Things I Have Done Instead of Updating This Blog

I haven’t posted on this blog in a super long time and I’m starting to feel really bad about it. At first I just missed one week because I was sick on a Tuesday when I usually post. And I thought, “Eh, no big deal.” But then one week turned into two and before I knew it I couldn’t even remember when the last time I posted was. I wish I had a really good excuse for why I haven’t posted in forever, but truthfully what I have is an endless supply of not-so-good reasons for why I’ve been too busy to blog. So here they are – 20 Things I Have Been Doing Instead of Blogging:

1. Watching Love Actually while eating Half Baked Brownies. If you’ve never had Half Baked Brownies, you need to make them ASAP. Just bake brownies for half the time you’re supposed to and eat the gooey, chocolately mess with vanilla ice cream. If you’ve never watched Love Actually, what are you waiting for?! WATCH IT NOW!

2. Struggling to figure out what to get my brother in-law for Christmas. Slash hoping my mom buys him something I can just write my name on. (JK I would never do that . . . ??)

3.Catching up with old friends at Thanksgiving! I love when everyone comes home to Maine. Plus holiday get-togethers tend to involve a lot of food and adult beverages, which is always a bonus.

4.Wondering why the man in line behind me at the post office is standing so close to me. The line doesn’t move faster just because you’re leaning on me, sir.

5. Feeling really proud of myself for going to an exercise class called Insane Intervals with my roommate.

6. But then getting really mad at myself for losing my ID in the gym parking lot.

7. But then feeling really grateful when some super nice lady mailed my ID back to me! What a good Samaritan.

8. Obsessing over One Direction and 5 Seconds of Summer (although to be fair, I am always doing that).

9. Listening to Blank Space on repeat. “Cause darling I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream . . .”

10. Having a small dance party at the gas station when it costs me less than $40 to fill my tank.

11. Buying all the headbands at Crew Cuts because it’s impossible to buy just one. They are all too cute. It’s not indecisive, it’s generous because I bought them for the Holiday Adopt-A-Family . . . right?

12. Listening to everyone’s new favorite podcast, Serial. Check it out here if you’re not hooked already. I am going to be 100% upset if the season ends this Thursday without telling us who really killed Hae. Just saying.

13. 25 Day of Christmas on ABC Family. Enough said.

14. Feeling like a proud mom when my Seal Pups competed in their Mini Swim Meet. They did so awesome! There is nothing cuter than 6 and 7 year-olds swimming in their first race.

15. Wishing that I was allowed to have dogs in my apartment because it’s the only thing stopping me from adopting this adorable puppy that came to the credit union the other day. And now I can’t stop looking at all the pictures on the Maine Lab Rescue website, where she and her little furry friends are waiting to find their forever home. You can check them out here, but you will fall in love instantly so be careful!

16. Working. A lot. Because you have to do that to be able to have a home and food and you know, live or what not.

17. Contemplating how long salad dressing is good for. Does it have an expiration date? Like creamy ones obviously do but does balsamic vinaigrette really ever go bad? Or do they just put an expiration date on there to make you buy more?

18. Re-reading David Sedaris’s Holidays On Ice because it is the perfect mixture of sarcasm and Christmas cheer.

19. Turning 26. ACK! I’m old now.

20. And last but not least, telling myself repeatedly that I should blog. Like today. As in right now, Kelsey!

So in conclusion, I vow to return to posting weekly. Hopefully 2015 will bring new exciting posts with lots of helpful financial information and witty ideas. But I will still be writing them so don’t set the bar too high . . . :)

3 Quick Stress Relievers

Is there anything worse than someone telling you to, “Calm down” when you’re stressed out? I don’t know about you, but if I’m upset or angry or frustrated (or likely all 3 at the same time with some hungry mixed in there) nothing makes the situation go from a 5 to a 10 on the “I Can’t Handle It” scale like being told to, “Just relax. Take a deep breath.” If chilling out was as simple as just saying I should, I would have done that a long time ago!

The truth is, we all get stressed out from time to time, about school, work, relationships, or any number of other triggers. But how can you calm down if being told to, “Take a Chill Pill” doesn’t work for you? Here are 3 quick fixes that will help you relax and might make a stressful situation a little easier to handle.

1. The 3 Minute Rule. This is a trick a learned from a swim coach back in high school that I still use (or try to anyways). His rule was that you had 3 minutes after a race to talk about it, cry about it, yell about it, brag about it, or whatever about it. Then you had to zip it and move on to the next race. This taught me to spend a few minutes getting in touch with my feelings (whether good or bad), let them out, and then start focusing on the future. Dwelling on something, especially something negative, doesn’t do you any good. But neither does holding it in. If you’ve had a frustrating day at work or the cashier at the grocery store was rude to you, try putting a time limit on expressing your anger. Set a timer on your phone for 3 minutes, complain about your issue non-stop for your allotted time, and then when 3 minutes is up press stop. Let it out and then let it go.

Obligatory "Frozen" gif.

Obligatory “Frozen” gif.

2. Screenshot It. Every time you see a picture, quote, or just anything that makes you smile online snap a screenshot. It could be anything from cute puppy photos to something weird you saw on Twitter. Then when you’re feeling down, scroll through your photos for a little bit of instant inspiration. Nothing get rid of stress like a good giggle.

My friend snapchatted this to me, and I die laughing every time I see it. I don't know why.

My friend snapchatted this to me, and I die laughing every time I see it. I don’t know why.

3. Scrunch Your Toes. When I was little my mom taught me to do this weird thing to help me fall asleep. I still do it sometimes when I really need to chill out. You start by scrunching up your toes as tight as you can while you count to ten. Then you tighten all the muscles in your legs for ten, then your tummy, then your arms . . . all the way up your body to your forehead. Then, for the grand finale, you scrunch up every part of your body as tight as you can and count to ten. Then when you let go you take a big breath in and out. You will feel better. I promise.

I hope these tips help make your day a little more stress-free!

Peanut Butter Candy Corn Pretzels

Here’s a fun Halloween recipe for all of those candy lovers out there. Theses treats are easy to make and only take about 10 minutes from start to finish. Here’s the recipe.

YUM!

YUM!

Ingredients:

1 bag of Mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

1 bag of Candy Corn

1 bag of pretzels (I like the square ones but you can use any kind, just make sure they are small)

Treats!

Treats!

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Cover baking sheet with a piece of tin foil (so candy won’t stick to baking sheet).

3. Evenly space pretzels on baking sheet so there is a little space between each.

4. Cut Mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in half. Place one half on top of each pretzel.

Give yourself about a pointer-finger-sized space in between pretzels so they don't melt together.

Give yourself about a pointer-finger-sized space in between pretzels so they don’t melt together.

5. Place baking sheet in oven for 5 – 7 minutes or until chocolate is melted. They should be squishy, but not so melted that the chocolate starts spreading off of the pretzel.

6. While chocolate is stilled melted, press one candy corn on each pretzel.

7. Place baking sheet in the fridge for about an hour, or until candy in solid again.

8. Eat all the candy!!!! Nom nom.

Happy Halloween!

5 Ways to Save Money at Halloween

Some of these money-saving ideas for the Halloween Season are serious and some of them are not. You might even say some are “tricks” and some are “treats.” I’ll leave it up to you to decide which ones are which. :)

Trick or Treat!

Trick or Treat!

  1. Save money on candy by asking for the “trick” from trick-or-treaters instead of giving the “treat.” How bad could it be? I mean, they’re just kids . . .
  2. Pinterest, pinterest, PINTEREST! There are a ton of free, easy-to-make costume ideas on Pinterest. It’s a great place to go for everything from homemade costumes that you spend weeks making to last minute ones you throw together 10 minutes before a party. Check it out.
  3. Always DIY your costumes. Homemade costumes are not only less expensive, they’re also always more creative and fun than store bought ones. Places like the Dollar Store and Goodwill often have great costume items at low prices. And you can recycle stuff from around your house (like cardboard, bottle tops, and other miscellaneous items you were throwing out anyways) to add details to your costume. Get a little crafty to save a few bucks.
  4. Wear your regular clothes and when people ask what you are, tell them you’re a “Muggle.” Or better yet, don’t show up to the party at all and then tell people you went as a “Ghost.”
  5. Trade old costumes with a friend. Maybe it’s not funny to go as Miley Cyrus at the 2013 VMA’s anymore, but you could re-purpose the foam finger to be a crazy Patriot’s fan or use the mouse ears to be one of the Three Blind Mice. No one wants to be the same thing Halloween after Halloween, so trading items with friends let’s you have fresh items in your wardrobe without purchasing them brand new.

Happy Halloween!

5 Things I Shouldn’t Blog About

I’m not going to lie, I was feeling uninspired at best about today’s blog. I have writer’s block. Or blogger’s block, maybe. Whatever you want to call it, I have spent all morning mulling over possible ideas for this post. NONE of them were any good. They all seemed boring, unhelpful and, worst of all, un-write-able (that’s not a word, but let’s pretend it is).

Then I jokingly suggested to a coworker that I should write a blog about having nothing to write about. She laughed it off and said, “I’m not sure that’s a great idea.” Which made me think, “It’s not even the worst idea I’ve had all day!” So, just to give everyone a good laugh, I have complied the following list of some of my worst ideas for blog posts today. Things that I should never, ever, ever . . . LIKE EVER actually write about on this blog.

5 Terrible Ideas I Had for Blog Posts:

1. How my desk is the best place to hide and take a nap.

It’s the perfect fort. On days when I’m really tired, I seriously consider curling up under it and taking a nap. I think if I tucked my chair in just right no one would notice me. And really, would anyone miss me for an hour or so? They’ll probably just think I’m at a meeting or running an errand. I just want the desk-nap-fort to be a real thing.

See what I mean?

2. My love of One Direction and 5 Seconds of Summer. 

You might be judging my taste in music right now, but I do not care. The love is real. So real that I might frighten people away from ever reading this blog again if I go into too much detail. Also I already talk about these two bands far too much in my everyday life, so I have nothing to say in essay-form that I haven’t already told everyone I know a billion times. If you ever just want to talk about Harry Styles’s man bun or how 5SOS is not a boy band, come find me.

One Direction Infection

My roomie and I at the 1D concert this summer. 5SOS opened. It was AWESOME.

3. How the children’s version of food is always better than the adult version.

Chobani Champions is hands down the best Greek yogurt out there. My Little Pony fruit snacks are infinitely better than any organic “fruit leather” I have ever had (probably because they always actually taste like leather.) And similarly, while plain milk is delicious, chocolate milk the best thing IN THE ENTIRE WORLD. It is a little-known fact that things manufactured to be placed in lunch boxes and consumed by 7 year-olds during recess taste infinitely better to me than their adult counterparts. I realize that this is probably because of the added sugar, but I don’t care. Just let me eat my Lunchables in peace.

4. A list of the best things children have ever said to me.

This might actually be a really great post and not a terrible one. I can’t decide. I have coached swimming for several years now so my list of weird/funny/ridiculous things little kids have said to me is pretty fantastic. I think my all time favorite was during a game of Marco Polo when a 10 year-old boy got tagged and in response to me saying, “Oh, no! You’re it!” he replied, “That’s the risk you take when you’re a free man.” He was 100% serious. The trouble with the post is that it might also reveal how much I make fun of the kids I coach (which is a lot). In my defense, they love my jokes. I think . . .

5. My life-long dream for my coworker to get a puppy at the same time she has her baby.

I realize that this is a lot to ask. Having a newborn baby is enough work without also having a new puppy. But it would be worth it because it will be ADORABLE. We could take photos of them napping together and become Instagram famous. She keeps saying her cats will snuggle her baby but even if that were true (which it’s not because cats are evil) it’s just not the same. There’s something about the idea of a baby and a puppy growing up together as best friends that just warms my heart. Here is photographic evidence of that fact: http://www.buzzfeed.com/allstatenewhousehold/definitive-proof-that-puppies-and-babies-make-adorable-sibli

In conclusion, I hope next week to be back in action with a helpful blog post. Maybe even one that has to do with finance. Don’t set your expectations too high, though. :)

5 Tricky Spending Traps

This was actually a pretty good movie, in a "girl's night" kind of a way.

This was actually a pretty good movie, in a “girl’s night, drinking wine while gossiping over the dialogue” kind of a way.

I recently took an online quiz called, “Are You a Shopaholic?” Thankfully my results were negative, but it might only have been because it was fairly obvious which answers the compulsive shopper would choose and I consciously avoided them. If I was an honest quiz-taker, I might have had to change a few of my answers because I do go shopping “just for fun” or buy things sometimes “just because they were on sale.” Obviously there’s a big difference between me and a compulsive shopper; my bad retail habits are occasional and mostly harmless, whereas their’s are habitual and life-ruining. But I think we all fall into the “spend more than you need to” trap retailers set for us every now and then. So here’s a reminder of a few common retail gimmicks to look out for:

1. “CLEARANCE!” = “Buy it!” -  Just because something is on sale, doesn’t mean it magically becomes a necessity. How often do we grab stuff we don’t need off the sale rack just because we think we’re getting a deal? If you don’t need it at full price, you probably don’t need it at sale price either. Avoid the clearance rack unless you’re on a specific mission.

2. BOGO - A.k.a. “buy one get one free.” BOGO is awesome if you were already planning to buy an item because you’re getting more bang for your buck. But if you weren’t going to buy just one of the item, why on earth would you buy two? Retailers know the power of a “bargain,” and they’re using that psychology to tempt you into buying stuff you don’t need just because it’s a good deal.

3. Multiple Purchase Price - You see this trick a lot at grocery stores. “Get 10 yogurts for $10!” or “2 bags of chips for $3.00.” Sometimes there really is a discount to buying in bulk, but not always. Check the unit price (or the price of buying just one of the items) before you grab multiples. Maybe the yogurt retails for $1.50 each, in which case the 10 for $10 deal will save you $5. But maybe each yogurt retails for $1.00, so you don’t need to buy all 10 to get the best price.

4. Point of Sale Add-Ons - Gum. Candy. A magazine. We’ve all made that impulse buy while standing in line at a register. That’s why stores strategically place those small, luxury items at the check-out. I don’t really need that issue of Comso magazine. If I did I would get a subscription. But when I’m stuck in a long grocery line and I spot it, I always end up buying it anyways. And doing that each month adds up to a lot of extra money spent. Think twice before grabbing that check-out line treat!

5. “FREE Shipping” - Free shipping is awesome, don’t get me wrong, but there’s usually a catch. “Free shipping when you spend $75 or more” encourages you to spend more than you planned just to save $4.99 on shipping. Similar to a lot of the “deals” listed in this post, free shipping is a great bonus if you were already planning to meet the spending requirements, but you should never buy extra stuff just to get the deal.

4 Things Nick Miller Taught Us About Money

If you don’t watch New Girl religiously every Tuesday like I do, you might not be familiar with it’s lovable curmudgeon Nick Miller. Nick is a 30-something every-man who dropped out of law school to work at a bar. But despite not having a lot of money, I think we could all learn a few lessons from Nick about finance. He might not know how to do a load of laundry or how to express his feelings, but Nick does know how to live life on the cheap. Here are 4 things Nick Miller taught us about money:

1. Don’t Pay for Things You Don’t Use.

wiffy

If you, like Nick Miller, are unsure what wifi is then why bother paying for it? Or say you have a gym membership but you never go to the gym. Or maybe you pay for cable but you only ever watch Netflix now-a-days. It’s not being cheap to stop paying for things you don’t use, it’s actually super smart.

2. Eating Out Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive.

nick dinner

One time I ate a $30 baby-back ribs at a fancy, hipster restaurant and they were no where near as good as the $14 ones at Applebee’s. The point is, if you’re more of a chain-restaurant-eating-with-your-hands kind of a guy like Nick, embrace it! You’ll save a few bucks.

3. “Wealth” is a Relative Term.

Nick Miller gas tank

We can’t all be Bill Gates. And Bill Gates certainly didn’t become a billionaire over night. Accumulating wealth takes time so it’s important to set realistic money goals for yourself. Maybe it’s filling your gas tank all the way up or maybe it’s buying a new car; whatever your goal, make sure it’s achievable on your budget.

And finally . . .

4. Money a complicated thing.

nick money

 

Money can control so much in our lives. Where we live. What we do for work. What we eat. How we spend our free time. But what is it really? It’s just paper and numbers and stuff. Obviously money has value, but it’s important not to give it too much value. If anyone is proof that you can be happy without being rich, it’s Nick Miller. And yes, he is a fictional character, but you get what I’m trying to say. Think of money simply as a tool to get you where you want to go – it will make managing it easier.