Need Cash Fast: Why Not Sell Your Designer Handbags?

Today’s post is compensated and contributed by an outside writer.  Check out her great tips for making cash out of those designer handbags!  Heck, you know I’ll buy them!

So in an effort to purge my closet, I realized that I had an overwhelming amount of items that I didn’t wear anymore. In particular, I had a ton of designer handbags that I had probably only worn a few times. You’d think with all the money I spent on them, I’d be wearing them every day, but what can I say? What’s an outfit without the perfect purse to accessorize with? But now that I don’t wear them anymore, they were simply taking up space and collecting dust. Then I came up with this brilliant idea to sell the bags and get a few extra bucks that I could add to my new wardrobe…the only problem was I had no idea where to begin.

Ways to Sell Your Old Designer Handbags

I checked online resources and found that there were a few ways I could go about selling my designer handbags for a reasonable price: have a yard sale, post an ad in the online classifieds…or sell them to an interested local buyer. I was shocked to find out that there were actual businesses interested in buying designer handbags for a reasonable rate… I mean sure I knew about cash for gold or silver, but the fact that I could sell my old Louis Vuitton bag or my Gucci purse was news to me!

Well, I didn’t think I could get top dollar for selling my items at a yard sale, and quite frankly, the idea of posting an ad and waiting for the right buyer seemed like more work than I was willing to do. So I decided to check out online vendors and contact them about whether I could sell designer handbags from home.

Several Selling Options

It was also interesting to find that there were different ways in which I could sell my old handbags to interested buyers. There were a couple different ways to sell including:

  • Cash up front – I could go to an interested buyer and receive a cash amount for the value of the bag. This option is great if you need cash right now and don’t want to wait around.
  • Consignment – If you want to get a bigger percentage of your purse’s value, the best option is selling on consignment. When a consumer buys your purse, you will receive a percentage of the sell totaling as much as 30%.

Preparing for the Sell

Before taking my handbags into a local buyer, I found out there were a few things I needed to do first:

  • Check the Condition – If you want to get top dollar for your designer bags you want to make sure that they’re in mint condition. Make sure the purses are clean, the stitching is intact, and no important parts are missing (i.e. zipper, snaps, or straps). If necessary, you may want to wipe off the dust that might have been lingering as it sat in the back of your closet.
  • Check the Authenticity – It goes without saying that you’re not going to get a decent price for a knockoff version of a designer bag. Therefore, it’s a great idea to check the authenticity of your bag by looking at key areas like: stitching, zippers, materials, and labeling.

Once I knew I had authentic purses that were in good condition, I was ready to sell.

I was able to find a local jewelry buyer that also purchased designer handbags. I decided to go with the cash option as I wanted to take the money and go shopping. (I know, I know, it kind of defeats the purpose of purging my closet, but I can’t help myself). I received a pretty good deal and walked out with the cash the same day. So ladies, whether you’re looking to update your wardrobe, pay down some bills, or even beef up your savings account, selling your designer handbags could be a quick solution to your financial needs.

 

 

The Opportunity Cost of Parents Leaving Their Village

This post is not written to pass any kind of judgement.  We all remove ourselves from family for various reasons.  Sometimes economic.  Sometimes social.  Sometimes due to wanderlust.  Sometimes due to family dynamics.  Some have lost their family.  This post is written to all the would-be parents out there.  It’s not supposed to be doctrine.  But it is something to take under serious consideration.

Kurt Vonnegut is one of my favorite authors.  I came across him because I was a lazy teen.  We had to pick two books off of a predetermined list to give presentations on.  Cat’s Cradle was the shortest.  So I read it.

And he rocked my world.  He changed my perspective.  He made me laugh.  He made me think.  And since that time, I have read almost every book and many of the short stories he wrote.

One of the themes that comes up again and again in his writing is the dissolution of the extended family, and how this has created a largely lonely society.  In no book is this theme more prevalent than Slapstick.  The idea is that we used to have all of our social needs met by those we lived around; our village.  That village usually included most if not all of our extended family.  When you married someone, you were gaining new, local, social ties that would sustain you throughout your life.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Ithaca, New York.  About how going upstate always feels like going home.  About how I totally wish I could convince my husband to move there.

But it’s not home.  And our village is a major reason why.  Especially with the ever-present responsibility we’ve bestowed on ourselves by having children.

Part of it is social.  And a large part of those social needs are economic.  We weren’t rocking our finances when we first had kids.  It wasn’t crippling debt or insane spending sprees.  It was our income.  We’ve been working very hard over the past few years to improve that situation.

But without the help of family members, we wouldn’t have been able to put the time and energy into those improvements.  We both work.  He’s in school right now.  Our lives are crazy.  But not once have we had to worry about childcare costs.  Our children have amazing grandparents who watch them for free.  With the average cost of childcare around $11,700 a year, that’s huge.

So huge.  If we had to pay for childcare, I would not have been able to go back to school and get a better, higher paying job.  Continuing to work at my pre-degree place of employment would have been off the table, too.  The costs of putting my children in daycare would have far surpassed my annual salary with no degree.  We would have been stuck, with little hope of improving our station until maybe, possibly, they were all in school six hours a day.

My husband would not be in school right now.  A dual-income is critical to us at this point, especially since he’s had to cut back a few hours at his job to accommodate his studies.  Without grandparents to watch the kids during the day, we would not be able to do it.   At all.  Period.  The end.

There are other needs we have, as well.  We need time to bond 1:1 with each other.  Date nights are sporadic, but ever-so wonderful.  When I baby-sat over a decade ago, I was getting paid double digits an hour.  I imagine inflation has taken rates even higher today.  On our budget, if we had to get a baby-sitter our date nights would be spent sitting in the car outside our house, because we wouldn’t have a penny to be able to afford even turning the ignition.  (Or afford public transportation, depending on where we were going.)

But I don’t have to worry about that.  Because we have family members all too happy to give us a night out and babysit for $0/hour.  They do it because they love us.  They do it because they love our kids.  They do it because they are generous and kind people.  They do it because they are family.

And I am eternally grateful.

We can, of course, build villages out of the people that surround us regardless of blood relations.  It’s an amazing, beautiful thing when it happens.  But the unconditional love that allows these free transactions is harder to come across when we haven’t forced ourselves into it by birthright.

If the right opportunity for growth comes up, but takes you away from your family, it may be an awesome thing.  It may be the right thing to do.  But if you’re planning on having children in the near future, consider the costs.  Consider date nights.  Consider $11,700/year for daycare.  (That’s per child, by the way.  With a probable slight decrease for every child  you have at the same facility.)  Consider that with those costs, it may make more economic sense for one parent to stay home, forgoing an income.  Consider the travel costs associated with traveling home for big events and emergencies.  (Your kids can only ride with you for free on that airplane until age 2.)  Consider all the positive attributes your family members can teach your children that you, yourself, may not possess.  Calculate all of this into your decision.  Because the numbers are huge.

And so is the emotional support.  Sometimes I feel like I am going crazy with everything going on.  Being able to sit down and chat with a sister-in-law, trade jokes with a sibling, or get a hug from my mom sustains me in a way that I never thought I needed. They give me perspective when I’m scrubbing crayon off the wall for the forty third time, or rushing to get to the grocery store in between work and trading cars with the husband.

Before having children, I wandered all over the place, hardly giving proximity to family a second thought.  Now I couldn’t imagine making it through life without them. It takes a village to raise a child, and they are my village.

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich and Debt Free Divas*

‘Tis the Season for Savings

season for savings

I hate to brag, but I’ve been saving a lot of money lately.  More money than usual.  This holiday has truly been the season for savings for us, and it’s not just because of the sales or the keen eye I keep on our budget.  I’ve been saving a good bit of money on the things we were going to buy anyways thanks to the Shopular App.  I literally just have to pull it up on my phone and I have unexpected savings at the cash register.  Check out our latest scores from just the past week:

1. The Unexpected Night Guard

Last week I went to the dentist with pain I was sure was coming from a cavity.  I went in and got the full inspection, but there were no cavities to be found.  My dentist asked me more about the pain, and told me it sounded a lot like pain people get from grinding their teeth.  Which I do unconsciously at night.  So he told  me to go out and buy a mouth guard over the counter.  While the pain isn’t great, buying a  night guard over the counter is a heck of a lot cheaper than paying for fillings.  So I was already saving over $100.

There just happens to be a Walgreens between my dentist’s office and home, so I stopped in to pick one up.  It was $26.99.  I pulled up the Shopular app, and lo and behold, there was a one day 20% off your purchase coupon.  So my night guard was only $21.59, for a savings of $5.40.  I saved $5.40 for taking 2 seconds to pull up an app on my phone.

2. The Ski Trip that Never Was

I’ve been really excited to teach my husband how to ski.  His student life office was offering a killer deal of $65 total for the both of us, including transportation, lift tickets, and rentals.  I think I’m going to be taking another trip with my friends in the new year, and this way he’d have a head start so he could join us.

The problem?  We needed gear.  I went skiing in jeans last year.  It was less ideal that I thought it would be.  And my goggles actually fell apart on the trip.  I think they were 10+ years old, so whatever.  But that meant I needed goggles and ski pants, and he needed the same plus possibly a more suitable coat.  We budgeted in for them, as we’re hoping this will be gear we’ll be using again and again.  We set our budget at $200.

We were planning on heading to Dick’s on Sunday with our $200 in tow.  Friday I checked out Shopular, without much hope.  I haven’t had a lot of luck with Dick’s and coupons in general in the past.  At least not with ones that are actually for the items I buying.  Guess what?!  They had one!  Another 20% off your purchase, and it was good until Monday!  So we were going to go in, buy what we were planning to anyways, and only pay $160.  That was going to mean $40 surplus.  It was going to be great.

But then a couple hours later the admin called.  Our local resort had cancelled the trip.  Conditions weren’t going to be good enough.  Why do I always plan ski trips for warm weekends?

Oh, well.  I guess $265 surplus (the gear+our refunded tickets) is better than $40, anyways.  Still sad to miss the experience.  We’ll have to try again later in the season.

3. The Pricey Framing Project

I’m always flabbergasted by how much it costs to get something custom framed.  This year’s biggest Christmas purchase was getting a map of a place where our family is from framed for my mom.  (I hope this isn’t one of the posts she reads.)  I’ve been wanting to do it for years, and finally had the Christmas budget to do it.  My jaw still hit the floor when they told me the final price.  I had one of those special 60% off coupons (which I’m pretty sure they circulate every week just to rack up the normal prices,) but at check out I tried a $15 off your $100+ order coupon I found using my trusty little app.  I wasn’t sure it would go through as technically I was using 2 coupons in conjunction with each other, but by some miracle it did!

So to recap, that’s $20.40 in savings in one week.  With almost 0 effort on my part.  And had the ski trip not been cancelled, it would have been $60.40.  That’s too much money in your pocket to not download a free app onto your phone.  So go do that.  You’ve got nothing to lose except digits on your bill at the cash register.  It’s on the Android market and available for iOS.

 

*I have been compensated for this post.  Regardless, all opinions are my own.  I’ve been so happy with this partnership because it’s a product that truly is saving me money on the things I need everyday.  I don’t recommend things to my readers that I wouldn’t use myself.*

Finding My Children’s History. And Some Great Ancestry Deals.

family history

For those of you following this saga, the whole thing started when I wrote about the possibility of my children being Native American, and whether they should ethically use their potential heritage to score college funds.  A lot of you encouraged me to find out, and wanted to know the results.  So a partnership with Ancestry.com was born.  The first step in the process was a DNA test.  (Want to see the results?  Check them out here.)  The next part of the process was actually researching documentation through Ancestry.  I was provided with a membership to enable me to do the leg work.

My goal was to either confirm or eliminate any possibility of Native American descent.  So when a line got back to Europe I stopped looking at it for the sake of time. I concentrated on lines that stayed in America.  And holy moly, has my husband’s family been here a long time.  The longest one I can trace back has been here since the late 1600s, but there are still other branches I am trying to find documentation for.  I have not found any Native American ancestors.  Again, that doesn’t mean they’re not there.  I just haven’t uncovered any yet.

But it doesn’t really matter whether there was a Native American or not.  I’ve already established I’m not going to exploit a possible small portion of my children’s DNA to get them college money.  Because even if they were, they’re so far removed from the culture and the disenfranchisement that those cultures experience that it wouldn’t be right.

What does matter to me in this whole process is finding out who their ancestors were.  And to this date, I’ve found some pretty amazing stories that had previously been hidden by the sands of time.

Father

Father was born and raised in Pittsburgh.  His children, all five of them, were born and raised in Pittsburgh.  But in 1862 he enlisted in the Civil War.  He enlisted in Illinois.  I was really confused by this for a while, but through research I found out that as fervor to join the war effort slowed, commissions were being paid just for enlistment.  Recruiting stations would compete for enlistees, and a major way they did this was with money.  I’m assuming that Father traveled to Illinois for a better sign-on bonus.  When he left, he had five children, ranging from the ages of four to seventeen.

His company was involved in the Kentucky Campaign of 1862.  The Confederacy was making a move to take Kentucky, a border state, and he was among the troops that came in to stop them.  It was crucial to the Union to keep Kentucky if they wanted to win the war.  But something odd happened to Father.  On the day that a lot of troops moved to beat the Confederates to Louisville, he suffered an injury of some kind.  It eventually killed him, and it’s listed as paralysis.  Yet he was not discharged until five months later.  He worked as a painter after the war.  So I don’t know if it was a slow thing that started with a relatively minor injury or how his quality of life was after that day.

He returned home in 1863.  His wife was by his side until her death a little over a decade later.  Two years after her death, his disability must have become unmanageable, because he went to live in a home for disabled veterans.  He lived there four years until the paralysis finally took him.

Daughter

Daughter was, well, his daughter.  And my husband’s ancestor.  She married a Civil War veteran, too, though her husband was much younger:  only 16 when he enlisted.   A couple of months after he enlisted, he found himself at the Battle of Spottsylvania Courthouse in Virginia. It was a part of the Overland Campaign, where Grant really tried to cut Lee off from his home base in Richmond.  The campaign was a Union victory, but no one won this battle.  The two week engagement garnered only death for both sides before Grant disengaged, regrouped, and tried to find a better place to fight Lee again.

Four days into the battle, Daughter’s to-be husband was injured twice.  He stayed in the Army for over a year, but was counted disabled at discharge. He had lost almost all movement in his right arm, and couldn’t do manual labor for the rest of his life.  He did all right pushing paper, though.  He worked in courthouses and in other respectable jobs throughout his days.

You could call it Freudian, or you could call it empathy from someone who had grown up with a father in a similar situation, but the two of them got married.  And thank goodness they did.  Eventually their DNA mixed with enough other people’s to make my husband.  And I kind of like him.

Husband

Her husband’s family history is amazing and well fleshed out.  I actually read about one line of his ancestors for my Around the World in Books challenge.  The review of it has more information about where they were from, and how they went from castles to being essential exiles.

Is Ancestry.com Worth the Price?

I’ve written before about the tiers of spending you can go into for genealogy.  Ancestry.com falls into Tier #2 as a subscription site.  I’ve always been kind of wary of exiting Tier #3 where everything is super cheap, but I can tell you right now that it’s totally worth it.  This is the fastest time I’ve ever had of tracing back lineage, and the stories shared above are only the tip of the iceberg.

The reason it went so quickly was because Ancestry.com uses “hints.”  A little green leaf pops up if there are any indexed records or family trees that other members have submitted that potentially match each person you add to your tree.  An indexed record is any type of documentation that humans have gone in and inputted into a computer to make it searchable.  Rather than sifting through an entire city’s census records, the database sees your family member’s data, and automatically searches it against indexed records saving SO MUCH TIME.

Matching against other people’s family trees is cool, but you have to be careful.  A lot of people don’t fact check.  They see a person’s name on a census, and assume it must be the same exact person as their family member, when in fact it’s just someone else with the same name.  Or a “father” with the same last name.  Then seven other people copy from their family tree, just assuming it’s right.  Always check their sources.  But when their sources do check out, you now have someone with a mutual ancestor that you can contact within the website to brainstorm and collaborate with.  Which can be a pretty amazing thing.

If you get stuck and there are no more hints, the game’s not over.  Not all of the records on the site are indexed.  So you can go back and sift through those “manually” (though still on-line.)  It is a little more time-consuming, but the feeling of finding that family member without any help is glorious.

If you’re pretty sure that your family’s been in the states for a while, they also have a sister site, Archives.com.  I actually found some military records on there that I either searched wrong or just couldn’t find on Ancestry.com.  Archives.com is mostly US records, with 4-5 billion records to search.  Ancestry.com is worldwide, and has 14 billion.

Deals for You!

This is a great time of year for me to get all my stuff together for this post, because it just happens to coincide with a bunch of deals I get to let you know about!  Through December 26, 2014, you can get any one of these discounts by using my affiliate links below:

10% off Ancestry gift membership
(Click “Buy Now” and it will show you the discounted rate.)

25% off Family Tree Maker
(Again, click “Buy Now” and the discount will appear.  This one also includes a 2 week free trial subscription to Ancestry.com.)

10% off AncestryDNA
(No extra clicking required.  This one just pops right up.)

Add Christmas Sparkle to your Garden with these Bright Holiday Lighting Ideas

IMG_4075 Estate agents call the garden your extra room- no matter what the time of year, it’s possible with a little effort in lighting to have that come true.

Firstly, however, you may want to consider is getting a chimenera or some other warming fire pit- there’s nothing quite like the break from the cozy sofa to roast marsh mellows round the fire with snow at your feet! Think of it as a winter barbeque- a few warm drinks, a roaring fire and some food to toast: what could be more Christmassy?

So, how best to light the garden to make a true winter wonderland?

There are several options to consider. It may seem too late to buy solar lighting but they are by far the simplest option. You can get several different options: path markers that light your way to the fire and seats; strings with a solar panel that you can drape from the trees; and preformed displays of reindeers or snowmen that you can “plant”. The most obvious advantage of solar items is there are no trailing wires, and no real upkeep.

The range of colours and designs of lights that you can get is truly inspiring. Some people just want a simple gold and green and red for Christmas- others a kaleidoscope of colour. Whatever your fancy, you’ll find the colours for them. You can get strings of clear bulbs, cherries, lanterns- you name it, it comes in a light! These types of lighting can be draped lovingly around the garden trees and bushes, around the door frames, in spirals to concentrate the light: the possibilities are endless. Nowadays, obviously you’ll find an app to control them if you so desire: have them come on just as the light is fading, and flash in a preset pattern if you so wish. The choice will be yours.

Another way that you could consider is to add fixtures to the house itself. This is becoming increasingly popular and the range of items has increased from the simple bells to every kind of whistle you can imagine. Some aren’t restricted to Christmas either so these can be used for a special occasion- is there a summer party that will go on into the early hours? Get these professionally fixed unless you have obvious fixing points, and again, have them on a timer, or controlled by an app for maximum effect.

The last thing to consider is the viewpoint you most want to address. Do you want to arrive home to them? If so, concentrate on the front aspect. If it’s for you to enjoy from the house, look at the garden from the various rooms. If you are going to light the garden to use it, make sure you light walkways as well as the central area.

Good taste and Christmas lighting rarely go together- they can, so why not go for it? It’s the one time of the year no one will judge you. Happy holidays!

*I have been compensated for this post contributed by an outside author.*

A Non-Traditional Student Budget: You Can Do This!

non-traditional student budget

My husband and I have been at this school thing a long time.  Or at least it feels that way.  As we’ve gone on with our education, our world and lives have changed.  But there are some staples in our budget that have stayed pretty stable.  These line items are things that you don’t typically see in a traditional college-student’s budget.  These are the things that make it hard to get everything balanced between books and tuition.  This is our non-traditional student budget.

Housing

We live in an apartment that’s really too small for the size of our family.  But upgrading isn’t an option right now.  I think back to my initial foray with traditional college.  I think about living in the dorms.  I think about the options that were available to me as a young, single adult, like renting out a room in someone’s house for a pittance or sharing a huge expensive place with 10 other roommates and dividing our bill.

For the non-traditional student, these things are sometimes not options.

The Meal Plan

My meal plan combined with my dorm room in college cost less than what we pay for rent right now.  Now we have to add food onto that.  For us and the little ones.  And as much as I may wish someone would cook it for me included in the cost, that definitely does not happen.

Cars

I know, I know.  People don’t need cars.  Except that we do if we want to have our jobs.  We both have to be very mobile and very quickly if we want to make money.  Public transport doesn’t cut it, and often doesn’t go to the places we need to go.

So there is one car payment in our two car home.  Plus gas.  Plus maintenance.  We actually keep all of these costs pretty low considering.  We are way lucky to have a mechanic in the family.  We use rewards on gas, but we still have to use so much it makes me sick.  The car payment I’m willing to deal with.  It keeps a rotating line of credit open, we can afford the monthly payment, and the cars we are able to afford with that payment have very low maintenance all things considered.  I used to drive beaters, and they cost me far more money each month in repairs.  Not to mention the headaches.

Diapers

I can’t wait until everyone in our house is potty-trained.  But I’m not holding my breath.  Until that day, we have to buy diapers, which are not a cheap line item.  We also have to buy things like sippy cups, shoes (right now we’re in a stage where we’re buying new ones once a quarter for each kid as they grow so quickly,) wipes, and other miscellaneous items that get destroyed yet are necessary for keeping  your kid healthy and clean.

Health Insurance

This isn’t the greatest example, as we’ve oscillated with our coverage as opportunities have come and gone for insurance over the years.  (Our kids have always been insured, though.)  When you’re a non-traditional student, you’re not covered by mom and dad’s plan.  Unless you’re under 26.  So get ready to negotiate with doctors’ offices, wave your cash in front of their faces to convince them that just because you’re self-pay doesn’t mean you’re going to flake out on the bill, and pray that nothing horrific happens until the next time you can find affordable coverage.  Or fork over ~$200/month.  That’s what we were looking at for one of us in our area for a next-to-bear-bones policy the last time I had to check.

Cavities

It would be ideal to just go in and get everything cleaned up so you never got cavities.  We’ve actually done that over certain courses of our non-traditional college days.  But sometimes you still get them.  Dentist appointments/cleanings for self-pay in my area are around $100, and then getting those dang cavities filled are around $120/pop.  X-rays are around $70 for four of those bite things.  I’ve also looked into purchasing dental insurance independently.  There’s no way we can afford it at this point.  We have used student clinics at certain points, but the only advantage we’ve found with these is that they are more flexible in when  you pay them.  How much you pay them is pretty much the same.

Laundry

Yeah, we’re real grown-ups and still have to pay coin-op to wash our clothes.  It adds up quickly, especially when you’ve got messy creative kids like mine.

Hope.

So we have a lot more bills to pay.  We have much bigger needs to work jobs.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t do this.  We are doing this.  We’ve been doing this.  At times it’s sucked.  But at others it’s been incredibly rewarding.  I walked.  I finally walked.  He’s almost halfway done with his degree.  Our earning potential just keeps inching higher.  This is worth it.  This is possible.

And it’s not just possible for us.  It’s possible for anyone.  And it’s possible without incurring debt.  Many traditional college students go into tens of thousands of debt.  As a non-traditional student, you have the option of doing the same thing.  But there are so many other options for you, and so many financial doors that are open to you because of your unique situation.

First of all, if you’re in enough of a financial state to consider returning to school, odds are you’re going to qualify for all the money you can possibly get through the FAFSA.  If you’re 24+ (or meet any of these other contingencies) they don’t count your parent’s income anymore.  Which is a major win for you when being awarded grants.

You also have many other life experiences and motivators for completing your schooling.  This is great fodder for scholarship essays.  You’ve lived more life, and therefore had a greater opportunity to meet and overcome many challenges.  Find out what the scholarship board is looking for, and then sell it.

You can get grants and scholarships to cover your tuition.  And sometimes you can get enough that they can help meet those day-to-day expenses.  Like housing.  Like daily meals.  Like diapers and sippy cups and car maintenance and cavities.  It’s not easy, but you can do this.

I know you can, because we are.

Urban Fitness: 3 New Health Classes That Entertain and Burn Calories

urban fitness

Are you interested in working out, but you tend to get bored with traditional run-of-the-mill workout classes? Zumba is an option, but maybe that’s just not your thing. Get ready for new forms of exercise that will entertain you while helping you get in shape. Check out these emerging trends that just might change your mind about how fun exercise can be.

Daybreaker Events

If you look at clubbing in its traditional sense, it certainly wouldn’t make sense to visit a club at 7 a.m. just to enjoy a bit of dancing, right? Events like Daybreaker, which is a movement that’s coming to cities all across the globe, is no ordinary clubbing scene.

Instead of hitting the dance floor after an exhausting day at work only to return home a little tipsy, Daybreaker is quite the opposite. Wake up to a refreshing yoga session at 6 a.m., and then from 7 to 9 a.m., burn calories on the dance floor with other professionals like yourself.

Daybreaker is about staying healthy, so you won’t find alcoholic beverages behind the bar. Instead, you can grab your morning cup of coffee or a healthy bottle of juice to help wake you up before work. This is the perfect option for people who enjoy early morning workouts but want something a bit more fun. Plus, it can be great for professionals looking to network.

Clubbercise

Very similar to Daybreaker, Clubbercise is a new fitness class that Brits are loving. The class involves dancing and puts everything on a super fun aerobic level. Students take the class in a darkened room with glow sticks, disco lights, and more fun elements. The whole idea is for students to have a fantastic time while following simple routines that burn calories. Plus, being in the dark can help reduce feelings of self-consciousness and really get you to enjoy your workout.

When you need a break from studying for your masters in management information systems degree, this can be a great way to enjoy the night with friends without suffering a hangover in the morning, not to mention that it will help you get in shape.

Tai-CHip-Hop

You wouldn’t think that tai chi and hip hop would go together so well, would you? Surprisingly, these two very different practices come together nicely in a type of dance called Tai-CHip-Hop. It’s a movement that’s taken elements of Western and Eastern cultures and put them into one super fun and new style of dance. In learning Tai-CHip-Hop, you’ll discover that it’s fun and burns tons of calories to keep you in shape. This new sport is gaining traction across China and is starting to appear on gym class schedules.

These new exercise classes may take some time to hit your town, but they’re continuing to grow in popularity, so it might not be long until you can enjoy the exciting nature of these emerging trends. Which one of these options would you be most excited to try first?

 

*That’s a lot different than the last time we talked about Tai Chi, isn’t it?  I hope these ideas give you some inspiration with your New Years’ goals!  I have been compensated for this post contributed by an outside author.*

Wedding DIY or BUY #1: Colorful Cutlery

Wooden Cutlery with Dots

Our venue does not provide tableware. At a certain point of paying .69 per fork and spoon, you might want to bang your head off the table instead.  Is it really worth it?  I mean, I love you, mom (thanks for reading!), but I’ve set the table at family dinner for years and we get by just fine with our knife, fork, and spoon.  We even reuse our forks for dessert sometimes—we’re heathens!

When we met with our caterer in October, she gave us some ideas on things we could cut.  I’ll share more ideas in a future post, but one idea she suggested was to do something fun for the dessert course plate and fork and not rent those pieces.  I loved the idea and immediately searched the far corners of Pinterest for cheaper alternatives.  We decided to purchase plastic plates, but the forks came down to two options: dipped handles on metal forks or stamped polka dot handles on wooden forks.  And as my family advised, there’s no way I wanted to watch 140 painted forks drip dry.

In total, the project cost us just under $15 for 200 forks and took about an hour with soon-to-be-newlyweds teamwork.  That’s a $74 savings for our wedding budget and $35 cheaper than anywhere online.  Cha-ching, saving!

Your Shopping List:

-          New #2 Pencils – one per person per stamp color
-          Stamp Pad – pigment ink works wonderfully and makes nice, bright colors–dye ink can be duller
-          Wooden Forks/Spoons/Knives – order extra to account for any broken tines/pieces
-          Libations of your choice (not included in cost)

The In-depth How To:

  1. Set up a comfy area to sit and stamp.  Drink your libation.  This is going be one of the easiest crafts to save some money.
  2. Ah, step 2, yes, this is where you get ready to actually start the stamping. Lay out your forks in sets of 3 or 4.  Watch out for broken pieces—there will be a few, discard those.  You should probably take a sip because this craft is so stressful!
  3. Start with lighter color dots and move to darker colors using the eraser end of the pencil as a stamper.
  4. Periodically sip your libation.  Do not accidentally put your pencil eraser in the wrong ink colors and not on the handles—this will happen the more you drink. Not that I’m saying that from experience or anything.
  5. If you’re making a confetti dot pattern, use overlapping dots as well as dots off the sides of the handle to add a nice visual effect.  There are many stamps you can purchase to do stripes/chevron/swirls/words/perfect polka dot patterns.  They cost more money.
  6. Let forks dry while you repeat steps 2-5 as necessary.  Forks are generally dry to touch within 20 seconds.
  7. Impress your guests with your crafty skills!

 

Build Wealth & Spend It All

Imagine you’ve been coaching your mother for your entire adult life to sock money into her employer-sponsored retirement plan.  Imagine she does it, forgoing life’s little luxuries along the way.  Now imagine that she’s finally able to retire, but her age and health complications are so advanced that she must do so in a retirement home.  She has enough money to cover the bills, but there are many others in the facility who do not.  Her medical expenses are being paid by her retirement fund that she worked so hard to build for so long.  The others’ are being paid by Medicare.  The treatmen is exactly the same.

Why did she save all of her money?  Why did you encourage her to save all that money?  Imagine all the things she could have done when she was in good health!  Imagine all the grand memories she could have made!

This was exactly the situation Stanley Riggs found himself in when he decided to write his book: Build Wealth & Spend It All: Enjoy The Life You Earned.

It’s an interesting read.  From everything I’ve learned about retirement planning, it’s a radical read.  It’s an approach and fresh viewpoint that needs to be taken under consideration.

Personal Finance Basics

The book starts off with some personal finance basics.  Assets put money into your pocket, liabilities take them out.  But there’s a new spin on many commonly accepted ideas.  And I love the challenges he puts out there.  He forces small business owners to ask: do I own a business, or do I own a job?

He outlines good debt vs. bad debt in one of the most concise ways I’ve seen.  Good debt is self-liquidating, and bad debt is that incurred from purchasing assets that depreciate quickly.  As in 20% within 20 minutes of ownership quickly.  Which leads me to an aside, asking the question:  as millennials, we were raised to believe school loans are good debt.  But are they self-liquidating?

I’ll let you sit on that.  I don’t need to answer for you.  Everyone’s will be different.  But with the crisis our generation faces, I think it’s an important one to at least ask before taking out those loans.

By the way, he thinks Millennials are pretty smart.

Confession:  before I entered the personal finance blogging world, I was pretty afraid of the stock market.  I had seen my elders lose money in 2001.  It was the worst thing ever.  Until the next worst thing ever: 2007/8.  I wasn’t going to go anywhere near that mess.  I’d make money and save money.  But I wouldn’t gamble it.

Of course, that fear has ebbed since I’ve read up on the subject.  But Riggs doesn’t think it should.  Nor, for the vast majority of millennials, does he think it will.  He shares a lot of my husband’s (substantiated) theories about the Fed, and promotes investing in tangible assets, AKA real estate.

Did you miss the bubble?

Of course, the reason for the demise of the markets in 2008 was the housing bubble.  We all know that predicting the stock market is folly.  At least short-term.  Riggs used a long-term scope, using demographic shifts to predict long-term cycles to sell off his assets before they took a major hit.  And then buy more of them when the timing was right.

Using demographics to predict economic cycles is not something you do down to the day.  Rather, you look at the densely-concentrated generations of our population (think Baby Boomers and Millennials,) and generalize their spending habits to get a time frame-ish for economic euphoria and conversely depression.  We tend to spend more money at certain points in our life, and then spend and earn and invest less of it as we age and retire.  Check out pg 10 of these illustrations from the book for more specific details.  This part of the book had me completely enthralled.

Build Wealth and Spend it All

Armed with all of this information, you’re supposed to go out and build that wealth comparatively early.  You do this by making your income streams progressively passive.  Then, while others are out there still working the 9-5 past middle age, use your income stream to live the life you always wanted.  Live big.  Give generously.  See the world.  Do it while you can.  Because once you’re old enough to see your health deteriorate, you’ll have the memories others won’t.  And you’ll be able to use government programs (which he predicts will expand) to get your healthcare.  Just like those in his mother’s retirement home.

Worth the Read?

Absolutely.  Anytime someone is bold enough to say something so contradictory to common advice, I think we should at least sit, listen, and consider.  I will say that my views on social programs differ greatly from many of Rigg’s.  But just because our viewpoints are different doesn’t mean the facts are different.  This book is very well researched, and forced me to stretch and question my opinions on what I think the right way to prepare for retirement is. There’s a ton of relevant content in it that I couldn’t being to touch on all of it in one review.  This is not a dry finance book.  It’s a fascinating read, and may just contain a recipe for an extraordinary life.

 

*I have been compensated for my time reading and reviewing this book.  Regardless, all opinions are 100% honest and my own.  As always, I do not promote things to my readers that I would not read myself.*

 

 

The Globetrotters Are Coming to Pittsburgh: See them and Save

globetrotters pittsburghIn our house, there’s a word that gets thrown around a lot.

That word is “ball.”

Baseball, football, and, of course, basketball.  We have every version of Little Tikes sports you can imagine, and a lot of it admittedly gets played in the house.  The husband has even started playing YouTube videos full of sports, which keep the kids enthralled long enough for us to do things like call and schedule doctor appointments, get a quick dinner ready, or just take a breath sans fear of getting hit with a projectile.

Recently, one of them went something like this:

And one of the cities they’re coming to is Pittsburgh.  So you know that’s happening.  Seeing the Globetrotters sounds like a ton of fun for me.  For my toddler….I’m a little afraid that they’re going to come home and try to hang upside down from our plastic basketball hoop.  That potential mom-problem aside, I think they’re going to have a blast.

They’ll be at Consol Energy Center on Friday, December 26th.  There’s two games: one at 1PM and another at 6PM.  They’ll be playing their rivals the Washington Generals, so it should be a great game!  I’ll be getting tickets so I can write about the experience. But I’m not going to leave you high and dry.  I’ve got a promo code for you! You can get your tickets here, and use promo code FAMGUIDE to get $7 off your ticket.

(If you’re not in Pittsburgh, the Globetrotters will be playing in a ton of other cities coming up soon here, too.  In fact, the very same day they’re playing in Baltimore and Madison.  They’ve got more skills than I realized.  Wish I could be in three places at once. :p  Super powers or not, it could make a fun experiential Christmas gift!)

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