Sarah's Real Life
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.

10. 28. 2015


October Budget Breakdown

Rain doesn’t usually bother me that much, but we’re having the gloomiest gloom that ever gloomed, and it’s really messing with me. I think I got spoiled with the perfect fall weather over the weekend. Plus, I still have some new stuff I bought this month (like those pink sunglasses and olive suede wedges) that I haven’t worn yet and the rain is ruining my very fashionable plans! Since I’m feeling like a Grumpy Gretel at the moment, I’m going to keep the chit chat short and just let you peruse the goodies I added to my wardrobe this month.

My Budget

       = $720

What I Spent

       = $753 (total retail value $1185)

I went over budget just $33, which I pinky swear I will make up next month. Unless, you know, I have too much wine and Kate Spade has a flash sale. (Actually, KS is having a major (up to 75% off) sale right now! Hide the Sauvignon Blanc…)

Finally, as always, I want to disclose the things you’ve seen me wear that I didn’t have to pay for. Sweet deal, I know. And all it takes is hundreds of hours of hard work and creativity.

What I Received

Linking up with Franish and the Budgeting Bloggers group.

09. 28. 2015


September Budget Breakdown

Who has two thumbs and is ready for fall? This girl. (I’m pointing at myself with my thumbs now. You get it.) Thanks to a better-than-average blog income, Labor Day sales, leftover birthday gift cards, and lots of strategy, I came away with a pretty amazing haul this month, and it wasn’t just crappy summer leftovers.

Almost as impressive is the fact that I could have spent more, and I didn’t. As you’re about to find out, I got a ton of stuff from Loft in September. The first order was during a flash sale, and I earned 3 $25 cash cards to use later in the month. Fast forward a week, and I went into a Loft store to try on some new arrivals, and I used a $20 rewards card and a $40 gift card to get a couple tops. I ended up spending forever in the store because there was some weird glitch with my gift card, so they sent me home with 4 more $25 cash cards to apologize! I made notes of what I wanted to get once it was time to redeem my cash cards (actual notes in my iPhone – I don’t mess around when it comes to shopping). When the time came, I was able to grab a few more things I really loved that added up to about $200, but took them home for half thanks to 4 of those coupons. I actually went back to Loft over the weekend to use my remaining 3 coupons, but I didn’t find anything that I HAD to have. I went to a couple other stores while I was at the mall this weekend (again, sales/coupons drew me in), but I came out empty-handed.

So that’s your lesson for this month: just because there’s a sale or you have a coupon doesn’t mean you have to use it. If you get a discount on something you wouldn’t have wanted to buy already, then you’re not saving money. Speaking of money, let’s look at what pretty stuff my money bought this month…

My Budget

       = $821 to go toward filling my dressing room (the must-see post from last week)

What I Spent (items pictured above, starting top left)

       = $718 ($103 under budget, and got $1400+ worth of fall-ready fashion!)

What I Received

Want to be inspired by other budgeting bloggers? Check out Franish.

08. 28. 2015

This is normally the time of the month where I share how far I managed to stretch my clothing budget for the month. I tell you how I added up what I could spend, show you all the stuff I got, and reveal exactly how much I spent on it. Well, here’s the thing: this month is special. #1 I had more blog income than normal (go me!). #2 I got birthday presents of clothes, gift cards, and cash with which to go shopping. #3 I’m going on vacation so soon and I still have to finish packing so I don’t have time to do my usual breakdown. #4 Since it was my birthday month I just bought whatever I wanted.

So instead of all my usual detailed accounting, I’m just going to share my favorite things I added to my closet one way or another this month. For the record, I was still under budget 🙂


August Favorites


Yellow Dress (on sale, multiple colors) // Burgundy Jacket (multiple colors) // Gray Watch (on sale) // Yellow Sunglasses // Polka Dot Pumps (on sale, multiple colors) // Teal Bag // Tassel Earrings (other colors) // Pink & Yellow Skirt (on sale) // Fringe Sandals

 I’m linking up with the Budgeting Bloggers at Franish as usual! Hopefully they don’t kick me out for half-assing it this month. I think they’ll forgive me.