Effortless chique from home

Since the second lockdown, I have been wearing pretty much the same stuff. I like to wrap myself up in cuddly warm clothes, but also be presentable when someone ( aka mostly the delivery guy 😉 ) is at the door, or if I have to run a quick errand.

It’s Sunday, so I’ve thrown my at home style in to a little capsule.

Et voila, 99 pct of the time I’m wearing a soft bralette, no stiff bra’s for cocooning. No better time to let the boobies free! Everything else is already so restricted. LOL.

Then I mostly wear a faux leather legging or faux leather jogging pants. I don’t know what they are called. But I’ve got them second hand on vinted ( and they came new with the tag on! ) & to me that was the perfect upgrade from regular joggers. Cozy cashmere socks from veritas that I happily got pre lockdown. Ugg slippers, although I have pretty regular grandpa style ones instead of these listed here above.

A long sleeve and a grey or black cashmere jumper to finish off this look with extra warmth.

I recall spending the first lockdown in a pink ( what was I thinking ) sweater from Bonjour Ben.

But, let’s call this lockdown 2.0. We’ve gotten a bit wiser about what we’re in for, and so did our style.

Running errands? Just slip in to the sneakers and layer up with a warm coat or blazer, depending on the temperature.

Have a great sunday

Love, Maureen

Some outfit pics from that weird period before fall embarks…

Yes. That is me kissing my plant..

Love, Maureen

Preparing your closet for fall- on a budget.

If you’re anything like me, a change of season gets you super exited beyond compare, to start re -vamping your wardrobe.

This might seem hard when you’re budgeting or attempting a no spend year.

Ok. It’s hard for me. It’s super hard for me, I love clothes but I decided to challenge myself, and now I have to show my character and not spend money on clothes, for one year. Ugh.

I have to be honest. I really, really really got the itch last week when the temperatures dropped.

But instead…

I inhaled and started to clean out my wardrobe.

Honestly.. I’m not happy that summer is almost over.. I say almost because it’s not, but here in Belgium we have had some rain and cloudiness and well, it feels like autumn. I also feel like I haven’t enjoyed summer to the fullest because of the pandemic. I didn’t take a real vacation or went abroad. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. I feel like it’s even harder to accept that all these months just passed by & there is not a real way to catch up.

If anything I’d want to make a budget to go twice on vacation next year, but because of everything being so uncertain these days, I’m not sure even these vacations will even happen.

Hope this explains why although I’m excited for fall. I’m also a bit sad.

Anyway, enough with the mixed feelings. Back to our wardrobes…

First of all, If you’re still working from home or hardly leaving the house for anything else than running errands, you might not feel the need to prepare your wardrobe for fall.

I considered staying in the ‘meh’ state, but in the end I decided it would make me feel better to clear my wardrobe for the season to come, and continue to get dressed as if I had somewhere to go.

I felt like it might give me some hope for the future and that the state we are all in will pass some day.

And now for the tips

What I always preach to anyone willing to listen is to dress for the life you have, instead of the life you want. In this case, you can take this advice with a grain of salt. I believe we all need to dress for the life we have right now, and the life we want, and even up this a bit to spark some goddamn joy.

But it is still true, we should dress for the way we spend our time. If you’re a sports teacher, it makes no sense to have a closet full of pencil skirts. If you love pencil skirts, and you’d want a life where you’d wear them, then you’d have to alter how you spend your time. Maybe plan a few evenings out per week, so you get to wear your pencil skirts. Ah, the stories clothes tell, you have no idea.

Look at what you have in your wardrobe, and take out the things you wear all the time. Even if those are not the things you love the most, you’ll need them and you’ll need to try to build the rest of your wardrobe around these items, for now. These items are what you’ll keep wearing, realistically.

If you don’t like the items you’re wearing 90 pct of the time, there might be something else going on. Our clothes do translate our feelings to the outside world. But, that is another issue. For now, try to build around what you wear the most, even if you’d like to change that up in the long run.

Building a versatile wardrobe that you actually wear is a marathon, not a sprint.

Be real about all the stuff you don’t wear. Try to sell it on depot, or postmark, ThredUp or Vestiaire Collective. If you’re budgeting or trying to get out of debt.. You should also set a budget aside for clothes, because it’s just so that every season you’d like to shake up things in your closet just a bit. Don’t deprive yourself, just budget for it. I decided to go on a no spend for a year, just to detox but after this year I will be making room in my budget for clothing.

If you clear out your closet and sell what you don’t wear you’d be able to set up your budget for the next season with the money you’ve made today.

I love bold prints and bright colours and maxi dresses, but I never get enough wear out of them and honestly even if it is vintage.. You still need to pair that bright vintage dress with the right jacket, shoes and handbag in complementary or contrasting colours. If you want a style like that, It means that you’ll need a lot more clothes or accessories to match. Thus these kind of styles are more suitable for bigger budgets.

Don’t despair if you do like a more bohemian, bright coloured style,. You can still attain it with a smaller wardrobe and a smaller budget. But it will just take a lot more effort and trial to find the right pieces.

I mostly suggest to people with a small budget to go for classic, plain pieces that you can wear over and over and style in different ways. Try to nail down your colour palette by choosing 3 main colours that not only flatter your complexion but seemingly blend well together.

Textures: This is such a luxurious thing to do and it is so easy. You can play with the same colours in different textures. This is the summum of chique. I don’t understand why so little people apply this trick.

Repair and tailor : Maybe you can dye some items. Maybe some skirts need to be shortened a bit just to have that particular flair. Whatever it is. Don’t give up on the clothes you own so easily.. Try to make them fall proof by altering or try layering with items of a thicker fabric.

Maintenance: I didn’t spend any money on fall clothes, as I’m on a no spend.. But I did buy some things to help me keep my clothes in good shape. A trimmer for my knitwear, a steamer, shoeshine for leather handbags and shoes.

Handbag. One good structured handbag does make or break an outfit. So if you must invest, consider investing in this. It doesn’t have to be designer or expensive, it just has to lift up your outfit and bring it together as a whole.

I don’t like must haves, because they are just super personal, but I’ll write a short list below with items you can’t go wrong with.

  1. A striped long sleeve or wool sweater. You know these nautical, French like,  always in style kinda ones.
  2. A grey simple grey wool sweater, a little oversized always looks chique.
  3. Over the knee boots. Yaaaaaaaaaas! Because how nice is it to be able to wear them without having to wear a pantyhose. Freedom in a boot!
  4. High waist -makes you seem longer and tucks everything in well -straight legged jeans. Ankle flanker or not. It’s up to you. I find that ankle flankers are really cute with ankle boots.
  5. A silky mid length skirt. You know slip dress kinda material. You can combine this with everything. And I do feel like the sheer gloss on these makes them
  6. A dress you can take from day to evening. For instance, a slip dress. You can wear this dress in every season because it’s so easy to layer.
  7. That big chunky vest or a wool ( nice and warm ) blazer that you can layer over all the above and that you can use on cooler days when you are still searching for your perfect autumn/ winter coat.
  8. A perfect white T-shirt with a loose fit. For those moments or days you’d rather start all over again.
  9. A black T for the same reason.
  10. A turtleneck in the colours you’ve chosen for your ( capsule ) wardrobe.

Concerning shoes

If you’re anything like me, you’d like a good sneaker to go with your outfits, and an ankle boot in a neutral tone. That’s it really, all the rest is excess because you can style any outfit with either a classic shaped sneaker or the right kind of ankle boot. Yes, even a dress works fine with both.

Jewelry

Jewelry is the sugar coating of your wardrobe. I used to want to stand out by wearing special kinds of clothes, now I try to make my style unique by adding the right accessories. Quality jewellery is a nice investment in your wardrobe and can really set you apart.

What are your go to essentials for your fall wardrobe? And how do style your wardrobe, without breaking the bank?

Love, Maureen

My July budget recap

Ooh guys, honestly I’ve been holding of the review. I’m not particularly proud of what I’ve achieved for the month of July. And also, who the hell can concentrate when it’s this hot ???

I kind of slipped up. I bought a few clothing items for winter because I freaked out that on my no buy year, I wouldn’t have enough winter clothing, that went well together. And this last part of the going together is kind of important. I haven’t been buying a lot of winter items the last years, due to my home renovations and also because, honestly, I forgot. Like last year I remember buying some long sleeves and 2 sweaters, a jumpsuit for new years eve, that I didn’t like that much ( because I bought it on a whim for the occasion) and a dress that I went on a date with. Still like the dress and all the other stuff very much. But, as you can tell, I didn’t buy very much. Neither did I buy a lot of summer wear but that’s because I kinda have a lot of summer wear. I used to sell vintage at markets ( I still do but we are in a pandemic so that side hustle is not happening right now) and a lot of what I sell is summer stuff, so there is no urgency in that department.

Winter stuff is a whole other topic. First, concerning vintage, I find it a lot harder to find good winter clothes. In general it’s harder to find nice winter clothes, I don’t know if it has to do with the whole layering thing. I feel like you certainly have to pull more thought into winter ensembles…

That being said. I feel like, even over the years I have been capsuling, I have never spent the amount I needed to spend to get a cohesive winter wardrobe. I have enough winter stuff, just not enough stuff I can easily combine. Now that I think about it. Did I ever have ( or make, or tried to make a sort of ) the budget to buy good decent winter stuff?

Fast forward to the present day. I make a pretty decent living, and I can buy winter clothes. And I did, last month. While I didn’t want to, but also everything was on sale already because of the pandemic, so that definitely helped make me decide to shop now for winter, at half prices.

But my resolution to go on a no spend year, to get my thoughts of of shopping completely backfired to be honest. Ever since I made that decision, that I definitely want to uphold, I have been wondering If I would be lacking anything in the near future during that no spend and how it would make me feel.

And so yes. I guess I did, I guess I didn’t feel like I had bought items in the past years that actually suited me. A grown up, almost 40 year old woman. I’m not gravitating towards ‘ funky- trendy -cool items ‘ as much and that is definitely okay, but my wardrobe didn’t reflect that per se.

So I shopped, before I started the no spend. How silly is that? Just because I made the promise to myself. And I still want to keep it, because I don’t want to distract myself with shopping for clothes or skincare items. I just still feel like everything has to stop and I want to think of other things, I want to read, I want to sport, I want to meditate, I want to write this blog.

I kind of tricked myself in to thinking that If I just had these few items that were missing, that I would be satisfied and had something that worked. Oh god, I hope this is not going to be a vicious cycle of thinking that I have everything now, but then again I know there will be something else that I desperately ‘ need’, and I will just have to be strong enough to resist it.

Stopping to shop is NOT easy.

Really. How did I ever think It would be? Just now. I have ordered 2 hair masks ( I don’t ever go to the hairdresser ( don’t gasp like it’s a very strange thing- I save on that, so it’s fine,) of each 15 euro’s because the one I use ( that was 45 euro’s OMG & not worth the price .. is a hair mask ever worth THAT price?? Spoiler alert.. NO) is almost empty and I wanted to avoid shipping costs. Shipping costs reduction is my eternal downfall btw.

And this shopping I did, totally falls within my rules, when I don’t have any kind of a certain product that I need ( I have thick long, dry curly hair that might look like I never treat it, but I do) I can repurchase. I just didn’t think I would be having to go online again and make choices, this soon. OMG what’s the point of a shopping ban then? Ever since budgeting, and now again with this no spend challenge, I’m painfully aware of what a human being actually needs. I might not need this hair mask in order to survive, and hello, thumbs up for saving money hairdresser wise, but come on…We clearly need a lot of stuff .

In addition to the masks I also ordered raw coconut oil to start oil pulling again, as it is the only thing that helps my teeth from bleeding when I brush. So these are clearly necessities. The clothing wasn’t, but I really want to have a sort of interchangeable uniform this year and re-wear everything a lot, and honestly It requires a lot of basics, and a lot of neutral grey, black tones, to combine with my rather bright and playful wardrobe I have right now.

So budget wise, this is what happened:

I didn’t save. Yikes! I did earn some money from my Etsy shop and have put that towards savings but its hardly worth mentioning. I actually spend some of my savings.

And in addition to that, I saved subconsciously in the food department. That is not where I want to save! I mean I know I subconsciously did this to make up for over spending in the clothing department…but we are in a pandemic, I’m already not going out to eat, hardly going out for a drink.

And that’s it. So It was not my intention at all to save on food. I definitely know where my money went. It went to basic grey and black knitted sweaters and cardigans, and a black winter coat, also something I did not have. I have a good nice winter coat of course, but the truth is , you do need something neutral as your outerwear if you want to make the most of the clothes that you have. And I don’t know why I’m even thinking of this when it is literally 100 degrees out.

Oh well enough with the excuses. I overspend in the clothing department. Last month I overspend in the beauty department. I see this as a catching up phase , since I truly was lacking so many things because I just hadn’t restocked during my years of renovating the house. I don’t have to tell you what living in builders dust for years does to your skin. So even though our main bathroom still has to be totally renovated, I am enjoying my dust free morning an evening skincare routines, and that also counts for something…

Below my spending chart of the month of Juli.

Thank you so much for reading guys!

Love,

Maureen

Ps: What do you guys think. Did I actually save money by buying winter items now, on sale, that I would have bought later? Or was it just not oké for me to buy a load of stuff just before the start of my no buy. Your honest opinion is appreciated 🙂

Talking about the financial mistakes I made in my twenties, so you don’t have to make them.

I thought writing about these could be helpful to young people who are just starting their financial journey, so here we go.

  1. Not knowing were my money went. When I was in college and my first working years after college, I didn’t track my spending. I just went with the flow and honestly, if my money was gone, I just ate crackers. I wasn’t in debt, I wasn’t per se over spending. But I wasn’t responsible with my money either. I didn’t know what my bank account set up cost me yearly. I didn’t save or have a savings account to automate my savings and get money in that account at the start of the month, and I certainly did not have an emergency fund. Which led me to live a very stressful life at times and eating crackers on the regular. Make a budget before you get paid, and assign every euro. And pay yourself first.
  2. I didn’t have a credit card. I’m glad I didn’t at the time, because the chances are that I wouldn’t have used it responsibly. And although in Belgium we don’t work with credit scores per se, credit cards can be used as a smart tool to save, when used correctly. There are plenty of credit cards where you can collect airmiles, get cash back or / and get premium insurance on the stuff you bought with that card.
  3. Not doing me. When I first went to college and got set up in a dorm, I really did not care at all about clothes and make up. But, my next door neighbour was a very pretty popular girl that all the boys liked. She had a lot of money to spend that she got from her parents. She dressed in another outfit 4 times a day or to go to different classes. You can guessed what happened. I wanted to be her friend, I wanted to be like her, I wanted to be in het social circle. and eventually I started spending on clothes and make up to keep up with her, without having the money per se. Luckily I was in college at a time where social media was almost non-existent. Facebook just started out, but that was it. There was no instagram to compare myself with. I feel kind of lucky to have gone through puberty and my twenties without all of that. So the moral of this story is, just do you. Look at your financial situation and your goals, and don’t compare yourself to others. After all, there is only one you.
  4. Spending my money on clothes. In my teens and twenties I already bought a lot of vintage, but it was no where near as cheap as you can find it now, because there are so much sellers around and thus more competition. At the time when I started, there were maybe one or two vintage stores and a thrift store in the city where I went to college. Second hand clothing wasn’t popular, It was more for the alternative people. Which were also the people I hang out with. I studied social work and my social circle at school were mainly very alternative people with a different vision on consumer society. There were people squatting houses and going for dumpster diving to set up community food or a community kitchen where people could eat for free. But when I got more into the group of my dorm neighbour, and at that time I also met a small circle of girls that were in fashion school, everything changed. As I mentioned, I started to buy more cheap fast fashion because that was the only thing my budget allowed. Every time I went out, which at the time was almost 4 to 5 nights a week, I had to wear another outfit. The result of that was not only being broke, all the time, but also going to the night shop before going to the club, to save money on drinks. Which is kinda sad if you think of it. A bunch of pretty girls in clubs that have no money to spend on a drink. My advice is to set money aside in your budget for classic pieces, try to build a more minimalist closet with pieces you can wear in many different ways and that are from good quality so they’ll last a longer time.
  5. Moving out too soon. Because of my parents moving to another town that was on the complete other side of where I used to live, while I was in college, there was no possibility to stay at home while I was working my first year and save up some money. I just got my first job, my first apartment I rented, on my own. You can guess what happened. At the end of each month, my money was gone. I suggest you live with your parents for as long as you possibly can to get yourself some financial stability. If you can’t, get at least one roommate to split the costs. Living by yourself in Belgium, near a bigger city is extremely pricey if you want to have some comfort and live by yourself. If I could go back, I would definitely look in to more alternative ways of housing.
  6. Cars. I see people suggest all the time to not spend your money on new cars because it is just a bad investment and the devaluation of a car is just enormous. I have a slightly different opinion on this. I love new cars, and here is why. Through my twenties and a big part of my thirties I followed that advice of buying second hand cars that were 5 to 6 years old. I can’t tell you how much money they have cost me all together, and stress. I have had some real bad luck with cars, going from having accidents that weren’t my fault but getting little money back from the insurance, to buying a car that had major costs, I’m talking 1200 to 1500 euro’s, not to speak of all the maintenance, repairs etc etc. What I suggest is that you save up as much as you can, put down a bigger deposit, thus pay off a bit less, and go for a car that is within your budget. I think the mistake people make is not so much buying a new car with warranty and all the good perks. But buying a new car of dream car that is just not in their budget. For less than 10.000 euro’s you can get a nice new car that does the job. For the 4000 that you would have put down on a 5 year old car you can put that towards the deposit, and you’ll have a new car with warranty that gets you everywhere you want to go, without the huge unforeseen costs. Big unforeseen costs are one thing, but if you then make a decision to have the car fixed and It breaks again beyond repair a month later, that is a real tragedy. Happened to yours truly more than once. I’m not changing my opinion, I love NEW cars.
  7. Buying a house before you’re ready. When I bought my first house, I was 27, and to be honest, I was no where near ready for the financial responsibility and everything that comes with buying a house. I succumbed to the pressure of my parents, my friends, that were also buying houses and starting a family. After living in the house I bought for one year, I felt that I didn’t like the city ore area I was living in that much. It was near the beach and more affordable than the area near Brussels I live in now, but super far from my job. I was just tired all the time from the commute. There weren’t a lot of times that I actually enjoyed the beach. Don’t succumb to the pressure to buying a house. It is a very big decision. Again, just do you. Everyone has their own timeline and situation that they are in. There are factors you’ll never know, or even your friends won’t tell you about. For instance, how much their parents sponsored them. Or how much their spouse really earns, or how big their downpayment is. Social media especially shows only the surface, maybe people went on vacation and came back without a euro to their name, or they might have took out a loan for their vacation. There is no real way to know, so it makes really no sense to compare yourself to anyone.

My no buy year

As from today I am going on a no spend year. Just to be clear to you guys, and to myself. We are the forth of august in our dearly beloved 2020.

History

I have attempted a no spend year before a few years ago. Then, I’ve massively failed at it, so stakes are high. I don’t want to fail again;. I didn’t even last two months. you can barely count it as a real effort. Then last year, I didn’t spend anything on myself. I didn’t set goals to have a no spend year, it just kinda happened without me really noticing it. I was left with a building construction gone wrong at home, and there was no other way out than to spend all my leftover money on fixing things in the house. I basically spend all my free time working on my house, so there was no time to spend and either way all my money was going towards the house. I was going through a lot of emotional things at the same time. A break up that I didn’t saw coming, my friend dying of cancer and a bunch of other stuff I won’t go into detail to.

Come covid 19, on the positive side, it was allowing me to actually finish these construction works, because of all the time freed up that I would have spend at my day job otherwise. But also a realisation of how hard the year had been and a friend pointing out that ‘ why the heck are you washing with a plain soap bar, where is the shower gel? ” In this process I have shoved myself and my own needs completely to the background. aka it was as if I didn’t exist anymore, and I became painfully aware of what I all pushed trough the past year.

Stuff

To be honest. I have a normal amount of clothes. I call it normal now, because I’m nowhere near what I had before. In my twenties I was spending money on clothes on a weekly basis. Granted, they were mostly thrifted or very cheap but also not that great. Definitely an example of quantity over quality. When I got to my mid thirties I started to get an understanding of my style and who I was, so the amount of shopping I did got drastically reduced and also I bought a house, that I still currently live in.

After my unintentional a year of no spend, I was definitely lacking things in my closet and in my bathroom. I mean, I could well do with a few jeans and my few good tees rotating, some summer dresses and one cardigan that went with everything. But in the bathroom department, I’t really showed that I hadn’t been taking care of myself. To be honest, my house contains two bathrooms and they were both demolished due to the gone wrong renovation, so they weren’t my favourite hangouts anyway. I didn’t have proper moisturiser, I didn’t have blush anymore, I didn’t have conditioner ( I have long, curly dry hair, so I basically can’t do without), I didn’t have masks, I didn’t have sunscreen of after sun, I didn’t have a serum anymore.

One of the first things I bought when everything started falling into place, was a magazine that had a beauty box with it at a reduced price. I don’t recommend this though, it’s full of products that you don’t choose yourself, and don’t work for your skin type. But anyway, that’s the first that I bought, because I thought it was a good deal to spend x amount and get y amount of products for it.

But then a month into the pandemic, I stared to fill up the rest of all the areas where I was lacking. I shopped and I cried and felt depressed. It was all because of processing this incredible hard year, where the renovation got wrong was just one thing. I couldn’t believe that after all of that shit 2019 had brought, we were in a **** pandemic, making me feel even worse than before, and scared and overwhelmed and going through every emotion ever possible.

I thought I could numb my depression and the sadness by trying to make some things perfect in my life, things I thought I could control. Because those things that I made perfect gave me some sort of stability in uncertain times. The perfect skincare routine, the perfectly organised drawer, the perfect wardrobe. They wouldn’t scammed me, like my contractor did, they wouldn’t leave me, as my ex boyfriend did, they wouldn’t just suddenly die on me after only a few months of cancer, like the friend I felt the closest to, did. And they sure wouldn’t go out and kill anyone with lower immunity like the virus did.

And btw, about building the perfect minimalist wardrobe, or buying ‘ the right kind- vegan- cruelty free ‘ of beauty products.

I feel like this trend is also just a different kind of consumption, the search for the perfect thing, or the perfect eco thing to replace something else with. In the end, they only make sense if you have used up all the rest and if you can’t find a ” no buy” alternative to it. Like those expensive containers for your shampoo and conditioner bar, like what is that? Like you just can’t use an old glass jar to store those in?

We are now about six months further in to this pandemic and this crazy year. And I noticed that I kept adding and buying things I felt I was so desperately lacking. Not that I am shopping like crazy, but I also have to realise that not everything has to be replaced or perfect at once. I feel like I am falling into my old habits of shopping as before the whole shit year happened…

The reasons that I’m going cold turkey or on a shopping ban are :

  1. I’m really suffering from decision fatigue. Ranging from bigger decisions like buying a couch, to other smaller ones to more personal and less material ones. We don’t have a couch yet, and that might be something I will make an exception for during this shopping ban. It’s oké for now, because it’s summer, but I don’t know how I will feel about not having a couch when the colder days come along. If I watch a movie, It’s late at night before the tv get’s turned on, and I watch it from my bed. It’s not so much that a couch is a bigger financial decision because even if you buy a 500 euro’s Ikea couch, you’ll live with it for at least 10 years. And it’s even more stressful if I decide to buy a expensive couch, then it better be completely right. But it is so that the space we live with is actually not suited for a regular nice couch for at least 3 people or to have a couch with a chaise long. Honestly, the space gives me headaches. I like two seat sofa’s or nice lounge chairs, but they are just not as laid back, cosy as a regular fluffy relax couch for many people. But there are also other decisions in the clothing department, the kitchen department, the bathroom department, the hallway. It’s everything at once that comes at me. It’s overwhelming and it’s just giving me fatigue at the moment. I want to stop thinking of consumerism things, I want to stop making decisions that relate to that. Which brings me to the next thing.
  2. Not buying and not thinking of what next to buy to complete a space, or an outfit will free up so much time that I can use for other things. Not only won’t I be browsing online or on instagram or placing orders, I also won’t be waiting for my order at home. Stressing if I can or can’t go to the supermarket at a particular time for example.
  3. Self love. I deserve a break. I tortured myself while I was in the midst of rebuilding my house and fixing builders mistakes, but I’m torturing myself in another ways now. Every purchase I make, kind of reminds me of how much I was not taking care of myself, and although I’m happy buying things, it kinds of feels like this never ending catching up manoeuvre that can’t still the pain I went through.
  4. I wan’t to use up what I have. especially in the beauty department. Because of Covid I ordered almost only online . And most companies, as you are probably aware of, offer free shipping if you buy for a certain amount. Me being conscious of my money thought that it would be less waste full If I just bought three at once. Instead of three separate entities + shipping costs and environmental consequences. Which is why I have for instance 3 Weleda shower gels LOL. Btw Lush, ( on my mission of living more zero waste ) have insanely high shipping costs, and do not offer free shipping. I guess that is because they don’t want costumers to buy that much online and they rather have you visiting their stores.
  5. I want to get more creative. Using things in a number of different ways.
  6. I want to live with less products and less stuff. ( Which is something that is already so, I have majorly decluttered through the renovations. I just have to work at keeping it up…)
  7. I want to organise everything in a good, practical way before buying new.

Et voilà we have the magic number seven.

How am I going to stop shopping?

I’m not being this as an easy challenge. So I need some thought about it and some reinforcement.

I failed the first time I attempted a shopping ban and the second time I only pushed through because there was really no other option, I was in survival mode and shopping for new stuff was the last thing on my mind. So now that I’m back to my normal groove, I have to set some guidelines for myself to stop shopping.

  1. I’m going to unsubscribe from all promotional emails, except from some green beauty brands websites and clothing brands I have ordered from in the past. It is not easy to find nice eco stores that have exactly what you need or are looking for. It sometimes took me a while to find these, so I don’t want to be looking all over the place again one year from now.
  2. I’m going to avoid going in to shops, or near shops or meeting people at shops where I have no business to be. ( But then again, describe more in detail where I have no business to be hahah )
  3. I’m going to unfollow style accounts on instagram or anyone who promotes products on their IG page.
  4. I’m going to hold a small ceremony and film my first ( lol) and last unboxing video for the year and put in on YouTube. Celebrate your stop shopping with your last official purchase ! Be considerate of what it is and treasure it.
  5. Delay. When I think I need something because I need a replacement. I will consider and re consider for at least 5 days, to see If I really NEED the item.
  6. Separate the needs from the wants. Looks easy but isn’t. And it is also extremely personal, so no general guidelines here.)
  7. Be more present. Allow myself to feel what I am feeling and not trying to cover it up.
  8. Write about it. On the blog, say something about it on YT but also keep a little daily journal to myself to process my thoughts and feelings.
  9. Distract my mind from shopping with other activities.

What will you be doing instead? I’m a firm believer that you should set your mind elsewhere if you want to break a habit.

  1. Restarting my Portuguese lessons and German as I fell off that wagon. My partner is a Portuguese and German is our, I’m Belgian, third language and I absolutely suck at it. I started learning German through an app, which is not perfect. But I still made huge progress because our Flemish is the most alike language that there is to German. German is a hard language to learn, but it is significantly easier for a Flemish Belgian. I’m not setting the bar super high though. I’m not aiming for perfection. I don’t want to have the grammar down completely, I just want to be able to speak Portuguese and German. The fact is also that I re- payed for the app that I was using, without noticing it, so being the frugal that I secretly am, I want to take advantage of that before it expires in February, lol.
  2. I’m going to meditate. I’m in therapy at the moment. Woah, that sound so waspy while I’m typing it lol. Because, I believe, If you have money for therapy, you kinda have a good life where all your material needs are met. Because therapy is not for poor people LOL. I have get a discount because the Flemish government has an 8 sessions reduction therapy plan, it’s in it’s testing phase. They aren’t sure if this 8 session reduction thing is helpful. But it sure is helpful to me-he. So I’m going for it NOW! Anyway, my therapist says I have to meditate ( I’m yawning at the thought of it.) I feel like meditation is trendy and overhyped and a waste of time. We will talk later and see if I have the same thoughts about that. But hey, this is what I will be doing instead of shopping.
  3. More walks and more sport. I was actually already in to that. I have been walking the dog ( She’s the block favourite- all the old ladies go crazy for her… not sad about it lol) , biking ( not that much because I feel an immense sense of guilt if I don’t go out with my dog, because she wants to follow me everywhere lol) and more workouts via Youtube.
  4. Reading books. I just finished Amélie Nothombs Les prénoms épicènes. It felt so good to start reading again! I love it to turn off all screens and get caught in a good book!
  5. Cooking. I got into healthy cooking again thanks to Rens’ Kroes ( Dutch health foodie guru and site of model Doutzen Kroes. If you don’t know who both are, I love you for not caring about that stuff ..) books I had at home an have re discovered.

What am I hoping to get out of this in the long run?

  1. Over all lifestyle with less buying.
  2. A greener more towards zero waste lifestyle. To be honest, I don’t think going zero waste completely is achievable for me. Especially in the skincare and haircare department. I really love good products for my skin, I have suffered from acne for ten years of my adult life and my skin is very sensitive and dry. My hair is also very dry. I colour it with henna and hardly visit a hairdresser, which is also drying so I need quality products to keep it in god shape. I don’t know if a shampoo bar or conditioner bar can give me this. I think If I can get to just buying what I need in recyclable packaging ( preferable compostable) , it would be a good deal for me. FYI I hardly spend money on beauticians or hairdressers so I think I kinda justify buying products that are a bit on the more expensive side that way. I do all my spa and hair treatments at home, but of course, it doesn’t mean I need 5 of the same products.
  3. More time invested in meaningful activities.
  4. Not so much doing this to save more money. But, I would like to manage my budget better. My budget has never worked out completely how I wanted it. Which is ok. I think it’s good to set a budget for all the different spending categories and savings. If you over or underspend or there are difficult months, it’s oké. But I do order most of my things with PayPal, and I find that I do overspend there sometimes and that it’s also less easy to track than if it’s on my debit card bill. I usually also don’t know how much PayPal balance I have left, since it’s a completely different account. And I have to look at it and track it too of course. Because when I look at my debit and I see a PayPal spending I’m mostly going like, ” Oh yeah, what was that again? “. I just want to have less of those moments. I want to have more of : “Oh yeah, that was that thing.” Without having to look at PayPal. If I don’t know what it is anymore, that’s definitely not good.
  5. A real look into my bare essentials budget. I kinda know what my bare essentials budget is. But I haven’t really tested it. So this is a good time to TEST my bare essentials budget and see on what NUMBER I can actually live without much fluff. I think it’s going to be super interesting over all.
  6. More overall appreciation for what I already have.

What are my no buy rules:

  1. Only buy needs. This all the bills paid, the house and food for me, my BF and my pets.
  2. Don’t overspend on food. It can get real fancy when it comes to food but this is also a category that is difficult because I find spending on good food is like a medicine to your body and soul. So. I don’t think I’m going to restrict myself too much in this category. If I’m making my latte’s at home and not going out to eat excessively, I will treat myself at home.
  3. Only replace when it’s finished or find an alternative. For instance. I have one bottle of body lotion that’s s almost done. But I still have 2 bottles of sunscreen and two bottles of aftersun ( we’re in August, I doubt I will use up 4 these bottles) , and moisturising body oil. Only when I use up all these, which to be honest can all be used as body lotion in a way, I will allow myself to buy a bottle of body lotion.
  4. No make up, no clothes, no lingerie, no beauty products, no fancy stuff.
  5. Books. I love buying books, but to be honest. I don’t read all books. So I allow myself to buy a book or better go to the library after I’ve read everything that is laying in my house unread. If I don’t care about reading it on my no spend year, the books has to be donated.
  6. Apps. I will buy no apps. I will continue to pay for what I am using. I pay for Spotify, Netflix, Picmonkey and Duolinguo. These are all apps that I use on a daily basis. If I no longer use them I might of course discontinue. But I won’t buy more apps.
  7. House : as I mentioned, we might get a sofa. Or buy other utensils for the kitchen or house or fixer up stuff like paint. This is definitely an exception to the rule since I am currently still fixing up the house. Not in an overwhelming excessive way, but there are still things that need to be done, so when the time comes we might spend on the house.
  8. Garden: I feel like I overspend on the garden this year due to covid but the garden is, like the house, also something that needed some desperate love. With nowhere to go I felt so lucky to have a garden. Every year I plant new stuff. This year I will allow myself only to buy seeds to plant new veggies and soil or compost ( If my compost doesn’t turn out right. I haven’t chopped a lot of stuff in to small pieces this time, we will see how it turns out..)
  9. Gifts. I allow myself to buy gifts. A few of my friends are having babies this year or have babies with birthday parties. And so yes, gifts, birthday gifts, all kinds of gifts are allowed.
  10. Eating out, social activities, outdoor coffees or vacations. I will also allow myself this. I feel this is the category that I really don’t want to save on because It does takes away from your life quality. I will try to meet friends for coffee rather than for dinners. Now with Covid this is not that big of an issue. The vacation in Portugal is cancelled. I do allow myself to eat out once or twice a month if the occasion calls for it. I’m going to allow also take away. We don’t do this very often and the rare occasions we do it it is because we are tired from fixing things, don’t have anything in the house to cook or are too tired to cook. And we mostly get good Italian homemade pizza from a nearby pizzeria, so nothing over the top here.

Next post will be a review of my July budget. With august being no spend, I’m also hoping these budget reviews will get a bit shorter to go over lol.

Have you ever done a shopping ban, long or short-term? What are the categories you definitely do not want have a shopping ban for and which categories would be easy to have one on?

Love, Maureen

Food Hacks that aren’t only environmental friendly but will also save you money

Hey’a friends,

Today I wanted to share some of my hacks to not only save the environment but also save you a heap of money.

First of all, I would like to say… the first and foremost reason I do these things is because I really like to do them. I’m a bit of a goofy nerd in that way. So here goes.

Ditch the bottled water

For my sparkling water, I use a soda stream. At one point, I just got fed up by all the amount of waste I was creating in my garage and I was tired of carrying water bottles every week. All of that didn’t make any sense to me anymore. So I bought a Sodastream. I don’t like sugared drinks, so I use it solely for when I like to make a nice sparkly flavoured virgin cocktail, or am in the mood for sparkling water.

Latte’s at home

Next to that, it’s cliché, I know, but I do make my own coffee at home, tea, special blend latte’s, and I drink water from the tab.

Growing your own food

I also try to reduce waste by growing my own food in my own garden and freezing what I don’t use up, so I can savour the flavour of fresh grown foods until autumn. I love making delicious dishes, without having to buy too much veggies or herbs at the supermarket. Apart from the covid situation we are all experiencing right now, I never was a big fan of supermarkets. Too big, too many people, too much choice, standing in line too long. I like local shops and farmers markets. Which I find there are way too little of where I live. I already have to go into Brussels, to find a nice one. Luckily a new one is going to open soon in the Jette community, which makes it that I can actually take my bike to go to the shop.

Btw, did you know you can also freeze your fresh herbs?

Producing my own compost is another way to save me money. I just throw my biodegradable leftovers on a heap in the corner of my garden. But most people like a nice and neat compost bin.

Reducing waste is a great money saver as you have to buy less garbage bags aka plastic, again! They ‘re also very expensive here in Belgium ( 20 euro’s for 10 bags).

There is so much you can recycle by letting it rot in your compost to humus… almost all paper and cardboard for instance too, if you cut it into tiny little pieces.

Soil is the key ingredient to growing your veggies and fruit. It is so important. So you NEED to keep your compostable leftovers if you want to start your own vegetable garden.

If you have little to no room to grow a vegetable or herb garden you can easily grow fruit and veggies or herbs in containers. I alway buy mine ( for my terrace ) at thrift shops. It’s not easy to find the right ones. I would like to have some made out of leftover wood, but that project will have to wait a bit as we are currently still renovating our fixer upper.

These are a few of my good practices when it comes to waste reduce and saving money.

If you also have great tips on this, please share!

Love,

Maureen

New in the vintage shop

Hi guys,

You can see these dresses on my YouTube channel that I created solely for these beauties : https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZBMhTygW8FgAUgoMk_6H0Q

Feel free to ask me any questions about the vintage I’m selling.

I will add items to this section/ category weekly so keep an eye on this page. 

Love, 

Maureen 

Black and gold vintage mini dress

Belgian size 38, international size M.

€74.00

I’m starting my five no spend months challenge on Wednesday 15th of July and I will blog about my progress weekly to hold myself accountable.

This weekend, while I was cleaning out the garage and the house I’ve been renovating and moving stuff around in for way too long, I came to an understanding. The understanding being that I didn’t want to be moving things around my whole life, and that I finally just wanted to know where my stuff actually is instead of searching boxes.

I’m also going to be ending the no spend challenge by half of December, just in time to get ready for Christmas and New year. With these two in mind, I think it will also be easier to stick to my goals because I will have a huge pay off of the no spend months.

This is what I will be doing :

  1. Instead of spending, I will spend my time cleaning and arranging stuff around the house. Keeping only essentials. So that I can start in a fresh, well organised home in 2021. Because, Let’s face it. Let’s just forget the whole 2020 thing. I didn’t think the Corona pause button was not that bad btw for me personally, because I didn’t lose a family member or a friend due to Corona and I made a lot of needed progress with renovating and organising. I have a garden with next door neighbours to talk with over the low fences, and a dog and roommates and so I had my social contact. It’s still an utterly shitty and terrifying virus, though. Especially with everyone wearing masks everywhere like they are actually sick. And although I am also privileged to be able to go spend some time at the Belgian coast. My roommate and I where planning to go to Porto and Espinho in Portugal, that’s where he’s from. We cancelled our plans to do so because of the recent outbursts of Corona in Portugal and because we feared not to have a really nice vacation time as it would be without the Corona virus to be cautious about everywhere we would go. So vacations are definitely also cancelled, which will make the no spend easier. If I would be on vacation in Portugal, I would definitely spend my money on shopping clothes, eating out a lot and what else. So now I’m forced again to stick to essentials.
  2. I don’t want to think about my clothes or buying clothes, but I do want to think about how to make the most out of the clothes that I own. I want to experiment with styling them GOOD.
  3. I also am not buying stuff for my vintage shop intentionally. If I happen to be somewhere, where they sell nice vintage stuff for instance in a charity shop where I drop off all my excess stuff, then of course I can buy what I like for the shop only. Only for the shop, not for me.
  4. I am making an exception to buy IKEA stuff. Yes, you’ve heard me IKEA. I used to love arranging my house with vintage stuff and with things thrifted but I’ve come to love IKEA stuff so much because… If your goals is to get organised, IKEA is the way to go. I won’t go crazy on this but the truth is, now that the structural work on this house is done. I still have a whole house to furnish, to paint, and to decorate, in order to make this house a real home. And yes, so also to organise in huge ways. There is literally no room organised. I still have to paint the hallway, decently . I did it half assed almost two years ago, but I also decided not to do anything half assed anymore. I have to get hooks and organisers for coats a bench for shoes in the hallway. I have to get a closet for clothes in the bedrooms, a couch, things to organise the kitchen more, a decent bed etc etc etc… We have absolutely nothing here. So I will be spending a little bit of money here and there on IKEA stuff, but nothing too crazy. I will probably spread my purchases monthly whilst keeping my money goals in mind. It could also be that I will just postpone all these things until after new year. Aka just paint and arrange now, and furnish later. Now that I’m writing this, it surely makes a lot more sense.
  5. Instead of spending I will try selling what I don’t use and downsize my belongings in a huge way. I think I really had a trauma from almost five years or renovations in total and dusting of all the stuff I own and cleaning. I just want to live in a house that is very low maintenance. It’s an old house, with still a lot of little and bigger projects. I want to make all these processes go as smoothly as possible, this will only possible by downsizing because I know that I will still be moving stuff around if I make progress from room to room. Oh and I lost my keys and the keys to the apartment at the Belgian Coast this weekend, before writing this post that I am now editing. I don’t have to tell you about the stress and the sleepless nights. I eventually found them in the garden, after purging and cleaning my whole house. I will tell my next husband to hid my keys if he likes me to clean and be organised. LOL. Again, even more proof to go on a minimalistic and better organised life route.
  6. I don’t want to search for anything anymore. I just want to know where it is. See previous lol.
  7. I want to spend my time on things that matter and make me happy. Like walks with my dog, in my garden, my vintage shop or this blog. See previous lol.
  8. I have rough financial months a head of me in fall. I want to fill up my 401K or in Belgium, my pension plan. If I want to cover it fully this year, I need to add 1200 euro to do that. ( Man, if only I had put 100 aside each month already. But it’s okay I can still cover it, not sweating AT ALL ) End October, beginning of November, there is car tax to be payed and house tax, that’s also about 1200. Then there is the electricity and gas bill. Last year I payed 1200 extra because we were heating our house with electrical heaters. I don’t want to think about all the vacations or designer bags ( not that I’m interested lol) that could have covered. I’m sure this year won’t be that bad, because I had a new heating system installed, but you never know. And there is still debt pay off from the renovations I started last year, and from the new car . It’s a Renault grand tour and I’m really proud of it. Not because it’s a Renault but because I went against my dad who told me to get a Dacia. Until I realised I would pay off a car I didn’t even like for 5 years, then the extra cash for the Renault suddenly didn’t seem that bad. I mean if I’m hurting already. Better be hurting for something decent, right. LOL. These are not super urgent because the low interest rates, but I still don’t want to carry it around for the next six years. I just want to say bye bye to it asap while keeping a large emergency fund. If I wanted to. I could pay the car off in 2 months because I have a really big emergency fund right now. I just wanted to feel way more secure and independent ( aka not depending as much on my roommates, boyfriends, jobs, etc…) not that I was depending, but I sort of felt very insecure that If something went wrong that I didn’t have it covered. And also because things went wrong last year in a huge way, and I made it, but I realised I did take a huge risk and not one ball could have dropped in the situation.
  9. I will be spending my time making Polymer creations, ( yes it’s a thing) and blogging.
  10. And we also have my 40th birthday to save up for, Christmas and New year et voila…suddenly we’re at 10 reasons why.

Comes down to 10 very good reasons to stop spending money NOW! ( These blogposts are written a bit in advance ) But to make it a bit more interesting and to make it a big 5 round five months number I chose Wednesday 15th of July.

These are the rules :

Buying only essentials, meaning food, water…doctor visits…But also not being to hard on myself with the food. Because, I’m already not eating out, so I’m definitely going to be eating nice and healthy and tasty food at home and will share the food porn on my instagramstories.

Not eating out. This is blah, I know…. But I figured… If I can do it in quarantine for 3 months, I can do it again for 5 months. Going out for a drink or two is totally fine. I mean it’s summer. I want to sit outside with a coffee or a cocktail… Just not spending 50 euro’s for a meal with drinks and coffee and desserts.

Not spending on clothes, make-up, beauty, jewellery. All beauty treatments must be done at home.

No buying for my vintage shop. I have a whole wardrobe full of clothes in the garage that still have to go to the online shop, so I’ll be pretty busy photographing and promoting these. Unless I find something really exceptional.

No dog grooming. I’ve actually gotten pretty good in doing it at home.

Using or re using what I have. For garden, kitchen etc etc. Using and re using clothes or restyling in a new way. ( Looking forward to that).

I actually was going to bring a lot of stuff to the second hand store, but I changed my mind to keep it for some more time while I progress in this no spend journey. I will just hang on to it, until things are more settled around the house and that I’m really sure that I don’t need it…. Eh. Revision. I donated and went back today to get a pair of shoes that I regretted donating. The people there looked at me like I was nuts. But in the end I went through my bags to get my shoes back. I know, I’m a bit crazy but the moment I didn’t have them anymore, It felt like they were the most special pair of shoes in the world for some reason. Will putt them on the blog after they went to the cobbler. I also kinda regret giving away a blue skinny jeans, because It was my only skinny. I wear straight leg jeans more now, and it wasn’t an amazing jeans. It was the high waist Topshop Jamie Jeans that I had for ages. After the challenge is done, if I miss it, I might replace it with a high waist skinny of a fair brand or a thrifted one. I wasn’t too crazy about the Topshop jeans, but I held on to it because it was my only blue skinny and I didn’t want to bother with buying another. We will see if I will really miss it.

The only place where I can spend is renovation stuff for the house…like paint and furniture to organise, but not go crazy. I’m going to evaluate if I really need it.

This is what I’m hoping to get from this challenge:

  1. More creativity
  2. Less time wasting
  3. More organisation
  4. More savings
  5. More debt pay off. I am not going to throw large amounts at my debt, because I’d rather have a large emergency fund. But I am planning to pay off my credit card debt of 1500 by Christmas.
  6. Knowing what my bare essentials budget really is. I mean, you have to be budgeting or living on essentials for a while to really understand your bare essentials budget.

Conclusion:

I think I can do this until Christmas. Five months, that’s not even a half year. And as long as I don’t feel like I can’t eat what I want, I think I will be fine. I still think it’s going to be much harder than it seems right now, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t give it a try.

So bummed about the vacation though. I was so ready to go to Portugal, I had set up my budget for it, and I was ready to stuff myself with fish and drinking coffee all day and play volleyball on the beach with my roommates friends and seeing the Harry Potter library in Porto.

Have you done a no spend month or months ? If yes, how did it go. What where your main challenges?

Love, Maureen

Capsule wardrobing part six: Finding your style with Vogue’s quick fire questions.

Going from nothing to wear to ready to wear.

How did I get to this low point, you might ask yourself. Well, my friends, having absolutely nothing to wear when your closet is stacked with clothes can be caused by many factors. I will go over a few later on this blog  but this one is a very probable one; you haven’t set a goal for your closet. If don’t know what you want from it, then how can it serve you ?  What happened to me for a while is that my clothes no longer represented who I was mentally. We evolve and so do our closets.

Let’s start with you haven’t set a goal for your closet.

In order to set a goal you must know a) Who you are & what you want from your closet. You also have to know what you want from life since the two are very intertwined and how we dress is certainly a reflection of our inner life. b) Your lifestyle.

What does your daily life look like?

A lot of methods play together in this one. We can draw a map of our lives, where we go, who we see on a regular basis, what our jobs, daily and leisure activities are. For instance, during quarantine I only wore 2 long cotton maxi dresses and leggings with a tee. and I wore a jeans with a blouse to go to the supermarket. This was about 90 pct of what I wore. I wore 2 nice dresses on the rare occasions I saw my friends and I wore my pj’s. It’s amazing how little you actually really NEED. Now, out of quarantine and in to the work field again, things get to be a bit more challenging again. I can’t stress how important it is to make clothing choices based on your actual life instead of your fantasy life. We can take a picture of every item in our closets while wearing it and examine how it makes us feel, or we can create a mood board reflecting a person we want to be. We can also design a look book or choose some key pieces in our closet that we absolutely love. These are all good steps but let’s start simple with some quick questions to warm up. Nothing too drastic. Les connaisseurs wil see that I am a fan of British Vogue’s quickfire questions. It’s fun, easy, and a great way to start defining your style and thinking about it without too much effort.

This is a quick exercise that you can do anywhere. Don’t think about it too long, try to answer as fast as you can. Trust your intuition.

Write down the ones that appeal to you the most :

Lace or leather

Bold or Italic

L.A or Seattle

Ready to wear or vintage

Heels or flats

Vampy or ingenue

Denim or leather

With a twist or simple

Sporty or romantic

Tomboy or girly

Fitted or flared

Cover up or revealing

White T-shirt or white shirt

Polkadots or stripes

Stars or stripes

Midi or maxi

Biker or bomber

Bohemian or chique

Mini or maxi

Comfy or classy

Velvet or lamé

Avant-garde or sporty

Chain or ribbon

See through or covered

Black or navy

Blue or black

Sixties or seventies

Onesie or nonesie

Edie Sedgwick or Jane Birkin

Pink or red

Sheer or leather

Dare or detailed

Prom or street

Uggs or heels

Dirty dancing or disco

French or Italian

Paris or New York

Look at all the words you’ve written down, can you visualize a look ? Does it make you think of a certain muze or someone you know? Can you see yourself building these elements into your wardrobe? To make it even more fun you can try to find a quote or invent one based on the words you’ve got.

Let this sink in a while and join me next week for more on finding your personal style and building a GREAT wardrobe!

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