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Champagne Taste on a Budget

I'm La'Wana - an unapologetic optimist and life-long learner. I've managed to rack up a number of valuable life lessons through an assortment of resounding triumphs mixed with disastrous failures. Many of which helped me begin to appreciate the need to make smart choices relative to getting the most out of every dollar. This is how I discovered my passion for saving money, and improving efficiencies in everyday life.  I hope to share these amazing experiences with other folks, just like me!

2000 was a great year.  I had finally gone back to finish my B.S. Biology degree after taking time off to catch up on mounting bills.  My husband and I married straight out of high school, and immediately started a family.  Like most couples in that situation, we were broke. And I don’t mean your regular garden variety broke, it was the James and Florida Evans kind.   I was working a rotating shift as a Radiologic Technologist/Medical Assistant while going to school, and my husband was working full-time as an Acoustical Ceiling Installer.  We were barely making ends meet with three small children and college tuition as an “adult student.”


Shortly after graduation we were given the opportunity to relocate for a position that I was offered with an international pharmaceutical company.  Whoo hoo!  We were moving on up to the East Side!  Or so we thought. Reality quickly began to set in as we mapped out the relocation and transition plans for our family.


While considering the long list of to do’s, I realized I did not have anything to wear to work.  Literally!  I had spent the past decade in scrubs.  Sure, I would still be working with physicians everyday as I made sales calls, but I needed to trade in my scrubs for business suits.  


What’s a girl to do when she has three children changing schools, a husband that is changing jobs, a steep learning curve in a new position, and moving expenses? (Beyond the relocation package)  What to wear to work seemed quite trivial in the overall list of responsibilities.  That is not the case in pharmaceutical sales, or any other customer facing sales position.


After a few grueling weeks of searching for suitable attire in countless retail stores, I decided to try the Goodwill store.  I had seen lots of beautiful clothes, but nothing that even came close to being within my budget. Thank God for Goodwill!  I had donated to Goodwill many times, including before we moved for the new position; but I had never shopped there.  


Motivated by a tight deadline of being just a few weeks out from my start date, I took a day to go shopping for my new wardrobe.  My overall experience can be summed up in the famous words of Gomer Pyle, “Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!” I not only found everything I needed, I came in way under budget!  To top it off, the things I purchased were really cute and high quality to boot.


As a side note, I wonder how many readers will have no clue who Gomer Pyle is and make me feel really old.  I used to love watching Gomer Pyle.  It was such a good, wholesome, family-oriented show.  I need to see if I can track down some reruns.  Anyway, I digress.  Back to the awesome experience I had while shopping at Goodwill…


In a nutshell, Goodwill stores are a great alternative when you need to dress to impress on a budget.  The stores are pretty much everywhere, and you can easily pull together a nice wardrobe at a fraction of retail prices.  Of course the things you buy will need to be laundered or dry cleaned, but with the enormous savings, you still come out way ahead of full retail costs.


It’s been nearly twenty years since that initial experience and my husband still asks me, “When are you going to stop shopping at Goodwill?”  My reply is always the same, “Never.”  My family calls me cheap, but I don’t care.  Honestly, I consider it a bit of a challenge to see just how much I can save.  You know, sort of like the extreme couponing people.  (Just without the coupons and the warehouses full of toothpaste, toilet paper and laundry detergent) 


My children have been nagging, I mean asking me to make some videos of the “life lessons” I share with them.   Yesterday I set a budget of  $50.00 and went shopping for some new business attire.  A lofty goal indeed, in these days and times, but I knew we could do it.  


We started with a few blazers, added some black slacks and a couple of skirts, then polished the outfits off with some costume jewelry for a “pop.”  All of this for only 36 dollars and 58 cents!  We have 13 dollars and 42 cents left to go towards dry cleaning!  The outfits are sure to impress, but the cost savings over time will lead to an even more impressive savings account.  Cha Ching!

A summary of the total cost savings is below.  You can also see the highlights of the shopping experience in the attached video.  I look forward to hearing your shopping tips as well.  Blessings!


1- Tahari Blazer

1- Talbots Blazer

1- Talbots Blouse

1- Liz Claiborne Blouse

1- Skirt

1- Ann Klein Slacks

1- Costume Necklaces

1- Nali Bracelet
































*totals do not include sales tax


Goodwill Pricelist:

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