5 Important Strategies For Managing Credit Card Debt

Finances can behave strange, but you need to realize that your finances behave depending on how you handle them. If you do things wrong, then debt proves to be one of the most obvious factors that can prove to be a deterrent to your finances. Amongst this one of the most rampant reasons again happens to be credit card debt. Now if you’re one who’s living each day under the growing burden of credit card debt, then understand for a fact that it’s very much possible to manage your credit card debt as long as you know how to. Effective credit card debt management can actually prove rather beneficial when it comes to stabilizing your financial profile.

Key strategies for managing credit card debt

Managing credit card debt can be easy as long as you know certain strategies and tricks involved. It can actually guide you from a debt-ridden life to a debt free existence. Check out the following key strategies that tells you about effective credit card debt management.

1.  Acquaint yourself with the facts: When it comes to managing credit card debt well, then it’s rather important that you acquaint yourself with the hard facts of your credit card debt. Instead of making some large purchase with your credit card, it’s time to figure out the true end costs. High time you learnt how exactly interest rates and payments work with your credit cards. Do your calculations right and you might just be surprised at the figures yourself.

2.  Always be farsighted enough: Remember, it’s important for you to be farsighted enough about certain things. When it comes to credit cards, then you’ve got to realize that they can only benefit you in the short run; whereas, it causes substantial harm in the long run like accruing debt. Hence you should write all the figures down related to your credit cards and keep a record for the next 2 to 3 years at least. This should tell you a lot about your spending patterns related to credit cards and you can then rein in your finances accordingly.

3.  Design a proper budget: Effective debt management definitely calls for proper budgeting. If you continue spending what you feel like, then there are high chances that you’ll bury yourself so deep in debt from where there won’t be any chance of extricating yourself. This is why it’s important that you stick to the designed budget religiously. Practice discipline when it comes to your finances. Cut out all those things that’s putting you in debt all the more.

4.  Try credit card consolidation: Another thing you could try is credit card consolidation. This is something that can relieve you from the trouble of dealing with multiple credit card payments. Consolidation would enable you to enjoy the ease of having only a single monthly payment to deal with. Moreover, consolidation enables you to benefit from greatly reduced interest rates which does a lot to relieve your debt burden.

5.  Stop using your credit cards: When in credit card debt, it’s rather important that you stop using your credit cards. However, that doesn’t mean you close your accounts. Rather make it a point to purchase with cash as far as possible.

If you’re able to adopt the above strategies, then you should be able to take care of your credit card debt for good. Don’t get deterred by debt, instead manage it effectively enough.


Lessons Learned: Going From Full-Time Executive to Full-TIme Freelancer Part 1

Hi everyone! Happy Monday! I have a really cool guest post today from Laura at ConsumerFu.com. Laura made the switch from being a full-time executive to a full-time freelancer! I know a lot of people made the switch, are thinking of making the switch, or are planning to make the switch soon so I thought it would be helpful to hear some of the lessons Laura learned in budgeting and saving money when the time came to finally make that switch. Enjoy!


Ever stare out the window and dream about giving up the daily commute and office politics to be a freelance writer? The most successful bloggers make it sound so easy! All you need is dedication, hard-work and a commitment to succeed - right? 

I can tell you first hand, It’s not that easy.

I walked away from my career as an Executive Television News Producer after my father suffered a medical emergency. He owned his own business, employed dozens of people and worked nearly every day. Yet, a bad fall and a series of unexplained events left him confined to a hospital bed. It served as a wake-up call.

I turned to freelancing so I could spend more time with family. It offered the flexibility and control I needed, and the creative outlet I wanted. It didn’t come with the salary or the security of a corporate job, but I was prepared to live off my savings until I could make it work. The first step was figuring out how to stretch my savings.

People who keep monthly budgets are way ahead of me on this one. But since my budgets have always existed somewhere in the far reaches of my mind, cutting expenses came one lesson at a time.

Lesson 1 - Home vs Work Expenses

If you’re not going into the office, you save on things like dry cleaning bills, coffee breaks, lunches out, vending machines (for my steady fuel of Diet Coke), parking fees and gas. I honestly thought this would save much more than it did. My work was only 15 miles from home and I brought my lunch half the time, so there wasn’t a huge savings.

I was most surprised about all the extra costs of being home all day! Since I was working on the computer (and running laundry and the A/C) during peak times, my electric bill shot up. I found myself snacking all day too, so my grocery bill increased. And get this, my water bill also rose since I was now using my bathroom all day - they never warn you about that in the blogs!

Lesson 2 - Cut Out Luxuries

Luxuries are all about perspective. I can tell you, my perspective changed over several months. At first, I cancelled my monthly massage club, avoided nicer restaurants, got rid of movie channels and stopped buying good wine. It wasn’t enough.

I had to trade out locally sourced produce, meat and dairy for whatever was on sale at the grocery store. I bought cheaper coffee, stopped drinking Diet Coke and quit buying bottled water. I cooked only what was on sale and discovered that sometimes generic works just fine. I still find things I can eliminate. But looking back, I would have started the process while I was still getting a regular paycheck.

Lesson 3 - Lower Your Standards

So many movies depict writers as slobs who sit around in sweats all day - I vowed not to fall into the stereotype. I maintained my daily routine, except I replaced slacks and sweater sets for casual wear that didn’t need dry cleaning. After a few months, I realized I could save a lot of money if I lowered my standards a little more.

  Hair care - My stylist brought my color closer to my natural dishwater blonde so I could go longer in between appointments to hide the gray. I also switched to cheaper products, and only use the good ones on important days.

  Makeup - I replaced my department store makeup with cheaper lines found at Ulta. I had to experiment a lot to find good replacements, but it’s definitely worth the savings!

  Nails - Eliminating twice a month mani-pedis saved me money and time. It’s easy to maintain shorter nails with clear gloss, and I used lighter colors on my toes until I got a hang of it. Now I use salon pedicures as a treat for achieving small goals.

  Clothes. My favorite stores are now out of my price range, so I avoid them altogether. I don’t even window shop because I know I will be tempted. Instead, I stick to the classic styles, which last forever and can be replaced at any price point.

Lesson 4  - Look for Hidden Expenses

In retrospect, I should have researched all my expenses long before I left my job. Once I had more time to review bills and actually read all my emails, I discovered I was paying hundreds of dollars each year in automatic subscription payments. I found newspapers, magazines and online subscriptions that I didn’t even use anymore.

That started intense reviews of all my bills. I cut apps offs my cell phone bill and premium channels off my cable bill. I also scrutinize my credit card bill each month to make sure I’m not missing anything.

Lesson 5 - Keep the Important Things

I have read about people who cut their budgets to the extreme; selling their cars, canceling cable, consigning their clothes. That wasn’t my goal. I simply wanted to save where I could without completely altering my life. That’s why it was so important to keep the things that I loved.

I maintained a membership to a tennis club that I use almost daily. I also kept my computer and internet so I could work from home, as well as my iPhone so I could respond to clients when I was out. I don’t regret any of these things.

Like my budget, my freelancing career has been a series of lessons. There are things I could have done better, things I could have done earlier and things I could still do to maximize my return. But the ones that stuck - are the ones I experienced all on my own.


Laura Slawny is a freelancer writer for ConsumerFu.com where she researches and experiences life’s hidden shortcuts to help others save time and money.


No One Knows Yourself Better

So it's 1am on a Saturday night/Sunday morning and I just felt compelled to share some thoughts on this past week. I've had some very inspiring conversations with people and felt like I gained so much in just a few days. I just need to write it down to keep reminding myself and also maybe to help inspire you too, with anything that you need motivation with - finances, work, career, school, family, fitness, etc.

I asked you guys on Twitter if there was such thing as stepping out of your comfort zone too much or whether it was great to keep pushing boundaries and trying new things.

Some fun responses:

The general consensus seems to be that pushing your boundaries is a good thing. This year I've been changing a lot and being open to more things that I could never have imagined doing even if someone paid me. I still don't think I have the guts to go skydiving, but I've been wanting to push myself in other areas. 

I never thought that moot court was for me, but I decided that now is the time to start and practice my public speaking skills, I'm already paying for an education so why not learn more about my strengths and weaknesses, and hopefully build on them? I tend to enjoy self-improvement but somehow ignored a lot of great opportunities just because I was too afraid of stepping out of my comfort zone.

I almost backed out of moot court tryouts yesterday but I miraculously survived today and put in my best effort after lots of prepping. I was offered a spot a few hours later and I could not be more ecstatic. I really owe it to you all who helped encourage me to face my fears. 

What came across as odd to me was the fact that my friends kept commenting that I was so collected today before my tryout. They said they liked how I was so confident, but if only they knew how terrified I was and how I spent the past 2-3 days agonizing over the dang thing!

Fear is a funny thing. It can feel like it consumes you yet it doesn't necessarily mean that it can be noticed. If that's the case, then why not push yourself more and continue to grow? 

This brings me to realization #2 of the week. 

I spoke to an academic counselor the other day since I was feeling overwhelmed with schedule planning.

He said, "no one knows myself better than I know myself." 

And it's so true!

I think that's something I forget about a lot, and I tend to start listening to fellow classmates about "what's best." In reality, what's best for someone could potentially be the worst for me. Everyone is so different. 

It's like finances, there is no right or wrong route as long as you get to your destination. What destination exactly? Well that's your choice to make. It's whatever makes you happy and it doesn't matter how long it takes you or which path you take. It doesn't even matter if you want to change that destination.

Well I hope this post wasn't too much for a Saturday evening, but I just felt the need to share some inspiration in my daily life. Hopefully it could help inspire you too. 


How Your College Student Can Learn Money Management

College students have racked up about $1 trillion in student loan debt in the U.S. Considering college provides some of the most formative years in a person's life, establishing good money management processes while in college is crucial to alleviating that future debt. Parents are key role models who are critical in mentoring and modeling responsible cash management strategies during these crucial life skill-building years.

Managing the Extra Essentials of College Life

Beyond the typical costs of education -- tuition, books, fees -- students have added expenses for dormitory or off-campus lodging, meals and entertainment. Students living on campus will probably see an increase in meal plans this year. Universities such as Minnesota State University are offering creative alternatives to the standard three squares a day, according to MNSU.edu. MSU offers flexible spending meal plans, which give students the option of spending part of the meal allowance on snacks outside the dining common and hot take-out meals, occasionally. Students are in charge of proactively managing their money, and taking advantage of social activities without extra spending. Programs such as these, which encourage flexible spending plans for students, are prime ways to practice credit management.

Credit Cards

Living within a budget is the first step to establishing solid credit building behavior. Parents might suggest students skip the meal plan altogether. One option for controlling spending is with parent-sponsored prepaid credit cards. Parents authorize or fund prepaid cards with money that would have paid for the meal plan. This allows students to control what they eat and when, within a budget.

Another option is to co-sign for one of the cash back credit cards or a similar service. If you employ this method, you must ensure the student is responsible enough to make timely payments every month. Even though these types of cards typically have higher interest rates, paying the balance on time each month builds credit while providing a small cash return.

Most major credit card companies offer cash back incentives. Offers vary from one percent cash back on any purchase, to as much as five percent back on select purchases for gas, groceries and home furnishings. Offers.com reminds consumers that excellent credit scores (minimum of 720) allow lower interest rates. Rates can easily jump from 10 to 24 percent (or higher) with only one late payment.

Spending just $5 each day on discretionary items -- such as sodas, coffee and movie rentals -- adds up to almost $8,000 over a four-year college experience. Teaching kids to spend money wisely is crucial. Making purchases with a credit card and paying in full each cycle, lets students earn up to $400 on their discretionary items, rather than paying hundreds of dollars in interest.

Why Does Credit Matter?

Building a strong repayment history sets the stage for those insanely low auto rates currently offered by many credit unions. For example, Associated Credit Union offers rates as low as 1.75 percent with an exemplary credit history. The rate can go up to almost 12 percent as the credit score declines. Learning to manage credit isn't a requirement at universities, which is why working with your college student to pay off credit cards responsibly is a vital parental role -- even after your child turns 18 and leaves the house.


Rings and Things: Going the Non-Traditional Route Part 1

Hi everyone! Today I was going to write about engagement ring shopping. I'm not engaged and no one popped the question, but I wanted to talk about the price of rings and diamonds. What this post turned into was a post on my thoughts on weddings, specifically my future wedding.

Let me back up a bit.

When you've been with someone for almost 8 years (scary haha) you probably already discussed marriage. Otherwise, why would you stay with that someone for that long? This is sort of cliche and silly, but BF and I knew we were soulmates from the very first week we started dating. I can honestly say that he is my best friend and the only person for me in this lifetime. When we started dating we just became inseparable. It was the nauseating, overwhelming, and too much for you kind of love from the very start (probably since I was 18) and I still remember us getting giddy over marriage after a month of dating. It felt like we knew each other for years.

So you see, marriage somehow was always in the stars for us, and we planned to get married after I finished law school. We never talked about the engagement of it all because I think we've always wanted that to be a surprise, but we've thrown ideas around about having a small and non-traditional wedding or getting married at court first then having a ceremony in a few years. It all depends on our finances and the reality is that we would rather be married than have a big wedding, and we would rather go on a nice, long honeymoon than have an extravagant wedding. We've thrown ideas around about having a destination wedding for just immediate family members, where everyone pays for their tickets. Another option was a backyard BBQ or a tiny DIY garden wedding.

When I mention this to people, I seem to get the same response.

"It should be nice," they say.

"You want to be able to look back and remember your special day," is what I hear often.

The thing is, I want something small. When I look back, I'll still remember the love we celebrated with the people we love, and without all the financial burdens. I'll remember it as the beginning of another chapter in my life.

I can't say that I've never dreamed of a big wedding (just look at my pinterest wedding board lol), but when I think about it now, I just don't want to deal with it. My thoughts may change if I make more money later (or if we win the lottery, which we don't play, but maybe we should) but at this point I'm not feeling it. Our finances don't allow it and I'm not willing to receive help for it. I would rather have my parents help me pay down my student loans or help me pay for a down payment on a condo before contributing towards a wedding. Unfortunately I don't have the luxury of having it all haha. But what's weird is that I'm perfectly okay with that.

(Btw, if my parents are reading this - all 4 of you, if you want to help me pay down student loans AND help with a wedding and a down payment - no one is stopping you. HA in my dreams right?)

The wedding industry makes a ton of money by sucking in brides to be with lavish images, reinforcing the old idea that a wedding should be the most memorable day of your life, complete with extravagant everything (you have to have a nice dress right, and flower arrangements, and a great photog, and the list goes on and on). That's not to say that you can't have a DIY wedding or stick to a budget, but it definitely contributes to that "idea" floating around in my head that a wedding should be something that society wants it to be, which in turn adds to the desires that someone has in their head. I completely succumb to it myself (again, see my pinterest board) but I am now in the stance where I am being realistic and putting other priorities first. I remember reading posts like these and scoffing at everything the author was saying. It's funny when you change your stance on something isn't it?

I guess we'll see what happens when the time comes (I'm thinking 2 more years) but I am also incredibly excited to plan a small wedding on a budget. Right now we're thinking $5,000 for the celebration and $5,000 for a ring. The BF wants to spend more on a ring though....

This is what leads me to my thoughts on engagement rings. But, I'll save that for another post because I have a lot of questions and a lot to say on that topic.

What are your thoughts on non-traditional and small weddings? Is it the new "thing" to do these days? Would you be offended if you weren't invited to a friend's wedding because it only consisted of family members? Do you have any tips on a DIY wedding? I'm new to all of this so I would like to hear thoughts. Guys, gals, married and non-married, I want to hear everyone's opinions :)

And thanks for reading this whole post. Kudos!


Victims of Number Psychology

I'm always interested in hearing about people's salaries. "How much does that person make?" is a question I always wonder. I'm just curious when it comes to how much a person makes doing a certain job or in a certain industry. News articles like to flaunt headlines about the best jobs with the highest paying salaries, the highest-paying internships, or the easiest jobs that pay the most. Things like that.

What is actually more important is your overall net worth, because it takes into account your income, your debts, and your assets. Now that's what is more accurate than a person's salary.

The funny thing is, salary is something of a psychological number to me. I've always been rooting for the BF to get a higher paying job, and now that he's making a lot more than he used to, the psychological effect is that he feels richer. That would definitely be the case if everything else in our financial world stayed stagnant.

However, that's where my life comes into play.

The BF and I knew that I would be quitting my job. That meant losing $45,000 (pre-tax) a year. In addition, I tacked on some debt (currently at $31,000) and by the time I graduate, that number will triple. The BF's salary is definitely a lot more than what he was making before, but with me not working and adding debt, we realized that we were just as poor as we were when we were both working full-time and I had zero debt. Yet, we were scrimping and saving like no other back then! We should be doing the same instead of splurging a lot more these days.

Talk about a rude awakening!

I'm pretty sure we were both not feeling well after that conversation. Of course, the BF is definitely entitled to spend more since he has been paying down his debt and his income did increase. I like how he thinks about the both of us as one whole and how our finances are practically one but at the same time I'd rather not think of it that way since it makes me feel bummed out about our finances.

I don't know what it is but I still want to look at our net worth as individuals rather than combined because psychologically, it makes me feel better to know that he is making a lot more as one person (even if I have no income and a lot more debt now) vs. our past scenario which was two people making less money each and me not having any debt. Isn't that weird? I'm sure I feel that way because this situation is temporary and I'll eventually have to start working after I graduate. Also, once your salary goes up it can't go too far down....can it?

For now I am definitely enlightened by our reactions and will get back to saving like a poor person again, i.e. not splurging. We've definitely been eating out a lot more freely than before and getting useless stuff that seems necessary but really isn't (like a humidifier and laptop speakers).

Do you ever wonder about people's salaries? If so, do you end up realizing that they may have just as much debt and could have a lower net worth? Or are we too focused on salaries and income these days?


Link Love: Fave Reads and the End of Summer

Happy Friday everyone! I cannot believe it is mid-August! Where on earth did the summer go? I had such a great time in San Diego and I am sad to see it end, but at the same time I am excited for school to start again (weird right?) and to start getting back on the daily grind....literally, because that means more coffee at 3x a day.

This weekend is my last weekend in SD and sadly I'll be doing work and homework mixed with some packing in between before I head back up to the bay area for school on Monday. My calendar is already getting jam-packed and I can feel the stress coming. My goals this school year are to stay focused, try not to spread myself too thin and to spend more time on relationships (boyfriend, family, friends). Last year I definitely failed in the relationship department and alienated myself from many.

My class load for this fall includes 14 units - Evidence, Advocacy, Con Law II, Adv Legal Writing and a Clinic where I'll get to do client intakes/interviews at a pro bono legal center. On top of that I want to try out for the Honors Moot Court External IP team. It will be focused on negotiating...how sweet would it be to get to participate in the competition? I also want to try my luck at getting on the ever so prestigious Law Review. Oh yeah, I'm also the internal VP for the Law and Business Club board so I'm excited for that too! I think that should be enough on my plate. I think I will have to hold off on an internship until spring or maybe next year. I still have to make time for interviewing...currently I only have 1 OCI interview lined up next week. We shall see how everything pans out!

I haven't done a link love post in awhile, partially because there is just so much out there that I've been loving and I haven't been keeping track. I also have been immersed in reading tons of different blogs/websites focusing on fashion/shopping (you all know that is my #1 passion), health and fitness, legal matters and just general politics and news. I also have a sensitive post coming up soon on a topic that is near and dear to my heart - it's a post about shopaholics and recovering shopaholics. Stay tuned!

OH also if you are in the US, check out the September issue of Shape magazine! I'm featured in there somewhere :) I still need to pick it up myself!

Okay enough of my rambling...onto the link love!

Here are my top reads that I enjoyed:

1. Cheap Ways to Stay Healthy at Making Sense of Cents
2. The Importance of Learning How to Negotiate at Newlyweds on a Budget
3. Money & Relationships: Joint Accounts at My Alternate Life
4. A great post on Roth IRA Withdrawals at Debt Blag
5. Gender Discrimination: When Powerless Language Can Be Powerful at Femme Frugality
6. How Much Should You Spend on Office Clothes? at Mo Money Mo Houses (btw congrats Jess for the new job!)
7. Oprah & the $40,000 Bag at Budget and the Beach

Other favorites of the moment because I can't contain myself:

Favorite color right now: I have been LOVING any shade of turquoise and coral.

Favorite music right now: I love all the top 40 stuff out right now, but I just discovered Jay Loftus through youtube and his songs are just soooo gooood! If you like Jason Mraz, Jack Johnson and the like definitely DEFINITELY check out Jay Loftus on YouTube or Spotify.

Favorite item of clothing right now: I've never been a "dress" girl. I've always gravitated towards shorts (denim shorts particularly) or skinny jeans. This summer I lived in colorful skinny jeans for work (casual dress code) and recently I've been obsessing over dresses. They are just so comfy and cute! I bought some recently at BR outlet and Gap outlet.

Favorite food/drink right now: I've been craving watermelon juice. I want to buy a watermelon today. Also, I'm into salads with "fruity" dressing. I had a salad yesterday with a mango dressing that was delicious. Also another favorite is a raspberry vinaigrette.

Favorite skincare or makeup product right now: Recently discovered MAC mineralize skinfinish natural since I don't really wear liquid foundation. This powder is perfect for me since I just want a light light coverage. Also I'm obsessing over the Foreo Luna since my Clarisonic Mia broke. The only downfall is that it is $200. Too much for a skincare product? Probably so!

I think that's pretty much it! What have you been reading this week and what are your favorites of the moment (color/music/clothing/food/drink)?

Pay Monthly Catalogues
Pay Monthly with Catalogues


Money Options for the Unemployed

Hi everyone, happy Tuesday! Today I have a guest post about ways to find money when you're in between jobs. Enjoy!

These days, people are being let go left and right and finding a new job can be difficult. Until the economy really takes a turn for the better, maintaining a job or finding a new one may be hard. 

If you have found yourself in the position of being unemployed and are worried about money, there are things you can do to try and alleviate the stress. Being unemployed does not have to a stressful period as there are many ways of making money to hold you over until something more stable comes along. 

Depending on your talents and resourcefulness, there are various avenues for getting money without taking on new credit or loans.

Below are a few practical ideas on earning a bit of cash whilst looking for something more fulltime:

Can You Answer Me Please

There are several online forums interested in having professionals answer the questions of their users. You can get paid to answer questions about your profession or on other various subjects. If you are dedicated and available as required, you will be able to pay all your bills from this contract.

Personal Shopper

Some people are so busy; they can’t even take time off work to buy clothes. If you have the passion to dress for success or make fashionable choices, you can make money shopping for others. Research thoroughly; this helps you to establish what kind of designs flatter the body shapes of your clients. Treat them like celebrities and they will keep asking for you.

Offer Research Services

If you have the patience to sit and research on any subject, you can get work researching for authors who want to publish their books. Improve your research skills and they will refer others to you. People completing their degree programs are required to do research for their dissertations. You will have continuous work in no time.
If you are not interested in performing these jobs, you still have other options of making money in your locality.  Take a look at the jobs below.

Baby Sitting Services

You may need a reference from a known person in your community to be offered a chance to babysit someone’s child. You are at an advantage if you live in a friendly neighborhood. Take a short first aid course as children can get hurt while in your care. Learn fun activities to ensure the child left with you is entertained and they may even request for you when their parents go out.

Walking Dogs

If you love dogs, look for a job walking them for their owners. If you are well organized and able to handle them you will have regular work. Ask the owner if you can bathe the dogs after the walk for an extra fee. Most pet owners will pay well to ensure their pets receive the best care.

Offer Car Wash services

The majority of people in your neighborhood will have a car to get to work. You can print out flyers about your car washing services and hand them out in your neighborhood. Do not be afraid to get dirty.  Word of mouth will get you more work to build your egg nest.

Mow Lawns

Most people are afraid of hard work; you can mow their lawns to make that extra cash. You can do other cleanup activities for them to increase your spending kitty. If you have the know-how, offer to change their car oil as most people hate doing it.

Run Errands

You can buy groceries for a stay at home mom for a fee in your neighborhood. An elderly person may require you to accompany them as they go to the bank. They will pay you for that service.

There are many ways of making money if you know where to look. Talk to people and let them know you are available for work.  Unemployed doesn't have to mean no income or taking on loans, it could actually turn out to be just the kick in the pants you need to pursue your entrepreneurial dreams.


Meal Plan Monday!

Hi everyone! Happy Monday :) Hope you guys had a great weekend, and don't forget to enter the August Cash Giveaway!

Last Wednesday was the last day of my internship, and it was definitely bittersweet. I enjoyed working there a lot (I'm planning to delve more into details in the next post) and will definitely keep in touch with everyone there!

I have two more weeks of summer remaining, and I'm spending them in San Diego with the BF until the very last minute (I start school August 19th). Since he works full-time, I'm going to be spending my days working on some research for his side business, cleaning, and cooking! I'd love to do this full-time in the future. This is my first real "vacation" without stress in awhile, so you bet I'm soaking it up as much as possible. Nothing makes me happier than helping out my BF and cooking good food!

Since I'm going grocery shopping and meal planning today, I wanted to share some of the meals I'll be making for the next 2 weeks. I also have to go to 3 grocery stores - Albertson's, Vons, and Trader Joe's. We compared prices and quality at all the grocery stores and Albertson's has great beef, veggies, and fruits, Von's is for bread and chicken, and Trader Joe's for specific TJ items like salsa and tomato sauce.

Today I'm making a filipino dish called Chicken Nilaga. It has chicken, carrots, bok choy, cabbage, chicken broth, lemon, fish sauce, and potatoes. My grandma made this a lot when I was growing up and we love it over rice. BF will also have this for lunch on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, I'm planning to make spinach enchiladas with a cilantro cream sauce using this recipe. I also want to make Chipotle's barbacoa beef in a crock pot for Wednesday but I have to let it sit overnight. That way we can have enchiladas and burrito bowls for Tuesday-Thursday (including lunches).

We like to eat out on Fridays or Saturdays, so depending on when and if we decide to eat out, I will be making Chicken Rollatini on the day that we decide to eat in. This one looks so delicious! 

On Sunday I want to make Mongolian Beef since BF can take it to work the next day.

Next week I plan to use the crock pot a lot since I'll be packing and getting in a lot more work during the day.

Here are some crock pot recipes I want to try and also these easy garlic cheddar biscuits!

When meal planning, I try to focus on using similar ingredients in all of the dishes. We're going with a lot of mexican style dishes so that I can use the same ingredients like beans, rice, beef, chicken, sour cream, cilantro, tomatoes, mozzarella, etc. Also, the dishes may have to be shifted around depending on the amount of leftovers.

What are you guys making this week?


5 Expensive DIY Home Improvement Pitfalls to Avoid

Doing it yourself, or DIY, is one of the great moneysavers in the world. Done properly, you can save thousands of dollars, possibly tens of thousands of dollars, on home renovation. However, done poorly, you can wind up with a broken deck and a shattered kneecap. While some projects are successful enough to build a DIY fervor in any Dad’s heart, others wind up costing far more money than they save. Here are some of the most expensive mistakes you can make when starting a DIY project.

1. Getting In Too Deep

At first, each project seems fairly simple. The only problem, for example, is a small leak in one pipe. A new fitting should solve that problem. However, after the fitting is replaced, the sink keeps leaking, and you have to finish it now or the whole bathroom will be underwater. Soon, you’re surrounded by bits of pipe and caulk, wondering how much you’ll have to pay a plumber to fix the high-pitched squealing and ice-cold water flooding the bathroom.

If you aren’t sure how complex your project is, get it appraised by a professional. Even if you’re not planning to hire a contractor, ask for an estimate, and ask him to walk you through what he’d like to do to your project. This will at least give you an idea of how far you’re getting in over your head before you have to call a professional to fix your mistakes for you.

2. Not Properly Budgeting 

Whether you know a guy who can get cheap parts or you used a promo code from Home Depot to get free shipping, you’ve probably thought of some way to make your DIY project cheaper than the estimate. However, be wary of not budgeting nearly enough money to finish your project. If you skimp on the cost of materials, you may wind up with an abandoned DIY project that no help can save.

3. Using The Wrong Tools 

Every carpenter and craftsman knows that in order to make a job go quickly and smoothly, you need the right tools. However, many people who attempt DIY think that they can do everything with two saws and three kinds of hammer, as long as they have an electrical drill. Unfortunately, the reason this is a pricey mistake is because of one reason: medical bills. Proper tools ensure that you’re safe on the job.

4. Doing A Project In The Wrong Order

There is a right and wrong way to do almost any project. Doing a project in the proper order ensures that all steps are followed and that you’ll have enough time and materials to properly complete it. Otherwise, you’ll wind up messing something else up and having to fix it. For example, if you’re intending to paint the wall, you must first cover fixtures and edges with painter’s tape. Otherwise, you’ll make another job for yourself by having to hand-paint over all fixtures later. These may not seem like big issues, but most abandoned home DIY projects are abandoned because people didn’t concentrate on small details.

5. Not Having a Plan or Doing Research

Doing research and having a plan goes hand in hand. When taking on a big project such as a DIY, you simply need organization and a direction to follow, otherwise mistakes will occur and you will have to pay a pretty penny to fix them. Doing the research leads to a cohesive plan that you can refer to and that will help you avoid those mistakes. By making a plan, you are saving time and money on purchasing unnecessary tools, and you can be more efficient.

Have you ever fallen into any of these pitfalls? Do you have any other tips on saving money while doing DIY projects?


August CASH Giveaway! $900 in Prizes! Let's Talk Vacations

Hey everyone! Happy August!! I'm excited to be part of a huge blogger giveaway this month and today we are sharing our most exciting vacations - ones that we took or ones that we want to take.

I've had a travel fund for a few years now yet I haven't gotten to take a vacation with my own money. I've traveled with family many times, and I think my favorite vacation so far has been Hawaii. I've gone three times to the islands of Kona, Kauai, and Oahu. I love relaxing by the beach, pool, and in the warm Hawaii weather. My favorite parts were snorkeling, boogie boarding, and hiking. Coming in at a close second is Florida! We were there for 2 weeks and we went to 6 amusement parks. It wasn't much of a "relaxing" vacation since we were constantly walking around, waiting in lines, and planning out our next day but it was fun hanging out with my family and the weather was also beautiful in Orlando.

What I really want to do is go on a vacation with the BF. He hasn't been on a real one in a long time. I think our first trip would be to somewhere tropical and to also visit our families in the Philippines, Guam, and Thailand. The best part about visiting family is that you can stay with family members and have free tour guides! I'd like to visit many other places such as New York (haven't been there since I was 11 and I want to go during the holidays!) and Europe, Australia, Tokyo, Shanghai, and the list goes on and on.

I love being in San Diego though, and my favorite "vacations" have been staycations - where we explore our own town and the surrounding towns like LA, Anaheim, Julian, Temecula, etc.


Balboa Park
Now onto the giveaway details!


  • Must be 18 years old to participate
  • Open worldwide
  • Contest ends August 21, 2013
  • Cash prizes will be paid out via Paypal
  • Winners will be contacted via email
  • Please follow the rules, terms, and conditions in the Rafflecopter widget below

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks Sicorra, Cat, and DC for putting this giveaway together!
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