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Clothing Swap

Last week my friend “Jessica” wrote an email to a few friends that she had done a little spring cleaning and was giving away clothes to Goodwill. She asked if any of us wanted to take a look before she donated them to charity. That email sparked a whole chain of replies with the idea for everyone to clean our closets over the weekend and have a clothing swap party.

I’ve heard of the idea, specifically from Confessions of a Shopaholic (where she sells her wardrobe to pay her debt), but I had never attended one. To be honest, I didn’t think there would be anything of interest and everything would be out-dated, but almost everyone brought great stuff that they were simply tired of wearing.

Tuesday night about seven girls gathered at Jessica’s apartment to bring old clothes, accessories, shoes, and do a little shopping while we watched American Idol. It was so much fun! Her place looked like a department store with sections across her dining room table and accessories scattered about her living room. I gave away four shirts, one pair of jeans and some pajama bottoms.

I ended up getting:

  • 2 pencil skirts (shout out to Chelsea Bea!)
  • 1 pair of work pants
  • 5 short-sleeve summer shirts
  • 1 pair of sweat pants
  • 1 black necklace

I think this is a brilliant idea for girls to get together to empty their closets and in return get some free used clothes.

Has anyone else hosted or attended a Clothing Swap?

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Girl’s Weekend!!!

I have some of the best friends from college, but unfortunately all of us are scattered about the eastern shore. We don’t see each other as often as we’d like, but that just means we get to plan Girl’s Weekends! This weekend I am hosting Girl’s Weekend. I am sooo excited. I have three beautiful girls staying with me for three days!

One challenge for Girl’s Weekend is the cost. Whether you are the one traveling or the one hosting, there are always expenses.

Here’s a little snapshot of what hosting expenses include:

  • Gasoline for airport pickups and any driving around town
  • Groceries for breakfasts, snacks. desserts and meals
  • Dining or going out costs
  • Movies or entertainment
  • Shopping
  • Apartment decorations — Having out of town guests gives me an excuse to buy apartment “wants,” including flowers, cute decorations or kitchen items. This past weekend I bought an adorable chalkboard, cream/sugar set, and little dish towels to help pretty-up my place.

The four of us all live in separates cities with separate salaries and budgets. In order to tailor to everyone’s lifestyle, I like to plan activities to make sure there are a lot of options so that each person can spend as much or as little as they want. For example, I have a list of shopping places we could all go, restaurants with a variety of prices, and activities that could be versatile. This may sound silly, but one of the things my friends and I love to do is get dressed up and take pictures together somewhere. That’s as cheap as it comes!

Mentally I have prepared myself that January would be expensive so I don’t have to pinch the pennies the entire time people are in town. I want to have the flexibility to go see a show or ice skate if that’s what everyone wants to do. There’s nothing worse than a hostess who complains about the expenses of having people in town. If you can’t afford to host your friends, you probably shouldn’t, unless you’re all upfront on what you’re doing and the costs associated.

Anyone else host Girl’s Weekends a lot? Any tips you have for having out-of-town guests?

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This year I was asked to participate in a Holiday Blogging Swap and of course I said YES! Kaileen Elise, Chelsea Bea at Pencil Skirt & Pearls and Carolyn at Hang on Little Tomato organized it, three lovely bloggers you should definitely check out. I had the privilege of getting City Girl Lifestyle to send a gift to and receive from! CGL is a blogger who writes about all things lovely, including beauty, fashion, cooking, and of course city life! She lives nearby so there’s no surprise that my favorite posts are when she mentions Life in DC.

The purpose of the Blogging Swap is to spread holiday love through Warmth, Sparkle, Cheer and Sweets. Here are the delightful things I received from City Girl:

SPARKLE: She knows I’m about to go on a holiday cruise, so she gave me delightful little lotions, soaps, shampoos, etc. for my journey. So thoughtful. :)

SWEETS & CHEER: These sweet sure did cheer me up! As soon as I opened the package, I went straight for those Sea Salt Caramels. Yum yum yum.

WARMTH: I wish that there was some way you could smell this gingerbread coffee and feel how soft this scarf is. Oh my.

THANK YOU!

Wow, I feel so blessed to have such wonderful gifts and be in touch with so many fantastic girls across the web. A huge thank you to City Girl Lifestyle for the thoughtful and perfect gifts, and also to the organizers Kaileen Elise, Carolyn, and Chelsea Bea! Check back with Kaileen Elise in the next week to see the rest of the gifts among the Holiday Bloggers! :)

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As an anonymous blogger, I rarely get the chance to practice my financial dorkiness awesomeness. You just can’t sit down with friends and openly ask them about their Roth IRA or whether they’re finished with funding their Emergency Fund. I mean, sure you can, but I don’t. I pretty much keep that information to my closet life: to this blog and twitter.

Well, last night my worlds collided: I attended my first ever Personal Finance Blogging Happy Hour! I met real bloggers in the flesh!

There are many amazing bloggers in DC and I got the chance to meet up with five of them last night. Let me just say I was nervous as all get out. I got off the metro, walked up the street to the bar Recessions (appropriate meet-place, huh?), and realized that I had no idea what anyone looked like. I walked into the bar and saw a handfull of small groups across the place, cursing myself that I hadn’t emailed the group something like “I’ll be wearing a black jacket” (like everyone else in this city). Finally after deciding not to shout out “PF Blogging group?” to the entire place, I approached a table thankful to find my fellow friends.

In attendance:

Small Budget, Big Style To be honest, I didn’t get a chance to talk to her much! I was on the opposite side of the table, but I have recently started following her blog about two things I love: finances and style.

Debt Hater Like SBBS, she was also on the other side of the table from me. I’ve chatted with her some on Twitter and it was so nice to meet her in person. You should also know she has an adorable blue jacket I was lusting after.

Mrs. Micah This girl is as nice as her blog and twitter posts–seriously. In addition to her brilliant financial and website knowledge, I learned a few other things about her… like her profession, her comic book interest, and where she lives close enough to throw a rock at.

Brian Schuer @ My Next Buck What a genuninely nice guy! He certainly knows the ends and outs of the blogging world and put me to shame with his extensive knowledge of how to market your blog. After hearing about his crazy busy schedule, I was touched that he made time to come to the HH… and learned exactly where and when he makes time to write his posts.

Craig @ Budget Pulse Also an awesome guy! Craig works at Budget Pulse, a site that provides budget software for free. Not only is he a great guy to share blogging tips, but also to share a beer, a metro ride, and a similar opinion on the Twilight series.

I have received a few questions from readers about creating your own budgets. I recommend checking out Budget Pulse: it’s free and it’s 100% secure.

All in all, a delightful evening and a great first PF blogging happy hour. Looking forward to the next!

Oh and you know I’d have to report: I bought a beer and crabcakes for $10.80 with tip. :) Yum and yummier.

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The other day I went out to lunch with a friend. (I promise this was before I vowed not to eat out.) She mentioned that she’d like to go somewhere cheap since things were kind of tight.

“Of course, cheap sounds great to me!” I said, always thankful for a frugal food suggestion. As we were eating, she disclosed a little more on how “tight” things were for her.

“I just found out I was late paying my rent and now I have a $35 late fee on top of that,” she moaned. “I’m going to have to ask my dad again to pay for me this month.”

“Oh no! How late were you paying rent? Surely if it was a couple of days they could waive the fee?”

“Well, the landlord emailed me this morning saying I haven’t paid yet. I really thought it had gone though!”

“Hmm. Did you see the money go out of your account? Because if your check has been sent or your bank account has been charged, then surely you can show your statement to the landlord.”

“Uh, I don’t know,” she said nonchalantly. “I haven’t checked my bank account since sometime in September.”

I tried not to choke on my sandwich.

“Oh,” I said simply, meanwhile thinking to myself: How can you go an entire month without checking your bank account???

“Hm, well I hope you get things resolved,” I said and then proceeded to tell her some empathetic story about how I once overdrafted twice in one day.

I could tell she was done with the money talk, so we continue with our lunch and on to other topics. But I really wanted to keep talking about it. I wanted to get out a notebook and create a budget for her. I wanted to tell her I’ve been there. I remember having $10 to my name. I remember when every meal I ate out tasted like money dropping from my wallet. I wondered if she thought that as we ate.

But I didn’t say any of that. Perhaps I should have. I guess I’m a coward when it comes to talking about money and my thoughts how one should handle it. I never want to come off as “holier than thou.”

 

So that brings me to some questions for the blogosphere:

1. Has anyone ever been in an uncomfortable situation like above where you confronted a friend/family member regarding their finances? How did it go?

2. How often do you check your bank account? Personally I feel a bit uneasy if I go a day without checking mine.

3. Do you currently feel like your finances are out of control? I know most of my readers are those who have a handle on their finances, but perhaps some of you would like some help. If so, I have definitely been there. I’m no expert, but I’d be willing to digest your financial situation and help set goals and create a budget. Please email me at myprettypennies[at]hotmail.com if you would like some help. :)

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What a lovely weekend I had with some of my favorite friends. Like all anticipated weekends, it went by too fast. They really want J and me to move down there, and I must say I am tempted. The cost of living is certainly less than here in Washington. I need to remind myself to be content with my apartment, even if I am paying twice what they do with half the amenities.

atlanta

Beginning Balance: $355.15

Friday:
-$5.23 breakfast at airport
-$28.68 lunch for J & me
-$20.00 movie tickets for J & me; saw Where the Wild Things Are

Saturday:
-$18.43 chipping in for groceries for dinner
-$3.66 pumpkin spice latte @ starbucks (mmm!)
-$18.01 netflix*

Sunday:
-$12.63 lunch at a delicious Tavern
-$4.17 pumpkin spice latte @ starbucks (seriously, i’m addicted!)
-$15.00 metro money

*I signed up for a trial netflix and forgot to cancel it! That was stupid. I hate paying fees like that which could have been easily avoided if I wasn’t lazy and forgetful. Lesson learned. At least I stayed within my weekend budget of $150!

Ending Balance: $229.34

Weekend highlights:
Mimosas, homemade pizzas, sleeping in, mario kart, airport pick-ups, wine, changing leavings, piedmont park, pumpkin spice lattes, laughing until our stomachs hurt. :)

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On Saturday a few friends and I headed away from the city and into the countryside. We went to an orchard and picked our own apples, raspberries and pumpkins. The sky was blue, the air was crisp, and I even saw yellow leaves on some trees. I was in heaven. :)

apples

apples

raspberries

raspberries

pumpkin patch

In case you’re wondering what I look like, here’s a picture of me with a pumpkin head:

pumpkin

After picking, we all came back to my apartment and made an apple pie, apple sauce and apple chips. And I still have enough apples to make an apple crisp for when my parents arrive this weekend. Oh yum.

Total Cost:
Two bags of apples: FREE
Two cups of raspberries: FREE
Two pumpkins: $6.80

I highly recommend going to pick your own fruits and vegetables before the cold winter arrives. It’s usually very cheap (ahem–two cups of raspberries for FREE!), and it’s sooo much fun!

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Blogs & Coffee

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My favorite part of the day is in the early morning: I sit on my couch with a newly brewed cup of coffee and open my computer up to peruse blog updates from dear friends I have subscribed to. I saw this poster on Naturally Nina–a new blog I’m quickly falling in love with. It’s so adorable and so true.

Thanks to all the blogs that make my day happier!

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Okay, so I was tagged by Shoestring Alley a while ago, but forgot about it until TeacHer tagged me. I thought I would do this for a little Friday Fun. :)

Seven Things About Me:
1. I am terrified of granddaddy long legs.

2. When I was in fourth grade I started a newsletter with short stories to send to my family and friends. I had 58 subscribers and it lasted five issues.

3. I’m going to copy one of Always the Planner’s things and say that I am a closet reality show watcher. Since I got cable I’ve been mildly obsessed with the Real Housewives of New Jersey. Anyone else see Teresa flip out the other night? Anyone?

4. All the women on my mom’s side of the family are 5-3 in height.

5. My BF and I are completely opposite when it comes to movies. We decided the only way we could reach some sort of compromise was to switch off: you pick the movie, you pay for the tickets. It’s worked wonderfully!

6. I own a ton of shoes but usually end up alternating between three pairs per season.

7. My roommate A and I got into the Sims game in college and since then say to each other, “my environment is low” whenever the house is a mess or there is a lot of clutter. Yeah, we’re cool like that.

Tagging: I hate picking favorites! You know I love you all. How about this: I tag all those who are on my blogroll.

Weekend Plans:
My roommate A is moving out tomorrow. :( It’s kind of an end of an era. I have roomed with A for four years and lived in the same town with her since I was four years old. Now she has to go and get married and live with a boy. I don’t think it will hit me until after her wedding and all the excitement has died down. As Awesome Bridesmaid I have lots of little tasks still to accomplish in the next few weeks!

After she moves, I am home alone this weekend and I am thankful. The apartment is a war-zone with boxes everywhere and new roommate D’s stuff crowding the main room. Once A leaves on Saturday I plan to dust, organize, put the place back in order, and declutter my life. I might even start on my quilt or paint my new dresser. Budget? Let’s say $50 pending whether I end up buying paint or not. I think it will be a cheap weekend and I like it that way. Hope you have a lovely summer weekend! :)

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Social Constraints

I think I have a very good grasp on handling my money on my own. Key words? On my own. When I’m by myself I can easily ward off temptations by saying “that’s not in the budget,” and that’s the end of discussion. I’ll put down the cute little dress.

However, when others tempt me to spend money, I cave. I can be such a pushover at times and it makes me 1) like the tempter less and 2) like myself much less for giving in. This seems to happen a lot more now that the sun sets at 9 pm and I find myself out after a long winter of hibernation.

For example, you are at a bar or restaurant and already spent $35 on a dinner/drinks. Your friend asks you to get another drink with her. You say, “No thanks, I’m good.” And she continues to plead: “Come on! It’s just $8. Just sacrifice eating out for lunch once this week.” Thinking to self: An entire meal vs. just one beverage? “No really, I don’t need another drink.” Then the friend sighs and says, “Alright, well I guess I won’t get one either.” And then because you don’t want to let your friend down, you give in and buy another drink that ends up being over $10 with tax and tip.

How do you resolve that? Am I the only one who feels pressure by friends to “have a good time” and in the process go over budget? What do you do when your budget hinders others from having a good time?

Some helpful tips:

cocktail

  • Plan ahead. Do your research on restaurants that have reasonable specials.
  • Eat a snack before dinner so you’re not as hungry and order a small meal or appetizer.
  • Split a meal with a friend. Usually the portions are so large that it is more than enough to feed two.
  • Be the designated driver. It may not be as fun, but it’s an automatic cheap night.
  • Pre-game at home. It is much more economical to drink a $5 bottle of wine at home than spending $7 per glass at a restaurant.
  • Carry enough cash. If the whole table receives one check and it needs to be split amongst the party, you can pay for only your amount and don’t have to put everyone’s meal on your credit card and hope they all pay you back eventually.
  • Don’t be afraid to say no. Ack! This one is hard for me. But in the end, if my friends don’t respect that I can’t afford it, are they actual true friends?
  • Do what feels right to you. If you know it’s going to be a huge expensive evening, don’t go. Or if you know that caving in will make your friend happy but put you in a bad mood for giving in, just say no. But if you feel that the situation is right and spending a little extra won’t be a big deal and you are having fun, then do it. You could always skip eating out that week for lunch.

Morale of the story: Don’t let anyone else walk over you. You always have a choice and do what is comfortable with you and your budget. Any other tips to deal with these sticky social situations?

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