years. Other steps I am planning on taking are: cleaning out bathroom cupboards / taking stock and keeping written reference of what I own / donating any product that I know I simply will not use / putting systems into place regarding storage of products and product rotation. If you have any tips and tricks for me on keeping track of products, or bathroom organisation I’d love to hear them. Also, if you’re planning on joining in any of these projects please let me know so I can make sure I’m following your blog!

Project #2: Budgeting

Project #1 is coming along nicely, and I will be updating you on my progress in a future post. In the meantime I have moved on to Project #2: Budgeting. I’ve mentioned my budget a lot over the past few months, as it’s been a big focus in my life. I’ve had a loose financial plan in place over the past 6 months or so, but as I’m drawing nearer to having a new house and being locked into my own mortgage it’s time for me to really knuckle down with what I spend my money on.

This is how I started my budgeting process –

01: It’s a good idea to start by writing down every single thing that you spend your money on for a month or so. This may seem like a bit of a chore but it really comes in handy further down the track when you’re trying to determine what you need to set money aside for and where money is slipping through the cracks. I did this for a few months and realised that I was spending way too much money on buying my lunch every day at work. So I now bring my lunch from home and treat myself to lunch in the city once a week or so.

02: List your priorities. Whether you get paid weekly, fortnightly or monthly it’s important to know what your financial responsibilities will be within this period. It is essential that you take care of these responsibilities before spending money on anything frivolous. These priorities will generally be rent, bills, transport, food, insurance, framed and autographed Darren Criss headshots etc. etc.

03: Clear your debt and start saving. If you have no debt to begin with, congratulations – you are a rare breed. If you do have some financial debt (credit cards, car loans etc), figure out how much money you want to set aside each pay period to start clearing the amount you owe. If you want to save money on top of this, I would suggest opening up a specific savings account to put your savings into so that you’re not tempted to spend it. If you’re starting your savings from scratch try to figure out what that money will be used for. Do you want to save up money for a trip, or a deposit for your own home, or a new car, or a designer handbag? Figure out how much money you will need and how much you can afford to put aside per pay to reach this goal by a set date. It’s also a great idea to set money aside for a rainy day, and again I would suggest putting this into an account that isn’t easily accessible so you’re not tempted to spend it.

04: Take a look at what’s left. We’ve put aside money for financial responsibilities, paying off debt, building savings, building a substantial Darren Criss shrine, and now there (hopefully) should be some money left over to play with. Now it’s time to figure out what is a reasonable amount to spend on ‘stuff’. I am lucky enough to have come around in my way of thinking when it comes to owning a crapload of STUFF. I have too much STUFF and I now think twice before buying anything new. Not everyone is like this though, so it’s a good idea to set some boundaries with spending money on clothing, entertainment and beauty products.

I no longer set myself a dollar amount budget for STUFF, but instead have a list of essentials that I need/want and a set number of things that I will allow myself to buy each year. I have what some people call a personal uniform (as in I really only wear the same kind of outfits all the time, just with different items mixed in) so I tend to buy the same kinds of clothes all the time. This turned out to be a bit of a blessing because instead of having countless options as to what kind of clothes I want to buy each year, I know that I will be buying 1-2 new pairs of dark denim jeans, 2 new pairs of black ballet flats, 5 new blouses, 1 new black fitted blazer etc. (note: I will be doing a separate project on organising a wardrobe and shopping for a personal uniform so I won’t go into it too much here). I am the same with beauty products, I know what I like I know what I need and I know what I want so I am able to budget for it. If you aren’t like this I would suggest setting yourself a dollar budget per week-fortnight-month-whatever works for you for spending on STUFF and go from there.

05: I really think the most important thing to do when setting yourself a budget is to figure out what you want and what your ultimate goal is. My goal was to build a new house, so I set aside a lot of my money for savings. This is my number one financial priority. I have reduced the amount of money I spend on myself and I have changed my lifestyle quite a bit (read: I have embraced the herbit life and I watch a shitload of television).

I will be writing some follow up posts for this project, so please let me know if there is anything particular you would like me to include. I would also love to hear your thoughts on budgeting, and if you have any tips or tricks for reducing the amount of money you spend!

Project #: Budgeting (update)

Spreadsheets! As it turns out, spreadsheets are one of the easiest ways to maintain a budget. Who knew? Most people. Anyway, I sat down and drafted myself up a nice little budget only to discover that my end of year dollar total ended up being in the negatives. I promptly passed the task on to my dad, who not only brought me back into a positive dollar amount but turned my sad little spreadsheet into an easy-to-use thing of beauty.

Some general thoughts on my budget for this year –

* I refuse to cut my morning coffee out of my budget, which equates to $1300 a year. I may have to rethink this decision.

* I’ve given myself an allowance of $25 a fortnight for beauty products. This will most likely be saved and spent on necessary replacements (foundation, skin care, etc) when needed.

* My general ‘entertainment’ budget is a LOT lower than the amount I’m spending at the moment so it’ll be quite an adjustment for me. I’ll have to see how I go. Any fun and free entertainment ideas are more than welcome!

I’m feeling a lot better about my budget in general now that I have this structure behind it. Props to my dad for taking the time to help me make the spreadsheet and because it’s been so useful to me I figured I might as well share it. If you’d like me to email you a blank copy of my annual budget spreadsheet just drop me a line and let me know!

Project #3: Wardrobe

This post involves a combination of two projects; budgeting and wardrobe organization but I’ll be filing it under Project #3 for wardrobe because I think it makes more sense. I’ve mentioned in the past that I have something of a personal uniform because I seem to buy and wear the same items of clothing all the time. In order to make sure I’m sticking to my budget, and not buying things that I won’t even bother wearing I (of course) made a list of all of the items that I’m ‘allowed’ to buy for my wardrobe over the next 12 months or so. And they are…

2x Black Pencil Skirts
1x Black Pants
1x Black Cropped Pants
2x Dark Denim Skinny Leg Jeans
4x Blouses
2x Black Tee
2x Black Tank/Singlet
4x Cardigans
2x Black, Grey or Navy Sweaters
1x Black Blazer
1x Black Fitted Coat (to replace H&M trench)
1x Maxi Dress
2x Casual Dresses
2x Black or Jewel Toned ‘Evening’ Dresses
1x Country Road Opaque Tights
1x Scarf
1x Sunglasses
(as required) Country Road Black Leather Ballet Flats
1x Flat Sandals
1x Ballet Flats
1x Round Toe Wedges
1x Peep Toe Wedges
1x Skinny Leather Belt
1x Oversized Handbag
1x Clutch Bag
1x Cross Body Bags
2x Necklaces
2x Earrings
1x Rings
1x Bracelets

I’m in love with this style of pencil skirt from GAP, so I decided to take advantage of their 30% off sale (note: this sale will only be available to you if you parcel forward your order as GAP discount codes are never valid if you opt for international shipping, but the price of shipping ends up being about the same or cheaper so it’s not too bad). I ordered two of the skirts as well as two plain black tank tops. There is nothing else that I desperately need in my wardrobe at the moment, except perhaps for a lightweight black cardigan for the office so I won’t be rushing to cross anything else off of this list anytime soon.

Project #3: Wardrobe (update)

I didn’t intend to be moving on with this project so soon, but after watching the Christmas episode of New Girl I became obsessed with the idea of wearing a sparkly belt to holiday events (like Jess). I finally found one at J Crew and ordered it in both gold and silver. Apparently a few people had the same idea as me, because both colours are now sold out. I wore the gold version on Christmas Eve and I plan on wearing the silver on New Years Eve.

J Crew Glitter Round-Buckle Skinny Belt Forever 21 Classic Skinnies

Forever 21 Essential Purl Knit Sweater Forever 21 Ponte Knit Jacket

I also stumbled across the Forever 21 Ponte Knit Jacket in hunter green and it was too cute to resist, so I took the opportunity to also order my favourite jeans and a navy sweater to make up for the shipping cost. Of course I won’t be wearing the jacket or sweater any time soon, but it’ll be nice to have a few new things to wear as the seasons change in March. As it stands, my wardrobe shopping tally for 2013 now looks like this –

2x Black Pencil Skirts
1x Black Pants
1x Black Cropped Pants
1x Dark Denim Skinny Leg Jeans (1 pair purchased)
4x Blouses
2x Black Tee
2x Black Tank/Singlet
4x Cardigans
1x Black, Grey or Navy Sweaters (1 sweater purchased)
1x Blazer
1x Black Fitted Coat (to replace H&M trench)
1x Maxi Dress
2x Casual Dresses
2x Black or Jewel Toned ‘Evening’ Dresses
1x Country Road Opaque Tights
1x Scarf
1x Sunglasses
(as required) Country Road Black Leather Ballet Flats
1x Flat Sandals
1x Ballet Flats
1x Round Toe Wedges
1x Peep Toe Wedges
1x Skinny Leather Belt
1x Oversized Handbag
1x Clutch Bag
1x Cross Body Bags
2x Necklaces
2x Earrings
1x Rings
1x Bracelets

I don’t have plans to buy anything else in the next month or so, but we’ll have to wait and see if anything catches my eye in the end of year sales…

Project #3: Wardrobe (update)

I thought I would share with you some of the items on my to-buy list at the moment. Feel free to buy me and any all of these items –

J Crew Wool-Silk Map Scarf Rag & Bone Kinsey Boots

Marc by Marc Jacobs Classic Q Fran Bag Glitzy Thingz Silver Pave Disc Necklace

Project #4: Health & Fitness

Winter is coming. This means my motivation to exercise and eat well will diminish greatly. To combat this, Kimberley, Jade, Maya and I have set ourselves a challenge. We’re calling it the gold star challenge because there are gold stars involved and it sounded fun. This challenge is open to anyone who wants to participate, so go right ahead and join in the action if you feel inclined to do so.

What you will need –

> A monthly calendar (mine is a free printable page from The Organised Housewife)

> Gold star stickers (or anything to mark your progress on the calendar with, gold stars are just a fun option)

> A list of daily, weekly, fortnightly or monthly fitness goals

It’s as simple as writing your goals and then placing a gold star (or marking the calendar as you wish) to symbolize that you’ve achieved your goal for that particular day. You can also join in on the action on twitter, just use the hashtag #GSC to join the conversation and keep us posted on your progress! Be sure to let me know if you’re going to participate so I can follow you and see how you’re doing. Best of luck!

Project #3: Wardrobe (update)

Buckle up and prepare yourself for a lesson in reasonably extravagant spending. Having been on a strict budget for nearly a year now, I am not accustomed to spending a large amount of money on “things” anymore. I’m happy to drop a few thousand dollars on flooring for the house I’m building, but anything beyond that has become a foreign concept to me. Which is great. Anyway, that all blew out the window in a cloud of hundred dollar bills last week when I decided to buy a new bag. Granted, this was a thought-out decision as I carry a black handbag day in day out and the one I’m currently using was a cheap purchase, has holes in the lining and is getting a bit weary. I’ve had my eye on this bag for a while (as evidenced in this post) so I decided it was time to go ahead and get it. Then, inexplicably, all sense of common sense and reason left the building for a few days.

OKAY! On top of my new bag (I ordered it in black, which now appears to be sold out), I also ordered a new wallet because the Rebecca Minkoff one I’ve been using for a couple of years now has started to annoy me with how few card slots it has (four!). Yes, I know how unreasonable that is. Anyhoo, I then had the sudden urge to own a Rebecca Minkoff Mini Mac bag, so I moseyed on over to Saks and discovered that they were on sale (25% off!), so now I’m practically making money. I ordered one in charcoal grey (now sold out), because for some reason the black bag only comes with yellow gold fittings. Gross. When buying a new clutch one must consider what she’s going to store her cards and cash in within this new bag, right? I didn’t feel like my Mini Mac deserved the old school treatment of me whacking a bobby pin on my stuff to keep it all together, so I decided that this was necessary. Alright, stay with me here because this is where things start to get a bit blurry. While browsing through the bag section I stumbled across this compact little beauty. Did you know that the more things you buy from Saks the cheaper shipping costs to Australia are? Go figure. I ended up saving around $150 on this order, so I was quite happy about that. I can also justify the additional black clutch due to the fact the black clutch I’ve been using has GOLD hardware. Of course. Oh, and then I bought some boots.

I only own one pair of knee length boots so I was in the market for some ankle boots for the season. I recently came to the conclusion that ankle boots need to have some sort of detail going on at the front, otherwise they look like they should be worn underneath something. These Rag & Bone babies fit the bill perfectly. I can easily wear them with both dresses and jeans, they’re great quality and the heel isn’t too high or too flimsy. (side note: They are also currently 25% off in the Saks friends & family sale. Run, don’t walk.) Aside from that I ordered a few new things from ASOS, including a new pair of sunglasses because I put my broken wayfarers in a safe while I waited for the chance to take them in and get them fixed and now I can’t find them. Ok, I’m done.

I realize that this is a lot of stuff, but I am happy that I didn’t buy anything that I was 50/50 on whether or not I would actually wear or use. Now I’m going to spend a couple of months building my ‘spending money’ back up above the minimum total that I like to have in my account at all times. This little spree was fun while it lasted, and I’m really looking forward to my new goodies arriving soon! The spendthrift life is no longer for me.
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One Comment to “Life In Balance”

  1. Good luck… it’s very hard to clear out this sort of thing, as the products are most likely all great.. We have had our bathroom ripped out, so it can be ‘re-done’, oh…. the things I found in cupboards!!!

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