Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Discount Fashion Files

Today I'm loving these styles from kanaca.  You have to browse around but they offer some great designer styles for a fraction of the price.

 This is such a cool look.  The striped vest is only $27!

 Wow, what a funky jacket and it's just $35.

I love this cute striped top for $30.

The staple black maxi dress for just $28!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A kinder, gentler philosophy of success

Here's a great TED Talk that might help you alleviate some stress.  Enjoy!

Alain de Botton: A kinder, gentler philosophy of success

5 Things I Live By

Rain Bucket
Via backpackphotography
Several years ago when I got my very first promotion in the beauty industry I was on top of the world.  Finally, after years of hard work and making coffee my talents were being recognized and I knew that I had a promising career path ahead of me.  An industry that I loved, a good salary, benefits, 401(k) -- I was on my way.  Months later the company went bankrupt and I was laid off.  And that's the way the cookie crumbles.

One moment everything's great and the next it's shit.  Life is like an ocean, and here we are just riding the waves.  My dad used to tell me that the key is to stay level.  When things are going good, don't get high.  This way when things turn for the worse you won't get too low.  Native American spiritual warriors talk about this control of emotions and how important it is to master.  Taoism and Zen philosophy does as well.  So this is what I attempt to do in order to avoid stress and still live a life of abundance.

5 things I Live By:

1. My Work Is Not My Worth
I work and then I let it go. I'm all about going with the flow.  Not internalizing my goals or my ambitions because that's what causes stress.  I work and I plan but my work does not define me.  My happiness, my appreciation for life, my love for the earth and people around me, my passion for music and art, my ideas -- these are what define me.  Success does not make you happy, it may make you financially secure but life is so much more than that.  The great spiritual leader Osho says, "Life should not be taken as work but as play."

2. Don't Trust Employer
If they give me a great 401(k) plan great, but I don't depend on it.  I take my finances into my own hands with stock investments and 4N1Fund.  After getting burned once I refuse to let it happen again.  I could lose my job tomorrow, my employer could make the wrong investment choices for me.  By taking it in my own hands I feel more in control.  I make payments to 4N1Fund each month, which they leverage by combining it with other group members (social networking meets investing).  And I'm guaranteed a tax free income stream in the future that does not depend on the market.  If the market crashed tomorrow the amount of retirement money coming to me would not change!

3. Run
Running alleviates my stress more than anything.  It also challenges me and I see it as a metaphor for life.  The progress is slow but it's there.  I just believe in myself and I make it happen.  I don't think to hard and in fact I don't think at all when I'm running.  I breath.  And I go.  And I make it further each time and I feel better each time.  I feel stronger and I'm happier.  And so I wake up the next morning and do it all over.

4. Meditate
Meditation is the best way to quiet your mind, to separate yourself from the ego and to just be.  It's important to remember that your ego is not who you are.  Your ego in fact is what holds you back.  Cartesian philosophy introduced the idea of the self as the center of the universe but many other cultures and modes of thought believe otherwise.  When you begin to strip self or the ego out of the equation, your worries melt away.  When you surrender to the universe -- you are free.  Lao Tzu says, "There is nowhere to go, you are already there."

5. Live Life
It's so short!  Just live it, enjoy it.  Move on.  Appreciate.  Be grateful.  Have fun!  Stop searching for meaning.  The very meaning is being alive.  That's it.  It's not deep, not a struggle.  The profound is in the simplicity.  And that's beautiful.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cash Chronicles - Entry #1

Online payday loan
In an attempt to blog more frequently and revamp my posts so readers actually find them useful and relatable I've decided to make weekly post about my personal journey to save money and become financially stable without worrying all the time.

I come from a modest background, I was raised by a single mother in New York City.  My mom was well educated and cultured and she made sure that my brother and I were also.  We went to the best private schools, took music lessons, studied art and theater etc.  All the while, my mother was struggling to provide those things.  She sacrificed and stressed in order to take care of us.  My mother is an amazing woman as I'm sure most mother's are.  I'm grateful for her and I am who I am because of her.  But stress ruined her life.  She became very ill because of it and eventually stress killed her.

Now it's my mission not only to be financially successful but to do it without stress. 

Stress is a leading killer among Americans.  We live in a fast paced, goal oriented society that values success and ambition more than anything else.

I'm an ambitious person, growing up in NYC I really had no other choice but to be.  In order to learn how to deal with my own stress I began studying several Eastern philosophies and have come to realize that I believe in many Taoist principles.

The main principle of taoism is not to be ambitious but to go with the flow.  To be present, not living for the future, but appreciating the moment.  After a  mini stress related breakdown of my own, I finally understand what this means and I feel free.  Free from worry and stress.

In my blog I simply want to share my experiences with others. On this site I'll recommend several tools and tricks I've found that keep me living a happy stress free life.  Also I'll share tools I use to be more financially responsible.

I hope you enjoy!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Discount Fashion Files

I don't consider myself to be a fashionista.  I do, however, consider myself to be a smart shopper that likes looking cute.  Here are some of my favorite styles for less, all of them can be found over at yesstyle.

You can't beat these comfy, stylish pants for $16.

I just love harem pants.  These are just$19.50

I love this look.  Comfy and chic.  Great price at $22.50.

I love this chiffon blouse and you can't beat it for $31.50.

I'm a huge fan of jumpsuits.  My style tends to center around chic, loose fitting, flowy clothes.  For my everyday styles, I need to be comfortable.  And this print jumpsuit is a great find at $30!

I like this one also for $34.20.

A couple things to keep in mind when shopping overseas:
1. Size - know your measurements and you should be able to find the perfect fit.
2. Shipping Time - be patient because these shipments can take weeks, but the discounts are worth the wait!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Luxurious Living on a Budget

Luxurious living is not just for the rich.  You can pamper yourself on a budget.  It takes a little time and a little imagination but just because you're watching your pennies, doesn't mean you can't have a moment to enjoy life, to relax, to be in the moment.  In fact as someone who emphasizes the importance of living stress free, I think it's important to pay attention to yourself, indulge a bit, even if it just means taking a relaxing bubble bath once a week.  Do what you can to live without worry, stop and smell the roses and appreciate being alive, whatever that may mean to you.

Here are some ideas for leading a luxurious, stress-free life without stressing about money.


1.  Candles and Bubble Bath
Discount stores sell decent candles and bubble bath.  Yes they may be generic, but all you have to do is peel off the labels, even transfer the bubble bath into a nice glass jar, arrange them by your tub and start running your bath water.  Dime the lights, spark the candles and soak for a bit.  In this day and age, a moment spent with yourself, soaking in a tub by candlelight is truly a luxury.  And one that you can afford.

2.  Flowers
Fresh flowers in the home are certainly a luxury, but well worth it.  They cheer up any space and are such a lovely romantic touch.  I'm big on designing my living space to be relaxing and calm.  When I come home, I want to feel like I'm somewhere peaceful, beautiful and welcoming.  Flowers can be a costly expense at florists and supermarkets so work to find someone who sells them at discount.  Trader Joe's usually has a nice bundle of flowers for $3.99 that can last for almost two weeks.  Also if you have a flower market in your town this is your best bet.  In my city, there's a flower guy who sells flowers on the side of the road at a great price. He knows everything about the flowers and is extremely personable so I enjoy making my weekly trips to him.

In these harsh economic times, most people have to cut costs on necessities, and flowers are certainly not a necessity.  However, I believe the point of life is to live and enjoy living.  Life is all about the details and the attention we put into it.  So find ways to make it special.  Whether it's sweet smelling fresh flowers or some other luxury, there are ways to enjoy life's little luxuries while watching your pocketbook.

3.  Happy Hour
A good way to go out on the town and not spend an arm and leg is to find a good happy hour.  Depending on your work hours this may be tough to swing but many restaurants have weekend happy hours and late night happy hours as well.  I live in a small beach city so I just love to enjoy happy hour at a place with a gorgeous view of the ocean, makes me feel like I'm on vacation.  Find a place near you that you like and find out what deals they offer.  Every good establishment has some kind of great deal.  It's up to you to take advantage.

4.  Mystery Shopping
Mystery shopping is a good way to get paid while enjoying a little luxury.  I'm registered with one company and have done a few shops myself so I know for sure that they are a fun and legit way to enjoy a dinner, retail shopping, and hotel stays.  As a mystery shopper you get assignments to patronize various establishments and are responsible for compiling detail feedback reports.  It's work but it's interesting and many people really enjoy it.  Most companies have strict rules you must adhere to and it's a commitment but it might be for you.  I have a friend planning a trip to New York City next week and she signed up for some hotel shops so will have a few nights at a hotel completely free of charge and will even be paid for completing the assignment!

Here's the site I'm a member of: jancyn .  If interested, do a little research to make sure you go with a reputable company.

5.  Thai Massage
Massage is the ultimate luxury.  Just because fancy spas are expensive doesn't mean you can't get regular massages.  That massages are fantastic!  They run $40 an hour (excellent price) and are so unique in style and technique.  I prefer them to most western styles of massage and what's great is that they're half the price.  As long as the place is clean and the masseuses are skilled, I'm happy.

6. Beach Stroll
I live walking distance to the beach and just living in this city makes me feel like I'm on vacation.  Not everyone lives near the beach but maybe it's the mountains, or the country, the lake, the woods.  Whatever it is, get out in nature.  Take a stroll, a jog.  Sit on a park bench.  Just chill.  Chilling is a luxury these days, a luxury that doesn't cost a dime and a luxury that you deserve.  Get out and just be.

7. DIY
There are so many interesting web sites that have incredible suggestions on projects you can do yourself.  From making your own jewelry and clothes to making your own furniture.  If you can figure out how to make something you want yourself, you can cut costs tremendously.  Make it a family project, host a DIY party, just believe and trust yourself and make it happen.  So many people aren't motivated and just want convenience but the joys of life are not in convenience and material possessions.  Appreciate the moment, spend time with others, take care of yourself and most of all -- don't stress!!

Here's a DIY project I found on Pinterest from designformenmag --  can't wait to try it myself.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

4 Ideas For An Inexpensive, Stress-Free Getaway

tropical getaway coconut trees
1. LivingSocial and Groupon
LivingSocial is my fave!  I've used them for discounted dentist appointments,  yoga classes, wine tastings and even trips.  They have deals for all sorts of things and if you haven't heard of it yet, where have you been?  While most people probably know what I'm talking about, I have no clue how many of them actually use it.    Well, for what it's worth, I love it.  A vacation won't be cheap but it will be heavily discounted and sans stress because the itinerary is all done for you.

Have you ever wondered what the secret is behind these group discount sites?  Why are they able to offer such huge deals?  It's simple, due to the sheer numbers of buyers companies offer huge discounts, it's worth it for them because they sell and they sell fast.  There's power in numbers.  In fact, there's a new company called 4N1FUND which has taken this idea a step further by combining the group discount benefits with financial planning.  Not only can you now get discounted rates on medical services, spas and vacations, but you can get discounted rates on investing in your future too!

2. Local Ashram
Spending a weekend at a local Ashram is an inexpensive spiritual getaway that I highly recommend.  You don't have to adhere to eastern religious practices, in fact most attendees don't.  It's simply a nice break from daily life, a welcoming community and an interesting experience.  Ashrams provide a relaxing environment and a place of refuge.  In fact, stress is what drives most people to ashrams, stress and the dire need to unwind.  I'm from New York where ashrams are very popular.  City dwellers flock upstate to meditate and change their pace.  Zen Mountain Monastery is a good example.

Ashram accommodations are similar to youth hostels and can be as low as $60 a night for a dorm style room.  Some Ashrams will even allow you to stay for free if you agree to work.  My mother enjoys time spent at Ashrams.  She and her friends went free of charge once and were assigned the task of ironing the guru's robes, which was a unique and even intoxicating experience.  A few years ago, The New York Times ran a great article on the trend of visiting an ashram for an inexpensive, sans stress getaway.

3. Local Casino
In stark contrast to the ashram, casinos can provide a decent getaway for not much money.  If you can get away during the week even better because casinos offer huge discounts.  You definitely don't have to gamble to enjoy them.  There are shows, nightclubs, restaurants.  A casino is like a huge mall of fun.  Now malls or casinos aren't for everyone but when you're looking to break up the monotony of life for an affordable price, staying a night or two at a casino is a good option.  Invite some friends, chip in on a suite and have a blast!  There are casinos everywhere and perhaps they represent what's wrong with society but I say, when in Rome...

4. Dude Ranch 
When I was a kid my mom and I used to frequent a dude ranch in Pennsylvania.  This is a great family experience and can also be great for friends and couples.  Dude ranches organize so many activities from treasure hunts to nature hikes, there is plenty of wholesome fun to be had.  You might spend $800 for four nights but this includes food, lodging, horseback riding and activities.  So the stress of planning is not on you and the price is pretty reasonable compared to most vacations.  Also, call and see when they run specials because you may be able to score a deal.

Many states have Dude Ranchers' Associations.  Here in California there are quite a few options.

I hope this helps!  Remember, avoid stress at all costs.  Life is too short, there's not point in stressing.  Please send me your ideas on inexpensive, stress-free getaways so I can add them to the list!