Two weeks ago, my daughter and I were playing around in the car while in the school drop off line, fiddling with my wallet and the pockets on my jacket and we discovered a movie ticket stub from 2005. That made me realize two things: 1.) that I haven’t washed that jacket in ten years (ewwwwww), and 2.) that clearly I like my clothes to last.

On one income, there isn’t a line built into our budget for new clothes. We pretty much wait until something wears out and are forced to replace it before spending the money; let’s be honest, we have preschooler who needs a new wardrobe every season because of her growth, so if we’re going to allocate any money to clothing, it has to go to her.

When we were poking around in my pockets and wallet, though, we found something else – several gift cards that have been long since forgotten about. None of them, I knew, had the full gifted balance, but rather these were cards that had amounts left over after I’d made a purchase and didn’t use up the whole thing.

I think about my personal style a lot, but don’t feel like my closet matches the image I have in my head. Last week, Cora happened to write her latest fashion-related post about me and I felt inspired. Inspired, but still no more able to work towards building the capsule wardrobe she wrote about. But, knowing that I had those gift cards kicking around in my wallet (and in the spirit of spring cleaning), I decided to get creative and try to use them to knock some of those items off my wardrobe wish list.

You know what, it worked, it was fun, and it was FREE! I started by doing some online window shopping to really browse and see what’s out there. I found the perfect white button down that I’ve been wanting – roomy but not shlumpy, long in length and not sheer. I knew, though, that I needed to get the fit right, so I decided to wait until I could try it on in the store before buying. I also found the perfect pair of simple sandals that I’ve desperately needed for over a year now (remember what I said about wearing my clothes out? I didn’t wear sandals all last summer because my sandals were so worn the soles were literally coming off and I couldn’t find what I wanted at the time to replace them). My gift card covered the cost but I decided to leave them in my online shopping cart overnight.

The next day, my daughter and I took to the mall. I found the button down I had seen online the day before, but in the store it was on sale! We grabbed it, and spent the rest of the afternoon poking around the Disney Store and getting silly with accessories.


I even got to enjoy a free coffee with my birthday reward and the whole day cost me just one frozen yogurt for my daughter. When I got home that night I hopped back online to order those sandals, to find out they were now 50% off!


My mini free spree worked for me – I got to do something girly with my daughter and was able to treat myself, all in a way that still kept us on track with our budget and goals.