Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sometimes you just gotta drop some cash

So this blog is a little bit more personal but since being thrifty for me a state of mind I do really live my personal life the same thrifty way I run my band. I may be two steps away from being a dumpster diving band director but as we all know as music teachers, parents, etc. sometimes you gotta drop the cash.

As some of you know personally I have been having a lot of health problems and they recently figured out that I have this crazy infection. Well I was already loosing weight and then BAM it's just coming off. It's meant that I really don't have clothes that fit and I especially don't have anything to reflect any level of professionalism or class.

Now as a back story for those you that don't know me very personally then you should know this about me. I'm a recovering birkenstock and sock wearing tree hugger. I literally wore tye-died socks and birks my first two years at ST. I still get mistaken for one of my students all the time and last night got carded with the band parents at Happy Hour. I have super classy, well dressed friends (men and women) and just haven't been feeling like I have been walking the walk.

Now we tell folks its not about what you look like on the outside, its on the inside that counts. Yeah right. It is sure. But we all know as performers, educators etc. that when you a see good lookin' band come on stage your going to take a little bit more notice. I have also found that when my students dress up, just a little bit, there's a different sense of pride and professionalism...its why most of us have required concert dress.

My life needed a new dress. Ok my wardrobe needs a serious overall. So...I took the advice of one of the best dressed ladies I know (thanks Jessica Vaughn-Marra, one of the best dressed female band directors I know) and I went to a personal shopping appointment at J. Crew.

Now its where I start to feel dirty as the thrifty band director because I typically spend hours shopping the racks of Marshall's and Ross. Which I do pretty well at and that will not stop being part of regular wardrobe replacement plan. Three weeks ago when I needed new pants I went and spent $50 (had a $25 visa gift card so it actually cost me $25) and I got three pairs of pants and two shirts!

We know that's not happening at J. Crew. I had never been in a J. Crew. It's like this scary place in downtown Los Gatos where rich people hang out. Out of my element completely. But I met Lorene and she was 5 stars and she was my personal shopper. By the way this is free.

She picked out everything and helped me buy pieces that would all be interchangeable. That too I guess is thrifty. It was amazing and empowering and I'm going to be able to rock the conference & concert circuit in the coming weeks.

Then I had to check out. FYI teachers get a 15% discount so that is very thrifty all the time. She was really encouraging me to get a credit card with them. I don't do credit cards with anyone any more. That's not part of my personal get out of debt plan (in case you don't know I'm a huge disciple of Dave Ramsey and his Total Money Makeover....more on that later) but I did it. See the discount was 20% and then I got free alterations (apparently you can actually clothes altered to actually fit...this is a little shocking that I have never done) and then I got a $25 gift card. I also didn't buy everything that I tried on. I wanted to but...I can't afford to so you can have it all. Restraint is hard but necessary.

And then I did something that I am really proud of. Something I never did when I got into debt. I charged it and then I paid most of it off right there on the spot. I went home added the balance to next month's monthly budget (I do have a clothes allowance in my monthly budget) and reminded myself that I would have it paid off in two weeks anyway.

But the same can be said about band products. Sometimes you have to buy the higher quality product to last you long term. Sometimes you have to make an investment, cutting corners in the short term does not always pay off long term and that is part of the considerations you have to make when being thrifty. The most obvious example is cheap instrument purchases but another one is everyone's gripe about Wenger products.

Oh Wenger stuff is so expensive blah blah blah. Well trust me I have the knock off cheap-o band lockers because my district cut corners and after a year and half they already are totally falling apart. But when you pay attention to your budget, monitor cash flow in and out, and make plans to sometimes invest in the things that need just a little extra capitol then the extra investment is worth it in the end (especially if you can find ways to save money other places).

Here's a pics of a few of the outfits I picked up. I have more pants coming :) Now in going and taking the picture and re-looking at the price tags on a few things just now I think I may be heading back there and swamping out a few things. I think I would rather have some of the other pieces I didn't get than the ones I did. But that's also ok because you can always go exchange stuff!


  1. Julie - those are cute! I may have to steal your idea! :) It was great to see you at the conference, and I hope that sometime we can chat a little more. -- Nancy

  2. Awesome purchase. I, too, hate the CC for every store. But sometimes it just makes sense to take that extra 20% off one time if you know you can pay it off immediately.

    Thanks for the good info about the 15% teachers get off at J. Crew!