Sarah's Real Life
08. 28. 2016


Budgeting Bloggers: August


Row 1: Skirt // Top (c/o Shopbop) // Earrings // Bag (c/o Shopbop)

Row 2: Bracelet // Booties (on sale) // Necklace (under $20) // Pumps (on sale)

Row 3: Maxi Dress // Duster // Pants // LBD

Row 4: Scarf // Slides (on sale, c/o Shopbop) // Dress // Sweater (on sale)

August tends to be a good month for my closet because it’s my birthday month! I always get birthday money and gift cards and coupons, so I get to do lots of shopping without spending too much of my “real” money.

August’s Budget: $606

($150 starting budget – $69 overspent in July + $300 birthday moolah + $225 blog income minus taxes)

August’s Spending: $533

Let’s talk b’day goodies first, shall we? Kristin helped me pick out a fun and colorful skirt at J. Crew (she also got me an adorable “PARIS” t-shirt, but my size is on backorder so I’ll get a surprise in the mail in a few weeks).  My grandparents-in-law got me a DSW gift card, which I used to buy what I call my “scandalous Victorian booties.” My in-laws gave me a Target gift card, which I used on new skinny jeans and a gray duster cardigan. My parents, being the thoughtful and generous people that they are, gave me my very favorite gift – a check – and I spent it on two dresses from Loft and jewelry from Kendra Scott (the earrings above, plus a ring I designed myself). I made my birthday moolah go the extra mile by using my birthday coupon from Loft and shopping during a sale. Oh, and Kendra Scott gives a birthday month discount, PLUS I got a free gift with purchase because the new KS store just happened to open on my birthday. Basically, it was an epic birthday shopping trip.

I also saved up a couple months’ worth of Shopbop credits (they’re a sponsor, FYI) and got an off-the-shoulder top, leather slides, a bee-yoo-tiful suede fringe bag, and a plaid button-up (not pictured).

A responsible person would have been satisfied with all her gifts and not spent her own money on more stuff she doesn’t need, but I can’t be responsible all the time. That would be boring, and who needs to retire, anyway? There were so many good end-of-summer sales going on, so I ordered another pair of culottes from Madewell, along with a t-shirt and cotton sweater (both still on sale). My final purchase of the month was during the last Ann Taylor sale, when I got a silk neck scarf (I really think I can pull it off), suede pumps, and a blush shirtdress.

I’m actually pretty proud of myself, because a lot of what I got is going to transition really well to fall (go ahead and judge me for my style blogger cliche – I can take it). AND not only did I make up for last month’s overspending, but I stayed under budget for this month!

Be sure to visit the other budgeting bloggers who link up with Franish! Those ladies keep me in check.






07. 31. 2016

Alternate title: “Whoops. I like shopping.”


Budgeting Bloggers: July

Row 1: Dress // Hat // Shirt (on sale) // Watch (on sale)

Row 2: similar Bag // Vest // Black Top // Gingham Top

Row 3: Top // Sunglasses (on sale) // Sandals (on sale) // Belt (on sale)

Row 4: Top // Earrings // Skirt // Dress (on sale)

July’s Budget: $770

($150 starting budget + $11 unspent last month + $535 blog income minus taxes + $74 selling old clothes)

July’s Spending: $839

I started doing these budget posts to hold myself accountable for my clothing-related spending and for the most part it has worked really well. This was the first month in a long time that I had one of those moments right after hitting “Submit Order” that I had a sinking feeling of guilt. Sure enough, I checked my handy budget spreadsheet and realized I had gone over…like way over. I immediately started thinking of what I could do to fix it. I started going through my closet for things to sell to my favorite second-hand shop (which I did, and made $74). And I swore I would return something once my latest orders came in. I always say I’m not going to keep everything from a big order (sometimes I’m just trying to get the free shipping), but then I love everything and keep it anyway. This time, luckily, two things I ordered came with weird stains on them, and another pair of shoes that were shipped separately mysteriously never got delivered and J. Crew reimbursed me. I don’t believe in karma or fate or any of that crap, but this was…well…convenient. So in the end, I was only $69 over my budget, which is manageable. Good thing, too, because I was thisclose to swearing off shopping for August. 😉

So what led me to spend all of the monies in July? SALES. It’s the end of the summer for retailers and I lost all willpower when faced with those steep discounts. That polka dot drop waist dress was 40% off and had my name written all over it. I picked up a new pair of jean shorts (not pictured) at the same time, and that’s actually something I’d been wanting to find this summer. J. Crew’s summer clearance (which is still going on) was a winner too – I already loved my striped linen shirt in blue, so I got it in pink, plus I got that cute pink gingham top and a striped summer scarf (not pictured). Ann Taylor’s extra X% off sale got me good (no shock there), and so did Madewell’s, which is when I snagged those sunglasses and that thick brown belt (another thing that’s been on my wishlist for a while). And don’t even get me started on the Nordstrom sale. You should all pat me on the back for only taking home one Ted Baker watch and one pair of Kendra Scott earrings.

The end-of-season sales are still going on, and soon we’ll all be tempted with pretty new fall things. Have fun, but…I say this from experience…be careful out there!

Be sure to check out Franish on Monday to see how all the other Budgeting Bloggers did this month. I’m sure it will be very embarrassing for me.





06. 30. 2016


Budgeting Bloggers: June

Row 1: Hat // Skirt // Bag // Dress

Row 2: Skirt // Bag // Dress // Shoes

Row 3: Flats // Shirt // Sandals // Jacket

Row 4: Tee // Wedges // Dress // Bag

June’s Budget: $797

($150 starting budget + $171 unspent last month + $396 blogging income + $80 selling old clothes)

June’s Spending: $786

Remember how in last month’s budget post I said I went for quality over quantity? Well I sorta forgot about a few things I bought at Target. Whoops (insert blushing face emoji here)! But don’t worry, I’m not cheating — I included that $52 spend in this month’s budget (I got the brown/gold flats and the striped tee you see above).

This month, well, let’s be honest. I bought a lot of stuff. Only time will tell which pieces are with me for years and which I wear 3 times and then sell to a consignment shop, but I have a couple predictions: the lilac bag, while gorgeous, doesn’t have the pocket arrangement I like, so it probably won’t get a ton of use. But the medium wash jean jacket I have already worn multiple times, so I have high hopes for that one.

Honestly, I’m not all that concerned with whether each and every thing I bought this month is timeless. Everything serves a purpose (at least temporarily), even if that purpose is just to have a little fun with my clothes this summer. Plus, I got some amazing deals, so it’s all good! I got 5 items (including the jean jacket) for just over $100 during one of Loft’s epic extra million % off sales. I used my DSW $10 reward on those striped wedges. I got several things from J. Crew (like the orange dress, Panama hat, and striped shirt), all on various amounts of sale. I also earned a $20 Nordstrom Note and used it to save even more on a couple things during their recent big sale. There are actually a few things missing from the collage, so I got even more for my money than you see here!

I’m going to go ahead and pat myself on the back and call this month a shopping job well done. See how the rest of the Budgeting Bloggers did by checking out the linkup on Franish!




05. 27. 2016


Budgeting Bloggers: May


Row 1: Jacket (on sale) // Wedges // Top (on sale)

Row 2: Necklace (on sale) //  Dress // Skirt

Row 3: Dress (on sale) // Earrings // Skirt (on sale)

I didn’t realize until I put together this collage that I bought a lot of pink this month. I also went for quality over quantity. It’s been a long week, so let’s get straight to the details…

May’s Budget: $824

($150 starting budget + $80 unspent last month + $594 blogging income)

As promised last month, I am factoring in taxes and subtracting that from my blog income before going wild!

May’s Spending: $653

I apparently went for quality over quantity this month. Not really my intention, but it’s what happened so I’m going to pretend it was all part of my genius plan. I sale-stalked this gingham blazer and finally took the plunge. It was still more than I would normally spend on something like this (over $100) but I just love it and the petite cut fits me so well. It came in the mail while I was out of town (along with the gingham skirt…preppiest package ever), so I haven’t gotten to wear it yet. You will see it soon though, I’m sure!

I’m also pretty excited about this lace periwinkle dress because I don’t have anything else this color. It’s also really fun to say “periwinkle.” I wore the dress at the conference I went to this past week, but I didn’t get to take pictures. I’ll be sure to rewear it soon so I can show it off on the blog.

There are a couple things I bought that aren’t pictured above because they’re not available online – like a pair of tortoiseshell framed aviators (seen here) from SEE Eyewear, and a druzy necklace I bought from a local artist at a little pop-up vintage marketplace.

Check out the rest of the Budgeting Bloggers over at Franish!

04. 28. 2016


April Budget Breakdown

Row 1: Polka Dot Dress (on sale) // Blouse (on sale) // Skirt (on sale) // Striped Dress (on sale)

Row 2: Scarf // Pumps // Ring (c/o Shopbop) // Hat

Row 3: Loafers (c/o Shopbop) // Navy Flats (on sale) // Pink Dress // Nude Flats // Wallet (on sale) // Chambray Dress (on sale)

Wow. I really outdid myself this month. But with all the pretty spring things in stores (and better yet, on sale), how could I resist? Well, I suppose I could resist if I wanted to. But I didn’t want to. Reason #387 being childless is the best: more disposable income.

Speaking of income, I found out the hard way this year that I should really be setting aside a portion of my blogging bucks each month to account for taxes. Turns out once you’re no longer a student, Uncle Sam doesn’t refund everything anymore. So starting this month, I’m only counting 75% of my blogging income toward my shopping budget. #adulting #responsibilityislame

April’s Budget: $1020

($150 starting budget – $52 overspent last month + $837 blogging income + $85 selling old clothes)

If you’re new here, this is way more than usual, don’t worry! A lot of opportunities happened to align this month so I had a windfall. I like to think I put it to good use. :)

April’s Spending: $960

With a budget this big, it would have been embarrassing if I went over, wouldn’t it?

As you can see, I got some amazing dresses and skirts in pretty colors and patterns. Most of them are from Ann Taylor, who had some killer sales this month. When global warming rears its ugly head this summer, I’m going to be glad I have these. Speaking of summer, I’m kind of obsessed with my Popsicle-print scarf and straw rancher hat! Will I wear them a lot? No, probably not, but I didn’t spend very much on them either.

The most practical thing I bought this month was probably the mini wallet. I’ve been getting smaller bags recently, so I need a smaller wallet to go in them! I’ve been using a $6 one from Target for months and let’s just say you get what you pay for. I have a feeling this one will last a lot longer.

There are a few things I purchased that aren’t pictured above, including a Kate Spade bag I snagged at Nordstrom Rack (but I can’t find it for sale anywhere online). I also got a couple more versatile and less eye-catching items from Loft like a cream short-sleeve cardigan and a pair of cropped trouser jeans.

Head to Franish to see how the rest of the Budgeting Bloggers made out this month!

03. 31. 2016



Budgeting Bloggers: March


Row 1: Trench // Sweater // Blazer // Jeans

Row 2: Flats // Hat // Blazer // Earrings (c/o Shopbop)

Row 3: Turtleneck (on sale) // Necklace (c/o Uncommon Goods) // Ring (c/o Uncommon Goods) // Skirt (on sale)

Row 4: Bag // Sneakers (c/o Shopbop) // Sweatshirt (on sale)

March’s Budget: $457

($150 starting budget – $4 overspent last month + $303 blogging income + $8 selling old clothes)

March’s Spending: $509

OK, so I went a bit over again this month, but I’m not too worried. I do have a few things on my wishlist for April, plus we’re taking a little trip to Nashville this weekend, but besides that I’m hoping to keep myself too busy to over-shop.

This month, I got some great classic pieces like a trench coat and white Converse sneakers. (I think these are things I was “supposed” to have already, but whatever. Better late than never.) I also found that Loft’s petite blazers are fitting me like a glove right now, so I got a black one and white one that are sure to get plenty of use.

To keep things interesting, I also bought some more unique pieces like the 3D embellished sweatshirt and bright red-orange bag (which I’m already obsessed with – it’s very Kate Spade-esque, but I got it for $60). And thanks to Uncommon Goods, I got to snag some gorgeous handmade pieces (see them in action here)!

All in all, I think I made some great choices this month. I’m just not the type of person to make only well thought-out purchases of things that I know I’ll love for years. My goal is to make mostly those types of purchases, but with plenty of fun things mixed in.

Head over to Franish to see how the other Budgeting Bloggers made out in March!

02. 29. 2016


February Budget Breakdown

Row 1:  Dress // Flats // Sweater

Row 2:  Pumps // Rings // Boots (on sale)

Row 3:  Shirt // Dress (on sale) // Pants (on sale)

Row 4:  Dress (on sale) // Mary Janes (on sale) // Shirt

Row 5:  Flats (c/o Rockport) // Clutch

February’s Budget: $706

($150 starting budget + $46 not spent last month + $510 blog income)

February’s Spending: $710

Only $4 over. In the grand scheme of life, I’m going to call this right on target. 😉

This month was a tale of two shoppers. One shopper is an impulse buyer, and one is a careful planner. But both are me. I’m just every kind of shopper.

I got sucked in to the latest Target designer collab, but I’m happy with what I picked out – I’ve already worn this super lightweight cotton sweater twice (seen on the blog here), and I carried this colorblock clutch for a second time just yesterday. The gold Gemma flats from J. Crew were another impulse buy, but I already have the same ones in red so I knew I would love them.

On the other hand, I had been eyeing this gorgeous red-orange lace dress for several weeks and waited for it to go on sale because it was on the pricier side originally. I wore it this month it to brighten up a cold, snowy day (here), but I also think it will look great with a white button-up underneath for early spring, and then on its own in the summer. I also sale-stalked these suede Mary Jane platforms for awhile and snatched them up as soon as the price dropped below $100. Whenever I can’t get something out of my head, it’s usually a good sign to me that it’s worth buying. Not that I really need that many signs, but still.

I just ordered the red floral dress (top left) and the floral/striped tee a few days ago and they haven’t arrived yet. But I have high hopes because I love everything else I’ve ever gotten from Boden.

The only items I paid full price for this month were from Target, and those were all under $25. I definitely did a good job of tracking sales and using my coupon codes wisely! I already have a few things on my wishlist for March (like this perfect trench coat), and I’m just waiting for the right moment to pounce. Stay tuned, and in the meantime, be sure to check out the other Budgeting Bloggers who link up with Franish!

01. 28. 2016
January Budget Breakdown

Row 1: Coat (on sale) // Jacket (on sale) // Shirt (on sale)

Row 2: Pumps (on sale) // Bag (on sale) // Flats (on sale)

Row 3: Shirt (on sale) // Scarf (on sale) // Sweater

Row 4: Pants // Sweater // Shirt (on sale)

Row 5: Ring // Sweater // Hat // Shoes (on sale) {all purchased with gift card c/o Shopbop}

Happy New Year! Can you believe this is my third “Budget Bloggers: January” post?! I’ve been structuring these posts the same way for 2 years now, and I’m going to try something new this year. Feedback is welcome. I’m going to put the links at the top so you shopaholics can do your thing and ignore everything I have to say if you want. Just know that I plan to say lots of interesting things. Like, I’m going to try to talk more about why I decided to buy what I bought and spend what I spent. So here goes.

January’s Budget: $634

($100 starting budget + $181 not spent last month + $97 selling old clothes + $256 blog income)

This month I decided to cut down my normal starting budget by $50. And look, I still came out ahead. Yay me.

January’s Spending: $588

The only thing I paid full price for was a pair of sunglasses from SEE (not pictured above because they’re not sold online, but you can see them on me here.) They were $106, so they were actually my biggest single purchase of the month. I didn’t mind spending a nice chunk of money on them because I love the people at my local SEE store, and their frames are made in limited quantities, which means I know I’m buying something that I won’t see a million other people wearing. Now if only January weren’t so cloudy…

As usual, I spent most of my budget on lots of goodies from Ann Taylor and Loft (I especially love the bedazzled kitten heels and faux fur scarf). Sure, there were some quasi-impulse buys, but thanks to my sales stalking and coupon hoarding, I got great deals on everything! The coated jeans don’t look quite as coated as I thought they would, but they’re still black pants, and you can never have too many pairs of black pants.

Yes, you counted right; I got three button-up shirts this month. I noticed I had been gravitating toward the button-up shirt and sweater or jacket combo lately, so I decided to stock up on more options. They were all on super sale at J. Crew Factory.

Obviously, I have to comment on the leopard coat. I’ve been wanting a coat like this since last winter, and I want it to be fabulous but not tacky or cheap looking. I ordered this one last week and it still hasn’t come in the mail yet. Keep your fingers crossed for me! I’ll report back next month.

I also saved up my credits from Shopbop (a sponsor of this bloggity blog) and got a couple fun things, like these Kate Spade leopard sneakers! Admittedly, this is not a purchase I would have made with my own money (they’re not cheap and I don’t wear sneakers often), but I totally and completely love them.

Linking up with Franish’s Budgeting Bloggers

12. 28. 2015


December Budget Breakdown

Row 1: Pumps (on sale) // Tee (on sale) // Turtleneck // Flats // Shirt

Row 2: Sequin Dress (rented) // Black Dress (on sale) // Pants (on sale) // Blue Dress (on sale) // Scarf (on sale) // Clutch

Row 3: Boots // Sweater (under $15!) // Skirt (on sale) // Earrings // Jeans (on sale)

Row 4: Dress // Bag (on sale) // Hat // Pumps (on sale)

It’s the end of December 2015, which means this is my 24th Budgeting Bloggers post. After 2 straight years of confessing my shopping habits every month, my outlook on these posts has changed – not necessarily for the better or the worse, just changed.

For one thing, my average monthly budget has increased since I started doing these these posts in January 2014. If you’ve been following for a while, you know that my shopping budget fluctuates depending on the income I get from this little online endeavor of mine. As I’ve found the best ways for me to monetize this blog, I’ve gotten a steadier stream of shopping fuel. Ironically (but in a good way), the day I post my budget each month is usually the day I make the most in commission because you’re all clicking my links to see what I bought!

When I check out some of my fellow Budgeting Bloggers each month, I’ve noticed that I spend more (sometimes a lot more) than most of the other ladies who bare their souls receipts online each month. No one has ever given me a hard time for my spending habits, but I have to wonder whether there’s anyone out in Internet land who’s thinking to themselves that I’m either (a) showing off how much money I have or (b) living outside my means. I’m not losing sleep over people who may or may not be judging me, but I am a little worried that I could be setting the wrong example for someone like a younger version of myself. So because it’s the end of the year, I want to take this opportunity to give a little insight and set the record straight on how I feel about budgeting, shopping, and participating in the Budgeting Bloggers linkup.

The most important thing I’ve come to realize is that you should never compare your spending to someone else’s, even if that person is your same age, has the same job, or the same number of kids. That means not only should you not adjust your budget to align with another person’s, but you also shouldn’t judge another person’s budget because it doesn’t align with yours. There are so many factors besides income that influence what is appropriate to spend on clothes. It may seem to most people like I spend an exorbitant amount of money on my wardrobe, but consider this: I live in a modest house, I drive an 8-year-old Nissan Sentra that is paid off, I have no kids, I take my lunch and snacks to work every day, I use coupons at the grocery store, and I don’t have any other expensive habits or take glamorous vacations. On top of that, I put in several hours of work a week to keep this blog running, which helps turn shopping into a self-sustaining hobby. I still put money in a retirement account, I pay all my bills, and I have excellent credit. I’m even getting close to paying off the credit cards I ran up back when I was not as smart about budgeting!

The only person who knows what your shopping budget (or your housing or food or car or any other budget) should be is you. It might be easier to Google “what percentage of my income should I spend on clothes,” but Google doesn’t know what your priorities are. If it’s your goal in life to have 4 kids and drive them to pre-school in a Lexus, then by all means, live your dreams. But unless you’re filthy rich, please do not let me peer pressure you into spending $800 a month on clothes!

The moral of the story is: Do what’s right for you, and don’t presume to know what’s right for others. I wish I could go back and say this to my 22-year-old self, but at least I can say it to the world wide web in the hopes of reaching another 22-year-old who thinks she can buy whatever she wants because she’s an adult with a college degree. I plan on continuing my monthly budget posts in 2016 because, even though my budget has increased, it will never be infinite, and these posts keep me in check and accountable.

OK, I’ve already gone on long enough, so I won’t go into my usual detail on my budget. After 2 years, I hope you can trust me when I say that I came in $120 under budget this month. (Yay me!) Most of what I bought/received this month is in the collage above. I had a great haul this month thanks to (1) a higher-than-usual blog income, and (2) Christmas gifts and gift cards.

As a reminder, I am linking up once again with the always enlightening Fran and her Budgeting Bloggers. Thanks for keeping me (brutally) honest, ladies!

11. 30. 2015


November Budget Breakdown

November was a month of neutrals for me, but neutrals like leopard print and brown leather. My kind of neutrals. I’m really happy with almost everything I bought this month, with the exception of the navy pleated skirt. It doesn’t quite fit right in the waist, so I can only wear it with a long sweater covering up the top. It was final sale, so I just have to make it work! Other than that, I got some real winners in November, and several of these purchases I’ve already worn more than once. To make it even better, I got a lot of good deals thanks to my excellent coupon, sale, and gift card strategery.

My Budget

       = $618

What I Spent

       =$475 (saved $867 off original prices)

If you’re loving any of these items, now is a good time to do some shopping – it’s Cyber Monday! Loft, Ann Taylor, and J. Crew Factory are all offering 50% off everything, and free shipping. Madewell is offering 25% off everything. Nordstrom is offering an extra 25% off certain items. You don’t have to tell me whether you’re shopping for other people or for yourself. 😉

What I Received

Per usual, I’m linking up with the other budgeting bloggers over at Franish.