I’m a snacking enthusiast.

While we’re still on the subject of investing in frugality, I’d really like to take the time to reiterate what I said in my previous post. That message is quite simple: There are really no right or wrong ways to go about this. If you’re making progress, you’re making progress. To be honest with all of you, these last couple of months have been challenging – I’ve been occupied with some of life’s many obstacles, and this blog, as well as this lifestyle, has taken a backseat to overcoming them, as well as prioritized self-care.

During this time, I still needed to work with a very small budget, and I found myself snacking A LOT. I have a tendency to skip meals in order to save money (as well as under large amounts of stress), and though this is a hard thing to hear, it’s incredibly common. It is, however, very bad for you and your body! So, please, don’t skip meals! In my opinion, the best way to combat missed meals is to invest in affordable nutritious snacks. Keep easy access and easy to eat foods in your home – especially foods that do not need to be prepared or cooked (with the exception of oatmeal!) Some of my favorite snacks are fruits, vegetables, yogurt, oatmeal, popcorn, and biscuits or crackers.

When buying fruits as vegetables, I suggest to stick to carrots, apples, and bananas because they’re often cheapest year-round. Buy a generic box of plain saltines or biscuits. For yogurt, always go for the tub! Never buy those tiny cups. Sure, they’re convenient, but it’s insanely cheaper to buy the tub. Another great option is buying cheese by the block, and cutting them up into cubes. Hard boiled eggs can be cooked and stored for later. A friend of mine suggested any kind of sausage you can cook and store away for later is another great option. I’ve been told they’re very tasty eaten cold, wrapped in cabbage with a little mustard, however, I’ve never tried that myself!

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Living Frugally: Is Money More Precious Than Time?

Many would say that saving money, particularly on food, requires a huge commitment of time and effort. And, that really is true in most cases. Cooking in bulk, clipping coupons, using grocery apps, and meal/budget planning before even leaving the house are big factors in saving money. And, all of these tasks require disciple, commitment, and a whole lot of time. Being frugal is indeed a time-consuming process – but a process that does pay off in a big way.

Over time, I’ve realized that this kind of investment of time isn’t always an option. When I ask others what stands in the way between them and their goals, the answer is always TIME and INVESTMENT. Over recent months, I’ve learned that even I find this way of life not ideal. Ideally, I would like to reduce the time and effort it takes to save money. You’ll notice this when you read some of my blog posts regarding concepts such as grocery delivery where time and effort are greatly reduced. Think crock-pots!

Truly, what’s the point of saving money, if you have no time to spend it elsewhere? Yes, saving money, living minimally, and frugally, is important to me, and I choose to live this way for numerous reasons, but that is not who I am. Balance, baby.

Before everything else, I am a wife, a daughter, and a friend – an optimist, a humanist, a lover of life, an educator, a poet, and a painter. Heck, most of my free time is actually spent gaming! Eventually, I’d like to learn to incorporate all these other parts of me into my blog. I’m sure my readers don’t actually think my life is just an array of throwing together tasty slop, clipping coupons, and writing about it!

What is the purpose of this post? (You don’t need to tell me I went off on a very obvious tangent – I see that :P) I just want to tell all of you that if you’re making progress, you’re doing everything right – keep pushing, keep grinding, but most importantly, be you always. Also, that I wrote this post for you just as much as I wrote it for myself.

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Ipsy Dipsy August

Through a friend’s referral, I was able to get my first Glambag for only $5! What can I say? I’m already in love. Not only was my Glambag valued at over $70, YES SEVENTY DOLLARS, each produce is absolutely amazing!

Any frugal fashion or beauty guru would be quick to tell you how fantastic the Ipsy Glambag is. However, no product subscription comes without a little gamble, am I right? In fact, you won’t know what products you will receive until it’s shipped. However, with Ipsy, you can easily receive five high quality, high-priced beauty products for only $10 a month! (both full-sized and large deluxe samples that are long-lasting!)

In my opinion, Ipsy is a fantastic way to not only discover new products, but also to build a collection of high quality make-up products without investing a lot of money doing so.

At first I thought – this really isn’t a very minimalist thing to do! And, in a way, it’s not. However, I don’t think that’s entirely true. I believe that having few high quality items that bring us joy and make us feel good about ourselves is a big part of what minimalism is all about. My suggestion? Well, we know these are great products, however, sometimes we simply have no interest or use for them. Instead of holding on to these products for the sake of holding on to them, consider trading or giving away with friends and family! In short: Use what you love, and let go (share) of the rest!

My favorite product in this month’s Glambag was definitely the Luseta’s Argan Oil Hair Masque. Not only does this masque keeps your hair soft and moisturizer for days at a time, it also prevents future tangling (and I have very long, very thick, easy to tangle hair!) So far, I’ve also noticed that it prevents my hair from getting oily in this hot and humid weather!

What did you gals receive in this month’s Glambag?

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Frugal Foodie Funk

That is what I’m calling it! It could be the heat (I’m almost positive it’s the heat), or any number of things – however, I’ve been in this frugal foodie funk for nearly a month now! And, I might need your help getting out of it!

What do I mean by this? Well, not only have I been struggling with producing and maintaining meal plans, but I’ve also been lacking an appetite to cook both our favorites as well as exciting new recipes. Until just yesterday, I’ve have almost no appetite for the last month or so.

It wasn’t until my husband whipped up this fantastic bacon cheese burger (with all the fixing, I must add) that I was able to finally reignited my love for stuffing my face. My life-long love affair with taste and smell is no secret, but you could say there has been tension in our relationship. Due to a tight budget and an indifference to meal-time, I’ve been feeling almost defeated in the kitchen.

Have you guys every experienced something like this? Perhaps it’s time to shake things up. I’d love to know what your favorite frugal foods are. What is your go-to recipe when money is tight? Any favorite websites or blogs for recipe searching and sharing?

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Real Food IS Frugal Food

Fresh food, or what I like to call REAL food, really is the most cost effective way to eat. What do I mean by fresh food? Homemade, or “nearly” homemade meals. Meals that consist of mostly fresh ingredients (can and does include dry grains – rice, beans, oats, and pasta.)

Science and logic will tell us immediately that this is so.

We all know it’s better for us. It’s wholesome, and more likely to be nutritionally complete than any convenience meal. Sure, a packet of instant noodles can easy be eaten for 30 cents, but what are you really getting out of that? Not only is it a waste of money, but it is also terrible for you. A serving of oatmeal with a banana and a side of eggs is cheaper than your instant noodles or TV dinner. Same can be said about box mac n cheese, all canned foods, and most prepackaged meals or snacks.

We know this, yet, we are stuck in our ways. Why is that? There are many factors that prevent us from eating real food, even when we know it’s cheaper and better for us. Many roadblocks stand in the way: access, skill, and willpower, just to name a few. Even for me, I struggle with these roadblocks every day. I am not perfect. The act of living more frugally, healthfully, and with minimalism in mind is a on-going process. Living well is an on-going process. The real truth is this: It’s work. It’s hard work, and it’s even harder work depending on your income level, where you live, and how skilled you are in the kitchen.

My advice? Make the commitment, but don’t hold it against yourself. First and foremost, the journey should be exciting and rewarding. Life is too short to be punishing ourselves. Make small changes, build strong habits, and enjoy the journey. When things pay off, and they always do – when you feel good, when you look good, when your wallet is full, when your family smiles – celebrate.

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Why You Should Stop Buying Cheap Clothes

I’d say my absolute biggest challenges is to stop buying cheap clothes – cheap merchandise in general. Of course, most of us don’t do it out of choice (I sure don’t – I’m poor, not picky!), we do it because that’s what we can afford and that is what is available. However, we do suffer a lot in the long run by continuously buying cheaply made stuff. (Similarly has been said about convenience meals, fast food, and other “junk” that is disguised as affordable, but really isn’t. I will get more into that in another post, though.) One thing to keep in mind is that cheap stuff usually = cheap labor. Buying from Walmart, for example, isn’t helping your local economy. We support our communities a lot more by buying local, buying fresh, and buying home-made.

On top of that, buying cheap also means you produce a lot more trash = overall hurting the environment. Cheap clothing will wear and break very fast. They get throw out at quicker rates, filling our landfills faster. Majority of the time, instead of repair, we often toss it, and buy another cheap replacement.

Many have also argued that buying well-made, sturdy products saves us money in the long run, and for the most part, it does. The problem is usually the initial investment. I’d love to spend $100 on a winter coat that will last me several years. However, I do not have $100.. I still need a coat. That’s the dilemma. For most of us, it’s about finding that middle ground. For most of us, it’s about going that extra mile, and doing our homework – meeting somewhere in the middle.

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Buy Local, New York!

I’ve said this time and time again, yes – I know, but I really can’t stress this enough – buy local! One of the greatest benefits of living in a highly diverse metropolitan city is being able to shop an extensive amount of local businesses spanned across many “Little” cities or ethnic enclaves such as Little Italy and China Town. There are tons of mom and pop shops in almost every neighborhood in NYC. My home, Washingtonian Heights, is its own Little Dominican Republic with many Latin American specialty shops and restaurants.

These small shops rely on their neighboring residents to keep them in business, and in many ways, they often offer very competitive prices and cater specifically to their residents – sometimes better than what you can find in chain stores within the neighborhood. Just last week, I found a tub of yogurt shoved in the back of a fridge inside a small shop priced for $1.59. I could find the same product in our neighborhood Bravo Supermarkets for $3.69. The only thing I recommend is to always check expiration dates! If you’re willing to take your time to dig, you can find some really affordable pantry items, as well as frozen and refrigerated goods. Many of these shops will often have your basic grocery needs such as milk, bread, and eggs for cheaper than your neighborhood supermarket.

Just a few days ago, I discovered a small local chain, “Deals and Discounts” that offers department store merchandise for very cheap. Though not a mom and pop, definitely check it out! They have many of your name brand products, as well as generic (which, I must add, is most of the time, just as good! I always recommend to try the generic – you’ll be surprised that a lot the time, it’s not very different from the name brand stuff.) They had basic apparel for the family, seasonal + household products, and some edible goods – your usual convenience store set up. Check them out here: http://www.deeii.com/locations.htm They may have a store in your neighborhood!

Skip the chain stores today and discover your new favorite mom and pop shop, 99 cent store, bodega, or local market!

Got a favorite local business you’d like to share? Leave their information in the comments below!

Happy shopping,
Jocelyn

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Shopmissa Mini-Haul & Giftcard Giveaway!

Want to win a $25 giftcard to my favorite online dollar store – Shopmissa.com?! Comment on this post with your favorite products from Shopmissa.com and/or what you’d get with your $25 giftcard! Winner will be annouced 7-27-16!

Overall, it is always a fantastic experience. This time around, I recieve a very small package (of 6 items). Even though the package was very small, it arrived much later than expected. It took almost a week to ship! However, once it was out, arriving at my apartment took just a matter of days. Best case scenerio is they were out of stock of one of the items, having to wait a few days, and that’s why it took a bit longer than usual. Still, I am so happy with all of the items I recieved!

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The L.A. Colors lip gloss and the Burt’s Bees tinted balm are not from my Shop Missa A order but I wanted to share them! It makes the perfect combo for a a bold lip.

Of course, I took some selfies to show you folks how the Kleancolor “Madly Matte” lipsticks look when worn!

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My personal favorite – Congo Pink #2281 (Kleancolor Matte Lipsticks)
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A bright, and I’d say “fearless” color! Fearless #24 (Kleancolor Matte Lipsticks)

What’s that in my nose?

Faux nose clip and 2 faux septum rings!

Want these for yourself? Here are the links:

2 Piece Gold Rhinestone Septum Rings

Madly Matte Lipstick- Pink Tones

Madly Matte Lipstick- Orange Tones

Oatmeal Oxygen Bubble Mask

Want to win a $25 giftcard to my favorite online dollar store – Shopmissa.com?! Comment on this post with your favorite products from Shopmissa.com and/or what you’d get with your $25 giftcard! Winner will be annouced 7-27-16!

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6 Month Anniversary & Forums!

So, it’s come to my attention that as of today, it’s been 6 months since I started brain vomiting all over WordPress!

I’ve learned so much in the process of building this blog, and for the most part, I’ve been doing this casually, just for fun – for myself.

To be honest with you, I’m still struggling with sharing my blog with other people outside of WordPress and the blogging community. I’m not really the type of person to throw myself out there and tell people about my life…”then why do you have a blog” Yeah, yeah, I know. LOL. Life is just a big fat ironic thing.

I’ve really surprised myself by how often I look back and reference my own posts! This gives me reassurance that the content I am sharing is useful, beneficial, and worthy of reading.

As of today, I have just a few folks shy of 1,400 loyal subscribers.

I thought this would be a great time to thank all of you for your interest in what I write. 

Today, I’m expanding my blog by including forums on my blog.

Though these forums will be public, they’re mostly there for my subscribers. So far, I’ve made this blog all about me. But, this is a learning experience. As an instructor, as a writer, as a growing and learning human being – I believe in the art and power of collaboration. Let’s help each other by sharing our experiences. Life is hard, no? It’s also very expensive. Where the coupons at?

Cheers to the future,

Jocelyn

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Planner Printables

I’ve always been a huge fan of planners since my adolescent days. I like to feel in control of my life. Who doesn’t?

Setting small goals and completing them (sometimes something as small as following through with today’s meal plan (really provides a sense of control in a very hectic world). Not to mention, heck, it’s instant gratification that you’re allowing yourself to have on a daily, if not hourly basis.

Bullet Journaling is also a great way to take charge of your life. Successful people – people who get stuff done? They plan. They plan everything. And they plan it well.

What’s the catch? Well for starters, keeping up with your daily planner requires some serious self-discipline. It doesn’t help that planners, really well-made ones, are expensive. They can easily cost you $30 to even $100! I get through life best by writing it all down, so for me, well-designed planners are a good investment. Some great brands are Erin Condren, Plum Paper Designs, Passion Planner, and Day Designer.

Each planner is superb in their own way. Passion Planner is definitely more along the lines of goal setting and very good for young people and post-grads. Erin Condren and Plum Planner allow you to basically create your own custom-made planner to fit your specific needs, and Day Designer is all about organization. Me? I could benefit most from Day Designer because I’m very disorganized and really can’t get anything done without a schedule.

Finally, let’s talk about what’s printable. Now, printing your own planner pages really is a great way to get started immediately (assuming you have a printer, ink, and paper readily available), and don’t want to invest (just yet) in buying one. I find that this is also a great way to sample layouts and decide what is most useful for you. Day Designer has an amazing selection of printable pages. In fact, I believe they offer every page design for you to print yourself for absolutely no cost. Check it out here! Passion Planner also offers their entire planner for printing free of cost. Here’s a link!

Let me know what you think! Is there a planner you recommend? What about free printable(s) online that I missed? Let me know!

 

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