February is a short month anyways, so I’ve decided to go ahead and post my net worth for February a day early. It’s not like I have any plans for today that involve blowing a lot of cash (or other big changes). And with the month ending on a weekend, it’s just easier this way.

Plus I’m really excited to show off where I’m at this month! Can you blame a girl?

Net Worth as of February 27, 2015

Net Worth as of February 27, 2015

In one month, I managed to gain $3,686! Over a grand of that gain was in retirement accounts, so I’m trying not to get too excited about that; It could all be gone in a market heartbeat. But look at my student loan! I’m $1,109 away from it being GONE. FOR-EV-A!

I’m really motivated to have that student loan gone, and move on to the next big thing: My car loan. Technically, I have the cash in the bank to cover the student loan now. But all of that money is already spoken for: Upcoming bills, emergency fund, house sales fund, etc. So, for now, I’m trying to be patient and stick with the plan. At most, it should be gone in 2 months. That’s not too bad.

You may also have noticed that it looks like I didn’t make a mortgage payment this month. Have no fear, I’m not skipping payments! Since my payments are due at the end of the month, short months and months that end on the weekend tend to throw things off. It will end up looking like I made 2 payments in March. Makes no difference in the long run, it just looks a little weird this month.

February has been a good month for me the last few years: Tax refunds come in, the Holidays are FINALLY over, and things just tend to go smoothly. Obviously every month can’t be this good. But it’s a great push into the new year, and helps to get the ball rolling. I’m exciting to see how the next few months pan out!

– Cindy W.

2015 was the start of my intense effort to finally pay off debt, starting with my student loan. In fairness, I started “straightening out” my financial life several years ago. But there have been several money hurdles that had to be overcome first, like sewer connections, getting the house ready to sell, going back to school, and building a bigger emergency fund. There were also a few distraction, like vacations, that came up. Hey, no one said I was perfect!

I’m finally in a place where being debt free is taking priority, and I’m willing to cut back considerably to make it happen. I feel the rush of excitement when I run the numbers, calculating how soon the student loan can be gone, followed by how quickly I can get rid of the car loan. I look at where I can trim a little more, or earn a little more, bringing my goal closer and closer. It’s been incredibly motivating.

But then once a month I log on to my student loan provider’s website to make that extra payment, and I have to admit, it isn’t excitement that I feel. Rather, it’s fear. I just finished making my extra payment for February: $2,350. That’s a lot of money! What if something happens? The car dies? Bryan can’t work? One of us gets sick? What if…

The terror is real. But it only lasts a minute. I remind myself that I’m one step closer to having one less bill. And once that bill’s gone, I’ll be in a much better financial situation. Sure, the cash is gone. But someday, I’ll be debt free. And then all that extra cash coming in? It’ll be mine. To grow, and dream, and plan with. That $2,350 today is helping me to a better position tomorrow. If I’d left it in my savings account? I’d eventually fetter it away, with nothing to show for it in the end.

Slowly, I’m redefining what security means to me. If something happens, I have an emergency fund. I may not be able to cover every situation, but I’m better prepared than I ever have been before. Becoming debt free is the next step in the process. I’m super excited by how far I’ve already come. Seeing how quickly I can become debt free is a huge motivation for me. But I can’t ignore the fact that it can also be a scary process. Money isn’t always as much about logic as it should be; It’s rife with emotion and habits. And changing those isn’t always a comfortable process.

But I’m not going to let my fear keep me from moving forward!

– Cindy W.

As luck would have it, the day after I posted about having a buyer lined up for my house, it all fell apart. I’m a little bit bummed about it, but these things happen. That’s why we had a plan B lined up, just in case.

What happened?

Well, he can’t come up with a down payment. At first I was wondering about what type of down payment the bank was requiring of him, but after a few questions I found out he’d been approved for a FHA loan, and was only required to put down 3.5%. Depending on what price we agreed on, that likely would have been somewhere around $2,000.

I don’t want to be a hypocrite, since I put $0 when I bought the house. But, that was back when the banks were giving away loans. And I did have money in the bank, which I used to start fixing up the house. Apparently he was hoping his mom would gift him the money for the down payment. When she told him no, he had to walk away from his plans to buy a house.

I know a lot of people live paycheck to paycheck, and putting money aside is difficult. But if you can’t come up with $2,000 for a down payment, you probably shouldn’t buy a house. Let’s face it, there are lots of things that happen when you own a house that end up costing more than $2,000. A new furnace comes to mind.

I knew that he was concerned about the down payment. But I assumed it was because he thought the bank would want him to put down a large amount, like 20%. He’s been toying with the idea of buying for about 4 months now. When he contacted me he said he might be able to come up with the money around June. But he understood if I went ahead and listed the house.

I’m not waiting around to see if this guy can come up with the money. Going into Spring is the perfect time to put a house on the market. This weekend we’re going to spend some time cleaning up the garage and wrapping things up. I’ll be contacting the Realtor to see about getting it listed.

I’m disappointed to lose a potential buyer, but I’m excited to be moving ahead in the process. Maybe it won’t work out? Maybe we’ll struggle to find a buyer, or have issues getting a good price for the house? But we won’t know until we get there. It’s finally time to move forward!

– Cindy W.

I wasn’t planning on writing about this until things were a little more certain. I sometimes have this irrational fear of sharing good things too soon, and then having them fall through. I’m not sure if I think sharing them jinxes it, or if I just hate having to back-track when things don’t work out. But I also find it really hard waiting to write about things here until after they’ve happened; By then, it’s old news, and I’ve moved on to other things. Plus, I’m hoping that maybe one of you has been through this before, and can provide some guidance. Or at least an opinion of what you’d do in my situation!

Just before Christmas, I showed my house to a friend of a friend. He had been talking about buying a house, and my house was exactly what he was looking for: Small, on a large plot of land (for gardening, hosting get-togethers, and raising chickens), and close to the city. But, being a first-time home buyer, he was having cold feet. He texted me a few times with questions, but I wasn’t really holding my breath for things to work out.

Then a few weeks ago, he brought his girlfriend over to take another look. Good sign! Last week I got another text: He’s definitely interested in buying the house. He’s been approved for a loan, and was getting together more information on the down payment, insurance, etc. Since then I’ve gotten several texts asking for more information for the insurance company (type of siding, when roof was replaced, etc.). At this point, I’m feeling pretty confident that this guy is actually going to buy the house.

When you have a unique house, finding a buyer is most of the battle. There’s a very small market for a 1 bedroom house. Being on a large lot decreases the market even more. I’m not trying to get my hopes up too much. After all, we don’t have an agreement yet. But things are definitely moving in the right direction.

If things don’t work out with this buyer, I’ll need to move forward with putting the house on the market. So, I decided to go ahead and talk to a Real Estate Agent. I had talked to a different agent last year, but he wasn’t much help. A second opinion couldn’t hurt, right? Friday evening after work, I met the new agent at my house. I wanted to see if she could provide better comps for the house (which she did), and ask about listing my house if things fell through with this buyer.

The other thing I wanted to discuss was hiring someone to process everything if this person does go through with buying my house. My thought was that it would be worth paying someone a flat fee to make sure everything was done correctly, so nothing would come back to bite me in the butt later on. You don’t have to have a Realtor to sell a house. But I’ll admit that I don’t really know how to go about it without one.

Turns out, this is a service she could provide. But it’s a lot more expensive that I was expecting. Their typical sales agreement involves a 7% commission, which the seller pays. This amount is split between the buyer’s and seller’s agents; If one agent represents both parties, they get the full 7%, otherwise the agent earns 3.5% on the sale. If I already have a buyer lined up, and we can skip all the listing, and showing, and negotiating, and just have someone guide us through the process? $2,500. That’s more than the 3.5% commission she would expect to earn in a full sale! And she kept pointing out that it would still be considered a For Sale By Owner (FSBO). We’d basically just be using their forms.

I value what Realtors do, and the experience they bring to the table. But, it seems a bit much to pay 4-5% of the sale price to a Realtor when we don’t technically need one. Sure, I want to make sure this is done right. But I also don’t want to spend money unnecessarily. Then again, I’ve never done a FSBO, and I’m not sure where to begin. A Google search turned up numerous companies where you can purchase the legal documents for the process, but I didn’t come across a lot of information. I found a title company that lists on their website that they process FSBOs. It seems logical to me that we could complete everything between the title company and the mortgage company?

So now I’m at a crossroads of sorts. I’m not sure how quickly things are going to progress; I could have weeks to figure things out, or I could be moving ahead tomorrow. Do I contact a title company? Try to find another Realtor who would be willing to charge less? Is there something I’m not thinking about? What would you do in my situation? I’m leaning towards calling a title company, and asking what I need to do.

– Cindy W.

Bryan and I seem to have contracted the never-ending cold. He came down with it about a week before I did, and is still suffering. It starts with the sniffles, and proceeds into a cough that seems especially bad at night. I’m two weeks in now, and ready for this to pass. Not the worst sickness we’ve had, but the length definitely makes it exhausting!

February seems to be progressing fairly well. I hope to have some good news in the next month or so. I’m super paranoid about jinxing things, so I’m not ready to share too much. But I’m excited about what’s to come! My net worth has already rounded the corner from last month’s decline, so it looks like this will be a great month growth wise. And my state and federal refunds have already hit my bank account, so there’s an extra $1,750 towards the student loan!

My favorite Mac N' Cheese. Sad, I know.

My absolute FAVORITE Mac N’ Cheese! Sad, I know!

For now, we’re taking things day by day. Bearing with the cold, thankful that there isn’t too much snow, and trying to keep with our healthy eating and resist the lure of comfort food. If it were up to me, I’d be eating grilled cheese and mac n’ cheese every day! Especially this time of year. But my belly (and thighs!) seem to think that’s a terrible idea. What’s a girl to do?

To those of you who celebrate it, Happy Valentine’s Day! Bryan and I acknowledge it, but don’t really do much. We won’t go out, but he’ll probably get me a card, maybe some flowers from the grocery store. As a girl who’s spent pretty much all of her adult life single, I like the acknowledgement, but also like that we aren’t spending a lot of money on it. I’m wondering if my Dad will continue his tradition of buying us chocolates this year. It’s the one thing I’ve always loved about Valentine’s Day. Although, with all of his daughters in serious relationships, and my two sisters (possibly) getting married this year, I wonder how long he’ll continue the tradition?

2015 is starting off to be a pretty good year!

– Cindy W.

I’ve had a long and bumpy road when it comes to taxes. I officially became part of the working world when I turned 13, and was old enough to get a work permit. Honestly, I don’t remember anything about taxes as a teenager; I’m sure my annual returns were filed as part of my parents’. I went to college in another state, where I worked a variety of jobs to help support myself. That state had a reciprocal agreement with my home state, which meant state taxes weren’t withheld. Every year, I was writing a check to the government. I didn’t have a career plan out of college, so I ended up working at a restaurant while I figured things out. I did pretty well in tips, so my hourly wage of $2.35 didn’t put a dent in my tax liability. I was still writing a check to Uncle Sam every year.

You can imagine how happy I was when I finally started getting money back from the government. State refunds are dicey; Some years I owe, some years I get something back. But now days it’s usually not more than $100 either way. This year I’m getting back $81 on my state refund. Woot woot! But the federal refunds are the really exciting part! Unfortunately, my mortgage has never been enough to deduct the mortgage interest; You have to be able to itemize, and I’ve never had enough deductions to beat the standard deduction. But I was able to take educational credits some years. I don’t think my refund was ever more than $3,000. I usually expect around $1,500. This year I’m clocking in at $1,669.

I’ve heard the mantra a million times in regards to refunds: Don’t give the government a free loan! If you’re getting a refund, adjust your withholding! Keep your money all year long! I get what they’re saying. I’m still not gonna do it. Why? One reason is I’d rather get money back than owe. It’s such a fine line there, I’d rather err on the side of getting a refund. I’ve never heard of anyone breaking even at tax time.

I also don’t buy the whole reasoning that it’s detrimental to me to not have that money all year long. My federal refund of $1,669 comes out to $32 per week on my check. Sure, that money could have been making a dent in my debt. But, more than likely, at least some of that money would have slipped through the cracks. It’s much easier to piddle away $32 than it is $1,669. Every penny of that $1,669 is going toward my student loan. I couldn’t have said that for sure if I’d gotten it a week at a time.

But what about the interest? Okay, let’s consider that. I pay 3.88% interest on my student loan. Assuming I would have used all of that extra $32 per week to make an extra payment each month, I would have saved myself right around $30 in interest in 2014 on my student loan. Hey, $30 is nothing to sneeze at. But if even one of those weekly amounts hadn’t made it into a student loan payment, that $30 interest savings would have been a wash. And let’s face it, I managed to find all kinds of priorities other than my student loans last year.

We all have our own “tricks” that help us save money. Right now, getting a tax refund every year works for me. It’s a big push towards making my goal. And getting a big start at the beginning of the year really gives me motivation to keep rolling. To me, it’s worth it to get the tax refund. If I was getting more money back each year, I’d definitely reconsider my withholding amounts. But I don’t feel like $1,669 is out of bounds.

Are you getting a tax refund? What’s your take on the refund debate in personal finance?

– Cindy W.

Almost 2 weeks ago, I posted that I was officially being promoted. The promotion had been an ongoing discussion since November, when I was first asked if I would be interested. From there, months were spent between my boss, our company President, our parent company’s HR and Accounting Departments, and their parent company’s HR and Accounting Departments, all trying to hash out what exactly this new position would be. A few weeks back, they finally reached an agreement: I would be promoted to “Accountant”, with a small pay increase. My promotion would be announced via email within the next few days, followed by a posting for my previous position.

Or so I thought.

The days ticked by, and nothing was done. The issue? My title. The HRs had decided that “Accountant” was not an acceptable title, and they went back to deliberating what exactly I should be called. At first, I was reminded of a post I read over at 1500days ( Call Me Chief Fart Captain). I mean, really, what did it matter what they called me? But then my HR sensors perked up (I used to work as an HR Manager); What did it matter what they called me? For that many high-level people to be that involved in deciding on a title, there had to be a pretty good reason. And in big business, the reason is almost always money. I took another look at my new job description, and quickly realized that it was VERY similar to the last 3 postings for Assistant Controllers at our parent companies. How similar? Seven of the bullet points were taken word for word. I was missing some bullet points, but several of those were tasks I already do (and had been told I would continue doing in my new position).

The parent companies are of the opinion that our company isn’t large enough to require an Assistant Controller. They’re more than willing to let me assume the role, they just aren’t willing to pay an Assistant Controller’s wages. So, they needed to come up with an alternate title. And that title needed to be obscure enough not to grab the attention of the unions (apparently there’s a big push to unionize certain levels of accountants). So, the title was out, and the discussion was begun again. A few days later, I was brought an alternative: Office Manager.

Oh, hell no! 

It’s not that I have a problem with being an Office Manager. If that’s what I was actually doing. But in a construction company as large as ours, that title would imply that I do very limited accounting tasks. My new job is all accounting tasks. Actually, I’m taking over a large chunk of accounting tasks from the Controller. I’d be shooting myself in the foot with that title if I ever tried to apply for a position outside of this company.

A few months back, I was really excited about being promoted. A few weeks ago, I was less that excited about the pay, but happy to be moving on to something different, and ready to start training a new replacement. Now? After months of big company executives trying to get creative in naming my position to avoid paying me the extra $5,000-10,000(+) the position deserves, I’m less than thrilled. Actually, I feel as though I’m being taken advantage of. Definitely feeling under-appreciated. To make matters worse, I was told they were seriously downgrading my current position; The new person will be hourly (our ONLY hourly office staff member), and will likely earn $10,000-15,000 less than I was. Are you f@*?ing kidding me?!?

What’s worse, as I look around the company (and our parent company, and their parent company), I can’t help but feeling like it’s all extremely sexist. Women make up the administrative departments (including all “lower-level” accounting positions) at all 3 companies, while (white) men hold almost every other position. The benefits are great, so they cut the administrative wages to the bone, while expecting high performance and years of experience. Meanwhile all the men make great wages, and are given cell phones, and fuel cards, and company trucks (for personal use and business use), whether their job requires them to leave the office or not. Most of them get their jobs not because they’re the most qualified candidate, but because they are someone’s son, or nephew, golf-buddy or neighbor.

I hate being the girl standing there calling sexism. Maybe it’s just the reality that more women are applying for administrative positions, while more men are interesting in the “nuts and bolts” of construction. But why does that justify not paying us fairly? Why are the people who “deal with the paperwork” so undervalued? The men are making the same great benefits, along with a variety of extra perks, yet their wages aren’t being cut.

I wasn’t sure what to do from there. I’m not exactly in a position to walk away from my job, or to be pushed out of it for making too many waves. In the end, I took the middle path: I let my boss know that I was unhappy, that at worst it was sexist, and that I definitely felt I was being taken advantage of. And then? I went back to work. I accepted my promotion, and the newly decided title of “Contract Administrator”. Whatever that means.

On the plus side, I’ll be training to do the work of an Assistant Controller. After I have some experience, it will be easier for me to interview for higher-level positions outside the company. All of this reminds me how much I hate being part of the corporate world. I’m sure it’s a big driver behind my urge to try paying off ALL my debt this year. Being debt free will open up a lot of possibilities for me. And if I can start socking away money for the future? Even better!

What would you do if you were in my position? Am I right to feel taken advantage/discriminated against? Or, with the job market being what it is, should I just be thankful for any type of promotion, and the chance to learn something new?

– Cindy W.

I started off 2015 with very clear, focused goals: List the house. Increase net worth by $10,000. Pay off student loan. Put $3,000 into retirement account(s). Earn $500 in side income. The first month of 2015 is already gone, and so far, things are going great. Okay, except the net worth thing. But I was expecting things to start off rocky there!

Actually, things started off with such a bang, I’m second guessing what my priorities for this year should actually be.

It all started off with the student loan. I started off the year with a balance of $4,843 and expected that I would probably be able to pay it off sometime this summer. But then I started “finding” extra money. The checking account that I keep exclusively for monthly bills was starting to build up too much slush, so I threw an extra $500 at my student loan, on top of my regular payment and extra payment. I finished my taxes a few days ago, and realized my refund will be larger than expected, to the tune of $1,750. “Sometime this summer” suddenly became May. With a little more tweaking, possibly April.

I’ve been running the numbers obsessively, trying to see how much time I can cut off the student loan. And then my attention turned to the car loan. With a balance of $18, 422 at the end of January, it seemed like it would be forever before that loan was gone.

But did it HAVE to be?

In my obsession/excitement over debt payoff, I started running the numbers to see how quickly that car loan could be gone. It was originally set for the last payment to be in October of 2020, but always paying just a little bit over the amount due has already knocked that date down to October 2019. That still seems so far away! But with the student loan gone, I’ll have an extra $105/month to roll into the car loan. Plus all the extra money I’m putting towards the student loan right now ($480-600 a month). The raise from my promotion adds an additional $80-100 each month towards that. If I sold the house, there would be even more money in the budget to throw at the car loan. And… And… And…

Best case scenario, I could have the car loan paid off by the end of this year. But, I’d have to live really tight for the rest of this year. Like super, super tight. And it’s contingent on several things happening, like selling the house early in the year, and walking away from the sale with at least a little bit of money. It would also mean some other priorities would suffer, like putting $3,000 into my retirement fund(s) this year. Sure, I’d still be putting money away through my weekly payroll deductions, but I’d end the year about $1,200 short of my goal.

Then there’s the issue of life. My sister is getting married this summer; At the very least, that will end up costing me a couple hundred dollars. My other sister may be getting married as well (although, she’s said that with the last 3 boyfriends over the last 4 years, so I’m not holding my breath). And what about the vacation my Mom was hoping we’d all take? We weren’t thinking Disney scale this year, but still, that’s another $500-1,000. And what if Bryan struggles with his career this year?

Maybe I could pay off the car loan this year. Maybe I couldn’t. The question is, should I try? Should I put some of my other priorities aside, and aim for paying off the car loan this year? It would be awesome going into 2016 with $0 in debt. Think of what I could do with all my extra cash! Retirement… Investments… Saving for our future home…

Or, do I keep with my original plan for this year? Sure, I always intended to pay extra on the car loan once the student loan was gone. But, I was thinking it would be a more balanced approach, with some money going towards the car loan, some going towards living life this year (like a vacation), and some going towards retirement. Past, present, future, so to speak.

Honestly, my excitement has me leaning towards paying off the loan. Sure, I may come short; But even if I end the year with $5,000 left owed, that’s still way better than where I started. And I can always slow things down throughout the year for things like my sister’s wedding. But I love the idea of setting an “impossible goal”, and charging at it with everything I’ve got. It’s much more exciting and motivating than just setting attainable goals, and moving along as usual. It may make for a tough year, but what’s one tough year compared to freedom? If I can pay off $20,000+ in debt this year, think of what I can do with $20,000+ next. It gets me one step closer to my dream of buying a home with Bryan. One step closer to financial independence. One step closer to freedom.

What would you do? Live a little (or a lot) leaner, and try to pay off the car loan? Or keep with the original plan?

– Cindy W.

I posted a few weeks ago that January was going to be a pretty rough month for my net worth. And, of course, it didn’t disappoint:

Net Worth update as of January 30, 2015

Net Worth update as of January 30, 2015

Yikes!

Okay, it looks kind of bad. But, digging in a little more, it isn’t as bad as it looks! Sure, I lost $1,628 in one month. But, $1,500 of that was depreciation on the car. The stock market took a hit, but I managed to gain a little through contributions. Yay retirement contributions! AND I paid off $1,674 in debt this month. Of which $1,289 went towards my student loan!

That student loan is going to be history in no time!

Granted, I won’t be able to pay off that much every month. But, I anticipate being able to pay off anywhere from $480-600 each month. Plus, I’ll have a tax refund coming in sometime in the next few months. If all goes as plans (i.e., no unforeseen disasters lurking), I should be able to have that loan gone by May.

All in all, I’m pretty happy with how 2015 is starting off. Cash and investments and assets may vary, but with debt, once it’s gone, it’s gone*.Right now, those numbers are the ones I’m concentrating on.

How was your January? Is 2015 starting off a little rough for you? Or has it been smooth sailing so far?

– Cindy W.

* Assuming you don’t take on any more debt. And (aside from a possible future home), I don’t intend to!

 

In my last post, I talked about my history with clothes. I’ve spent my whole life trying to figure out my style; Trying to find clothes that were not only comfortable, but made me feel “put together” and polished.

A few weeks back, I came across an idea that just might work for me: Capsule Wardrobes. There are tons of different blogs our there that all have different takes on it, but I think I’ll start with Project333 and go from there. The idea is that you limit yourself to 33 items for each 3 month period (a season). She includes tops, bottoms, dresses, shoes, outerwear and accessories in the count, but not pajamas, underwear, and workout clothes (so long as you never wear them as regular clothes!). Some bloggers allow for more than 33 items (like 37), and some don’t include outerwear and accessories in the count (but shoes always count!).

So, right now would be the “Winter Capsule”. Everything not included in the capsule either gets packed away for another capsule, or you get rid of it. Since you’re limited to a small number of items, you better love every single one. It should fit, and be in good condition. Allowances are made if an item wears out, or gets damaged; You can bring in a new item to replace an old. Same if you lose/gain weight. Each season doesn’t need to be 33 totally different items; A lot of base pieces, like jeans, will carry forward from one capsule to the next. In areas with less distinct seasons, some people choose to only do 2 capsules: A Spring/Summer and a Fall/Winter.

Why do I like this idea? Because it helps clear away the clutter, and forces you to take action and make hard decisions. I have a small closet at the apartment for all my clothes. And it has a big duct that runs up the back, making it even smaller. Shoes litter the bottom of my closet, and, even with not having many clothes, the racks are full. I’m not even sure what all I have in there! I’ve started pulling things out of the closet, and clearing out the things that aren’t “winter appropriate”. After pulling out a bunch of T-shirts, and a variety of light weight shirts, and a few summery skirts, I was surprised with what was left. There were several things I’d totally forgotten about. And several items that I really like, but couldn’t wear in their current condition. Like the 2 pairs of jeans and 1 pair of dress pants that I love the fit of, but they’re 4 inches too long. Why have I not hemmed them? If I only have 33 pieces of clothing (including shoes!), I need to make sure that every item I keep is wearable!

With fewer things in the closet, it’s easier to see what you need. If you’re only looking at one season at a time, it’s easier to come up with colors and styles that are interchangeable. And when you set limits on the number of items you can have, you’re more likely to concentrate your clothing dollars on things you’ll get the most use out of. You tend to buy better quality items, instead of more items. People who follow the system say the first year is hard, since you’re filling in a lot of gaps, and trying to define your style. After that, you’re pulling capsules out from the previous year, so you really just have to make a few adjustments for style changes and wear/tear.

It’s also brought up a good question on how I view my clothes. I have several things that I really like, that fit well, but I don’t wear. Why? Because I’m saving them for special occasions. For example, when I had several interviews last year, I realized none of my old business suits fit. So, I bought a basic suit from J.C. Penney’s. I kept one old suit that is a size smaller, but all of my other old suits I got rid of; Even if I can fit into them someday, they have a somewhat dated look to them now. I love the way the black pants fit, and they’d make a great addition to my work clothes. But I haven’t worn them for anything other than interviews. Why? Because if I wear them, they’re going to get wear and tear, and fade, and they won’t match the blazer anymore! I tried buying a second pair, but haven’t been able to find another pair in that size/style.

The reality is, I may not even be that size anymore by the time I need to wear a suit again. I almost always need a different sized suit when I interview. I’ll have saved those pants for a special occasion that may never come. And they were only like $30 (after discounts), so it’s not like I spent a fortune on them. Why not get some wear out of them? I’m saving my clothes for someday, instead of getting some use out of them today. Sure, if I spent thousands of dollars on a suit, I wouldn’t turn it in to everyday wear. But for $30? Why not?

Right now, I’m not spending any money adding to my “winter capsule”. Why? Because I typically only buy clothing when I have spending money left over. Lately, things have been a little tight. Sure, I could cut back a little on the money I’m putting towards my student loans, but I don’t really rate new clothes higher than debt payoff. And, oddly enough, pulling all of the “excess” out of my closet has already helped me shake up my wardrobe a bit. I’m wearing things that I haven’t worn in forever, and trying new combinations of clothing. And, since I’m only wearing things that I love/that fit, I’m already feeling better about how I dress. I’ll probably invest in tailoring a few pieces, but that’s about it for now.

So, I’m going to give this whole capsule wardrobe thing a try. Maybe it will help me find my sense of style? At the very least, switching things out every season will help keep things from getting too boring.

What do you think? Would you try capsule wardrobing? How do you handle buying clothes?

– Cindy W.