A quick note on travel planning websites

I get a lot of questions from friends & others about what websites we use to plan our trips and how we're able to save money doing so. 

I thought before moving on to the next blog in this series, I'd let you know a few tips and planning resources we heavily use to plan our vacations in an economical way. I hope you've been thinking about how to make your next vacation happen, because I'm confident you can!

If you've never used Priceline before, DO IT. Using Priceline to name our own prices on cars and hotels has saved us hundreds of dollars and allowed us to stay in some pretty amazing places for really cheap. The most we've ever paid for a sedan rental car using Priceline was $11 a day, compared to rates of $30+ they were advertising on the rental car website. 

Priceline has a few caveats, mainly being that you cannot choose the hotel you want to stay at or the airline or rental company you reserve with. You get to put in your minimum requirements, like say, a 4-star hotel. You also select the specific area you want to stay in. 

Let's say we were planning a trip to downtown Portland for a weekend staycation using Priceline. If I wanted to book a 4-star hotel, I would select that rating when I click "Name your own price," and then a bunch of different areas will pop up: Downtown Portland, Waterfront, Airport, Beaverton, NE Portland, etc. Since I want to stay downtown, I would select "downtown Portland." Then Priceline will give me an average rate of a current 4-star hotel in downtown Portland. Typically 4-star hotels are around $200. I would type in the price that I would be willing to pay-- usually around $80-- and then fill in my reservation details. 

(Just a few of the hotels we have scored on Priceline for around $80...)

Riverplace Hotel, Portland, OR

Hotel Deluxe, Portland, OR

Hotel Monaco, Portland, OR

Once I confirm that my details are correct, that the star rating, location and price are correct, I will click on "find my room now." This can be a bit nerve-wracking considering you cannot, under any circumstances, receive a refund if you don't like the hotel they've booked for you. However, you get a preview ahead of time of what some of the 4-star hotels are in that area so you know what you're up against. Having done Priceline over 30 times, I have only had one hotel I was not happy with. 

Sometimes, your offer will be accepted, and sometimes it will not. I would strongly recommend not booking more than a week in advance, because at that point hotels are more likely to compromise on price in order to fill their rooms. 

If your offer is accepted, you'll receive an email confirming all of the booking details and where you'll be staying. If it's not accepted, it will tell you why and your credit card will not be charged. You can try again in 24 hours. 

I love Priceline because I love a good deal, and they are pretty solid in delivering what they promise when you set your standards high. 

Costco Travel has some AMAZING details on vacation packages, including all-inclusive, discounts on airfare, free rental cars, etc. We discovered Costco when we booked our first cruise three years ago and received a free upgrade to a balcony, $350 in on board credit and free transfers to our cruise when booking with them-- and the rate was cheaper than was advertised online! 

We have also had friends who have used Costco to book vacations to Hawaii and Mexico and received major savings on their packages as well. You have to be a Costco member to book and present your Costco card number to view some of those deals, but Costco Travel is definitely worth looking into when planning your next trip. 

I have been using TripAdvisor for almost ten years, and I'm so glad it's becoming a big thing now. It has seriously been a lifesaver when it comes to finding hotels and things to do in new places, because people's opinions matter big time. What's also helpful when typing in a city you've never been to for vacation planning is that TripAdvisor shows the prices AND the rankings. 

People aren't really going to lie about their stays, so the reviews on hotels are really authentic. We have found so many places to stay on TripAdvisor, and what I like to do is find the cheapest hotel in the top ten list, because it's like a win-win: Affordable AND recommended by many people. We have also found tour companies this way, discovered new favorite restaurants and have been able to save a lot of money along the way by what different guests said in their reviews. 

TripAdvisor is also helpful because you can see photos that guests have uploaded about the location they visited, rather than just looking at the hotel or restaurant's marketing photos that are meant to make them look good. I have never had a disappointing experience with what I booked from reading TripAdvisor reviews. If anything, I knew what to expect (you get what you pay for sometimes), and other times I was left pleasantly surprised. 

I LOVE Tripit. It is the vacation planner and budget travelers dream website. Tripit takes all of your reservations and planning details from all over (Think: No more printing off email confirmations yourself and putting them on an excel spreadsheet!) and consolidates them into one place. 


When I'm actually in the city I'm visiting, I also like to look on Yelp for what's close by me with only one $ sign that people recommend. I've found across all platforms that people's recommendations tend to be legitimate. If I'm new to NYC and staying in Brooklyn, I'm going to Yelp a restaurant that's cheap, nearby and that a bunch of people recommend so I know I can have a good meal at a low price. It saves me time from stumbling around and helps me avoid restaurants that are over-priced tourists traps. 


Part 2: Dream vacationing on a budget.

Hi friends! Yesterday I started a blog series on making your vacation dreams a reality-- and on your budget, too. I'm sharing with you over the next couple of weeks how we were able to take two very big vacations this year (to the Caribbean and to Europe) on our small budgets, as well as some tips that we have learned along the way to make our travels more wallet-friendly. 

Today I'll be talking about scoring some sweet upgrades pretty much anywhere you go, and also making sure that your travel money is being well-spent. There are tons of freebies along the way as you plan your trip and dozens of money-saving opportunities so that your vacation doesn't have to break the bank. I'll also be talking about our planning steps for our cruise this past March to the Caribbean, while working with a maximum $3,000 budget. 

Enjoying the good life in our own private restaurant while staying in Aqua Class on our cruise. (Hint= major upgrade from what we paid!)


So for Christmas last year, Timothy and I decided to gift each other a spring break trip. We knew we wanted to go somewhere big, and we knew we wanted to get out of the Oregon cold as soon as we could. We LOVE cruising and researched some prices on Christmas Day for an affordable Caribbean cruise during spring break. We had driven to Southern California to do Mexico twice, and wanted to do something different. Our budget for the entire trip was $3,000, which would include the cruise, flights, pre- and post- hotel stay, excursions off the ship, transportation and anything miscellaneous that came up. Staying under $3,000 for that vacation was going to be ambitious, but we were determined to take a Caribbean vacation during spring break and that was our budget to do it with. 

We ended up choosing a Western Caribbean cruise for 7 nights through Celebrity Cruises during spring break, and chose the cheapest room we could find at $799pp for that week. That was for an interior room with no view. That meant that we were already at $1600 for our cruise alone (which did include travel to the islands, tips, beverages, food and lodging). We had $1400 left to spend on flights, transportation, hotels before the cruise and ship excursions. It was ambitious, but we were committed. 

We had quite the time initially in trying to save money on flights to Fort Lauderdale, because spring break trips to Florida are not cheap. Originally the cheapest flights we found were $700pp each for the dates we wanted to travel, and that would have eaten up our entire budget right there. That price was not going to work. 

We waited a few weeks (booking in early February) and found that on Delta airlines, if we were to travel one day before the cruise and one day after, the price went down to $450pp. That was still more than we wanted to spend, but, coupled with a $99 companion fare ticket from an airline rewards credit card that a family member had, we were able to get two tickets to Florida for $550. We had $900 left in our budget for the remainder of the trip. We also learned the value of keeping (balance-free) an airline rewards card because of the many different travel and mileage perks available. Now we have cards with two different airlines and can use those companion fares on our vacations each year to save on airline costs. 

Since we had to leave early and stay late in Fort Lauderdale in order to get a more affordable airline rate, we needed to stay four extra nights. We were going to be arriving on Friday March 22nd and leaving Tuesday, April 2nd. At this point you might be thinking: "Did you even save money on the flights because of what you had to pay in hotels?" Technically, yes. If we were going to be paying an extra $300 to fly in on Sunday the 24th (the day our cruise left), then we might as well have used that $300 to see Fort Lauderdale and explore the Miami area instead of waste it on an airplane seat. 

For our hotel, we decided to "Name our own price" on Priceline for a 3-star hotel in Fort Lauderdale (it's very expensive there). We ended up landing one for $70 a night, so for four nights in Fort Lauderdale we spent $280.

We knew we were going to need a car, so we also Priceline-d that and ended up scoring a rental car in Fort Lauderdale for $9 a day. Our rental car ended up being $18 for the two days we needed it, because we took cabs from our hotel to the ship and back on both cruising days, as well as to and from the airport. 

Pre and post cruise we had a pretty low food budget because we just found Starbucks where we could and shared Chipotle or dinners out wherever we went. We spent roughly $60 for four days on meals pre and post cruise because we got take-out and visited the grocery store in FL one day for snacks. 

One area of cruising that can get kind of spendy is excursions, and since we were in the Caribbean one tip we learned from other travelers was to skip ALL the ship's excursions and either go on a local tour with a guide recommended on Tripadvisor for half the price, or to just research a local area hotel and buy a "day pass" from them to use their pool, eat food at their restaurant, etc. This was what we did for the majority of stops on our cruise, and we saved SO much money by doing so. 

To recap:

Caribbean Cruise Budget: $3,000

Travel dates: Spring break 2013

Airfare to Fort Lauderdale, FL: $550 (for two people/ $225pp)
Cruise rate (lodging/food/travel): $799pp
Pre and post cruise hotel: $280
Rental car / cabs pre and post cruise: $40
Food pre and post cruise: $60
Cruise port visits: $100 (Cabs to beaches, visiting hotel restaurants and their pools, walking around the downtown areas, taking in a time share presentation in exchange for an all-inclusive guest pass, etc.)

So in planning this all in advance, even before our cruise departed, we were pushing $2500 and that was not including anything unexpected such as gas or incidentals. I had a sneaky suspicion, however, that we could do even better than $2500 for this 12-day vacation.

One thing unbenknownst to me at the time is that cruises offer pretty amazing deals in the spring, that tend to coincide with the onset of spring break. There's somewhat of a last-minute push to fill ships during the spring and summer, so they tend to offer crazy promotions. The good news is that guests can cancel and rebook at the better rate, which is exactly what we did. 

Around the first weekend in March, our cruise inevitably dropped in price to $599 per person for the room we booked, but our price we already paid ended up being the same price as a higher-end suite called Aqua Class, where we got additional perks with our room and had a private dining room called Blu that we got to eat in apart from all of the other guests. We also scored a package that included free drinks (alcoholic and non) as well as free gratuities, which typically run about $12/day per person. 

Instead of dropping down to $599 for the interior room, we decided to keep our rate of $799 and upgrade to the private dining experience in Aqua Class. I am SO glad that we did! We definitely could have saved $200 per person overall, but that extra splurge made it so that we could have a balcony room instead of an interior room, and have a quiet and delicious dining experience overall. 

Because we were checking our cruise company's website each week before we departed on our cruise and working with a travel agent (I highly recommend Hollis Davis at Julie's Travel Desk in Lake Oswego, who happens to be FREE!), we were able to save a lot of extra money by getting our drinks included, receiving some on board credit to spend and also receiving free gratuities. 

Getting yourself some sweet upgrades

Timothy and I tend to get upgraded to better rooms and better seats almost every time we travel. The #1 piece of advice I have when it comes to getting a better room is to just ask


The worst the customer service or front desk can say is no, and nine times out of ten we are told yes. We have gone from concrete wall views to ocean views, and from back-of-the-plane seats to exit row seats simply by asking. 

Upgrades are available and they are available for free! I cannot guarantee that you'll get one, but by being friendly and simply asking, the odds are in your favor. 

We also have gotten upgraded on all of our cruises by being savvy with price-watching (the work part I was talking about earlier) and communicating with our travel agent to upgrade us whenever there was a price drop. 

Total 12-night Caribbean Cruise Cost

So overall, when we took our cruise to the Caribbean we got:

*Two round-trip tickets to Fort Lauderdale for $550
*Four nights in Fort Lauderdale for $280
*Private dining and a balcony room for $799pp
*Free gratuities to cruise staff members
*Free drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic)
*Free food
*Beach and hotel visits in all port stops for $100 total
*$60 for food pre and post cruise by sharing our meals and getting breakfasts included in our room rates
*$40 for using Priceline to book our rental car for sightseeing and then using cabs to and from the cruise port and airport

Total cost for a 12-night cruise to the Caribbean during one of the busiest travel weeks of the year: Roughly $2700 (about $125 per person, per day-- flights, transportation, food, drinks, lodging and travel).


Can't put a pricetag on this kind of relaxation. Oh wait, I can. And it's cheap! (Views of Falmouth, Jamaica with my free drink & hot sun.)

Next up on this blog series: Day-by-day breakdown of what $2700 got us on our dream vacation to the Caribbean


A new blog series: Make your dream vacation happen

I'm going to spend the next several blog entries going over how to make your dream vacation happen... and sharing with you some stories from ours. 

This isn't a "follow these ten steps to financial freedom" blog series or anything like that, but a real and honest look at how we were able to travel around the world this year without putting anything on our credit card. Our dream destination was a Mediterranean Cruise, as well as desperately needing to get out of the rain for spring break in March and going to the Caribbean. 


First of all, let me tell you: No matter what your financial situation, you can make your dream trip happen! There are some variables with us that allowed us to travel sooner rather than later which I'll highlight below, but regardless of circumstance you can take the same trip that we took and not be in debt for it. 

(MY photo from Santorini, Greece-- my real life, in the flesh, personal view of the blue domes and white walls of Santorini that I hiked up 588 donkey-poop-filled steps for!)

Why we travel

I should start off by telling you that travel is incredibly important to me. There is nothing like shutting off the media and the world's demands in general and exploring someplace new with someone you love. Through travel I have been challenged beyond my comfort zone, had to navigate unfamiliar territories, met people from all around the world whom I've learned from, and saw places that had only been in my dreams before. Timothy and I choose to make travel a priority for us because one, it is the thing that helps us chill out the most when we need a break, and two, it grows us so much closer together as a couple. Escaping for a week is the best form of relaxation for both of us. :)

Travel also allows us to experience the highs of touching down at our destination airport, riding in a cab or train taking in the scenery as we anticipate our hotel and dropping our bags and exploring once we reach our room with a view (9/10 times we always get upgraded! More on that, later.)

Of course there are lows when, say, we misplace our passports, we're completely jet-lagged and the other person wants to keep going, or things cost a lot more than we anticipated. By enlarge, however, travel is something we can't stay away from and we often have friends and family wondering how we do it so often on teachers' salaries. 

How we make travel happen {financially}

I'm about to expose the nitty-gritty to you of our personal sacrifices and financial decisions so that you can see how accessible planning your dream trip can be. Our lives are relatively open books in areas that we are passionate about, and our travel habits is one of those areas. 

First, a few things that you should know about our budgeting and expenses:

1. We are both employed (two incomes)
2. We do not have kids (no clothes/diapers/food/medical expenses there)
3. We own our own home (mortgage payment + utilities)
4. We have summers off (a lot of time to work & travel; also the most expensive time of year to travel)
5. I did whatever I could to earn extra money on the side to pay for the trips (you, too, can be creative in this area depending on your flexibility) 

So while we don't have tons of extra disposable income that abounds from us, we do have a percentage from what's left over after tithing, mortgage, bills and personal expenses to put towards whatever we want. We choose to put that money mostly towards travel. We're certainly not rolling in it, and I share that only to encourage you not to think that we can take vacations because we're rich and have tons of extra money. That's just simply not the case. We just choose to spend our money in different ways that allow us to travel. 

If your financial circumstances match ours, it only took us eight months to save up for both trips. For others with different circumstances, it might take more or less time to save. However, we booked our Europe vacation during a time when I was not employed full-time, and when we evaluated the cost, I decided I would do whatever it took to come up with our bottom line dollar amount. That, for me, meant working four jobs. 

Now when I say "working four jobs," that was a term that, very loosely, meant that between four jobs I was working around forty-fifty hours a week. My job schedule ebbed  and flowed from January - July. During the school year I was a full-time substitute teacher doing Stella & Dot styling and trunk shows one - two weekends or so a month; during the summer, I worked heavily in photography and supplemented the time I wasn't photographing weddings/engagements/families working at Starbucks. All in all, I was still averaging about 40 - 50 hours a week during that entire time. I saved 100% of my Starbucks and photography incomes to put towards our trips, and half of my subbing income from the school year. 

I will also say that for us, planning an affordable and economical vacation without cutting corners is work. Work that is worth it, but more on that later. 

Our travel budget process

When we decide to take a trip, we come up with a realistic dollar amount that we would feel comfortable spending to get to that location. We also research what some reasonably-priced hotels are for the area and see what Hotwire and Priceline are offering. More and more, however, the wanderlusts in us have satisfied our urge to see the world on a budget by cruising. I'll write another blog post later about cruising, but for now it has become our go-to travel option to get the best bang for our buck. We have done extensive research on similarly-priced all inclusive vacations and cruising comes out on top each time. 

We use a lot of strategies to bring our vacation dreams to fruition on a budget, such as Priceline.com to "name our own price" on flights or cars. We have had 99% luck with Priceline and saved hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars by offering a lower price than the market rates-- the key here, though, is flexibility because you do not get to choose your car, hotel or airline. They just guarantee your minimum star rating, your car preference and/or to get you to your destination within the same day and with a maximum of one layover. For 4-star hotels, we typically bid around $85-100 and 8/10 times we are awarded that hotel. It beats paying their market rates of upwards of $200!

We also have signed up for airline credit cards so that we can accrue points for airfare, discounts on partner hotels, and sometimes even using a "companion fare" ticket where one person gets a ticket for $99 with a full-priced fare paid. (Obviously it goes without saying that the key here is to keep your card balance paid off. :))

Timothy and I share a lot of our meals because we are not big eaters, so our food budget is relatively low. Especially when it comes to cruising, where we pay virtually no money for our food and drinks. If we're staying at a hotel for a vacation, we will often stop by grocery stores if we can to load up on snacks, or hit up the nearest Starbucks or coffee shop if breakfast is not included to save on breakfast. Dinner is definitely the meal that, if we're not on a cruise where it is free, we tend to splurge on. 

We pretty much live on Priceline.com and Tripadvisor.com when planning our vacations. I often will look at the least-expensive, highest-rated hotel if we are planning on staying in a hotel somewhere and go with that. Usually those types of hotels are boutique or family-owned and their customer service is what typically gets them top rankings (as opposed to luxurious furnishings). 

Dream trip to the Mediterranean this summer-- views of Positano, Italy and the Amalfi Coast! Be still my heart. 


I'm going to end this installment here, and pick up tomorrow on how Timothy and I almost always get upgrades and/or discounts on our hotel rooms when we vacation. I'll also talk about what we did and how we planned our spring break cruise to the Caribbean for two people for under our $3,000 budget for 13 days. (Hint: We were well under $3,000!) 

I'll also leave you with this. When planning your vacation {start now!}

1. Set a goal
2. Set a budget
3. Make it happen! {Seriously.}

You won't regret it. 


Sacred Marriage

T and I just started a Life Group with our senior pastor and his wife at Beaverton Foursquare and another sweet and godly couple for young married couples in our church. Tonight was our first meeting, and I was so blessed by God's faithfulness in our answers to prayer for who would be a part of this group with us. It is clear that He has a purpose for each person and their story in this group, and on the way home, T and I were talking about just how evident that would be throughout this year together. 

We got to talking after the group was over about the book Sacred Marriage, and I have to tell you, I am SO excited to read this book. It wasn't one we had planned on reading, but the more I have heard about it, the more I can't wait to get started. We all shared tonight about our need for intentionality in our marriage and for setting time apart in our marriages to shape us into holy people. 

Timothy and I want to be more intentional in the words we speak to one another, in reading the Word together and talking about what God is teaching us as often as we can during the week, and to remind each other frequently about what our strengths are as spouses and people. 

One activity the book Sacred Marriage encourages is to "write a letter to our spouse expressing how we have seen them grow, look, act and be more like Jesus. Also write down one or two ways you have seen the marriage journey shape you more into the image of Jesus. Let your spouse know that you thank God for how He has used them in this refining and maturing process." I don't know if I've ever actually thought about sitting down and communicating this truth with Timothy, and I appreciate God using this book's encouragement to remind me to do so.  

For us, we praise God daily at his grace and faithfulness to us during our first year of marriage. Because we didn't know each other very well (fast engagement) and because we are very different people, our first year was very challenging and Satan tried to get a stronghold on the strength of our marriage multiple times. God rescued us from ourselves and what the Bible commands of us as spouses truly shaped us into better individuals together. 

I love that this book is filled with encouragements to be intentional in our marriages and with our spouses. Too often we rush through life taking care of chores and errands and business and work to really sit down and praise our spouse or encourage our spouse. 

I know that this week and for the weeks to come throughout this Life Group and beyond, I am going to focus more on being intentional with Timothy and less on the excuses I come up with for why I can't. 

My encouragement to you is to be intentional with your spouse. Use time together in the car to share with them reasons why you love them or praise them for things they do well. Take your spouse on a date, or read the Word together and ask your spouse to share with you what God is speaking to them through what they've read. 

I will share things that I've learned as Timothy and I have navigated through this book together, and I hope that you might be encouraged to read this book with your spouse, too. 

On being generous...

I'm going to tell you a little story about a girl named Sally*. 

Sally was the kind of girl who looked like she had it all together; the complete package of a P31 homemaker.

However, Sally had something that held her back from being the real deal: Sally wasn't very generous. 

Sally liked keeping her home cozy due to her inner craftiness, and her pantry filled from her shopping in bulk, but Sally didn't like to share much with others. Sally was secretly content letting others pay for her, but didn't chip in when the favor needed to be returned. Sally would go to dinners with friends and always ask for separate checks and would search for the cheapest items on a gift registry when attending baby showers or weddings for her friends because she didn't want to spend very much. 

Despite her inner frugality, Sally had no problem spending money on herself. Sally told herself she deserved that pedicure after a long weekend, or that she hadn't had a new pair of shoes in who knows how long. 

When someone asked Sally to borrow money or donate to a cause, Sally's wallet zipped shut and her bank account suddenly became too small to help. "I'm so sorry," she would reply, "I would love to help but we are really tight on funds this month. I will definitely be praying for you though!"

Sally watched in awe at the generosity of others: Treating others to lunch, buying the car's drink behind them at Starbucks, purchasing beautiful presents for others just because, and even helping out in times of need with moving, painting, cleaning, babysitting, etc. Sally wished she could be as generous as those people, but she knew her money and time was just too tight to share. 

Sally would also frequently forget about all of the times that others were generous to her: Paid her bills, bought her coffee, treated her to lunch, gave her thoughtful gifts, shared their homes, brought her meals, helped her move, cleaned her house. 

One day, when feeling a little convicted, Sally decided to try something out: With the little money she had, she was going to try to be generous. She was going to give of her time and her money, even in the smallest amounts, to bless others. She was not going to make any excuses anymore as to why she could not afford to help someone in need or buy someone a cup of coffee. She realized that everything she had was God's and not hers, and that she needed to hold loosely to the money she had in life. 

Sally started doing things like treating her friends to lunch, or surprising a co-worker with their favorite coffee. She decided to have friends over for dinner and not ask them to bring anything, simply because she wanted to bless them with her hospitality. She didn't search the gift registries of her friends anymore for the cheapest item, and instead looked for ways she could help them with something they might really need. Simply put, Sally stopped being selfish with her money and started being generous. 

Sally began seeing the ways that God continued to provide finances and continued to provide ways that she could bless others. She stopped holding on so tight to what she had and started letting go, and God kept giving her more. Sally realized that in spite for her seemingly simple frugality, she was not honoring who God wanted her to be with her finances. Sally learned the value of being a generous person by the relationships that were impacted by her hospitality and giving. 

Sally wants you to know that it's important to be generous. Sally spent too long caring about how much money she had for herself and for her family, and not enough about how much she had for others. John D. Rockefeller Jr. said, "Think of giving not as a duty, but as a privilege." 

*Obviously as you've read this you've probably assumed that either I was gossiping about someone else in a passive-agressive way or talking about myself. The latter would be true. Names have been changed to protect the subject from embarrassingly exposing herself because of how she used to be.


Investing in quality... and feeling okay about it.

So lately I've found myself simplifying and scaling back. I think that's healthy. 

I've moved from four jobs to two (progress, right?), have been cooking more from scratch and investing in luxuries that last (which means less things to replace in the long run). 

I have spent many years collecting cheap things that break easily because I thought it was a bargain to get something so cheap.

Lo and behold, however, that when those clothing items pilled or those Ikea tables chipped or those bracelets broke, I was out money and on to the next replacement. It wasn't until I spent time at my grandma's house a few summers ago where I realized the value of investment. 

See, my grandma has beautiful things. Beautiful things that cost a lot at first, but that have lasted her over thirty years. Clothing that has not gone out of style. Necklaces that are priceless heirlooms. Furniture that has held its classy appeal since the day she brought it home from the department store. (Thanking her every day that she gifted me her gorgeous vintage chair from 1952!)

It helps that my grandma has an eye for fashion, but her style has shown me that sometimes, it's okay to indulge(or invest, if you will). Because of what she's invested in, she has a few beautiful things instead of closets full of junk. 

Three years ago, after my hefty Master's degree bill and subsequently embarking on the road to professional employment, I decided that slowly, over time, I wanted to invest in beautiful things. I want to surround my home with pieces that are classic and represent the style of my family. I want my wardrobe to not be seasonal mixes of trendy polyester from Forever 21, but instead to be quality designs and fabric that don't go out of style. And most importantly, I wanted to be a good steward of the finances God blessed us with and not be wasteful with purchases.  

I love my new velvet couch not only for its appearance but for the quality of fabric it was made with (and the warranty it comes with if anything should happen!). 

My goal is to keep investing in beautiful things that last many years, and that also includes staples to my wardrobe. I love my statement necklaces from Stella & Dot that literally and truly revive any plain outfit. I love cozy sweaters and high boots. I think sometimes it's healthy and it's okay to invest in one thing that lasts versus five things that might be cheaper but wear out faster. (Bonus points if you find a great investment-worthy brand at Goodwill or a garage sale AND it's cheap!)

This is by no means a post saying go out and blow your money on re-doing your house in Pottery Barn or buying everything at Nordstrom. However, it's saying that for me, I'm slowly converting my wardrobe and my home one investment piece at a time and weeding out the junk.  

(don't mind the messy bed...)

outfit today:

Top// Caslon (Nordstrom)

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