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
Shoes.com, 15% Off [code: JULYSAVE]
C&H Sugar, $.55 off any two
Scott Tissue, $1.00 off
Barnes & Noble.com, %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
7/16-9/3
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

Banksy


Check out his work here: http://www.banksy.co.uk/menu.html. 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
stock.
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
marketplace.


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:


BODY
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.

CLEANING
Bath
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.

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

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

Vomit
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.

DIY
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.

Rust
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, Overstock.com $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.

Declutter
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.

Wallpaper

  • 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....)

    Flooring
    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

    Cream

    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:

    Finals=Treasure
    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?

    Crockpot
    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
    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

    Grater
    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