Sunday, June 29, 2014

Four Shopping Tips to Keep a Healthy Bank Account

Photo Credit: In My Own Style
Contrary to Carrie Bradshaw's infamous line on Sex in the City, I don't like to see all of my money hanging in my closet. It's not going to do me much good if I have a closet full of amazing clothes but I can't afford to go anywhere in them. Unfortunately, I had to learn this lesson through trial and error. After having a "see, want, buy" mentality in college, I would end up with pieces that I never wore or wore just once. I wouldn't stop to think about whether I would still like this piece in six months or if it would even last that long.  Fortunately, my shopping habits have since changed and I now know how and when to shop to keep both my wardrobe and bank account full.

  • Wait. The reason is twofold.
    • Often times we have an initial attraction to a piece and we feel as though we have to get it now. However, if we wait a week or two, that excitement may subside. The idea here is to give yourself time to get past that initial excitement period. If you still really like the item a month later, then chances are it's not just a phase. I give myself at least two weeks before committing to an online purchase (most of my shopping is done online). If it's gone by then, hey I'll live.
    • It may go on sale. Nothing irks me more than paying retail for an item that goes on sale a couple weeks later. A little patience could save you 20, 30, maybe even 50 percent off. 
  • Get to know the sale schedules at your favorite stores. Places like Nordstrom have their anniversary sale at specific times each year. Get to know these schedules and choose to shop during these times. Also, mark off the major holidays - Memorial Day, 4th of July (which is coming up soon!), Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Most stores do big sales during these times. I plan my shopping during these windows to maximize savings. 
  • Think about the cost per wear of a purchase. Cost per wear is simply taking the cost of an item and dividing that by how frequently you'll wear the item in a given period. I have this denim top that I love. I got it from Topshop a few years ago and it cost me 60 dollars. Now 60 dollars may seem expensive for a top but this top is extremely versatile. I can wear it with multiple pieces in my wardrobe and it's neutral enough where I can get away with wearing it multiple times in a month (and I do). This makes the cost per wear low. For pieces with more distinctive patterns or prints, or items that I know I won't wear as often, I won't spend as much on them to keep the cost per wear lower.
  • Set your own price. More recently I've begun to make up a price based on how much I think an item is worth. I base this off of the quality of the fabric used to make the garment, how much I think I'll wear it, and whether it's a staple piece or more trendy. Once I've decided how much I think it's worth, I'll compare that to what the retailer is asking for it. If their price is higher than mine than it's a no go. I'll either wait until the price comes down or just forget about it.

These are just some of the tips I use to make sure that I'm spending my money wisely. What tips do you use to help you shop smarter? Tell me in the comments!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Healthy Dining Experience: Seasons 52

Yesterday I had dinner at Seasons 52 to celebrate a friend's birthday. Apart from having a wonderful time I got to enjoy an incredible meal. I love the concept of the restaurant. Their menu features fresh, seasonal, and local ingredients whenever possible. And since everything on the menu is under 475 calories there's no worrying whether the meal you're eating constitutes three meals calorically.  I decided to try the Grilled Lamb Kefta which was a spiced ground lamb skewer served with greek salsa and a Baby kale and romaine caesar salad with garlic ciabatta croutons. I absolutely loved it!

They also claim to be the creators of the mini indulgences - basically like dessert shooters - so you can end your meal on a sweet note without feeling too guilty. With it being my friend's birthday, they brought out a sampler of all of their different indulgences. I had the pecan pie and it blew me away. Another one of my friends had it too and we were sitting across from each other and both kind of looked up at the same time after we took our first bite and said wow! I also tried the raspberry chocolate chip canoli and it was extremely good as well. I highly recommend this place!

Have you ever been to Seasons 52? If you have, what's been your favorite dish?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Fitness Feature: Jessica Smith

Every couple of months I cruise Amazon looking for some new workout dvds. Well, I had the good fortune to stumble across some workouts by Jessica Smith. I have three of her workout dvds in my collection now, Cardio Abs, 10 Pounds Down Better Body Blast, and 10 Minute Solution Ultimate Bootcamp and I must say these are great workouts. While I love them all, Cardio Abs is my absolute favorite. It's split into three separate workouts (cardio abs, total body abs transformer, and concentrated abs), and each one is about 26 minutes in length. It also includes a bonus 4-minute tabata workout. 

10 Minute Solution Ultimate Bootcamp includes five 10-minute routines including: Fat Fighting Skills & Drills focusing on interval cardio training, Ultimate Upper Body Training with weights, Ultimate Lower Body Training, Ultimate Total Body Training, and Six Pack Ab Attack. I do all five to get a full workout and since it's broken into five segments it makes the overall workout feel shorter. 

Finally, there is 10 Pounds Down Better Body Blast. This workout is broken into three 20-minute segments that target arms, legs, and, abs. What I really like about this one is that she'll often start off with a base move and then progressively make the move more challenging before you cycle back through it. 

What makes her so awesome:

  1. Her workouts are actually enjoyable. I remember when I first did Cardio Abs and I was smiling during it. I loved it. My heart was racing, I was sweating, and the moves were tough but it was fun. I felt like I got a solid workout in but I wasn't cursing the gods as I went through it.
  2. The moves are fresh. I've been working out for a while so I've seen all kinds of exercises and there were lots of new moves throughout these dvds which I really appreciated. Also, she keeps it as simple as possible. In the quest to be new and innovative, lots of instructors come up with these crazy, convoluted moves that are just really awkward. None of that here.
  3. Her personality is a winner. Nothing can ruin a potentially great workout for me faster than an instructor who is either barking orders at you like she has something to prove or instructors who are so perky with their permanent plastered smiles as they're going through really challenging exercises. She's very motivating and upbeat but not in an annoying or aggressive way.
  4. She also has a Youtube channel with tons of free workouts that run the gamut from cardio to barre to kickboxing to resistance training. You really can't beat that. Check it out here.  

Have you done any of her workouts before? If so tell me what you think!

I just recently ordered a new crop of dvds from Amazon, so be on the lookout for another fitness feature once I get my hands on those.