August No-Buy

Today marks 31 days of an absolute no-buy for the first time in over 10 years.  For those of you that know me you know what an accomplishment that is. Thirty one days of no new nail polish, no new earrings, shoes, bags, anything.
My shopping problem, yes, it is a problem, began in 2002 when I was forced to leave college and start working full time.  It didn’t help that at 19 I was a retail manager at a beautiful department store full of designer shoes, bags, clothes, home goods, and more importantly jewelry.  In my head, my discounts somehow justified my spending- how could I pass up a $300 bag that I could get for $225? Or an $1800 pink sapphire ring for $375?
Over the last few months I realized the last 10 years I was shopping to disguise emotional trauma in my life.  When I started working full time, I was heartbroken that I wasn’t able to be in school, that I was working 9-10 hour days, that I had no friends, let alone the time or energy to hang out and party like most 19 year olds.  Looking back, I realize I was forced to grow up fast, and the emotions I was experiencing were being covered up by shopping. 
My friends were my siblings, my boyfriend at the time, and the women I worked with, who ranged in age from 45-75. When you work til 11pm closing, and have to be back in at 7am to open the store, there’s no partying, you go home and go to bed.  I learned responsibility and self-reliance early in life, this may account for why I have little to no tolerance for kids these days.  (Or kids 10 years ago for that matter.) When you’re still a kid yourself and are facing rent, insurance, utilities, and food bills, it puts things in perspective rather quickly.
Gradually over the next few years, I racked up $12k in credit card debt. Yikes.  I was paying my bills, but shopping had taken a hold of me and had pulled me under.  The heartbreak of putting school on hold, menial jobs, breakups, and emotional scars from childhood had me in a bind.  I fell into the trap of telling myself that ‘stuff’ would make me happy.  Well, apparently $12k later, I still wasn’t happy and was in severe debt.
Upon losing my job in 2007 and returning to school while on unemployment, I paid off my debt gradually, and am proud to say I have less than $750 in credit card debt currently.  But that doesn’t mean my shopping had stopped.  I was out of control. I was still spending, but with cash rather than credit.
Since January, my husband and I have been trying to follow a budget, and by trying I mean he’s trying, I’m blowing money left and right. To the tune of $600 (on average) a month. And on what? Well, I can’t even begin to tell you or explain.  I wish I could say a Michael Kors watch or two, electronics, designer bags, jewelry, or some other big-ticket items, but it’s not the case.  It’s nail polish first and foremost, clothes, shoes, beauty products, $30 trips to Target, etc. I mean who gets out of Target for under $30?!? I digress…
Then it happened.  I shared a photo on instagram of a set of Essie nail polishes that I picked up at Ross, a steal for $17.99. 

As you can see, it was a set of 6 Essie nail polishes, a value of $48+, and I was ecstatic when I picked it up. But an odd thing happened.  I couldn’t bring myself to actually use the polish.  It sat on my desk for over a week. I attempted to use it a few times, but this feeling of guilt and nausea overcame me. And then I woke up on Wednesday, August 1st, and I immediately knew why. It was an unnecessary purchase, and subconsciously I knew it needed to be returned.  I had a self-inflicted no-buy on my hands.
Over the years my husband had tried to help me curb my spending, but I would immediately get defensive and pick fights with him.  He has never yelled at me for my spending, but worse, he was disappointed.  But this time was different. It finally clicked in my head that enough was enough. I knew I needed to change myself.
That weekend I returned the Essie’s and over $100 worth of items sitting in my office unopened. And something happened. I was at peace. My husband was elated. After returning what I could, I decided to put up other items I had new (without receipts or beyond return date) on ebay, and sold $300 worth. I started looking around my office at the stuff I had accumulated and was angry at myself. All these years and thousands of dollars for what? Clutter.  Emotional baggage.
I’m not saying m emotional baggage has healed.  It certainly hasn’t.  I still struggle with loneliness, missing my family, not fitting in, not being able to make friends, being left out, etc. But I’ve taken a HUGE step in the right direction. And I am so proud of myself.

This isn’t just for August.  I was worried that once September 1st hit I would go crazy, making up for the shopping ban I had put on myself in August.  But the other night while looking through the Ulta catalog that had come in the mail, I realized I had changed for good.  One of my favorite nail polishes, Butter London, will be BOGO in September, and I immediately started thinking about which polishes I wanted.  And I could only come up with 2. Perfect! I am planning on picking up ‘Come to Bed Red’ and ‘Teddy Girl’, for $14, all of which will be covered with my rewards, so free.  Smart shopping. The old Amy would have picked out 10-12, having my husband purchase some behind me in line, to avoid the minimums set.
I know every month will not be a $0 month, I am being realistic. But the following are some rules I have enacted for myself when it comes to shopping:
  • For every bottle of nail polish I buy, I must get rid of/donate/sell 2 bottles
  • I will only buy colors that I absolutely want, no more mindlessly picking up colors because I walked into the store and they were on sale
  • Any clothing/shoes/bags bought, must replace a donation to Goodwill
  • The Gelish nail system that will be my September purchase must be funded by ebay sales, etc.
  • Beauty product purchases must replace an empty bottle of an existing product
  • Just because I have a coupon, doesn’t mean I have to use it
Have you ever gone on a self-imposed shopping ban?

Me & My Accessories: My Cosmetic Bag

Today I want to share with you the contents of my cosmetic bag, and the products that I rely on daily to keep me fabulous! You can see the contents of my purse here, but I am planning on updating with a new post now that I am working full time.
The bag itself I won from Theresa of Delightfully Darling’s mark. giveaway, and came filled with a plethora of samples and 4 glorious lip glosses! I love pink. Obviously. And I love animal print.  So you can see that I am in love with my animal print cosmetic bag! It’s the perfect size for what I carry around too which doesn’t hurt.


  1. My Tagalongs Tool Card for Ladies, $8, here. I bought this at TJMaxx or Ross and I think I paid $3 or less. I cannot tell you how many times this sucker has come in handy. It’s the size of a credit card, and the width of about 2-3 credit cards, tiny! The scissors are my favorite part. They only have one finger loop, so they’re a little awkward to use, but it’s convenient when there’s nothing else.
  2. Cynthia Rowley Band-Aids, ~$4 Target. I picked these up a few months ago because they are absolutely adorable. If you have to use a band aid, it should be one of lace or sequins!
  3. Essence Colour & Go Nail Polish in Sweet as Candy. $1.99, Ulta. I have yet to use this nail polish, but I love the fact that I carry this and a top coat around with me at all times in case of an emergency. Yes, I consider bare nails an emergency at times. I say that, yet I’ve been rocking nekkid nails about 1 week out of each month to let my nails breathe and to treat them. The small size makes it ideal for a cosmetic bag, and the pale pink is a universally flattering color.
  4. Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream, $5-7, drugstores. I try to make a habit of applying this twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. I have a few cuticle creams, but this is the best so far. Again, the small tin container and the price are perfect for me.
  5. Nivea Crème Lotion. $.99, Target I picked up a couple of these a few months back and am currently on my second tin. The lotion is thick and is perfect to use during the cold winter months on dry, chapped hands. It’s a bargain at $.99, and the small size makes it perfect for carrying in your purse.
  6. Philosophy Lip Gloss in ‘pretty please’, $3, Big Lots. I meant to do a post on the philosophy products I picked up at Big Lots, but it slipped my mind. I still have the pictures, so I still have time… I looked this up and you can purchase here for $17.50! Woah. I’d say that’s a great find! It’s small, it’s pink lip gloss, and I love it. That’s enough of a description, right? I also picked up some face makeup, powder, and illuminator at Big Lot’s for $3.
  7. Sally Hansen Maximum Growth Cuticle Pen, $6, drugstores. Even though I carry Burt’s Bees cuticle cream, I like to carry this one as well for convenience.  The tip is a brush, which is much neater than rubbing on the cream. As far as growth results, I’ll be honest, I haven’t noticed a considerable difference.  Then again I haven’t used it every day either.
  8. Goody Hair Ties. $2.50, Target. Both of these hair ties are by Goody and I purchased them at Target. I usually wear my hair down, but I like having the option to pull it back from my face with a cute hair tie. Neither of these are going to hold your hair back tight, especially if you have thick hair, but they’re cute and do the job.
  9. Zoya Hot Lips in Kiss Kiss. $6, Zoya Through my ‘Share the Love’ rewards points through Zoya, I was able to pick out a bottle of polish and a lip gloss for free, responsible only for the shipping. The first time I did this I went with my fail-safe lip gloss color: a pale pink, and ended up throwing it into my lip gloss drawer, never to be used. This time I decided I wanted to go with a statement color after having been inspired by Megan from The Frugalista Diaries post.
  10. benefit BAD gal lash mascara. $19, Sephora. I did not pay $19 for a mascara, I received it in a birchbox a few months ago. I figure the best way to freshen up my face is to carry mascara and lipgloss at all times. It’s come in handy! Nothing takes me from Walmart-fresh on the weekends to Target-chic better! I don’t see what makes this mascara worth $19 but I love that it fits perfectly in my bag.

What are some of your beauty essentials that you carry with you?

    #ManiMonday: Pink Half Moons

    I found the inspiration on Polish & Pearls awhile back and had the picture saved on my ipad, just waiting for me to recreate it. And all I keep thinking is why did I wait so long?


    To create this manicure, I used the following polishes and some reinforcements from the drugstore:

    Left to Right:

    -Julep 'Natasha'
    -Orly 'Purple Crush'
    -Zoya 'Ali'
    -Sally Hansen 'Coral Reef'
    -Creative Arts- No Name
    -Sally Hansen 'Golden-I'

    To recreate this, apply 1 coat of base coat followed by 1 coat of Golden-I.  Allow to completely dry, then apply reinforcements (cut in half for easier application.) Next, apply one coat of each of the pinks, insuring it's a thick coat as it'll be the only coat. Make sure to remove the reinforcement after you paint each nail or the paint will begin to dry and peel off your nail when you go to remove.

    What do you think? Is this something you'll try?

    American Girl

    Last weekend I was fortunate enough to tag along with my husband and family to DC and Tyson's Corner.  My favorite part? You guessed it- the American Girl store. Seriously, it's beyond fabulous and I wish I was 10 all over again.

    First off, these lights.  Aren't they to die for?

    We had reservations for lunch at the cafe, but we were there early and decided to do some shopping.  And by 'we' I mean my nieces. I just stood around in awe, snapping pictures.

    And can I just tell you about my dream job? That would be working at the American Girl Doll-Salon. I mean seriously, just look:

    You didn't think I would leave without finding the nail supplies for the dolls, did you?

    And then when I thought it couldn't be any more over the top with cuteness, we went to lunch.

    I didn't take more pictures of the food, but they were all this adorable.  I had an amazing weekend with family, sending off this pretty girl to college. 

    Hannah- I am so proud of you and wish you nothing but the best! I cannot wait to visit you in the fall and celebrate this exciting time of your life with you.

    It was a glorious weekend, busy but worth every second of fun. I then went home late Sunday night and did something like this:

    #ManiMonday: Julep Maven 'Natasha' With Nautical Stripes

    I would have to say this is one of my favorite summer manicures right now- a coral red with a gold-striped accent nail, so nautical!

    I bought the striping tape used here on ebay for under $3, and was happy to receive 18-20 different colors and shades.  I think it's quite a bargain and has unlimited possibilities. 

    The red-coral color used is Julep Maven 'Natasha.' You can join Julep Maven for $.01 here with code PENNYINTRO.

    Hope you had a fabulous weekend!

    Pretty Perfection: Piano

    I don't know if I've ever talked about it on my blog before, but I am an accomplished musician, with my main instrument the piano.  I started taking lessons in Kindergarten with my dad (a music teacher) and moved on to more advanced studies in high school.  I have studied at Westminster Choir College, Penn State, University of Delaware, and was selected for the All Eastern Orchestra my senior year of high school.  All Eastern Orchestra is a collection of students on the Eastern coast who have made regionals and states, and are selected based on their scores.  All Eastern was held in Pittsburgh 2001, and I was fortunate enough to perform on stage in Heinz Hall.

    Since leaving High School, the majority of my piano playing has been for church (was the Choral Accompanist for 10 years) or for musical theater.  Musical theater has paid many of my bills, however monotonous and repetitive it can be. My greatest accomplishments musical theater-wise would be playing piano for Pirates of Penzance for the high school musical while I was in 8th grade, and playing piano for West Side Story for an area high school in 10th grade. Believe me, West Side Story is no joke.

    Since moving to Virginia, I have touched a piano maybe 3 times.  I was looking forward to a break from the requirements of it, and I have yet to go back.  It's been over 3 years and my piano sits gathering dust.  I don't know where I want to go from here.  I know I shouldn't let my talent and my gift go to waste, but in what capacity am I to use it? I have no desire to play in a church anymore, contemporary music (in my opinion) is boring, and I detest keyboards. This reminds me of an old friend Bob who called it 7-Eleven music, the same 7 lines repeated eleven times. HA!

    I know I need to start playing for my self, not for anyone else.  I considered teaching piano lessons, but let's face it- it's not really a priority of kids today. And I don't have the patience to babysit children who are not disciplined. Music here in Virginia is not what it is in the Philadelphia area, I know that.  I just wish there was an outlet somewhere, somehow to use my God-given abilities.

    For now my piano sits and waits for me. It's like riding a bike they say...and it's true.  I can go back anytime.  My books and sheet music are waiting to be aggressively turned mid-sonata. My perfect-pitch is another story...that is a life long curse.  I am forever condemned to cringe when I hear anything, singing particularly, off tune. It does amuse my husband when listening to old school rap that I can open up the piano though and instantly play along..

    Have you walked away from something that was so much a part of your life, either intentionally or unintentionally and regret it? Miss it?

    Monthly Beauty Boxes

    As I was going over my finances a few weeks ago, I realized I was paying $51 a month for beauty boxes. YIKES. GlossyBox at $21, Birchbox at $10, and Julep at $19.99.  For what?!? I decided to keep Julep as I felt that at least provides me with 2-3 full size bottles of quality nail polish and amazing products.  The other two? Canceled. I couldn't see spending $31 a month on beauty samples. I have yet to actually purchase a full size of anything I've gotten in my boxes, there's nothing I have loved enough. And to be honest, they're thrown in a box or given away. What a waste of money. 

    I figured I would use this post to show you what I received in my last Birchbox and Glossybox, and what I received in my Julep August box.

    I was beyond excited to try GlossyBox after all the promoting that was done through various bloggers.  They received multiple boxes with full sized samples, and I thought finally there was a monthly beauty box worth the investment.

    To me it wasn't. I received a sample sized shampoo and conditioner for color-treated hair, an eyebrow pencil, lip gloss, a pedi product and sample size lotion. Wah Wah... Definitely not worth $21 in my opinion. I could have gone to Target and gotten full sized shampoo and conditioner, a lipgloss I like, hand lotion, eyeliner, and more for that much.  It was beautifully packaged and came in a pale pink and sturdy box, but other than that not worth the $21 investment.

    Julep Maven's August box was a little disappointing as well, but I know next month will make it up.  I regretted not skipping this month, a luxury you have being a Julep Maven, but since I didn't skip in time, it arrived. The little tote is cute to carry my lunch to work in, and I am curious to try the nail polish remover. Julep's products are worth the $19.99 price each month before the nail polishes.  The polishes I received are Dakota and Stephanie:

    You can read about Julep Maven here if you are unfamiliar with how it works. You can join here for a penny with code: PENNYINTRO.

    Overall I am glad I canceled the two boxes and kept Julep.  I've been on a self-imposed no buy since August 1st, and have decided if I am to be spending, it needs to be smart-spending. You wouldn't believe how much money I've saved not going into Target on my lunch breaks daily!

    How do you save money on your beauty products, I'm curious.  Coupons? Sales?

    #ManiMonday: My Favorite Manicures

    In place of a mani post for Manicure Monday, I'd like to showcase some of my 'greatest hits' manicures.  Hope you like them!
    {Polka Dot Manicure}

    {Nubar 2010}

    {Liquid Vinyl Manicure}

    {Pink Glitter Safari}

    {Rose Gold Manicure}

    {Tiger's Eye Magnetix}

    {Flip Flop Fantasy + Hits Hefesto}
    {Pinterest Manicure}
    {Coral & Gold Manicure}