Monday, November 19, 2018

How To Win At Black Friday

It can be easy to get swept up in the sales and unbeatable deals of Black Friday. I personally love shopping and have found memories of going with my mom. I'm not one of those people who goes at midnight (or nowadays, after Thanksgiving dinner) - I like to sleep in and leisurely check out ongoing sales throughout the day. Let’s be honest - Black Friday is more like a month and not a day at this point. That is why, more now than ever, we need go in with a plan so we make the most out of this.


1. Don’t Shop Just To Shop: I know that a 40% or 50% off deal may seem tempting but if you really don't need anything, don't shop just get a deal. I've done it too many times!
2. Be Strategic: Create a list in advance. I made a list of everything I currently want/need. I'm prioritizing items that rarely go on sale. I'll run through the list on Friday and pick up what I can!
3. Compare Deals To Normal Sales: Some stores offer the same discount they normally would. Last year Old Navy offered 40% off everything - it’s a great deal but they also offer that discount regularly. While it's not a bad idea to still take advantage, I'd prioritize my funds for hotter sales.
4. Get Cash Back: Let’s be honest - a lot of us will solely shop online and that’s a smart decision. It makes us think about our purchases and not stray before the checkout (ahem Sephora Beauty On The Fly products). It also means we can use rebate programs like Ebates. If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ve seen me share my love of Ebates. I’ve been using it since 2015 and am not sponsored by them (but would love to be!). I've even gotten $500 in cash back since I joined. Ebates is a website that gives you cash back on tons of stores - you can even use the Chrome extension so you don't forget to shop through them. Every quarter, they will send you a Big Fat Check with all your rebates. If you sign up here, you'll get an additional $10 back with your first check!
5. Check Return Policies: Always make sure you can return items that you aren’t 100% sure you want to keep. It can be tempting in the moment to snatch up a good deal but make sure you can return it if you change your mind later.

This year is a little different for me because our moving boxes have been severely delayed and honestly we need a few things - bedding, clothes, shoes, and some essentials. I will probably be hitting Black Friday harder this year for that reason. It also means I’ve planned ahead for it (as much as I could) and have a list of what I want. There are things I need anyway and may as well get a deal on if I can! I will definitely share my favorite sales and my picks in a post later this week as well a my haul after I shop on Friday.

While this week and season isn't just about shopping, if you do partake, I hope you get some good deals!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Nutmeg's Travel Essentials

Treats | Blankets | Litter Box | Carrier | Harness | Toy | Bowl | Calming Spray     

Now that we've finished our road trip (check it out here, here & here), I feel pretty confident that we know how to travel well with a pet. Our cat, Nutmeg, did exceptionally well on our cross country road trip and I strongly believe it was due to proper prep. Before diving into her travel essentials, let me share a couple tips for travel prep. 

1. Vet Check Up: We took Nutmeg to the vet for a wellness check. He advised us that she wouldn't need anti-anxiety medication and said she was healthy enough for the journey.

2. Practice Rides: We took Nutmeg on a couple short practice drives. This got her used to her carrier and we could see any adjustments needed to be made to make her comfortable. 

Nutmeg's Travel Essentials:

Carrier: Of course we need to start with the star of the show - Nutmeg's new carrier. We picked this one out because it's clear on the sides, soft, collapsible and has multiple entrances. 

Blankets: We didn't know how Nutmeg would feel on the trip. We wanted her to be comfortable, warm, and most importantly - have backups if she got sick on a blanket. We picked up this pack of five blankets so we could dispose of any if needed. 

Harness: Safety first! We picked up this harness set so Nutmeg couldn't escape [if she got anxious] and could walk outside. While she didn't go far, she did walk around a little at rest stops. 

Calming Spray: Someone from work recommended this and I really think it worked! Nutmeg was pretty stressed the first day or so of the trip and then we remembered this spray. After spritzing it on her blanket, she settled down and napped with her paws wrapped around the blanket. It may be a coincidence [she might have just finally relaxed in her carrier] but I like to think the spray helped. 

Treats: Treats may seem a little obvious but these Greenie Treats are also good for your cats teeth. We could give these to Nutmeg in the car without having to deal with a full bowl of food spilling all over.

Toy: We made sure Nutmeg had her favorite toy for the journey.

Bowls: Nutmeg normally uses glass bowls - too fragile for travel. These stainless-steel travel bowls are a great idea. 

Litter Box: These disposable litter boxes were a life-saver. We got this set of three and they were perfect. The boxes are compostable and infused with baking soda - we never noticed any odor! We've repurchased since for weekends away at Joe's parents.

One of my favorite things we did on the road trip was take photos of Nutmeg with every state sign. Without further ado, let's take a look at Nutmeg's trip...

Nutmeg's Cross Country Road Trip:









South Dakota





I also have a few travel tips for you here:

Monday, November 12, 2018

Quality Of Life Expenses

With our huge move, we're obviously trying to keep our expenses as low as possible. If you follow me on Instagram, you would know that we've had some setbacks - our movers are taking way longer than expected and we were sleeping on a sofa bed for weeks. We were so tired and our backs hurt too much to keep it up. We went for it and bought a new bed and mattress. It wasn't cheap and it certainly wasn't in our original plans but our quality of life was suffering. 

I was kicking myself because originally we thought about selling our old bed and buying a new bed here. We didn't have any takers for our frame so instead we added it into our move, which increased our bill with the movers. Now we've spent more money to ship a bed across the country that hasn't even made it here AND we've bought a new bed to replace it. Obviously this is not ideal. I was talking with my mom about it and she said sometimes you just need to write off expenses that don't work out. Sometimes you make a decision that doesn't work out the way you thought and you need to make another decision to fix it. We went for the bed because sleep and comfort are important to us. 

We're slowly having to replace more items while we wait - we don't have enough clothes, I want to be able to organize my makeup (and not just use travel bags), and we need bedding for our new bed. While I'm trying to hold out for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, I'm also cutting myself some slack. It's ok not to be frugal every day. It's ok to add some extra expenses to this month's statement. We can always make more money but we can't make up that time we were in pain from a bad bed so I'm happy we got the new bed! 

This post is a little all over the place but I just thought I'd share a lesson I learned this week about finances and life.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Hallmark Christmas Movies I Can't Wait To Watch

I'm not going to lie - I just downloaded the Hallmark Christmas app and I couldn't be more excited. I get more and more into the holidays every year. Last year I even convinced Joe to let us put up our tree before Thanksgiving because my parents were flying in. Unfortunately we won't be able to do that, as we don't even have an apartment yet SO I'll need to get my holiday fulfillment from Hallmark Christmas movies!

Christmas Joy [premiered November 3rd]: A keenly intelligent market researcher with an eye on her company’s top account and garnering a sweet promotion just in time for the holidays. Just as Joy is capturing the attention of the account’s CEO, she receives a call from her Aunt Ruby’s best friend back home in Crystal Falls, NC. Ruby has broken her ankle and needs surgery. Though the timing couldn’t be worse, Joy immediately comes to her Aunt’s bedside only to be reunited with former crush, now hospital administrator, Ben Andrews, son of Ruby’s best friend Shirley.

Road To Christmas [premiered November 4th]: Los Angeles television producer Maggie Baker unwittingly falls for Danny Wise, the son and former producer of his mother’s popular annual Christmas special Julia Wise Lifestyle. When Maggie’s secret plan to reunite Danny and his two brothers with Julia during the live broadcast in Vermont goes awry, Maggie is reminded that above all, it is the love for family and friends that makes the merriest of Christmas. Chad Michael Murray is in this one! 

Pride, Prejudice, and Mistletoe [premieres November 23rd]: Darcy has always worked hard to prove herself and be successful on her own terms, even choosing to start her own company, rather than work with her father. Returning to her hometown for Christmas, Darcy reconnects with an old rival, restaurant owner Luke, and they are forced to plan a charity event together. As Darcy spends time with her family and Luke, she starts to realize what matters most in life and sets out to mend her relationship with her father, and possibly fall in love. 

A Shoe Addict's Christmas [premieres November 25th]: As Christmas approaches, Noelle is at a crossroads in her life when it seems that love, a connection with her father, and her dream career are out of reach. When she stays late at her job in a department store on a snowy Christmas Eve, she accidentally gets locked in after closing. She isn’t too concerned about the prospect of spending the night in the store… until a quirky woman appears out of nowhere in the shoe department and tells Noelle that she’s her guardian angel. Soon, Noelle finds herself revisiting Christmases past, present, and future as she must work with her new neighbor, a handsome, Christmas-loving firefighter, to plan the annual Christmas Charity Gala. Will visiting the holidays of yesterday and tomorrow help Noelle take new chances and discover the true spirit of Christmas? And in realizing that the only thing standing in her way of leading a fulfilling life is herself, will the love she has longed for all her life be the best surprise gift of all?

Homegrown Christmas [premieres December 8th]: After stepping down as CEO of her dream job, Maddie heads home for the holidays to gain perspective. She finds herself running into her old high school sweetheart Carter, and tensions quickly arise. When forced to put together a Christmas dance for the local high school, Carter and Maddie find themselves putting their differences aside and rediscover what made them fall in love all those years ago.

Entertaining Christmas [premieres December 15th: Claire is a cookbook author, crafting expert, and television personality whose name is synonymous with perfection. As she contemplates retirement, her daughter Candace is poised to become the new face of the Livingston brand. The only trouble is, Kara can’t cook. Or sew. Or do any of the signature things her mother is known for. When a young girl posts a video online requesting Claire help welcome her deployed father home for Christmas, Candace is sent in her place in an effort to prove herself a worthy successor to the board of directors and win the job. As Candace does her best to make a good impression, she gets more than she bargained for when the young girl’s uncle Joe turns out to be a reporter for the local paper, looking for his next story.

Christmas Made To Order [premieres December 23rd]: When architect and Christmas amateur Steven finds himself hosting his family for Christmas, he recruits holiday coordinator Gretchen to bring holiday joy to his home. Gretchen’s expert Christmas spirit brings Steven’s family together, but neither expected it to bring them closer to each other. After a great opportunity presents itself to Gretchen, she and Steven must decide what’s really important in life.

Which movies are on your list?

Monday, November 5, 2018

5 Personal Finance Tips That Will Change Your Life | Finance 101

With the end of 2018 swiftly approaching, it's time to refocus and think about our goals for 2019. This is a good time to change up habits, especially with the holidays on the horizon. When we're mindful with our money, our lives will be so much better. 

I hope these tips are helpful and improve your life!

1. Have An Emergency Fund: If you haven't started an emergency fund, now is your time to start building one. You should aim for $1,000-$2,000 to cover any unexpected situations. Ideally you want to eventually save up enough to cover three months of living expenses (in case of job loss). Curious how to start your emergency fund? I've got you covered with this post.

2. Pay Off Debt: Interest is a pain. Pay off debt as soon as possible even if it means sacrificing some other areas (a new phone, new car, etc.).

3. Create A Budget: While this might seem like a no brainer, it's more work to create a budget and stick to it than it seems. Create an initial budget. Lay out your fixed expenses (i.e. housing, insurance, subscriptions, etc.). Go through your previous three statements and figure out averages for each variable area (i.e. groceries, clothing, transportation, etc.). Track your spending throughout the month. Modify each month as needed. Move any excess funds into savings. It's time-consuming but you can weed out unnecessary expenses and save more money!

4. Get Help With Your Taxes: You don't want to get a letter from the Department of Taxation that says you owe $5,000 the day before you leave for your honeymoon. Just saying.

5. You Can Always Make More Time But You Can't Make More Time: Sometimes working overtime is worth it (to pay a bill or pay off debt) but working yourself to the bone when it isn't 100% necessary will impact your quality of life. We can't get back time with our loved ones!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Sephora Holiday Bonus Sale Picks 2018

Sephora has started their Holiday Bonus Sale! The discounts vary by Beauty Insider type - check out which level you are on your profile. Feel free to shop online [with the codes below] & in store!


VIB ROUGE USE CODE 'ROUGEBONUS' at Checkout Sale Dates: 10/26-10/29 AND 11/2-11/5 Save 20% OFF EVERYTHING VIB USE CODE 'VIBBONUS' at Checkout Sale Dates: 11/9-11/12 Save 20% OFF EVERYTHING INSIDER USE CODE 'BIBONUS' at Checkout Sale Dates: 11/16-11/19 Save 15% Off EVERYTHING


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

5 Tips For Dealing With Change

Hey friends! I was originally planning to share some last minute recipes for Halloween BUT I feel like I need to get a little more personal today. If you follow my blog, you know that I'm currently going through a lot of change. My husband, Joe, and I left our lives in New York City to pursue new opportunities in the San Francisco Bay Area. We did a cross country road trip with our cat [posts and videos coming soon!]. This week is our first week in our new jobs. It's a lot. It's overwhelming. 

Normally I would wait until I moved beyond a period like this to share some insights. Honestly it felt important to share while I'm in the thick of it. I don't know how things will turn out or where we'll be in a year. 

Here's my advice:

1. Talk To Someone: I've been talking to Joe, my parents, and some friends about road blocks and struggles in this time of change. I can't imagine bottling all of this up!

2. Create A Routine: I'll be the first to say that I'm just starting this step. I'm working to come up a morning and night routine to create more structure in my life.

3. Hug Someone: Cuddling with your furry friends or hug a friend. Physical contact is comforting during uncertain times.

4. Get Out Of Your Head: I tend to stress about all the little details. Joe and I have tons to figure out - where do we want to live? When are our movers showing up? It can be easy to dwell on the details but we can't control anything right now and we need to get out of our heads.

5. Don't Be So Hard On Yourself: You're doing the best you can. If you want to curl up and watch tv at night, do it. If you skip the gym this week, don't stress. You are going through a lot and I hope you see how much you're doing. 

What are your strategies for taking care of yourself during times of change?

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