SLIDER

EXTREME FRUGALITY TIPS THAT CAN DOUBLE YOUR SAVINGS

12.11.2018

Serious about saving? Whether you're desperately needing to pay off interest-incurring loans or planning a summer trip, the tactics listed here are guaranteed to get you closer to your financial goals. Over time, these seemingly insignificant changes can have a huge impact on your ability to put aside enough money.

SALES

The first rule in extreme frugality is to buy only when there's a sale. It takes more effort to schedule your shopping runs during sales events but it will save you the most money. Sprouts Market holds cyclical sales for different product categories in the store. Every four months, the vitamin section offers a generous 25% off. Nordstrom is known for their half-yearly sale, held every July. Even the CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, admits to taking advantage of huge price cuts at the department store (Business Insider video). With continued diligence, your shopping habits will seamlessly adhere to this principle. Saving then becomes second nature.


Online clothing retailers hold spontaneous short-term flash sales. Tracking them requires effort. Keeping webpages bookmarked can help keep tabs on possible events. Be sure to check your favorite online shops on other occasions besides Cyber Monday or Black Friday. Beauty stores might do a Mother's Day special. Other websites might do a New Year's Day sale. Some sites like Vitacost.com offer long term discounted prices. I recommend this seller for greener product options. The initial effort will eventually pay you back in compounded extra savings.

USAGE

Use a reasonable amount of product. Toothpaste commercials show kids topping their toothbrush bristles with a generous amount of product. This is just for looks. In reality, you only need a dime-sized amount of toothpaste. Using a durable toothbrush with a large bristle head reduces the need for more toothpaste and rigorous brushing. The Radius Scuba brush can last for up to a year and cleans more efficiently than an electric toothbrush.


Gauge how much you really need by starting small. This applies to everything from lotion to pasta. A nifty trick when using a serum or moisturizer is to apply it on a damp face. This allows for the product to spread out evenly and absorb more deeply into the skin. You'll waste less, while still getting the full effect. Determining how much you really need extends the life of a purchase, preventing you from spending too soon after the last shopping trip.

STORAGE & CARE

Store items properly. Choosing the right container can prevent wastefulness. Check all  pepper shakers and ketchup dispensers. Do they release the right about? If they don't, consider switching them out. Edibles can expire more quickly if they are not properly stored. Produce must be stored in waterless containers to prevent molds. Make sure all expiration dates are visible, so that you know when they should be finished. Don't buy more than what you can consume before the expiration date. Even if the larger bundle comes at a cheaper price, you can still lose more money from excess expired foods.


It's also important to store clothes and other items like electronics properly. Folding instead of hanging clothes saves space and prevents them from stretching out. I recommend looking up the Konmari method for additional organization tips. Electronic items should be used and kept in the coldest areas in the home. Heat causes tech gadgets and equipment to deteriorate faster.

The same is true for beauty products. Keeping serums and moisturizers in the refrigerator can extend their usability. Make sure all bottles and containers are closed properly after every use. Cleaning beauty tools regularly prevents them from wearing out and rusting. Maintenance and care improves longevity and effectiveness. The longer they last, the longer you are able to put off spending for another refill or backup.

Most of these habits may seem like tedious work but the benefits they reap in the long run has an immense ability to compound. Every penny saved really does add up over time. A consistent savings of 25% on necessities can generate a savings growth much greater than the stock market's 7% average yearly return.

PLACES TO SHOP


B & H Photo
This online retailer is a haven for techies. On top of discounts, items are sold tax free if you don't live in New York, and ships free. They sell a broad variety of products. The website is among the few that still sell older software versions with perpetual licensing, which means it doesn't require a subscription. B & H offers everything from computer adapters to extremely high-end DSLR cameras.

Sprouts
The rapidly growing farmers market offers an abundance of affordable organic goods. Its vitamin and beauty sections offer a vast array of certified organic and all-natural alternatives. They also sell freshly-made baked goods, as well as made-to-order artisanal sandwiches. The grains and legumes section has a wide selection to choose from. You can scoop out the exact amount that you need which is a very cost-efficient way to buy.

Target
For fresh meats and berries, discerning grocery shoppers prefer this store. Target tends to draw a large volume of buyers, so their food items get sold and replaced by new batches very quickly. Dry goods can sometimes be a mixed bag. Some medicines are cheaper at Target while Walmart offers cheaper toiletries.

Target is also a great source for fashion finds. The brand will occasionally collaborate with well-known designers in creating exclusive yet affordable clothing lines. Many vouch for the durability and quality of their wearable merchandise.

Walmart
The behemoth retailer is ideal for the basic necessities. The warehouse is ideal when shopping  for generic items that you're not too fussy about. This includes cleaning supplies and disposable items.

RESEARCH RESOURCES


The Wirecutter
Run by the New York Times, this informative resource ranks the best and most affordable in every imaginable tech category. It also covers services like phone plans. They test thousands of options offered by a extensive range of brands. Products that make it in the list are also categorized based on consumer preference. Whether performance or cost is your priority, this site can hone in on the cheapest and rarest finds.

Google Shopping Tab
When searching for a specific product on google, type out the name on Google's search window. Once the list of suggestions is done loading, click on the shopping tab on the menu bar. This lists the sellers from all over the web, as well as brick and mortar stores nearby. Prices are conveniently listed for comparison. This allows for a more efficient and expansive search.


Photos by Jakub Kapisnakrawpixel, Tookapic & Christin Hume

THE LONGEST TREASURE HUNT IN HISTORY IS NOW AVAILABLE TO BINGE WATCH

12.04.2018


Looking for a series with substance to watch this holiday break? A treasure hunt lasting two hundred and twenty years is now on television, inviting viewers to witness groundbreaking discoveries that might just rewrite history. Two brothers from Michigan embark on an elusive quest to solve the mystery behind The Curse of Oak Island. The legend states that seven must die before the island reveals a great treasure.


This is unlike any broadcast you've seen before. The hunt spans across continents and generations. Members of the team travel long distances in pursuit of solving the island's perplexing revelations. They speak with well-renowned scholars who vividly explain a progression of occurrences that lead back to the shores of the mysterious North American island. Cue animated graphics illustrating a timeline of events. Then, it cuts to a reenactment depicting a Spanish galleon caught in a swirling fury of an angry sea. Just like that, it pulls you in.

Unlike many reality shows out there, this one portrays genuine connections. Rick and Marty Lagina are authentic, smart and relatable. Viewers see them connect with the team, their nephews, as well as, treasure hunters who came before them. There is a moving scene between a teary-eyed Rick and Leelamb Restall, who lost family members to this ruthless quest. She passes on her brother's journal to aid them on their journey. Behind the long-drawn pursuit are real people revealing a small slice of their life to audiences.

This expedition demands a considerable amount of resources. The Laginas are two businessmen implementing technology and intensive research to unearth the island's secrets. Sonar technology enables them to map what lies beneath. Large-scale building equipment are used to drain the swamp and build a dam on Smith's Cove. With the water gone, they hope to uncover what used to be beyond reach. Millions of dollars and hundreds of hours of labor are spent on the island.

The Curse of Oak Island is propelled to success by tangible artifacts recovered and their ties to history. It is astounding to witness discoveries that allude to a myriad of possibilities assumed to be mere myth. Everything from the original manuscripts of Sir Francis Bacon, to gold hidden by pirates and Spanish naval ships, are said to be hidden beneath the soil. Even the jewels of Marie Antoinette are believed to be buried there. Structures housing part of the treasure are thought to be built by French and Portuguese Templar Knights. All of these historical figures play a part in enriching the tale that make this island legendary.

The family friendly show takes us on a journey through history. Treasures, pirates and secret societies come to life. Except this time, written history corroborates with legends that turn out to be truer previously thought.

Sources:

Curse of Oak Island Website

Photos by Ylanite KoppensAndreea Swank


HOLIDAY GIFT ALTERNATIVES THAT REQUIRE LESS MONEY & STRESS

11.27.2018

During the holiday season, many are compelled to participate in a cycle of relentless mall-hopping and late night online-scrolling. Those tasks put a severe strain on both health and finances. Before you pull your hair out, trying not to suffocate amidst a sea of shoppers, take a look at these alternatives to traditional Christmas presents.

FOOD

Don't think of food as a table filled with platters holding a variety of sweet and savory options. Think small. Is there a particular dish that means a lot to someone in your life? Food can be impactful without costing too much. Making your partner's favorite dessert from scratch is more meaningful and well thought out than a pricy golf set. Perhaps, having a cook-off with neighbors can spark some joy in a dreary household. Food nourishes our bodies and lifts our spirits in so many ways. We find comfort in chicken noodle soup, we toast champagne after getting a promotion and we share a dessert on romantic dates. From childhood, our senses are trained to associate edibles with a cause for celebration.


EXPERIENCE

Do you know a Potterhead who deserves a ride on the Hogwarts Express? You might enjoy it as much as they will. Experiences last longer in our memories. Things break, wear out, go out of style and eventually stop working. Collecting stuff or adding to other people's pile merely adds to the stresses of everyday life. You'll be surprised at how much fun you can have getting in a snowball fight with siblings or simply watching a fireworks show. Experiences have an immeasurable effect on us, long-term. We forget that the holidays is all about procuring life's joyful moments.


TIME

This is possibly the most overlooked and undervalued commodity of all. Author Joshua Fields Millburn, shares his biggest regret in his documentary, The Minimalists. He spent his early adult life climbing the corporate ladder while neglecting loved ones along the way. A single voicemail from his mom changed it all. She was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer and had a short time left to live. Millburn became a minimalist upon realizing that time should be spent with people and not on amassing wealth and accolades. Do you have a relative or friend that you haven't spoken to this busy Christmas season? Give them a call and ask how they are doing.


Don't waste the holidays in malls or parking lots. Spend time with the people you care about. It doesn't have to be extravagant or expensive. Snuggling in bed or having a chat by the fireplace costs nothing but the memories they create are priceless.

Photos by Henry Be, Dmitry Sovyak and Simon Matzinger

USING COLOR TO CHANGE PERCEPTION

11.20.2018


Try staring at a red screen for as long as you can without blinking. Now, quickly switch to a white screen. Do you see a flash of blue?

Staring at a red screen causes the photoreceptor cells that perceive the color red to become overworked and weak. Once you switch to a white screen, you are left seeing its complement (blue) because the cells that detect red are still recovering. This is called cone fatigue.

There's a lot more to color than what meets the eye, as illustrated by this activity. The ability to see various shades of light has influenced the way we live in so many ways. Throughout the centuries, color has shaped cultural norms, societal structure and even served as emblems for ideological movements.

Color is more than a can of paint or a tiny pixel on a laptop screen. Choosing the right hue can liven the ambiance of a dinner party or convince someone to hire you. These easy to follow guidelines can help paint a vivid picture of what you want your life to be.
Wearing multiple shades of the same color creates an elegant and understated look. A monochromatic color scheme is very fitting in a work or business setting. This color harmony minimizes distractions and lets your personality and eloquence shine through.

Incorporating small amounts of a color creates an area of focus to direct the eye to. Adding a vibrant accent chair can make a living room look striking. Picking up a neutral-colored purse can add a touch of sophistication to an outfit. Slight color adjustments can make a big difference.


Choose colors based on their psychological effects. Blues are very calming, especially for young boys. Food companies use shades of yellow and red to rev up consumers' appetite. Purple and gray are the colors of nobility and sophistication. They add opulence to a color combination. Amber evokes nostalgia while green is deemed the most intuitive color. Like words, colors convey both subliminal and overt messages.

Numerous books explore color theory in further detail. Color specialist Leatrice Eiseman writes a plethora of books on color. She discusses techniques on how to communicate with color and their effect on audiences. Her books are a great resource for designers and novices alike. Eiseman previously ran a company called Pantone, that publishes a yearly color forecast. It cites prevalent colors in the upcoming season as influenced by fashion, the economy and current events.

Seeing beyond the surface of what a color reflects back can bring awareness to its many untapped uses. Beyond the sheen and pearlescent finish is a language that man has played an integral role in defining and speaking.

Photos by: Mario Gogh, 123nurik123, Lemur Design, Deborah Cortelazzi & Reinaldo Kevin

THREE LIFE CHANGING BOOKS

11.13.2018


Whether you're in dire need of a complete lifestyle turnaround or simply looking to improve on a specific discipline, these three publications are sure to make an indelible impact.

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
by Eckhart Tolle
1997
(psychology, spirituality, philosophy)

Written by an esteemed scholar, educated in the hallowed halls of Cambridge, this book takes on an analytical approach to psychology and spirituality. Simply put, it talks about living in the present moment. The New York Times bestseller cautions readers about mental attachments to the past and future. So eloquently written, the words redirect your thoughts and emotions to a sense of clarity that often takes decades to achieve in a therapist's office. People suffering from varying levels of emotional distress will find this book to be indispensable. Whether you choose the audio or print version, its effect is unwavering.

The Index Card: Why Personal Finance Doesn't Have to Be Complicated
by Helaine Olen and Harold Pollack
2016
(finance, investing, money)



Harold Pollack made a splash in the world of finance with his astonishingly simple approach to finance. On an index card, Pollack consolidates decades of financial knowledge that enabled him to pull his family out of desperate circumstances. Pollack succinctly enumerates nine tips. Some are familiar, like saving twenty percent of your income. Others incorporate more complex concepts, like making your advisor sign a fiduciary oath. The book delves deeper into every suggestion and the reasoning behind each. The piece is the ultimate beginner's guide to getting out of any money catastrophe.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up
by Marie Kondo
2017
(minimalism, organization)



Who knew that teaching the world how to clean up their room would be such a global hit? Written by a Japanese organizing consultant, this book instigated an intercontinental decluttering phenomenon. Hundreds of youtube videos feature people from all walks of life demonstrating this decluttering system, dubbed the Konmari method. Marie Kondo believes in keeping only what sparks joy. Konmari is a structured method which involves purging, evaluating, then organizing consistently. Many claim to have improved their physical, emotional and mental well being after letting go of unnecessary things.

Simplicity is the singular thread that weaves all three books into society's collective consciousness. These widely respected authors are tapping into a unifying demand. There is a need to revert to the fundamentals. Whether you're trying to tidy up an apartment, balance a checkbook or clear your mind of irrelevant thoughts, keep these books in your back pocket. May they serve as a reminder that the simplest solutions are within your grasp.

Sources:

Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
by Eckhart Tolle

The Index Card: Why Personal Finance Doesn't Have to Be Complicated
by Helaine Olen & Harold Pollack

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up
by Marie Kondo

Photos by: Nicole Honeywill, Anna, Francis Duval

QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE AN UPGRADE

11.06.2018


Fall and winter signal the release of a whole new crop of must have tech gadgets. Product launches precipitate a sense of urgency, compelling one to preorder right then and there. Is it absolutely necessary to have the latest and greatest? Here are three questions to ask before jumping in.

Do you have realistic expectations for the upgrade? A shinny new health tracking smart watch won't make you skinny in a week. The latest tablet won't turn you into an illustrator overnight. Smart devices are exceptionally intuitive multitaskers but at the end of the day, only you can make things happen. You create the life that you want. Devices are mere tools that help along the way.


Is your current device working just fine for what you need? One mistake that I caution people not to make is upgrading too soon. You may end up getting something that is costly yet almost identical to what you already have. There should be a compelling enough reason for the switch. Does your current gadget fail you too often? Are there features and benefits unique to the newer model? Are you upgrading to get the new color option? It's all about differentiating real-life needs from unbridled wants.

Do you have a budget robust enough to pay for the acquisition and maintenance? The cost of having a brand new device can have an immediate impact on your paycheck. It can hurt you down the road as well. If you break it, how much will it be to fix? Always be mindful of how it will affect your credit and or bank account. Make sure your upgrade doesn't affect your ability to eat or pay for rent.

These three questions are meant to help you make the right decision. Tech companies invent contraptions that blow our minds and expand our capabilities. Our job is to sort through these freshly built machines and choose what works for our daily needs.

Photos by: Roidon Kutsaev & Ash Edmonds

SURPRISING REMEDIES FOR ANXIETY

10.30.2018


Before running to a therapist or gulping a handful of Xanax, try this. Take two deep breaths. After oxygenating your brain for a few seconds, give this article a quick glance. You might be pleasantly surprised by how simple these proposed solutions are. Whether you deal with stress sporadically or continuously, these three tips are meant to empower you to take back control.

Be more mindful of what goes into your mouth. Switch out caffeinated drinks (espresso, soda and dark teas) for chamomile tea. Caffeine invokes anxiety attacks by triggering rapid heartbeat, sweat and nausea (Webmd article). Chamomile contains a compound called epigenin which is known to combat these symptoms by inducing relaxation and sleep, while alleviating signs of depression (Detroit news article). Instead of sugary desserts (simple carbs), treat yourself to a bowl of sweet potato fries (complex carbs). Fiber-rich complex carbohydrates stabilize the mood by evening sugar levels. Stop using toothpaste with fluoride. Overtime, fluoride can cause a buildup in the pineal gland, preventing it from producing enough melatonin. This hormone regulates wakefulness, allowing for a healthier sleep cycle. One particular brand that offers a wide range of fluoride free toothpastes is Kiss My Face. Taking control of your diet  and hygiene is one way to ward off unforeseen panic episodes.

Heal yourself at an energetic level. The ancient indian healing system of ayurveda also recommends sweet potatoes as a remedy, but for a vastly different reason. Root crops ground imbalanced vata energy. This imbalance is a common cause of anxiety (Yogi Surprise article). Our bodies hold the three energies of kapha (earth), pitta (fire, water) and vata (air). Keeping these three forces in check prevents persistent panic attacks. Ayurveda employs the strategic intake of herbs like turmeric, and choosing foods based on their cooling or warming energetic properties. Plot out a regimen based on your dosha/s by checking online resources like Goop. Consulting with an ayurvedic practitioner can give you more detailed insights on your unique make up.


Implement alternative techniques like yoga and meditation to supplement your recovery. Both methods utilize the breath to heal and strengthen. Proper use of various breathing methods can maintain emotional balance and improve mental clarity. It can also release muscle tension, relax the nervous system and regulate the heart (Conscious Lifestyle Mag article). Simultaneously caring for your body, mind and spirit creates an impenetrable shield to block distress.

The key to defeating mental and emotional turmoil is treating all aspects of yourself. We need to be willing to make changes in diet, lifestyle and mindset. It takes initiative to tackle it head on and diligence to keep it from coming back.

Photos by: Radu Florin & Eneko Urunuela

EXTEND YOUR LIFE BY FLOSSING

10.23.2018


This seemingly inconsequential ritual has surprising benefits. Medical research suggests that flossing impacts life expectancy in very unexpected ways. Find out why and how.

Most people associate flossing with merely keeping your teeth clean. Some even perceive it as unnecessary, except when you're trying to impress a date. You don't want spinach waving from your teeth while you try to order wine in broken french.

Research shows that flossing plays a vital role in preventing heart disease, diabetes and dementia. Flossing combats diseases by reducing inflammation and preventing the propagation of bacteria in the mouth. Inflammation if left unchecked, can cause arteries to harden which makes one susceptible to heart attack and stroke. The bacteria that causes a type of gum disease called periodontitis also plays a part in heart disease. Furthermore, scientists are discovering that neglecting to floss has a direct relationship with memory loss and dementia. An eighteen year study indicates that subjects who suffer from dementia symptoms also have a high proliferation of gum disease-related bacteria in their brains. Doctors believe these may have migrated from their mouths (Webmd articleReuters article). The ripple effect of skipping a three minute flossing routine is quite astounding.

Don't underestimate the power of good hygiene. Flossing is a very achievable yet powerful preventative measure. By improving one's dental health, it improves one's overall health. This three-minute task that we so often neglect to do is the simplest way to prevent numerous life-threatening conditions.

Photo by: Lesly Juarez

FIRST STEPS TO WEALTH BUILDING

10.16.2018


Looking to tame your current overspending? Realizing the urgency to save for retirement? Here are three easy steps to grow your sparse pennies into stacks of benjamins.

Saving money starts in your head. First, identify those costly temptations. Did beauty youtubers compel you to buy a barely noticeable highlighter or a second cleanser? Don't underestimate the power of those tiny Costco finger food samples. You'll be walking out with three boxes of mini quiches. The key is to avoid these enticements. Much like going to the gym, training your brain to spend wisely will get easier over time.

Secondly, make sure your money has a comfortable place to stay. Find a bank that yields interest, a place where your money can grow. Online banks like Marcus by Goldman Sachs, American Express and Ally have the highest interest rates and the lowest fees. These online banks also offer services that help you manage your money better. Automated payments, mobile check deposit, and access to your credit score are among the many offerings that can help you save. These are much better banking options than the traditional brick and mortar institutions. Check out Nerdwallet's website for the best banks and financial products.

The third and last step is saving for your future self. Retirement is inevitable regardless of how far away it may seem right now. Start putting away money in your retirement account. These accounts keep your money invested in stocks, bonds and funds in order to make it grow large enough for the time you retire. Unlike brokerage accounts, retirement accounts won't significantly reduce your earnings through taxes and fees. Your money grows tax deferred over time.

Having an account with the word Roth means you will be taxed up front but not upon withdrawal. However if you are under 59 1/2, you will have to pay taxes on your earnings. If you see 401k in your account name, it means you have a company sponsored account. Employers can choose to add free money, matching a specific percentage of your contributions. Retirement accounts have so many benefits that people tend to overlook. Be sure to max out how much you contribute before considering alternative investments.

If you have extra money after maxing out your retirement account, think about purchasing index funds. These are a type of mutual fund that tracks a specific index. One popular index is the Standard and Poor's 500. It tracks 500 of the top companies in the United States. These index funds have low fees because they are not actively managed by people. They automatically mimic the index they track. It never hurts to put extra money to work as long as it is done wisely.


Regardless of how far along you are in your money journey, keep in mind that it takes time, patience and diligence to be financially free. It is not something that happens overnight so don't feel pressured. Like everything else, money management just needs to be done one baby step at a time.

Photos by: Steve Johnson & Sharon McCutcheon

AN ENTIRE BEAUTY REGIMEN IN A BOTTLE

10.09.2018


On the hunt for a simple ingredient to replace your bottles of chemical laden skin care products? Tired of implementing the twelve step, triple cleansing, double serum method, after a fifteen hour work day? Yep, you still have leftover mascara on the outside corners of your eyes. Look no further.

Rosehip oil is considered one of the most effective multi-purpose ingredients. This plant-based oil is extracted from the seeds of tiny fruits that develop inside roses. The unique fruit has a pear-like shape, which makes it look like it has protruding hips, hence the name rosehip.

This precious amber-colored liquid is capable of killing acne-causing bacteria, thanks to its antimicrobial properties (US National Library of Medicine article). It evens out skin tone and lightens dark spots by encouraging cell turnover. It attributes these unique qualities to one ingredient, tretinoic acid. This is the active ingredient found in Retin-A (research article). Dermatologists prescribe Retin-A for healing acne, smoothing wrinkles and lightening hyperpigmentation. As Retin-A's distant all-natural cousin, this liquid gold is extremely effective in delivering visible results.

Unlike Retin-A, rosehip oil is extremely gentle. It doesn't cause peeling, swelling and redness. The essential oil is emollient yet absorbs quickly which makes it ideal as a daily moisturizer. This soothing but potent wonder is most definitely worth trying, especially for those with temperamental skin.

Delving deeper beneath its effects, the molecular structure of this oil conforms to the needs of severely imbalanced oily skin. Rosehip is abundant in linoleic acid which acne-prone skin is deficient in. Unlike most face oils, it is low in oleic acid which instigates an overproduction of acne-causing sebum. This rebalancing shrinks clogged pores and restores the skin back to health (Byrdie article).

Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on exfoliating acids, moisturizers and skin brightening serums, pick this tiny bottle up at a nearby health food market. My favorite brand is Trilogy which is available at Wholefoods. Be sure to patch test first, before applying to your entire face.

Photo by: Christin Hume
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