Friday, June 29, 2012

Fiscal Fridays: Finances on your phone

So just in case you missed all my geeking out, Matt got me an iPhone for my birthday. And I'm a complete spaz about it. I download apps like it's my job. And then I realized...there's more to the iPhone than Instagram and Fruit Ninja. The variety of financial apps is simply astounding. So I did some research, tried some out, and decided to do a post on my favorites.

Now, before I get started, I want to point out one major point about my list. It does not include the free app. I downloaded it, tried it out and ultimately decided that it's not for me. Don't get me wrong, it's an incredible app that lets you track even the tiniest aspects of your budget. It's fully comprehensive, linking to your bank accounts and automatically categorizing your spending habits as they happen. And that's precisely why I decided I didn't like it. I'm pretty Type-A, and I want to categorize things in my own quirky way. For 99% of you, Personal Finance could be an all-inclusive budgeting solution. But for me, here's what I use.

Chase Mobile
chase login chase accounts

This was the very first app I downloaded. I had the Android version on my old phone, and on the iPhone it's pretty much the same. Most banks now have their own apps, so I definitely recommend downloading the app for your bank. From the login screen, you can find locations and access contact info. Once you log in, you can transfer money between accounts, pay bills, view recent transactions...pretty much anything you can do on the website. Plus, the coolest feature lets you deposit checks by taking a photo of them. This isn't exactly a new feature in the world of mobile banking, but I still geek out a little every time I use it.

dropbox files

Okay, so this isn't actually a financial app per se. But I do my budget in an Excel spreadsheet (more on that here), so this app lets me view my balances on any computer or on my phone. I can't edit it on the phone, but really when I'm on the go, the only thing I need to do is check my balances for certain amounts anyway. But now, I can do that even more easily thanks to...

left to spend all budgets left to spend individual budget

This is a great little app that helps me track how much I have left in certain budget areas. I have categories set up on a bi-weekly basis (because my paychecks are bi-weekly) for all my petty spending, including groceries and gas. Whenever I make a purchase, I just enter the amount and the name of the store into the app and it displays how much I have left in that budget area. ( does this for you automatically, but like I said, I prefer to track it myself...I feel like it keeps me more accountable!)

paypal login paypal transactions

I still freelance for TopTenREVIEWS on occasion, and they pay me via PayPal. I also manage my blog ad payments via PayPal. This app lets me check my balances, request payments from advertisers and transfer money from PayPal to my bank account with just a few clicks.

RetailMeNot Coupons
retail me not coupons

Okay, this one doesn't exactly help me track my finances. But it does help save me money with lots of coupons! Most of them can be scanned right from your phone, while others display a coupon code that cashiers can type in. Helpful? Money-saving? You know it.

Well, there you go! My current top financial/budgeting/money-related apps. Do you have any favorites that I missed?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Shoe woes



shirt: Old Navy
vest: thrifted
skirt: The Limited
heels: DSW
necklace: Forever 21

Oh, these shoes. I love them, but I also kinda hate them. I bought them to wear in my sister's wedding next month, off the clearance rack at DSW. They felt a teensy bit too big...but I figured a size 10 really wasn't that much different from a 9.5, and there weren't any smaller sizes left, so I just went for it. For $30, it didn't seem like a big deal.

Except the damn shoes just don't fit. Now, I'm pretty terrible at walking in four-inch heels to begin with, so when they're ill-fitting it's an even worse scenario. I've stuffed lamb's wool into the toes, added a heel insert and a stuck in a ball-of-the-foot-slidy-preventer-thing. And while they do technically stay on my feet, I have to walk reeeeeeeally slowly in them.

I figure, for the wedding it won't be a big deal. All I have to do is walk semi-slowly down the aisle, stand up there for a bit, then walk semi-slowly back down (with a groomsman to support me, no less). After that it's just posing for photos, then I can kick these puppies off and switch to some comfy flops. It's a shame these don't fit better, though. They're pretty damn cute.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

How does your garden grow?



dress: H&M
cardi: thrifted
shoes: Buckle
belt: Target
necklace: don't remember

Last night, Matt and I made dinner with ingredients from our garden! Well...I prepped everything. Matt grilled it :) I used fresh chives, cilantro and garlic to make a semi-Asian influenced pork chop and rice dish. It was pretty good, but more than anything I was just excited to use garden-fresh ingredients! Before long, we'll have fresh peppers, tomatoes and zucchini too! In fact, we'll have more zucchini than we know what to do with...I think we're going to have a lot of zucchini bread in the house ;)

When I get dressed in the morning, I generally have to think in layers. Waiting for (and sometimes riding) the bus means dealing with high temperatures, but my office is seriously frigid. Everyone says that, but I really mean it. When I wore this, I was sitting at my desk with a sweater wrapped around my legs. And it wasn't the sweater I was wearing, either. That's right. I have a backup "office sweater." But it's supposed to hit 100 degrees on Thursday and Friday...maybe it'll finally warm up a bit inside!

Monday, June 25, 2012




shirt: thrifted
skirt: H&M
shoes: Buckle
necklace: don't remember
bangle: secondhand

Last night, I was starting a sentence about go-to outfit styling and was fully prepared to write a semi-dull post for this morning, but then I turned my head to glance out the window. And saw an unconscious man lying in the street. Of course, Matt and I both rushed outside to see if we could help at all. Someone had already called 911, and the cop who arrive first told us that he's a "local."

Turns out, the cop actually knew the guy, who apparently has a habit of getting drunk and passing out in public. I don't know for sure, but I think that was this situation this time as well. At any rate, he's regained consciousness and is being loaded into the ambulance now, so I guess he's probably going to be fine.

Writing something banal about this outfit seems a little ridiculous now, so I guess I'll just sign off. Happy Monday(?)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Summer cold




shirt, skirt: secondhand
necklace: InPink
shoes: Payless

I wore this last Saturday to a friend's housewarming party. I may or may not have obnoxiously counted down the minutes to my birthday, starting at 11:55 pm. Hey, I get excited about birthdays. And when there's alcohol involved, well...I get really excited. My friends were super sweet and, despite how annoying I'm sure I was, they all sang me "Happy Birthday" at the stroke of midnight. It made my whole night.

Do you ever get summer colds? I seem to get one every year, and this year's wasted no's the first day of summer and I'm stuffy, achy, groggy and blah. I only made it through the work day by heading to the drugstore and dropping $20 on cold medicine. I have a full weekend ahead of me...I'm gonna go ahead and call that money well spent!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

End hiatus



dress: secondhand
cami: Old Navy
shoes: Target
earrings, necklace: gifted

I've returned! I'm making some changes here around the blog...namely, posts that focus more on photos than words, because I'm so long-winded and really, that's only fun for me to write, not for you to read ;) Also, I will probably be posting fewer work-related outfits and more hanging-out-type outfits.

Also, I went shopping! At stores that weren't thrift stores! I bought several pieces of clothes that have never been worn by another person :) I'm pretty excited.

This dress is from my friend Allory. She cleaned out her closet a while back and gave me a ton of dresses. I didn't know if I'd like this one at first, but I kind of love it. It kind of shows off the girls a little too much, so I borrowed this layering-under-a-maxi-dress idea from Sydney. Thanks for the inspiration, girl!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Well, I didn't get a chance to re-shoot outfit photos tonight, as my grandma took me out to dinner and then we met my aunts and cousins for ice cream. (Side note: I love my family. They're So anyway, I wanted to write up a little post just to affirm that I am in fact still here!

I did spend a little time on my lunch break perusing Pinterest for some inspiration to get me out of this outfit rut. And I found what my closet really seems to be lacking, what might really inspire me to get creative with my outfits again: versatile skirts and dresses, navy in general and wearable, cute-but-comfy heels. So here are the pins that inspired me!

Source: via Emma on Pinterest

Source: via Emma on Pinterest

Source: via Emma on Pinterest

Source: via Emma on Pinterest

(This one is 100% on my to-buy list...just as soon as it comes back in stock. Womp womp.)

Source: via Emma on Pinterest

And I decided, too, that I'm going to invest in a couple of these pieces, like that navy dress that's currently out of stock. And those snake-print shoes from Target. But there will be no all-out shopping spree; I'm going to make a very short, very specific list and get just those things...for now ;)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Birthday weekend!

This weekend was pretty awesome, if I do say so myself. Unfortunately, I have yet to figure out how to upload photos to Blogger with via the iPhone app, save it, then finish writing the post on my computer, pics for now. But I did have a blast at my sister's bridal shower and my friends' housewarming party on Saturday. And Sunday was a perfect combination of birthday laziness, some garden work, a wonderful dinner with Matt and some drinks with friends after. Le sigh. Kind of wishing I had taken the day off today to recover from a mostly busy weekend!

If anyone's wondering, I will return soon with outfit photos and the like. I just have to get a ton of photos re-shot, because I haven't had time for pics lately. Stick around, things will get back to normal eventually... :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Stuck in a rut

As usual, I'm going to be totally honest and throw some word-vomit at you guys. (Sorry for the gross imagery there. But let's face it, that's what it is.)

I have been feeling completely, totally, 100% un-inspired by my closet lately. It's kind of like back when I first started style blogging more than a year ago...I just stare in front of my too-full closet, thinking to myself, Dear God, I have nothing to wear.

Now, you know and I know that this simply is not true. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that my closet is currently fuller now than it ever has been before. So what's with my lack of enthusiasm? And how can I fix it?

I've thought about saving up a couple hundred dollars and going on a major shopping spree, but I don't think that's too practical...especially after this weekend, when I got the news that my clutch has officially died and needs replacing. Which can run, from my research, anywhere from $700 to $1200. My emergency fund is still in the process of being built back up, after being completely depleted during tax season. So a shopping spree is pretty much a no-go.

I guess I could scrounge together $50 or so and go thrift-store wild, but to tell the truth I don't think I have the energy for that kind of undertaking. My shopping sprees go so much better in stores like Express, The Limited and New York & Company, where they have outfit inspiration all throughout the store. Maybe I'll bump that figure up to $100 and head to Marshall's or TJ Maxx, but at that point I begin to feel like I'm spending too much again when my poor car is still waiting patiently at the garage for me to pay the mechanic and take her home.

So now, in a culmination of the most first-world-y First World Problems, I'm left wondering what I should do. Do you ever get stuck in a blogging rut (style blog or otherwise)? If so, how do you get out of it?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Busy busy

Monday morning has come all too soon for me, and it's not just because I had to wake up earlier than usual for an early training session at work this morning. Nope, the leisure of the past few weekends is drawing to a temporary close. From here until the middle of August, I will be traveling almost every weekend for at least a day, if not two, for wedding-related stuff. (My sister is getting married next month, and my best friend the month after.)

This weekend, I went back down to OU for the night to celebrate Abby's college graduation. It was a pretty nostalgic trip down, but she and I vowed to try to go to homecoming together this fall...if she can get herself up here from her new home in South Carolina.

Change is weird.



blazer: thrifted (well, garage-saled, but same difference)
striped shirt: H&M
jeggings: Burlington Coat Factory
flats: Target
bracelet: Forever 21
necklace: The Limited

Garage sale season is here, and I already have an awesome find to show for it! I got this blazer for two dollars. That doesn't even seem fair. It did have some ugly square pockets on it, but those came off easily with a seam ripper. Here's to hoping that I can squeeze in some time this summer at some garage sales. If this find is any indicator, it's going to be a great season!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Fiscal Fridays: New budget

I have to make this quick, because as usual, I'm running behind this morning. But I did want to talk about my new budget and the official end of the Financial Diet! (Cue the loud cheering, etc.)

Now that I'm working with an income that doesn't necessitate my living paycheck-to-paycheck, I've been able to rework my monthly budget. Of course, it might be a few months before this exact budget goes into effect, since I have a lot of wedding-, bridesmaid- and car-related expenses to account for this summer. But I'm still using the figures below as the bare bones of my summer budget, and honestly, I really look forward to this fall, when I'll be able to implement it fully.

First, a comparison to my old "budget." The first thing I did when my paycheck came in was pay all my bills that were due before my next paycheck. Then, I bought groceries and put gas in my car. Next, I took care of any other expenses—random things that tended to pop up. Finally, I took $60 and set it aside as "spending" money. If there was any money left over, I made sure to save it because I usually needed it to help cover my next round of bills. Now, I have a set "spend this much on x" breakdown. For modesty's sake, I'm using percentages here instead of actual figures.

The Budget Breakdown
Before I even see my money, my retirement savings (about 10%) and health insurance premiums (about 2%) are deducted from my paycheck. The rest is up to me to disperse. Bills (rent, cell phone, utilities, cable, gym payment, insurance) take up about 29%. Groceries are another 7.5%. My debt, including car payments, credit cards and loan payments to my dad equal about 26%. That number won't change until all my debt is paid off, per Dave Ramsay's debt snowball. Basically, when one debt is completely paid, I'll use the money I was spending on it and put it toward another debt. Right now, my savings are minimal because I'm focusing on debt reduction; I'm saving just 2% of my paycheck right now, as I already have a small emergency fund in place. And my spending money, which covers clothes, entertainment, dining out, house décor and everything else, is a comparatively indulgent 15%.

For those of you keeping track, that adds up to about 95% of my monthly income. The extra 5% is wiggle room for small, unaccounted-for things, like oil changes, minor car repairs, doctor's copays, etc.

So there you have it! A brief breakdown of my ideal budget, once I get this Summer of Crazy out of the way. I'm pretty excited about it. And when I have all my debt paid off, in about a year and a half by my estimations, I'll have to rework my budget again...this time, focusing on building up a REAL emergency fund and saving up for grown-up things like a wedding and a down payment on a house. Woot!

If you're looking for more budget inspiration, check out Whitney's post over on Between the Lines. She has a really awesome, simple system set up with her hubby!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

I'm too old for this

That's all I could think yesterday as I slogged through work: I'm too old for this. Which is pathetic, as I won't even be 24 for a few more weeks. But Monday night, Matt and I went to the Red Hot Chili Peppers concert here in Columbus. Don't get me wrong, it was incredible and we both had an absolute blast. But Tuesday morning, we were both feeling it hard. I felt like a truck had hit me...maybe one that was infected with the flu virus. And Matt started to come down with a wicked summer cold.

Today, I'm feeling a lot better. I just wish I could say the same for Matt, who is currently running a fever and, from what I can tell, probably feels like death. Poor Matt.



dress, blazer: thrifted
belt: Target
necklace: don't remember

So perhaps this outfit is a pretty close repeat. I prefer to call it a very subtle remix. Either way, I spent way too long looking for that post, and now I don't have time to say much more except that I really love shift dresses and my closet needs more of them.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Monday already?

Wow. I had one of those weekends where you get so much done, yet you still find plenty of time to just kick back and chill. I think waking up super early during the week has gotten me into the habit of being able to wake up slightly earlier on the weekends, which makes me more productive. I used to sleep in until 11 or noon on the weekend, because during the week I didn't get up until 8. Now, I get up at 6:30 and "sleeping in" until 9 or 10 is more than enough.

Because I'm sure you're all fascinated by my sleep schedule. Anyway.



shirt, heels: thrifted
vest, necklace, bracelet: Forever 21
khakis: Old Navy

Hm. I guess I don't really have much else to say this morning. I have to go pack my breakfast and lunch and dig up a tomato plant to give to a friend at work. My garden's coming along really well, I think. Can't wait until it actually starts producing some edibles :)

Friday, June 1, 2012

We have a winner!

Before I announce the eShakti giveaway winner, I just want to give a huge THANK YOU to everyone who entered. The response was truly overwhelming, and I'm so excited that there were so many entries. I wish everyone could have won! But alas, the prize was just for one person, and that person is...(cue drumroll)...


Kelly, of one of my fave blogs, Enter Kelly! Congrats, love. Can't wait to see what you pick out and how you style it! Check your email shortly for details on how to claim your prize.

Well, I'm signing off for the weekend, folks. Come back next Friday for the return of Fiscal Fridays, and of course there will be outfit posts throughout the week :) Have a lovely weekend, y'all!