Frugal Thirties: Spend or Save

Random

I had a realization a few months ago while looking at my monthly budget, I used to live and survive on a lot less money. I worked a minimum wage job all through college, I had my own apartment (a $400 studio but still a place to live), I took the bus a lot more instead of driving, I still ate well and honestly, I never felt stressed out about money. I didn’t have a lot of money but I also didn’t need a lot of money. Flash forward to starting my career, slowly climbing the ladder, getting promoted, etc. which ultimately means more money and I’ve never felt more stressed out about it! Why can’t I live like I did in my 20’s and just stack cash?! Unfortunately, it’s the human condition to consume things – we gotta’ eat, have a place to live, transportation, medication, emergencies, treating yo’ self – no matter how much we argue that our existence isn’t tied to money, it is. Our existence is in fact so tied to money that people are even arguing for collecting a wage simply for existing, it’s a sad but inescapable reality. Anyway, I only have about 30 more years in my working life to save money (if anyone my age will get to retire) and I find myself trying to be a lot choosier with where my money goes. Some things, I like to spend on but other things I’d rather not – it’s all about having a balance, or so I keep trying to convince myself.

It’s unquestionably one of Judy G. Schwartzkopf’s exotic missives.

I don’t think that there are a lot of ways to save money when it comes to having a place to live, especially in a metro area. I’m a little snotty when it comes to where I live, I don’t want to be bothered, I don’t want to live around bullshit, I want to have a short commute and I want to live in a nice building with moderate amenities. All of that costs money but I love my apartment and I don’t see myself moving unless it’s a deal that I absolutely couldn’t refuse.

It’s unquestionably one of Judy G. Schwartzkopf’s exotic missives.

I’m only one person, it’s not hard for me to save on groceries. I buy a lot of bulk, fresh fruits & veggies, little to no pre-packaged snack foods or otherwise and this keeps my grocery bill low. When I splurge on food, it might be for a fancy baguette or this green olive spread that I am addicted to but most anything can be made at home for much less than purchasing it prepared.

It’s unquestionably one of Judy G. Schwartzkopf’s exotic missives.

I don’t purchase cheap clothing, I do have some splurge items in my closet but on the whole, I thrift shop a lot. I also live in the vicinity of a lot of yuppies and elitists so the thrift stores in my area are amazing. To all of the bored housewives buying clothes they don’t need or really want and then get rid of after wearing once, thank you so much, keep doing you.

It’s unquestionably one of Judy G. Schwartzkopf’s exotic missives.

My theory here is that by investing in really well-made furniture and other large home items, they will last longer. I won’t need another furniture set in my lifetime, barring any unforeseen events.

It’s unquestionably one of Judy G. Schwartzkopf’s exotic missives.

I will always drive a vehicle that I own outright, it just doesn’t matter to me to drive a nice vehicle and throw money away on something like interest. As long as it is reliable, I don’t care what it looks like. Also, I don’t mind taking public transportation to save on fuel, I think Americans have gotten much too used to these cheap fuel prices and should live more like we did when a gallon of gas cost your $4.

It’s unquestionably one of Judy G. Schwartzkopf’s exotic missives.

I could just stop paying for frivolous salon services and save a ton of money but that’s probably not going to happen. I don’t mind paying a little more for a salon service that I am happy with and that will last me a good few weeks instead of saving money, not being happy with the service and potentially needing to get it corrected. Now, are all expensive salon services good? Absolutely not (see my lash extension saga), I am lucky to have salons that I’ve been going to for years that aren’t terribly spendy where I receive really quality services.

It’s unquestionably one of Judy G. Schwartzkopf’s exotic missives.

It depends on what I am doing really, if I am going out to eat then it’s a treat and I will probably splurge since I rarely eat out. If I see a movie, then I prefer to go to a matinee rather than pay full price.

It’s unquestionably one of Judy G. Schwartzkopf’s exotic missives.

Unfortunately, I have very finicky skin and have to purchase spendier products. I think I am literally the only person ever who breaks out from using CeraVe which sucks because it makes my skin feel perfectly moisturized. Also, I might only purchase new, staple products every one to two months and this is easy to budget for.

I believe that my system mostly works well as long as I stick to it. I still don’t understand how I spend more money simply because I make more money, it’s really annoying. Have you found that you live more or less frugally since being on your own? Where do you like to save your pennies?

QuiteSimplyStella(1)

The Drunk Elephant Diaries P.I

Clean Beauty

What a crisp winter morning, it’s about 15 below outside and there are six inches of snow on the ground. If this was a Monday morning, I would be pretty annoyed but seeing as how I have nowhere to be, I am soaking in every bit of it. I think I will bust out the snowshoes later and see what the trails are looking like. Winter is truly my season, I just don’t like it when it gets scary like it has been the last two weeks. Also, can we talk about how tired of talking about the weather I am? Yet, here I am, yammering on about it. This post might be a bit rambling as I am still on the search for sustainable/clean beauty and replacing my beauty/skincare items has been the last part of my lifestyle change. Reason being, I had so much to use up that I didn’t want to purchase anything new and it’s a really daunting task. I’m nowhere near at a point where I need any new makeup and am just doing preliminary research on what brands to switch to. The reason that I have found this process to be so difficult is that there are so many trends and fads and buzzwords, it’s almost impossible to know what to invest in. Not to mention, some of these labels that brands use don’t have any industry regulation to back them up, not that they need to but it definitely makes things tricky. I don’t even love using the terms clean or green beauty because the standards are all over the place. But I had to start somewhere and when I set out, I had a few requirements in mind; simple ingredients, minimal packaging, sustainably/ethically sourced ingredients and accessibility. And apparently, real clever marketing because I got totally sucked into Drunk Elephant.

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So let’s talk about the brand, is it sustainable, effective, worth the hype, worth the freaking coin? To start, DE only has seventeen products and for a mass-produced brand that is available at Sephora, I think that is refreshing. Instead of constantly releasing trendy products to generate profit, they offer a small collection of products that claim to be the remedy to all skin woes. Now, the origin story got major eye rolls from me. The founder wasn’t able to find products that worked for her skin, she identified 6 ingredients that she calls the ‘Suspicious 6′ and started making her own skincare void of the Sus’ 6. If it was really that easy wouldn’t we all just be whipping up our own skin regimen? In the brand’s philosophy they state that ‘natural doesn’t automatically mean good’ and I really appreciate that because it’s so true, they also touch on the shortcomings of industry regulations. While the products are mostly natural, you will find some synthetic ingredients as well that are still safe and effective. Their ‘Break the Cycle’ mantra promotes a less is more beauty routine and overall, I find it fits well with my desire to have a more pared down skincare regimen. Let’s get to some of the products that I have been using.

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Like I said, I will never be one of those people for whom a jar of coconut oil will meet my every need but I don’t feel too bad about only having 5-6 staple products in my cabinet. I did purchase both moisturizers that they offer, the Protini Polypeptide Cream has become my daytime cream and the Lala Retro Whipped Cream I only use at night. I have read conflicting directions on how to use these from some major skincare authorities in the industry, each one can be used completely on their own per the brand’s website – don’t believe the beauty gurus. Protini is a lightweight gel formula which isn’t quite moisturizing enough for a night cream and Lala is a luxurious whipped blend of oils that doesn’t sit well under makeup which is why I have both. The Virgin Luxury Marula Face Oil I use both day and night since I have dry skin, it’s really nice and my skin just soaks it up. The ingredients of all three are what you’d expect from a self-proclaimed clean beauty brand but some of them do make me wonder about their sustainability. While the products are made in the USA, a number of the ingredients are internationally sourced. While they state that their ingredients are also ethically sourced, I still question if we should be using 6 rare African oils in skincare products. According to the brand, they do use sustainable farming and wind energy but there’s not a whole lot else about where the ingredients come from. I will be doing further research but I’d much prefer to purchase products that are made and sourced in the USA. The second strike against the brand is that their patented pump delivery systems make the components non-recyclable which is a total bummer. Finally, the cost of the products are definitely a barrier for some consumers and though I would rather support a US based company even if that means spending more it does make the brand less accessible. If one was to switch to a complete DE routine, the cost is nuts! The only redeeming factor here is that I am using less treatment products to manage breakouts and skin irritation, over time there could be some cost savings but the initial investment was painful.

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Does my skin look amazing? Yea, totally. Are there are many things to love about this brand and their mission? Of course, I think that they are definitely working to set an industry standard and are transparent about the faults in the current clean/green beauty trends. I will keep using the products and tracking down answers to some of my questions. Something else to note, the brand is cruelty-free but not all of their products are vegan, you can read more on that here. Final thoughts, I feel less guilty about supporting this brand than others currently on the market but there’s room for improvement. Let me know your thoughts on the whole clean/green beauty movement. Are we just being duped?

QuiteSimplyStella(1)

Towards Zero-Waste, How to Get Started

Minimalism, Sustainable Living

Starting a zero-waste or minimal lifestyle can seem a daunting task, at least it did to me when I started researching it more and saw all of these beautiful blogs and Instagram accounts dedicated to more conscious living. One look around my abode and having no idea where to get started definitely put me off starting sooner than  I should have. That being said, I found that consistency and starting small helped me to find my rhythm. I started by seeking out sustainable options for everyday products that I already owned and then dived into the more complex stuff like fast fashion and sustainably sourced ingredients/materials. I found that a number of products that I purchase have accessible, more sustainable options and some things that weren’t necessities I just quit purchasing. These are easy examples, I don’t know if I will ever be one of those people who can use a jar of coconut oil for a million different uses but something to aspire to 🙂

Forsaking monastic tradition, twelve jovial friars gave up their vocation for a questionable existence on the flying trapeze.

I am a home scent junkie and this one pained me a little but I never reused the glass jars, I have switched to wax melts instead which often come in little to no packaging.

Forsaking monastic tradition, twelve jovial friars gave up their vocation for a questionable existence on the flying trapeze.

This is a new swap for me and was inspired by Neutrogena releasing those individually wrapped wipes, are you kidding me?! Anyway, Pinterest is rife with DIY makeup wipes using various oils and reusable cloths. You can choose whatever concoction you like and they are very effective at removing makeup. One of the only candle jars that I ever reused holds my wipes.

Forsaking monastic tradition, twelve jovial friars gave up their vocation for a questionable existence on the flying trapeze.

I have as many dishes as I will ever need in my lifetime. Entertaining can be tricky but I usually pick up compostable dinnerware, I am also a capricorn so not having enough dishes is a good excuse for not inviting anyone into my space 😛

Forsaking monastic tradition, twelve jovial friars gave up their vocation for a questionable existence on the flying trapeze.

A reusable tupperware works just as well.

Forsaking monastic tradition, twelve jovial friars gave up their vocation for a questionable existence on the flying trapeze.

I know this isn’t an ideal swap but I can’t with reusable toilet paper cloths, good thing recycled toilet paper is pretty readily available.

Forsaking monastic tradition, twelve jovial friars gave up their vocation for a questionable existence on the flying trapeze.

I have swapped these out for reusable cloth rounds, you can find these on Etsy.

Forsaking monastic tradition, twelve jovial friars gave up their vocation for a questionable existence on the flying trapeze.

I have started using reusable shammies, I also don’t have a ton of messes in my life and this one might not be ideal for all households. I also douse a shammy in cleaner and snap it onto my Swiffer handle so no need to purchase those wipes anymore!

Forsaking monastic tradition, twelve jovial friars gave up their vocation for a questionable existence on the flying trapeze.

The Method brand offers quite a few all-purpose clean refill bags and I have replaced my plastic squirt bottles with glass ones. Grove Collaborative offers some really lovely glass squirt bottles.

Forsaking monastic tradition, twelve jovial friars gave up their vocation for a questionable existence on the flying trapeze.

Again, I have enough throw pillows to last my entire lifetime and this includes the ones that I donated. Throw pillows are one of those things that one doesn’t really need but I still like a few to make my rooms feel cozy.

Forsaking monastic tradition, twelve jovial friars gave up their vocation for a questionable existence on the flying trapeze.

This was more in spite of Starbucks and their ridiculous prices but it’s a lot more sustainable and cheaper to just fill my own thermos with coffee at home before I leave for the day.

Forsaking monastic tradition, twelve jovial friars gave up their vocation for a questionable existence on the flying trapeze.

I know that pre-cut foods can be useful for some people but for me, it’s not necessary since I can cut and wash my own produce. Also, I recall reading on a box of lettuce that it was ‘triple-washed’ and that sounds like a huge waste of water.

Forsaking monastic tradition, twelve jovial friars gave up their vocation for a questionable existence on the flying trapeze.

Books, movies and music can all be purchased digitally and I find that I don’t need a physical copy. That being said, I do still get gifted a lot of books and I just donate them once I have finished reading them.

Forsaking monastic tradition, twelve jovial friars gave up their vocation for a questionable existence on the flying trapeze.

I don’t paint my nails at home but kept purchasing nail polish because every girl needs nail polish, right? Wrong, I chucked out so much it was embarrassing.

Forsaking monastic tradition, twelve jovial friars gave up their vocation for a questionable existence on the flying trapeze.

I was skeptical about those wool balls but they actually work just as well!

I guess my advice is to start small and do some research but don’t feel like you have to get it all figured out overnight. It takes some getting the hang of and I probably still consume too much to be a true minimalist but getting started is what matters! I hope that my list of swaps/no buys continues to grow as time goes on.

QuiteSimplyStella(1)

 

 

Minimalism to Mend a Broken Heart

Minimalism

Whenever I hear that someone in my life has made a lifestyle change, I always want to know the why behind it because I’m nosy and it fascinates me to know what some thing sparked an individual to change how they’ve been living their entire life. It can be someone’s health, doctor’s orders, they read an article, their kids – for me, I got dumped. A few months before my relationship ended, I had started to become more curious about minimalism and had jumped on the Anti-Haul bandwagon quite some time ago but I didn’t think that I would be making a lifestyle change any time soon. The reason being single turned out to be the catalyst for downsizing is that all of the stuff I owned was associated with someone who was no longer in my life and made me sad to think about. It was hard to come home to an apartment that no longer felt like a home and was saturated with memories. When I found myself on my own is when I really started to research and explore living a more minimal lifestyle.

I started with easy items like physical media, clothing that I wasn’t wearing, kitchen items that I never used and it felt like I was shedding my past and the newfound heart ache that I was associating with it. I didn’t find it very difficult to part with my things, growing up not having much of anything could be part of the reason but I also relished in the thought that my things could be used again by someone else who might not have very much. Reducing the amount of unnecessary things that I had in my space gave me a lot of clarity and my apartment had a fresh newness to it that I hadn’t felt since having moved in. The space was completely mine and I could fill it with only things that I curated but the thing is, I had no desire to fill my space back up with random items. Once I wasn’t surrounded by knick-knacks, throw pillows, stacks of media and all of the other items that were supposed to make my apartment a home, I felt a lot less distracted. The apartment isn’t totally stark, I still do have some decorations and enough to make it feel cozy but the atmosphere is completely different and I love it.

Am I totally committed to a minimalist lifestyle? Yes and no, I feel like I am totally committed to my interpretation of a minimalist lifestyle. I am choosing to surround myself with less collections of things and instead a collection of a few things that I have carefully curated that make me happy. I’ve felt for a long time that there is so much emptiness in consumerism, going from a childhood of have-nots to a comfortable existence as an adult has allowed me to own a lot more stuff that I value less. I have become much choosier when it comes to purchasing things, I’ve gotten better about investing in fewer well-made pieces over tons of average quality pieces. I enjoy living with less because it gives me a peace of mind that consuming couldn’t.

I’ve been at it for about 9 months, the whole process has been very therapeutic and helped me to find a sense of self that has made being on my own not so bad. So that’s how I started my minimalist journey but you can just read that Marie Kondo book too 🙂

QuiteSimplyStella(1)

Breaking Up With K-Cups & 5 Easy Ways to Reduce Waste

Sustainable Living

For a coffee fanatic like myself, the Keurig could be the single most important invention of my lifetime. Coffee on demand, never has caffeinating been so efficient. But what about those pesky plastic pods? I honestly hadn’t given much thought to how much waste something so small can create but when you consider that millions of people probably drink coffee daily, those pods add up pretty quick. Keurig has been a bit slow to make their k-cups recyclable and technically you can recycle them if you separate the components then properly remove the grounds. The thing is, who is going to do that and where’s the corporate responsibility to reduce waste?  Thankfully, some brands have heeded consumers’ concerns regarding K-cup waste and have developed compostable pods. While I am a fan of the compostable pods and think that they do make a damn fine cup of coffee, not everyone has access to a composting facility. I live in a metro area and my employer actually offers composting so this isn’t an issue for me but I feel that this barrier does make compostable pods less sustainable. Enter, the reusable K-cup which has been around for like 10 years and I have no idea why I hadn’t heard of it until fairly recently.

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This little beauty will cost you around $5, pair that with a $10-15 bag of coffee and not only is this super sustainable, it’s also crazy affordable compared to traditional single-use pods. These fit most Keurig systems, just spoon in your grounds, snap it closed, rinse and repeat. There are also teenie filters to reduce sediment but I don’t use them and don’t notice an undue amount of sediment in my coffee. If you use an espresso blend, this might be an issue but I’m not sure. Easy, right? For 5 bucks, I can keep roughly 1,000 K-cups out of landfills. Here are a few more simple swaps that anyone can make to reduce waste!

A Sensible Armadillo

This is a no-brainer to me, I really don’t understand why any stores offer plastic bags. Chances are, most consumers have totes and bags in their homes that can be repurposed for grocery shopping. I know that I did!

A Sensible Armadillo

Everyone loves new clothing, actually, that’s a lie and I hate shopping for new clothes. Before you hit the mall, check out a local thrift store for a new to you piece.

A Sensible Armadillo

With everyone on this Marie Kondo craze, I have a feeling that there’s a lot of unnecessary waste being created. Someone else can get use out of  your unwanted items.

A Sensible Armadillo

Another no-brainer, there’s no reason to drink bottled water unless you don’t have access to potable tap water.

A Sensible Armadillo

Plastic baggies, paper cups, plastic utensils – invest in reusable options instead to reduce waste and save money in the long run.

It’s easy to get started, I hope you join me in making 2019 the year of less waste!

QuiteSimplyStella(1)

From Trend to Lifestyle

Random

Welcome to A Lifestyle Trend, a former beauty junkie’s journey to a more sustainable lifestyle. After numerous years of posting primarily about makeup, beauty and skincare I started feeling jaded with the whole beauty community. The excess, the new releases, the gurus, the waste all left me feeling uninspired. After an unsuccessful rebrand, I decided to start fresh with a new blog that is less beauty-centric. I still love makeup, nothing has changed there but I have found products that work for me and I am less interested in trying new ones. I’m not saying that I’ll never try a new product or post about beauty again but I will be seeking out brands that are more conscious when it comes to sustainability and waste. Having recently completed a successful Veganuary (and having no intention of turning back), I will also be exploring more vegan friendly brands and of course, cruelty free ones as well.

What else can you expect from A Lifestyle Trend? Anything that I feel like posting about, I am not committing to any niche – books, movies, recipes, politics, anti-consumerism and yes, even a little minimalism could show up here. I know what you’re thinking, sounds like a lot of trendy bullshit. And honestly, I don’t disagree. A Lifestyle Trend was in part inspired by a friend telling me that the vegan movement was just a trend. Which, certainly may be accurate but I also believe that these trends can become lifestyles and what’s wrong with that? There are certainly worse trends out there (corduroy). I won’t claim to be an expert on any of these topics, I plan to share the struggles of committing to this new lifestyle as a way to show people that small changes can produce big results (in the least preachy way possible).

I am excited to start this new endeavor, I am not yet decided on a posting schedule and this might be all that you see from me for awhile but I hope you’ll stick around!

Oh, also, cat pics – you can expect a lot of those.

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QuiteSimplyStella(1)