Monday, November 26, 2018

5 Tips For Surviving Holiday Financial Stress


We are officially in the holiday season! Thanksgiving has come and gone. The gift giving, parties, and holiday dinners are starting. While I love this time of year and participating in all of these activities, they can add up quickly. I have a few tips that help me stay on track during the holiday season!

5 TIPS FOR SURVIVING HOLIDAY FINANCIAL STRESS


1. Create A Budget: Control your finances, don't let them control you. Make a budget for holiday activities, gifts, travel, and/or anything else you plan to spend on this holiday season. Be realistic and take into account unexpected expenses (last minute gifts, travel issues, etc.).

2. Get Creative: We don't have to spend tons to have a fun holiday season. Seek out free activities in your community. Joe and I love tree lightings, checking out neighborhoods with great Christmas lights, and watching holiday movies. If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, like Joe and I do, check out Christmas In The Park and the Christmas tree in Union Square.

3. Take Advantage Of Deals: I'm a huge advocate of coupons, shopping around, and rebates. You'll hear me gush about Ebates - it's a website that gives you cash back for tons of places. You can even install a Chrome extension so you don't forget to activate your cash back. You'll also receive an additional $10 in your first Big Fat Check for signing up here. For coupons, I love Honey. This is another Chrome extension I use that finds any available coupons online. You can choose to apply them to save a little more! Also make sure to actually send in any mail in rebates. Joe and I got pillows on Black Friday that will actually become free once we mail in our rebates forms!

4. Say No: Unfortunately we can't do it all. If something is too pricey or not top of your list, just say no. You'll feel better knowing you didn't spend the money and you can focus on the things you're most looking forward to.

5. Remember What This Season Is About: Focus on what the holidays really mean - spending time with those you care about. Spending quality time together is the point of this season. Embrace it!

Do you have any tips for staying on track during the holiday season?



Thursday, November 22, 2018

Best Of Black Friday 2018


Happy Thanksgiving! I can't believe the holidays are HERE. I hope you have fun plans for today if you celebrate Thanksgiving. I shared my tips for Black Friday on Monday's post and as promised, here are the best sales for Black Friday this year (in my opinion!)

BEST OF BLACK FRIDAY 2018


-Get 20% off everything with the code: HELLO20
*ALSO 2.5% cash back with Ebates*

BOOHOO
-60% off entire website
*ALSO 3% cash back with Ebates*
– Take an extra 30% off when you spend $100+, or an extra 25% off when you spend under $100. Valid 11/25-11/28
*ALSO 10% cash back with Ebates*

– 20% Off Apparel and Outerwear . Valid 11/21 – 11/27
– 25% off Bean Boots. Valid 11/23 Only
– 25% off slippers. Valid 11/26 – 11/27
*ALSO 4% cash back with Ebates*
-50% your purchase with code THANKS
*ALSO 8% cash back with Ebates*

– 20% Off Black Friday Sale with code BLKFRI. Valid 11/21-11/24
– 20% Off Cyber Monday with code CYBER. Valid 11/25-11/26
*ALSO 10% cash back with Ebates*
NORDSTROM
-Up to 60% off through 11/26
– Black Friday Clearance! Receive an extra 30% off. Valid 11/21-11/26
*ALSO 1% cash back with Ebates*

-50% your purchase
*ALSO 10% cash back with Ebates*
Happy Thanksgiving!

CHECK OUT MY BLACK FRIDAY HAUL:


Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Thanksgiving Self-Care


While there is so much excitement around the holidays, many of us struggle during this time of year. We may be surrounded by family members or situations we don't feel comfortable with. We need some strategies to help us get through successfully. Hopefully we can make the most of the holidays!

Thanksgiving Self-Care


Set Boundaries: You are ultimately in control. You may feel guilt or pressure from family or friends but you are not obligated to participate in anything that will upset you. If you choose to visit family, set clear boundaries. Create a game plan for yourself - find a place you can go if you need a break and  know you can always leave if things get too challenging.

Say "No": You're not required to say yes to everything [or anything]. Be mindful of what will serve you and what won't. Say no to anything that could have a negative impact or may be too much to handle.

Prepare Yourself: Do something that relaxes you on Thanksgiving morning. Maybe it's a yoga class. Maybe it's reading a book. Maybe it's extra sleep. Just take some time to do something for yourself at the start of the big day.

Manage Expectations: Most likely you've spent Thanksgiving with this group before [I would assume so if you're reading this post]. Be aware of any potential triggers. Think about how people have behaved in the past so that you don't have unrealistic expectations on Thanksgiving. Of course people do change but you don't want to assume everything will be peachy and go in underprepared. 

Have A Support System: Whether it's someone physically present or someone you can text/call, find someone to support you [and let you vent] if things are too much to deal with. If you don't have anyone in mind, journal. You can always use the notes app in your phone - I promise no one will even notice, they'll just think you're sending a text.

Take Care Of Yourself: Follow your normal self-care practices. If you don't have any, maybe this is a good opportunity to find some!

The holidays are fun but they can always be a stressful time. I hope these tips make you mindful and helpful you have a [more] successful and/or positive Thanksgiving.

If you have your own tips, please leave them below!

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.

HOW TO WIN AT BLACK FRIDAY:


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:


Pennsylvania

Ohio

Indiana

Michigan

Wisconsin

Minnesota

Iowa

Illinois 

South Dakota

Wyoming

Utah

Nevada

California

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 Sephora.com profile. Feel free to shop online [with the codes below] & in store!

Details:


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

SHOP MY PICKS:




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