Tired of shelling out hundreds of dollars on her three kids' clothes, Life Is Beautiful blogger Sarah Tyau began refashioning thrift store finds. Soon, she was saving thousands of dollars a year. Now, Tyau shares her top tips.

By Maressa Brown
September 17, 2020
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Before marriage and motherhood, money management looked a lot different for blogger Sarah Tyau than it does these days. The Utah-based mom of three wasn't in debt, but didn't prioritize saving. "All my paycheck would literally just go to buying clothes," she says. "I definitely just spent all my money on whatever I wished."

It was soon after she got married and had her first child that she began rethinking her spending habits. "I knew now I couldn't spend all my money on clothes, 'cause it's not just my money and I have to be more responsible," she shares. "I remember I was online shopping and looking at some designer sweaters that were really pretty, but there were definitely out of my budget, and I thought, 'OK, that doesn't look that hard to make.'"

Tyau, who had learned basic sewing in a junior high school home economics class, began rummaging through her closet. "I found a turtleneck sweater and a cardigan, and I combined the two to make one sweater to look like the designer one," she recalls. "And it actually turned out really cute. It looked pretty much the same."

She shared a photo of her design on her blog, Life Is Beautiful, which at the time had been more of "a family journal" than anything else—and fell in love with the experience. "I love the satisfaction of seeing designer inspiration and making it just as cute, if not cuter," says Tyau. "It was very fulfilling. So I just kept doing it."

Credit: Courtesy of Sarah Tyau

By pairing her sewing skills with unwanted clothes from her closet, thrift stores, or yard sales, she was able to both save money and enjoy updated, wearable fashion. Soon, she was doing the same with her three kids' clothing, saving a few thousand dollars a year. "Motherhood definitely has made me stretch out my creativity," says Tyau.

Once the proud mom began sharing her innovative creations on social media and her blog, Life Is Beautiful soared from five readers a day to half a million page views a month. Today, Tyau boasts over 200,000 followers on her Instagram account.

Here, Tyau shares her advice and insights on facing your fears to hone your skills, embracing your passion, and being inspired by saving for the future.

Keep It Simple

Whether you're starting a new business, hobby, or money management program, getting out of your comfort zone can be intimidating. But Tyau reassures people that their goal might be far more attainable than they realize. "A lot of people think that my skill level is way higher than it actually is," says Tyau. "But if you think about it, when you're refashioning, you're not making things from scratch. You're keeping the darts, the pleats, a lot of times the button holes, the zippers. And I'm all about simple and easy, so I try to keep those things as much as possible."

Even though her "before" and "after" photos illustrate "a whole new transformation," her designs come down to her ability to do straight stitching, or what Tyau calls "the most basic sewing skill." In other words, it's so much easier than it looks, she notes.

"It's that fear that stops people from even starting," she says. "And with sewing, I can't remember a single time where I had to completely throw an item away 'cause I completely ruined it. It's a very forgiving hobby, and the more you do it, the better you get, and the more creative you'll get, and more inspiration you'll get from it. So, I would say don't overthink it."

Always Continue Learning

Tyau believes that putting your nose to the grindstone, especially in terms of soaking up new information and honing a craft, is bound to pay off. "The more you're qualified or more knowledgeable you are, the universe will also match that in opportunities that come your way," says Tyau. "I think it's very vital for us to be constantly learning. And then, if you learn how to do something and you DIY, you save a lot of money."

This is a philosophy Tyau feels strongly about passing onto her children. "Having good work ethic is so important for us," she says. "It is priceless. And if you instill that in kids now, they will carry it through the rest of their lives. And if you have a strong work ethic, you will succeed no matter what."

Let Long-Term Goals Be Your Guiding Light

Sticking to a budget can be challenging at times for anyone, but Tyau finds motivation in her family's long-term financial goals. "I would love to pay for the kids' college and give them a down payment on their first home," she says. "And I would love to pay off all our mortgage on our house."

Tyau also aspires to have a clothing line and donate proceeds to a charity. "I would love to set up schools in third world countries or state side," she notes. "And I would love to help orphans—that's my biggest goal. I feel like if I keep pursuing my passions and doing what I love, it will help me get there eventually."

Own Your Passions

Tyau attributes her focus on being a stay-at-home mom in part to her religious upbringing. But with over a decade of parenting under her belt, Tyau strives to keep putting her kids first while taking care of her own needs. "I feel it's very important to have that balance and have alone time," she explains. "As a mother, we don't get a raise or a better job or a trophy or certificate. It's a thankless job, and that's why it's so important to have your identity outside of motherhood."

And once you've found what drives you, as Tyau did with refashioning, lean in. "Find the time to balance out your passions with motherhood," she says. "If you have great time management skills and discipline, you can do both at the same time."

Doing exactly that has translated to a win-win for Tyau. "Having a hobby or a passion or a career—something that you love—gives you confidence," she notes. "Refashioning has definitely given me the confidence to pursue my other dreams from now on. And it's also really good for your kids to see that Mom is setting boundaries for herself and doing and pursuing."

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