Wednesday, March 26, 2008

personal thoughts on pretty things on a budget.

[pricey-but-beautiful ($88/roll) orla kiely "blossom" wallpaper from anthropologie.]

i’ve been incredibly focused on decorating my apartment lately thanks to wonderful blogs like design*sponge, oh joy!, bluelines, etc. i’ve come across so many lovely items from independent designers and sources – three potato four, the curiosity shoppe, reform school, karin eriksson, the vast world of etsy – that my oft-mentioned “must-buy” list has nearly tripled in size over the past couple of months. i mean, really, who needs urban outfitters when i can buy something much cuter on etsy and support an independent vendor?

[this storybook tile ($30) from three potato four is a good example of the kind of stuff i'm talking about. how cute!]

that being said, even though my “must-buy” list is now mostly composed of $20 items (as opposed $100-plus items), things still add up, especially for someone who, like me, is on a fairly strict budget. full disclosure: i do not make enough money to support my shopping habit. however, before you feel too sorry for me (ha!), i should tell you that i am definitely one of those people who would rather eat noodles with butter for a week but have a beautiful piece of clothing or something pretty for my home. sad? maybe, but true.

still, my 25th birthday is fast-approaching, and if there’s anything i’ve learned over the past year-and-a-half of living on my own, it’s that i’ve got to start being more financially responsible. yes, i want pretty things for myself and my house (and, ok, even my cat). but i also want to be debt-free and start saving for retirement, travel, my next move, etc. like most 20-somethings i know, i have a monthly car payment, rent, student loan debt (that my parents, as of now, graciously pay for) and a little bit of credit card debt – not enough to where i need to be super-worried about paying it all off, but enough to be annoying, especially when i’m not making as much money as i’d like. (let it be known, though, that i adore my job and would rather be poor – which i’m not – than making tons of money in a stifling corporate job.)

[pretty/unique: lotta jansdotter's sweet chick zipper bags ($16).]

so, needless to say, i’ve been thinking a lot about how to reconcile my penchant for pretty (and, ok, pricey) clothes and home décor with my limited budget, and i think the answer is threefold: 1) most importantly, curtail the spending in general (i.e., stop buying $80 anthropologie shirts; 2) do more diy projects (um, remember the key rack i was so excited about? still haven’t made it, and why not? there’s no good reason and it would be such a great addition to my home); and 3) start thrifting and etsy-ing more. sarasota is a treasure trove of rich people who donate their clothes and home goods to consignment and thrift shops. why pay full price for a cakestand at a big-box store when i can get a pretty, one-of-a-kind one for $5?

i guess the point of all this is, like i said, that i’m going to start making a conscious effort to make my home look lovely without sacrificing my whole paycheck – and hopefully, with this new mentality, my savings account will grow. and hey, maybe one day i’ll be able to afford an eames chair without cringing when i hand over the plastic – but for now, i know that’s not the point. i'll be sure to keep you posted on my decorating-on-a-budget progress.

how do you guys mitigate your budgetary issues (if you have any) in terms of things you really want – be they home décor, clothing or technology? let me know; this is a subject i’m very curious about!

[see you tomorrow for our weekly style file and maybe a little something else after this post, i'm thinking a big-ticket "obsession" item might not be the way to go!]

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