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Adventures in Christmas Shopping: Losing Steam



Disclosure: This post may contain third party affiliate links. When you click on an affiliate link within a post Broke Dolly may earn a small commission which helps support the blog and content (at no cost to you). Please check the disclosure and privacy policy pages for more details. Thank you so much for your kindness and support.

I saw my grandmother yesterday and she told me how she needs to start hunkering down on her Christmas shopping to which my late grandfather’s sister, my Aunt Susie, exclaimed “It’s April! Are you crazy?!”

To be clear, I 100% side with my grandmother here - the Felix in their Odd Couple like relationship. I’m stressed out that the only two people I have figured out for Christmas are Mike and my grandmother.

I still have no idea what I’m going to get my father - and my mother gives specific but unrealistic instructions that leave me in Target desperately searching for specific patterned hand towels she purchased three years ago because those are the ones she likes. So yeah, assuming Target switches up theirs selection from time to time, I’m kind of out of luck.

But, I have to give it to my Aunt for her laid back attitude. She’s not going to worry about Christmas until Black Friday rolls around and even then she won’t be in a rush. Unfortunately for me I can’t do it. If my Christmas shopping drags on to December I’m just a ball of nerves during my favorite time of the year.

Luckily, I have Tara. Who not only understands my crazy desire to buy Christmas gifts all year round but even joins me. So off we went on another shopping trip this past Saturday.

Unfortunately, unlike our March trip, this trip went horribly. Not that I had a bad time. I love to shop - even if I'm doing more window shopping than purchasing. But I’ve seem to have hit a wall with gift ideas. I know what my mom wants but our taste is so out of whack I’m convinced whatever I pick out she won’t like. Nonetheless I still searched for a wallet, an entryway rug and striped hot pink towels for her.

No luck there. No luck despite the fact we went to Macy’s, Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Homegoods, Burlington and Kohl’s where I poked around in every wallet they had for sale.

The good news for the day is I didn’t spend too much. I'll spare you the details because we went so many places but I did really good! I only came home with three bags. That, my friends, is a new record.

I got away pretty cheap on the food front this time around. I know it’s weird to be as frugal as I am with most things but not have a problem spending $100 on dinner. I always justify it as a special treat. Since I’m trying to save money I should definitely stop but I have trouble spending no money. Ugh, I’m so mad at myself for saying that.

Anyways, I only spent $5.00 for breakfast and $15.63 for dinner. So maybe I’m getting the hang of this spending less thing? Let’s hope so!

Mike asked me to pick him up a shirt because he wanted a new shirt for his first day at his new job (yay!). His new job is actually his old job at an office way closer to home - his drive is now 10 minutes compared to almost an hour and a half! Still, super proud of him.

Anyways, new job, new shirt? I can get on board with that. I grabbed a blue checkered shirt from H&M, my total came up to $15.61. Unfortunately it didn’t fit so he didn’t get to wear it for his big day, which was yesterday. But at least he liked it. Yeah, let’s look at the positive!

After the mall we hit up Marshalls and TJ Maxx where I made my two other purchases for the day. And no, I didn't buy anything Christmas related at all.

At Marshalls I bought a bundle of hangers because no matter how many clothes I get rid of I somehow end up with more clothes and need more hangers. Maybe my clothes multiply at night? I have no idea. I can't explain it but I am always buying hangers. Total spent at Marshalls: $5.40.

At TJ Maxx I bought beach towels, which I've been looking for since at least our March shopping trip. I definitely needed some towels for summer. I only had one old hand me down beach towel from my mom. It was definitely time to be an adult and buy some new towels.

You'd think it would be no problem to find beach towels. But, let me assure you, that's not the case when you're picky (read: neurotic). I needed very specific beach towels apparently but I finally found a few that I liked! And they were less expensive than all the other ones I'd considered. Score!

Look at those colors!

I was so excited to find yellow beach towels! They didn't have four yellow ones so orange was a second choice but I think they're great. So summery! Bring on the pool! Total spent at TJ Maxx: $41.76.

So yeah, pretty exciting purchases, huh? I mean, how fun is it to buy hangers? Oh well, at least I didn't buy anything I didn't need. That's at least a plus.

Total for the day: $83.40. Hey, definitely under the $100 I mentally prepare to spend on our shopping trips! I'll call that a success.

Total for non-Christmas items: $83.40

Cumulative total for Christmas 2019: $194.46. I'm including the boot scraper I bought for my dad at the Elephant's Trunk Flea Market a few weeks back.

I’m definitely losing steam on my Christmas shopping but I hope it’s just a mid year slump. The good news is I’m still on track to meet my goal of one gift a month throughout the year so maybe it’s not so bad. I still have eight months to go after all. Thanks for the reminder Aunt Susie!

Have you started thinking about Christmas shopping yet? Or are you more like my Aunt Susie and won't think about Christmas until you have to break out your winter jacket again?
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How to Buy Designer Clothes on the Cheap



Disclosure: This post may contain third party affiliate links. When you click on an affiliate link within a post Broke Dolly may earn a small commission which helps support the blog and content (at no cost to you). Please check the disclosure and privacy policy pages for more details. Thank you so much for your kindness and support.

I have an interesting problem. And I’m sure I’m not the only one. Ok, so, I love fancy clothes. But, I’m kind of cheap. Like way too cheap to be paying designer prices for designer clothes.

That definitely doesn’t mean I don’t buy designer labels. Most of my closet is full of brand name items. What it does mean is I try to shop smart (and mostly secondhand) for these items.

And the internet makes finding a good deal oh so easy! Here’s a list of my five favorite secondhand fashion websites and apps:


1) Poshmark - All things apparel, Poshmark is a great place to start on your hunt for designer items. I’ve had a ton of luck with Poshmark finding designer items at low prices. Occasionally, you’ll luck out and find wholesale (Poshmark labels wholesale items as boutique) or new with tag items if secondhand isn’t your thing.

Posh Authenticate is a service offered by Poshmark on designer items over $500 to guarantee that the item is authentic. I've never bought anything anywhere near this expensive on Posh so I can't vouch for their services but I'm sure it does exactly what it's supposed to do. So good news if you’re looking to splurge on some secondhand awesomeness, you don’t have to worry if your new bag is really just a good knockoff.

Get $5 by using my referral link.


2) Mercari - Mercari is the online marketplace where you can buy anything from furniture to electronics to, you guessed it, clothes. It's no secret, I'm a huge fan of Mercari and frequently sell my own preloved stuff on there.

Mercari has a lower sales commission than Poshmark (10% compared to 20%) and sellers who sell on Poshmark in my experience generally tend to use Mercari as well. Since the fees are lower, the item is usually posted at a lower price on Mercari so if you find something you love on Poshmark it’s worth a shot to check to see if it’s listed on Mercari as well.

Use my referral link to earn $10 just for signing up.

3) thredUP - Like an upscale consignment store, thredUP delivers with a beautiful site and a dedicated designer section. I love the site’s ability to remember size information to weed out any items that won’t fit. Another bonus - order something from thredUP and your package will come in a funky teal polka dot box with matching tissue paper. I know the packaging shouldn’t matter but it makes opening your mail a little more fun!

Besides how much I just love their presentation, items are more than reasonable price wise and if you don’t order something for a while thredUP sends you a coupon code to bring you back to their site. I currently have a 35% off coupon sitting in my inbox. I’ll take 35% off my order any day.


Unfortunately thredUP has disappointed me in the past and I can’t not mention it. A year or so ago I ordered a pair of neon yellowish green Kate Spade heels that I fell in love with. Judging from the pictures they were in like new condition. Unfortunately when they arrived they had several dark scuff marks. The condition was listed so I could have maybe surmised that they weren’t perfect based off of that alone but I do think the scuffs should have been shown in the picture.

Even I can photograph those scuff marks :(

thredUP will honor returns but I decided I could live with the scuffs - I told you, I loved the shoes! And they were a great price. Will this experience stop me from ordering from them again? No. Will I pay more attention to the item condition next time? Yes.


4) Swap.com - Think one big online thrift store. I’d say Swap.com is the bargain hunter’s version of thredUP - you’ll have to search more but if you find what you’re looking for it’s so worth it! Swap.com isn’t exactly designer focused but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a great deal on designer items! Swap.com has a huge selection of clothing and shoes for women, men, kids and even infants. Their search functions are super helpful and their prices are phenomenal.

Add in the fact they’re usually running some sort of promotion and you can usually find a coupon code via a quick google search and I’m sold on this nifty online consignment store.


5) The Real-Real - The Real-Real specializes in luxury items. Of the five, I would say the Real-Real is the most expensive offering more brands like Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik. But don’t worry, they also have more affordable brands mixed in. Similar to Posh Authenticate without the spending limit, the Real-Real authenticates 100% of their items.

There you have it! Five great ways to find quality clothes for way less. Do you have any other websites or apps you love that are missing from my list? I'd love to check them out!

What's the best deal you've found? Have you had any similar experiences to my scuffed up Kate Spades or have all your experiences with online secondhand marketplaces been hiccup free? Tell me all about your experiences in the comments.
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Vintage Love: Elephant’s Trunk Flea Market



Guys it’s that time again! Time for flea markets!! How exciting!

I got myself out of bed at 6 AM (!) Sunday morning, my mom met me at 6:30 and we were off. The ride wasn’t too bad, about two hours so we were at the Elephant’s Trunk Flea Market (of Flea Market Flip fame) around 8. Fun fact, Lara Spencer - the host of Flea Market Flip - went to high school with my dad!


It was an absolutely gorgeous day, sunny and warm. So you know what that means right? My first official sunburn of 2019. Not kidding. Just in time for me to attend career day at my old high school (which I was super excited about by the way, but that’s another story altogether).

Since it was the first official of the season, it was terribly packed but there were also more dealers there than there normally is, so I guess the sunburn, sore feet and crowd were all worth it to see so much awesome stuff.

Wanna take a look at some of the cool things we found? Let’s do it!


Ok, I’ll admit this is weird but I love the idea of putting up bathroom signs. I don’t know if I would go with the classic silhouettes, something classy like ladies/gents or something a little more kitschy like the playboys/playmates. But either way, they’re kind of cool aren’t they?


I’m in love with the dresser with the hearts. How great would that be in a fun color? Anyone else thinking yellow? No, just me? That's alright. Everything else in the photo is nailing the shabby chic look.


Maybe hearts aren’t your thing. Maybe your into a more aquatic theme. How cool are those little fishies as knobs? I thought it was totally fabulous. Totally unconventional and fun. Luckily my mother was there to tell me I definitely do not need fish knobs on any of my furniture. I’m also gonna put this out there - yellow would be a perfect match for those little guys. Come on, blue is way too predictable!


Moving away from furniture I don’t need to something else my house is overflowing with.. holiday decorations! The man selling them was telling me how he used to use these stars in his store windows. I could totally see them being the focal point of a kick butt holiday window display. They were HUGE! And I thought they were pretty reasonably priced at $40.


Ok, I guess I wasn't totally done with the furniture. I was in love with this super industrial looking table from the second I saw it. Apparently the green base came all the way from Atlanta and the top was an old barn beam. It was just a little out of my price range at $895. In also in love with the USA map in light and dark stained wood. I would love to get one for my living room but I need it to cover a HUGE space - unfortunately this one was just a tad on the too small side. I still think it’s fantastic, I regret not asking if the lady made it.


Isn’t this picture the most quintessential flea market picture you’ve ever seen? There’s just so much going on and somehow I want it all. What would I do with a two foot tall metal fish cutout? Well, your guess is as good as mine. I guess I really was feeling the aquatic theme.


How about some retro lighting? That baby was at least four feet tall. Talk about a statement piece. Also, look at the cool little bistro set behind that monster. There’s just so much vintage furniture I want to take home every time we go to the Elephant’s Trunk!


Alright one final picture for your viewing pleasure - one of the three things I bought - a Newfoundland boot scraper, well maybe a boot scraper? I'm really not sure. The perfect Christmas gift for my Dad, who also has a Newf. What can I say? After Sadie Donatella were all Newf fans now. Better yet, can't beat the $15 price tag.

Sadie Donatella and her mini, my Dad's Newf, Shelby -
back when she was still a pup & not yet 100lbs!

The other two items I bought? Two more Brown Jordan chairs. I’m a little disappointed - they’re not as brown next to my lounge chairs I bought back in February as I’d hoped they’d be (or at least as brown as they looked in the field) but that’s ok. I can always refinish them if I’m so inclined. My mom bought two Brown Jordan ottomans to resell on Etsy but I think I’m going to confiscate them for my chairs (sorry, Mom!).

The funny thing is I was so done with walking I didn’t want to go down the Brown Jordan row but my mom wasn’t giving up and not finishing all 389 rows. Alright, that’s a slight exaggeration but there were so many rows and so much to look at I was worn out! I’m obviously not in peak flea market shape!

Did you get to enjoy the beautiful weekend? Did you go to a flea market too? Tell me what you bought in the comments. I love hearing about the great deals everyone scores!
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Cell Phone Bill Got You Down? Check Out Verizon Up



Ok, I have something I need to tell you if you have your cell phone through Verizon. After spending Black Friday in line with my dad for him to upgrade his phone I learned something important - not everyone is signed up for Verizon Up.

Crazier still not everyone even knows what it is. It was a pretty long line and I have plenty of time to assess my fellow shoppers. I mentioned it was Black Friday right? Yeah, lots of time.

After all that time researching I decided something needed to be done about everyone’s lack of knowledge about this great little rewards program. Then I sat on it for three or four months. Because I’m super on top of things. But the time has come. We need to talk about Verizon Up. Finally, here’s  my little PSA.

If you have a Verizon monthly plan (unfortunately, prepaid plans are ineligible), you need to sign up for Verizon Up. Period. It’s free money. Or tickets to really cool events if you’re more into that than free moolah towards your next phone upgrade or gift cards.

I’ve had Verizon Up for over a year and when I decided to upgrade my phone I received $60 in credit towards my new phone. The redemption process was as easy as clicking a button and showing the Verizon rep. I was so proud.

Now, let me let you in on my little secret, earning Verizon Up credits couldn’t be easier. Sign up in your Verizon app and all you have to do is pay your monthly bill. Simple, right?! I mean, you already do that now. Once you spend $300 towards Verizon bill payments, excluding taxes and fees, you earn one credit.

Credits expire within 60 days so make sure to log in frequently enough to prevent any credits going to waste. I usually check every month when I get a text saying my bill was paid.

And all the rewards? Well they only cost one credit (some are even free!)!

There’s four type of rewards:


1) Earned rewards. I’m obviously partial to the $5-$10 credit towards my next upgrade. I know it doesn’t sound like much but you know my personal philosophy - any little bit adds up!

If you’re not looking to upgrade anytime soon, there’s always $5 gift cards to several retailers available. Right now the offerings are Nordstrom, Barnes & Noble, Ulta, Lowe’s and the Apple App Store. Also available is 50% off of an Uber ride. See, something for everyone just for paying your bill.

2) Local offers. Discounted local offers on dining and activities exclusive to Verizon Up members. They’re a nice little member perk and no credit is required to claim a local offer.


3) Bonus rewards. More member perks. They’re similar to local offers but well, not local. They might be a discount or a bonus. Think free audio books on Audible. Similar to local offers, no credit is required to claim bonus rewards


4) Super tickets. Oh yeah, about those tickets.. Verizon calls them Super Tickets. There’s a countdown ahead of time to when certain tickets will be available and one credit gets you into some pretty cool events! I’ve seen Lady Gaga and Justin Timberlake tickets offered so it’s definitely stuff you’d probably be interested in going to see. And if you live near the event it’s totally cool. But that’s probably never going to happen for me so I’m sticking with my credit towards my next upgrade. And let’s be real here for a second, a countdown clock indicates some pretty crazy competition to me - no thanks, I prefer my rewards to be pretty chill.

A word of warning - like credits, rewards also expire. Just make sure to pay attention to the expiration date after you claim a new reward.

If you’re like my friends and family members that I’ve told about Verizon Up, you’re thinking to yourself it can’t be that simple. I’m here to tell you, it really is. If you have a Verizon smartphone plan (not a business  account or prepaid), you’re over 18 and live in the US, it’s a no brainer to download the app and start earning credits now.

Do you already use Verizon Up? What have you been redeeming you’re credits for? If you’re not already a member, have I convinced you to give it a go? If not, I’m willing to go over the benefits again. Just kidding, you can reread them yourself! But seriously, don’t miss out on super easy free money. I mean it’s not like you’re not going to want a new iPhone when it comes out, right?!
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