Life and LuLaRoe (What's LuLaRoe?)

"There is nothing so easily remade as our definitions of ourselves." - Dinaw Mengestu in How to Read the Air

Nerd hat from Google. Yup.
The last time I blogged I was addressing the difficult journey of a career woman navigating the waters as a mom. What's interesting about my time away from work so far is that I've been able to listen to myself, my family and God (hopefully not in that order, but I'll be honest... it depends) about the many ways I needed to reconnect to myself. In stepping away from work I realized how much of my identity was defined by it. From my head to my heart and all the way to my toes I had integrated the expectations of the corporate workplace. My wardrobe was a kaleidoscope of styles reflecting different employers, from black suits and plain non-iron shirts for consulting all the way to primary colored "Google nails" and geeky glasses for tech. I wasn't sure who I was anymore I needed to shake things off and find my own version of myself.

When I was especially struggling with my postpartum depression just before leaving work, my mom saw how much of my confidence and *sparkle* had died. She dragged me out of the house and took me to a beautiful boutique where I tried on many things I never thought I would look good in. Slowly I started to see what she was seeing: a woman with a battered spirit but a whole, beautiful self that just needed a little polishing. She surprised me with a couple of stunning outfits to lift my spirits, and while I was initially skeptical of what that day would do for me, I look back at it now with deep gratitude. That shopping trip gave me confidence, renewed perspective of my life stage, and an exiting reason to get out of the house and get on with life. Who loves to be all dressed up with nowhere to go? No one!
A top from my mom got me out of the house - and I met Wynnona!
I've always believed in the idea that life won't make room for new, great things until you are willing to let go of something first; clear the dining room table of the mail and clutter so a beautiful dinner can take place. In making room for my new life at home with my family, I've been reminded how much I love things like photography, creativity, Hobby Lobby (oh, good Lord, thank you for Hobby Lobby!!), and finding little things that bring me joy and including them in my everyday surroundings. The little things, when combined with faith and the love of those close to you, give variety and a pinch of uniqueness to everyday life. It's the new shoes effect - try walking down the street in new shoes and not being just a little excited about it.

All this to say, I'm integrating something new into my life that I feel embodies the amazing experiences and joys I've found over the last couple of months in being true to myself. It's something that breeds confidence, adds some color to the grey (literally and figuratively), and is all about helping women embrace themselves as they are and in whatever phase of life they find themselves. It's a business called LuLaRoe. Ever heard of it? I was originally introduced to it by these pictures:


Do you see this burly manly man in leggings? Yep, that's my brother-in-law. My sister-in-law, Anna, posted these pictures on Facebook and I couldn't believe what he was wearing!! Believe it or not, those leggings are described as "buttery soft" and come in an impressive array of colors and prints. Even more, they have an incredible following of self-professed LuLaRoe leggings addicts. I was intrigued. I went looking for details and found that LuLaRoe was actually a company with phenomenal success in just a couple of years and was created in an effort to help women find the balance of supporting their families while staying home and finding personal fulfillment (sound familiar?). The products were not just leggings, but skirts, dresses, shirts, sweaters, and even a shirt for men and outfits for kids. The designs ranged from basic solids to wild prints and the styles prioritized comfort and modesty to make them as livable and wearable as possible (while also staying fashionable). Now, as you know, I started this blog with a strong message of being savvy about your investments. Naturally, I was intrigued by the investment opportunity of getting into an exploding business, and even more so one that might give me both the flexibility to spend time with my daughter as well as something that would inspire and encourage me as a woman, a wife, and a mother.  Here's a video that highlights the styles:


I'll leave the financial analysis of the business (both the company and the opportunity for people who start their own LuLaRoe boutique) for another post because it warrants it, but I wanted to give a bit of context for what I'm very excited to share. I am starting my own LuLaRoe boutique as an exciting project and new way to support my family (shop is here. All are welcome, especially if you're just curious or skeptical. Guys too!). The business is so popular that it is a 2-3 month wait to become a consultant, but I'm fast approaching my date for the inventory to arrive in the next month. In the meantime, I've accumulated a really fun collection of items that I am giving away so that people can start to learn about LuLaRoe and why so many people are crazy about the products.

Key things to know about LuLaRoe: 
  • First and most importantly, I'm NOT doing this to beg my friends to buy from me!! On the contrary, there are so many existing LuLaRoe fanatics who are ready to buy that I'm not worried about sales. My goal is to do something FUN that helps me and other women feel great about themselves or about the goal of empowering women. It is also a line of clothes that are functional, beautiful, and... well... classy not pricey, so I couldn't resist jumping in.
  • LuLaRoe is not like Rodan & Fields or MaryKay in that every consultant's inventory is different! The styles are the same, but there are only 2,500 pieces made in the same print/fabric, and we all receive random prints when we order our inventory. That makes it a more even playing field, as well as encourages us consultants to work together to find the prints our clients are seeking. 
  • Because production is limited, if you see something you love and it's in your size, you have to move fast to claim it! You won't believe how fast they go.
  • Facebook is where most of the products are sold, aside from in-home popups. Inventory is posted for a short time in photo albums in the group or via a live video sale where each item is shown and assigned a number. First to claim gets the item. 
  • Average price of the items is around $35-$40, with a range of $25-$70. 
  • Any age, any stage, any size... all are fair game :). There are even some kid items and a men's t-shirt. Pregnant? Still look (or feel) pregnant? Haven't been pregnant in 30 years? All of those stages are included in the way the clothes are designed. And as my brother-in-law demonstrated... leggings are "gender neutral" ;).
  • Most of the clothing runs true to size if not a little large, and can be worn multiple ways for the best bang for you buck. 
  • If you aren't local to Austin I can always pair you up with a consultant that is local to you so you can try on the sizes and forever more order online from me without fear (how often can we do that as women?! Almost never!).  
  • There is also a very generous fundraiser structure where LuLaRoe donates according to the sales in a pop-up party, and I plan to do as many fundraisers as possible (message me if you are interested in setting one up for a specific cause).

More to come with details, but you are welcome to reach out to me if you have any questions! I will be going by my middle name as per my LLC: Hayley Ashford. I'm grateful for your support, and welcome any feedback. And if you are intrigued enough to hear more about the financial opportunity, let me know and DON'T WAIT. You can sign up to be a consultant and back out if you change your mind, but the list to join is growing at a frantic pace. The sooner the better from the financial upside standpoint!

Your financially finicky friend who wouldn't do this if she didn't think it would be worth it ... Hayley :)

To check out my shop and watch for the giveaways, click here to join my shop on Facebook: www.facebook.com/LuLaRoeAustin. You can find the product catalog here once you've joined the group, and joining before my inventory arrives will give you a chance to familiarize yourself with the sales process. If Instagram is your jam, find me here: https://www.instagram.com/LuLaRoe_Austin/. And if you want to support my sister-in-law, who will be onboarding in the next week, her shop is www.facebook.com/groups/LuLaRoeAnnaMealey/. Supporting her small business supports my heart :).




When a Career Woman Becomes a Mom

Let me preface this post by saying that I've never been what you would call a "feminist". For a long time it was even a stretch to call me "girlie". I was the only girl born to either side of my family among all my cousins. I hated dolls. My best friends in high school were guys. Even when I made global news about breast milk pumping in airports, I was speaking up out of frustration over the lack of basic facilities for handling a bodily fluid need, not to declare a women's rights war over the sexualization of women's breasts (to clarify: I don't have a position one way or the other here, just that whatever works for a mom and her hungry baby is what matters). I say this just to set the stage for where I've come from in my perspective on this topic. 



There's an unrest among many women in my position. We are career women who have embarked on parenthood. We have heard and embraced the ideas of, "if you can dream it, you can do it" or, "the old rules around women and their place in the home and society have changed - take advantage of the doors the women before you have opened and define your own path." We have done just that.

I grew up with this mindset, no holds barred. Anything a guy could do I could do better, and I had the best of both worlds as far as I was concerned. I could tumble like a boy, but then squeal and refuse to eat the worms they dug up by virtue of being a girl. There wasn't anything I wanted to do but couldn't because I was a woman, and I worked hard to live without any regrets in wondering what I could achieve. I went to the best school I got into and accepted the best job offer from the best company I received upon graduation. I went on to live in several of the best cities in the world and eventually got a job at a company ranked #1 in the world for "Best Place to Work". Because that's what you do, I thought. In my lifetime women had the same rights as any man, so I had no excuse but to live that way thoroughly and strive to enjoy the same level of accomplishment that any man could. I never felt a sense of obligation to do it because I was a woman, I did it because I was striving like any young adult would in the effort to pave my own way to the "American Dream."

Thinking Ahead

As for planning for a future family, well, I didn't really. I was never someone who envisioned my wedding day or pre-named my future children. It's not that I didn't want to get married or have children, or that I thought girls who did envision these things were wrong. I just didn't want to wait longingly for something that God may not have planned for me. What if He intended for me to be single and I wasted my whole life wishing for a husband? What if He didn't intend for me to have kids and I built my whole life around having them? I loved kids and was always attracted to caring for them, but I didn't mentally prepare myself to have some of my own. 

In part, I was too busy working on my career. Some colleagues were parents, but if they were they often found daycares that were open for more than 12 hours a day, had live-in au pairs, or would dart out of the office at 4:30PM while the rest of us silently (and ignorantly) grumbled. I was rewarded for giving my all and working endless hours, but if I ever pushed back with personal boundaries on my schedule or task overload I was swiftly reminded of the sacrifices of the career women around me. The female manager that missed her childbearing years for her career wasn't going to let me off the hook to leave work in time for a date. The female supervisor that was sour about someone else raising her children via daycare wasn't interested in my work-life balance efforts. If they were going to sacrifice to be where they were, I sure as hell would have to as well.

Luckily for me, God did have both marriage and a child in His plans for me. This week my amazing little girl turned 18 months old. She is full of smiles, is busy learning words, has big plans to convince us to take her outside, and loves kitty snuggles (read: whaps). I look at her with awe and gratitude, especially when the buzz of the day winds down and I fill my free moments looking back at pictures of her. My husband and I stare at the baby monitor while she sleeps and say over and over, "she's such an angel". And we believe it with our whole hearts. She is an angel, a gift, and a life-altering wonder.

My Cup Overflows

Here's the thing... I'm stuck. I'm a career woman and a mother. Read that again. I'm a career woman and the all-encompassing nature of what that means. I'm a mother and the all-encompassing nature of what that means. I'm both. This sounds like "having it all", and that's certainly true in some ways, but the reality is that my cup overflows... life is streaming down the side of my cup and into a puddle on the floor where it gets run through and stomped on and lapped up by the cat. It's chaos. Abundant. But chaotic. And the crazier thing is there are other women that I know have it harder than I do. WAY harder. Multiple kids, kids that are high needs, single moms, moms that work for an hourly wage that is lost when a kid is sick, moms who rarely see their kids because the family needs a second income to get by, or hopeful moms who can't wait to conceive after years of trying. I'm not any of these moms, and I struggle. I have my mom nearby for part of the year and I struggle. I enjoyed an incredible 6 month paid maternity leave and I struggle. I have a little angel child that sleeps better than I ever imagined and an amazing, supportive husband who runs home from work when I need back up and I still struggle. Why do I struggle? Because I'm a career woman and a mother. I'm both. And neither relents for the other. 

I'm not alone, but it certainly feels like it when I'm asking for flexible work hours or having to dart from the office to care for my sick baby. I'm not the only one, but it feels like it when my colleagues wonder why I'm missing happy hour, again. The questions around my commitment to my career-woman responsibilities start to rise, so I shift my attention back to work. Only moments after my daughter sees my wandering eyes looking towards my laptop does she find a way to break a rule and win back my attention.

The Good Fight

The career-woman mother still has to choose between the two. I know career women that continue with their careers and come to a partial peace with putting their kids in day care. They field emails by day and wage daycare-germ wars at night. Warriors. I know career women who leave their well-earned careers and fully commit to being a mom and a housewife. They agonize over the pull between their love for their child/family and the deep fear of being left behind in the work world. Soldiers. I also know women who decide to leave the office and create their own businesses while working from home (with or without childcare help at the same time), hoping to achieve the ideal balance of being a mom while contributing to the world through a passion or cause. Heroes. When we all come together in a rare moment of connection, we look at each other with a cocktail of emotions, mixing trepidation, comparison, connection, and compassion. We are all torn. The many hours of sweat and tears poured into our careers are hanging in the back of our minds while we relate to each other about the very real adjustments of parenthood. We ask each other how we are handling the changes, and none of us really can say with confidence that we feel settled. If we are vulnerable, we commiserate and look at each other without a solution. We, the answer finders, the do-it-all and let-no-hurdle-stop-us workers, we find ourselves at a loss, baffled that in this day in age we are still so far from a solution. We say with enthusiasm, "There's got to be a way to make this better!" "Maybe we should team up and start a business to help other career woman who are also moms." We race through ideas and feel connected in the conflict. 

But when we part ways, we go home, feed our babies, dunk the spaghetti-sauce-covered kids in the bath, read stories with different voices for each animal, and rock and sing our kiddos to sleep. We snuggle them just a bit longer and feel grateful to be a mom, sneak out of their room and head to the kitchen, corralling the remains. And then we grab our laptops and tablets and reignite our minds with ideas, work, articles and trainings. We squirrel through our to-dos, realize laundry is still sitting in the washer and wish there were more hours in a day. We think back about how women before us kept their homes immaculate and kids well fed and dressed, and we can't help but wonder if it would be better to go back to a time where there wasn't the temptation to mother and work. With a pang of guilt, we wonder. We would never want to give our babies back for our careers. We also can't fathom a life without the intellectual invigoration of being able to dream big and achieve goals like our male counterparts do. While we aren't the first generation to have the luxury of choice, we are one of the first to have the option to pursue any career we like and don't have the societal guarantee of being a mom and a housewife. This is a double edged sword that seems to have more vivid pain points than ever before as the family unit struggles and women start to put their foot down in search of a better way.

What We Preach

From my perspective, there are two important pieces that are missing to make "a better way"; a larger recognition of how much things have changed for women and how little has changed around them, as well as an honest conversation about what will never change because it was by God's design of women. I look back at myself as a younger woman and wish there was an emphasis both on how I could do anything and how I was made with an incredible gift to bear children and the responsibilities it brings. I wish I was encouraged to grow both gender neutrally and gender specifically. Where there were conversations about feminism and women's rights, I wish there was less focus on women being treated like men and more focus on how the design of women gives them a different strength and daily demand - one that men will never get to fully experience and one that requires a different way of working. And I wish that in discussions about things like government-mandated maternity leave we can recognize women aren't asking for an exception (or in some people's eyes, women being entitled to paid vacation *eye roll*), it is women needing society to wake up and realize that they can't have women and mothers in the workplace without the workplace supporting the true form of who women and mothers are. We women are privileged, we are capable, but we are also limited just as men are limited. Stay-at-home husbands still can't carry a child for 10 months, birth them, breastfeed them, or answer the cry of "mama!"

The Result

So, here I am. Mother of one. Employee at the #1 "best place to work" with a generous maternity leave and an 80% work arrangement that is supposed to provide "flexibility". Still torn in two. After 18 months of my sweet girl's life, I have realized that no company - even the "best" one to work at - can take away the sting that a mom feels when she leaves her baby with someone else while she goes to work. Or the punch she feels when she gets a mediocre performance rating at work because she can't compete with her non-mother or sacrifice-all-mother counterparts. I look at my family and realize that there's a need for me that no one else can fill as the mom and wife. My career, despite all it has given me in experiences, colleagues, travel, and accomplishments, is limited compared to the gratifying peace of knowing that my family is cared for, well fed, bills are paid, cat is spayed, Daniel Tiger is played, dinner is made, because at home I've stayed. Even if I don't do any of those things, I'm still a hero just because I'm a mom who kisses boo boos and sings silly songs. Who breaks out the finger paint during the day and scrubs it off the couch at night. Who packs the diaper bag with snacks, toys, books, blankets, sunscreen, tissues, bandaids, wipes, hats, gloves and lovies better than Mary Poppins. Who wears workout pants like they are jeans and just might also call them her pajamas to make it all happen in a day. And who fears, deeply, that the identity she built and the blood, sweat and tears she poured into the career she left will fade too quickly away behind diaper cream and sticky handprints on the coffee table. That her social life will be limited to mommy gab of diaper blowouts and Pinterest recipes. And that the day she does try to return to her career roots she will get a judgmental scowl at the "gap in employment" listed on her resume. 

Despite these fears, I'm taking a leap from my career-woman post and gambling that I'll find a way; at least a way that's better than the grind of trying to do both. I'll support my husband's efforts to provide for us financially, and he is supporting my part-time involvement with a nonprofit that keeps my mind active and my soul fed. I will teach my little girl that motherhood and being a career woman both have their place in different life seasons. I will strive to empower and encourage other career-woman moms when they feel disconnected from their former selves. Most of all, I'll never cease to support the progression of finding "a better way," knowing that my daughter too will be capable, driven, and a potential mother facing the same questions. May we progress to a place where women give each other a hand in this struggle (rather than compete), where the work world accommodates both a man and a woman's schedule, and where the decision to bear and raise children is seen as a gainful, beautiful choice that only enhances a woman's ability to achieve her full potential.


As a side note, please do let me know what resources, companies, or organizations you've found that focus on supporting the modern version of a career woman who mothers! Let's support and build them up!

You might also like:
Rethinking the Definition of Classy: Did Coco Chanel Have It Right?
Born of the Great Depression: One Man's Story to Building Financial Freedom
Made to Order: How Do You Like Your Paycheck?
Volunteer Vacations: Give, Enjoy And Rejuvenate All At Once    

Holiday Shopping - when to shop to spend the least without missing out.

Well before Halloween brings trick-or-treaters to our doors, holiday shopping is already mainstream in the advertising world. Some companies want to capture their holiday sales before Black Friday even begins while others heavily rely on the Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales to make their numbers. There are families that look forward to their tradition of heading out to the shops as soon as their turkey coma has lifted. Others are thrilled to see companies like REI boycotting Black Friday and spearheading campaigns like #optoutside to get people out of the stores and into nature and time with friends and family. Whatever camp you fall into, saving money on items you already plan to buy for the (very expensive) holiday season can be welcome.

I recently found a fantastic Wall Street Journal article that goes into research-tested details on the specific days to shop where you will save the most money without risking the item being sold out. Read the details here, but for a summary of the article, here's what it recommends:

TOYS: Shop the Saturday before Thanksgiving - Don't risk missing out on that highly-coveted miracle toy just because you heard it would be 70% off on Black Friday! If you want to get ahead without breaking the bank, the Saturday before Thanksgiving has decent discounts and the toys are three times less likely to go out of stock before you can snag them.

APPAREL: Shop on Thanksgiving Day - However, if you want to be shopping free on turkey day, the days after Cyber Monday are your next best bet... even better than Black Friday. Shoppers typically buy apparel for themselves while intending to buy gifts for others (come on, you know you've done it too). Stores are smart to this, so the price of apparel increases during times when people are more likely to be shopping for other kinds of gifts.

ELECTRONICS: Shop on Monday before Thanksgiving - If you start thinking about electronic holiday gifts on Thanksgiving, you've already missed the boat. Amazon electronic sales are up and running well before the holiday, and while there will always be sexy discounts on Black Friday, you run a risk of the item being out of stock that is six times higher than if you get a head start.

JEWELRY: Shop on Thanksgiving Day - Interestingly, Cyber Monday is one of the most expensive days for jewelry, so while you're shopping at your desk try your best to refrain! Can't make it on Thanksgiving? Try the days just before Thanksgiving or the Saturday after Black Friday. Beyond that you risk items being out of stock or unpredictably priced.

When the holidays command a pretty penny, it's dizzying to figure out where to start and where the real "savings" can be found. Thanks to the WSJ, we don't have to blindly guess. Good luck!

You might also like:  
Rethinking the Definition of Classy: Did Coco Chanel Have It Right?
Made to Order: How Do You Like Your Paycheck?
Volunteer Vacations: Give Enjoy And Rejuvenate All At Once    

How To Negotiate a Salary Without Disclosing Your Current Pay

Salary negotiation; one thing we all go through and never like to talk about. Why? Because it's personal, tedious, and sometimes downright uncomfortable!  When you're on the market for a new job and interviewing, how do you make sure you're positioning yourself for what you deserve?

Number one rule of thumb: You could set yourself back by thousands of dollars from the start if you disclose your current salary or salary history. Let me explain.

A common misconception about the interview process is that money doesn't enter the picture until you get to the offer stage. On the contrary, you have valuable skills that a business knows are worth money to them, so "price" is at the forefront of their candidate search. They are looking for the best candidate that will bring them the greatest value for their investment. Recruiters have a range of salary and bonus options they can use to cater an offer for their candidate of choice. If the role you are interviewing for has a range of $70k - $95k and you tell them you made $75k in your last job, you've potentially just closed yourself out of the high range of the salary options. Why would they offer you $95k when they now know they can offer you $85k and still give you a bump in salary? Would you offer $20k for a car when you know the salesman will accept an offer of $15k? Instead, be informed about the market value for the job, and be confident that your salary should be based on what your skills are worth to your next employer, not on what the last one thought about you.

Wedding Etiquette 101: Common Guest Faux Pas to Avoid

Ladies and Gents, if you haven't noticed yet it is engagement and wedding season!  Whether your Facebook feed constantly reminds you with status updates and photos, or your bank account is looking wimpy from all the travel and gifts, there's no question this season of love is in full swing.

I've had a couple of conversations and questions lately that inspired me to write about wedding etiquette.  It seems, for some reason, many etiquette rules weren't clearly passed along through the generations, and that many of us will never know our offenses until we are the ones getting married!  I myself was guilty of several of these items, and reached into my past after my own wedding to make sure my wrongs were made right.

To spare many a bride and guest from a variety of awkward situations, here are some of the most common wedding faux pas and how to handle them.  I will be blunt and to the point so as to be as clear as possible - no hurt feelings intended.  Remember, if you've made any of these mistakes before, it's ok!  It is never too late to acknowledge them and move forward with the lesson learned :). NOTE:  These answers assume an average sized wedding (50-200 guests) within an average budget ($10k-$35k).  Weddings on the ends of the spectrum (financially conservative or very very fancy) may have different etiquette norms.

Born of the Great Depression - One Man's Story of Building Financial Freedom

Grandpa Ferd enjoying his 90th birthday in Colorado - forever the traveling man!
It seems fitting after all this time that I share the inspiration for Classy Not Pricey.  Two words:  My Grandpa.

I am the proud granddaughter of a 100% Italian man, the son of an immigrant to New York City from Piacenza, Italy.   Ferdinand, lovingly called Ferdie, was the ultimate survivor.  At 91, he outlived his parents, all four younger brothers, his wife, and two of his three daughters.   He was a child of the Great Depression, although he never realized the state of his family's needs at that time.  Regardless of his financial status, he worked for almost his entire life...

Taxes - How to Maximize Your Tax Return

Taxes.  Stick with me here... I know that's the biggest turnoff word anytime of day.  BUT, taxes and the processes of filing them each month can actually be a great time of hitting the refresh button and potentially getting back some of your well earned money!  I will keep this article short and sweet (but full of resources) with some tips for making the most of tax season.

Do you do your taxes yourself or work with a tax professional?

This year is the first year I've enlisted the help of a tax professional.  Previously I did my own taxes for years using TurboTax.com.   It's great!  I saved myself a lot of money, learned a good amount about taxes, saved time in back and forth with a tax pro, and every year TurboTax pre populates some of the minutiae based on my last return.  There's also no cost to try it out if you want to see how it works - you pay when you file.  H&R Block has also come into the online world with its  H&R Block At Home system.  I haven't tried it, but would love to hear from you if you have!  And of course, you can always file them directly with the IRS.  I didn't find it nearly as intuitive as TurboTax, but it is the cheapest option if expense is your primary concern.

For those of you who use a tax professional, it is wise to reconsider your options each year.  Using the same professional on a yearly basis can sometimes end up in cost creep (if they raise their rates each year) and can keep you from seeking out great promotions from other providers.  On the other side, the value of having a clear mind and sound, personalized advice that is consistent over time can make the cost of their services very worthwhile.

Do you usually owe taxes, receive a refund, or break even?

Five Great Ways to Make the Most of Pinterest, and Why We Love It!

If you haven't gathered already, we at Classy Not Pricey are big fans of being proactive - particularly when trying to build a life that is classy and affordable.  It takes work and awareness to make the most of what you have!  We're all for making dreams become realities using creativity and an openness to unique ways of achieving things.

You've also probably noticed lately how much we love Pinterest!  For those of you who haven't yet joined the site or learned about Pinterest, it is a modern-day approach to what used to require magazine cut outs and a bulletin board.  Instead, you can pin web images (or upload your own photos) to different virtual boards and create a collage of photos that align with your interests and style.  Add the robustness of the web (the root of each photo links back to its original source) and suddenly you are able to browse the web, interact with your friends and family, and follow your favorite brands in a visually stunning new way.

Rethinking the Definition of Classy - Did Coco Chanel Have It Right?

“The best things in life are free.  The second best are very expensive” – Coco Chanel

How do you define classy?  Coco Chanel had it right in this quote… almost. The most impactful, worthwhile things in life that bring lasting joy are usually free.  What are the best things in your life?  Are they people, places, or experiences?  Are they the little details of life, like the famous lyrics from the Sounds of Music: “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens?" Yes, these are free, and YES we love them!

Valentine's Day - Classy Ways to Celebrate the Holiday (Single or Taken)!

"He loves me.  He loves me not."  "She loves me.  She loves me not."  Ah, Valentine's Day.  Love it?  Hate it?  What's the verdict?

In elementary school I always looked forward to Valentine's Day.  I loved decorating the box that would collect valentines from my classmates during our parent-sponsored parties of heart-cookie decorating and cutesy crafts.  Then I would go home, spread all the valentines out on the floor and read each one - some over and over to decipher whether any of my crushes might be crushing in return...

Mastering Outlet Shopping, In Stores and Online

Last weekend on our way back from a wedding, my husband and I spotted the outlet mall off the side of the highway!  Although plenty ready to be home, we both insisted (actually, I insisted and he obliged) we do some "field research" for Classy Not Pricey by evaluating what the outlets had to offer first hand.  We wanted to know... were they really a great deal?  An excellent way to shop for classy brands at non-pricey discounts?
Each outlet mall, of course, has different kinds of stores.  We were thrilled to find ourselves walking through a (truly) premium outlet with fantastic brands that aren't always outlet options.  At the end of our research, we were excited to report not only great lessons to pass along to you all, but also a major success story for ourselves on some incredible Calphalon Unison pots and pans. 

Classy Not Pricey Weddings - How to "Bride" on a Budget

In honor of the wedding (this weekend) of a very special Classy Not Pricey supporter, this post is dedicated to the bridal side of Classy Not Pricey. Sorry, gentlemen readers - this one is focused on the ladies. :)

Throwing a wedding is expensive, no matter how you slice that four-tiered cake.  These days, the average wedding costs over $26,000*!! And this does NOT include the engagement ring or the honeymoon. Yikes. We've received a few requests for suggestions on how to have a Classy Not Pricey wedding over the last couple of weeks. This is clearly no easy task! However, as one who personally planned a wedding in only four months within a budget, here are the Classy Not Pricey starting points I recommend the following three easy ways to bride on a budget...

Made to Order : How do you like your paycheck?

"How would you like your salad, Ma'am?"  Thoughts swept through my head - what I needed, wanted, and what looked so dang tempting that all logic waivered. "I'll have the Asian Chicken Salad, please."  Sensible, salty and sweet, and, well, that peanut dressing is way too good to pass up. "Oh, and can you add some egg whites to that, please?" I ask, trying to add extra protein in exchange for the sweet indulgence of the dressing.  The man across the glass case gave me a minor grimace (or gag, I couldn't really tell).  "And please hold the wonton strips." Even though they were only thirty cents extra, they were a smart exclusion to stick to great tasting nutrition within my price range.  Voila!  I walked away with the perfect salad for my needs, budget, wants, and tastes.

Have you ever thought of your paycheck as something you can customize, like an order at a restaurant?  It may not always feel like it, but every paycheck that heads your way is made to order!  Aside from the inevitable taxes (or the base cost of my salad, for example), each paycheck is prepared to provide what you specify, from pre-tax programs to retirement accounts and even to your pocket for life experiences, wants and needs.

Designer Brand Resale on The RealReal - Great Site for Savvy Spenders

One of my recent articles that received the most attention was "Consignment, Charity, Cash... Classy!"  Part of me thinks it's because my beautiful mom was in a picture with me at the top of the post.  The other part of me thinks that the consignment of high end, designer items was intriguing to you!  So, to cover both bases, here is another picture of me and my beautiful mom :).
To the tune of high-end consignment, I recently stumbled upon a relatively new site for consigning designer brands at much reduced prices: The RealReal, Inc!

Earn Exponentially: Making the Most of Your Credit Card Rewards

This calendar year, I earned enough reward points on my credit card to fly myself across the world and back for FREE.  This is not because of lavish spending, but because 60% of the points I earned were bonus points gained from intentionally focusing my choices and buying habits on "exponential" point earning.

You can too!  It only takes a few intentional habits, knowledge of the point-earning process, and the right choice of credit card to make it happen.

Volunteer Vacations - Give, Enjoy, and Rejuvenate All At Once

When the term "vacation" comes to mind, the immediate, gentle relaxing of my shoulders and a deeeeeep breeeeaaaath ouuuuut is a typical reaction.
We all need times of retreat to rejuvenate and gain perspective outside of the day-to-day rush.  Vacations, however, don't have to be expensive excursions or complete disconnections from society.  Sometimes the most restful and rewarding vacation you can take is a volunteer vacation.

Making Daily Deal Sites Work for You (LivingSocial, Groupon, etc.)

My husband and I are taking an overnight trip!  No flights, no long drives - just a reservation at a beautiful "mansion" hotel downtown, complete with a parking pass, two drink tickets upon arrival, breakfast for two in the morning and two souvineer mugs included.  Over 50% off thanks to LivingSocial!  How's that for Classy Not Pricey?

Daily deal sites are everywhere.  I've done a good deal of hunting on them myself for great opportunities to sneak in the finer indulgences at a discount (my personal favorite is Groupon).  You probably have too at some point.  And while many of the deals are great ones, being savvy about your choices is important, or your 50% off can potentially turn into wasted cash.

Cash or Credit - Being savvy about the real cost of credit

Credit cards are tricky.  I love them for their points and rewards (as I described in my From Romania to Israel to Paris on points post), and there are cases in life where having a credit line is very important, but dependence on credit can become a dangerous financial trap.

I know I've been sending out all kinds of great shopping deals and sale codes, but as the voice of Classy Not Pricey it is essential that I give you an important reminder/lesson on the actual cost of items you may be purchasing on credit, even if they are sale items... on sale :).

Consignment, Charity, Cash... Classy!

Being Classy Not Pricey often takes creativity and patience, but let's be honest - we live in a culture of immediate gratification. Part of the reason I started this site was to help you, dear readers, find deals easily and quickly so you can keep it classy (San Diego... name that movie!) and have extra time to spend, such as reading my other posts ;).
My mother is an incredible woman, and I certainly attribute many of my Classy Not Pricey habits to her.  Last night while I was filling her in on deals I discovered and shared with you, she trumped me again - this time with something I just HAD to write about. It was classy, price savvy, creative, and included designer fashion and charitable donations. Classy Not Pricey to the nth degree!

From Romania to Israel to Paris - Traveling for free with miles, points, and other tricks


Yes.  Really.  In 2009, I used miles, points, and program status to experience a three-week trip of a lifetime at an unbelievable price.  And not only was my trip nearly free of big-ticket expenses (outside of some savvy shopping of course), here are some incredible trip highlights specifically from reward program loyalty...