Money Saving Tips while Shopping

As women, we like to look good and enjoy the feeling of getting glammed up and putting a new outfit on to impress our damn selves, not anyone else. Today, I’m sharing 13 tips I practice to shop a little smarter and I hope they can help you a bit!

Look Fabulous Without Breaking Bank.

I personally think people should not spend a large amount of their money to look good at all. Save your money for things you need and will eventually help you like getting out of debt, a down payment, an emergency fund, a trip or 10, etc.

Nonetheless, as women, we still like to look good and enjoy the feeling of getting glammed up and putting a new outfit on to impress our damn selves, not anyone else. Today, I’m sharing 13 tips I practice to shop a little smarter and I hope they can help you a bit!

  1. Clearance is for you. If you can’t give up clothes and shoes shopping, like me, buy items that will beat flash trends in the clearance section. No shame in my game. There are items that you will use over and over again and you will need as your staple pieces i.e. a nice blazer, a light jacket, interchangeable blouses, work dresses, etc. I’m not talking about items like bell bottoms, velvet dresses, fanny packs (ugh who let them come back). Those trends last too short and not worth the hype. Shop for quality staple pieces and you will have a greater and longer use for them.
  2. Shop at the end of season. Know your clearance seasons at your favorite stores. I love this local retail store called Boscovs in South Jersey and I have learned that if I want to buy winter boots or winter clothes I probably have to go late April or May to find up to 90% off markdowns. I got my favorite over the knee high heel boots for $10! I still shop name brands, I just don’t ever pay retail price for them.
  3. Go thrifting. I only do this a few times a year but I found a few great pieces. I still can’t get used to the smell lol and I get a bit overwhelmed. Plus, I often find great deals on sales events that even the thrift store can’t beat.
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  4. Only Buy if you Love it. Don’t buy any item unless you love it. Literally ask yourself “can I live without this?” If you really can’t decide, then just put it down and forget about it or put it on hold and if you really want it, you will go back and get it. This really helps impulse shopping.
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  5. Ask for a Discount. If there’s a minor defect that you know you can fix yourself, ask for a discount always. Just remember most likely it will be a final sale, make sure to love it.
  6. Budget ahead for Shopping. If you try to deprive yourself from shopping, and you are someone like me, it won’t work for too long. Giving yourself a strict budget is more realistic and it will force you to get into the habit of browsing more for what you really want or need. At one point, I gave myself a $10 dollar budget for a week (I know, “she is nuts!”) but I would end up browsing a lot and ended up with pieces I really loved, even if it was as small as a quality nail polish, the little things can make you happy too.
  7. Forget the labels. Name brands don’t always mean better quality. I often get asked what brand are my purses because they look expensive or just because they are different and stylish to which I proudly tell them they are no pricey bag or no name brand bag. I’ll let you spend hundreds while I walk around with a $40 dollar bag that will likely last me as long as yours. If your bags are worth more than your savings, you have a problem sis, sorry not sorry; knowing there is a problem is a step.
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  8. Clothes swap. Now, this is not a tip for shopping but to get creative while getting new clothes; well new clothes to you. Just ask your friends to come over and bring the clothes that they no longer wear and you bring yours. Free to you and free to them. I get excited when I have a new piece of clothing and I honestly don’t care if it has a tag or not–it’s just a new piece to my ever changing recyclable collection.
  9. Sell everything you no longer love or have a use for. That size two dress you wore 5 years ago and keep for inspiration, that velour sweatsuit that should be burned but you still keep for memories, and everything else that is just taking valuable space in your closet needs to go.  All the clothes you swear you will one day fit into or will come back into style, they won’t, sorry. But why not make a few bucks for them. I’ve used a few sites like OfferUp and Mercari but none compare to Poshmark. I’ve been selling my gently used wardrobe on Poshmark for almost a year now and I absolutely love it. It’s simple, they get a small fee of 2.99 or a percentage if below a price and the buyer pays for shipping. All you do is mail the item out after someone buys it and Poshmark emails you the shipping label. Recently, I’ve been trying to shop only when I sell something so I’m not spending additional money from my budget. Check out my Poshmark closet and use my code susu_hj to sign up and get a $5 credit!
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  10. Save your receipts. Have you ever bought something and never wore it? Yes, we all do it, buyer’s remorse happens too often. Save those receipts and don’t take the tags off the clothes until you wear them. I keep all my receipts and after a month or more I just try to return anything I have not worn unless it was bought for a special occasion or as Christmas gifts (I do my shopping early). Even if it’s past due the return date, get the store credit and buy something that you will actually use.
  11. Online Shopping. Read reviews extensively when shopping online and wait for coupons to not pay for shipping. If I have to pay for shipping, I usually don’t buy it. Most online stores usually run specials during July 4, Memorial Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and any other holiday you can think of.  Same as with shopping in a brick and mortar store, check out the clearance section and shop during the end of a season for garments to be used the following year. My two favorite online stores are Shein and Lulu’s. For Shein, you really have to check the reviews like a detective to make sure you get the right size. Also, you must be patient with Shein’s shipping, although they have gotten better recently and I love the no shipping regardless of price.
  12. Buy versatile clothing. Items you can wear out and in the office (assuming you have an office job). I can’t express enough the importance of this. We have all spent too much money on going out dresses and only worn them once, it’s just wasteful. I have legit wore a club dress as a top and put on a sweater or blazer on top to the office. Look for dresses that can be dressed up and down to be worn at dinners, functions, work, family events, etc.  Shop purposely.
  13. Have a Shopping Spree with others’ money. Is your birthday coming up? Make a list with links to the items and send them to whoever buys you gifts during your birthday or a special holiday. This is usually when I splurge with others’ money and since it’s a thought out process (kinda), we all win. I get exactly what I want like name brand make up, outfits, purses, etc. and they don’t have to worry about what I want or what I may or may not like. I hate getting cash as I end up spending it on items like gas or lunch, I mean we all need gas but who WANTS gas for their birthday. I can finance my own needs, buy me my weaknesses, thank you.Some of my favorite physical stores are Boscovs, Macy’s Burlington, Ross, H&M, TJMaxx and boutiques. Most of these stores also sell online but I just have to shop and browse in person; maybe it’s just their websites I dislike.

    Hope this was insightful in some way. I believe in balance and while I am a semi-strict budgeter, I have a love for clothes that I know I won’t give up, at least for now. It’s just a matter of finding ways to shop a little smarter. Please share some of your favorite online stores below and any shopping tips!

Make Credit Cards Work for You.

Credit cards can be your friend but also one of your biggest enemies…

First things first, credit cards can be your friend but also one of your biggest enemies. While I have been able to make credit cards work for me by using their rewards and even booking trips for free, I cannot recommend this to everyone. I practice huge self control and I have never carried over a balance since I got my first credit card when I was 18 years old. I’m proud to say my credit score is at is highest right now at 821!

Let’s face it, in the words of Ye, we have a problem of spending before we get it, and thanks to these plastic little cards we can just swipe and maintain this illusion of grandeur. But credit cards are essential, as they will probably be the first source to help you build credit. I got my first card from Sears and then from a whole bunch of retail stores. I currently only use two to three cards out of at least 10. I always wonder why companies don’t just close my account for inactivity but somehow that has not happened to me yet (with the exception of Walmart and Target).  Today, I want to share a few do’s and don’ts to make credit cards work for you.

Do’s

  1. Set up automatic payment as soon as you open any card to pay the balance in full every month. If you cannot do this in fear that you may overdraft your bank account, then maybe you have no business in getting cards in the first place. Retail credit card rates can start anywhere from 14% to 29% so unless you are paying everything in full or paying big chunks monthly, you are pretty much getting robbed; don’t let them fool you!
  2. Take advantage of their rewards especially the ones that give you miles or cash back. Now, this is a new concept for me but so far it has worked. I got a Chase Sapphire Preferred card during one of their promotions and after I spent $4,000 in a three month period, they gave me around 40,000 miles plus additional miles when I added an authorized user. I did this knowing I was going to have some large expenses during those months and I ended up cashing out and flying to Madrid, Spain, round trip, for free; I saved over $700!
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    But, this card had an annual fee and I don’t do those. I am too frugal to pay to have a card, so I called Chase prior to reaching the year and I switched my card for one without an annual fee called Freedom Unlimited. I really miss my Chase Preferred card because of the no foreign transaction fees and the best customer service I have had with any card company hands down. So, I am considering getting it again in the near future. I did the same thing with my Delta Skymiles card but I had to spend less, 2,000 in three months. I haven’t cashed out yet but I have over 52,000 miles right now and I hope it is as good as my Chase card.
    Disclaimer: Don’t just spend extra money to obtain the rewards. I am very anal.  I prepared myself to accomplish the above. I wrote down every expense I was going to incur in those upcoming months, I changed my phone bill, car insurance and cable’s payment card to add these cards to make sure I met their spending requirement for the reward points. Unfortunately, I could not pay my mortgage with a credit card but I got creative by paying a full six months of car insurance up front and we know Jersey’s car insurance is absurd compared to other states.
  3. Make your payments on time. Even if you can’t set your payments on automatic payment, make sure you are not late or you will get late fees and who wants those? If you are late and it’s your first time, call the card company and see if they can waive the late fee.
  4. Check your Credit score. Most credit card companies now offer you to see your credit score for free just for having an account with them. Make sure you are not paying for something you can get for free. If your cards do not offer this benefit, check out credit karma, I have friends and relatives who love it. While we are on this topic, don’t forget to get your credit reports, for free, at Annual Credit Report. You can get one report every 12 months from each credit reporting company: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian.

“YOU MUST GAIN CONTROL OVER YOUR MONEY OR THE LACK OF IT WILL FOREVER CONTROL YOU.”~ DAVE RAMSEY

Dont’ s

  1. Do not just open a card to get a 10% discount on a retail store. It takes a lot to keep up with cards’ bills and if you are not organized or do not pay the full balance each month, this could really affect you negatively over a tiny initial discount.
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  2. Do not just use cards to get additional discounts. If you already failed at the suggestion above, it’s okay, I’ve been there too. But remember that shopping only to get an additional discount does not benefit you. The interest will probably be more than the discount itself in the long run. It’s like buying things that are on sale just because of the sale and ultimately not needing them or just buying out of impulse thinking you are somehow saving.
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  3. Do not carry your cards with you. I know, what is she talking about? They are for emergencies; well, ask yourself when is the last time you had such an emergency that you were so thankful you had a credit card on you. Yeah, it doesn’t happen often but what happens often is temptation. I love clothes and whenever I know it’s outside of my monthly budget, I tell myself “it can go on my card and I will account for it next month,” well for people who cannot pay in full monthly, this is detrimental and you end up accumulating large debts by shopping little by little. So, out of sight,out of mind; if it’s not on you, you cannot use it as often as you would.
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Again, credit cards can work for you if you are disciplined and consistent. And even if you are not as obsessive as I am when it comes to paying balances, you can always practice better habits to improve what was taught or not taught to you.

Pay on time and pay in full is my only motto for credit cards. And, if you are in a mess and don’t know what to do to get out of debt, don’t let it put you down and please ask someone you trust, who is financially sound, to assist. Speaking about finances can be such a taboo at times but know that it is okay to seek advice. You won’t believe how many people are in the same place and stay there by not creating a plan.

Please share your tips, in the comment section below, about how you make credit cards work for you.

Don’t forget to subscribe, I’ll be discussing how to pay and attack student loans with the snowball effect soon! 

“TOO MANY PEOPLE SPEND THE MONEY THEY HAVEN’T EARNED TO BUY THINGS THEY DON’T WANT TO IMPRESS PEOPLE THEY DON’T LIKE.” ~WILL ROGERS.

Hello Machu Picchu, Peru

I was fortunate to travel to beautiful Cusco in October 2017. There was so much to do, I wish I had more time but I did the best while kind of winging it. I was told by friends that the best deals are the ones you find at Plaza de Armas in Cusco and they were right. All I booked before going to Peru were my plane tickets to Lima and my round trip tickets from Lima to Cusco. My family lives in Lima, so I decided to spend the first three nights there. Check out my post about Lima here.

Flying to Cusco:

I bought plane tickets with Viva Air Peru for the cheap deals. Viva Air is equivalent to Frontier or Spirit, here in the USA. There are additional charges for bags and they only allow you one carry-on bag (small purse or bookbag), so keep that in mind. Make sure to have your boarding pass printed or they will charge you about 45 soles ($15) for each check-in. Their prices are the same for Peruvians and foreigners, which is why I chose them since I traveled with my American novio (boyfriend).

The flight is about one hour from Lima’s Jorge Chavez International Airport to Cusco’s Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport.

  • We caught a taxi from Cusco’s airport to Plaza de Armas for about 7 soles ($2.50). Always ask for the taxi prices before getting in and, at times, you are able to negotiate if you think it’s too high. The fair price from these two points is between 5 to 10 soles. Remember I went in October 2017 so prices are subject to increase.
  • We went with the first tour agency offer we encountered because we were tired but there are a lot of people offering tours to Machu Picchu and other locations in the main Plaza. It is up to you if you want to check a few and make a decision. We booked our tour with Qori Inka Travel after one of their guides approached us and I am very glad we did, they delivered everything they promised.
  • My brother and I had Peruvian IDs since we were born in Peru but because we were traveling with my boyfriend, we wanted to do everything together and skipped on some Peruvian-only discounts.  Keep in mind that everything we selected, such as hotels and method of transportation, were really budget driven and we told the travel agency representative that we were not picky at all. They told us they are able to accommodate other needs as well.
  • We chose to stay our first night in Cusco to acclimate ourselves with the altitude since it is higher than Machu Picchu. Cusco is at 11,152 feet and Machu Picchu at 7,972 feet. We chewed on coca leaves and drank mate de coca, a tea made of coca leaves. We all experienced minor altitude sickness like headaches and faster than usual heartbeats but nothing serious.

 

From Cusco to Aguas Calientes:

At 7am, the following morning, a guide met us at our lobby, which was about three blocks from Plaza de Armas (can’t recall the hotel name). We walked three blocks to a white 15 passenger private minibus that took us around to three different towns. We chose this option because it was cheaper than taking the train.

  • It took us to Ollantaytambo, where we had a quick bathroom and snack break.
  • We then stopped at Santa Maria, Santa Teresa and finally Hidroelectrica Town, where we had lunch. The bus ride from Cusco to Hidroelectrica was about 6.5 hours. Tip: If you are like me, motion sickness pills and coca leaves will be your friend if you choose this route.
  • Hidroelectrica was our final destination before our 3 hour walk to Aguas Calientes aka Machu Picchu Town. We were told this was a simple and flat “2-hour” walk but it was much longer and if I would have known what I know now, I would have just taken the train and paid extra lol. Don’t get me wrong, it was an adventure, I got amazing views but I got bitten by mosquitos, I was sweating profusely and I was carrying a bookbag with two nights worth of clothes and my camera. Everything was hurting after that 11 mile walk but I’m also not in the best shape of my life, so that is a big factor to take into account.
  • We walked from around 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm and finally arrived at Aguas Calientes. Our travel agency already had booked us the hotel. We showered, ate and met with our new tour guide in the lobby to receive instructions for our Machu Picchu trip the following morning.
  • The following day, we started forming a line at 4:20 am by their bus station and people were already there. I believe the first bus started boarding at 5:30 am or 6:00 am and it comes every 5 or 10 minutes. Some people walk up to “the” Machu Picchu Mountain but I was not going to do a two hour hike and pass out somewhere. It was an easy 20 minute bus ride up the mountain.
  • We already had our bus boarding tickets and Machu Picchu entrance tickets so we met with our guide there and began our two hour guided tour. You get to enter Machu Picchu twice with your ticket, they stamp it for you. First with a guide and the second time alone if you want to go in again.
  • After my two hour guided tour, we had to exit but we went back for two more hours to explore more at our pace.
  • After you exit, there’s a station where you can stamp your passport with a Machu Picchu stamp for free.
  • We did not get bus tickets through the tour agency to go back down to Aguas Calientes because we were told it’s only a one hour walk down. After our walk the day prior, we just chose not to. We easily bought bus tickets when we exited. Remember, October is the beginning of their low season.
  • We chose to stay in Aguas Calientes one more night because we thought we were going to be tired from waking up so early. But looking back, I would have gone back to Cusco after Machu Picchu because there’s more to do in Cusco.
  • Back in Aguas Calientes, we had a full body massage for 45 soles per person (they are 20 to 30 soles in Cusco) and went to the hot springs for a bit and ate some more local food like alpaca anticuchos.

 

From Aguas Calientes to Cusco:

  • Our package included riding back, via train, in the Inca Rail to Ollantaytambo and then a private bus to Cusco from there. The train ride was approximately two hours and it was scenic and smooth. The private bus ride was about 2.5 hours. A guide waited for us at the train station and looked for us. We waited for other passengers and got going.
  • Once we got back to Cusco, we stayed at the same hotel for one more night before heading back to Lima.
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Thinking “why didn’t I just take this train in the first place?” lol

Our Cost: about $200 dollars per person included: 

  • Four hotel nights; two in Cusco and two in Aguas Calientes (at very budget friendly hotels).
  • Private bus ride with 15 total passengers to Hidroelectrica where we walked to Aguas Calientes. Lunch was included.
  • Bus ticket up to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes. It DID NOT include tickets for the bus to come down because we originally were going to walk down. My brother and I paid local prices at $8 per ticket but my boyfriend had to pay about $24. Check this site out for more current prices.
  • Machu Picchu entrance and guided tour.
  • One way Inka Trail tickets to Ollantaytambo.
  • Private bus ride to Cusco from Ollantaytambo.

Tips and Suggestions:

  • Take the train both ways. The tour guy told us if we had bought tickets in advance for Peru Rail from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes, it could been way cheaper than Inca Rail. For this, we needed four to eight days in advance to buy these tickets but we did not have the time nor did we know. Inca Rail was really nice and I would take it again even if I had to pay more.
  • I think one night in Aguas Calientes is enough so you can spend more time exploring Cusco.
  • If you need to change dollars to soles, do it in Lima or Cusco. The exchange rate when I was there was: 3.25 in Lima, 3:22 in Cusco and 3.10 in Aguas Calientes.
  • Take mosquito repellent, toilet paper, chapstick, sunblock even if the sun is not out, and have plenty of coins.
  • San Pedro Market, in Cusco, has a large selection of souvenirs for a fraction of the cost compared to Aguas Calientes’ market.  
  • Museo Inka, in Cusco, is worth visiting. Pay the extra for a guided tour of the museum (they only had Spanish speaking guides).

Eat like the locals:

  • Cusqueñita Restaurant was a nice local spot with live entertainment on Sundays. My aunt and a local recommended it to us. The portions are huge. We could not finish half of our dishes. We took a taxi from Plaza de Armas for 5 soles there.
  • In Cusco, I would recommend to try the Lomo Saltado (beef stir fry with onions, french fries and rice), pollo a la brasa (rotisserie chicken), anticucho (beef heart kabobs) and picarones.
  • I think the food is better in Lima but that can be my Limeña biased opinion. If you find yourself in Lima, make sure to try their ceviche, papa a la huancaina, arroz con pollo and escabeche.

Hello Lima, Peru.

And 18 years later, I was blessed to go back to my beautiful country and see one of the wonders of the world, Machu Picchu, don’t forget to check my post on it!

My family lives in Lima, so as any Latina, you must visit all tios and tias if you are in town. I decided to spend three nights there and although most of my time was spent with family in Lima, I got to do a few cool things; many were free which is my budget of choice 🙂  

Barranco District:

I visited Barranco, one of their most colorful districts. It was filled with art murals and their houses are painted in bright colors. We got to see some cool live local artists and made a quick wish as we walked by el Puente de los Suspiros for good luck.  

Tip: Although, I did not have the time to eat here, my cousin, a local of course, highly recommends to get anticuchos (beef heart kabobs) from Anticucheria Tio Mario. Don’t knock it until you try it. Remember to taste anything at least once unless you are allergic lol

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Colorful Barranco!

Miraflores District:

This district is of one their more upscale areas in Lima. I felt like I was in some parts of the United States. People running with their strollers during the middle of the day, tall buildings and very calm areas. I went to see their shopping center called Larcomar which oversees the Pacific Ocean, that was dope. I also walked to their Parque del Amor (Love Park), which is known for their mosaic art, countless love quotes imprinted on these mosaic walls and a huge kissing couple statue. The ocean views are breathtaking and nothing beats a free park visit.

Tip: Anticucheria Grimanesa was amazing! The meat tasted fresh and the portions were large.

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Parque del Amor

Other Things to Do: Plaza Mayor and Parque de las Reservas.

Plaza Mayor: When you go to Plaza Mayor, check out the Government Palace and go right before 12pm and you can witness their cambio de armas (changing of guards ceremony); it’s worth watching. While in Plaza Mayor, we also checked out the Catedral Basilica de Lima. I enjoyed its architecture, its ancient paintings and my favorite part was the narrow crypts with very well preserved remains. The remains of Pizarro are there also, if you care for it.

We ate at Cordano near the Plaza, the lomo saltado (beef stir fry with onions, tomatoes and fries) was to die for but I would skip on their ceviche. Their prices were also on the high but I expected it since it’s located in the center of a touristic area.

Tip: If you want a great ceviche, please try El Rincon Tumbesino in Lima.

 

 

Parque de las Reservas: This park has several fountains surrounded by gardens. In the evenings, they have lights and water shows, water plays and water tunnels. It cost about 4 soles per person. It was pretty cool, I’ve never seen one before but I don’t think I would check it out again.  

I hope you enjoyed my quick tips on what to do in Lima and. Lima is definitely a must, not just because I am Peruvian but because it has so much character, history and an amazing cuisine.

 

5 Rules to Self Love

We have to divert the focus back on us and genuinely learn to love ourselves. Self love is the foundation of happiness and without it, it will be hard to give to others and make this world a bit better than before.

Self Love Takes Work.

In a world where comparison is more popular than quinoa or kombucha tea and authenticity is more scarce than tasty gluten-free pasta, we have to divert the focus back on us and genuinely learn to love ourselves. Self love is the foundation of happiness and without it, it will be hard to give to others and make this world a bit better than before. I struggle with this also but I know it’s a work in progress where we have to aim for continuous self accountability. So, here are 5 rules to consider in our journey to self love:

  1. It’s Okay to Put Yourself Before Anyone Else: Don’t let anyone make you believe you are selfish because you take care of yourself before others. Often, I see people giving their money, time and energy to others before they look out for themselves and consequently I see growing resentment in these situations. Your biggest investment should be in yourself so when you decide to devote anything to anyone else, make sure you have covered yourself already.
  2. Learn to Say No, Say No and Say it Again: I used to think saying no was easy, I am very good at saying no to invitations, causes, roles, etc. My mentality was be honest with yourself and others, if you can’t afford it, do not have the time or cannot devote enough energy to provide a quality outcome to what is requested from you, the answer is simple, “no sorry, I can’t this time.” Do not gamble with the “I’ll say yes now and figure it out later.” Remember your word is your bond and every time you take back on it, its value diminishes. Nonetheless, I find it extremely hard to say no when someone asks me for genuine help. Saying no gets better with practice. Check back to rule number 1 and remember by forcing yourself to any commitment sometimes does a disservice to both parties. You can always make more money but you can’t regain the time lost. Overall, remember that no, is a complete sentence. You owe no one explanations.
  3. Accept and Love your Flaws, or Change Them: Flaw by definition is a mark, fault, or other imperfection that mars a substance or object. So, it may seem strange to “accept” them but you must, in order to modify them. We all have walked by the mirror and thought about what we could improve. I’m not saying, “if you come to the conclusion you hate your a-cups, to go get surgery.” I mean, if by all means that is what you want, who am I to stop you. The flaws I am referring to are the ones that weaken your confidence and limit your greatness. Now, these flaws are not always physical, they can be the lack of certain attributes like the ability to take risks, fear of criticism, fear of failure, the need to please others, etc. Flaws are within us all, however, we have to come face to face with what needs to be improved and develop a plan of action. Many times we do not sit with ourselves and give ourselves the time of day. We handle many roles and rarely ever the role of “self” is prevalent. Do you even like you? If no, why? And, go from there. Take a risk and try something new, welcome failure, be yourself and take notice of who accepts you for who you are.
  4. Seek Less for Reassurance: Have you found yourself asking your significant other, friends, family or even strangers for approval about something you wore, the way you look, an idea you presented, or even input on your own opinion? Thanks to social media and our ability to interact with many of our peers simultaneously, it seems like we have shifted our focus from what we like to what others may think of what we like. There is nothing wrong with seeking advice, a second opinion or just seeing what others think, but if your decisions are going to be dependent on outsiders’ input or your mood would somehow be affected by the reaction of others, then we may need to try to self reflect a little more. Realize that at the end of the day, it’s you the one whose opinion comes first and while reassurance can boost your confidence, reassurance is also a double-edge sword. Don’t ever let outsiders have more control over you.
  5. Don’t Compare Yourself or Your Life to Others: Comparing ourselves to others is sucking the life out of life. I know, a very deep thought lol. We live in a capitalist culture where having more is equal to happiness, but is it really? We live in a world where having more degrees and titles is more important than what you do with your knowledge and education. We continuously compare our material possessions and even memories and experiences such as traveling, dining, hobbies, etc. Although it’s nice to share our experiences so easily thanks to the internet, I think many of us are losing our sense of authenticity just to portray what is acceptable or trendy to others without searching for meaning in what we do. Comparing your life to others will lead to disappointment because someone will always have less than others which will cause a cycle of dissatisfaction. We can try to avoid this by practicing gratitude daily, being thankful for what we have and what we do not have yet. Remember, we don’t need to match someone’s else perfection, we can only aim to be better than ourselves yesterday. Being content is okay, don’t let anyone tell you that your ambition must match the next person. At the end of the day, you define your own happiness.
Thank you Wilma Lebron (IG: @mixtapesnlipsticks) for your input with rule number #3!

~LOVING YOURSELF ISN’T VANITY, IT’S SANITY~KATRINA MAYER

Picture by Carpe Diem Design Studio.

Make Your Money Count.

I am a semi-strict budgeter who does not like to live in deprivation. Just like many women, I like to look good, I love new home decor and I enjoy traveling. I believe in balance and I am still able to indulge but I do it with great moderation. So, today, we will talk about the first 2 steps to financial wisdom.

It’s not about how much you make but how much you spend.

The fear of being financially ignorant was ingrained in me since I can remember. I grew up in a very poor household in Lima-Peru, a beautiful developing country.  Disposable income in our home was non-existent, going out to eat meant going to a Chinese buffet once a year and shopping meant checking out the Salvation Army. Don’t get me wrong, I never missed a meal or any necessities and for that I am grateful to both of my parents.

Living through foreclosures and bankruptcies at a young age pushed me to be more curious about personal finances. I majored in Finance in college and have attended numerous financial management seminars, but Life has really been my biggest teacher, even above a higher education institution.  I’d like to think of myself as a wise financial person who is making the best with a modest income. I am a semi-strict budgeter who does not like to live in deprivation. Just like many women, I like to look good, I love new home decor and I enjoy traveling. I believe in balance and I am still able to indulge but I do it with great moderation. So, today, we will talk about the first 2 steps to financial wisdom.

  • Budget: Live life on your terms: I am including a free document here Budget Doc, so you can see how I budget my expenses. I am a fan of Google Sheets but there are tons of apps and some just prefer good old paper; whatever works for you.
    • First, write down how much money (after taxes) you are bringing in monthly from all incomes.
    • Then, make a list of all your monthly expenses. Start with your fixed expenses aka non-negotiables (i.e. savings, rent/mortgage, student loans, cellphone, car insurance, car payment, credit cards, etc).
    • Then continue with a list of your variable expenses aka determined by use (i.e. utility bills, groceries, copays, gas, etc).
    • Finally, finish up your list and include all your other expenses (i.e. restaurants, makeup, clothing & shoes, hair salon, nail salon, gym membership, cable, games, movies, books, etc.). Add all your expenses and subtract it from your monthly income (Total Monthly Income-Total Monthly Expenses). If you have a positive number, we have disposable income and more opportunities. If we have a negative number, it’s time to figure out a plan and really decide what is essential from the other expenses list, this is where we can cut down unnecessary expenses so we can either save more or pay down debt faster.

Tips: Budget for at least three months, it will become a habit. Review it biweekly or monthly and make readjustments. Consistency is key. Be realistic and really understand what expenses are essential. I personally cannot give up my gym membership and workout at home instead because paying a monthly fee actually motivates me to go. I gave up buying coffee, not coffee itself, but my K-Cups cost 30 cents now compared to $2 (I was never a Starbucks girl). Giving up buying lunches was hard, I love take out and Wawa! (an amazing convenience chain store). It took time and preparation but now I tell myself I am not eating my money away. I was spending at least 200 monthly, just in lunches, and now I have cut that in half or more just by buying groceries.   

  • Pay yourself first, before you spend it on someone else: You may be asking why I consider savings to be a fixed expense as mentioned before. Well, I am a huge believer of paying yourself first while building an emergency fund; this should be a habit that will essentially create a foundation that can be passed down. I have read different articles saying you have to save from 5% to 15% of your take home income.
    • I say, if all you can save is $20 per paycheck, do that, but be consistent and realistic. Look at the list above and be honest with yourself; if you are spending over $100 a month in recreational expenses and saving $20, chances are  that if an emergency arises, you will most likely swipe the plastic (credit cards) and then you will accumulate high interests, pay only the minimum payment, and put yourself in more debt.
    • So, pay yourself first as soon as the direct deposit hits and preferably put it in a separate savings account. I personally set up an automatic transfer from my checking to savings on every payday. I have my savings in the same bank as my checking but I practice a lot of self control. If you are afraid you will just access the savings when you are tempted to do some shopping therapy, then try to get a separate online savings account. This will prevent you from having immediate access to cash and hopefully the urge will disappear.
    • Using a separate checking account for my bills has really helped me see where I am spending the most outside of my necessities. This helps me buckle down when I need to save extra to travel or buy an expensive item.                             

~DO NOT SAVE WHAT IS LEFT AFTER SPENDING, BUT SPEND WHAT IS LEFT AFTER SAVING~ WARREN BUFFETT.

Why Life is Loading?

Let’s face it, nowadays we are living our lives through a lense, a picture, a video, a snap, a blog, vlog, podcast, website or livestream, so much that it feels like our entire lives are being uploaded and they load as others check in on it.

Why Life is Loading? simply because I needed a space to get my thoughts out, a place where I could share stories, tips, advice, venting sessions and everything in between about this fast changing world.  And let’s face it, nowadays we are living our lives through a lense, a picture, a video, a snap, a blog, vlog, podcast, website or livestream, so much that it feels like our entire lives are being uploaded and they load as others check in on it. Cheesy huh? It made sense in my head.

Hola, I am Susan, some call me Susu, a nickname given to me as a joke by a sorority sister some years back. You heard it right, I am a in a sorority, a sisterhood, an hermanidad (Er-Ma-Knee-Dad) or however you want to refer to it. But, let’s get it right, it is not the type of sorority you see in the movies nowadays (no Stomp the Yard or Neighbors over here), that’s the beauty of being a member of a Latina based/founded sorority; there’s beauty in culture.

Talking about culture, I’ve lived in the United States since I arrived when I was 13 years old, I have now been here for 18 years (go ahead, do the math lol) residing in the lovely New Jersey. During my transition here, I have seen so much change through my little eyes that it is time to share.   

Being an immigrant, a 1.5 generation (we’ll talk about this later), someone who followed all the rules from immigrant parents (went to college & got two degrees, got a stable career, bought a house), travels but still is frugal as hell, and lives in this social media world, all while trying to still figure out life in her 30s without kids, has put a lot into perspective.  A lot of “I wish someone told me that,” “Is this really the American Dream?” “What else am I missing?” “What is next?” All these questions led me to create an outlet (fancy word for blog) where others could come and hopefully relate, opine, share and learn something. But learn what, you may be wondering, well this outlet will have topics on:

  • Personal Finance: You’d be surprised how many people with or without degrees can’t manage their personal finances and struggle with debt and poor credit scores. This stops us from achieving greatness! Not that a house is greatness but the less options or ways you have to bargain, the less resources available to you. Let’s even the battlefield y’all.
  • Lifestyle|Hobbies|Tips: Travel, Beauty, Reading, Photography, Health and más (more) because life can’t just be about your 9-5 or business ventures. We must balance life without breaking bank.
  • Empowerment and Reflections: Relationships discussion, figuring out ourselves/loving and being our best selves, strengths & struggles of young people of color in America today…because in today’s world, we are fucked by the “image you have in your mind of what you are supposed to be and often fail to be your best self by comparing to the person next to you.”

   ~YOUR JOURNEY IS YOUR JOURNEY~