Save. Spend. Splurge.

Style Bloggers <3 Budgeting: Emma Henterly of Verbal Mélange

Tell me a bit about yourself.

Hi, I’m Emma Henterly!

I live in Columbus, Ohio, with my husband, Matt, and our furbabies: Cam is a 7-month-old pitbull/German Shepherd mix and Spazzy is a 4-year-old calico cat.

My full-time job is in the communications office in state-level government, but my real passion is in my side jobs.

I’m a freelance writer for Columbus Weddings and Columbus Monthly magazines, and I run Elfie Photography, my newborn/toddler/family portrait photography business.

A photo posted by Emma Henterly (@elfiephotos) on

(Editor: *melts* Babyyyy!!!!)

When I’m not working, I like to rock climb and hike/camp with Matt. Sometimes we take Cam along, which is awesome.

I also love yoga and I am training for a 10k race this fall (though I don’t really like running as much). I like to travel whenever time and finances allow, whether it be across the ocean or just to a new part of the U.S. I love to read, too, and I’m always on the lookout for my new favorite novel!

I started blogging nearly five years ago when I got my first “big girl” job in an office and realized I had no idea how to dress for it.

Since then, my blog has evolved from being a mishmash of things (hence the name, Verbal Mélange) to a mostly style blog and back to a mishmash.

What’s your money motto and where did you learn about budgeting?

Don’t spend more than you have.

I learned this one the hard way in college, when I had a couple of credit cards, very little income and a pretty bad spending addiction.

I had to work my butt off in the couple of years after graduation to pay off my maxed-out cards, but after working three jobs and 60- or 70-hour weeks for far longer than I would’ve liked, I paid off $15,000 in debt.

I owe my financial knowledge to my dad, who (with my mom) raised eight kids on one income, and to Dave Ramsey, whose Debt Snowball helped me pay off all that debt.

Do you create a clothing/wardrobe budget and how did you come about the method?


I give myself $100 a month on clothes. Honestly, it was an arbitrary number that just fit into the rest of my budget. Some months I barely touch it, others I go way over (but the way over months are pretty rare).

What do you like to shop for and why?

Lately I find myself investing in a lot of higher-quality basics.

Things like Hunter boots and name brand outdoor wear from REI (where my husband works), that I can get a lot of use out of for a long time.

I’ve found that the trendy and cheap pieces just aren’t as satisfying for me anymore.

Is there anything you hate shopping for? Why?

Jeans suck. I tend to find one brand that works for me and buy five pairs at once because it’s hard to find ones that fit right.

I have long legs and virtually no hips/butt. I know that’s not a real “problem” but it is when everyone makes jeans to flatter curvier gals!

(Editor: I have the same problem although without the long legs.

I’ve discovered I just need to pay more money. I can recommend mid to high waisted jeans, and I am particularly enamoured right now with AG Jeans Stilt Jeans which are pricey but are on sale for $135 here.)

What is the all-time best and worst item(s) you’ve purchased and what have you learned from its purchases?

Worst would be just about anything from Forever 21.

I love the store, don’t get me wrong, but I find myself buying the same pieces over and over again because they just don’t hold up over time.

Best I think is a really great long down coat with a fur-lined hood that I picked up on clearance at Burlington Coat Factory a few years ago. It’s tough as nails and keeps me cozy in these frigid Midwest winters!

Do you ever go off track from your budget? If so, how do you recover from it and fix the situation (if at all)?

A few times a year, I do.

This month was particularly bad; I blew my budget by 80% because of a GREAT sale at REI where I picked up a lot of items that have been on my to-buy list for a long time.

I probably won’t shop at all in February to make up for it.

Your 1-3 favourite outfits and how much each item cost in each photo

OUTFIT #1 = $85

[ Necklace $0 (Gift) | Sweater $30 | Skinny Pants $30 | Wedges $25 ]

Unless it’s high summer, most of the time, you’ll find me in a baggy/flowy/oversized sweater or blouse and skinny jeans, paired with flats or boots and a bit of jewelry.

I don’t remember the costs of everything, but the sweater and skinnies are from H&M so they’re inexpensive, under $30 each.

The wedges are from Target, so they were probably around $25. The necklace was a giveaway win. Please ignore my terrible haircut in this photo.

OUTFIT #2 = $73

[ Necklace $8 | Sweater $20 | Collared Shirt $5 | Maxi Skirt $20 | Kitten Heels $20 ]

Something else I really love is layers.

Layers are the best. Layers instantly make you look pulled together, even when you’re not. Plus they make you warm, and I’m always cold, so bonus!

This is just one example of my favorite type of layers–collared shirt under a sweater. The sweater was from H&M, so they were probably around $10 or $20.

The collared shirt was thrifted, most likely around $5. And the maxi skirt was $20 from Target.

The kitten heels also were from Target, but they’re so old I have no idea on the cost. Probably $15 or $20.

OUTFIT #3 = $73

[ Necklace $8 | T-Shirt $5 | Cardigan $15 | Jeans $30 | Flats $15 ]

The other thing I can’t get enough of is stripes.

It’s embarrassing how many striped items are in my closet.

(Editor: ME TOO! Check out my striped closet)

(I’m also a sucker for lace accents, but I have a lot less of that in my closet so I don’t have a good outfit right now.) Anyway, stripes are awesome and perfect and I love them. The t-shirt was from H&M, I think it was one of their $5 basics.

The cardigan was Forever 21, probably $10 or $15.

The jeans and flats were both from Target; I love Target’s jeans! They’re usually around $30, though sometimes there’s a sale and you can snag them for less.

I’m on my third pair of those flats; I tend to scuff my toes when I walk so I wear down the points pretty quickly. But at $15, they’re easy to re-buy. I bought the necklace from for like $8, I think.

Your 5 favourite places to shop (offline and online)

1. Target

I have a love-hate relationship with Target because it’s so easy to overspend there, but it’s mostly love.
2. Discount Fashion Warehouse

This is a local outlet/overstock/warehouse type place that carries stuff from The Limited, Express and a few other Limited Brand stores. It’s always hard to keep my purchases under $100 here because everything is SO CHEAP but it’s the same stuff that was in stores last season. Or it was returned. Sometimes they have holes or stains or factory defects, but if you look carefully you’ll find tons of gems.

3. Forever 21

Another love-hate relationship because it has cheap, trendy statement pieces and basics, but they rarely last.

4. H&M

…which is just a slightly classier version of F21 to me but what can I say? It’s easy. And the clothes tend to last a bit longer.

5. REI

A new favorite since Matt started working there, but they have great gear and clothes for adventures.

What is the one best piece of advice you can give to someone starting out in budgeting?

Don’t do it alone!

Read lots of books and blogs and advice columns, then find a method that works for you. Everyone budgets differently, and you simply won’t stick to your budget unless it’s a method that appeals to the way your brain works.

For me, it’s an electronic envelope system–I use my credit card for most purchases to earn travel miles, but I always make sure to pay it off IN FULL every month.

To help make sure we don’t spend more than we can pay off, my husband and I use an app called Goodbudget to track our purchases.

I also use an app called Spending to track my personal spending–things like makeup, clothes and lunches at work, which I pay for myself (not from Matt’s and my joint checking account, which is used for bills, groceries, rent, etc.). Again, that’s just the method that works for us!

Find what works for you and stick to it.

Thank you so much for participating, Emma!

Want to read more interviews?

Here’s mine and the rest of them are here.

About “Style Bloggers <3 Budgeting”:

I love shopping. I love budgeting.

I love the idea of the two marrying.

Thus, Style Bloggers <3 Budgeting was born.

I want to bring to you different viewpoints of people who love fashion & style (like myself) but also want to make it work on a budget.

We all have different budgets, shopping personalities, styles and ways of looking at things, and it is fascinating to peer into the mind of others and to maybe grab some inspiration & sneak a peek into their wardrobe.

Are you a style blogger who would like to participate?

Contact me here or leave a comment.

The only pre-requisite is you must be a style blogger of some sort, whether you post outfits on Instagram only (like me) or do it on your blog itself.


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