lifestyle, tips

Tips for Saving Money Each Month

Hi all,

I can’t believe I almost missed today’s post with just a few days left in my blogging challenge!

But I made it in time, and I’m here to share some money saving hacks with you.

These are little things you can do each month to help you save here and there, and eventually you small monthly savings will add up over time.

All of these things don’t require much effort and are therefore easy to start or implement into your current monthly routine.

Let’s jump right in!

Set up a monthly budget. If you don’t have one already, you should absolutely create a budget ASAP. You can use online resources like Mint or do it on your own. Creating a budget doesn’t have to be anything complicated, just list out all of the expenses you know you have each month, then list out any luxuries that you splurge on regularly. Subtract your monthly expenses from your monthly income, and you’ll get an idea of how much money you have left over. If you notice that you don’t have much left over each month, you may want to consider spending less on luxuries or cutting some out altogether.

Contribute to a savings account. If you don’t already have a separate bank account just for savings, the first thing you need to do is create one. This is an extra account that is not meant to be used or even touched for a long period of time. Once you have the account, make sure you are contributing to it every month (or every 2 weeks, if you can swing it). I have a set transfer from my checking account to my savings account, occurring twice monthly. As my expenses and my salary change, I change this amount, but I do make sure it is always happening bi-monthly. I’ve managed to save up a nice chunk over the last year or so, and because my transfer isn’t a huge amount and it happens automatically, I hardly even notice the money coming out.

Bring your lunch. If you work full time, you may have fallen into the pattern of going out or buying lunch every day. Not only does this get expensive, it also probably isn’t the most healthy option. Since I started working full time 6 years ago, I have always made and/or brought my lunches to work, and it blows my mind to hear others talk about how much money they spend in a week on food. I light to eat multiple light meals throughout the day and then a big dinner at night, so I bring things like granola bars, fruit, rice cakes, protein shakes, cheese, raw vegetables, and nuts with me to work with me. Meal prepping is another great option; my sister makes all of her lunches for the week on Sunday, and she packs things like salad, guac and hummus with pita and vegetables, cooked vegetables, grilled chicken, baked sweet potatoes, you name it! When you’re buying and making your own food, you’ll likely save money AND you’ll know exactly what’s going into your food.

Don’t pay full price for things. Okay, so this isn’t always an option, but when you can manage it you’ll probably save yourself from spending a lot of extra money. Let’s talk shopping, for example. I have a post about apps you can use to save money while shopping, and one of them helps you to track items that you want to buy. It notifies you when they go on sale, so you can wait before buying something to see if the price goes down. I recently did this with a new pair of Steve Madden slides I’ve been wanting. They caught my eye weeks ago but I made myself wait to see if they would go on sale, and they did this weekend! I ordered them today at 30% off (plus 10% cash back!) and saved big! That money I would’ve spent by paying full price can now be saved for something else in the future. I know it can be hard to be patient living in this instantly gratifying world that we do, but forcing yourself to shop a little smarter (and not instantly buy every pretty thing you see) is a good exercise that I think a lot of us could benefit from.

Those are my quick hacks for saving a little bit each month.

Whether you want to have more spending money, are saving up for a house, or anything in between, I believe that these small efforts can pay you big dividends if you stick to them.

Feel free to share any additional tips you have for saving, or shopping smarter!

You guys know by now that I love a good shopping score. 🙂 ❤

beauty, lifestyle

My Daily Skincare Routine

Hi all, and Happy Easter to those who celebrate!

I’m on my way to our second family dinner for the day, but wanted to make sure I get today’s post in.

I’m going to share my daily skincare routine, including the products I use to wash and moisturize my face.

I don’t wear makeup on a regular basis, so I won’t be including that in this post.

I’ll probably do a future post with the makeup products I use and how I use them, though, if you guys are interested!

So here we go…daily skincare routine!

Step 1: Morning Wash

I wash my face once per day, in the morning.

I use a basic Cetaphil daily cleanser, which is unscented and great for sensitive skin.

I had a lot of acne and skin issues when I was younger, so I try to stick to tested and true products that are dermatologist recommended, which is how I found this cleanser.

I use it every day and it leaves my skin feeling clean and refreshed without drying out my face.

Step 2: Moisturize

After washing my face, I rub it dry with a clean hand towel.

I have been told in the past to pat my skin dry, but I actually feel that rubbing it with the towel helps add some extra exfoliation to my daily routine, and that’s been working for me.

I use Neutragena face lotion on my face immediately after washing and drying.

There is a sensitive skin version that works perfectly for me, but when I’m going to be running or spending time outside I use the one with SPF 15.

I do feel that the one with sunscreen in it makes my face feel just a little bit greasy; it’s not enough to make me break out or anything like that, but still enough of a reason for me to use the one without sunscreen if I’m going to be sitting in the office all day.

That’s really all I do to my face in the morning, and I don’t wash it at night unless I’ve had makeup on.

I use this Garnier makeup remover when I do wear makeup, and it works really well.

It is great for getting off any kind of makeup, including waterproof, and is gentle on the skin.

It even works well for removing eye makeup, and I obviously avoid getting it in my eyes but it doesn’t irritate them when it’s close to them or anything like that.

The only other thing that I do for my skin is derma roll about twice a week.

As I mentioned, I used to have a lot of acne as a teen, so I do have some scarring on my face and I just feel that my skin has gotten damaged over the years.

For those who aren’t familiar, derma rolling basically involves taking a tool with a spiked roller on the end and rubbing it over your skin.

It feels a little prickly but isn’t too painful, and it helps your skin regenerate itself.

I get lazy with rolling sometimes and don’t stick to the twice weekly schedule, but I do see an increase in smoothness, softness, and radiance of my skin when I’m doing it regularly.

There are also people who use derma rollers on areas of the scalp where their hair is thinning, and some see hair regrowth after doing it for a little while!

Those are basically all of the things that I use on my skin.

This is a bit of a simple post, but I feel that the less stuff I am putting on my face, the better.

When I was younger I put so many creams and treatments on my skin, I felt like it was always irritated and it got red so easily.

When it comes to skincare, I’ve definitely learned that less is more, and hopefully this approach can work well for some of you.

I hope you enjoy the rest of your day and have a great week! ♥️😊

See you next time.

books, tips

How I Read 50+ Books in One Year

Hey everyone,

Today I want to talk about a big goal that I accomplished recently.

Last year i set out to read 50 books in 365 days, and I was able to do it!

I read as often as I have time to, but this was still far more books than I’d previously read in one year.

Now, by some readers’ standards 50 books in one year isn’t a lot, but I was impressed with myself being able to read this many books while training for a marathon, planning a wedding, and working full time.

Here are a few ways I was able to maximize my reading time, and make progress towards my goal even with a hectic schedule.

Bring a book everywhere you go

We’ve all had to endure unexpected delays or wait times for things.

Luckily, with modern technology most of us are able to stay amused or pass the time on the Internet or playing around on our phones, but having a book on you during that time can make a big difference when it comes to reaching your reading goals.

I usually try to keep a book with me when I know I’ll have downtime, like when I’m getting on a plane or going to be waiting at the dentist’s office.

While trying to meet my reading goal last year, I started to become very aware of times that I could’ve been reading, but wasn’t able to because I didn’t have a hard copy book or one loaded onto my phone.

It was at that point that I started to carry a book with me wherever I went, even if I didn’t think I’d have time to pull it out.

I ended up having a lot more additional reading opportunities than I expected, so always having the book there allowed me to capitalize on those moments and, therefore, get further ahead in my goal

Use audiobooks and e-readers

So, I’m very much one of those people who doesn’t like to read books on electronic devices.

However, I decided to make an exception to help me meet my goal last year, and it did prove to be very effective.

For some reason it is actually socially acceptable these days to ignore others to stare at your phone, but if you pull out a book in a public setting you get a lot of weird looks and are deemed antisocial.

I don’t understand this, but there are a lot of other social “norms” that baffle me, so I decided to get a couple of books on my phone and in those very situations I was able to read quietly to myself without “disturbing” others by whipping out a few-hundred-page book and slapping it on top of a table.

I also made good use of my two hour round-trip commute by listening to audiobooks on my way to and from work.

Not only did my drive go by much faster those days, but I was able to get through even more books.

I was worried my attention span or retention level wouldn’t be as great when listening to a book rather than actually seeing the words, but I got really into the stories and, especially when there were talented narrators, the book stuck in my mind just as it would if I had read a hard copy

Set aside time to read each day – and stick to it

Saying you are going to read every day is one thing, but actually following through with that is another.

At the end of my workdays my brain tends to be exhausted, as do my eyes after staring at a computer screen for hours on end.

I often find myself getting lazy when it comes to reading, but because I had a goal to work towards last year I really made myself commit to nightly reading before bed.

Promising myself I was going to do so, and then actually pushing myself to do it, really helped me stick to reading on a regular basis.

Replace screen time (and other activities) with reading

Like I mentioned, I’m very tired when I get home from work.

A lot of times all I want to do, and all that I end up doing, is binging mindless TV series.

It’s much easier to stare at a screen and not have to think much, especially when you’re mentally overexerted, but it’s not nearly as rewarding as sitting down and reading a book after a long day.

In order to make time for reading in my busy schedule, I had to swap out a few other things.

Late night TV watching was one of those things, but I didn’t miss it much once I got into reading at night before bed.

I was actually much more relaxed on nights when I skipped my teen dramas for a novel, and found that my mind was a lot calmer, as well.

Share your goals and progress with others

This is a common method for trying to stick to goals; when you share your aspirations with others, not only are you holding yourself accountable, you have an outside source that’s holding you accountable as well.

By sharing my reading goal with friends and family, I was even more motivated to make it happen.

Whenever I was asked how the reading was going, it was a friendly reminder to me that I had to keep going.

In a way, my telling others that I would read 50 books in one year was me speaking it into reality, and after that it was up to me to keep that statement honest.

The bottom line is that, even though we all have so much going on in our lives, there is always time to do what we love or what we truly want to accomplish.

I thoroughly enjoyed getting to read so much last year, and I learned a few new ways to make reading more present in my life.

If you really want to make something happen, like reading a certain number of books in a year, all you have to do is take that plunge and fully commit to it.

Make the time to read, and then stick to it. Always have some form of a book with you, and use all of the extra time you have to read that book. And, of course, make sure you are enjoying what you’re reading.

There’s no shame in closing a book that just isn’t doing anything for you after 50-100 pages.

Reading is a way for us to gain knowledge but it’s also a form of escape for a lot of us.

If it starts to feel like a chore or if you find yourself dreading opening up a certain book, it’s time to cut your losses and move on to the next one.

I discovered so many wonderful and touching stories last year, and I can’t wait to discover more this year.

Happy reading, and I hope these tips help you maximize your book-devouring potential

Comment below to let me know some other ways you’re able to meet your reading goals. ❤ 🙂

lifestyle, tips

My Best and Worst Traits

Hi everyone,

Part of my goal with this blogging challenge, and this blog in general, is to let you guys get to know me better.

Today I’m taking a look inward and thinking about what my best and worst traits are.

These are based on self-observation, as well as things I’ve heard from others time and time again.

It’s not easy to point out to an entire virtual universe of strangers what your worst qualities are (or your best ones if you are a modest person), but I’ve done it and I’m ready to share with you all.

My best and worst traits are that I am…

Empathetic: I’ve always been very good at seeing things from other people’s point of views and understanding what others might be feeling.

I think it might be due to the fact that I got interested in reading at a young age, which exposed me to a broad range of emotions and got me used to looking at things through the eyes of so many different storytellers.

I see this as a positive trait because it helps me communicate better with others and sometimes it helps me to know what my loved ones need and exactly when they need it.

I look at empathy as a deep emotional understanding of others, and it’s something that I think is important to develop and use regularly.

Selfless: This is likely driven by my empathy, but I consider myself to be a pretty selfless person.

I enjoy doing things for others and I have no problem sacrificing certain things in my own life if I feel it will make the people I care about happier or better off.

I think another reason why I am able to practice selflessness is because I also have like-minded people in my life who make sure I am taken care of.

A challenge for selfless people is that they get too caught up in making others happy and they forget to check in with themselves or do things to promote their own happiness, so I’m grateful that my husband, family members, and friends look out for me and, therefore, give me the ability to do the same for them.

Driven: I am not really an aggressive person, but I am absolutely a go-getter, and I often refuse to accept limitations.

I used to think this meant I was stubborn, but I’ve found that it’s actually just determination and has helped me get a lot further in terms of my career and my personal relationships.

I’m generally a soft-spoken person, but my drive keeps me from being a doormat or from being passed over for things, as can sometimes happen to quieter people.

Moody: Clearly this is falling into the “worst traits” category.

I try not to let hormones or mood swings affect me, but it can’t be denied. Sometimes I am just plain moody.

I’ve tried to be more conscious about not taking out stress on other people, but I still haven’t mastered controlling my emotions enough to stop this from happening yet.

It’s definitely a challenge and something I’m continuing to work on improving.

Perfectionist: This one isn’t all bad, but it does cause me to put a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself and, at times, others.

I get so obsessed with making sure things are the best they can be that sometimes I push too hard or set unrealistic expectations for myself.

I can’t help but feel like a failure when I don’t execute things flawlessly, but I’m practicing giving myself a bit of a break here and there.

I do think that constantly striving for improvement can be a positive thing, and I try to let my perfectionism feed my drive and make my work better, without letting it completely take over my view of things.

Closed off: I’ve always been a very private person and tend to keep my emotions bottled up inside.

Sometimes I think this helps me because I can keep from getting overly emotional about things, but it can also be really bad when I let things build up too much and try to handle the burden of everything I’m dealing with completely on my own.

I’ve actually been forcing myself to open up more in a work setting, which is something I never thought would be a good idea.

Just this afternoon I opened up to my supervisor for the first time about things that have been bothering me and affecting my attitude at work, and I’m so glad I talked to him about it.

I felt so much better just having gotten these things off my chest and I felt optimistic about the future knowing that my concerns were really being heard.

One thing that I noticed as I was writing this is that a lot of the traits I consider to be my “best” could actually become bad things if taken too far, and a lot of my “worst” traits have benefited me in some way in the past.

I think the key to being a successful, kind, and grounded person is just finding balance within yourself.

Do some self-reflection and be honest with yourself about good and bad traits that you have.

Once you’ve discovered those traits, think of how they can be used to your advantage or how you can challenge yourself to become a better person either because, or in spite of, them.

When I set out to write this post, it was just another item on my list of things to complete this month.

I didn’t think that I’d actually learn about myself, or about the philosophy of who we are as people in general.

I’ve really enjoyed this one and I hope that my insights can be useful or even inspirational to anyone who reads this.

It’s only day 3 of my blogging challenge but I’m now even more excited to keep going with this, because it will be interesting to see how I can grow throughout the process and what I might find out about myself along the way.

Hope you enjoy the rest of your day, and don’t forget to come back tomorrow to see my day 4 post. ❤ 🙂

lifestyle

29 and Feeling Fine: Reflecting on the Last Year and Celebrating the Start of a New One

Today I am 29 years old and I have to say, I’m not as upset about it as I thought I would be. 

Around my 24th birthday I started worrying about getting older and the negative effects that could have on my body and my life, but my perspective on aging has really shifted in a positive way over the last couple of years.

Today, I find myself assured and excited for what 29 will bring.

Part of my newfound excitement about getting older is due to the great last few years I’ve had.

It seems like every year has brought big life changes and wonderful things to look forward to for me and, though hard times certainly do come along with the good ones, it’s all a part of life and a part of who I am and eventually will become.

Today I’m looking back on this past year and everything that being 28 has brought me. I’m also thinking about my goals for 29 and how to make the most of my last year before turning 30.

What I’m Proud Of
At 28, I trained for and ran my very first marathon, and I got to run NYC!

This has been a dream of mine for a while, but that I was unable to accomplish in years past because of a recurring ankle injury (I’ll probably do a separate post on this at some point, because it’s quite the story).

Training for the marathon was really, really hard. And running it back in November was even harder.

Even with all of my training, my determination, and the support of my loved ones I still questioned whether I could finish the race or whether I should have even signed up in the first place.

But guess what? I did finish. And I learned way more about myself and my body than I expected to that day.

I learned how much inner strength I have and I was reminded that, even when I feel like I have nothing left, I am always able to push myself a little harder. 

Another life-changing moment I had at 28 was losing my Godmother to cancer.

She left us sooner than expected and, even though she had been sick for a while, her parting was abrupt.

I didn’t get to say goodbye or to see her one last time, but I find comfort in remembering the times we had together and in knowing that she was aware of how much I loved her.

I got to honor her while running the NYC marathon for a charity that raises money for critical cancer research.

If you’ve read my other posts you probably already know that I got married a couple of months ago, which was obviously the highlight of this last year.

I had the most perfect wedding and, more importantly, my husband and I officially became family.

I’ve grown so much over the past few years that we’ve been together, and the year leading up to our marriage was no different.

At 28, I still had a lot to learn about compromise, personal growth, and being proud of who I am.

Planning a wedding with my husband and completing every step in the process alongside one another was a really positive experience for us.

So it’s not just the wedding or the marriage that 28 gave to me, it’s everything else I gained leading up to it.

What I Struggled With
A huge misconception I’ve always had about aging is that once you get to a certain age, you have it all figured out.

At 28 I learned, once again, that no one really knows what they’re doing in life (regardless of how old they are). 

I definitely made mistakes at 28—I found myself getting caught up in drama and pettiness that I should have just turned the other cheek to. 

Getting pulled into the unhappiness of others is something I’ve struggled with before, but this past year I got better at recognizing it and started to practice distancing myself from certain people or situations when necessary.

I also learned to prioritize my happiness—both at work and in my personal life.

Agency life gets crazy, especially during the summer and winter months because there’s a ton of work that needs to get done all at the same time.

28 brought plenty of late nights, 60-hour-weeks, and frustrated tears that I’d only let loose while sitting in traffic during my morning commute.

It’s hard to find a good work-life balance in most professions, and it gets even harder when you’re set on proving yourself and trying to climb the corporate ladder as quickly as possible.

I definitely overworked myself last year, and it wasn’t until I almost hit a breaking point that I realized things needed to change.

Overall, it ended up turning to a positive situation because being at that low point forced me to set more boundaries and take a stand for myself and for my own mental health. 

It also motivated me to speak up to my superiors about what I want and need in order to do my job as effectively as possible.

Because to be successful and to produce great work, you have to have the energy and motivation to care about what you’re doing.

In terms of my personal life, I noticed at 28 that I was regressing back into a state of trying to impress people and caring way too much about how others perceived me.

I fought really hard throughout high school and college to love myself and not to let the bitter, harsh words of others affect how I viewed myself. 

But years later there I was, lying awake at night worrying that what I wrote in my Bridal Shower Thank You cards didn’t sound grateful enough.

That people thought I was ugly because I opted not to wear makeup to parties I attended.

That my future husband’s family disliked me because of rumors they’d heard from other people.

Around the same time I hit a breaking point at work, I was also hitting rock bottom in terms of my personal life and self-esteem.

I was worrying too much about pleasing others and obsessing over every random “what if?” that popped into my head. 

Eventually I was forced to accept that no matter what I did or how hard I tried, I was never going to get everyone to approve of everything I did.

I decided to focus on what was truly most important—the person I was inside, the way I treated others, and making time for the things I enjoyed and was passionate about.

Once I decided to concentrate on those things, I spent much less energy on the things I couldn’t—and shouldn’t even bother to—change.

I realigned my priorities and all of the other nonsense became white noise.

I spent my time working towards what I really wanted and enjoyed and that confident, optimistic, relaxed version of myself returned just in time.

Looking Forward
There is a lot I want to accomplish over the next year, and I’m ready to work for it.

I will definitely be working hard to grow my blog and Instagram.

There is so much I want to share with all of you and so much that I can learn from you, as well. I have big goals in mind and can’t wait to see how much I can accomplish.

It’s going to be wonderful writing my “Turning 30” post a year from today and reflecting on how much my more life I’ll have added to my blog by then.

I have big fitness and running goals that are still shaping themselves in my mind—I’d love to run another marathon.

I’d love to finally get a defined 6-pack. And I DEFINITELY need to replace the unhealthy foods in my diet with fruits and vegetables (or art least find more of a balance).

I also have a lot to look forward to over the next 12 months.

My husband and I are building our forever home and will likely be moving into it before my next birthday.

I’m getting closer and closer to a promotion at work—the position I’ve been wanting to reach since much earlier in my career.

My sister is getting married and two of my best friends have new babies that I’ll get to love and watch grow.

There is so much excitement and happiness surrounding me on this day and in the near future, and my main goal for 29 is to keep this feeling and this attitude even when things aren’t looking as bright.

I know new challenges will present themselves to me over the next year.

Old challenges will surely resurface as well, and I may end up re-learning some old lessons that I thought I had already mastered.

But this is life, constantly testing and humbling us. If I can stay true to myself and my morals in the face of all adversity, then I know I’ll be just fine.

Thanks for taking this journey with me. When is everyone’s birthday and how old are you turning? What are your big goals for the next year of your life?

Share with me below!