Monday, September 22, 2008


My apologies for my 2 week absence. Hopefully I'll prepare some worthy content for you, in teh meantime here is an excellent Financial Toolbox article from the people at Kiplinger: click here.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Ok, to be fair, I've never read Robert Kiyosaki's books (I know, half of America has..I just never got around to it). The more I hear about the guy the more I really don't like him or his teaching principles. This is a guy who claims the way to make money is through debt?? Granted it's all in building your real estate empire but how relevant is this today given the whole Frannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Bear Sterns dibacle?

Most of the reputable personal finance bloggers out there recognize Kiosaki as little more than a guy who can write a pretty word or too with no real sound financial basis. Take for example this great article calle Let's Read Some of Robert Kiyosaki's Drivel at The author dissects an article by Kiosaki which claims that mutual funds are no better than playing the lottery. Someone...please explain.

I guess the issue with Kiyosaki is his "win big," "get rich quick" attitude. It's off putting for those who know the road to riches is paid in patience, steady investing and common sense not in finding "the next big thing." Though I do believe risk is a big part in getting pay offs I'd much rather take caluclated risks and follow the advice of someone like Andrew Tobias then take out 70,000 to buy an apartment complex a la Kiyosaki advice. call me crazy....

If you're tempted by the promise of Kiyosaki just check out John Reed's Analysis.

Monday, September 8, 2008

So you all know how much I love skincare. I live for this stuff. I'm espcially a huge fan of masks, but at an average of 40 smackeroonies a pop it get s a bit expensive. That is until I found Mario Badescu. Who is he? Mario Badescu has been known for personalized skin care treatments and products. Products and services have been proven to help those suffering from acne, rosacea, aging and other skin problems. He owns a salon in NYC and is known amongst the stars.

Alright, alright enough promoting and let's get to what you all want to know. Is he affordable?? Well in terms of his services, I wouldn't know nor would I fly all the way to NYC to find otu (even I have my limits). However, I have ordered many of his products and can I just say that they are GOOD. Seriously. I was shocked at how gentle they were and how the products that touted a "get glowing skin" braggadocio actually got my skin glowing. What was even more shocking? The surprising costs. Here are some of my favorite products, what I think and how much they are gonna cost you.

Drying Mask- 2 oz, $18.00 This stuff smells awful, I'm pretty sure it has to do with the Colloidal Sulfur based formula. This mask also does exactly what it says: dries existing pimples and oil and helps clarify problematic skin. Soothing Calamine makes this mask safe and gentle for most skin types. Because of it's thick pudding-like consistency a little bit goes a long way.

Drying Lotion- 1 oz, $17.00 Made with Calamine and Salicylic Acid this stuff is pretty intense. You dot it on whiteheads and overnight BAM they are gone! Ok, granted it actually took my unsighlty whiteheads more than overnight to disappear but in 72 hours my breakouts were contained. Use sparingly because this stuff can really dry you out. I bought one 2 months ago and am just now running a bit low. But then...I also used it every night.

Healing and Soothing Mask- 2 oz, $20.00 This mask calms red, irritated skin. I definitely noticed a glow after using it. I love this because it is gentle and cream-based so it doesn't get hard and crackly. Leaves skin nice and soft!

The best part? Each order comes with a bevy of free samples so you can try out some great products of theirs! Each sample has about 4-6 applications worth.

Beddy Bye

Have you looked at the price of buying a new bed? Golly gosh, I had no idea these things cost so much! Luckily for you I researched a bit and found some creative ways to make a bed for less. Without further ado, here are some instructions on making a frame from

2 x 4 x 96 - 10 pieces ($2.11 ea)
2 x 10 x 8 - 6 pieces ($7.99 ea)
3/4 x 49 x 97 MDF - 2 pieces ($22.99)
deck screws
wood glue (optional)

Tools: (you can always borrow if you don't have these)
miter saw
circular saw
power drill/driver

Step 1:
Using the 2×10s create a base that resembles this:
To determine the dimensions add about 1 inch to the height and width of the mattress. Then subtract 12 inches from each dimension to give the inset to protect toes.

For example a standard King size mattress is 80 x 76. The bottom frame would be 69 x 65. There is a lot of room for adjustment ther since you never see this layer. The important thing is that your frame is level.All lumber was screwed together using some old 2 1/2″ deck screws. Drill pilot holes to prevent splitting and used a little wood glue to create a strong bond.

Step 2:
Use scrap pieces of 2×10 to create blocking:
Make sure to offset them like in the picture; so you are able to screw in from both sides. No exact science here, just make sure they fit tightly in the spaces

Step 3:
Now you're ready for the top layer of the platform. Using the 2×4s. follow the same strategy, but this layer will be slightly larger than the mattress.
Step 4:
Next place the top layer on top of the bottom and center it. Toenail the top layer into the bottom at all intersections with the deck screws (remember to drill those pilot holes first).

Step 5:
The last step was attaching the mdf to the top. You may want to have these pre-cut at a place like Lowes. Their sheet cutter is more accurate and can save time. Attach these with 2 inch deck screws about every 12-16 inches.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

..and now for something completely different: a very special men's edition of Thrifty Find Thursdays. Remember boys: simplicity is key. And for godssake stay away from striped polos.

Mossimo® Western Shirt, Target $21.99
Levi's® Red Tab™ 527™ Low Rise Jeans, Kohls $34.99
Airwalk Lion Crest Twin Gore, Payless Shoe Source $25.99

Great for following the girlfriend around for a shopping trip; add a skinny tie and voila you're ready for a night on the town. Gotta love outfits that pull double duty.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Almost Frugal

Head on over to Almost Frugal to check out the Festival of Frugality#141!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Workin' 9-5

Sheryl Bangle Shop Suey Boutique, $16.00
Isaac Mizrahi Sateen Slim Skirt Target, $24.99
Ruffle Elegance Woven Shirt Forever 21, $19.80
Almond Rattan Handbag Forever 21, $18.80
Kardin Dress Pump Payless Shoe Source, $24.99

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

How? I followed the advice that every frugalist recommends and called my insurance company. I was involved in an accident which was my fault back in September (the day my obsession for finding the best curry in San Diego became my burden), and that upped my insurance from $670 every 6 months to a whopping $1025. Today I started thinking: ok so yes I was at fault in an accident...but what would other insurance companies charge me? Furthermore, what would my insurance quote me at as a new customer? So I used a pseudonym and wham! bam! thank you ma'm (ooer) I saw a nice little quote for $800.

So I called my insurance company and asked if there were any discounts I could take advantage of. I briefly mentioned that I had seen quotes for less at other companies (even with factoring in my accident) and the incredibly nice and helpful rep spent some time with me. So how did they lower my bill? A more accurate adjustment of teh estimated annual miles I drive (this alone reduced my policy by 100). She was ready to send me off when I asked if there were more discounts that could be applied since it was still higher than what I had seen. She questioned me about my profession and since I am college educated and considered a "professional" I received an even greater discount to the tune of $782.00 per month- a $238.76 savings (that they will refund to me for the payment I just made).

Wowza was that the most profitable 15 minutes I ever spent...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I wore a dress a while back, a dress that never fails to get compliments, and I realized it was probably the best 80 bucks I spent. I actually remember buying the dress because I was 18, at the end of my senior year and $80.00 for a kid with no job was a load. But here, 5 years later I still get a lot of use out of the thing, and surprisingly it hasn't faded or become worn at all. Then i think about the $150.00 I plunked down 2 years ago for a Bebe dress. I think I wore it all of twice before getting uproariously drunk one night and vomiting all over it. I later sold it on ebay for 60 bucks (ummm I dry cleaned it first).

Anyhoodle, these little anecdotes makes me realize the value in buying something you truly, truly love versus buying what's hip and something you haven't given a lot of thought to. I think back on some of my favorite pieces and I have a skirt from the Gap that was around 50 bucks from when I was 18 (actually...I'm wearing it right now), a hat I bought two years ago for a forgotten sum, a coupel pairs of jeans that are over 2 years old bought for about 130 each and a brocade coat I splurged on for a few hundred when I was 19.

My favorite pieces are not necessarily pieces that cost a lot of money (though at the time they did seem like hefty financial sacrifices), but rather they are ones I wear time and time again. They are my go-tos for when I have nothing to wear. They are the pieces that sit silently in my closet comfortably at ease knowing that when I come to clean the closet out, they will be left there untouched. Most importantly they are pieces that never grow dated or old.

When buying an item, we've already discussed the value in holding off and determining if it is something you truly want. I think when it comes to fashion, this may not always work. Holding off for a bit may seem viable, but dang it if those gladiator sandals that go up to your shins are still to die for after a week of contemplation. So when weighing the decision to purchase fashion I believe in adhering to these valuable self-tests.

Is the piece timeless or of the moment? I would much rather invest my money in pieces that have a quality shape and material, ones I know will stand the test of time, then throw away 20 bucks on a peasant skirt I would only wear for a season (because, we all know what happened with that trend). By choosing timeless classics, no matter the price, you are ensuring that the piece will be worn for years to come (see: my J. Crew dress, any basic skirt, pants that fit like a dream).

Cost per Wear usage
Ok, so it's no secret I am a HUGE Christian Louboutin shoe fan. I mean, I see those babies and I simply drool and mumble "mmmggggooood" Would I buy a pair? At this point, most likely not. Granted these are shoes that will, most likely, withstand my timeless test, however, have you actually seen a Christian Louboutin shoe? The chances of me wearing those babies enough times to make up for the $600-plus price is unlikely. I have a classic little black dress I bought at Express a couple years ago. It is not necessarily something I wear on a daily basis, but it is a perfect piece when the occasion calls for. Timeless? Absolutely. Low cost per wear? At $50 I can wear it a few times a feel justified in the purchase (and I do).

Mix and Match Capability
Don't you hate when you buy an absolutely gorgeous item, only to be able to wear it with one other coordinating piece? I sure do. Nothing is more frustrating and useless. What good is that adorable little zebra print capelet if it really only goes with those black capri pants? This is why I also put my items through a mix and match test. When I see a piece I melt over, I quickly do a mental invetory of the items in my closet that would compliment it. The desired item must coordinate with at least three pieces already in my closet (shoes, pants, tops, jackets etc). This ensures I squeeze multiple outfits from one piece. Many of you already know how the surrounding items can completely change the look and feel of a single piece, so it's important that I have clothes that can pull double duty.

When in Doubt: Accessorize
You can make an entire outfit feel new with the simple addition of an accessory. Buying costume jewlery from Target, Claire's or the like can up the sizzle factor on a piece with out the fizzle on your bank statement. I am especially a fan of "statement" pieces in which a simple white tank top and jeans is adorned with a necklace that speaks for itself. Exquisite jewlery (and I'm nto talking about the baubles that cost an arm and leg here) needs simplicity as it's background, and there is something so chic about a basic top and bottom combined with a gorgeous ring, necklace or bracelet. Headscarfs and hats are also excellent pieces to enhance with.

Is the piece basic enough? This is essentially all of the tests wrapped into one. If you buy a $20.00 white tank top, chances of you passing all the tests are likely. A basic piece that fits like a dream is the ultimate in frugal dressing. Think of your favorite outfits, or your favorite top. You probably wear it a lot, with a lot of items and it probably has flexibility in the things it pairs with. Buying basics can also be jazzed up with your accesories, making a drab outfit pop. So stock up on all those solid color tanks and tee's, get those blue jeans and then wear the heck outta em.

Hopefully, you have gotten some use from these tips (if you didn't dont' tell me). Also, most importantly, getting a great deal is only a great deal if you use the piece! Never buy what you don't need. Happy frugal buying!

Monday, August 25, 2008

to the Simple Dollar and check out an excellent article for beating all those nasty tricks stores play on you to get you to spend the moolah.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Oh Dearie

I plum forgot yesterday was Thursday and I totally missed the boat. So to make it up to you here is a killer website that features a "Deal of the Day." It's called and each day they bring you an item that is at an unbelievablely low price. Todays deal is an adorable little frock:

Retail price: $175.00
Gomatta price: $49.00

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Simple Things

Sometimes, in our everyday life, we get so wrapped up in our to-dos, suppose-to-dos and have-to-dos we forget to take a moment and enjoy life. Here is a list of some things that enahnace life; simple yes but enjoyable? always.

1. A good read
2. Singing a favorite song on the radio
3. Yoga
4. Unexpected beauty in an unexpected place
5. Flowers
6. Farmers market
7. People watching
8. The smell of freshly baked goods
9. The first sip of a delicious glass of wine
10. Laughing until you cry
11. Having a really good conversation
12. Hugging a child (whether it be your own or a relative...just not a random one you see ont he street please)
13. Performing a random act of kindness (yes letting that car in front of you counts)
14. Dancing
15. Your absolute favorite meal
16. Having a real conversation with a child (you'd be amazed at the way they look at life)
17. Submerging your head under water and listening to the sound of nothing
18. Stargazing
19. The sound of the ocean
20. Ice cream on a hot day
21. Hot chocolate on a cold day
22. Christmas Eve
23. Blowing bubbles
24. Playing with a puppy
25. Having a picnic
26. Going for a scenic drive
27. Watching a fish swim in its tank
28. Ripe, juicy fruit
29. A cool breeze
30. The feeling of the sun on your skin
31. Jumping on the bed
32. Playing hooky
33. Watching an old movie
34. Accomplishing a goal...even if the goal was to get out of bed in the morning
35. Staying in your pjs all day
36. Holding hands for the first time
37. Coffee
38. Laughing at an inside joke
39. Cleaning your house (ok not the actual act of it but the relaxing bit after everything is shiny and clean)
40. The smell of clean laundry
41. Soaking in a bubble bath
42. Face masks
43. Gentle stretching and meditation
44. Old couples in love
45. Blowing a dandelion
46. Running.. no matter the distance
47. Giving a gift for no reason
48. The feeling after you are finally over your heartbreak
49. Getting into a bed of really soft, satiny sheets
50. Taking a moment to recognize your breathing, the air on your skin and reveling in the feeling of being alive

Friday, August 15, 2008

Hey all! Wide Open Wallet hosted Finance Fiesta: The Olympic Edition. Some excellent articles to check out so be sure to stop by and enjoy.

Ready to Be Rich is a man after this girl's heart when he took on Ways to Save Money on Hair.

Looking to make a little cold hard cash on the side? Check out Your Finish Rich Plan where an article tackles this in Making Money Online, Ten Things I wish I knew as a Beginner

An excellent article at Physician Entrepreneur delves into investing: Investing in Bonds-The Basics

Debt Smackdown discusses the concepts and feelings that are often connected with amassing money at What Do You Believe About Money?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Beach Romp

Women's Bikini Bottoms Old Navy, On Sale $10.00
Women's String Bikini Top Old Navy, On Sale $10.00
Women's Terry Empire Cover Up Old Navy, On Sale $12.99

Monday, August 11, 2008

Car Sharing

So I was reading an article on when a mention of car sharing caught my attention. What is it? It's a car sharing service for people who arent' willing to commit to the full time aspect of owning a car. How does it work? Well according to Zipcar you can rent a car for hours or days depending on yoru need. They have value plans that entail paying a monthly fee and a discount on the driving. A sample of this plan is the "Extra Value Plan" that has a $50.00 monthly commitment, a $25.00 one-time application fee and a 10% driving discount that starts at $8.10/hour and $59.40/day. Insurance, gas and 180miles are free.

This all begs the question: but is it worth it?? Ok maybe if you live in a densley populated city where public transportation is sufficient day-to-day and there is the odd occassion where renting (sorry sharing) a car is necessary. But living in a spread out town....I don't know I think that with the money charged to rent you could own a car for slightly more. Anyone care to share their thoughts on this concept?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

ELLE™ Leaf Smocked Knit Dress Kohls, On Sale $29.99
Kinna Hobo Payless Shoes, $22.99

Wednesday, August 6, 2008 $1.00, $2.00 and $3.00 off printer paper
Honey Bunches of Oats Just Clusters: $2.00 off
Nature Valley Granola Bars: $.60 off
Yoplait Yogurt-Original, Light, Thinck and Creamy or Whips: $.50 off
Eight 'O Clock Coffee: $1.00 off
Pepperidge Farm Baked Naturals: $1.00 off

For those of you who have ever tried to lose weight (and assuming that most of you have at least read articles about losing weight), you're probably familiar with the concept of writing down everything you eat. This tactic has proves time and time again to aid the individual in lsoing weight, the underlying principle being that you think twice about what you eat if you have to write it down. I found the same goes for trimming down your budget.

In May I began to not only live by a budget, but to also record everything I spent within the same budget to see what the delta would be in my proposed spending vs. actual spending. My first month I proposed a $2,3000 monthly budget. This budget included all the mandatory bills and entertainment, books, clothes, shoes and so forth. What did I clock in at? $2,600. The great thing about having tracked this? I not only saw that I went over my budget, I knew what it was exactly that tipped me over (the answer is spa treatments). So in June, I kept at it, then July and now into August. After looking at the three months of data I have compiled, I've managed to shave my monthly budget down to $1,800. That's nearly a 70% decrease!

In getting my monthly expenditures within reason, I did make some cuts along the way. I reduced my cable/internet bill by getting rid of cable completely, I haven't been to the spa in a few months and new clothes have become a thing of the past. But what did I find? I found more money to finally pursue cake decorating and yoga, more time to spend reading and satisfaction knowing that I can treat myself to a spa indulgence without feeling guilty. I found that writing down everything you spend works quite similar to writing down what you eat. Several times I found myself tempted to plop down forty bucks for some shoes but when I realized I'd have to be writing that amount down and subtracting from my monthly budget....well that urge sort of fell by the wayside.

Although constructing a budget is the first step in living within your means, it is only of great use when you apply it to your everyday spending habits, particularly in the beginning stages.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Great article I stumbled upon while trolling around You can check it out here at Seeking Alpha: Investment Discipline in the Year of Capitulation

Essentially, it discusses the importance of investment discipline in a bear market. Check it out and let me know what you think

Thursday, July 31, 2008

A lot of personal finance blogs discuss giving to those who have less. I think this is an amazing concept and one I am just now realizing. I recently discovered Kiva, a person-to-person micro-lending site. Micro loans are gaining popularity as a low cost way to contribute to charity. Essentially, you donate however much you can afford (Kiva's minimum is $25) and these loans are given to struggling entrepreneurs in improvished countries. Most often these are women caring for large families.

The cool thing about Kiva is it shows you who youa re donating to and what sort of business they run. Also notifys you when the micro loan has been repaid. Check it out! A bargain price to feel like you've made this world a slightly better place

I can't think of anything more comforting than staying in your pjs all day. Problem is you can start to feel a little ragged when you wear solely for comfort. I guess that's why I'm a fan of Vicky's Secret: you can look oh-so cute and cuddly and still be as comfortable as you would be in cut off sweats (which are always my choice if I know I will be spending the day in seclusion).

Victoria's Secret Pink Poplin Scrub Pant, On Sale $15.99
Victoria's Secret Scoopneck Racerback Tank, On Sale $7.99

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Here's a little taste of savings to get you going this week.

Foster Farms Turkey Meat, $1.00 off any two, 15% Off [code: JULYSAVE]
C&H Sugar, $.55 off any two
Scott Tissue, $1.00 off
Barnes &, %15 off [code: J4H7X7R]

Monday, July 28, 2008

So you find yourself in San Diego, whether it be living or visiting, and looking for some entertainment for under 5 bucks. Easy! Here is a list of my favorite events that you can enjoy with a little help from Abe (Lincoln that is).

Flamenco!, free
Enjoy a free show from Anthony Carcia every Saturday at the Sky Lounge at Sheraton Suites. Thursday-Saturday from 5-7pm. Bonus: Can you say Happy Hour makes a cheap dinner?

Passport to Balboa Park, $3.00 per Museum
Get culture overload and enjoy seven days of museum visiting at Balboa Park. The Passport is valid for seven consecutive days, and includes one admission to each of the 13 attractions; the price for the passport total is $39.00 for adults (averages to $3 per museum) and $21.00 for kids (averages to $1.62 per museum). Participating museums:
  • Japanese Friendship Garden
  • Mingei International Museum
  • Museum of Photographic Arts
  • Reuben H. Fleet Science Center
  • San Diego Air and Space Museum
  • SDAI- Museum of the Living Artist
  • San Diego Automotive Museum
  • Museum of San Diego History
  • San Diego Model Railroad Museum
  • San Diego Museum of Art
  • San Diego Museum of Man
  • San Diego Natual History Museum
  • San Diego Hall of Champions
Free Museum Tuesdays, free
So you're flexible and don't feel much like buying the passport? Well follow this schedule and every Tuesday you can experience select museums for free:

First Tuesday
Reuben H. Fleet Science Center,
Centro Cultural de la Raza
Model Railroad Museum***
Natural History Museum***
*** Free to San Diego County Residents and Active Military only

Second Tuesday
Museum of Photographic Arts,
Museum of San Diego History
Veterans’ Museum and Memorial Center

Third Tuesday
San Diego Art Institute
San Diego Museum of Art
San Diego Museum of Man
Japanese Friendship Garden ***
*** Free to San Diego County Residents and Active Military only
Mingei International Museum

Fourth Tuesday
San Diego Air & Space Museum*** (See Special Information following museum listings)
San Diego Automotive Museum (last admission 3:45pm) **
San Diego Hall of Champions***
House of Pacific Relations International Cottages
*** Free to San Diego County Residents and Active Military only

Fifth Tuesday
Normal museum prices in effect.
The Timken Museum of Art is always free.

Racing Season at the Del Mar Racetrack, $6.00
Ok, so this one is a dollar over BUT these races are a huge thing here in San Diego. Located in Del Mar, you can not only enjoy a fun sport, but soak in the great sights of the beautiful Del Mar community. Also, if you happen to be free on Fridays stop by for the weekly concert that is free with admission. With concerts like: Gavin Rossdale, Gnarls Barkley, Ziggy Marley and Devo you're getting a killer deal.

La Jolla Cove, free
This hot sport is not only walking distance from the commercial area of La Jolla (read: shops), but is probably the best beach around. Bring your flippers and goggles for a little snorkling and check out the tide pools with all sorts of creatures in them.

Annual Julian Fall Apple Festival, free
9/15– 11/15
Julian is a town about an hour northeast of San Diego. Their known around here for their apple harvest (and thus apple pie) and many San Diegans enjoy day trips here to remember what fall is like around the rest of the country. Make some time to head up there for their Festival and enjoy autumn foliage, arts shows, entertainment and seasonal foods, such as apple pie and cider. Roadside stands offer fresh local apples, pears and homemade cider.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Check out his work here: Easily kills about an hour or so.

Ok so I'm a tad less than brilliant and thought yesterday was Thursday and so I posted my Thrift Find Thursday on Wednesday. Oops. So to (sort of) make up for it here is a bunch of awesome quotes from reputable peeps. Found them on CNN and wanted to share the wealth. I'd also like to "dedicate" this post to my good friend, and amazing mentor Scott. It's totally something he would appreciate.

Mellody Hobson, President, Ariel Investments

When I was 22, a friend who is very successful explained to me that no one
ever got rich through earned income. "Look at all the great wealthy families,"
he said. "From Carnegie to Rockefeller, it was never how much they made at work
that made them wealthy - it was their investments." And that made me shift from
thinking about a paycheck to thinking about building equity and long-term
wealth. And it has helped me a lot. Instead of a raise, I ask for more
Whitney Tilson, Founder and managing partner of T2 Partners and the Tilson Mutual Funds

About 12 years ago I was trying to learn more about personal investing.
My good friend Bill Ackman, currently a hedge fund manager for Pershing Square
Capital Management, told me, "Read all of Warren Buffet's Berkshire-Hathaway
shareholder letters. That's all you need to know."

I've been reading them voraciously ever since. They teach the
principles of sound investing: Buy a stock only when you can purchase it at a
large discount from what any rational cash-paying buyer would pay per share to
own the whole business.

Abby Joseph Cohen, Senior investment strategist at Goldman Sachs

The best advice I was given was to "ignore the noise." Financial
markets are, by nature, volatile and messy. Successful long-term investing
emphasizes the fundamental underpinnings of the economy and companies. These
building blocks rarely shift quickly, although market prices can change
frequently and dramatically even during the course of a single trading session.
Wise investors make their decisions based on a few essential elements and
are not easily deterred by market gyrations. But wise investors are also willing
to adjust their views when the critical variables shift or do not play out as
expected. The source of this advice was my father, Raymond Joseph.

Timothy Ferriss, Author: The Four-Hour Workweek

Professor Ed Zschau at Princeton University gave me a short but
powerful piece of advice. I had volunteered for the second time to clean erasers
and place name placards on desks before class to get to know him.

He said with a smile, "Don't get too good at the little things" and
explained that if you excel at the menial tasks, those are the responsibilities
people will associate you with and give you. Get noticed for doing things that
help the big picture, not for fetching coffee, and your financial picture will
grow just as fast as your reputation.

Robert Frank, Professor of Management and Economics, Cornell University; Author: The Economic Naturalist

Back in some early grade at the Riverside Elementary School in Miami,
the teacher asked the class to imagine that we put one paramecium on one square
of a checkerboard and then it had two daughters that occupied the second square,
and the two daughters each had two daughters who occupied the third square and so on. How many would you have by the time you got to the 64th square?

A lot. If you lined up all the paramecia end to end, they would
reach the sun and back 6,000 times over. That lesson easily translated into
money: If someone had put aside $1,000 the day I was born, with a 9.5% annual
return it would be worth almost $210,000 today.

Gus Sauter, Managing Director and Chief Investment Officer, Vanguard

I got my number-one piece of financial advice in an investments course
at the University of Chicago business school in 1979. It may sound a little
self-serving: Index investing is a great way to gain exposure to the

The second-best advice I ever received came from a friend of my
parents. He said, if you think investments are going to do something within a
certain time frame, double that time frame. It could be anything from growth
stocks outperforming value stocks to the dollar strengthening. That kind of
advice gives you a dose of humility: It acknowledges that trying to exploit a
trend is very difficult, even if you're right about it, because your timing may
be all off.
Dan Fuss, Manager, Loomis Sayles Bond fund

I worked at the bank in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, where I grew up, shortly
after I got out of the Navy in 1958. The president of the bank, Art Kohaske,
used to say, "Know your borrower." Mr. Kohaske drilled that into me: You had to
know the people, know the business. And I admired him greatly.

I translated that lesson into "Know your issuer." In other words -
to put it in CFA talk - know the specific risk that you're taking with a
particular investment. You can apply that advice to government agencies, munis,
corporate bonds, stocks - it applies big-time to stocks. That is really very,
very good advice. If you really know your companies, really know them, you have
a phenomenal advantage, particularly in markets like this where you get rapid
movements up and down that aren't related to individual companies.

David Laibson, Professor of Economics, Harvard University

Back in the early 1980s, at the beginning of the bull market, I had a
high school teacher who was a stock picker, and he was very bullish on a housing
stock, Kaufman & Broad. I was an impressionable teenager, and I invested my
very limited wealth in this stock. It went through the roof. I concluded as a
consequence of this experience - during a bull market, of course - that I was a
brilliant investor. I start buying and selling stocks, going long, going short,
going nuts.

This went on until I was in college. I made some money, and then I lost
a lot of it. The real cure was the 1987 crash. It's easy to trick yourself into
thinking you can outplay the market. In watching my confident investments go
sour, I learned that I don't know more than the market and, thankfully, I
learned that with only a few thousand dollars. Now I buy diversified portfolios
through mutual funds and ETFs.

Ed Zore , President and CEO, Northwestern Mutual

I started out as a stock trader in Northwestern Mutual's investment area. I
was very young and eager to learn everything I could. I remember looking through a list of stocks in the company's portfolio and wondering why we didn't buy more of the highest-yielding stocks.

When I asked the portfolio manager, he informed me that when a stock offers a dividend that's high for its category, it can mean that the dividend is in jeopardy. That's when I learned that if a stock looks like it's offering you a free lunch, you should find a different restaurant.

Don Phillips, Managing Director, Morningstar

Tom Mathers, founder of the Mathers Fund, shared these words of wisdom
at an early Morningstar Conference: "If you find a great growth company, don't
sell it just because it gets a little pricey - you may never get back in again."
He told a charming story about how he and his wife were redecorating their home
in the 1960s and wanted to buy a piano.

Tom held some shares in Disney, and while he liked the company, he
thought its stock price was a bit rich at the time, so he sold the Disney stock
to fund the purchase of the piano. Tom never got back into Disney and instead
watched it rise and rise. Years later Tom would walk through his living room,
see the piano and mutter to himself, "That's the most expensive damn piano on
the face of the planet!"

Bill Nygren, Manager, Oakmark Select Fund
Back when I was in college, I remember watching Johnny Carson interview
Andrew Tobias, who was giving personal financial advice. Johnny asked: "What's
the best investment for someone who has only $1,000?" Mr. Tobias said,
"Nonperishable consumer staples."

Of course, the audience roared. But Mr. Tobias was being serious
and said that if you purchase nonperishables when they are on sale, the return
on investment is enormous. That answer focused me on the idea that investing
wasn't only about stocks and bonds but rather was a mind-set for making sense of
all of the transactions a consumer engaged in.

aaaaand discuss.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

If it's one thing I just can't get enough of it's products with multiple uses. Finding multiple uses for one thing ranks right up there with receiving new DVDs of Six Feet Under, baking cupcakes that turn out divine and buying what I need on sale. In other words: it gets me excited. So imagine my delight when I stumbled upon all the multiple uses for baking soda. I knew I coudl use it to deodorize my fridge, I knew I could use it to clean silver jewlery, and I knew it was called for in many recipes. Holy Crap! There are more uses than even I could ever imagine. So here are my favorites:

Insect Bites
Mix baking soda and water into a thick paste and spread over infected area. Let paste sit on skin for a few minutes. Will provide you relief from the insane itchiness that accompanies those nasty little bites.

Facial Scrub
Mix baking soda and water into a thick paste and spread on face. Let sit for a minute or two then gently scrub; provides gentle exfoliation that won't irritate sensitive skin.

Fresh Breath
Eliminate dragon breath by gargling with water and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda. MMMMMM...kissable.

Cut Gas
Sprinkle baking soda over foods that usually give you gas. Unless you really like being able to clear a room in .05 seconds flat.

Mix baking soda with vinegar to create a thick paste and spread along the tub to clean grease, body oils (umm ew) and soap scum.

Use paste of baking soda and peroxide to rinse dirt off. For shine, soak jewlery overnight in mixture of vinegar and water.

Clean your sinks by mixing 1/2 c. baking soda, 1 c. vinegar and 1 c. water.

I can't even write about this without gagging a little but it's something that works: sprinkle baking soda to bring up the odors, and salt to get the liquids in the carpet. Vacuum as needed. I wouldn't do liek most college boys and actually vacuum up the vomit though, you'll forever smell the grossness everytime you vacuum.

All Purpose
Create an all purpose cleaner by using a quart of water, 4 teaspoons of baking soda and 1/2 a c. of water in spray bottle. Safe to use on: counters, windowsills and floors.

Crayon Marks
Since I live alone, it's pretty rare (i.e never) that I encounter crayon marks on my walls but I do get the occasional scuff. This will work on both: create thin baking soda/water paste and gently rub the area. Wipe clean with hot water.

Repairing Plastic
Place a few drops of super glue in the hole/indentation. While wet add baking soda. Follow this addition with a couple more drops of glue and let dry. Mixture becomes very hard, which you are able to sand, drill etc.

Skina potato and dip in baking soda. Rub the rusted area; repeat dipping potato in baking soda and rubbing until rust is gone.

Strip Wallpaper
Add a tablespoon of baking soda to bucketful of warm water. Remove wallpaper as usual.

Pest Control
Using 1 tablespoon baking soda to 1 tablespoon sugar icing. Create a trap using a container they can crawl into but can't crawl out of. The insects will eat the mixture and bloat up. Remove as necessary.

Working Woman

Tab-Front Wide Leg Pants, Gap On Sale $19.99
Knife Pleat Blouse, Forever 21 $19.80
Worthington® 'Hilary' Pump, JC Penney On Sale $29.99
Mock-Croc Laptop Tote Bag, Walmart $25.00
Silvertone Dark Red CZ Solitaire Ring, $11.99

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I subscribe to Get Rich Slowly's blog, in which everyday articles are sent to my email. Often times, in reading what J.D has posted I get great ideas for my own blog. Additionally, he makes me feel better about those times when I wish I could spend every last dime I posess. So it isn't a shock that I read a particularly noteworthy entry on his blog, one in which I feel I should also spread. It's the art of living simply.

In reading many personal finance blogs and books, I often find their stance on spending to grow tiresome. I feel like spending money on frivilous items is a waste and I should be saving every last penny. While I do agree with the concept of saving as opposed to spending, I still believe I deserve to get a massage one month or splurge on that dress I've been coveting. My guilt is entirely self-imposed, but yet, I have not found an escape for it. Reading Get Rich Slowly's article "Five Tactics for Pursuing Voluntary Simplicity" actually eased this stress a bit. In this article, another article from Wise Bread is drawn upon, which actually originated the train of thought regarding this matter.

So, what is voluntary simplicity? It's choosing to live a life of simplicity as opposed to a life focused on money. Instead of choosing a career based upon salary, you're choosing a position in which you truly enjoy; a position that is, perhaps, more fulfilling regardless of pay. Wise Bread goes on to say,

Choosing to live simply doesn’t mean that you have to give up all the cool
stuff you want. It means, rather, that you have to focus on a small number of
wants — the ones that matter the most to you.

It's this statement I found, that resonated with me. AH HA! So living a life of frugal choices and maximum savings isn't about depriving myself of the things I hold most dear, but rather focusing on what I find most important (spa treatments, makeup and shoes) and eliminating or cutting back on the things that are not (cable, clothes, and expensive food). Obviously, different people are going to have different priorities and place their emphasis on other aspects and these priorities will likely change over time. I can not see myself still placing a large emphasis on shoes when I have a child to raise and food may become a high priority. But oh the freedom of wanting a few things instead of wanting everything!

Get Rich Slowly illustrated five excellent ways to pursue this life of simple living and, instead of paraphrasing and not doing the article justice, here are the steps verbatim:

1. Live intentionally. Decide what’s important to you and what you want to do
with your life. Set goals. Be aware of why you’re spending your money. Try to make conscious decisions, and not just react out of emotion.
2. Raise some capital. Personal finance isn’t all about saving, Brewer argues. It’s not all about living cheaply, either. It’s about finding a middle ground that works for you. But every goal will require some money to back it up. Prepare for
emergencies, invest for the future, and use your money to support your values.
3. Find your true calling. “Find meaningful work, so that you can spend your
time doing something that you care about,” Brewer writes. Saving and investing
don’t just yield financial benefits, he says, but they also allow you to choose a vocation instead of basing your job decisions only on salary.
4. Do it yourself. This notion has figured prominently in my thinking lately:
that whenever possible, I want to do things myself instead of paying to have
them done. (This probably has something to do with the fact that I just spent several thousand dollars on a re-wiring project.) There’s a lot of satisfaction to be derived (and often money saved) from growing your own food, repairing your own home, and maintaining your own car.
5. Value community and experiences over stuff. You are not what you own; you are what you do. It took me a long time (nearly forty years) to realize this. I still haven’t fully wrapped my mind around it. But like Brewer, I’m coming to understand that it is relationships and experiences that give life meaning.

For more on the philosophy of money check out Wise Bread's blog.

Monday, July 21, 2008

I love decorating. Something about being able to let the creativity flow and make my space a home, I've just always been drawn to it. Unfortunately, my wallet is unable to support this hobby so I've found some interesting ways to spruce up my living quarters on a budget.

This is the most useful tip I can give. Before beginnning on a massive overhaul of your place, start by getting rid, or hiding, the clutter. The truth is half the stuff we own, we don't use. This is particularly true when you live in a house because the large space allows you to take on a pack rat mentality. Go through your stuff and if you haven't used it (or maybe you don't even know where it came from to begin with) get rid of it. You can sell this stuff on ebay or craigslist and donate what you can't sell. The rest of the clutter you have (let's face it; we all have it) disguise by creating a method to the madness. Organize in baskets, containers or closets. This way everything has a place and it helps give your rooms a calm atmosphere.

Jazz Up the Walls
Furniture can be a neccessary expense, but wall decor? You can easily add maximum bang for minimal buck.


  • I found this idea recently, scrolling through Domino Magazine's website. Cover small sections of the wall with satin polyurethane. Then using pages from old books, place each page seperately on the covered space. Seal with another layer of polyurethane. Working in small sections at a time complete the process until you've papered the section of wall you wish to cover. This look is perfect for an office/den or even a guestroom.

  • Ikea has these great little art cards, 5 for $5.00. Makes a perfect set of art for cheap, doncha think? You can pin to wall with thumbtacks in a block of five or ten, secure with 3m tape dots or find 4x6 frames and make it legit (ish). These cute little cups would be perfect in a breakfast nook or kitchen.

  • Multiple Uses for Decals
    You can find Blik Wall Stiks at Urban Outfitters for around $45.00. These removable decals are especially great for apartments where painting or wallpapering walls isn't exactly ideal. You can also use removable decals on furniture, where a coat of paint just isn't working for you. Also try on cupboards, toilet tanks and shelving. A moderately priced feature that allows you to change it up as easily as you change your socks (which I hope you do every day....)

    I love wood flooring. Not only is it so "now," there's a certain warmth you get with it that can not be obtained with carpeting. Not to mention, I think it's much easier to clean. But oh! The expense. Sooo why not use wine crates for small spaces that long for the rugged feel of wood? (ooer) Get crates from a local liquor store and take apart. Cut the sides (or have someone who's handy with a saw do it for you) so that they are even and planed to the same depth. Install using antiqued or old nails and seal with polyurethane.

    Feel free to share any budget ideas you have in decorating!

    Wednesday, July 16, 2008

    Mixit® Ruffle Sleeveless Top JCPenney, On Sale $17.99
    Padmini Denim Short Forever 21, $19.80
    Jatara Sandal in Tan Payless, $24.99
    Gold Studded Bracelet Claire's, $10.50
    Flat Gold Bracelet Set Claire's, $7.00
    Forolk Handbag Aldo, On Sale $24.98

    Tuesday, July 15, 2008

    I'm tired of eating healthy. There I said it, let the gasps abound. Though I could give in to my sweet tooth and eat about a gallon of ice cream or an entire pan of brownies, maybe i'll just indulge in some of these yummies for under $25

    My parents have always been frugal. Not cheap, because when they splurged they really splurged, however, they do not live a lifestyle congruent with their positioning in the class system. My father is a vice president of an energy company and my mother works for a association that deals with trial lawyers. They do not live in the lap of luxury, and for the life of me I never understood this. Why wouldn't my mother go out and buy expensive handbags and big diamonds? Why doesn't my dad drive the latest model sportscar? And why are we living in the same house we've lived in since I was two?? As a materialistic (yes, I admit I am) and money-driven individual, my parent's lifestyle was inconceivable to me and I vowed I would not live the way they do: simply.

    I've been reading The Millionaire Next Door lately and an intresting concept jumped out at me (actually, it's the fundamental concept of the entire book). The difference between a UAW and a PAW. What do those mean? Well according to the book, UAW stands for Under Accumulator of Wealth where wealth is defined as an individual's net worth. Don't be confused and assume this refers to how much one makes a year, but rather, how much does the indivudal have in investments, CDs, money markets and the bank. A PAW, as you may have assumed, is a Prodigious Accumulator of Wealth, or someone who has a high net worth.

    This concept: the idea of being a UAW versus a PAW made me think about saving and living frugal in a whole new way. Turns out that typically, a UAW earns a rather large income but spends the majority of it, while the PAW may make a large amount a year (or not), but lives off only a fraction of this. The entire underlying focus is: living beneath your means.

    Now I'm sure you're asking yourself, "Well, what's the point in working your tail off to not enjoy the fruits of your labor?" and I think that is an incredibly valid inquiry. One in which I am struggling to answer myself. I think the key to living this way is to a) not entirely deprive yourself and b) take solace in knowing that should you lose your job tomorrow you are able to sustain your lifestyle for quite some time. If you're living in a mansion, driving a Benz, how likely will you be able to support this lifestyle when you retire or lose your job? The answer is: you won't. Because you have very little in the bank, and a high consumption rate your lifestyle would change dramatically. You are now working in order to live.

    As a PAW, you may not be driving the nicest car, you may not have that yacht, or that Chanel suit, but the difference is: you can afford to if you really wanted. I believe that my position has changed after learning PAW and UAW and what it means to be either of them. My parents are a perfect example of a PAW: frugal, living off a fraction of their income and living a fulfilled life with nice things (albeit not extravagant). What a relief to be able to plop down a large amount of money when unexpected twists and turns leads to a financial obligation you weren't anticipating. When your kids need help financially, how comforting to know you can give them assistance without feeling the pinch in yoru purse. I have been extremely blessed with all that my parents have been able to provide for me, and now I believe it is my turn to become a PAW so I can live a life with financial independence. I finally understand their way of living and I plan to emulate it.....even if it means havign to tell my parents they were right ;)

    Monday, July 14, 2008

    So you've been saving your pennies and dimes and have built up a substantial amount of money. What do you do with it? Do not just let it sit in savings, even if it is a high yield Account. Why? Because when you're only earning 3.00%APY and inflation is 4%...well you do the math. Here is my (very non-professional) basic advice.

    First off, you want to have an emergency fund which equals approximately 3-6 months of your monthly income. This chunk of money benefits you when you incur large, unexpected costs (and no, I'm not talking about that to-die-for Chloe handbag). This is also your safety net should anything happen to your job. Life is full of unexpected twists and turns and by having an account ready it minimizes the risk that you will turn to credit when in need. I recommend keeping this fund in your high yield account since these account allow easy use and transfer of money when you're in a pinch.

    The key to building investments is to use passive income as your goal. Passive income is defined as income which is sustained through little work. Sounds like a dream doesn't it? Well it takes a large chunk of moolah to generate enough passive income to quit your day job and begin your dream of moonlighting as a professional karoke singer. However, you can use the passive income you generate, no matter what the amount, to either a) reinvest or b) use as a monthly supplement to what you are already making. (I say reinvest...oh did you guess that already?)

    Learn the Basics
    Ok, ok I hear you panicking now. You know nothing about investing? Well, my soon-to-be money savvy friends, that's what a library is for. Stock up on books such as The Lazy Person's Guide to Investing and Boglehead's Guide to Investing both of which come highly recommended and pack in a lot of great information for the investing novice. Learn key facts such as the difference between Small-, Mid-, and Large-cap funds. How do the funds classification correspond with your goals? And also learn when a stock, versus a mutal fund versus a bond is more preferrable (hint: none of them are a perfect choice, but some align more with your objective than others).

    Utilize Your Advantages
    An important factor to keep in mind is you're young! You have the golden nugget of time on your side and therefore have a greater ability to choose options that may carry more risk. Most trends show that in the short-term stocks come at a very high risk, but hold on to those babies and you can see significant returns. The longer you have to hold onto your investments the more risk you're able to take on since dips and valleys may very well hardly register 5 or 10 years from now.

    Stop Being a Sheep (baaa)
    There's a reason why the majority of people do not day-trade for a living. People often fall into the trap of buying a stock when it has hit big and selling the minute they see a decline. You can not get rich by following trend, but rather buying quality stocks at bargain prices (my good pal Warren Buffet said that). Buy low then hang in there for the further lows that may follow. You know your risk is fairly less when you invest in stock that isn't "the next big thing" but rather a steady earner throughout time.

    Know your Aptitude

    It's difficult managing a laod of individual stocks, which is why I would say stick with mutual funds. What are these? Well, a mutual fund pools money from multiple investors to construct a portfolio of stocks, bonds, real estate, or other securities, according to its charter. Each investor in the fund gets a slice of the total pie. So how do you measure a fund's risk? It takes some analysis on your part:

    1. What is the fund's biggest quarterly loss?
    2. Measure the fund's volatility against the S&P 500 ("the mainstream fund" if you will)
    3. Calculate the standard deviation: this will show you how much the fund bounces in its average returns.

    Don't Dump a Loser
    Ok, dump a loser if we're discussing your love life here. But with funds, any and all will have an off-year. This is why it is important to benchmark against the S&P 500 as well as check to see if it has trailed comparable funds for more than two years. If it hasn't, hang int here. Through benchmarking the rough patches, you can determine if this is an industry- or market-wide occurance or if you have a real stinker on your hands.

    Remember the key to building your portfolio is not about getting rich quick but, instead, finding stocks and funds that match your goals and holding onto these guys.

    Friday, July 11, 2008

    Because that stuff's getting expensive!

    The cost of one gallon of Safeway Lucerne 2% Reduced Fat Milk clocks in at a whopping $3.99 here in Southern Cali. So what can you do to ease this cost burden a bit? Switch to powdered milk. OK, so you're probably picturing yourself waking up in the morning and pouring you cereal and chocking it down with some powered stuff sprinked on it. It doesn't work like that. Following the directions on the container, you typically mix water with powered milk. Reconstituted, powdered milk tastes very similar to skim milk, and you can find whole dry milk though it is rare.

    So you get some dry milk, mix it up and then want to kill me because it tastes chalky and weird. Stick with me readers and read these tips from Hillbilly House Wife:

    • Fill your pitcher or container with half the amount of water you will be using. Measure in the appropriate amount of dry milk powder. Stir to dissolve. Fill the pitcher with the balance of the water called for above. Stir again and chill.

    • Use cool water when possible. The powder tends to dissolve more readily in cool water.

    • Stir the milk a lot, to dissolve the milk powder. Then let the milk sit for a little while and stir again. The protein in the milk powder blends most easily if it gets a chance to stand after mixing.

    • Chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.

    • Add flavor by dropping one or two drips of vanilla to improve the flavor. You can also add a spoonful or two of sugar for the same purpose.

    You can even use it in baking with no detectable difference.

    Sweetened Condensed Milk

    1 c. instant nonfat dry milk solids

    2/3 c. sugar

    1/3 c. boiling water

    3T. melted margarine

    Combine all ingredients in blender. Process until smooth. Store in refridgerator until ready to use. Yield: 1 1/4 cups for $.60


    Use only half of the required water

    Instant Hot Cocoa Mix

    1/3 c. dry milk

    1 t. sugar

    1 t. cocoa

    1 c water

    Heat in mircowave for two minutes

    Not ready to switch to full dry milk consumption? You can stretch your gallon by using half milk half dry milk (with water).

    Thursday, July 10, 2008

    Lux Deep V Crossback Top Urban Outfitters On Sale $14.99
    Bongo® Distressed Denim Bermuda Shorts Kohls On Sale $14.99
    Mixed Charm Necklace Forever 21 $4.80
    Whale Canvas Hobo Forever 21 $19.90
    Button Decor Fedora Go Jane On Sale $18.99
    Charles Albert Candice Shoe Buckle On Sale $9.75

    Wednesday, July 9, 2008

    OK, so I realize the majority of young, female professionals balk at the idea of digging through...trash. I understand that, no really I do! But do you even know how much stuff you can find? With a quick coat of paint, or a tweak here and there and you can find amazing useful things for your abode.

    A few months ago I was walking out to go to work and I noticed a box of great stuff sitting outside the dumpster. One simple look yieled glass candlestick holders and a cute picture frame that held many photos (still in it's original Target box). I took the frame for my desk at work and promised to come back later that day. So I did, and lo and behold the box had vanished. Lesson number one of dumpster diving was learned that day: get to know your neighborhood trash pick-up schedule. Other lessons learned are as follows:

    Hunt around the dorm trash bins around the same time finals are happening (and especially immediately after) and you're bound to pick up some useful things. When I was in college my best friend managed to pick up a stereo and entertainment center from a back alley. The nicer the school, the better the stuff. But then, that's just common knowledge.

    Scope Then Scoop
    Scope out places of interest (apartment buildings, notable neighborhoods) and learn the trash pick up schedule. Also, often times apartments have an unofficial dumping area for free stuff. You can typically spot this because someone puts furniture in that area and the place quickly becomes populated with other orphaned odds and ends.

    Stay Within the Law
    So I've been known to bend a few rules here and there. However, in some states dumpster diving is illegal. I highly suggest you learn the law before you venture out; at least then you know to keep a low profile. Also, avoid mail at all costs. Be respectful of other's trash and avoid potentionally personal information.

    Broken Doesn't Eliminate Use

    You may find something that needs more than just a coat of paint. Don't disregard the item simply because the previous owner lacked the imagination or motivation to envision the piece as it should be rather than as it is. A great way to read up on fix-it how to's is online at Home Depot. With a simple tutorial and the right tools, you're only limited to what you can't concieve (well ok and the number of injuries you may incur before throwing in the towel....) If it doesn't work out, just put it right back in the dumpster.

    Use Dumpsters to Make Money

    Just becaus eyou may not necessarily need another coffee table doesn't mean you can't take it in, give it a little love and resell if on Craigslist. Even if you sell it for 15 bucks: it cost you nothing to acquire.

    Recommended Tools

    • Flashlight
    • Gloves
    • Baby or Anti-Bacterial Wipes
    • Long Stick (to use in probing stuff you don't really want to touch)
    • Bags (grocery or otherwise to collect your items)
    • Step Stool (so you can peer over the rim of the dumpster)
    • Razor Blade (to rip open boxes or bags)
    • Pepper Spray
    Use Common Sense

    Evaluate the safety of the situation you're in. Is the dumpster attached to a trash compactor? Is the dumpster locked up? Use common sense and if the object of desire is soaked in mystery liquid...just don't. Make sure to go with a buddy should you choose to embark on your treasure hunting during the night and just remember to be safe.

    Stores to Check Out

    I would look at craft stores, discount retailers (like TJ Maxx), party supply stores, drugstores, discount or used bookstores and maybe even grocery stores. Strip malls are better bets. Malls? Probably not. You're more likely to find furniture and appliances at apartments and in neighborhoods but stores offer great chances to score greeting cards, books, decorations and odds and ends.

    Monday, July 7, 2008

    When I moved into my studio apartment, no microwave was to be found. Three months later, I still haven’t gotten around to buying one and I’ve realized something astounding. Not having a microwave has helped me save money. How? I’m less tempted to buy convenience foods (why buy Lean Cuisine when I can’t cook it?) and have become more familiar with cooking and utilizing the tools readily available to me. I am by no means a rockstar in the kitchen but that's all changing (hellooo grilled chicken of last week). What tools are a must (stove, refrigerator and oven are givens) for beginning any culinary adventure?

    I bought a 3 QT Crockpot for $16.00. This is an excellent tool for making sauces, stews and chili. Great time saver too, put your ingredients in the pot before you leave for work, come home to a delicious meal.

    Knives come in handy when you need to…er…well cut things. Forget the deluxe 32 piece knife set. Unnecessary for someone just starting out (plus that’s just 32 different ways you can cut yourself), get a pairing knife and a chef’s knife and you’ll have everything you need. You can find perfectly suitable knives at Target or a discount retailer like TJ Maxx.

    Toaster Oven
    I use this to reheat leftovers, bake potatoes and toast bread. 3 in 1 use? Aces!

    Cutting Board

    Because cutting on the counters= very bad

    This allows you to grate veggies, cheese, fruit (did someone say lemon zest?) and even breadcrumbs. Preferably not all together…

    Two Baking Pans and a Baking Sheet
    Perfect for cooking chicken, baking desserts and making casseroles. You don’t need a plethora of baking pans, two sized will suffice. A 9x9 for your smaller side dishes and a larger 9x13 will certainly cover your bases.

    Two Pots and a Skillet
    I have two pots, a large one and a medium one. I use these to reheat leftovers, cook vegetables and make small amounts of gravy, sauce and the like. The skillet is excellent for eggs, breakfast items and cooking your meat. That’s it, I haven’t yet found a need for one of those cooking pot sets that comes with 10 different sizes of pots. One day I will, and then I will ask for it for Christmas ;)

    Spice Rack
    Preferably loaded with your basic spices. I enjoy the spice array: basil, oregano, cinnamon, garlic powder, onion powder and nutmeg.

    Thursday, July 3, 2008

    For this edition of Thrifty Find Thursday I though I'd honor the holiday with a partiotic outfit appropriate for hitting the beach or relaxing poolside. Enjoy!

    Striped Convertible Bandeau Top Gap on Sale $14.99
    Striped Keyhole Hipster Gap on Sale $14.99
    Women's Long Gumball Necklace Old Navy $16.50
    Women's Rope T-Strap Sandals Old Navy on Sale $19.50
    Women's Racerback Tank Dress Old Navy $15.00

    Monday, June 30, 2008

    So lately I've been noticing a distinct enlargement of my mid-section through over-indulging and lack of exercise. I've never been one for working out like a mad woman, but I do enjoy physical activity and to be honest the hardest part is getting motivated to begin. So I recently began reading a book I've had for about a year (yes, and I'm just now reading it): YOU On a Diet which outlines a whole plan for thinking about food differently and incorporating daily activity into your life. The best part? Exercise can be done easily in the comfort of your own home.

    I know it's hard to think that one can work up a significant sweat without the use of heavy duty equipment and a cute trainer (mmm....pecs) but the workout outlined in YOU On a Diet is not only easy to follow (takes about 20 minutes from start to finish) it's cheap! Should be done 3-4 times a week.
    1: (Stretch) Roll with It 5 reps ea. shoulder
    Basic move. Roll your shoulders forward for a count of ten then backward.

    2: The Chest Cross 25 reps ea. shoulder
    This is a 2 part exercise. 1)Stretch arms out straight in front of you w/ palms facing in. Left arm above right arm pulse horizontally. repeat with right arm above left. 2) Move hands rapidly up and down. For the arm going up: palm faces the ceiling. For the arm going down: palm faces the floor.

    3. (Stretch) The Clapper 10 reps
    Just like it sounds. In a standing position clap in front of you; then bring the arms behind you and clap behind you. Make sure to keep your chest lifted through the duration of the movement.

    4. (Stretch) The Hippie 15 seconds ea. side
    With feet flat on the ground, bend forward at the waist. Alternate bending one knee and keeping the other leg straight (both feet should remain flat).

    5. Push Up exercise to failure (basically: go until you can't anymore)
    If you can not do a full body push-up (ummm me), do push ups with knees bent. Make sure you keep your stomach muscles tight and your chin slightly up (look 6in past your fingers)

    6. (Stretch) Pecs Flex
    Sit up straight on your heels and clasp your hands behind your bum. Lift arms (knuckles facing out) while opening chest wide. Make sure to squeeze your shoulder blades together and breathe into the muscles being stretched.

    7. Steady on the Plank exercise to failure
    Get into full push-up position with elbows and toes on the floor. Kepp your bum tight and your stomach pulled in toward your lower back. Hold position.

    8. Whose Side Are You On, Anyway? exercise to failure
    Turn to the side by putting an elbow on the floor and rotating the opposite hip toward the ceiling. Keep your body in a straight line and resist pushing your butt back. Keep your abs tight as you hold the position for as long as you can. Alternate sides. Advanced Modification: dropping your hip, tapping it on the floor and bringing it back into the lateral plank.

    9. (Stretch) Up, Dog, Up 10 seconds ea. position
    From a down push-up position, with your hands below your shoulders, lift your chest and torso up into the air so your upper body is nearly perpendicular to the floor as you come onto the tops of your bare feet. Lean backwards to stretch your abdominals, but keep your butt relaxed. After holding, look over your right shoulder; hold. Left shoulder; hold.
    10. The Rickety Table 20 reps ea. side
    Put your hands and knees flat on the floor with your fingers spread apart and pointing directly forward. Keep your back flat and parallel to the floor. Look down 6in above your fingertips. Reach your right hand forward and your left foot back and stretch them as far away from each other as possible, keeping your right hand higher than your head. The higher your arms goes up, the more work your back has to do and the more effective the exercise. Now, bring your right elbow to your left knee. Your stomach should be pulled in the entire time, supporting your lower back. Advanced Modification: move your arm and leg out at a right angle from body, keeping them above your spine.

    11. Superman exercise to failure; goal: 1 minute
    Lie flat on your stomach, reaching your arms out in front of you with palms down. Spread out your extremities straight out in all four directions and lift your arms and legs simultaneously for enough repetitions to cause some mild fatigue. Continue to look down during the movement, and don't over extend your neck up. Focus on how long you can make your body-not how high you can get it.

    12. (Stretch) The Seated Pretzel
    Sit down with legs stretched in front of you. Set your right foot down on the outside of your left knee. For back support, put your right hand behind your right butt cheek. Bring your left toe straight up. Reach your left hand up like a stop sign and then twist to right and bring your left tricep to outside of the right thigh. To go deeper, twist more to apply pressure against your right thigh. Act like a string is pulling the top of your head up to elongate the spine. Breathe by expanding your rib cage like you are blowing up a balloon.

    13. Leg Drop (like it's hot) exercise to failure
    Lie on your back and put your knees at a 90-degree angle and your feet in the air. Drop your heels down, tap the mat, and bring back up to 90-degrees. Advance Modification: Do it with straight legs

    14. X Crunch exercise to failure
    Lie on your back with your feet on the ground and knees at a 45-degree angle. Cross your arms behind your head, putting your opposite hand to opposite shoulder forming an X behind your head. Rest your head in this X and keep your neck loose (in the beginning, you can put a tennis ball under your chin as a reminder). Using your abdominal muscles, crunch up about 30 degrees from the floor. Without holding your breath, you need to suck in your belly button to the floor to tighten the natural girdle you have to keep the entire 6-pack tight (oh it's in there). Also pull up your pelvis muscles (like when you are holding in your pee) to strengthen the bottom of the natural girdle.

    15. Seated Drop Kick 2 sets of 25 reps ea. leg
    Sit with your legs straight out in front of you. Bend your right leg up with knee pointing towards the ceiling. To keep your back straight, interweave your hands around this knee. Act like there is a string pulling from the top of your head elongating your spine (and don't bob your head). Lift your left straight leg 6in of the ground, keep your left toe pointed towards the ceiling.

    16. Invisible Chair exercise to failure; goal: 2 minutes
    Sit in a chair position (with no chair!) with your back against a wall, and with your hands palms up resting on your knees. Keep furniture near you or under you, so you can grab it to help yourself back up when you're done. Keep your heels directly below your knees and at a 90-degree angle; your shoulders should be rolled back and the back of your head against wall.

    17. (Stretch) Nice Thighs 20 seconds ea. leg
    While standing on one leg, bend the knee of the opposite leg and grab the foot behind your back with one hand (use one arm to hold something to keep balanced). Pull the foot toward your butt while lifting your chest forward and squeezing your shoulder blades together. Switch legs.
    Combine these exercises with 30 minutes of daily cardiovascular exercise (can be broken into chunks throughout the day) and you'll be on your way to Fergielicious-ness...or at elast you won't be dying after climbing a flight of steps.
    Picture and Workout Source: YOU: On a Diet, by Dr. Michael Roizen and Dr. Mehmet Oz