2016 budget in review

Another shopping year is over, and once again, I’m taking some time to look at my purchases. Much like last year, I operated on an annual budget of $2000. Here’s how that amount was spent on a month-by-month basis:

2016 total: $2008 ($8 over budget)

I’ll reiterate that I think this method of budgeting works well for my personality. If I were to stick to a strict monthly budget, I would probably obsess about making sure I was under that amount to the penny, which just adds unnecessary stress to my life. Instead, I now keep in mind that $2000 divided by 12 months is approximately $165, so whenever I approach that amount in my shopping exploits, I know it’s time to “rein it in” a bit. The annual versus monthly budget provides much needed flexibility in spending depending on seasonal needs (and wants…) during the year. I plan on continuing this budget structure for 2017.

Now for the best and worst buys of the year. Because I haven’t been blogging consistently this year, it’s difficult for me to know precisely how many times I’ve worn certain clothing items, but I’ve made a list of the smart and not-so-smart purchases for 2016:

the worst buys:

  • silver flats: I decided that I wanted a pair of metallic flats in my life, and debated ad nauseam which pair to buy. In the end, I went with the more “fashion-forward” mirror d’orsay flats from J.Crew. And guess what? I never wore them. They just didn’t seem like “me”–y’ know? So I shipped them off to ThredUp a few months ago, in hopes that they found a good home.
  • white eyelet skirt: The fit on this skirt wasn’t all that great when I tried it on, but the price was such a steal that I bought it anyway, in hopes that it would shrink in the wash. Spoiler: it didn’t. So now I just have a too large skirt hanging around. I stowed it away with my maternity clothes in hopes that it could be useful during my next pregnancy.
  • dot blouse: I’d been searching for a polka dot tee or blouse, as it seemed like something that would be a versatile addition to my wardrobe. I settled for this one from Kohl’s at the time, and I ended up regretting it. While I liked the pattern, I didn’t love the way it fit. I often fall prey to this shopping mistake–settling for “good enough” rather than getting exactly what I want. This ended up in my most recent ThredUp clean-out bag.
  • suede skirt: Even at the time of purchase, I suspected that this might be a shopping mistake. I bought this skirt on eBay for about $70 but justified the price tag since it was real suede. I’m not familiar with Zara’s sizing or quality, but I bought it anyway. Stupid, stupid, Caroline. It fit alright, albeit a bit tighter than anticipated for a size medium, but the quality just was not up to par. It didn’t have a lining, which meant I didn’t want to wear it without a slip….which meant I never wore it. I shipped this one off to ThredUp as well. Lesson learned.

the best buys:

  • cognac leather band watch: I wear this watch all the time. I don’t wear a lot of jewelry anymore (not that I ever did really…), as Caleb just pulls on it and generally annoys me with it. But I do wear a watch almost every day, and I wear quite a bit of cognac/tan/brown, so this watch gets a lot of use. See how I’ve worn it here and here.
  • olive green skirt: I think I’ve worn this skirt at least 50 times now. The elastic waistband was really friendly for my rapidly changing body shape this year, and the color fit right in with my current aesthetic. I kind of wish I had bought a backup one in case my current one wears out! See how I’ve worn it here and here.
  • nude flats: So, I guess I’m fulfilling the mom stereotype here in that I wear pretty much nothing but flats anymore. Quite a difference from my pre-baby days when I wore heels 90% of the time. Anyway, I decided that I needed a nude pair and searched high and low for them–I didn’t particularly want a patent leather pair, and that seems to be what’s available these days. I finally found these, and I LOVE them. They obviously go with everything, and the almond-toe is just right for my style.
  • striped turtleneck: After years of wearing only crew-neck and boatneck tees, I’ve finally embraced the turtleneck. This inexpensive one from Target has held up well to its many wears thus far.

Generally, I am pleased with my purchases over the past year–most of the time, I choose items that will serve my lifestyle well and are versatile enough to be worn a variety of ways. However, I clearly still make shopping mistakes on occasion. The lessons from this year’s mistakes can be summarized by the following:

1) Be myself. It’s all fine and dandy to try new things, but I need to remember to stay true to my own sense of personal style and shop accordingly.

2) Don’t settle. All too often, I want a very specific type of clothing item but can’t find just the right thing, and end up buying something that’s almost right…then end up not wearing it.

3) Fit is key. I’m giving myself a little leeway here in that my body has been changing a lot this year, so what fit in the spring doesn’t fit anymore, BUT I need to be more mindful of how certain brands fit before ordering on eBay or other no-returns-allowed vendors.

So those are my reflections on my 2016 shopping habits. Here’s hoping that the mistakes become even less frequent as I continue curating my closet in 2017!

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