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!


Friday, March 23, 2012

The Dalai Lama on Money and Happiness

The Dalai Lama sat for an interview with WSJ's Barbara Chai to discuss his specific thoughts on a range of topics. In this video, we look at the Dalai Lama's views on money, economics and happiness.

Wow!  Please enjoy.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

3 Things To Remember When Saving Sans Stress

Via georgetowntxblog
Times, they are  changing.  Gone are the days of working hard at the same job for years and then retiring in paradise somewhere.  With more people working as freelancers, self-employed, and changing careers, financial stability takes more effort than it once did.  As I encourage readers to live stress-free lives and also in abundance I have three important reminders.

1. Credit Unions
Big banks cause stress.   With the state of the economy as it is, and corporations behaving as they do, we need, as people, to believe our voices are heard and we have some power.  At a credit union, the customers are the owners.  The executive management must answer to its owners. With a publicly-traded banking institution, shareholders only care about making money.  So management caters to the shareholder and not the customer.  Are you a bank shareholder or are you a bank customer? 

As a regular, educated, working individual, it's important for me to not feel exploited and for the little bit that I have to not be taken advantage of.   Credit unions are non-profits, have fewer fees and higher savings rates.

 2. Alternative Investing Plans
Investing money for the future is something we should all be doing.  But it shouldn't be a source of stress and worry.  We're not all financial wizards who know when to buy and sell.  Heck, we don't all have enough money to invest wisely in the market.  Tons of people put off saving for the future because they don't know where to begin or because they believe they don't have the money to start.  If you have money to go to movies regularly then you have money to invest in your future.   Since we know we can't depend on social security, it's integral that you take action.

Many jobs have 401k plans, which require you to trust corporate America and Wall Street to make the right decisions.  However, more and more people are investing in 4N1FUND, a plan that combines social networking as we know it with financial planning.  4N1FUND does not rely on the stability of corporate America but on the power of the group.  By pooling the money of a group (much like Groupon) the plan receives huge discounts on the rates of return.  Equity Indexed Universal Life as a wealth plan for the future is smart.  4N1FUND is even smarter.  It combines the benefits of a 401K with the benefits of EIUL and has created a social network for it -- your money is leveraged through the use of an internet group.  Pretty genius, right?   It's based on the S&P but not invested in the market so when wall street panics, there's no need for you to stress because your money is fine.  No early withdrawal penalties, annual tax-free income stream...the benefits are many!

3. Detachment
The key to living a stress free life is to detach from any desires or goals.  Have them, go after them, get them but don't become them.  You are not how much money you have.  You are not what you do for a living.  You are not defined by your work, your bank account, your possessions, your desires or even your abilities.  You are defined by something deeper.  You are a spiritual being, a soul so profound I won't attempt to sum it up here.  But know that once you let go of all the worldly ideas and things, stress disappears instantly.  Worries, anxieties and problems turn into hope, joy and happiness.  Try it sometime.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

5 Healthy Discount Foods

Via saucytart
Eating healthy on a budget is not as difficult as it may seem.   Yes a cheeseburger costs $.99 and a salad costs $8.  But, that doesn't mean you have to be rich to eat well.  And when I say well, I mean nutritiously.  In the future I'd like to post some great low-calorie, low-cost recipes.  But for now, and I until I become a better cook, here are some food items that are both healthy and very inexpensive.  

1. Sardines
This is definitely known as the poor man's snack but they're delicious and so good for you. I always keep a few cans on hand. I usually enjoy them with some whole grain crackers but people prepare them in all sorts of ways (sandwiches, salads, with rice). Sardines, smoked herring, tuna -- all reasonably priced, full of nutrients and easy to enjoy.

2. Peanut Butter 
 Nuts tend to be expensive. A 16oz jar of peanuts is $5.  A 16oz jar of peanut butter is $3.50.  Peanut butter is more versatile, tends to last longer than whole nuts,  is filling and inexpensive. Just make sure you get an organic brand that isn't loaded with preservatives.

3. Bell Peppers
Instead of potato chips I try to snack on healthy things. Not always easy to do, but bell peppers are a great healthy snack and they won't break your budget. Veggies in general can be pricey especially if buying organic (which you should) but one bell pepper only costs about $1.50. Cut it into slices and store it well, I can spread one pepper into two or three snacks. A small bag of chips costs at least $.75 and you eat the whole thing in one sitting, not to mention all the salt, grease and calories.

4. Popcorn
When I need something salty and greasy I usually make popcorn. I pop my own kernels on the stove. A bag of organic popcorn will only run you a couple of bucks and can make around seven bowls of popcorn. A bag of already popped, packaged popcorn will run you the same price, is less healthy and will only make about two bowls. So you do the math. Making your own popcorn is not only healthier but more cost effective as well. Tastes better too.

5. Beans
 A bag of dry beans costs $.99, are delicious, healthy and a good addition to any meal. There are so many good bean recipes out there and it's really a nutritious staple, especially for vegetarians. The only thing is, if you get dry beans they take a while to cook.

I guess the moral of the story here is that if you can eat healthy for less, but it takes more time than just popping something in the microwave or ripping open a bag.

I tend to appreciate the time it takes, maybe that's just me but convenience isn't always best.   Sometimes (meaning always) slow and in the moment is better.

Monday, March 12, 2012

5 Ways To Save Money On Gas

save money on gas
Via epautos
After relocating from New York City to Los Angeles, I've come to realize just how horrible these high gas prices really are.  I'm probably more ignorant than most when it comes to cars.  I was born and raised in a city where no one drives. But now that I get behind the wheel almost everyday, I did a little research and discovered a few tips that help me save money on gas.

1. Find Discount Deals
 Lots of supermarkets have deals with gas stations. Buy groceries and get rewards at the pump. Find out what deals are offered at you local supermarket.

2. Don't Brake
Drive at a consistent speed.  Avoid quick acceleration and hard braking because apparently that uses more gas (who knew!)  Cruise control will keep you at a constant speed, even when going up and down hills.

3. Check Tire Pressure Monthly
Buy a digital gauge and keep it in your glove box. Refer to the manufacturer's recommended pressure level and inflate tires as needed.  Be sure to check tire pressure when your tires are cold. A good time is early in the morning after your car's been idle overnight.

4. Walk
I love walking!  I'm lucky because I live in a fairly walkable part of Southern California. I can walk to the supermarket, coffee shops, yoga, some restaurants, even to the beach. As a New Yorker, I'm used to walking and it's great exercise. Walking to nearby places will benefit you in more ways than just saving gas money.

5. Park in the Shade
Hot summer sun makes the inside of your car feel like a sauna and zaps fuel from your gas tank.  So find a shady spot and buy a good windshield shade to block sunlight and help keep your fuel from evaporating.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Take A 401(k) Chill Pill

The American Medical Association notes that stress is the basic cause of more than 60 percent of all human illness and disease.  The good thing is, stress is avoidable.  Stress tends to be something we do to ourselves. People let themselves be stressed by not looking for solutions, not changing their attitudes, and by thinking a certain way.  

In today’s political and economic climate people stress most about money.   As people continue to stress about retirement and dwindling 401k’s it’s important to remember that there are other retirement planning options, less stressful ones.    

401(k) vs 4N1FUND 
Stress - Trust Your Employer - Can you depend on corporate America? Do you trust your employer?   A 401(K) requires you do both.  Some employers operating 401(k) plans are not in compliance with IRS and Department of Labor regulations.  Some 401(k) plans use risky or questionable investments. Many plans invested in mortgage-backed securities and lost most of their value in the mortgage collapse of 2008. You must investigate and research your employer’s 401(k) plan to make sure it’s safe and sound.

          Sans Stress   
  • Trust Yourself - 4N1FUND does not rely on the stability of corporate America and you don’t have to trust your employer to make the right choices.  All you have to do is commit to making monthly payments.  4N1FUND relies on the power of the group.  Once an online group is formed, your money is leveraged due to the sheer numbers.   

Stress - Pay Taxes - Generally, your 401(k) distributions are taxed as ordinary income.  401(k) plans also have a minimum distribution requirement.  If you fail to withdraw income by age 70 you pay hefty fees.  

         Sans Stress
  • Annual Tax-Free Income Stream - 4N1FUND provides an incredible annual tax-free income stream.  The tax advantages are incomparable to any other retirement plan.  You don’t have to worry about paying Uncle Sam.  You’ve given him enough.  Go to the 4N1FUND website and see what your projections are!

Stress - Watch the Market -- A 401(k) plan is money invested in the stock market.  If you have one, you must do the work to monitor it.  You have to watch out for any alterations in portfolio options, strategy changes, manager departures, long-term performance shortcomings, etc.

         Sans Stress
  • No Work Involved - 4N1FUND takes the stress out of planning for the future.  You won’t have to pay attention to the stock market downswings because when the market drops it will not affect your benefits.  You won’t have to monitor changes.   It’s a much simpler approach to saving!  Take the intimidating stress of being lost in the economic world out of the equation and focus on the fun things in life, like finding your next relaxing vacation spot.

Stress - Heavy Early Withdrawal Penalties - Don't touch your 401(k) before retirement. The money is yours, so you can withdraw it if you want, but not without paying taxes and heavy penalties (generally 10%) on the amount withdrawn.  If you make an early withdrawal, be prepared to lose money.

          Sans Stress
  • NO Early Withdrawal Penalties - 4N1FUND provides living benefits in times of personal crisis.  You won’t have exorbitant penalties to pay if a circumstance arises that requires you to stop working and withdraw funds for income before you reach retirement age.  It offers protection in times of need and you won’t have to jump through any hoops.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Dangerous Stress

Stress Can Damage Women's Health | Video - ABC News

Please watch this.  Take a moment to breath, chill.  De-stress.  Life is not a race or a competition.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Make Saving Fun

fun saving
Via jokeroo
When you think about saving for retirement what comes to mind?  Fear?  Dread?  Annoyance?  Hesitation?  All mostly negative feelings, right?  Well it doesn't have to be that way.  What if you actually enjoyed saving?  Impossible you say?  Here are some ideas about how you can make saving fun.

Kids get rewarded when they do well.  Adults should too.  Set a savings goal and once you reach it, reward yourself.  Say it's $400, when you have that amount put aside somewhere where you don't touch it, go out and buy yourself something pretty.  Splurge when you reach your goal, then set another goal.

There are so many ways you can do this.  Write a blog about your saving journey.  Take pictures.  Talk to a camera.  Write in a journal.  Not only will the documentation process keep you accountable, it'll be enjoyable.  Dust off that camcorder and make a documentary of your family's journey to financial stability.  Tape yourself shopping and making better choices.  Tape your kids saving their money. Hey, tape your kids throwing a tantrum because you won't buy them something.  Tape the ups and the downs, edit them together and you have a movie.  Use your imagination.  There are lots of ways you can create a larger project out of your saving experience.

Involve Others
Start a saving group with friends.  A larger example of how this can work is 4N1FUND, a fund that uses the power of the group to leverage investors' money.  How can you do this in a smaller way?  4N1FUND is for the long term savings goal, how can you involve others in your short term saving?  Maybe you get a group of like minded folks who have monthly meetings to discuss their financial issues and ways to overcome them.  Life is easier and less stressful when we connect with people.  Maybe you get a group to invest together.  Or, just discuss your savings goals with friends and family in order to stay on track.  Talking about it helps make it real as opposed to just a nice thought.

You can find a way to celebrate everything, throw a Savings Party.  Since you'll be cutting back on your nights out, have a monthly get together where guests bring something and you have fun for cheap.  Call it a Savings Party and it's sure to be a hit.  Buy discount wine, discount snacks and celebrate the fact that you're not wasting money but still finding a way to party.

I'd love to hear how you incorporate any of these ideas into your life.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Don't Touch My Nest Egg

I'm sure you've heard the term before but how many of us really have them?  Most people are worried about having enough money for their current expenses and can't imagine having enough money to save.  But it's important to have some sort of emergency fund, not only will it alleviate stress but it may also come in handy.

I'm working on creating a nest egg for myself.  It's not easy for a freelancer to plan ahead but I know it's important so I make it a priority.  Three reasons you should consider creating a nest egg of your own:

1. Alleviate Stress.
According to several studies the number one source of stress is finances.  So why not work to get rid of some of the worry by stacking money.  Knowing that you have money set aside that you don't touch will put your mind at ease.  Maybe you just started a new job that you think is great.  But what if it's not?  An emergency fund will keep you from feeling stuck there.  Or maybe you earn plenty of money and you think you don't need to save.  But what if you're wrong?  A nest egg will help make the 'what if's' in life a little easier to handle.

2. Emergencies Happen.
Life is unpredictable.  It's beautiful that way.  I love not knowing what's going to happen next because it opens up so many possibilities.   But with those possibilities come risks.  Since we can't predict the future, the best we can do is be prepared for it.  Maybe it's a leak in your house or a emergency medical bill.  It's good to have money set aside in case something goes drastically wrong.  Most likely, it won't but you never know.  And I'm big on not worrying about the future.  However, preparing for the future doesn't have to mean worry.

3. It's Doable.
Saving is not as hard as you might think.  Some of us can afford to save more than others.  But almost everyone can afford to save something.  The key is in your monthly budget.  Make a budget that outlines expenses, retirement savings and savings for your nest egg.  Start with a small amount, an amount you may even think isn't worth it.  This way, saving becomes a habit.  And as your income increases or as you become accustomed to saving as part of your lifestyle, you can increase your allotment as you see fit.

Just remember one thing, there's no need to stress.  Just take small steps and let the universe do the rest.


Friday, February 24, 2012

5 Ways To Turn Money Stress Into Money

Via divorce360

1. Mental Transmutation
Okay, I'm not some new age freak but I thought that might get your attention.  Mental what??  I study ancient philosophies -- Eastern, Egyptian, Indigenous.  That's just my thing.  And there's a concept which involves changing your mind state and I believe it works.  And if any of you are familiar with  The Secret you'll know what I'm talking.  While I'm not a fan of The Secret myself I am a fan of the ancient wisdom that it pulls from.

Mental Transmutation, refers to the art of changing and transforming one's own mental states and conditions, as well as influencing those of others.  Not only can it relax you but by concentrating on money and abundance (not lack) you can draw money into your life.  I know this sounds unbelievable but...well it can't hurt to give it a try can it?

Examples in my life: I'm a freelancer.  It's easy to let myself worry about the next gig.  Instead of worrying I work on mentally releasing that stress and turning it into faith and certainty that I will make a good living doing what I love.  I repeat this in my head: I make a good living doing what I love.  (I used to say I will but have since changed it to the present).  I repeat this over and over and then I let the Universe handle the rest.  So far so good. 

2. Hobbies
Hobbies relax us, keep us present and give us something to focus on other than our own everyday struggle.  So take the stressful energy and apply it to something constructive.  These days, with social  entrepreneurship and the internet as an international market, many people are turning their hobbies into cold hard cash.

Examples in my own life: I have a good friend who makes a great living selling lingerie online from her apartment.  She loves to shop and loves clothes.  She found a good deal on wholesale lingerie and she's been able to set up a her own business.  She started on eBay and is always able to make what she needs and most importantly, she doesn't stress about money.  She turns that stress into figuring out how to drive traffic to her site, finding the best deals on sexy nurse outfits, and providing good customer service.  One day she may decide to open up a boutique but for now her shopping hobby  has turned into dollar bills.

3. Socializing
Socializing and being with friends is a good way to relax and get your troubles off of your mind.  Also, most opportunities for jobs and money will come from your peers.  So go out and talk to people.  Tell them your situation, ask for help.  Most likely, someone will have a solution for you.  Someone may offer you a job, refer you to a good financial adviser, or simply share their story about how they managed their own money problems.  If you take the stressful energy and share it with others, not only will your problems wane but you will be on the radar of someone who may be able to help.

Examples in my own life: Almost all of my opportunities have come from peers.  I like to talk and, unlike a lot of people, I like to talk about myself.  Luckily, I'm also a very good listener.  I share myself with friends and even sometimes people I just meet.  I talk honestly about my fears, my hopes and my plans.  I'm constantly having friends send me job posts, info about people I should meet, articles I should read etc.  The more people know about you, the more you will come to mind when opportunities pop up.

4.Get Busy
Stress tends to make us anxious.  When I'm stressed I can't sit still.  You can always tell when I'm stressed out because our apartment is spotless.  It's important to find an outlet for anxious energy.  I suggest turning that energy into work.  Information is everywhere, in fact these are  the days of the information revolution, so you get out there and collect it.  Take a class.  Study on the net. Volunteer somewhere.  Just don't waste that energy pulling your hair out, instead use it for solving your problem. 

Examples in my life: I once took a free seminar that taught proposed to teach artists how to be wealthy.  It's rare that young artists make any real money from their work so everyone has to figure out a hustle.  And most of us spend too much time stressing, rather than using that energy to come up with something clever.  The seminar I went to offered some great tips on profitable hustles (I'll expand on these in future blogs).  One of the hustles the speaker suggested was buying and selling stock options, something you can do without a financial background.  He actually gave a crash course to a bunch of artists (musicians, painters, sculptors, actors, writers etc.) on how they could leverage their money on the stock market, giving them time for their art and lots of money for their survival.  I thought it was genius. 

5. Get Hip
What are people doing for money these days.  There are no get rich quick schemes but the way people make money changes with technology and the times.  You need to get out there and find out what there is.  Design an amazing app for the iPhone with one idea that may be lurking in the back of your mind.  Make a great youtube video with that camcorder sitting in your drawer.  Write letters to wealthy people who might like your story and be able to help you.  Research investment options.  Talk to financial wizards on blog forums.  Just find out what's out there.

Examples in my life: For the first time in a while I have a decent income doing what I love.  Trouble is, as a freelancer I don't have any retirement plans automatically set up.  So I have been spending some time worrying about what to do.  I opened a Roth IRA a little while back but have yet to really make any contributions.  And just as I got in a place to make monthly payments I found out about 4N1FUND.  It's the latest thing in retirement planning.  By leveraging my individual money with money from other individuals (think Groupon) it has more buying power which increases my  retirement income when I'm ready to stop working.  As times and technology change, so does financial planning.  That's why it's important to stay in the know.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

5 Products You Should Always Buy Discount

I love discount stores.  We all have our favorites and they vary depending on where you are in the country.  As a native New Yorker, I used to love the 99cent store.  The everything store where the goods are cheap.  Here in my little So-Cal city I don't see as many quality 99cent stores but there are other discount stores that are just as good and some that are even better.  Here are the top 5 items you should always purchase at a discount store:

1. Detergent
Of course the generic brands are cheaper here but even the leading brands are offered at big discounts.

2. Paper Products
Toilet paper, paper towels, wrapping paper, loose leaf paper, paper plates, paper napkins... whatever kind of paper it is it's always cheaper at a discount store.

3. Some cosmetics
The other day I found a ginormous bottle of Nivea lotion for $10 at my local discount store when a much smaller size would be $8 at a pharmacy.  But, I haven't seen that deal again.  The unfortunate thing about discount stores is that they don't have a consistent inventory so I usually go to the discount store first, and if it's not there then I visit the pricier stores.
4. Greeting Cards
Discount stores have an array of greeting cards at extreme discounts.  Your local pharmacy will charge $4 - $5 for a birthday card to mom.  Discount stores always have them for half the price.  And the quality is just as good.

5. Cleaning Products
Brooms, mops, sponges, scrub brushes, dustpans, bleach, cleanser -- these are items that always need replacing and there's no reason to spend top dollar on them.  I always get my mops and brooms from discount stores.  They are cheap and they hold up well.  Who needs a high end expensive broom?

Happy Shopping!!