Frugal Beautiful

Archive for the ‘Lifestyle’ Category

Heart Sympathy FlowersRelationships can be changed or strained in times of stress-  being responsive and supportive in times of grief, illness or personal troubles is probably the most important time to foster your relationships, and it doesn’t have to cost anything.


Illness and death are two facts of life that usually come at unexpected times.  It’s vital to promptly show  your support as fastidiously as possible, but also to do a follow-up weeks after.  We often think of sympathy cards and flower arrangements, but as we know, the best things in life are free- or at least, inexpensive!

 

-Have Sympathy, Thinking Of You and Get Well Notes on Hand: Promptness is key and sometimes it’s impossible to get to a store to buy cards and get it in the mail quickly.  Sadly, sometimes the hassle of getting to a card store might prevent us from taking steps to express our condolences.  Purchase a pack of cards ahead of time, so that if you’re in a pinch and cannot go hand-pick one out, you can at least get something in the mail with a heartfelt note promptly.  Cards can be picked up 2/1.00 at a Dollar Store, or in a 10 pack at Hallmark or other card stores.  The card doesn’t have to be expensive, but getting it out quickly and with the right sentiment is what counts to make a statement.

-Realize You Don’t Have to Send Expensive Flowers: It’s easy to feel intimidated when someone you know is going through a rough time, especially if you aren’t sure how to express yourself to them- having a bouquet or plant sent can be an easy way to show you care without having to verbalize your sentiments, but sending flowers will easily cost $40-$100, and purchasing them remotely might yield less than great results.  A house plant, hand-delivered will be cheaper and quite possibly, more meaningful.

If you feel the need to give a gift, know a small donation to a charity in honor of someone in any amount can be a very heartfelt gesture.  You don’t have disclose how much was donated, but knowing that a charitable gift was made in their honor, or for someone they’re grieving could let someone know you care.

-Know That Even When You Don’t Know What To Say, You Need To Say It: Everyone deals with bad news and loss differently- I admit, even though I have lost dear loved ones and know what it can “feel like,” it sometimes is hard to reach out and articulate my sadness for someone going through that process on their own.  Step out of your comfort zone (we all have to in these situations) and make a phone call, send a card, stop in and bring food.

-Offer A Helping Hand: When someone falls ill or passes away, often their family has a hard time taking care of themselves.  Offering to walk their dog, babysit their children, bringing a meal or bringing in their mail and other small gestures are often what’s overlooked.  If you’re good friends with someone who just lost a loved one, stopping by for a visit or getting them out of the house for a bit of distraction or a heart-to-heart talk might be the best course of action.

-Forgive One Another: Nobody is an expert at grieving or healing.  An unexpected diagnosis or the loss of a family member can unearth an array of unanticipated feelings in both the people directly affected, and their circle of friends.  Some people shy away from confronting their feelings, other simply shy away from reaching out because they don’t know how.  Do you best, offer your help- and if it isn’t accepted or you see other people not offering to help, realize they are just dealing with the stress the best they can.

-Know There Isn’t A Set Timetable For Coping or Supporting: Whether or not you expressed your support initially after hearing of someone’s sad news- it is not too late to show it now.  Additionally, if you were able to reach out promptly after an event happened, it’s probably a good idea to call, email or write to follow up with that person.  Small gestures, even weeks after can mean the world to someone.

 

I understand, as both a person who has gone through it, and one who hasn’t reached out when I should have, that it’s difficult to navigate times of loss and illness.  Two years ago, I lost my Gram (who I took care of and loved like a mother) and my dear friend/ mentor in the same weekend.  In the wake of that loss, I became closer with some and alienated with others- I realize now, some folks just didn’t know how to reach out or didn’t know they should.  During that time, small gestures made a world of difference to me, and every day was different- some days I needed to be alone, others, friends knew “being alone,” was a cop-out and dragged my butt out of the house or simply stayed in to visit, to which I am so grateful.  Events like this leave all of us feeling lost- we don’t know how we “should” act, but the truth is, either as the bereaved or a friend of the bereaved, it’s not as important to stress over you “should” do, but simply that you do it.

If you were to look in my Itunes account, this is exactly what you’d see:

The Suze Orman Show Podcast

I LOVE Suze Orman!  I adore the “Can I Afford It?” segment!  The stuff people buy is hilarious!  But beyond that- even if some of the financial talk is over your head, she speaks on some core heart issues- like helping out loved ones in need, long term planning and the correlation between our self image and our spending.  Brilliant!

 

BlogcastFM

This is a podcast about blogging- but often the interviews and personal stories of bloggers is what makes this podcast so great.  Truly blogging is a very unique industry, and the bloggers themselves are even more so!   This podcast offers some much needed guidance to make happy blogs and even happier bloggers.

 

 

 

In the Den with Dr. Jenn - Season 3In The Den With Dr. Jenn

This video podcast has been a favorite of mine for years!  Not only has Dr. Jenn taught at my Alma Mater, but she knows how to throw one heck of a party even in podcast form!  She tackles a variety of topics pertaining to women’s health in an unpredictable and entertaining way.  Totally recommended!

 

Morning Coach

This podcast is excellent to be paired with a cup of coffee in the morning!  Sometimes a little dose of “audio caffeine”  is exactly what you need to kick start your day!

 

 

 

The Daily Boost

If Morning Coach is caffeine, this is like a Monster energy drink in terms if measure solely on pep.  He’s got a radio talk-show host voice and plenty of spunk, especially good for those of us who have a “case of the Mondays” pretty much every day of the week.

 

 

 

The Smart Passive Income Podcast: Online Business | Blogging | Passive Income | Lifestyle

 

The Smart Passive Income Podcast w/ Pat Flynn

If you’re like me, a person who has been using the interwebs for ages but has *no* clue how it really “works,” and how people can monetize their time on it- well, this is the podcast is for you.

 

 

 

Anderson Cooper 360° Podcast

I love this podcast because it’s about all the news I can take in a day.  Small doses of decent coverage with a little bit of humor tacked on at the end.  Plus, Anderson is such a good lookin’ guy even the Egyptians want to hit that…literally…in the face.

Many of us turn to frugality to save money and thus, to be happy.  But perhaps being happy is the key to saving money and frugality?


I was listening to some podcasts today at BlogCastFM where the podcasters were discussing the correlation between following your passions and saving money.  David Cain, the session guest, explained that while he was working a full time job, he found he was making more money, but he was often really stressed and paying more money for the sake of convenience.  When he was following his passions, he was so enraptured in the experiences, he was making less but needed to consume less to sustain himself emotionally and physically.

I think we’ve all had instances where we work ourselves to exhaustion- and shopping can feel like a great escape.  After all, we’ve worked so hard, we need something new and shiny to reward ourselves, right?  Especially if we hate our job, it’s easier to justify buying things we haven’t given much thought to.

I’ve written before about the issue of what our time is worth– and I admit, it’s hard to imagine cutting back your work hours in order to focus on yourself, but what would you do with that free time?  If you really spent just 4 hours a week less at work, would you be able to fill your time with something you love?  Perhaps it’s helpful to think of it this way next time you’re staring down an impulse buy that you just “gotta have”- how many hours of work will this item cost and why are you really buying it?  Perhaps you’re buying it to feel better about yourself, or to zone out after a long day, or to reward yourself- but are these little things distractions from the bigger (and happier) picture?

Now of course, this is not to say that everyone has this choice-  some people have intense work schedules because they absolutely have to.  Not everyone is financially stable enough, or works in a career that allows them the flexibility to be able to cut back on their work week- but that’s not who I’m speaking to.   I’m looking at those of you who “work to play,” and then have to “work to pay it off,” -perhaps it’s time to stop the cycle?

How much do you spend on fast food because you simply “don’t have time too cook?” or are you paying other people to do things you simply “don’t have time for,” (like walking the dog, watching the kids, mowing the lawn, etc)  since you’re at your job?  Sometimes having extra help is a luxury to help us out with chores we’d rather not do- other times though, the luxuries of quick food and hired help are a distraction from a work life that robs us of our personal life.

Our jobs enable us to sustain a living- to buy food, to pay for housing, to be able to afford gifts and trinkets and perks- but what is your job holding you back from?  Are you afraid that taking a dream vacation, or even taking time off work to just veg-out and relax would “cost” too much?  But how much are you spending to sustain a life you aren’t enjoying?

Since starting FruBu, I’ve noticed my spending has decreased dramatically. Though I read way more fashion blogs, and see way more ads than I have before, but I’m buying far less.   I am often so consumed in blogging and am so satisfied and challenged by it, that the compulsion to “fill up” my life with stuff is nearly gone.   Taking a step back from the daily grind to schedule in more personal time seems like a cop-out, but honestly, I’ve never felt more in control- especially in terms of my finances.

The more time you have that is truly “yours” the less time and money you will spend on what doesn’t matter.


Want to get inspired?  The Day Zero Project  is the ultimate online source for making a goal list you can get excited about- and it’s free!

I have always been a fan of making lifetime “To-Do,” lists on paper- but what better way to connect to the world at large and get ideas than to do it in on an online community with the same ideas in mind?  Have dreams of going on a wine tour? Visiting Disney World?  Going back to school? Getting out of debt?  The Day Zero project allows users to compile a list of up to 101 personal goals of their choosing to complete within the next 1001 days.

I started my list and ended up with only 45 for now, but there are tools to help you see what other people are thinking up and to even gauge what goals get you the most excited!  You can check out my list and watch my progress at the link below!  Good luck!

http://dayzeroproject.com/user/FrugalBeautiful

Living a frugal beautiful life is not just about saving money.  Being charitable is just one aspect of living your best life,  even if it’s just $1 a month.   Enter, LoveDrop.

Love Drop is a micro-giving network of people who unite as a community to make a difference in the lives of one person or family a month. By giving just $1.00, they make it easy for their members to change lives in a fun and super easy way.

At the end of every month, Nate and J$ show up in the town the families live in and present them with everything the team raised — all the money, the gifts, whatever the community helped get. It’s all on film, and it all ends with us making a difference! (And then it starts all over again the next month)
This month we are coming together for 2 beautiful kids with severe autism — Ethan & Alex. Our goal is to raise $13,000 so we can get them a highly trained service dog. And if possible, two iPads so they can speak again (they can’t even say “I love you” to their mom — these iPads allow them to get their voice back). Here are 3 ways you can help:

  1. Join the team – This is the best way to help out, and all it takes is $1.00.
  2. Join our blogger network – Blog about our Love Drops each month like I am 🙂 It’s easy, it’s rewarding, and it REALLY helps spread the word (which in turn helps our families). Love Drop will give you all the content you need.
  3. Give a gift or provide a service – Gift cards (iTunes would be great!), two iPads (so we can help the boys speak again!), and anything else you think could help out.

My Mac picks up chicks all the time

Money is tight.  I loathe credit card debt.  I work a part-time job and am a full-time student with plenty of expenses.  How could I possibly get a second job on top of this?  If you need more income, it’s easier than you think.

Simple Ideas to Increase Your Cash Flow:

-Sign up with a temp agency or simply find a niche you’d excel at and promote yourself. Babysitting, dog walking, dog washing, house cleaning, etc. has low/no startup costs.   You can post flyers around town or post online through blogging, craigslist, etc. Simple.  To actually start a business will require more effort (and legal know-how) but offering your services to friends could be a way to make a few quick bucks.

-Sell your cr*p. Gazelle, Ebay, Amazon, Craigslist. Sell, Sell, Sell.  If not for the money, the simple act of purging what you don’t need will bring better things into your life.

-If you’re not earning, you should be learning. Find holes in your resume and fill it.  Learn new computer skills (this is key) that can make you competitive, or get some volunteer/internship experience so you can have a competitive edge.  Check out Ehow.com, Lynda.com and check out Google Blog Search for resources on what you need to know.

-Start networking. This is the scary part- talking to people about your goals and dreams.  If someone is doing what you want to do, or simply would be a good contact to develop a relationship with, take the time and money to offer them a lunch or cup of coffee to build that relationship and pick their brain.  If you want to take the less-scary route, simply start facebooking or blogging about your talents or your aspirations- just get it out there!

-See if you can earn income at home, or produce a product for sale. For some people with computer know-how,  data entry and website maintenance can be done at home.  Others go the direct sales route to work flexible hours to sell products for a well established company (more about this later).  I have done both.

I get totally giddy over this site.  There is just something fabulous about needing an item, finding it cheaper than amazon, having a coupon for 10%-30% off, free shipping and getting cash back for whatever I purchase.  I introduce you to: CouponCactus.

Couponcactus is a free service that works in two ways:  It provides awesome coupons for discounts, cashback and free gifts with purchase  for hundreds of stores.  Also, it provides varied rates of cashback for your purchases through those merchants- and again, it is absolutely FREE.  Cashback is generated in your account to be dispersed through paypal or check automatically every few months.  It could be likened to a rewards credit card, except there are no fees or strings attached- it’s really that simple.

Last week I needed a pair of yoga gloves to help me retain my grip during downward dog.  (I can’t make this crap up).  I looked on amazon- the pair I wanted was going to cost me $14 with shipping.  I went to CouponCactus and found the gloves on Gaiam.com for $8, with 10% off, free shipping and 7% cash back.

What’s also great is that you can refer friends and get credit for it.  On February 15th I have $24.57 that will be deposited into my PayPal account from cashback and referrals and I didn’t have to do anything for it!

I love CouponCactus because it’s stupidly simple- just log in to their site and choose your merchant to see what offers/cashback are available.  After your purchase (as long as you have logged in and clicked the merchant through CouponCactus) your cashback will be automatically generated.  All coupons open up in a window to be copied or directly applied to your order.

The site is great because they don’t hassle you through email or annoying pop-ups.  They sustain themselves by generating traffic for merchants by advertising great sales and providing you with discounts, so there are no hidden fees or hoops to jump through.

That’s why I totally ❤ Couponcactus.com- it’s simple to sign up.  Simple to save money.  Simple to generate cash back through my spending and referrals, and simple to find my favorite sites- ThinkGeek.com, Express, American Eagle,  Eharmony,  ProFlowers (hint hint people).

Oh yes, and you can *totally* sign up with my referral number!        124740

For those of you who know me personally, you know I’ve been pursuing a dog for quite some time.  Shouldn’t be that hard to find an adoptable dog that meets my specifications, right?  Well let’s start with some pointers so you don’t have to endure the ordeal I have:

-Decide what you want in a dog. Are you going for looks, where a mutt/mix would do just fine, or do you want more measurable traits that are typically found in a purebred?  Are you fine with the “luck of the draw” or do you want a cute puppy you can get from a breeder that has predictability?

-Decide if you really want a puppy. Many dogs are given up for adoption or resold while they are still really young.  Adopting a dog over a year old might be a better bet if want a companion but not the energy and destructive tendencies of a pup.

-Decide what the dog is for. Do you want a show dog?  Do you just want someone to take to the park? Do you want a mellow mutt that will just hang out while you work on the computer?  Do you want a dog that’s great for jogging?  Do your research beyond just looks and see what kinds of personality you’d like.  Go beyond looks- a Pug and a Boston Terrier are both similarly adorable, but Boston’s are notorious for being high energy.  Know the traits before you decide.

Knowing these questions will help you decide if you want to buy from a breeder or shelter adopt.  Even if you’re adopting, you CAN find purebreds at a shelter- it just takes more patience.

What to know about breeders:

-Know Where to Look. You can look on Ebay Classifieds, do a quick net search or go to a pet store.   But buyer beware! Just because a person has a litter of puppies doesn’t mean they are REAL breeders! Nor does it ensure they are healthy dogs, or they are “worth” the sometimes exorbitant prices faux-“breeders” charge.  I spoke to a man in the city who was breeding pugs to pay his tuition…ya, that sounds legit.

-Decide what you want the dog for, and how much you’re willing to pay. Unless you’re breeding or showing, you don’t HAVE to pay hundreds or thousands for a dog.  For the average person who wants an animal companion, you can find a dog that is healthy, bred ethically and is affordable.

-Your puppy will have more expenses on top of the purchase price. Veterinary care may/may not be included in the purhcase price.  Tack on at least $300-400  to the price of your puppy for vet care, training, supplies and carpet spray.

Decide if you have the time (and patience) for a puppy. Breeders may or may not have trained or socialized the puppy.  The younger they are, the more time you’ll need with them.  If you get grossed out by poo or pissed off by pee on the carpet, you CANNOT handle a puppy.  Know there will be accidents, be prepared with lots of paper towels.

What to know about shelters:

Shelters are amazing!  Even if you want a purebred, (or an adorable mixed breed) you can find whatever you’re looking for.  Here are some of the perks:

-You can find puppies at shelters. Many people give up young puppies because they can’t afford it or didn’t anticipate the time and cost of a young dog and weren’t well informed by the person who sold it to them.

-You can save a LOT of money on a dog if you go the shelter route. All rescue dogs will already have had their shots, been fixed and

-You can save a LOT of time if you go the shelter route. Many dogs at shelters have had at least some basic training and socialization depending on their age. You can avoid some behavioral problems if the dogs are already well acquainted with people and other dogs, and potty training can sometimes be just a matter of “fine tuning” instead of starting from scratch.

-You can feel darn good about adopting a shelter dog. These volunteers aren’t in it for the money and fame- they just want to help and aren’t going to charge you a boatload to do so.

Searching for a specific breed to adopt?

-Google local rescues for your breed or do a search on Petfinder.com.

-When you find a dog, put the application in IMMEDIATELY.  Certain dogs go FAST.  Most shelters choose homes on a first-come-first-served basis, not necessarily your love or familiarity with the breed, or the offer of “bribe money.”

-Each shelter is going to be different in the application process and what it charges.  Depending on the breed, age of the dog and any special medical attention it has needed could affect the price.  You can get an older dog (fully vetted and past that annoying chew-on-everything puppy phase) for $50-150, on up to $350-600.   A french bulldog rescue in my area charges $350-600 for their dogs, but you might find a similar frenchie  on petfinder.com for $250!

-Diligence will pay off.  If you don’t end up with the first dog you apply for, keep trying!  You will find the right one, and I hope I do!

If you find yourself in a new city for business, for pleasure or for-ever here are some resources to get acclimated to your new city.

-Yelp.com and Citysearch.com: Find anything you need based on your geographic location and filter based on price, user reviews and whether or not they serve alcohol and take credit cards!

If you’re on a computer, you can type in your address and find the closest Indian Restaurants and make your decision based on user reviews and price!  If you’re mobile, use your phone to give you walking or public transportation directions as you move.  Yelp has been my go-to tool for navigating Chicago’s train lines.

-Google Maps: Unlike other map sites, Google  Maps allows you to quickly view different routes for walking, biking, public transportation and of course, driving.   Not having a car got significantly less sucky!

-FourSquare: This is one of my favorite phone apps!  If you’re out in a new city, or even want to find some really hilarious hidden spots (like the “Batcave” and “Masturabatorium” near my apartment) download this app to your phone and post your check-ins around the city on facebook, or simply share with other friends on Foursquare!

-Meetup.com: There is a group for anything and everything.  In less than five minutes I was able to find groups for fellow pug lovers, knitters, feminists and Chicagoans on a budget and when they meet.  Chances are everyone in these groups will be adventurers like yourself who just want to make friends in a new city- so you’ll be in good (and equally unacquainted) company!

-OKCupid.com: Sure, some people would call this “OKStupid.com” but honestly- I’ve used it myself when I was timid and afraid to dip my toes into the waters of online dating.  If I was crazy enough to relocate to a new city by myself, how scary could this be?  Great news, is that it’s free and if you hate it, then cancel it!  You can get to know some great restaurants and coffee houses this way as long as you meticulously pre-screen for crazies.

-Couchsurfing: This takes a brave individual to either surf or host, but it might be fun!  The concept is simple:  randoms who need a place to crash can find other randoms to host them and let them stay at their house for free, or for a small favor (like dinner..not sexual favors, McNasty!).  You can do this while  you’re foraging an unfamiliar city, or, you can be the brave one and break in your freshly unpacked futon with some new  person from internet!

-Groupon: Groupon offers an array of great deals in your neighborhood!  Get deals to restaurants, salons, spas and theaters for 50-7% off.  This is a great way to try new types of foods and entertainment in your area that you might not want to pay full price for, or for places you adore but still want to save money!  I got a gift certificate to Amazon.com and Nordstrom Rack for 50% off this way!

But What About Off The Interwebs?

-Scout for Free Stuff: Head over to your local (Note: not Starbucks) coffee house, boutiques,  library and grocer to see what is posted on bulletin boards, and any local publications that you can pick up and check out for free.  This is how I got free postcards to send home, a free neighborhood guide and a list of community happenings to plan out my first month in a new city.

-Buy these shoes:

Okay, so maybe you don’t need these so-ugly-they’re cute Toms,  but they are GREAT for walking around in!  Celebrate your exploration by supporting your arches and children who need shoes.  Tom’s donates a pair to a child in need for each one that’s purchased.  Buy at your local shoe store or at Toms.com – but be aware, they run a little big!

-Simply talk to people! Before moving across country, I posted status updates about it on Facebook.   Chances are, your current friends have family or friends in your new area of choice.  I met several new friends simply because my Facebook friends helped me make that connection.  Also,  when you get to your new neighborhood, people will sense your bewilderment and are usually more than happy to help you out.

-Speaking of libraries…my local library had a whole section on Chicago guides, several of which went beyond the basic tourist information.  Chances are, you can find books for free or cheap that are geared towards exploring new locales on a budget.  Of course, a simple Google search can yield a lot of great info about your new area!

cherry thank you notes

Want to be considered one of the savviest, most thoughtful people in your circle of friends?  Look no further!  While I could extol the virtues of thoughtfulness via post, or implore you that thank you notes are the life blood of generousity (and you really have no excuse to be lazy), I’m not going to.  Simply put, if you don’t have the courtesy to say “thanks” for a nice dinner out, a kind gift or the lending of a helping hand- you probably won’t learn now!  On the other hand, for those of you who love receiving gifts and love the people you get them from (or even if you don’t) and want to keep them coming, read on…

Why do I LOVE the Thank You note?  Simply put:

-It is a simple way to express your gratitude for a gift, that typically gets a big reaction.  I have received thank you notes for my thank you notes- no kidding!

-In this economy, if someone can afford a $50 gift card, or even a $5 gift card for your birthday, you can spend the 44 cents in postage to send a note.

-Notes are a quick, cheap way to ensure that someone’s effort or gift was appreciated.  Sending a note also ensures that they will not regret being nice to you and may do it again sometime.  Seriously? Gratitude is an investment in others and mostly, an investment in yourself and relationships that enrich your life.

-Thank you notes=an excuse to buy adorable stationary!

But what to say?

It’s simple, use your brain for proper grammar, and your heart for proper wording!

Even if the gift may be re-gifted or wasn’t exactly what you wanted, you can still express a genuine sentiment that doesn’t come off as crass or impersonal without even bringing up the gift.  Simply state that you appreciated their thoughtfulness, and that they took the time and energy to give you a gift.  Still can’t think of anything to say? Google some templates!  Here are some resources:

http://www.realsimple.com/work-life/etiquette/write-perfect-note-10000001690916/index.html

http://www.my-thank-you-site.com/thank-you-note-examples.html

 

…OH, and e-cards are NOT the same as thank you notes.  Either take the easy road and write an email or make it great with a handwritten note.  Sending an e-card means more work for the recipient and can sometimes make you look lazy!


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