Spotlight on: Trader Joe’s Bath and Body

Recently, my friends Regan and Katie from Cardigans and Couture, posted about their go-to Trader Joe’s food recommendations. As a frequent TJ’s shopper, I couldn’t agree more with their recommendations (though I might add this and these to the list), but it also got me thinking about all of the bath products that I use from Trader Joe’s. Here’s what I’d add to their list from the TJ’s “beauty department.”

I keep this hand soap in my kitchen at all times. It’s smells great, and it lasts forever. Don’t believe me? Here’s a great review from the I’m A Trader Joe’s Fan blog.

Speaking of lavender, this all-natural scrub is great for the shower. I use it after shaving to get really smooth, soft skin. Joluxe blog happens to agree with me.

Since we’re talking about shaving, I highly recommend the honey mango shave cream from TJ’s. It’s gentle on skin, smells great, and you don’t have to deal with a rusty can of shaving cream crudding up your tub! Check out what the gloss has to say on the subject.

This is my most recent TJ’s discovery, and I’m totally in love! It gives your scalp a tingly feeling when you’re using it, and doesn’t cause unnecessary buildup. At $3.99 a pop, it’s well worth the price. Urban Bush Babes put together a great review. Oh, and there’s conditioner too!

What about you? Have any items to add to this list?

The Miracle of the Price Adjustment

I took a few days off last around last weekend as a birthday present to myself. After my 10:30 Barre3 class on friday, my friend Christina and I headed to Anthropologie to buy myself a birthday outfit (s). I got some money for my birthday, so don’t worry, it was in budget!

Anyway, I got a bunch of cute stuff, including this, this (in grey), this and these (in gold). All on sale too. But, no sooner than I walked out of the store, the annual summer tag sale started. Christina sent me a text telling me to check if any of my clothes went on sale further, so I went in with my Anthro card in hand and did just that.

Now for those of you who don’t know about this handy little money-saving tactic, I will explain. The price adjustment allows the customer to come back in the store if an item that they buy on sale goes down in price within a reasonable time period, usually 7 – 14 days. Anthropologie’s policy is 14 days.

I was well within the time frame, and Christina was right, EVERYTHING I bought was further on sale. Score! I got $80 back on my card (which I promptly spent on this and this). BUT, the important thing is that I got more value for my money. I literally walked out of the store like I was walking on air. It was all I could do to not stop people in the street to tell them of my good fortune. It felt that good.

If you are looking to replicate this kind of experience for yourself (and I highly encourage it), here are some things to keep in mind:

1. Be patient. This process takes a little time. Every store has a different policy, and since people don’t do price adjustments very often, you have a 50/50 chance of the sales associate not knowing what they are doing. Don’t fret! That’s what managers are for, and in the end it’s totally worth it.

2. Find ways to look busy at the counter. During the process of the sales associate re-learning the price adjustment system,  you might find yourself with some extra time. I used this time to organize my purse and check my messages, but there are many other things you can do. This technique is always helpful when long line is forming because your transaction is taking so long. You can avoid all of those evil glares from waiting patrons by simply playing a move on Words with Friends. Highly useful.

3. Learn your favorite stores pricing policies and hold onto your receipts for the allotted time. If you take a moment to figure out the policies of your favorite stores, you will be ahead of the game. Just set a calendar reminder to check the company website a few days before the time period is over. Or you can download a free app, like Slice, that will track your purchases for you and send you a reminder when one of your items gets further reduced.

Nordstrom, Anthropologie, Banana Republic, Gap, Old Navy, Macy’s, Piperlime, Nike, Levis, Cole Haan, Abercrombie, and The Limited all provide price adjustments within 14 days.

J. Crew, Ann Taylor, and Ann Taylor Loft provide adjustments within 7 days.

Now, go forth, and adjust!

May Budget Breakdown

Well, it was a poor showing for me this month, which is to be expected. Writing this post was as painful as going on a weekend-long eating and drinking bender, and then getting on the scale on Monday morning. Ugh.

Here is the full budget breakdown for May:

Auto/Transportation – 4% over
Cash/ATM – 130% over
Food/Drink – 108.1% over
Personal Care – 154.43% over (remember my pre-Discountess addiction to CVS, well it’s baaaccck…)
Bills/Utilities (includes rent, cable, etc) –69.17% over (though I will say that due to my cycle of paychecks, I paid 2 rounds of bills this month)
Groceries – 35% over
Shopping – 45.65% over

I was even or I only used part of the budget (i.e. I saved) in the following categories:

Business/Office – 0% used
Entertainment – 0% used
Dry Cleaning – 12.16% used – Thank you, ZIPS!
Gifts – 63.33% used
Gym – 100% used

You’ll notice that there are more items in the over-spending category than the savings category (eek!), so this month, my goal is to remedy that. I guess it’s time to stop eating out and start having people over! Of course, that’s easy to say when it’s pouring down rain outside, but it becomes harder when I walk out of work on a beautiful night and the wind whispers the word “mojito” in my ear.

Thankfully, D.C. has a ton of fun, free activities during the summertime, so I’m going to try to take advantage of those so I can get my finances back in order. Wish me luck!

 

Weekend Activity: Georgetown French Market

A little plug to attend one of my favorite neighborhood events this weekend, the Georgetown French Market.  It’s an outdoor sidewalk sale on Wisconsin Avenue that includes some of my favorite uber-preppy stores like, Sassanova, Urban Chic, and Sherman Pickey. You can go here to see a full list of participants.

The market is will run Friday and Saturday, from 10am to 5pm, and it’s free to attend. It is really fun, even if you can’t afford to buy anything (though the flyer touts that many items will be up to 75% off!).

Oh, and I should mention, it’s supposed to be 64 degrees and sunny on Saturday.  All in all, this is not a bad way to spend a beautiful day!

March Budget Breakdown – Better Late Than Never

As you can tell, I’ve been a delinquent Discountess. My end of March vacation to St. John and a series of spring weddings have rendered me without time to blog/keep my life and brain in order. After this weekend, I’ll be back in action. I have one more wedding, and then my schedule returns to normal. Well, more or less.

So at almost half way through the month of April, I give you the March budget breakdown. What I’ve learned this month is that vacations do not lend themselves to saving money. Not shocking. Still, the vacation (which I will give the full rundown on later) was fabulous and worth every over-budget penny spent! And, because I wasn’t in DC for a full week during the month, I was able to keep my grocery budget in check (of course my food and entertainment costs were off the hook, but I’m choosing the positive point of view). I also saved in the shopping category—a new feat for me. Aside from a few incidentals for the trip, I mainly stayed away from the stores last month.

Here is the full budget breakdown for March:

Cash/ATM – 14% over (I changed the starting number this month because the old one was too low, but this still isn’t good. I’m chalking it up to vacation needs and moving on)
Entertainment – 120% over
Food/Drink – 135.6% over
Personal Care – 5% over
Bills/Utilities (includes rent, cable, etc) – 56% over

I was even or I only used part of the budget (i.e. I saved) in the following categories:

Auto/Transportation – 71.5% used
Business/Office – 50.8% used
Groceries – 92.7% used (Astounding!)
Dry Cleaning – 18.8% used
Gifts – 65.4% used
Gym – 100% used
Shopping – 70.4% used (YES!)

Also in March, I managed to keep with my goal of taking the stairs at work more which has been a good change. Plus, with the new spring weather, I’ve been able to run outside as well!  The goal on the docket for April was supposed to be about my morning coffee purchase, i.e. I shouldn’t be purchasing it every day. I was doing well for the first week of the month, but this week I’ve hit the Brown Bag for my Swings coffee every day. Perhaps we should save that one for May? Anyway, since it is now springtime, my goal this month is to clean house on my spring/summer wardrobe. I plan to get it all out (it’s been in storage for the winter) and use a discerning eye about what I should actually keep and what I should get rid of. I’m hoping I can scrounge up a few good consignment options, so I can line my pockets for future wardrobe investments.  I’ll let you know how it goes!

February Budget Breakdown

Forgive the lack of posting in the last few days, I’ve been crunching numbers (among other things). All I have to say is thank GOD February is over. What a miserable month. I managed to have some fun (see the shopping and entertainment line items), but I am officially itching for spring.

Again, shopping and the grocery store seem to be the biggest culprits of my budgetary failure this month. Also, my gym budget hit me hard because I had to pay out my last month of membership at WSC and my first month at Barre3. Man, that was a wallop. And let’s not forget my VERY fun California trip, which also helped push the shopping budget over the edge (and we all know that it teeters on the brink during normal months).

Here is the full budget breakdown for February:

Cash/ATM – 10% over (Worse than last month – I think I need to change this budget number.)
Gifts – 45% over (I counted a some of my California trip here, since it was a bachelorette weekend.)
Gym – 325% over (EEK! My WSC membership ends on March 10th, so it won’t be an issue again. Phew.)
Personal Care  – 8% over (A big improvement over last month, but still over.)
Shopping – 207% over (Ugh.)
Groceries – 41% over

I was even or I only used part of the budget (i.e. I saved) in the following categories:

Auto/Transportation – 41.6% used
Bills/Utilities (includes rent, cable, etc) – 67% used
Business/Office – 0% used
Entertainment – 87% used
Food/Drink – 99.5% used
Dry Cleaning – 15% used

In terms of meeting my “no booze” goal during February, I passed with flying colors. I even went to a work dinner and just drank water. Talk about iron will!

Now that we’re in March, my goal is to take the stairs at work. Of course, this isn’t a financial goal, but I still think it’s a worthy one. Now that I’ve quit the gym, I also seem to have quit cardio. I’ve been going to Barre3 a lot, but I still need something to get the heart rate up. And since it’s still FREEZING cold outside, my runs aren’t happening as often as I would like.  And so, I will walk up the stairs at work. I already live in a walk up apartment, so that won’t be an issue.

Is that goal lame? I was going to make March “no shopping for clothes month,” but I’m not sure I’m strong enough for that yet. Plus, I’m headed to St. John with the family mid-month, and I’m in need of a new bathing suit. Priorities!

Can It Be? Another J. Crew Warehouse Sale Is In Our Midst!

Are my eyes deceiving me? Is this too good to be true? J. Crew is opening their warehouse for shoppers yet again. Mark your calendars for next weekend!

Clearly, I didn’t buy enough in January, so they had to host another sale. It’s the only plausible explanation. I will probably take a breather from this one, but I won’t stand in any of your ways! Here are the details.

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If you go, remember my tips from last time, and let me know what you get!

California Bound!

I head out to California today for a bachelorette showdown for my bestie from high school. I’m flying into L.A., and then we’re driving to Montecito for the weekend for a little wine tasting (also known as my reprieve from “no booze” month).

I’m hoping that I can keep up my good saving behavior while I’m there. So far, I’m on the right track. Bought my ticket with miles, got snacks for the plane, have the kindle loaded up with good books (so as not to buy anything at the bookstore when I get there), etc. I think I’m all set.

My one potential stumbling block – the bachelorette has made a special request to stop at the outlets on the way to Montecito. I mean, it is HER weekend after all. It would be selfish to stand in her way, right?

I will do my best to behave myself while there, but if you took a look at the list, you know as well as I do that it’s going to be hard. The good news is that I WAY overpacked, so I have nowhere to put a ton of new clothes. A blessing in disguise? Perhaps.

Wish me luck!

 

Splurge vs. Save – Workout Gear

After I made my decision to quit the WSC in favor of Barre 3, I realized that I needed to update my workout wardrobe a bit, Discountess-style.

I have long been curious about Lululemon workout gear (the virtual uniform of the ladies of Barre3). And while I’ve been into the store several times, I have never been able to pull the trigger on buying anything. Something about the idea of paying $82 for pants that you sweat profusely in doesn’t make sense to me. For me, if I’m spending $82 on pants, I’d rather not sweat in them at all. Am I weird?

Anyway, as I thought about my wardrobe update, something occurred to me. People might notice when you’re wearing a Lululemon outfit, but nobody really thinks about it when you’re not. No one has ever looked at someone else at the gym and thought – man, she would be a lot better at this workout if she was wearing Lululemon pants. Am I right or am I right?

So this past weekend, instead of paying a mint for a pair of pants at Lululemon, I went to Old Navy for some cute, Discountess-appropriate workout gear. If you haven’t checked out their selection, I highly recommend it. They even have those kind of pants that are part workout tights and part girdle (if you don’t know about these, then you are missing out. They are super comfy, and they improve the look of your assets ten-fold. No. Joke.)

Here’s what I got.

 

(Note: I got a similar one to this that was on sale, but I can’t find it on the site.)

 

 

All of this for $10 less than what it would have cost to buy these.

 

And, there is still money leftover in the shopping budget for some fun stuff too! A win-win if you ask me.

Any one else have suggestions for cute and inexpensive workout gear? Let me know!