The statement necklace, and love letters to life hacks beyond Amazon Prime

photo-138I wrote a love letter to Amazon Prime last week. Then they raised the yearly rate by $20. Oh well, I still think it’s a bargain. This week I’m writing a love letter to various other things in my life that make my life much easier.

Stitch Fix. I am now on Fix number 7 or something like that. I keep basically everything they send me. Would I have picked it all out in stores? No, but no one ever accused me of being a fashion icon, so I probably shouldn’t wear what I would pick out in stores. They are getting to know my style better as time goes on. And I’m starting to get full outfits. For instance, I’ve been wearing a pair of skinny jeans, a striped shirt and a flow-y red cardigan that they sent. After my last fix, I asked for a statement necklace. And I got one (see photo!) I wore it while giving a speech last night and got lots of compliments on it. I’ll probably take some time this spring to buy a few items to turn orphaned Stitch Fix items into outfits (I haven’t figured out what to wear some olive green pants with yet).

Travelocity. I don’t know how someone like me would have booked travel 20 years ago. OK, I guess I know. I’d probably get some sort of plan with a travel agent. But it would have been a pain to call every time. Now I can look at all the different flights going places and quickly see that it was like $800 cheaper to fly to Toronto from Newark than from Philly. When I am looking for a hotel, I can see who has rooms and I can quickly find a hotel on a map to make sure I won’t also have to rent a car (I hate renting cars).

OpenTable. Similar to above. One of my least favorite chores is calling restaurants and seeing if there is space. With OpenTable, you see who’s got tables left. Key for busy times (Saturday night, Valentine’s Day).

The YMCA. An offline life hack, but one of my favorites. Our gleaming new YMCA has a great workout area, a basketball program that my kids play in, a lovely (and clean and well-staffed) playroom, and a nicely heated indoor pool. We go every weekend, usually twice. Having a childcare option that doesn’t require planning ahead makes weekend exercise so much less of a hassle. 

HomeAway and VRBO. I’ve used both sites to book homes for vacations. Every vacation home owner I’ve found through these sites has been wonderfully sweet and prompt with contracts and answers. Especially with a larger family, I’ve found that renting a home usually beats a hotel if we’ll be staying somewhere for any length of time.

I welcome other suggestions!

Also, I now have 99 logs in for the Mosaic Project. I still welcome others!

18 thoughts on “The statement necklace, and love letters to life hacks beyond Amazon Prime

  1. Travelocity no longer works for me. They always do a bait and switch with my airports (saying there’s a lowest price and then going just kidding that’s sold out, then doing the exact same thing when I try again) and it’s gotten so obnoxious and time-consuming to use them that I book everything through Google now.
    We do use tripadvisor and bed and breakfast sites for trips, and yelp for food. It’s always nice to be able to eat yummy food in new places minimizing the risk of trying someplace terrible.
    And that site that collects coupon codes. Much nicer than getting regular advertising emails from places in order to collect coupons.

    1. @N&M – oh yes, Retail Me Not! I love that site. I have saved lots of money at Old Navy, and LL Bean and some other places with their coupon code aggregator.

      Sorry Travelocity isn’t working for you. I’m usually not going on the teaser ads — I’m booking because I have to go somewhere on a certain date, though then I’m flex within a time frame, and within certain regional airports. I don’t think I’ve ever managed to score a teaser rate in my life anywhere, but I kind of think of that as more the awfulness of the airline industry than a Travelocity problem…

      1. I am too! I don’t travel for fun. There’s no “teaser” ads that I’m chasing. I’m just putting in my information and trying to find a good option within a day or so. But it’s always baiting and switching on me. I get the grid, click on the rate, it thinks, and then says, “sorry, just kidding, we just sold that lower cost fare.” But it’s saved those travel preferences based on that choice, and the next price is much higher, so I go back to the grid to try a slightly different combination. But those invariably turn out to be lies too.
        Not worth the hassle. Especially when the other travel sites don’t jerk me around like that.

  2. I looked into StitchFix and while the concept seems great, it just seems so expensive. Also, I’m in a decluttering/cleaning out my wardrobe phase and so basically held off from any clothes purchases for the past few months.

    I wish there’s a website that’s like StitchFix where you can input your preferences, but that shows you their clothes/ideas. Then you can buy the items if you like what you see.

    1. It’s not that far off, in that they send you 5 items and you keep what you like. You don’t have to keep anything, and I have heard from people who send 4 out of 5 things back. Or all of them (but then you’re out the $20 fee).

      As for expensive, I remember setting my preferences for how much I’d pay for things — I was willing to pay more for dresses, pants, etc. and less for accessories. I wind up paying about $200-250 for 5 items. I guess whether that’s expensive or not depends on perspective!

      1. To me, that does feel expensive. But I am the frugal girl, so, you know, I might not be the best person to ask!

        I frequently buy things that are $10 or less at thrift stores or on clearance. But it does take time to browse through a thrift store or through clearance racks, so I can see why people like to pay more to avoid that (I personally derive a great deal of pleasure from that type of shopping, so for me, it makes sense to do it myself.)

        1. It also requires you to live in a fairly nice area where donations are worth hunting through. A second-hand shop is only as good as the goods that are donated. This has worked out very well for me in some cases, and very poorly in others.

          1. @Liz- I had one frugal living expert once give this to me as a tip: you need to find a thrift store that’s relatively near a rich neighborhood. Your ideal place is somewhere that women clean out their closets and find that they just don’t need 4 Louis Vuitton purses (with the price tags still on them). Of course, that may be less doable now that there is such a resale market — and businesses that will come to your house and take your 4 designer handbags and give you cash. This makes for less of a stigma on resale, even among people who don’t need the cash (but will take it when offered).

    2. When I signed up for Stitch Fix, I remember thinking that the lowest cost range was about Nordstrom’s level- so clearly aimed at people with a decent amount of money to spend on clothes. I really like the concept, but my experience has been less stellar, mostly because I am at the upper end of the size range they cover (I am a 12/14, but quite busty). I have yet to be able to keep all of the items they send, because something always doesn’t fit. Also, I’m not sure they really have the right idea about what will be flattering on someone with my body type, and sometimes they send me things that I think would be really cute on someone with a thinner build. So I haven’t ordered another Fix in quite awhile. I keep thinking I’ll try a personal shopper and so far I just grumble at my wardrobe instead.

      1. I wonder how easy it really is for women of different body types to find flattering off-the-rack clothes. It’s certainly not easy for me (petite, short, but curvy and busty….), which is a huge put-off to the whole ordeal.

        1. I just got my 3rd Fix (also at Laura’s recommendation), and you have coincidentally described my body type exactly. It took a few tweaks, but this time everything fit and they took my request seriously to send me “full outfits” versus random pieces. I’m a beleiver now – though their customer service needs some improvements, based on a few issues I’ve had to get resolved. Takes forever to get a response!

      2. @Cloud – You could make that one of your monthly goals (from your post on making your list of things to try this year). One month you get a personal shopper, buy a few things and see how it goes. Many can also do closet consultations — looking at what you have, getting a few pieces to fill in gaps to make new outfits, and then creating a look book for you to look at when choosing outfits in the AM. Style For Hire (Stacy London’s franchise) has stylists in a bunch of cities.

      3. I did make it one of my goals last year! And then I didn’t do it. I think I’ve got some weird hangup about paying someone to shop for me. Stitch Fix made it less obvious that I was doing that. I don’t know. It is weird. Luckily, I am not in a career where the size of my wardrobe matters that much. The guys I work with don’t really notice what I wear as long as I don’t do anything too flashy.
        As for off the rack clothes fitting and flattering- it is a constant search. I can almost never find a button up shirt that doesn’t pull, for instance. But I’ve learned the sorts of things to look for (e.g., no high necklines- they look ridiculous on someone as busty as me) and do OK.

        1. @Cloud, the personal shopper service at Nordstrom doesn’t actually cost anything. If you like their clothes, it might be worth a try.

  3. Just got my first Stitch Fix box ever!! I’m already in love with the service, especially since I really dislike shopping and I never know what to get for myself (which means I always grab something in the color black!). I’m only keeping a few of the items, but really love the concept and will probably order another.

    It’s a bit pricy, but I like not going to the store to try on a bunch of things, someone picking out clothes for me, and being able to try on outfits with other clothes I already own.

  4. I’m gonna do one of my strategic shopping strikes this weekend probably. I hate clothes shopping so I try to do a whole lot of it at once. I’m also hoping that the pattern of me spending $500+ on a new wardrobe at the outlet mall and then getting a positive pregnancy test was just a two-time fluke. (Not that I don’t love my two children to pieces.)
    I also hope that there’s business casual pants and non-mom jeans available for my shape because that’s what always depresses me the most with shopping and that’s what I’m needing to replace the most.

  5. Hmmm. I tried Stitch Fix once and was not impressed. I put in my profile that I liked color, and that I liked fitted clothing, but I got a bunch of black loose flowy stuff. It seems that it takes some time for the stylist to “get it”? I actually don’t mind shopping, and I know what looks OK on me, and where to go it. But I like the idea of trying something a little outside my comfort zone, and that doesn’t happen when I buy clothes for myself online—I stick to the tried and true, so I don’t have to mess with returns. I may give it another try, I’m really excited about wearing something new for spring when I can finally ditch the snow boots and heavy sweaters.
    I also love open table. And the Y!
    I don’t use travelocity or related anymore, just google the flight I want and find prices and then go to the airline directly and buy the tickets (we usually travel to see family so never need a car or hotel). I do use the bing flight predictor a lot, though.
    Other loves: FreshDirect for groceries and our very VERY handy carshare program!

    1. Agree, I love the concept of stitchfix, but my first fix looked like a bartender’s wardrobe: black pants, plain white button up shirt, SAME shirt again in black, a black and white striped button up shirt, and a scarf. Kept the scarf, and trying one more time, but I’m not having the amazing experience others have reported.

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