Inspiration, tutorials, roundups & resources to help you get the most out of your budget for travel, fitness, home & life. We love saving money and feeling inspired, and love helping others do the same. If you run a website that needs a ghostwriter or guest blogging content, you can hire me.
If you love kawaii, the culture of cuteness from Japan-you will love the Yume Twins subscription box. This adorable box full of goodies runs around $32.00 and comes direct from Japan, with love!
I’m currently saving up for a trip to Japan and have been a lover of manga, kawaii, and Japanese food since I was 14 and discovered Sailor Moon. As a kid, I would save up my allowance money or pick up extra chores around the neighborhood, in the hopes my dad would take me to a store that had kawaii goodies in the LA area.
I can’t tell you how many lawns I watered, cars I washed and neighborhood dogs I picked up after in order to earn the money for Sailor Moon stickers, Tarepanda plushies and Hello Kitty pen sets. As an adult, the glee I feel when I come across a plushie or stationary kit has never gone away.
I was sent the February Yume Twins Box to review, and it was full of some fabulous Japanese kawaii goodies with “Pretty Picnic” theme.
In the Yume Twins Box was a hedgehog plushie, kawaii character spoon, Sumikko Gurashi melamine cup, Disney Tsum Tsum snack container, Disney bread squishie, and a double ended highlighter.
Kawaii lovers rejoice! You can get an authentic package from Japan filled with goodies from your favorite cute brands- from Sanrio to Disney, you can get your kawaii fix for $31-35 USD each month (shipping included, prices depend on your plan).
As the box continues, I would love to see more Sailor Moon items in the Yume Twins boxes, but that’s me being biased! Of course, I loved the box- it was just a true happy mail day!
You can subscribe to Yume Twins in a month-to-month, 3, 6 or 12 moth subscriptions, and it includes free shipping.
Thank you Yume Twins for sending me this box to share my kawaii love with my readers with this review!
Buying a home was a really smart option until a property tax spike made my mortgage payment a bit steeper than I would like. My monthly budget for housing started to skyrocket and unfortunately, my paycheck didn’t move as fast to cover the increased cost of living.
About a year ago, I began hosting on Airbnb using my spare room to earn income and get my mortgage payment to a manageable level.
Initially, the Airbnb income was a huge help to fund some improvements and repairs, but since we now have better insulation (paid for!), blinds and curtains (paid for!) and guest linens (clearly also paid for!) I was able to use the extra Airbnb income to supplement my mortgage costs and even pay extra towards my principle. Huzzah!
When I started out, I had no idea if I could really earn income with Airbnb or if I would even like it. I even wondered if it would be feasible to host people in the home I lived in. I mean, I live here. Would it be a pain? I had a lot of questions when I started, but I started anyway!
So, if you’re wondering how you can earn extra income to cut your mortgage payment in half, or at least give it a good slice- read on.
First, Evaluate If You Can Host In Your Home
Every city and even buildings might face different regulations. I own a single family home in San Antonio, and I do not live in a condo. If you are leasing your space, or have any sort of HOA where people can regulate what you do with your property- you’ll want to ensure becoming an Airbnb host would be a fit.
I found that the websites for my city were not super helpful in helping me understand if I could be an Airbnb host. Some cities, like mine, are currently debating how to handle the “sharing economy” like Uber, Lyft and Airbnb. That being said, our local websites didn’t have a ton of information that I found helpful.
What I would recommend if you’re considering being an Airbnb host, go ahead and see if there’s a Facebook group for your local area. For me, this has been hugely helpful to weed through the bureaucratic red tape and see what’s going on in your area. Overall, I’ve found that if the local municipal websites weren’t helpful in answering my questions, the Facebook groups were. People are kind to other hosts or those considering hosting.
Next, Determine Your Price and Availability
Setting up your listing on Airbnb is stupid simple. It will take far less time then evaluating what you think you and your family can handle in your spare time to host.
Becoming a host is very fast- but what should be given some more thought is how much of a commitment you want hosting to be, and your income goals. Would you be excited to be fully booked up 30 days of the month or do you think you’d rather just host your shared space when things aren’t crazy with work and projects?
Airbnb lets you choose your own adventure. When you set up your Airbnb listing, you can choose to block out as many days as you’d like so they can’t be booked, and you also get to tweak your pricing if your dates aren’t filling up as quickly as you’d hope. You also can tailor how people book with you and you can decide if a guest’s needs don’t suit what you offer (for instance, if you have pets in your home and they share during the pre-book phase they are allergic to cats).
Do some market research to see what other hosts are charging for a space similar to yours. What are people in your area offering and what do they charge? When you first start out, you may want to go a few dollars below their prices for a similar location to get bookings and work out any kinks- but you can easily start raising your prices after the first 10 stays that come with positive, five star reviews.
When evaluating your price, know that Airbnb will usually suggest an outlandish price that’s far below what other hosts are charging for similar rooms. Usually, I charge anywhere from $30-35 a night (there’s a flex pricing option that sets a range that responds to demand.) and Airbnb, despite my Super Host status always asks me to price lower to get more bookings- but since I’m usually 80% full or more, I don’t budge.
Ummm, no. I’m booked up just fine!
Set your prices in a realistic range (maybe $1-2 less than others if you’re new) to get some bookings and know you can raise your rates and adjust as you go. If you’re having a slow month, sure, lower your rates- but be mindful that you’re not crippling yourself or other hosts by driving down prices too aggressively.
Decide What Is or Isn’t Available
This seems to be a tricky question new Airbnb hosts get hung up on- how much space in your home should be made available to your guests? Long story short: you decide. In our home, we have put in the listing that the booking includes 1 bedroom, 1 private bathroom, kitchen access (usually to use the fridge/microwave) and the common living room area.
The rest of our house is off limits. When we first started, I didn’t offer guests the opportunity to do laundry in our laundry area, but have since added the feature as it was requested regularly and Airbnb added it as a “perk” you can include. Knock on wood, I’ve never had a guest do anything bad with my washer/dryer and they’ve enjoyed having the option to use it. I think this is just one factor that has led to being as booked up as I’ve wanted to be this year.
All in all though, you decide what’s off limits and if you’d be comfortable having a lock on your bedroom door, or to any other areas while you’re out for the day, that’s also your call. Your house, your rules!
Take Good Photos & Offer Thoughtful, But Cheap Perks
Honestly, you do not need to overthink being an Airbnb host. I honestly cannot believe how little it took to get started. Keep your room and common areas clean, communicate effectively with anyone interested and add some finishing touches like travel sized shampoo or water bottles in their room.
My first round of pictures was done with a cellphone and I simply included four photos- the room, the bathroom, the common area (living room/kitchen) and the front porch/entryway. Since then, I’ve used a better camera and done a bit more to gussy up my photos with better lighting, a fresh flower arrangement in the living room and some closeup shots of the furniture in the room- but beyond that, it’s simple.
A few perks you can consider offering that don’t have to cost you much but can get you more bookings: being kid friendly, pet friendly or offering a private parking space. I also had an extra blow dryer, so I added that to the guest bathroom. I add a little snack and a bottle of water in the room for every guest, along with a print out with my favorite local spots, checkout information and the wifi password.
Think of what matters to you if you were to visit as a guest: Does the host answer questions quickly and communicate effectively? Does the room fit my needs and budget? Is it really clean? Does the host have a really good batch of reviews? Honestly- just be accommodating. This will do far more than having a picture perfect home or a rooftop pool.
In this calendar year, we’ve regularly earned over $650-700 a month hosting our spare bedroom with about a 65-70% occupancy rate, give or take. As you can see above, May 2018 is shaping up to be an amazing month, with $974 in earnings- and no, we were not 100% booked. (One happy Super Host right here!)
We’re still able to block off dates that suit our schedule to host family and friends or take a vacation while still earning over half the mortgage payment without being fully booked.
As you can see below, we blocked out May 1st-May 6th so we could use the room to host friends coming into town, and we’re not fully booked the rest of the month, but it’s shaping up nicely!
For full transparency, this month likely is having a spill-over effect because the final booking for the month extends into June and payout will come in May, giving me a wee-bit of a bump. That being said, June is looking good too at $701 in estimated earnings. Not bad for a spare room in a 1500 square foot home I wouldn’t have been using!
Honestly, my mortgage payment was getting steep and my paycheck couldn’t keep up with the property tax spikes- being anAirbnb Hosttook the pressure off my monthly budget due to rising living expenses.
If you are thinking of being a host even part time, I hope this guide will help you earn a bit of extra cash each month to put towards your mortgage, save for a rainy day or go somewhere fun!
Choosing a new color can be overwhelming, how will you know what really reflects your sense of style before you see it on a live wall? The easiest way to find color schemes is to look on Pinterest- you will get not only decor inspiration but great color palettes to work with! The best way to give a room a new look, you can turn something dark and drab into something divine in less than a day. Really think about the effect you want to go for- color can address anything that annoys you about your space to brighten it up, tone it down or hide some imperfections that drive you nuts! Move the eye around instead of dwelling on what you hate!
A good paint job will work to make it feel warmer, cosier, fresher, brighter or airier just by giving it a carefully considered lick of paint that’ll cost an average of $20-30. If you really are struggling to afford paint, you don’t have to paint the whole room – you could just choose a feature wall or fireplace that would look great highlighted with your chosen color. It’ll take less time and could be good deal cheaper.
2. Reshuffle your furniture
This is a great tip, and completely free to play with, plus it’s a great way to get all the dust bunnies behind furniture for a deep clean! Rearranging the furniture in a room, or even transferring furniture between various rooms, is an awesome way of giving a whole new lease of life to your living space.
If you have friends that live local, see if you can get together to swap out some pieces. You can even invite them over for wine and snacks if they’re willing to help you shuffle and give you an honest opinion on how it looks. Note: It’s probably good to uncork after the work is done, not that I know from experience or anything.
3. Seriously, Declutter!
Decluttering is the easiest way to reinvent your space. Plus, it’s not only FREE but it can make you money! If you really struggle with an emotional attachment to your stuff, bring in a savvy friend or relative who can tell it to you straight. Many of us hold onto things we don’t need for unrealistic reasons- guilt, obligation, the hope we will someday finish a project we intended to do years ago- it’s time to move on!
There’s nothing more therapeutic than having a really thorough spring clean. A great way of making a few dollars for your home renovation, have a yard sale or sell your unwanted stuff on eBay. Alternatively, you can hand your unwanted stuff over to your local thrift store, give it away to friends and family – whatever you do, clear it outta there!
4. Change the lighting
What kind of effect is the lighting having in your listless living space? You can really change the look and feel of a room by making sure the main light is centrally placed, changing the lampshade, or adding some standard lamps or pretty fairy lights into the equation. Relatively cheap and extremely easy and effective.
One of my favorite tricks to really assess if the lighting is “right” is to take pictures of my space during the day and at night. If I hate how the lighting looks in photos, (meaning too warm, too cool or too much) it’s easy enough to change the curtains and even cheaper to change the lightbulbs! Many people underestimate the power of lightbulbs- but you can find bulbs that mimic natural light, save energy, fight the winter blues and can set warm or cool tones to match the feel of your wall color. Experimenting with light is easy!
5. Clean the floors & Clear Out Critters
Have you got dirty-looking carpets that could do with a deep clean? If so, rent or buy a carpet cleaning machine and give your home a lift – you’ll probably be surprised at just how filthy our carpets were! Carpet steamers not only remove allergens and dirt, but they can be rented once or twice a year at a decent price.
Additionally, it’s a good time to start thinking about your seasonal allergies- no matter what you do for your home, if you’re sneezing and waking up with symptoms, it could be a sign you’re sensitive to common home allergens like pet dander, dust, mold & as plants bloom outside, you could be sensitive to pollen and grass. Check your AC air filters and invest in a good air purifier (you can find them really cheap at Target or online!). Dust your bookshelves, move furniture around and wash your curtains and throw pillows. Take a minute to vacuum your mattress and sofa as well- you will love your space so much more when you can breathe!
Do you redecorate & clean seasonally, when you feel like it, or never at all?
Decluttering can be either maddening or completely freeing, but it doesn’t have to be completely painful! If you’re looking to get more organized and pare down on the physical clutter in your life- I have some tips for you to take the pain out of decluttering.
First, Lean In To Your Feelings
Your stuff is here for a reason, perhaps several reasons. Clutter is usually the result of two things- reactivity and avoidance. When we’re just too busy to take time to do self-care and organize, things pile up both mentally and physically. At other times, clutter is the result of avoidance of emotions. The stuff in our lives comes with mental baggage- concern, guilt, regret, longing. It sometimes is easier to avoid dealing with the stuff so we don’t have to deal with how it got there!
Life comes at us so fast, we simply accumulate and put off dealing with things since our mental hard drives are full. What clutter have you been putting off? What purpose did the items serve, and what emotions is the stuff protecting?
Is your clutter the result of an overfull life that you need to take some personal time to think over, or, did your clutter result from other sources and you’ve been avoiding the stuff and the feelings attached to them?
It’s sort of weird- as you start to examine the clutter, you start to also unpack the emotions that perpetuated your need to keep everything. Getting to the root of your behavior and examining it will help you see this as a more meaningful exercise than simply “get rid of it all!” You may not want to do the mental work of decluttering, but in order to truly declutter, take some time to examine your “why.”
Tackle The Most Frustrating Small Areas First
Some of the smallest fixes, can be big wins. One thing that usually frustrates me is the technological clutter, it can be hard to know what to do with unsightly cords that dangle everywhere or what to do with old phones that have accumulated in a desk drawer. Learning what to do with old electronics when you’re tidying up your home is a good place to start and you’ll instantly feel calmer!
If there are other small but troublesome areas of your house that cause you stress, go after those one after the other, for quick wins and to build your motivation. Decluttering certain trouble areas like medicine cabinets, fridges and pantries can be great starting points to get the momentum going. If you’re feeling like decluttering is a stress fest, start there first.
Follow Up With A Big Decluttering Win
Now that you’ve gotten a few small wins under your belt and your kitchen drawers or medicine cabinet feel more organized, it’s time to tackle a beast! One of the biggest pain points for people are the areas that are used as “toss areas.” You know the type- it can be a pile in a hallway, a section of your closet or even a whole room! For people with a home, it’s usually the garage or spare room. For folks that live in an apartment, the hallway area or closet can be a place where things really pile up to “deal with later.”
For these areas take some time to research how to tackle bigger spaces before you start- a video to help you maximize your garage space can save you time before you run to the store for organizers. It can be tempting to just go out and buy a bunch of storage bins, but first take time to visualize the space and assess what’s in there.
If you simply tackle a clutter prone area with better storage solutions, you still have the same amount of stuff and the problem will return quicker than you’d hope. Take time to tackle the problem spots not just with organization, but with a bit of purging.
Set A Mood & Give Decluttering The Time It Deserves, Don’t Rush!
We already unpacked that idea that clutter is an emotional experience- both in how it comes to us, and how we deal with it when it stays. If you find decluttering to be an emotional struggle, take some time to set the mood and go into decluttering with a plan. Many of us see decluttering as another chore to cram in on a Sunday afternoon, which can lead to the stress of cramming too much in before the weekend ends.
While decluttering on a regular basis can be part of your regular routine, just like laundry and paying bills- it can be an unnerving experience to think you can crank out a whole room to be organized as quick as folding your towels.
Instead of seeing decluttering as a quick chore like doing dishes which can be done on autopilot, give it the mind space and time it deserves. If you struggle with decluttering, hoping you can just deal with it in the space of a Netflix episode or before friends come over, could set you up for a frustrating experience.
Carving out a personal day to tackle the emotional experience of clearing away old clutter, and making more room in your life helps reframe the task to do it well with less anxiety overall.
Finally, Set Rewards- Even Free Ones!
Of course, when you give yourself the proper time to tackle a decluttering session, you should also take some time to reward yourself. Set an achievable milestone, even if it feels too small to celebrate. Truly, if you’re clutter prone and it’s been nagging at you, celebrate that the hall closet is now functional- you deserve it!
Rewards don’t have to be expensive- you could get an emotional boost simply from taking your stuff to a charity that speaks to you. Plus, being able to make a small space feel bigger and more put together to get to enjoy it again is truly an uplifting experience! Another reward could be to invite friends over to visit, which likely is something you’ve been putting off if you’ve been embarrassed by your clutter. Show off and celebrate!
Chances are, there is something you can do to celebrate your newly decluttered space that could have a huge emotional payoff and won’t cost you a dime. Simply enjoying your space and taking time to paint your nails if you haven’t had a clear space in weeks or your polish went missing a season ago, can feel amazing when you’ve made room in your life to enjoy the little things!
I hope you’ve enjoyed these tips to help take the pain out of decluttering. If you have any additional tips or stories on how you tackled a cluttered room or even a cluttered house, what helped you?
This post was written as part of the Allstate Influencer Program and sponsored by Allstate. All opinions are mine. As the nation’s largest publicly held personal lines insurer, Allstate is dedicated not only to protecting what matters most–but to guiding people to live the Good Life, every day.
A Genie’s Dream is a subscription service for women with everything you need for your monthly flow, with a bit of a mystical twist. There are two tubes you can choose from- the lady tube and the mystical raw tube. This month, I got to review the mystical raw tube.
This mystical raw tube from A Genie’s Dream is all organic and includes some feminine essentials and some other fabulous add-ons. Each month you will receive organic tampons, organic soaps, teas, oils and healing crystals or chocolates.
My tube arrived in a beautiful metallic bubble mailer and was jam packed with goodies. I loved the chakra clearing candle and the chocolate was yummy too!
Everything in the tube was a hit and will be enjoyed. In fact, much of it has already! I’m already sporting the Gurus bracelet and really loved the concept behind it- “When you wear one they should serve as a reminder to conserve, recycle and do good for the environment and change the world. For each bracelet sold, we’ll plant a tree in developing communities. Bracelets are designed to fall of after several months.”
I used to have wish bracelets as a kid- for love, success, health- and remember during summer break I would always love to go to our favorite camping spot since the general store sold them and I could pick one out for many happy days swimming in the lake. I loved that this box included one- it’s already on my wrist and has inspired me to look into booking a camping trip for early summer! #excited
Also, I’m mildly obsessed with the House of Good Juju Chakra Balancing Soy Candle. Not only did it smell heavenly, but when I shared it on my Instagram stories, I was apparently not alone in my love for this candle!
In general, I’ve been taking more time for meditation and yoga, even if it’s just a quick stretch before bed or some toe touching to loosen up my back while my coffee brews in the morning. Paired with a quick meditation session in the morning, it’s gotten my stress headaches down to a manageable level- so I am working on being aware of what my body is telling me more regularly.
Instead of just popping a pain pill for a headache or grimacing through a tweaked shoulder, I try to listen to what my body is telling me and set more time to slow down and pay attention. This candle is perfect for that, and I cannot wait to enjoy it.
So cute, right? All of it was great- never mind that I’m sort of obsessed with split leaf philodendron patterns right now (A.K.A. tropical leaves!)
I thought this subscription tube was super cute, and loved all the hand picked goodies. In my tube, there was 5 organic tampons and a some organic pads that you can use or stash in your desk drawer to make any monthly surprises a bit less, surprising!
Thank you A Genie’s Dream for sending this along for me to review. I saw this subscription and could not wait to get my hands on it, and I’m happy to say the latest tube did not disappoint. Everything was a hit!
Too often when we talk about being frugal, the easy answer is to find things to cut back on. When I was trying to pay off my student loans, I started by cutting back. But eventually, like a diet, you reach a breaking point. I couldn’t change my rent for at least another year, I didn’t want to lower how much I was paying on my student loans and I didn’t want to live on macaroni and cheese.
In Confessions of a Shopaholic the main character’s father reminds her that cutting back isn’t the only way she can get out of her money troubles. “You know, there are two solutions to money troubles…Cut Back,” says my dad, “Or Make More Money. One or the other.” The good part of making more money is that there’s no limit. When you try to cut back, eventually you’ll reach a wall. And when you’re trying to save, it can be frustrating to feel like there’s nothing more you can do. When you’ve taken away most of your luxuries, cutting back even more can feel self-defeating.
Whether you’re trying to pay off your loans, save for a vacation or supplement your income, here are five ways you can make more money:
This is one method I used to pay off $28,000 worth of student loans. Lots of banks and credit cards offer bonuses if you do direct deposit or spend a certain amount within 90 days. The first year I did this, I made about $1,000. My personal favorite is Capital One 360.
There are tons of websites where you can learn about the latest deals. I paid for a new set of tires with the money from a few bank bonuses and used the rest to put toward my loans. It requires some organization to make sure you do enough to get the bonus. But if your HR department is willing to change your direct deposit, it’s a great way to get an extra $100.
Whatever you’re talented in, use it and teach someone else. You can contact your local college about tutoring opportunities or reach out to adults you know about teaching their kids math on the side. For some parents, this can be a combination tutoring and babysitting gig, but you can command much higher pay.
Try advertising with local mommy groups and blogs. Even asking people to share your info on social media can net you a few clients. If you do a good job, you can make it a steady gig and rely on word-of-mouth to grow your business and raise your rates.
Drive a car
There’s a reason why Lyft and Uber are so popular nowadays. These taxi services are easy to use, but they’re also a good job for drivers. There are certain requirements you have to meet to be a driver, but doing it at high-traffic times can be a real moneymaker.
There are plenty of stories of drivers who make five or six figures. Even if you’re just looking for an extra $500 a month, driving a few hours a week at the right time can be enough to reach your goal.
Give your opinion
There are hundreds of different survey websites that claim to be able to make you some big bucks. First of all, many of them are just fishing for easy information. Second, you will never get rich doing surveys. That being said, you can make some extra cash with some of the more legitimate sites. These include:
Take whatever you’re good at and leverage that skill. If you’re a professional graphic designer, start freelancing outside of work. If you’re a good writer, find freelance gigs for blogs, marketing firms and local publications. If you’re a photographer, start taking senior photos or pictures for families to create their photo cards for Christmas
The good part about this tactic is that it’ll likely help you get better in your career. It can give you a different perspective on your job, inspire you with new ideas and round out your experience. It’ll let you improve faster and move up in your company. Plus, it’s your best way to charge the most out of any other side hustle.
Don’t forget to shop through Ebates when buying online. You can receive hundreds of dollars cash back, plus they have access to numerous coupons.
I don’t know about you, but my spending seems to come in waves. There will be times I don’t buy anything for weeks, and then, all of a sudden it seems like I have a giant credit card bill. Sometimes it’s due to a life change, a seasonal change or I find some wiggle room in my budget and decide it’s time to finally tackle a DIY project at home or revamp my wardrobe.
Spending more than you typically do can be part of the normal ebb and flow of life that’s necessary to keep your sanity intact, but if you’re consistently busting your budget and you feel out of whack with your finances, it may be time to reel it in.
Whenever my budget’s about to bust due to overspending, here’s how I’ve curbed my shopping cravings….
Step Away From The Store & Get Organized At Home
Shopping can become a habit, but constant acquisition or spending time online looking for sales can usually spell trouble for your organization at home. If your focus is on consumption, chances are, you’re letting up slack at home and stuff is piling up.
I love to spend time at home with my stuff and simply relish in what I’ve already collected. Other times, spending can be symptom of stress or a distraction from issues at home- but it can be therapeutic to grab the bull by the horns and get comfortable with what you’ve got.
Organizing my closet, tackling the laundry, cleaning out the cupboards and organizing the tupper lids or actually ironing those high maintenance clothes puts things in perspective. Suddenly, there’s more than enough- and it soothes the need to spend. Simply be at home with your stuff, it’s amazing how it clears through the mental clutter as you sift through the physical clutter.
Spend Time, Not Money
If I’ve been overspending, it’s usually a symptom of a hurried, chaotic life. If my grocery or restaurant spending is out of control, chances are I’ve been cutting corners because life has been cray-cray and I spend for convenience. When I need to cut back on my spending and reel in my cash flow, I literally have to slow down.
I spend on autopilot when I’m flying too fast. Even if I can only afford to take a Sunday afternoon to meal prep, the hours in the kitchen can be at times frustrating (because there are thousands of other things I could be doing), but the act of chopping, prepping and batch cooking really helps me reset for the week.
This concept works wonders for other aspects of my life as well- if I’m spending too much money, I’m probably not focused on what’s important. Yes, there are busy periods (like when I have to cut corners on food prep), but I have also find when I’m shopping, I’m not spending my time on things that matter- I’m looking at workout clothes instead of working out, or I’m online shopping instead of spending time with loved ones. Where your time goes, your money goes- I have to reassess every so often to ensure I’m on track.
Avoid Your Triggers
Yes, nobody wants to miss a deal- but if you’re aware of a sale at one of your favorite stores, it’s just too tempting to pass up. Unsubscribe from marketing emails, spend less time on Instagram and more time with a good book, and if a particular person, tv show or situation triggers you to spend, you may not be able to avoid them completely, but be aware how their stimulus impacts your mood.
If I’m trying to cut back on my spending, I have to change what I’m looking at. If I don’t know a sale is going on, I won’t be tempted to spend. If I don’t really need something, I shouldn’t be shopping, no matter how good the deal is. Yes, I’m horribly out of the loop when it comes to deals sometimes, but it is hugely helpful to keep my budget healthy after I’ve spent a bunch.
Save Daily For Something Bigger
It’s going to cost me about $900 to get a plane ticket to Paris. I am saving $2 a day, and will hit my goal pretty painlessly in about a year and a half. I’ve set a baseline that even if I have a rough month, I can still hit my goal.
That’s the thing- if you abstain from spending, you can reward yourself by topping off your goal account for the week with a really compelling dream to achieve. If you have a crappy month, that’s okay too- if you can only put away $1 a day or $2 a day with an automatic savings plan (like I have one with CapitalOne360), you are still making progress. There will be ups and downs, and when you can, save more, and when you can’t, you still got your goal on lock, and it feels good!
I got married a few weeks ago and the days after were filled with compliments from friends and family. People said our wedding felt intimate, personal and “us.” They danced during the reception (from a mix that my husband custom made) and cried during the ceremony, filled with vows we wrote and a sermon from a friend of mine.
Over the course of planning my wedding, I learned a lot about the process. People always say it’s your day, but then they expect you to do the things they did. We decided very quickly we wanted to have the wedding we wanted. Luckily our parents were supportive and didn’t force us to use their ideas.
Here’s what I learned is not important to having a great wedding:
Flowers are not the focus
I loved the flowers in my centerpieces and my bouquet. I spent hours searching for ideas via Pinterest and emailing back and forth with my florist. When it came to the day, I could not care less. Flowers are pretty and unless they’re wilted or smelly, no one will mention them to you. Consider grabbing a few bouquets at Sam’s Club, Trader Joe’s, or Costco and call it good.
Skip the bouquet and garter toss
I’ve only been to one wedding with a garter toss, but I was immediately horrified. Are you telling me your new husband has to put his hands all over you in front of all your friends and family? I was so nervous about telling my then-fiance that I didn’t want him to feel me up in front of my father. Thankfully he felt the same way.
I also skipped the bouquet toss. I hate having to be forced to go on the dance floor and pretend to care about catching the bouquet. After the wedding a good friend asked me if we did the bouquet and garter toss and she had missed them. I told her we skipped them and she said, “THANK GOD.” For the most part, grown women don’t want to be forced to pretend like all they care about is getting married.
You don’t need a beautiful cake
I love dessert more than most people I know. When it came time to decide on our cake, I chose one of my favorite bakeries in town. When the owner asked what kind of decorations I wanted, I asked if we could do a sheet cake. My husband and I didn’t want to do a cake cutting so it seemed silly to spend more money on the exterior of the cake.
Our guests loved our cake – chocolate with ganache filling and American buttercream. Because we didn’t need an intricate design, we didn’t have to use fondant. Fondant is the worst dessert invention of all time, after sugar-free anything.
Another cool option is a donut bar or wall. Take a look at this tutorial from The Budget Savvy Bride.
I’ve always been shocked at the prevalence of the tradition of matching bridesmaid dresses and groomsmen suits. When it came time to decide what we wanted our bridal party to wear (which always seems so bossy to me), we decided to give them basic instructions and let them choose their own outfits.
I asked my girls to wear purple dresses, any shade, any length. They decided on nude shoes and gold jewelry. As it turns out, dark purple is a flattering shade on most people and my girls looked beautiful the day of. Some chose dresses that cost what most bridesmaids spend ($150) while others snagged great deals for gowns that cost $50. I was happy that they each chose something that made them feel beautiful and that fit into their budget.
My favorite merchants for inexpensive and unique wedding apparel are Etsy and Amazon. Check them out!
While some people still like having a gift registry, so many of us have been “living in sin” with our significant other for much of our relationships. I personally didn’t need another crockpot or bedding set, but I did need to pay off student loans. Therefore, instead of a traditional, consider a “Honeyfund.” Instead of physical gifts, your loved ones can give you cash. Sure, you’ll still end up getting some random presents, but most people are happy to give money over gifts.
If you care about the above things, then you should make them important. By focusing our energy on the things that really mattered to us, we had enough energy to make those decisions well.
No one seemed to notice much or care that we skipped these traditions. People remember how they felt during your first kiss, during the best man’s speech, during your last dance. They remember how easy it was to get to to the venue, if you had affordable hotel blocks, if you offered vegetarian food options.
Traveling to new places can be highly rewarding, but it can be overwhelming if you’re not sure how safe you’ll feel away from home.
As someone who has traveled abroad both by myself and with friends, I’ve picked up a few tips and have seen a few things on the road that have helped me stay safe for future trips and hope they’ll be helpful for you too!
Be Aware Of Your Valuables
It might seem like common sense, but it’s not- pickpockets are crafty buggers and they’re just as much of an issue around the Eiffel Tower as they are on the trains in Barcelona.
We were approached by a woman with a very worn looking clipboard in Paris who didn’t ask if I was French or talk about an issue, but wanted a signature. Classic pickpocket move. Another experience in downtown Paris was with three young children who were selling pastries on a tray. You are distracted and a second or third person (yes, sometimes children) will approach you from behind. We avoided both by saying “no thanks” and moving along quickly- but saw that both times there were other people in the scam closely watching.
The second tactic is to take advantage of a backpack pocket or grab a phone on a crowded train where you’re naturally in close contact with others. A pickpocket can grab something out of a pocket and hop off on the next train.
Be Careful About Wi-Fi
Depending on the length of your trip, take care of your bills and financial updates before you leave. Connecting to Wi-Fi can be shady and “free” Wi-Fi without passwords means it’s hardly secure.
When we’ve travelled around to different hotels in Europe, some weren’t password secured, so we didn’t take the risk of logging into our banking or budgeting apps while we were there.
There are also a lot of “FREE Wi-Fi” spots that will be available when you’re out and about, regardless of what you plan on doing, don’t use these. Seems common sense, but many people think it’s harmless to connect “just for a moment,” and it might not be. You should be very aware that identity theft can occur when you’re on vacation and take steps to avoid it.
Get Your Bank & Cash In Order
Be sure to call your bank and let them know what dates you’ll be gone and what countries you’ll be in for all credit cards and debit cards you plan on using.
Most people also have questions on whether to get cash before they go. If you’re planning on exchanging cash ahead of time, be sure to get it at least 72 hours of time as your bank may not carry that type of currency.
If you need cash when you get there, check to see if your bank has an ATM or branch where you’re headed. Otherwise, you may be charged an ATM fee from the machine, plus a fee from your bank on top of the exchange rate. Whenever we travel, we typically get cash ahead of time and mainly use credit cards since we get 2x-3x points for travel cards. Having cash can come in handy- but many places in Europe take cards.
Look Into Travel Insurance
Some trips are too special (or expensive) to take a risk on, so you might want to consider if travel insurance fits your needs. We once booked a trip to Mexico that was at the very tail end of hurricane season, in an area that rarely was impacted by hurricanes- yet we still were met with a category 5 hurricane that threw off our plans and meant we were on the hook for the unused resort nights, a rental car and a hotel inland since we didn’t want to stay at the hotel’s hurricane shelter. Travel insurance would have been a smart move when we booked our trip.
Travel insurance offers a few options and types of coverage. It can give you the benefits of following coverage- trip cancellation, trip interruption, travel delay, missed connection coverage and change fees coverage. Be aware, that travel insurance only covers if it’s secured before a weather event is named (meaning, booked before you know something’s gone awry) so get your travel insurance when you book your trip.
It also can help you out if you should need medical, dental care or emergency transportation. For those of you with super active itineraries, or a tendency to be accident prone, travel insurance could be a good bet for unforeseen medical oopsies as well.
This post was written as part of the Allstate Influencer Program and sponsored by Allstate. All opinions are mine. As the nation’s largest publicly held personal lines insurer, Allstate is dedicated not only to protecting what matters most–but to guiding people to live the Good Life, every day.
Read Full Article
Scroll to Top
Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.