Friday, September 30, 2011

Searching for Salary Points

As I've mentioned before, one way to earn a raise in my district is to complete additional classes/trainings/professional development. You have ten years to max out your "salary points," which are similar to university credits. You need 14 points for each incremental raise.

I am in year seven of teaching, and I am 28 units away from maxing out. My goal for this school year is to complete another increment and earn a raise again. The sooner I do this, the more I earn over my years in the district. Assuming I don't get laid off, this could be very lucrative.

So, I looked online to see if there were any cheap or free options first. I found two classes, each worth one point. One is a free online class during the month of November. Yes, please! I love the convenience of online classes, and a free one is even better!

I also found one that meets on two Saturdays in October about teaching Islam and the Arab World. This sounds really interesting, and it's only $35, including lunch on both days. I sent the link to some other teacher friends to see if they want to go so we can carpool.

I'm also going to work funds into my November budget to sign up for an online class, hopefully one I can work on over Christmas break when I have three weeks off from work. We shall see.

If I get into both of these, that's two points down, twelve to go. Ugh, that doesn't actually sound super encouraging. But that raise is calling my name, so I'm on it!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Frugal Romance-The Mail

As I've mentioned several times, BF and I live together as of a few months ago. Yesterday while he was at work, I checked the mail and saw a card addressed to me. I opened it and saw that he had written and mailed me a greeting card.

I loved it!

Yes, he could have left it for me in the living room, but who doesn't love to get mail? :) The card was for no special occasion, just to say I love you. I thought sending it in the mail was a nice touch though. It made my day. If your significant other is the one who checks the mail, this is a fun surprise for them. And, if you don't live together it's a great way to say I love you. I would guess the card cost him a couple of bucks and he splurged on 44 cents for the stamp. Definitely frugal.


Yesterday I got a slip in my mailbox letting me know that I was overpaid for the hours I worked in August. We were supposed to get paid $25 per hour for most of the days, and our hourly rate for three of the days. When we got paid, everyone was excited that we were paid our hourly rate for all of the days. So excited, in fact, that no one thought to ask if this was a mistake.

Yeah, it was a mistake.

So, we found out that they will be correcting this error in either our October or November checks. Which makes sense, I understand they need to fix it. But it throws off my savings plans and backtracks me a bit. Which is no fun. Luckily, I did save a lot of money in September, so I will have that extra money for the short check months. Ideally, I'd like to buckle down and keep it in savings, but it's going to be a lot of money, so that may not be possible.

I can't imagine what I would have done if this was during debt repayment time and I would have sent off a giant payment to my credit card or car payment. That would have been REALLY bad. Makes me thankful I have my debt taken care of and I still have the money in savings.

How much you ask? If they take out the gross amount, not the net, I will lose about $720 in my next paycheck. Ouch!

I'm not entirely sure how much it will be, because I don't know how the tax thing will work. I was already taxed for that payment, so if they take the gross amount out (which I assume they will) that's going to SUCK. And result in an overpayment of taxes? Although I guess I will owe less for next month, so it will even out?

Anyone have any experience in something like this who can explain the tax part to me?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Christmas Planning

It's getting toward the end of the year, so that means it's time to start planning for Christmas shopping. I know there are people who plan year round, but I don't have a huge family, so I tend to spread my shopping out over the last few months of the year.

I actually bought my first stocking stuffer earlier this month when I saw a Dodgers gift set at Big Lots. I grabbed it for the BF, and have it hidden away already. Most of my family reads this blog, so I can't get too detailed on my plans, but I do want to set a budget and start preparing now.

I am setting my Christmas gift budget at $300. This is lower than I first planned, but I think I can get creative and find gifts that people in my life will enjoy within this budget. If I can do it, I will be able to put an additional $200 toward my house fund in December. I am setting aside all my Swagbucks gift cards for Christmas, which won't be a ton, but will help with a gift or two. I'm also keeping an eye out for freebies and sales that can be used as stocking stuffers. I hope that by starting now and keeping an eye out I can stay within this budget.

What's your Christmas budget? Have you started shopping yet?

Monday, September 26, 2011

From Ebay to an Epiphany.

Early on in my debt repayment journey, I was the Amazon/Ebay queen. I sold books, movies, memorabilia, gifts...anything that wasn't nailed down. One relatively successful thing to sell was cosmetic items. I bundled together a bunch of Bath & Body Works products I'd received as gifts or free samples and sold them on Ebay. I've also sold items from my Clinique gift with purchase (gwp) to earn some money. Once I didn't open the GWP, and sold it for a decent amount, earning back the money for my makeup purchase. I also use these items as stocking stuffers or group them together for a simple gift. I made a decent housewarming gift out of freebie candles and soaps from B&BW.

Right now I've got a sizable stash of cosmetics products. Some of the same stuff, some Sephora and Aveda samples, Clinique, Bath and Body Works. I also just pre-ordered the next GWP, which I will pick up next week.

Before, I definitely would have created an Ebay listing for this stuff, saving whatever I didn't sell as stocking stuffers. I could still do that and earn some money for my house downpayment fund. But I'm also tempted to keep the stuff. I have a Clinique eye makeup remover that would be a nice upgrade from my drugstore brand. The latest GWP comes with a new style of lipstick that I'd like to try. I could also give my mom the moisturizer sample I know she likes. The candle smells good and it would be nice to use it myself.

Obviously, there's nothing wrong with using these items. But if I am really shooting to save $30,000 for a house down payment, shouldn't I apply the same gazelle-like intensity to that as I did for debt repayment? I feel like since I am out of consumer debt, I am getting much more relaxed in my habits. To a degree, that's okay. But I feel like I need to light a fire here. If I can pay off over $20,000 of debt in two years, I should be able to save at least that much.

If you haven't noticed, I made a decision while typing this post. Game on. Gazelle-like saving, here I come. I am changing my attitude, and making positive things happen in my financial life. That drive shouldn't just be for paying for my past mistakes. It should be for creating the future that I want.

Game on.

Swagbucks Slowdown

As I've mentioned many times here before, I am a big fan of Swagbucks. I've used it to get a couple hundred dollars in Amazon gift cards over the last two years. For a while I had three or four referrals, which definitely helped in accruing those Swagbucks.

Now, either those people have stopped Swagbuckin' or I've hit my referral limit with them. And now that it's just me, my gift card earnings have slowed WAY down. I have one five dollar gift card saved, and I'm close to earning another one, but it's taken over a month to earn it. Obviously, this is better than nothing, but I miss the days where the Swagbucks came rolling in.

So, this is a shameless plug to get you to sign up.

If you aren't yet using Swagbucks, it's super easy and worthwhile. I always go for Amazon gift cards, but they have tons of different gift cards on their site. Last year I bought a few Christmas presents for free, and I've also bought little luxuries that I don't want to take out of my regular budget (fancy shampoo and conditioner). It's easy to use, and if you sign up I can give you some more tips to earn.

For those who are already users, any tips to up my earnings? I do the daily polls, NOSO, and searches. I occasionally do surveys. Are any of the other earning strategies worthwhile?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Back on the Recycling Wagon

Today I took in our recycling for cash. BF and I have been collecting our bottles and cans on our balcony since he moved in. I stopped doing recycling for cash a while back because I had nowhere to keep the cans and the small amount I got just wasn't worth it. But, BF likes to buy soda and beverages other than tap water (he's wild and crazy like that), so we started saving again.

I got $9.75 today, for about two months worth of cans and bottles. Definitely worth it, considering it's almost zero effort to save them, and I took them in while running other errands. I put all the money in our "joint savings account." It's a jar that we keep all our change and recycling money in. With all the bills in it, I think we're at about $40. We've had that jar for about three months, so that's adding up quickly as well.

We don't have any specific plans for that money, but it's nice to watch it grow. It could be a rainy day fund, or the beginning of a vacation or wedding fund. No plans yet, but it's a small baby step in sharing some money. We both put into it, and it's not money we would be comfortable spending without talking to the other one.

Anyway, I'm back to one of my money-earning activities from when I first started paying off debt, but it's more lucrative this time. And more fun, now that I'm not obligated to use it all to pay off debt. :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sometimes it Doesn't Have to be Even-Stevens

The boyfriend and I have been living together for two months now, and I haven't talked much about how that's going financially. So here's a post about it!

We decided that I will pay a little more rent than he does, since I do make more than him. We divide up the bills pretty evenly. I pay electric and internet, he pays water and Netflix. That part is easy, as it's pre-determined. We don't share phone bills or anything else yet, so the only other expense is groceries.

I tend to cook more than he does. Partly because I like it, and partly because I'm more of a planner than he is. I like to figure out what I'm making all week, shop for it on Sunday, and be done. He tends to figure it out as he goes, and my planning doesn't leave much room for that.

I had just been thinking that I spend more on groceries than he does, because I buy for the meals. We've split groceries when we go together, but this month I know I had spent more. It didn't exactly bother me, but I was aware of it and figured if I used my whole grocery budget for the month, then I'd ask him to pitch in. And I thought that long-term we needed to be a little more even. I feel like we're a team in a lot of ways, but I also still feel very aware that my money is MINE and his money is HIS.

But then, last night I was talking to him about how I'm really struggling with staying on track with weight watchers. He suggested I eat more at breakfast, so I'm not as hungry throughout the day. I quote, "You could get up a little earlier and make eggs or something. It wouldn't take that long."

My response: "Um, let's talk about things I might actually do. I hit snooze a ton as it is, I'm not going to pretend I'm getting up fifteen minutes earlier to make eggs!"

(I'm lazy. But whatever, not the point.)

I also don't like milk, so I can't eat cereal. I'm not picky in general, but breakfast isn't my strongest meal.

So, when I came home from work, BF had gone to the store. He made a fruit salad (zero points), and had made a big batch of cranberry maple oatmeal in the crock pot. He also bought ingredients for a blueberry coffee cake that he got from the weight watchers site. I called him at work and he said he figured if he made breakfast for me, then I'd be more likely to eat in the morning and do better with my goals. He also said he bought stuff to make dinner tomorrow.

For the record, he also joined weight watchers to be supportive, and is kicking my ass at it. He's lost WAY more than me and is more disciplined. I was secretly lamenting this, feeling like he must think I'm a total failure and blah blah blah. 

Instead, he quietly found a way to be supportive again, and surprised me with his thoughtfulness. I have no idea how much he spent on the groceries. And I couldn't care less that I still probably spend more than he does on our groceries. Sometimes it's less important that it's even in spending, and more important that we're a team.

This doesn't mean my budget goes out the window or that I will just buy everything...but I do want to start to think of finances more in the "we" than in the "me."

How did you transition to joint finances? Was it difficult?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

How Much Should I Save for a House?

I have decided to make my recently rediscovered ING savings account my house down payment fund. Whoo-hoo! This means that since I forgot about the money in there, I am starting with $67 toward a place. Can I start house-hunting yet?

Just kidding. But the question I am really pondering is how much I need to save to buy my own place?

I know this is a complicated question. It depends what kind of place I'm looking for, where I want to live, if I'm buying this place with a future husband or on my own. All important questions, and all ones I am not sure of the answer to.

I love where I live, so I'd like to stay somewhere in Long Beach. As close to the beach as I can get, but I may need to look further away to find something affordable. I'd like to buy something I can stay in for a while, meaning a kid or two could live there. So at least a two bedroom, possibly a three if I can swing it. I would be okay with a condo, though if I could find a house, that would be splendid. I would think that this topic will eventually be merged with BF, but as of now we're not quite there.

I know I can just start saving, but I think it would be much more motivating to have some idea of how much I need to save. I've heard 10% is an okay downpayment, and that 20% is better. I've heard of closing costs, but I don't know how much that would be. It seems everyone I know who buys also has to do some sort of repairs or renovation before they move in, so I assume I'd want to save for that too.

As of now, I'm shooting for saving $30,000 which can be re-evaluated as the need arises. It's more money than I've ever conceived of saving, but it does motivate me to get going ASAP. Anyone have any advice on how to figure out how much to save for a down payment?

Friday, September 16, 2011


I logged in to my Sallie Mae account, as I have been every few days, to see if my $3,000 payment was made by the state of California. I detailed my past irresponsibility and how I rectified the situation here and here. Basically, because I teach in a low-income/high-need area, I am entitled to $12,000 of loan forgiveness over a four year period.

Yes, it's my seventh year of teaching and yes, this payment was for year three.

But it's there!!! I logged in and made a gasp/happy noise to see that my student loan payment is under ten grand! The payment was 14% of my total loan balance, so it was thrilling to get to change my sidebar with that big of a jump.

I know I just said that paying off my student loan isn't what makes me feel most powerful...but man, it still feels good to see that number get smaller!

Also, in response to a commenter who asked if I just worked where I did for the loan payoff, absolutely NOT. I love my school. I don't love my district, but the community I teach in is rewarding and diverse and I love it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

What Makes You Feel Powerful?

This post is inspired by Rhitter's post, which was inspired by Suze Orman.

Lately I have been hemming and hawing about what to do with my money now that my only remaining debt is my student loan. Up until now I've been following the Dave Ramsey model of paying down debt and have an emergency fund of $1,000. If I stick with that I should still be paying off my student loan with gazelle like intensity.

For whatever reason I've been reluctant to do so. I want to start saving for retirement in a Roth. I want to start building a house down payment fund, and increase my emergency fund up to three months expenses. I haven't been able to put my finger on why, but in thinking about this post, I came up with an idea. I think those other options make me feel more powerful than paying off my student loan would.

It is appealing to be completely debt free, but I see my student loan debt differently. I don't regret it like I did my other debts. So it doesn't feel as powerful to pay it off. Saving for my retirement in my Roth feels powerful because I can see that I am capable of saving an extra $5,000 per year. Saving for a house makes me feel powerful because although I am single (as in unmarried) I could potentially buy a property on my own. Bulking up the E-fund feels powerful (though not as much as the other two) because it makes me self-reliant, even if some unforeseen event occurs.

I don't think this is always the wisest decision-making strategy. If it made me feel powerful to have nice clothes I couldn't afford, that would be a no-go. But for where I'm at, I think I need to make a "Power Plan" to get me excited about my finances again. Stay tuned for the official plan.

What makes you feel powerful with your finances?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

ING Direct Fun

A while back I talked about using ING Direct for my E-fund, just to get a little better interest rate while it was sitting there. I even got Erica's referral info to hook her up with a bonus. Then, while laying in bed I suddenly remembered that I already had an ING savings account that I opened right after college. Doh! I knew it would be pretty empty and that I had no idea the account information for it.

I got a postcard from ING about using share builder to be able to invest in stocks for as low as $4. This also intrigued me, since I don't really do much in the stock market and it sounded fun to try it out for a low amount. Even if I invest $4 per week and lose it, I wouldn't be too upset about it. And if that money grows, even better.

These two things in combination finally got me to call ING and see if I could figure out my old account. I remembered hardly anything about it, so after asking me several questions the very helpful customer service rep confirmed I do have a savings there. He asked if I knew how much was in it and I guess ten bucks, thinking I probably drained it before I stopped using it. Surprise! I actually had $67.21. Not a million bucks, but still, I'll take it! He also told me that I could open a free electric orange checking account and get a $50 bonus if I used the debt card three times in 45 days. I decided to go for it. Not sure how much I'll use that checking, but I was suckered in by the free $50. I should have an extra $50 on or about November 1st (I'm mostly writing the date so I'll know when to look for it later).

Next, I need to call Sharebuilder, but that will have to be after I go running. Anyway, I'm excited to get an extra $50 and that I took care of another piece of business from my lest organized financial days. And it's an extra found $67! :)

Have you ever lost track of an account?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My Insurance Company Wants to Poison Me!

Okay, that might be a tad dramatic. But let's break it down.

Jessica has a filling in one of her teeth. Said filling has a tendency to pop out. This time it lasted a couple of years, but some flossing once again dislodged it. Jessica pushed it back in and called to make a dentist appointment, wanting to switch from the dentist who keeps putting in this wandering filling. Jessica discovers there is a one month waiting period when switching dentists. (Do you even have to wait that long to buy a gun? But I digress.)

Jessica finally makes appointment about a month and a half later. Nice and knowledgeable dentist tells her it needs to be fixed ASAP, as it may end up being a root canal. Jessica is panicked at this and tries to set up appointment ASAP. ASAP turns out to be in three weeks. Blech.

Clerk informs Jessica that the metal fillings are covered completely by her insurance. White filling will cost $110. Jessica is vain, but also cheap. So she is pondering this issue. THEN clerk tells her that the metal fillings contain Mercury. WHAT!?!?!

(I'm breaking out of third person now. Not even sure why I did that.)

So, my insurance is like, "Yeah, we'll pay for your filling if you are cool with a mouthful of mercury. If you don't want to get poisoned, it'll cost you." Does this seem honked up to anyone else? I mean, I know the answer is, "Don't get cavities." And you make a valid point. But that ship has sailed on this tooth. I am so annoyed at my insurance right now.

So, my cheapness still crossing it's penny-pinching fingers, I go online to see if maybe the Mercury isn't that bad. And it's not conclusive, but I can't quite justify sticking mercury in my head to save a hundred bucks, especially when I read this wikipedia article.

But if that little f***er pops out again, there will be hell to pay. And apparently a $110 co-pay to pay. Blerg.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Health Goals

Next month I will turn twenty-nine. Twenty-freaking-nine! I know that is younger than many people, but it's crazy to think I am entering the last year of my twenties.

Over the summer I haven't been feeling too healthy. I had put on some weight and wasn't exercising enough (i.e. at all). So, I made two goals for my 29th birthday.

1. Run a 5k. I have no time goal, I just want to run the whole thing without stopping to walk. Some days this genuinely feels impossible, and other days it seems within my reach. I have zero running background, but my boyfriend runner claims it is possible. I signed up for a 5k on October 9th, so I have just over a month left for training. Right now my best run is one and a half miles, walking half a mile, and then running another mile. Then Freddie made me sprint .10 mile at the end, to "simulate what I'll do in the race."

2. Lose 15 pounds. This gets me back down to what I've accepted is my ideal weight. It's not ideal in that I am a perfect physical specimen. It's ideal that I can keep it there if I exercise and keep eating relatively healthy. To get below that number, for me, takes the kind of exercise routine and eating habits that just aren't sustainable. But, that goal also gets me much happier with my body and makes me feel good about myself. I rejoined Weight Watchers (and boyfriend did too, because he's awesomely supportive like that). I've lost four pounds so far, so I've got eleven to go in the next month or so.

Both of these goals are attainable (I think), but they are definitely a challenge. I chose them for my birthday because I'm not super excited about turning 29. But, if I can associate my birthday with reaching goals for my health and (let's be honest), physical appearance, it gives me something to celebrate. I just have to not celebrate by gorging myself on a whole cake or something. Which sounds really good right now. I need to go make lunch.

I've also started religiously using night cream and eye cream after a friend my age told me she gets Botox already. (WHAT?!?!)

Do you have any fitness/health goals you're actively working towards?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

It's a Blizzard Over Here!

In the PF world we often refer to "snowflakes." Those little amounts of unexpected funds that you can put toward your debt snowball. This month, it's really snowing in my house! I was actually able to carry over $90 from my August budget that I didn't spend. Then my check was $194 bigger than I budgeted for (thanks extra work days!). I got an insurance refund of $23.38. I sold a book on Amazon, which earned $15.31. My grandma paid me back for some things I bought her, and I had budgeted for part of it, so I ended up with $26.14 more than I expected. And that's only three days into September! I should also have another mid-month check for one of my extra work days, so that will be another $200 or so.

I know I have some dental work coming, so I want to save some of it for that (around $110). I also bought new workout clothes when I shopped this weekend, which wasn't originally part of my plan. So, I spent about $100 extra on clothes shopping. But, that still leaves me with a good amount to put towards the extra Roth money I need to come up with by December. I must say, it's more tempting to spend that money, since it's sitting there for a while. Usually when I get snowflakes, I would put them straight onto my credit card bill or my car loan. Leaving them in my account makes me think of all the things I want to buy. BUT, I know I still have my student loan and my emergency fund to build, even after my Roth is funded. So, savings it will be.

Have you "found" any extra money in your budget lately? What do you do with it?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

What Do You Do When You Get Discouraged?

I was reading Destination: Planet Debt Free this morning, and Rhitter is feeling quite down about paying off debt. I've read similar posts on other people's blogs, and it made me think about how we handle the blahs.

When it comes to paying off debt and changing spending, I actually didn't hit the wall like I thought I would. I made a lot of lifestyle changes in the beginning, and though it was hard, I also found it really rewarding. I kept up good momentum with summer school checks and tax returns, so I had the accomplishment of paying off my credit cards in one school year and my car in the next. I was lucky in that I made this change NOW, so my debt wasn't huge and I don't have a family that I support with my money right now.

Now I've sort of plateaued. I no longer have a clear goal of what to do with my snowflakes. I'm thinking after I come up with the extra $500 I need to snowflake to my Roth this year, I will put the rest toward my student loan (saving enough to make lump sum payments toward the principle).

ANYWAY, I was saying. When you do get discouraged or off-track in your personal finance journey, how do you handle it? What gets you back on track? How do you make yourself feel better without spending? I felt at a loss for what to say to Rhitter, and realized that my advice may not have been the most sensitive response. So maybe your advice here will be helpful to her.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Dress Code Challenge

One of the great things about being a teacher (of the many great things) is that there is no dress code at my work. I can wear jeans, flip-flops, heck pajamas if I wanted to. But, I try to maintain a professional appearance, and most days I do pretty well. But, there are those days where my flip-flops look inviting and my comfy jeans call to me.

Every year I think "I'm gonna be better about dressing professionally." And I'm good for a few weeks, and then I cave in. So, this year I've decided to make a list of rules for myself about my work appearance. A dress code of sorts.

Reading this list is going to make you think I go to work looking like a homeless person. I don't, but I want to push myself to step it up, so I am going to outlaw even things that I only wear once a year.

Jessica's Dress Code

1. Jeans may be worn only on Fridays.
2. No flip-flops. At all. Ever.
3. Toms and Converse may be worn only on Fridays.
4. Wear at least one accessory every day.
5. No sweatshirts
6. Blow dry and style hair at least once a week (I am the ponytail/air dry queen. Because I like to hit snooze).
7. Wear red every Tuesday (for Union support), while maintaining the rest of these rules (no Union t-shirts).

Exception: Spirit Days which require a "costume" of sorts may violate these rules.

I know for many people you have a dress code that requires this, so it seems easy. But with no one enforcing the rules but me, it can be a challenge to keep to the rules. So, I plan to keep track of this, and for each month I follow all the rules, I am allowed to spend $25 on new clothes. If I break the rules, no new clothes that month, and the $25 goes into my E-fund. I know that's a small amount, but it's enough for a new shirt or some other item if I shop carefully. That way my reward can also help keep me excited about wearing nice clothes to work.

Do you have a dress code at your work? Do you find it difficult to maintain a professional appearance?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Speaking of Stimulating the Economy....

I am doing some back to school clothes shopping this weekend, in anticipation of the beginning of a new year on Tuesday. Some of these things are legitimate needs, others just wants. But, I worked a bunch of hours in August, so my check will be large and in charge. I've made a list of items I'll be on the lookout for.  Want to read the list? You're in luck!

*Snakeskin flats-I saw a girl wearing some in Chicago and I LOVED them. I want a pair of flats that are interesting but still neutral enough to go with most outfits.
*White shoes-either dressy sandals or flats. I have black and gray, but no white.
*Two or three dresses-I want to go for some professional dresses. Most of mine are sort of summery, which is fine for my job, but I'd like to step up my professional appearance at work.
*Two pairs of jeans-this is a need. My favorite pair is pretty thread bare and the other pair in my rotation aren't all that flattering. I'm looking for one dark wash that can be dressed up or down and another more casual pair for weekend wear.
*New black shirt-my go-to black shirt got a hole in it. :/
*Four or five new "work shirts." These can also be weekend appropriate, but I want to be able to dress mix and match a little more with my slacks and skirts.
*Red cardigan-we wear red every Tuesday for union support, and a cardigan is a good go to for this day.
*Work skirt-not too sure what it will look like, but I would like another skirt to add to the rotation.
*Necklace-I used to wear lots of necklaces, but not lately. I'd like a new one because I think accessories can help dress up a more casual outfit.
*Watch-this is low on the list, but I'd like a large-faced watch. I have a smaller one BF got me for Valentine's Day, but I like the look of the oversized ones.

That's my list. Pretty extensive, but I haven't shopped a ton lately (except once last month. Shh!) I need to see exactly how much my check is before I finalize my clothing budget, but I am thinking I'd like to spend around $400 for those items. I plan to hit up Marshalls, Ross, Nordstrom Rack, and possibly the outlets to keep it on the cheap. I also need some new makeup, but am hoping to hold out for Clinique gift with purchase in October for that. I'll post after the weekend and let you know how my shopping went!