The Most Effective Way to Avoid Procrastination (That You Might Not Like)

Avoid Procrastination

Have you ever wished you would stop putting off your goals? Maybe it is going to the gym, reading more, keeping a clean house, or taking time to meditate. For me it is writing. Don’t get me wrong, I like writing. But the thought of writing? Not as appealing as watching Netflix or hanging out with friends.

Many people say that putting on your shoes is the hardest part of working out. How many times have you actually just made yourself do the “dreaded” task at hand and it wasn’t that bad, maybe it was even enjoyable? For whatever reason, we forget this feeling and will continually put off tasks, when we could have already completed them and forgotten the bad feelings. Here are a few tips to get rid of that feeling and procrastination for good.

Just Do It

It is time to take a cue from Nike and “just do it”. It takes about 30 days to form a habit, so if you can put in the extra effort for 30 days it will get easier moving forward. So next time you are contemplating whether or not you should do what you need to do or save it for later, pick now. Actively trying to put that feeling of dread out of your mind will help, too. When you feel that start to cloud your mind jump into the activity so you can forget it.

Make it Part of Your Routine

It can also help you to make it part of your routine. Maybe you do it first thing after waking up, or once you get home from class or work. Find a time for you that works and tell yourself you have to do it. No excuses. After a couple of weeks it will feel normal, and after a month it will be habit.

Keep Accountable

This is all easier said then done, of course. If you need the extra push, then join or create an accountability group. This is a group of people that get together to work towards a similar goal. If you have trouble motivating yourself to go to the gym, then find a workout buddy. If you need to make yourself spend more time working on your side hustle, find a group of other people with similar goals and sit down together regularly and just work. Having a place to go with other people who have the same desire to achieve their goals as you do can be very motivating. Especially if they call you out when you don’t show up. Peer pressure is a powerful force, so why not use it to your advantage?

Have Visual Reminders

Sometimes the most powerful motivator is a visual reminder of what it is you want to achieve. Keep motivation boards or quotes in a place you can see them everyday. Write down your goals every morning to reinforce your commitment. Visualize how your life will be once you achieve these goals. Let all of your dreaming be a self-fulfilling prophecy. There is power in positive thinking.

The Bottom Line

The most effective way to avoid procrastination is to forget your dread and do the task you need to do. It will be hard at first, but after a month it will become habit. Most of the time the worst part is not even completing the task, but the sense of anxiety we feel when thinking about it. Work towards putting those negative thoughts out of your head and do the task before you can think about it too much. If you need the extra push, join an accountability group of like minded people who will motivate you to do your work. You can also create a motivation board or keep a journal of motivational quotes to keep you going.

Do you use some of these tips already? If not, what is your best tip to stomp out procrastination?

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Online Savings Account: How to Earn More Money with No Extra Effort

Online Savings Accounts

Do you want free money? My guess is that your answer is yes, and I have a way for you to do it that you probably aren’t taking advantage of. If you are trying to save money then hopefully you have a savings account (makes sense, right?) But did you really think about what bank you chose to put these savings in? Like did you really think about it, compare different bank options and everything? If you are like most people (including me) you probably did not. Most likely you use the savings account connected to your checking account. It is so easy and it was already there. What you didn’t realize is this: you are losing out on free money.

Many of us don’t shop around for the best bank to park our savings in and this is a huge mistake. Because unless you are just insanely lucky, chances are that there is a bank out there with a better interest rate. This means you are losing out on free money (yikes). In recent years the emergence of online savings accounts have provided many high yield options. To keep you from making more money losing mistakes I will break down what they are and why you should get one.

What is an Online Savings Account?

An online savings account is just what it sounds like – a savings account that is accessed exclusively online. This has many benefits. It is accessible 24/7 and you can transfer money without having to visit a bank. It also offers savings to you. The bank isn’t having to pay for brick and mortar stores and tellers, and in return they can offer higher interest rates. There are a few pros and cons to these savings accounts, so read through them carefully and figure out whether or not an online savings account is for you.

The Benefits of an Online Savings Account

Benefits

A quick list of benefits are:

  • High interest rates
  • Low fees
  • 24/7 access

As mentioned before the interest rates are so much better – as in around 10x better than you are probably getting right now. There also aren’t as many fees associated with the account, which means more money for you to save. Everything is accessible online all the time. These are pretty straightforward.

The Cons of an Online Savings Account

However these benefits come at a small price:

  • Must have an account to transfer from
  • Online and call only – no bank to visit
  • For long term saving

Perhaps the biggest downside of an online savings account is the fact that there are no ATMs for you to just go deposit cash or a check directly. In order to deposit money you would have to put it in your checking account, then transfer from your checking account to the savings account. This might be annoying to some people.

If you like to sit down and talk to someone face to face, this isn’t for you either. All matters will be dealt with online or on the phone.

This is a more long term option, many won’t let you keep transferring money out. So if you don’t think you will be able to keep the cash there for a while you might not want to do it.

Is an Online Savings Account for You?

Taking the information above into consideration you can decide whether or not an online savings account is for you. If you are planning to just move money from your checking to a savings account periodically without needing it much this should be just fine. Transfers are easy enough, and you shouldn’t need much assistance for that. If you have more specific needs than that you might want to consider if the benefits outweigh the costs. Remember that these accounts usually have significantly higher interest rates – the switch might just be worth it anyway.

Choosing Your Online Savings Account

Online Savings Account for You
If after careful consideration you have decided to make the switch then hooray! Now what? There are plenty of online banks out there, so go through the options carefully. I’m no financial advisor so I can’t give you advice but I would be glad to point you in the direction of the best resources and factors to consider.

Some things to keep in mind when choosing an online savings account for you are:

  1. Bank Credibility
  2. Minimum balance required
  3. FDIC backing
  4. Fees associated
  5. Any bonuses you could receive

Here are a couple lists of good online savings accounts for 2017

  1. NerdWallet
  2. The Simple Dollar

The Bottom Line

Is it for you

Online savings accounts offer high yield benefits and often have less fees associated with them. They do come with the catch of having to perform all actions online or through the phone and are harder to access in a short amount of time. They can be an excellent options for you if you are looking for a place to park some money and let it rack up interest.

Would you consider an online savings account? If so, with what bank?

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2017 Goals: Mid Year Update of My Self Improvement Journey

2017 Goals

2017 Goals: My Why

Let’s look at 2017 Goals. It’s July which means we are officially halfway through 2017! It’s crazy how fast the year has gone by, and looking back my life has changed so drastically over the last six months. At the beginning of this year I was set to make it a great one. I wanted to work on improving my outlook on life and I also wanted to improve myself.

The first and biggest change is that I started putting myself out there and it has worked. I moved to a new city where I didn’t know anyone and I spent the last half of 2016 alone and bored. Then in February I decided to start this blog and it has changed my life. Not only has it given me joy and purpose, but it also eventually led me to meeting my friend Chloe from Just a Girl in this World. In a cheesy sort of way I believe that this all stemmed from my change in attitude at the beginning of this year. At the beginning of 2017 I decided I wanted to change my life so I did.

Which brings me to the purpose of this website. My blog is about having a better life. I focus a lot on budgeting and saving money because I know that it can be a stressor for many people in my age group and generation. I think if you are really wise and intentional with your money you will start to feel happier.

Since I talk so much about improving yourself and having goals I wanted to hold myself accountable by sharing what I plan to work on for the second half of 2017. At the end of the year I can come back and share my progress and hopefully share with you some things that have been working well in my life that you can use too.

2017 Goals Overview:

In short, my 2017 goals are:

  • Improve My Morning Routine
  • Create and Implement a Weekly Cleaning Schedule
  • Plan Meals Ahead of Time
  • Cut Expenses/Save More Money

2017 Goals: Mid Year Update

Improve Morning Routine

morning routine

In college I went through the transition of being a night owl to a morning person, and it was not always easy. But I made the transition and you can too. I love my mornings now. They are the most productive part of my day.

You might also like: How to Become a Morning Person (and Not Dread Waking Up)

As much as I love the morning time, I am still always trying to improve my routine to get the most out of my limited time. I would like to make them even more happy and productive. About a month ago I started doing yoga every morning and that has helped quite a bit. Even though I love mornings, I don’t always love waking up and sometimes still feel a little groggy after waking up. Yoga helps to energize my body and wake it up a little bit. So even if I don’t feel like doing my yoga I still do it, and I always feel better after. If you are looking for a great way to get moving in the morning this is a great option. At the very least start your morning in child’s pose. It feels so great to stretch first thing in the morning.

Other than my yoga, I like to spend some of my morning planning my day and writing in my journal. I recently purchased a Day Designer planner and I love it. I spend the mornings writing down my to do’s for the day and tracking a few other things. I also like to write in my One Line a Day Journal. Each morning I write down my entry for the day before. I enjoy this journal because it is so simple and I know I can commit to filling that small space every day. Another feature I like is that you can see up to five years’ worth of entries on one page. I started it in January of this year, and I can’t wait until 2018 to be able to see what happened each day exactly a year ago. My goal is to use my planner more and continue to write every day in my journal.

Weekly Cleaning Schedule

Weekly Cleaning Schedule

So this is a big one: I want to create (and stick to) a cleaning schedule. I am terrible when it comes to tidying up. I tend to make a mess and not clean it up right away like I know I am supposed to. I’ve been that way for as long as I can remember and it is a habit I am trying so hard to break.

To combat this I would like to schedule time every day to do one room of the house.

  • Monday: Kitchen
  • Tuesday: Bathroom
  • Wednesday: Bedroom
  • Thursday: Living Room

Then I spend the weekend doing other tasks like laundry or catching up on a day that I maybe had to skip that particular week.

The first week I tried this is worked so well. I was motivated and determined to stick to it and I did. The weeks after that? Not so much. I’m working on it. Taking the time to clean is really hard for me but it is a habit I want to break immediately. If you have tips I would love to hear them. Otherwise I am just going to continue to make myself do it.

Saving

Part of the reason I started this blog was to share my money saving ideas with others. So of course I am always trying to improve my own journey to save and budget wisely. This month marks one year since my move to a new city and being self-sufficient.

It hasn’t always been easy. In fact there a lot of things I wish I would have known after graduation. And while it has certainly gotten easier and my budgeting has gotten better, I still think there are things I can do to improve how much money I am saving. My newest saving goal is to have three months’ worth of expenses saved up. This is just a great cushion for emergencies or in case something ever happened with my full time job. Also I would like to switch to a higher yield savings account so I can earn more on interest every year.

But to save more money you either have to be making more or spending less. I’m working on a combination of both. To make more money I have been trying to focus more on my freelance writing business as well as working overtime at my job. To save more I have been watching what I spend on groceries and using coupons and Ibotta. For the most part I cook my own meals and eat out only a few times a month. I have also been trying hard to not spend money on things I don’t need and taking the time to consider my purchases before I make them.

You might also like: The Simple Tip You Can Use to Spend Less Money Each Month

Meal Planning

Meal Plan

In addition to being terrible at keeping a tidy apartment, I am not the best when it comes to planning out my meals. I tend to be a more spontaneous cook. While fun at times, it leads to unused produce and wasted money. I keep track of my budget and categorize where all of my money goes each month. I found out I was spending way too much money at the grocery store so as I mentioned above I decided to cut back on expenses here.

My goal is to plan out each week’s meals then go to the store and only buy what I need. This is another thing I use my Day Designer for, there is a space for dinner each day and I use that to keep me on track. I also keep a journal of what meals I want to eat that week and what ingredients it will take then from that I make a list of what I need from the store. I’m currently researching different ways to save money at the grocery store, so if you have some recommendations please let me know in the comments!

The Bottom Line

New Year’s resolutions are fun but far too often we forget to check up on how we are doing with our goals once the year gets started. This post is a great way for me to keep myself accountable with my goals as well as share with you all the things that I am working on in my life that I hope to turn into upcoming posts.

What are some goals that you are focusing on for the last half of 2017?

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Best Financial Websites: Learn How to Invest Your Money

Best Financial Websites

Keeping up with the best financial websites is something that I have been committed to since I graduated college. I’m a life long learner, and definitely have the frugal gene. Ever since I was a kid I was doing everything I could to save money. Once I graduated college and was on my own it became that much more important.

My finances were completely in my hands.

There are so many things I had to learn pretty quickly and I made a few mistakes at first (here is a post of the best budget tips I have for recent college graduates or anyone moving out on their own for the first time). I made it my mission to save as much money as I could and I have found a few websites to help me do just that. Without further adieu here is my list of the best financial websites to DIY your own finances.

I Will Teach You to be Rich

Best Financial Websites_I Will Teach You to be Rich

Ramit Sethi’s book by the same name is the first book I read after graduating college. I did not want to be caught off guard with any financial struggles right after graduation. The book was a great overall read covering many topics in personal finance.

Sethi is a big proponent for handling your finances yourself and doing so wisely. His book was valuable and entertaining. His blog is the same way. He keeps his website full of up to date financial information in plain English. I always recommend his book and blog to friends who are just starting out in their personal finance journey since it covers many different topics in a fun, conversational tone. I love keeping up with his blog to see what new tips he has to offer.

Nerd Wallet

Best Financial Websites - Nerd Wallet

Nerd Wallet is one of the best financial websites when it comes to finding ways to save money. Whenever I need to do research on a credit card or bank I turn to this website. They constantly come up with updated lists of the best rates and deals.

If you are looking to compare different credit cards or bank accounts, this is the place to go. I recently used this website to find some of the best online savings accounts out there. So if you just want a simple website to find “the best of” or to compare, this is the place to go. It is so simple with straight forward information. Great resource.

Investopedia

Best Financial Websites_Investopedia

Investopedia is one of the best financial websites because of the up to date financial news and references guides. Don’t let the fancy Wall Street terms confuse you – it is also a great place to find definitions for financial terms.

It is also loaded with handy informational guides. Are you a beginner and want to learn about stocks? Here is a basic tutorial for what you need to know. Once you have learned the basics you can test your knowledge with their stock simulator. A great way to learn how to invest without losing money.

Yahoo Finance

Best Financial Websits_Yahoo Finance

Yahoo Finance is one of the best financial websites when it comes to finding out all information about particular stocks as well as news about the financial climate.

Markets change everyday, and Yahoo Finance is the best financial website to keep up with the times. It is also a valuable resource to find out all the small details about a stock. Before buying a stock you should do research about the company and the stock – this is the best place to do it. The also have a Money Basics section that is worth a read.

The Bottom Line

With so much information out there it can be overwhelming to find credible and straight forward resources. These four should be the best financial websites to start your personal finance journey or even to continue learning if you have been doing it a while.

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Budgeting After College: Avoid These Budget Mistakes

Budgeting is hard. There are so many things I wish I would have known right as a recent college graduate. Getting a job was so important that I really did not think any further than that. But then I got the job, and had to move to a city where I did not know anyone.

One of the biggest things I struggled with was balancing my bank account. There were a lot of start up costs for being on my own, and many things I didn’t account for. Here are some tips I would give to college graduates just starting out on their own.

Budgeting: Create the Budget

This might seem obvious, but I promise you it is not. Many recent graduates get their new job and salary and think they have enough money where they don’t have to make a budget. It can seem like you have a lot of money at first. Up to this point, most jobs were probably part time and paid a lot less, and you survived through that. Now you have so much more. However, you have so many more bills, too. Reality hit me the first month. I moved into my new apartment, but there were tons of unexpected expenses. Student housing provided me with many things that regular apartment complexes don’t – such as internet and cable. Plus, I was living on my own instead of with a roommate so rent was much higher.

Create a budget and stick to it. Write down all necessary expenses (including savings, this should be nonnegotiable!!) and then figure out what you need for everything else. Play around with different personal accounting systems. Do you use cash or a debit card and pay all expenses right away? Or do you put everything on a credit card and pay it all off at the end of the month? Do you set all your bills for one day or scatter them throughout the month? Try different systems and see what works best for you. This might also depend on your work’s payroll calendar and when/how often you get paid.

Pick Housing Wisely

Speaking of budgeting, have a reasonable budget. I will admit that I might have spent a little too much money on my first apartment out of college. I’ve had to make a lot of sacrifices so that I can pay the rent. Many people suggest that rent should be no more than 30% of your income. However, if you think things through and decided that you would rather have a nice place to live than go out to eat or go shopping all the time that is your choice. A huge part of budgeting is the tradeoffs. Picking one thing means giving up another. If you define your priorities you should feel comfortable in your choices. I just suggest that you think things out thoroughly before committing. A good exercise would be to pick two choices: one at the high end of your budget and one at the low end of your budget. From there write down all other expenses and budget the “fun stuff” as well. Visualizing each budget and actually deciding where you would have to cut money might help in your decision.

Set Up Autopay

Autopay is the easiest and most convenient thing and it astounds me to find out that a lot of people do not take advantage of it. Would you like to have less bills to stress out about and worry over? When I first started working and living on my own I spent so much time worrying over whether or not I had paid all the bills I needed to pay and on time. Plus throw in tons of time spent forgetting many of my usernames and passwords and having to reset those just to pay a single bill. So many systems offer an autopay feature. Most of the time it is as easy as going into your account, entering you pay information, and selecting a day for it to be taken out of your account.

Now I understand that not everything has this feature or you may not want to use it. For instance, I pay my rent and credit card manually since they are large amounts and I have to make sure to time things right. For what you cannot set to autopay, I suggest you set a calendar reminder in your phone to pay them. Your credit cannot afford any mistakes.

Retirement

It is odd to think of retirement as soon as you get your first job, but you should. The more time your money sits in an account with interest, the more money you will have at the end of the process. Set up a retirement savings account right away! Most employers offer this with their full time benefits package. Many even match a percentage of what you save. Say an employer has a 50% match policy. This means that for every dollar you save in your retirement account, they will add $.50. This is free money. Free money that will also accumulate interest. You do not have to start off with a huge amount. Start off with a small percentage of your paycheck. As you find your footing and figure out your budget you might find that you can increase it without missing the money too much. Just remember that the more you have early on, the more money there is to grow interest off of.

Avoid Large Unnecessary Purchases

I cannot tell you how many people I see buying brand new cars right after graduation. You might get excited with your new paycheck and see that the car payment will fit in your budget. That does not mean you need it! If you have a working car, keep it. If you desperately need a car, get a used car at the very least. Cars are depreciating assets. If all you need is a vehicle to get you from Point A to Point B then get just what you need within your budget. Money spent on a new car is money that could have been earning interest in a savings or retirement account. Just don’t do it.

I sincerely hope that this information was useful, and if anyone wants more clarification on a topic let me know I would love to extrapolate. You can also read more of my finance tips here. There are so many things I know now that I wish I would have known just starting out. My hope is to help you all avoid some of my mistakes and start off on the right foot!

Have any additional tips for recent grads? Leave them in the comments.

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Avoid Over Packing with These Tips

Packing List

In a way, the perfect packing list is key to saving time and money on a trip. Most airlines charge for checked bags, anywhere from $25-$50. And that is each way. Might not seem like a lot, but why pay for something you could avoid? Plus, there is the benefit of not having to spend time checking your bag before your flight or having to wait for it after you land. So whether you are trying to make everything fit in a carry on or just trying to avoid a heavy suitcase, here are some tips for only packing what you need.

Clothing Packing List

Clothing is perhaps the biggest piece of packing for a trip. It is one of the most important parts – and takes up the most room as well. This is why carefully making a packing list is so crucial, you really can’t afford to waste any space. Here are some tips for packing clothes that will save time and money.

Check the Weather

Keep an eye on the weather up until the day before you are about to leave. Make sure you are packing clothes accordingly.

Plan Activities

Hopefully before your trip you have at least an idea of some of the activities you are going to do. Try to plan outfits that you would feel most comfortable doing these activities in. Are you spending your time at the beach? Or are you going to be hiking most of the trip? Maybe you plan to spend your time going to museums or shopping. Make a rough list of some of the activities you realistically plan to do, and create a packing list accordingly. Don’t pack some super nice dress “just in case” a fancy occasion pops up. It is your trip, if you don’t plan it then it won’t come up. Save the space.

Pack Outfits – Not Pieces

Do not throw a bunch of tops, bottoms, and shoes in your suitcase with the idea of making it all work once you get there. Not only will it likely not work, but you will be stressed out every morning trying to pick outfits. Instead pick outfits to put on your packing list (taking into consideration the weather and activities, as mentioned above) and stick to them. If you are more of a visual person like me, you can start keeping an album of go to outfits and you can pick from those. Read all about how I do this here.

Create a Standard Packing List

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you go somewhere. Create a template packing list that works for you and stick to it. It might take a few trips to tweak it just right, but after that you will feel much more at ease. Include a section with a list of the super important things that must be brought – such as travel documents and any medications you might use. Also list some of the things you most often forget, so that you always have them written down. My most forgotten item? Pajamas. Not the worst thing in the world, but still annoying.

To help you create a template, run through a typical day in your head. Write down all items that you would use and need. This should help you to remember some of the more mundane and easily forgotten items (like your PJs).

The Bottom Line

Having a perfect packing list will save you time and hassle (and maybe even a little money too!) Make sure you carefully select outfits with weather and activities in mind. Put together a template packing list for the feature so that you do not leave anything important behind. Most importantly, create your packing list and stick to it.

What is your most forgotten item?

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How to Become a Morning Person (and Not Dread Waking Up)

Morning Person

If you were to have told me five years ago that I would become a morning person I probably would have laughed in your face. All the way through high school I considered myself a night owl. Summers were spent staying up until 2 am then sleeping in until noon. Then struggling to get back into the rhythm when school started.

 

The hard truth is that the world revolves around the “8-5” model. Those are the operating hours for many businesses, and that is when most people are expected to be most productive. Therefore it is advantageous to be a morning person. I am not saying I agree with this model (it seriously gets annoying at times), but you will have a hard time fighting it. Many people believe that being a morning or night person is a trait they are born with and cannot change, but the good news is that you can. Being a morning person is a state of mind and a choice. If you are ready to choose to be a morning person, I have a few tips for you.

The Night Before

One major key to becoming a morning person is to do everything that you can the night before to streamline your morning routine. Pick out what you want to wear, pack your lunch, prepare the coffee, etc. I like to do as much as possible the night before so I can spend more time doing enjoyable activities in the morning instead of starting my day stressed out.

Choose a Wake up Time

Being a morning person means waking up early and enjoying your morning. Find out when you need to be awake for school, work, or whatever it is and wake up even earlier. You can ease into this at first. Say that you know it will take you an hour to get ready before work. Start by waking up an hour and a half before you need to leave. Or you could even start off with an extra fifteen minutes instead of 30. Part of the reason we begin to hate mornings is the rush and stress they sometimes become. Having more time to yourself to relax makes them far more enjoyable. As your body acclimates to your new wake up time, you might want set it even earlier.

Set One Alarm

Once you figure out your new wake up time set one alarm. Try your very hardest not to hit snooze. The quality of sleep you get during that in between time is poor and you are just losing time in the morning. The extra annoying alarm sounds put us in a bad mood as well. As soon as you hear your alarm get out of bed.

Do an Activity

Get up and get moving. Whether it is a full workout, a walk around your neighborhood, or some yoga. Yoga is my favorite, I do some great stress relieving poses to get my day started the right way. Either way, get the blood flowing as a signal to your body that it is time to start the day. If you are not sure what to do you can always go on YouTube and search for morning workouts. They are free and you can do them at home. Here is my favorite quick yoga routine for my mornings.

Plan Your Day

Planner
My Day Designer planner

Put yourself in a motivated mindset by planning out your day. List all activities you have planned and the things you need to get done. My time spent planning is one of my favorite parts of each morning. I sit down with my coffee and breakfast and put pen to paper. Having goals for the day motivates you to get more accomplished, and start the day feeling inspired.

Another great way to start your day is by writing down some things that you are grateful for. Reflect on the day before and write down all the good. Studies have proven that gratitude journals lower stress and promote calmness. Here is a great article about the benefits of showing gratitude if you want to learn more.

Sit Down to Eat

Take the time to sit down and eat a meal. Whether you want to whip up some eggs or just grab a yogurt. Find what breakfast you want to eat and sit down to enjoy your meal. I usually eat my breakfast while I plan my day. For me it’s a great time to separate myself from technology and enjoy the peace that comes with the morning.

Bottom Line

Being a morning person is a choice. Preparing the night before, waking up early, exercising, and taking time away from technology will help you to enjoy the beginning of everyday. I really want to encourage you to do some calming activities and to slow things down. I’ve come to appreciate the quiet times in the morning more than anything else.

Have any other tips I did not mention? I’d love to hear them!

 

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Vegas: How Much a Trip Really Costs for Two People

Las Vegas

A couple of weeks ago my boyfriend and I took a four day trip to Las Vegas. To be honest, it is probably the first big trip that I have planned and paid for all by myself since graduating college and I was so excited. Saving money for this trip was easy, and I break down how you can do it in this post!

Since this blog is all about saving money, part of that including traveling, I thought I would show you how I did. Coming up in some future blog posts I would like to break down the individual processes of how I pick things as well. But for now here is an overview of my trip and an estimate of how much it cost. Enjoy!

For each category I will have totals, and remember that these are the totals for two people, not one!

Airfare to Vegas

So usually the big ticket item on a trip out of town in the plane ticket. We purchased ours in February for a May trip. To get the cheapest flight, we were pretty flexible in the weekend we decided to go. After playing around with some options, a Saturday-Tuesday trip seemed to be the cheapest option with a weekend included (I wanted to save some vacation time and only take two days off of work).

We decided to fly Southwest for a couple of reasons. One, my boyfriend has a rewards card with points he could redeem for his flight. So he already knew that was the airline he was going to go with. I on the other hand do not have any rewards points, so I was open to any options within my price range.

After looking, Frontier had the cheapest fares. I have never flown Frontier, but my boyfriend has and even said he had a good experience. However I am still skeptical about the whole thing (I have seen tons of bad reviews, it has to be cheap for a reason, right?) Still I considered it before I had a major realization. Frontier charges for bags (whether you check or carry on, so be careful if you do fly with them!) So even if I had a carry on for a bag, I would be paying $35 each way, for a total of $75 the entire trip. That plus the ticket price was actually more than a Southwest ticket, who has free baggage (carry on and one checked bag free).

So I went with Southwest!

Total for Flight and Bags:

$271.89

Hotel

Of course the next most important detail is the hotel. My boyfriend has been to Vegas several times, and is a part of a rewards club. He had gotten an email offering a free hotel stay at one of a few select hotels in Las Vegas.

(the view from our room)

So we looked through the list and decided to go with the LINQ Hotel. We were able to get the Deluxe King room and a view overlooking the Ferris wheel (the biggest in the world). While the room was free, we had to pay a fee for some things like the internet, which was $30 a day.

Total for Hotel:

$102.04

Transportation

Thankfully we stayed in the middle of the Las Vegas strip, so most of what we wanted to do was within walking distance. However there were sometimes where transportation was necessary. For those instances we used Uber. We used Uber four separate rides: to and from the airport, as well as to and from one of the shows we went to.

Total for Transportation:

$62.07

Entertainment

When in Vegas, you have to go to a show. We chose to go to Penn & Teller (amazing, by the way!) Buying the tickets the day of (found on this website) saved $10-$20 on each ticket, so we got each one for about $61.50 plus applicable fees.

We also decided to go on the High Roller Ferris Wheel. It is the tallest Ferris wheel in the world, and it was right next to our hotel – I couldn’t say no to that. Tickets are normally $37 a person, but when I signed up for the rewards program at the casino we stayed at I got a coupon for 2 for 1 ride! It was a great surprise because we were already planning on doing it, but it was cheaper now.

Other than that we spent out stay just walking around from casino to casino looking at themes and great displays, which of course was free.

(beautiful flowers at the Bellagio Conservatory – free to view!)

Total for Entertainment:

$183.45

Food

Of all the activities we did in Vegas, food was probably the most expensive.

Day One:

Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen & Bar

We got some trash can brisket nachos to share and each got our own burger.

$61.50 + tip

Day Two:

Wicked Spoon Buffet

I had heard so much about this buffet and had to try it – and it did not disappoint. Weekend brunch was $36 a person.

Day Three:

Hash House a Go Go

Decided to try this place since it was located in our hotel and it was fantastic! I got the Tractor Driver combo – a HUGE red velvet pancake, bacon, and eggs. And my boyfriend got the Sage Fried Chicken Benedict (one of the things they are known for).

$30.98 + tip

Gordon Ramsay Burger

We stopped in here mid-day after doing some walking around town. We weren’t too hungry, so we split the Hells’ Kitchen burger – and it was possibly the best burger I have ever had.

$15 + tip

Virgil’s Real Barbecue

Walked past this place late at night and it smelled so good we decided to go in. Got the pig out platter with ribs, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, and corn bread. Yummy!

$24.38 + tip

Day Four:

Cravings Buffet – The Mirage

We ended the trip with a simple buffet. We went during the weekday brunch for $20.99. For the price, this was a great value. Plenty of options to choose from and there was no crowd or lines to deal with.

$41.98

Total for Food:

$246.44

Other Notes

Of course we did some gambling and bought souvenirs, but I am not going to include all of that since it was unnecessary and just what we decided to do.

Also I mentioned a few times that we used a rewards program throughout this trip and it helped so much! This is how we got the hotel for so cheap, and got various coupons. We also got free tickets to a show, and two free drink tickets we could use at various casinos. I highly suggest signing up when you get there if you haven’t already. It will help for the current trip as well as future ones.

Total Expense

So for hotel, airfare, food, transportation, and entertainment we spent a total of $865.89 on the trip total for two people. Under $1000 total for a four day trip is not too bad in my book!

Bottom Line

I think my first trip planned was a success and actually probably cheaper than expected. Eating big meals once a day saves tons of money. Also, being a part of a rewards program certainly helped with the costs, and I highly recommend to anyone going to Vegas.

What trip are you planning in the upcoming months and how do you plan to save money?

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The Easiest Way to Save Money for What You Love

save money

My first few months after graduating college I lived in constant fear of running out of money. The salary from my job was just enough to cover rent, bills, groceries, savings, and left a couple of hundred dollars for all else. I remember being so excited to have my first apartment to myself, but not having enough money to decorate it the way I wanted to. One of my biggest fears after graduation was that I would run out of money and have to call my parents to bail me out. I needed to prove that I could manage my money wisely, but that turned into depriving myself from everything that wasn’t a necessity.

After being fed up with that, I made a few changes to the way I dealt with my financial situation. One, I created a budget spreadsheet that I use almost every day. And two, I created a separate bank account for the fun stuff.

Saving Money

At first this bank account didn’t have a real purpose. I knew I wanted it to be “guilt free” money, but I was not sure for what exactly. So I would go shopping and buy things I really wanted (my first purchase on the card was a vinyl record player—best fun purchase ever!) However, since the account really had no purpose, I was spending the money here and there on little things and I was not getting the satisfaction I was wanting.

Then, at the beginning of 2017 I started to redefine my goals (new goals for a new year, groundbreaking I know). I had just gotten back from a family vacation to Cancun and completely obsessed with traveling more. So I made a decision and started saving in my travel account. I started small, and built up over time to get where I am today. At my rate currently, I am saving $2,600 a year for travel! Crazy right? A small amount every couple of weeks makes a big difference. The best part is that the amount is constant every other week. I can plan for a trip in December, and calculate how much I will have by multiplying $50 for every week up until the trip to see what I will have to spend.

How to Save for the Fun Stuff

If you would like to take the same journey I did and have a separate account for the things you love (or just save money to your regular savings account), here are some tips I have to get you started:

Pick Your Purpose

Don’t make the same mistake I did and save without having a specific idea in mind about what the money is for. If you don’t have a purpose for it, you will spend it on unimportant things that you will forget about in a matter of weeks. Think of something you love doing, but takes money. Maybe it’s a manicure, shopping spree, or travel like me. Find whatever makes you happy and that you would be excited to spend money on and write it down.

Set a Goal

Set a goal of how much money you want to save and how often. Start with something small and manageable and work your way up. I started off saving $50 every two weeks, then increased that to $75, and now it is at $100. Once you realize that you don’t even really miss that money, you can push yourself further and further. If you get a regular paycheck, I suggest you pick a schedule that coincides with those days. That will make it easier to save as soon as you get the money.

Save Automatically

The best tip I can give you to make this as painless as possible is to set up autopay and let your bank do its thing. For me, I have $100 out of every paycheck of mine go to my travel checking account. This way I do not even see the money deposited into my main checking account, and don’t even think about it. It never touches the account I use on the daily basis, and the only way for me to use that money is to take out that particular debit card, or to transfer to my main account (which I never do).

Keep Reminders around You of Your Purpose

Saving is much easier when you can picture your goal. If you are saving for travel like me, have a board of travel destinations you would love to go to. If you want a shopping spree, keep a wish list of the clothes you will buy once you have saved enough money. Always remind yourself of your why. You will be less likely to back out.

Spend without Guilt

My last step of course is to spend the money without guilt. Go into your purpose and not feel bad thinking you are wasting money. You earned it! You saved it! You made a goal and stuck to it and now you get to enjoy the rewards. Keep mementos and pictures to use as reminders for your future saving.

Bottom Line

In order to save the most money as painlessly as possible you should define what it is you are saving for, arrange a payment schedule you can stick to, set up automatic payments to that account, keep your purpose in your mind, and spend your money the way you want! This method is easy and effective, and I hope it enables you to spend more time doing the things you love.

What purpose would you like to save more money for?

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Subscription Beauty Boxes: Are They Really Worth It?

subscription beauty boxes

If you have never tried one before, you are probably wondering if subscription beauty boxes are worth it. In the past few years it seems like every kind of subscription box has developed, but beauty boxes have been out there for a while.

I was subscribed to Birchbox for years, but cancelled after constantly having to change the address since I was moving around a lot for college. Then, about a year and a half ago I subscribed to Ipsy.

If you cannot tell already, my answer is a yes. I love subscription beauty boxes. And I will give you four reasons why they are worth the $10 below.

Where I Get Most of My Makeup

I would estimate that I get about 60% of the makeup that I use on the daily basis from my Ipsy bag. I use the make up that much. I get tons of make up essentials, like cool new mascaras to classic black liners. I believe $10 is completely worth it, I could barely get one piece of make up for that even at the drugstore, and these are name brands.

Travel Size

Another advantage to subscription beauty boxes is that they are travel size. The benefit to this is two fold. One, they are the perfect size for traveling. Also, this little size is just enough. We might deny it to ourselves, but makeup does go bad. In fact you are supposed to get rid of mascaras every three months. Who could use a full tube in that short period of time? I get bored with things very easily, so the small travel size is just perfect enough for me to get use out of, without wasting money.

Find New Products

I’m not one to test the waters too much. I find things I like, and tend to stick with them. But new makeup is fun to try, so I am glad to have Ipsy to help get me out of my comfort zone. I have found so many amazing products, sometimes from brands I have never even heard of. Without Ipsy I probably never would have stumbled across these products, so I am super thankful for that.

“Treat Yo’self”

One of the things I love most about my subscription beauty box is all the fun things I get and being able to look forward to getting it every month. From fun nail polish colors to glitter eyeliner, I really enjoy seeing all the quirky products that month. I’m also not one to buy things like face masks or hair oils, so I get all the products I need to pamper myself in my Ipsy box.

Ipsy Bonus

One thing Ipsy does differently is that it isn’t a box. It’s a bag. These cute little travel bags get use from me. They are great for traveling or keeping in your purse. I love that they can serve another purpose after they’ve brought you all your products.

My April Bag

Wanna see an example of what to expect? Below is my April bag!

First of all, the bag is so cute! My favorite products so far are definitely the TONYMOLY LipCare Stick and the OFRA blush. Can’t wait to try that beautiful light pink polish as well.

Bottom line

For $10, I get most of my staple pieces of makeup, some fun pieces, and without wasting product/money and huge containers. Plus it’s a great little surprise every month. If you are thinking of subscribing, I highly recommend an Ipsy subscription.

Do you participate in any subscription boxes? If so what do you like/not like about it?

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