Friday, September 30, 2011

Fiscal Fridays

No one responded to my call for budgeting questions :( I suppose I'll just take that as a compliment. As in, I provided such great info through the rest of this month that there are no questions left to be asked, haha. Of course, I know that's not true, but we all tell ourselves little fibs to make ourselves feel better, right?

Unfortunately, I haven't had time this week to come up with another post topic for today. Like I said earlier, it's been a crazy week (or month, haha) for me...and I feel like October may not slow down much! But I love being's in my nature. If I weren't a whirling dervish 24/7, I'd be bored and restless. Such is life. So, until Monday, folks. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Product Review: eShakti dress

You guys, I am very, very excited to announce my first-ever product review! I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical when eShakti contacted me about reviewing their store and clothes. I had never heard of them before. But after checking out the store and hearing a little more about their policies, I was actually pretty shocked that I hadn't!

First, this store is perfect for picky people and those who usually have trouble finding clothes to fit them. I fit both of these categories. They specialize in custom-measured and -designed clothes. This means that if you love an item, but want to change the neckline, length, arm style (tank strap or cap sleeve, for example)...YOU CAN! I think that's just about the coolest thing ever. You can also order from regular sizes (they offer 0-26W) or send them your exact measurements for a custom-sized piece.

They guarantee that items ship within three business days and deliver within 7-10 business days. My order took 10 days to ship, but that may have been because it was a blogger sample. Maybe it required extra paperwork? The plus side, I got the dress just two days after I received shipment confirmation, for a total wait time of 12 days. So maybe the shipment confirmation (which, in my case, came from their marketing rep instead of an automated system) came late? Either way, I received my package within the promised 13 day max.

Can I just say again how cool it is that you can change aspects of the style and send your own measurements? I love that. I've never seen that anywhere else before. Okay. Now, on to the dress itself.

(Strange coloring in the second photo is so you can see how I had to tie it.)

I absolutely love it. The fabric is soft, and comfortable. It fits like a glove, of course. The skirt part is lined on the underside, which is a nice touch, and bonus: It has pockets! Love that. My only real qualm is that the loopy strap thing that wraps around your arms and waist is a couple inches too long. Damn my scrawny arms and small chest. For these photos, I just kind of tied it off in the back...but I'm going to my grandma's on Sunday to make some curtains, and I think I'll ask her to help me cut-and-resew this strap so it's the right length. (Although, after seeing these photos, the tied-off look isn't too bad either.)

eShakti's selection is absolutely to die for, by the way. They have the cutest tops, classy dresses and skirts, and even some pants and cardigans. You better believe I'll be ordering a custom-measured pair of pants. Finally, pants that fit in the waist AND the hip AND the inseam! I'm pretty excited.

The price points can be a bit prohibitive if you're on a Financial Diet like me, but it's really comparable to anything like Ruche, Shabby Apple, Modcloth, Spotted Moth, etc. And the overstock section (which can't be custom-measured or altered) is 40% off. Sidenote: This dress is currently not on the site, as they're waiting for more fabric to come in. But I'm told it will be restocked soon, so keep checking back if you're looking for this!

Overall, I highly recommend this site to anyone. Great quality, great value, and great style! Thanks, eShakti, for letting me do a review!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Perfect (Anti-Blogging) Storm

It seems like lately the universe is conspiring to make blogging particularly difficult for me to accomplish. For one, it's been quite rainy these past few days/weeks, meaning indoor photos or no photos at all. For the record: I hate taking indoor photos. The lighting is just never good enough.

Take, for example, this outfit. I wasn't going to blog it, but I liked the look so much that I decided to just bite the bullet and shoot inside (no word yet on how winter will affect me...either I'll have frostbite or I'll just get used to crappy inside shots).

Then there's the general craziness that is my life. Our company was just bought out by another media outlet in town (if you follow me on Twitter you probably already know this), which means big changes for my coworkers and me in the coming weeks/months. I'm considering taking another freelance job so I can quit waitressing. It's not as lucrative as the hiring manager swore it would be ($30 on a Friday night? No thank you) and it's really adding more stress to my life than it's worth.

On top of all this? I'm coming down with something. I've had a sore throat since Monday and I have been ex. haust. ed. Honestly, just dragging my butt out of bed in the morning is a miracle, let alone getting dressed. Suffice to say that few of my outfits have been blog-worthy lately. Slacks and a T? That's my not-feeling-so-awesome attire.

shirt: don't remember
button-down: New York & Company
slacks: thrifted?
pumps: definitely thrifted
watch: Walmart

I did manage to pull out this gem of an outfit, however. I really like it, even though the purple shirt is a bit too tight to layer over a bulky button-down. Still, it looks nice, and that's the important part, right?

I promise, I'll start dressing better again, despite it all, and I'll try to start cooking some more so there are delicious recipes for me to share. And tonight, I'm going to try to hit up Joann Fabrics with my grandma, so there may be a how-to-make-your-own-curtains tutorial coming up at some point. Oh, and stay tuned for a product/shop review. I have a gorg dress hanging in my closet that I can't wait to share!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Rain, rain, go away...(have I used that post title yet?)

Ugh, is it me, or is Mother Nature just against us 9-5-ers? I feel like it rained all of last week, was nice over the weekend, and returned to a forecast of rain all this week. Oh, well. At least the weekend was nice, right?

I wore this two Fridays ago, but I wish I were wearing it today. Something about wearing jeans to work just makes my day so much more pleasant! But, I suppose my outfit for today—a midi skirt and flats—is a bit more appropriate for rain. No soggy hems here!

polo: Target
white long sleeve, belt and necklace: don't remember
jeans: Silver via Macy's
shoes: Target or Payless

Sorry for not knowing where half this outfit came from. My wardrobe needs some serious updating. The Financial Diet has been kind of restrictive in that department ($20 a week doesn't allow for much clothes shopping). Fortunately, I've recently bumped myself up to $30 a week. That helps a lot. As does the discovery of Volunteers of America, which I mentioned in this post. Their huge, store-wide half-off sale is tomorrow! I plan to take $10 or $15 and walk out with at least 10 new, awesome items.

Speaking of the FD, I am officially halfway to my goal of saving up $1,000! Tips haven't been quite what I was told to expect at the waitressing job. (They said people tend to make $200 on a game day. I usually just barely clear $100...and non-game shifts average around $30-$50. Ick.) But I just sold some stuff on Craigslist and made a cool $300 from that. I'm saving half of that, used a bit of it to fund a belated housewarming party slash birthday party for Matt and I and our friend who lives upstairs, and am using the rest to work on some home décor projects on my list. So there will be some fun posts on that coming up as well :)

By the way. Don't forget to email your budgeting questions, comments or whatever to verbal.melange{at}gmail{dot}com for this week's Fiscal Fridays post!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fiscal Fridays: Budgeting, part 4

So when I started this budgeting theme for September's Fiscal Fridays posts, I didn't realize there were five Fridays in the month. And I really already covered all the main topics I wanted to touch on. Oops.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

So I decided to do something a little different this week. Instead of me blah-blah-blah-ing about budgeting stuff, I'm turning things over to you for the rest of the month. Today through next Wednesday or Thursday, I'll be taking your questions and comments on budgeting. Curious about something I covered earlier? Wondering about a topic I didn't discuss at all? Have your own tips or ideas that you'd like to share? Email them all to me at verbal{dot}melange{at}gmail{dot}com. Next Friday, I'll answer questions, share tips and generally make the post into more of an open forum.

So what are you waiting for? Drop me a line :)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

RIP Verne

I buried my dwarf hamster, Verne, last night. It seems kind of silly that I'm sad about it...she was two and a half years old, which is ancient for a dwarf hamster. She was clearly not doing well, and I knew it. Part of me is glad that it's over, because she was probably in at least a bit of pain. But it's sad all the same. She was a sweet hamster—never bit anyone, not even once. Which, if you've ever had or dealt with a hamster, you'll know is kind of miraculous.

And I just went through two and a half years' of photos, because I swore I had some of her when she was a baby and I wanted to post it, and I can't find a single one. Not one damn picture of this pet I've had for nearly three years. All the photos from the year I got Verne are just of me getting drunk with a bunch of people who I mostly don't even like anymore. I guess that's what happens when you're twenty...your priorities are just different. And not in a good way. Still, I'm a bit disappointed in junior-year me. I couldn't take just one shot of that little furball? It's embarrassing.

Sorry to be a Debbie Downer today. I don't feel like posting anything falsely upbeat, and I figured I might as well be up front about why.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


I love the women-wearing-men's-clothes trend. When I saw Elaine's recent post on wearing your guy's clothes, and the recent VMA/Emmy attire of Lady Gaga and Jane Lynch, I knew I had to give it a try!

Unfortunately, I am woefully shy about going out on a fashion limb, at least when it comes to what I wear to work. Wearing Matt's shirt seemed just a bit too casual, particularly because it was so big on me, so I went with all-me pieces that gave a little more masculine/feminine mix. So really, I suppose this outfit isn't "mannish" at all...I just like the way the word sounds as a post title.

button up: New York & Company
tank: Walmart or Target?
belt: thrifted
skinnies: The Limited
shoes: Payless

See that headband? It was actually once a ribbon that came with a pair of flats. It looped through the back of the shoe and tied around my ankle. The shoes fell apart (of course) but the ribbons were still nice, so I washed them and kept them around. Glad I did, they're the perfect length for a double-wrapped headband :)

Do you watch Glee? Did you see the season premiere last night? I won't go into a Gleek rehash, but I have to say I was a little let down. I watched it with the girls who live upstairs, and one of them put it really well: It seemed like a mid-season episode, not the blowout season starters we've come to expect. We watched New Girl with Zooey Deschanel (love her!) after that. It was good. I can't wait to see the show/characters evolve.

Now that the fall season is underway, what shows (haha, I just accidentally typed "shoes"--ever the style blogger) are on your must-watch list?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The fickle photo gods

Oh, they exist. And they don't like me. At least, not when I'm wearing this shirt. Remember last time? Yeah. The sun and my camera just team up every time I wear this shirt. It's a conspiracy, I tell you.

Oh well. It's a good reason to re-wear or re-style this top...which is fortunate, because I freaking love it. Not sure if I like it just for it's sheer awesomeness, or because I bought it for only $8. Probably both.

shirt: Forever 21
tank: Old Navy
skirt: H&M, thrifted
shoes: Target
necklace: Short North Gallery Hop street vendor

Just now, I couldn't remember where I got these shoes. So I scrolled through my archives for a while and finally found them...apparently, I haven't worn these in ages. Or at least, I haven't blogged them in ages. (I don't blog every outfit I wear. They can't all be winners.) But what I was going to say, before I got distracted, was that I love looking through my archives! I've put together some outfits that I really love. And that I probably wouldn't have worn if I hadn't started blogging, since blogging forces me to be creative and come up with new ideas most days.

I mean, I do repeat outfits sometimes, but not nearly as often as I did before April. (Confession: I had about 10-15 outfits that I just sort of cycled through. Yikes.) And it's funny, because I worried when I started Verbal Mélange that I wouldn't be able to come up with new outfit ideas. I thought I'd fizzle out. And here I am, 5 months later, still going strong. With my attention span, that's REALLY saying something!

So, anyway...oh look, something shiny!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Groovy, man

This is my lame attempt at the 70s thing. I'm not normally one to follow trends—I prefer to just wear what I like—but I was bored the other week and thought I'd give it a shot. Plus, it was probably the last chance I'd get to wear these wedges (temps went from 90s to 60s overnight!) and they really complement the 70s feel, so I think this was a good outfit overall.

polo: Target
jeans: random sale at OU
shoes: Old Navy
necklace: Tiffany & Co

When I say I got these jeans at a "random sale at OU," it's only because I have no idea what to call the sale. It wasn't a sample sale, per se, and it wasn't exactly a consignment or thrift situation either. What happened was, one of the on campus groups (rugby team maybe?) somehow acquired all these name brand clothes. Victoria's Secret, American Eagle, Aeropostale, a bunch of random jeans brands, etc. And then they sold them to students for way less than the retail price. It's sounds shady, but I'm guessing they were overstock items or they were somehow not quite up to standards for retail sale.

Either way, it results in a great place to find some nice basics. Like wide-leg flares. Three years before they really came back into style. I like to think I was just ahead of the trend when I bought them, but like I said, I usually just buy/wear what I like. Whether it's in style or not.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Where I am today

Make sure you stop by Tales of Samantha Something today to check out my guest post! Or you can just click here -> (click)

Have a wonderful weekend!

Fiscal Fridays: Budgeting, part 3

I'll be's post is less of a "how-to" and more of a persuasive argument. I'm talking, of course, about saving money. I can't really tell you how to save more, because frankly, I struggle with that myself. Hell, I had to get a job waitressing so I could have extra money to put into savings. And maybe that's what you need to do, too. Or maybe you need to stop going out to eat, or start shopping exclusively at thrift stores (another thing I've decided to do, but that's a post for another day). Whatever your method, the end result should be the same: to save more for your emergency fund.

(image via Wikimedia Commons)

So how much should you be saving? Well that, my friends, is the million-dollar question. Conventional wisdom says that you should have enough money in a savings account to cover three months' worth of bills, should you get laid off, become hospitalized or encounter a similarly horrible situation. And that's a great goal to set. But you won't get that much money saved up overnight. In fact, depending on your situation, it could take years to save that much extra dough.

This is where your short-term emergency fund comes in. Ideally, you should be setting money aside into two separate savings funds: your long-term emergency "three-months'-bills fund, and your short-term emergency my-car-just-broke-down fund. The amount your short-term fund should have will, again, vary with your situation. But if you're unmarried with no kids, I suggest having around $1,000 to $3,000 in that fund at all times. I myself am shooting for $2,000 or so.

This short-term fund is exclusively for those random little annoying things that pop up and completely destroy your budget: a car repair, an unexpected doctor or vet bill, etc. This fund is NOT for "oh my God my favorite store is having a 1/2 off everything sale let's go shopping yeahhhhh!" Nor is this fund for things like vacation, weddings, or other events that you plan ahead for. You should have a third savings fund for those kind of things, since you can plan them out ahead of time. Don't have the extra money to set aside for that vacation? Guess you're staying home this year.

To summarize, you should have at least two (if not more) savings funds: one with enough money to cover three months' bills for catastrophic emergencies, one with a grand or two for minor emergencies, and any other smaller funds to cover planned expenses like a vacation (or, if you want, a major shopping spree). I suggest keeping the major emergency money and the minor emergency money in two separate savings accounts (plus, you sometimes get a cash bonus when you open a savings account, so there's a bonus). The vacation-wedding-shopping-spree-new-computer fund money could stay in your minor emergency savings account, or you could even keep it in your sock drawer.

I know what you're thinking. "Emma, I'm 25 years old, I make crap money at my job. I'll never be able to do this." Believe me when I say that I know how you feel. That's why I'm waitressing. I knew I'd never save the money without another job, and I knew that it was time to grow the heck up and start planning for things like an adult. You can't depend on your parents to bail you out of financial emergencies forever. (Well, maybe you can, but I can't, so here we are.)

Is saving money easy? No. Is it fun? Hecks to the no. But is it rewarding? You bet. I can't wait until the day when I know I have enough finances to cover whatever life may throw at me...that's a kind of security and comfort that money simply cannot buy.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

(Not so) sweet dreams

I must be stressed, because I have been having some crappy dreams lately. Yesterday morning I dreamt Matt and I were getting married, but the morning before the wedding I realized I hadn't booked any vendors. No flowers, no food, no cake...I didn't even have a dress. When I was talking to dream-Matt about it, he was trying to tell me we could still have a wedding, when suddenly he just walked off to go talk to some giant marshmallow dude. This morning, I had a dream about robbers breaking in and threatening me with a chainsaw, then the cops showed up and I punched one in the face. And then I dreamt that my best friend sabotaged me at involved getting key lime pie dumped on my head.

I am not making this stuff up. I just don't have normal dreams. Ever.

black shirt: Old Navy
button-down: New York & Company
skirt and necklace: The Limited
shoes and belt: Target
bracelet: don't remember
ring: American Eagle, years ago

In other news, this is my last outfit post from my old apartment! As my sister would say: Happy or sad? (i.e. Is this a good thing or a bad thing?) To be honest, I'm not sure. I didn't really like that place most of the time, and I definitely like the house we're in waaaaaay better, but I'm still a little nostalgic. I guess it's just because it was Matt's and my first-ever place together.

I found a cute project on Pinterest that I might use to commemorate our first apartment, but I'm going to be a stinker and not tell you about it until after it's done. (Though, I guess you could just go troll all 400+ of my pins and find it. Just don't ruin the surprise if you do, haha.)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Split minds

Every morning when I get dressed, I compose a blog post in my head that corresponds to the outfit I'm wearing. I think about talking points, like how I almost paired a different shirt or necklace with the outfit, or a funny story about an item I'm wearing.

But by the time I actually post the outfit, a few days to a week later, I've almost always forgotten what talking points I had thought up and inevitably wind up talking about something else. Like with this outfit, I'm sure I had intended to say something about how I'm not sure if this all-neutrals outfit is chic or if it just makes me look washed out. But all I want to talk about this morning is how Spazzy keeps staring at me and mewing, and how stinking cute she is.

button down: New York & Company
cami: Old Navy
capris: Target
shoes: Franco Sarto via Marshall's
necklace: Banana Republic

Sometimes I remember what talking points I had wanted to touch upon, and then it starts to compete with whatever's going on at the moment I'm writing, and the post winds up sounding like two different people wrote it. Which I'm sure is rather weird to read, particularly if you can't follow my train of thought. (But don't feel bad if you can't...few people can. Even Matt makes me stop for clarification at times, haha.)

Oh well. Spazzy is now asleep next to me on the couch, and there's more adorableness going on there, so I think I'm just going to forget about my split-personality blogging habits and bug her for a little bit :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Two outfits, one day

Well, I didn't actually wear two outfits today. But I'm really trying to push through these photos from my old apartment, because let's face it...the same old balcony shots have gotten pretty dull. My new backyard (squee!) isn't exactly pretty, but there's at least some room to move around. And apparently, there's a park at the end of our street. I'll have to check it out and see what opportunities (i.e. how empty it is in the mornings) there are there.

shirt: The Limited
skirt: H&M
necklace: old, semi DIYed
bracelet: Forever 21
shoes: Target

So this necklace used to have long dangly things coming from that little drop bead in the center. And one by one, the dangly things fell off. I mean, the thing is years old, and it's pretty cheap, so it's not exactly a surprise. So I just grabbed some pliers, removed the rest of the danglies, and voila! It's like a new necklace. Sort of.

Also, while I'm still on the fence with the whole maxi craze that swept through the blogosphere this summer, I have to say I am totally loving midi skirts. Maybe it's because I really like my calves (weird, right?) or maybe it's because I just like skirts that are loose and twirly. Either way, this has definitely become one of my favorite skirts since buying it in NYC.

Monday, September 12, 2011

EBEW: Colored Pants

I really, really wanted to call this post "One dolla holla". Because I found these pants at a thrift store (yesterday, in fact) for JUST ONE DOLLAR. I must have been thrifting at some crappy stores, because I have never purchased a pair of pants for a dollar before. IT'S BLOWING MY MIND!!

But it's Everybody, Everywear, and I just feel like I should give credit where credit is due. After all, if it weren't for EBEW, I wouldn't even own these awesome pink pants. Yeah, I bought them just for the challenge. I really wanted red pants, but there weren't any good ones in my size and I didn't have time to buy a white pair and dye them.

Tshirt: Old Navy
pants, cardi and shoes: thrifted
necklace: The Limited

So these pants do have one drawback: they're a bit short. Or rather, my legs are just kind of almost freakishly long. Whatevs. Either way, I think these look even better cropped...I'll probably hem them to capri length at some point, whenever I can make it over to my grandma's sewing machine house. Sadly, this may be the last time (or at least, one of the last times) I expose my bare legs this season. It's getting cooler...and I'm not ready for it :(

Oh well. At least with the discovery of this thrift store (thanks Chasity for telling me about it!), I can bulk up my fall wardrobe. And I can probably do it for under $30. Awesome.

Everybody, Everywear | Colored Pants

Wedding weekend!

So after promising to post pics from the wedding, I realized most of them are out of focus for some reason. This is why I am not a real photographer, haha. I also noticed that I didn't take any photos of Matt and I together :( Luckily, my best friend (who happened to be the maid of honor) is a photographer herself, and she got a great one of Matt and I. What would I do without her?

Anyway, as promised, here's what I wore. I only took one photo, since I didn't want to be that awkward girl doing a full-on photo shoot at someone else's wedding. So I stole Emily for a minute, and she snapped this for me.

dress: JCPenney, I think?
coverup: Figleaf
shoes: Buckle, years ago
necklace: don't remember

For some reason, this coverup didn't want to stay centered over my chest, so I wound up with one side just kind of sticking out all night. Weird, but I really doubt that anyone noticed, so I guess it's not a big deal. Fun fact: I've worn this dress, styled in different ways, to nearly every wedding I've been to in the last three years. It's such a great dress...I just can't help re-wearing it! Plus, it's really twirly, which is awesome for dancing, haha.

So, here are the rest of the (somewhat blurry) photos!

The bridesmaids, with Emily at the front

Here comes the bride!

The vows were lovely

Toldja he looked so handsome :)

How adorable is this cupcake? (The wedding theme was sunflowers. Absolutely gorgeous.)

Me, Stephanie and Emily. The OU girls, if you will :)

Okay, okay, I'm done boring you with photos of a wedding where you didn't know a single person there. (Unless, of course, you actually know me/Steph/Emily in real life, in which case go check out my Facebook for more photos, haha.) Oh, and if you're wondering, Steph got her dress from The Cotton Bride. How gorgeous is that? Anyway, like I said, it was a wonderful much fun! Congrats, Steph and Jarrod :)

We now return to your regularly scheduled randomness

I can't even believe September is half over, you guys. Where did this month go? It's been so hectic around here that I can barely think straight, but I think things are finally settling down again and I can start getting back into a pattern for my life in general. Which is good.

I have four more outfits from the old house after this post (I know, I stockpile photos like it's the end of the world), so I'm hoping to double post a bit this week to get those all knocked out. Which means I'll start having to actually plan outfits again, instead of wearing repeats and not photographing them like I have been for the past two weeks. Oops.

dress: Target
blazer and necklace: New York & Company
shoes: Payless
watch: Walmart

Do you like the little photo collage ganged shot thing? It's a technique I saw Sorren do before, and I really like being able to show some of the smaller details of an outfit, so I kind of copied riffed on the idea. Thanks for the inspiration, Sorren!

We went to my friend Stephanie's wedding this weekend (I only have one outfit shot, but I'll probably post it later this evening). It was a blast! I ran into an old acquaintance from my freshman year at OU (talk about a small world!) and basically just danced all night with a great group of people. I love weddings.

And I would feel like a complete jerk if I didn't acknowledge yesterday's anniversary. It's hard to believe it's been 10 years since the attack...I wrote a little blurb for work about my memories of the day. I was 13. My aunt lived and worked in Manhattan. Thankfully, she was unharmed that day, but the terror my family felt as we waited to hear from her was beyond belief. It's amazing how drastically your life can change in the span of just a few minutes or hours. I still get chills every time I think about that day.

Sorry...I didn't really want to end this post on a sad note. Warning: abrupt change of subject ahead. Check back later today for a post with wedding photos!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Fiscal Fridays: Budgeting, part 2

Almost everyone has their own methods of keeping track of their money. Now that you have your budget established (thanks to last week's post), you should create a system for organizing your money. Today I'm going to share a few systems that I use, and some that you guys mentioned in the Survey Monkey poll.

Source: via Julia on Pinterest

Cash envelopes.
Ah, yes. The tried-and-true method for budgeting your money, whether you're 13 or 33. True story: I've been using this method on and off for nearly than ten years now, ever since I got my first job, at a fast food-place when I was 14. With this method, you withdraw all the money you're going to spend until your next paycheck. This includes things like gas for your car, groceries, random spending allowances, whatever. The Pinterest image above actually links to a website with some great envelope printables, but you can do the same thing with a regular old mailing envelope. I usually just paperclip the bills together in my wallet, with post-it labels saying what the money is for.

Multiple checking accounts.
This might be my favorite method. I've been using it for about three or four years. I have two checking accounts: One is tied to my debit card, the other is not. I use the non-debit card account to pay bills—I just write checks for things like rent, electric, cable, etc. I also use to to transfer balances to pay bills like credit cards and my car loan. The debit card account is for more frivolous things. Sometimes, instead of withdrawing cash (because I hate carrying tons of cash), I will transfer money from my "bills" account into my debit card account to pay for things like groceries and gas. But I always, always, always withdraw my allotted fun/spending money in cash. That makes sure I can never accidentally go over.

Spreadsheet tracking.
If you created your budget in a spreadsheet as described in my last Fiscal Fridays post, you can use this sheet to keep track of how much you've spent. Just update the amounts as they change—for example, if you only spent $50 on groceries one week instead of $60, then update your spreadsheet to reflect that. After I pay a bill, I usually fill in those cells with a light gray color (use the paint bucket tool in Excel) to sort of "cross it off," so to speak. Although the crossing-off method doesn't always work...on more than one occasion, I forgot to cross of a credit card bill, so I wound up paying it twice in one month. Great for my credit, terrible for my budget. Those were rough months.

Paying via credit card.
I hesitate to include this one, because it can get very dangerous, very quickly. It takes a lot of self-discipline to adhere to this method, but if it works for you, your life is a lot easier. I don't use this method yet, but am considering it after I get my credit cards paid off completely. We'll see.

Basically, this consists of having a no-balance credit card that you use to pay your bills. You set up automatic bill payments for anything from your cell phone to your electric bill. As you each bill gets charged to your credit card, you set aside that exact amount of money to pay the bill later. Don't charge actual purchases to this card, unless you set aside extra money to cover those. At the end of the month, you pay off your entire credit card balance in full. The point is to never have a balance for more than 30 days, and therefore, to never get charged interest. Like I said, this can get really if you decide to only pay off half the balance one month. Then you'll be paying interest on all that money. Not good. This is a great option if you have a points system on your credit card, though. You get points for all the bills you'd be paying anyway, and as long as you're diligent about paying off your balances each month, it doesn't cost you anything extra in interest. For advanced budgeters only.

That's about all I can think of for now. Do you have any other methods you use to keep track of your spending?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The big news

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen a mention of an exciting email I read this morning. I also mentioned some changes in the last post. You might have noticed a few slight design changes, which I made in preparation for the BIG change. Wanna know what it is?

Verbal Mélange is now accepting sponsors! I'm very excited about to be working on my first collaboration with Shabby Apple! In fact, I'm so excited, here's a banner:

Dresses from Shabby Apple

So what does this mean for you readers? Well, not a whole lot will change about Verbal Mélange. I will always and forever stay true to my own style—no sellouts here—so this will be the same blog it has been. But you might start to notice ads appearing in the right-hand sidebar. Or the phrase "c/o" appearing in my outfit credits—this stands for "care of" and means that I received the item for free in exchange for wearing/reviewing it on the blog. You'll also notice a section on the right sidebar that says "affiliates." If you click those links, then buy a product from that site, I may get a commission from the sales. In this case, Shabby Apple is an affiliate, so if you click any link from my site to theirs, then buy something. I get paid.

I'm working on collaborating with other shops in the hopes of getting another giveaway going for you guys, too. Like I said, I'm super excited about this, and I'd like to make it exciting for you all as well :) If you have any suggestions for stores you'd like to see on Verbal Mélange, let me know in the comments or via email!

I know things have been a little scattered around here the past two weeks. Well, with any luck, we'll be back to your regularly scheduled rambling and photos by Monday :)


Weird, I thought I had used this post title before, but a quick search tells me I haven't. Hm.

Anyway, I might be a teeny bit MIA in the next few days. Or at the very least, my posts will be shorter. (But don't worry, I won't bail out on week two of the September budgeting extravaganza that is Fiscal Fridays!) Truth be told, things are still just a tad crazy around here, and I have something pretty big that I'm working on just for this little blog. I can't wait to share it with you!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Random announcement

I updated my blogroll! An update was long overdue...did your blog make the list?

Gross shoes and awesome bags

So I've got about five more outfits that I shot at the old apartment, and I want to get those all posted before I start putting up photos from my new place. Don't want to be all flip-flopping on my locations...for some reason, consistency seems important. Hm.

shirt: The Limited
collared shirt & shorts: New York & Company
shoes: Target
ring: American Eagle, about five years ago
bag: street vendor in NYC

I got this bag on Canal Street in NYC last month. I've been carrying it pretty much every's basically the perfect bag. Great size, lots of interior pockets, high quality material (I think). The lady who sold it to me slapped a Michael Kors charm on it, but it looks cheap and I think I'm going to take it off. Except, it makes a great zipper pull, so maybe I'll leave it and be one of those awful people who contributes to the counterfeit fashion fiasco. Oops.

Speaking of NYC, the city pretty much ruined these shoes. Seriously, they are so dirty. I want to take a Magic Eraser to them, but I'm not sure how the faux-leather material will take it. But check this out: The color of the underside of the strap is the shoe's original color. Gross.

The really gross part? I haven't stopped wearing them.