Savings

Style and Savings Reads: The Frugalista Files

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Photo credit: Goodreads

The Frugalista Files: How One Woman Got Out of Debt Without Giving Up the Fabulous Life by Natalie McNeal

This book was on my Summer Reading List , which I am proud to have completed in mid-August.

In general, I enjoyed this book, but to adjust the expectations of future readers, I want to give it a new title:

The Frugalista Files: How One Woman Transitioned from News Reporter to Freelance Blogger

The Frugalista Files: How One Woman Braved the Great Recession by Becoming a Blogger

The Frugalista Files: How One Woman Left a Desk Job and Built Her Brand

The original title is misleading –  if you had expectations of learning money saving tips and details about Ms. McNeal’s adoption of a drastically cost-cutting lifestyle, you would be disappointed. For those tips, you should visit her blog. My feelings reading this were similar to those I had reading Shonda Rimes’ Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person. I was expecting more of a self-help or advice book and felt that I was reading an autobiography or memoir.

This book is a collection of journal entries broken into a chapter for each month. Ms. McNeal did a great job of capturing the highs and lows of 2008 – the doom and gloom of the Great Recession’s massive layoffs and the excitement and hope surrounding the 2008 Presidential election. Each chapter starts with a summary of Ms. McNeal’s current debts. * Spoiler alert*: she does not have her debts paid to zero at the end of the year (which she addresses in the epilogue). She does recognize her debt is a problem and that her spending habits need to change. She makes an effort, but none of her lifestyle changes are something Style and Savings readers wouldn’t have thought of already! For example:

  • Cooking at home instead of getting take-out

  • Not heading to the mall every Saturday

  • Cutting back on hair and nail salon appointments

  • Attending free, local activities 

Once I realized that this book is about a transitional period in her career and her journey from an unfulfilling job covering local news at The Miami Herald to finding her passion in blogging, I appreciated this book for what it is.

 

 

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Glossies Made Me Do It – The Bold Type

I look forward to receiving the latest issues of Redbook, Essence & Oprah each month. Glossy magazines are what I would call an affordable luxury. Picking up a magazine from the newsstand is an easy way to brighten your day, but if you find yourself buying the same magazine each month – becoming a subscriber offers huge savings compared to the cover price (Read more on this topic here ).

This month’s post is inspired by the fictional Scarlet magazine of The Bold Type, a new show on Freeform network.

Image result for the bold type freeform

This scripted series follows best friends  Kat, Jane & Sutton who work at Scarlet magazine (a Cosmo type of publication) in New York City.

Just based on this, I was drawn in – how many of us bloggers  dreamed of a glamorous job at a magazine when we were younger? I’m sure some of this was fueled by rom-coms like 13 Going on 30 and  How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.

In The Bold Type’s pilot episode, Jaqueline the editor in chief is introduced not face to face, but by an intimidating close up of her heels as she walks down the hall. I was expecting a Miranda Priestly character (I’m finally reading Revenge Wears Prada – The Devil Returns , sequel to The Devil Wears Prada). I was happily surprised to see that Jaqueline is not that way at all. From what I’ve seen in the first few episodes, she is authoritative but never mean, condescending or disrespectful. She is tough, but only in a way that pushes Jane to be a better (and bolder) writer.

In just the first 3 episodes, these young women face heavy issues, which is a reflection of how real-life glossy magazines like Cosmo and Teen Vogue are becoming more political and socially aware.

Women are multi-faceted and want to keep up with current fashion trends and current events.

A recent episode of the podcast on Stuff Mom Never Told You titled “How Teen Vogue Got Woke” credits the rise of Elaine Welteroth to the editor position as the main influence on Teen Vogue’s new content.

 

11:30 A.M.: "There's only about 45 minutes between events, so I have to make every second at my desk count. I shoot off a few priority emails, make edits to a story layout for an upcoming issue, and have a quick working lunch at my desk with my team to go over the day's to-do's."

Photo credit: TeenVogue.com

 

Although Freeform (formerly ABC Family) is known for teen programming, this show is edgy and doesn’t feel too young for viewers over 20. If you liked Lipstick Jungle or Sex And The City, you will like this show too.

The Bold Type has become my favorite show of the summer and I’m excited to keep watching as the three friends navigate their careers and romances while learning who they are & who they want to become.

 

Style and Savings Reads: 7: an experimental mutiny of excess (Part 2)

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Photo Credit: Goodreads

Jen Hatmaker, the author of this book lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and 5 children (2 are adopted from Ethiopia). This book is categorized as Religion/Christian Life/Social Issues, so there are many references to church activities and Christian scripture. Jen defines 7 as “an exercise in simplicity” and for seven months, challenges herself to set limits in seven different categories.

For Part 1 of my Review (chapters 1 – 3) click here

4 Media

Jen’s Lessons: During the Media month, Jen and her family significantly cut down their screen time

TV • Gaming • iPhone • Apps • Radio • Limited texting • Limited internet

Just for practical purposes of safety and school they did not completely cease texting and internet usage, but it made them a lot more mindful as to how often and for what purpose they were using technology (eg. research for a homework assignment vs. a Facebook status update)

Of course this was challenging at first, but they filled their new found free time with more imaginative games, family time, cleaning, and cooking meals together

My Take: It would be challenging for me to not read blogs online, scroll through social media posts, or watch TV after work. If I did choose to accept this challenge, I would read more, spend more time outdoors, and meet up with friends in person

5 Waste

Jen’s Lesson’s: Jen’s family focused on reducing their reducing, reusing, and recycling during this month by taking the following actions:

Gardening • Composting • Conserving Energy & Water • Recycling • Sharing 1 car • Shopping Thrift & Second-hand • Buying local

There were several ways that reducing waste tied back to previous months’ challenges:

  • Just as Food month, made Jen appreciate the variety and abundance of food in the U.S., gardening gave her an appreciation of the skill and effort it takes to grow your own produce

  • Continuing the habits of Media month’s goal of cutting back TV and computer usage helped with energy conservation

  • Wearing a limited number of clothing items during Clothing month, and participating in the clothing swap prepared Jen for shopping thrift & second hand

This month coincided with back to school season, and Jen realized that buying lunch size packages of snacks is not as economical as purchasing full size or bulk. Basically you pay extra for the convenience.

What stood out to me most was that Jen called attention to a wide-spread issue: buying organic food is not cheap!

During this challenge she felt conflicted between wanting to buy organic food and locally grown produce and wanting to reduce spending. For many people, this isn’t even a choice – they must choose the lowest cost option.

My Take: I have been good about recycling lately, but I know I could do better as far as conserving electricity. Thrift shopping was the inspiration this blog and I still believe that buying pre-owned is a great way to save money and support sustainability by reusing products that already exist rather than using resources to create new items

6 Spending

Jen’s Lessons: During the Spending month of Seven, Jen’s family limited their spending to only 7 Vendors/categories

Farmers Market• Target • Gas • Limited travel • Emergency medical • Bills • School

The most memorable part of this chapter was the realization that her son was in need of a haircut. With Great Clips not being one of the Seven vendors he was subjected to the embarrassment of an at-home haircut gone wrong. Jen also struggled with once again limited food options as fast food and restaurants were also off limits.

This chapter also had some eye opening statistics about the amount of U.S. spending on things like cosmetics and perfume vs. the cost of global clean water and education.

My take: Target was on Jen’s list because it’s a one-stop shop that would cover all of her family’s necessities – but I could really do some damage shopping at Target. I don’t think leaving Target as one of the seven vendors would help me cut spending. Restaurants and fast food do make up a significant chunk of our monthly budget so there would be material cost savings there, but it would be a challenge to prepare dinner and lunch every day.

7 Stress

Jen’s lessons: During the final month of Seven, Jen planned to pause for prayer 7 times daily and for her family to observe Sunday as a day of rest and a Sabbath dinner. Two of the seven prayer times were midnight and dawn and it was challenging for her to be awake at those times. She also set an alarm to as a reminder to observe the scheduled prayers.

My take: It was during our last vacation that I  realized the need to build pauses into a busy schedule. I like to have action packed sight-seeing trips, but this time I was feeling tired and jet-lagged. Next time, I make a travel itinerary, I will be sure to leave time for napping.

 

Overall, I enjoyed reading 7: an experimental mutiny of excess. In each month of Jen’s journey, I was able to see habits that I could also adopt in order to simplify my life.

Style and Savings’ Summer Reading List 2017

Summer is quickly approaching and now is the time to plan how I will make the most of these beautiful days!

As a kid, we would always participate in the summer reading program at the local library. Now I’m older and won’t get a free Dairy Queen Dilly bar , a beach ball, or a slinky, my incentive is the pure enjoyment of reading.

Here is a list of books (all of which are by female authors) that have been on my To Read list for a while that I plan to finally read this summer:

The Perfect Find by Tia Williams

I first saw a review of this book in Essence magazine, then added it to my Goodreads “Want to Read” list. I entered the sweepstakes to win a copy of the book and was lucky enough to win an autographed paperback. I now follow the author Tia Williams on Instagram @shakeyourbeauty, where she posts adorable photos of her daughter, her book signings, her fashion and life in New York.

#Goodreads drawing winner! Happy to have an autographed book for my collection! This should be a fun summer read 😎☀️📖

A post shared by Style and Savings blog (@styleandsavings) on

 

Why Not Me? By Mindy Kaling

I have been a fan of Mindy since The Office and have been catching up on The Mindy Project on Hulu lately. I took a break from it for a while – but now that I am giving it another chance, I’m glad to see Mindy as a working mother with a successful practice who is launching her own business.

I read Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? a couple years ago and I hope this book is also as funny.

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Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps  by Kelly Williams Brown

I added this book to my Goodreads “Want to Read” list back in 2014, when I may have still been experiencing a quarter-life crisis. During that time, I also liked to read the very relatable blogs Twenty Something Living and When Life Gives You Rubi. This book seems like it will fall in the info-tainment genre and I think it will be comforting to see how far I’ve come since then.

Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps

The Frugalista Files: How One Woman Got Out of Debt Without Giving Up the Fabulous Life by Natalie McNeal

No one really wants to be in debt, but through budgeting and reducing spending there is a way out. Some examples of this are too extreme for my taste (see: tiny houses, junk cars, ramen dinners). Style and Savings was created on the principle to “live stylishly without spending your savings”. I want to maintain a level of comfort, while still living within or below my means.

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That wraps up my book list for the summer (in addition to the magazines I subscribe to).

What’s on your Summer Reading List?

February Friday Faves 2.2.2017

Welcome to the first Friday of February 2017!

Here are a few of my favorites from this past week:

Soap & Glory Gift Set

I have been a fan of Soap & Glory for several years now. This gift set was a Christmas gift from my sister.  I love the pink packaging and the fresh, clean scent. The shower gel lathers into lots of bubbles and the body butter is a thick moisturizer – perfect for protection from the cold winter weather.

 Sample Size 12 months

Speaking of soap and glory, 12 months Soaps is continuing to grow. These sample soaps are an adorable size and are made with natural ingredients.

 Thrifted Cardigans

I recently purchased  a dress and needed a cardigan to go with it. I found the black cardigan with the flower embellishment at a local resale shop. The brand is The Limited (they were pricey, but still sad to see it go out of business) and only cost $8.00! The red cardigan is Ann Taylor Loft from Poshmark for $13 plus shipping.

The Minimalists

The Minimalists is a podcast that I just discovered – they started in January 2016, so there are already 52 episodes that I can listen to. I’m still deciding what I think about it. I just want to live in a healthy balance somewhere between TLC’s Hoarders and HG TV’s Tiny House Hunters . For now minimalism seems extreme, but I am interested enough to keep listening and add it to my podcast rotation which also includes Gilmore Guys & AMPsConnected

Happy Friday – Enjoy your Super Bowl Weekend!

 

Friday Faves 1.20.17

I enjoyed reading several bloggers’ year in review posts at the end of 2016, and I wish I had written one too because I had so many fun and exciting adventures during the year. Also, I liked that the recaps focused on the happy events.

As a way to generate positivity, sometimes Style and Savings will have a Friday Faves post to look back on good things (big or small) that happened during the week.

MLK Holiday

Monday was an extension of the weekend – we were fortunate enough to have the day off in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Dress Barn Clearance

Belted Colorblock Fit-and-Flare Dress

Photo Credit: Dress Barn

 

After the closing of The Limited 😦  I found myself in Dress Barn looking for a professional style dress. I found this Calvin Klein A-line dress for 50% off at Dress Barn. The Dress Barn original price was $59.50 and other retailers sell it for as much as $89.98. The price variation on the exact same dress is crazy! Read about it here

Sheet Pan Fajitas

 

I found a Pinterest Win! I have already made this recipe twice: once with shrimp and once with chicken. This was a easy clean up way to make fajitas. The seasoning & lime juice & cooking time were perfect.

Archer Farms Guacamole & Salsa Combo

Tortilla chips dipped in Target’s Archer Farms Spicy Pico & Guacamole were a good side to the fajitas.I was hesitant to buy it since I didn’t know if I liked them together in the same container.  I’m glad I tried it – It’s so good!

Hope you had a good week – Happy Friday!

 

Cake Design Ideas

One of the most fun parts of wedding planning was visiting a local bakery for our Cake Tasting

Before our appointment, I decided to check out Instagram for cake design inspiration.

Here are a few of my favorites:

        cakethatbakedgoods                              sugaruffles                                 lunacupcake

 

While  the two designs on the left and right were fun, the cake in the middle looked the most elegant.

Cake toppers were another accessory to shop for and I liked that there are more options besides the traditional bride and groom figurines.

 

Glitter Mr and Mrs Wedding Cake Toppers in your Choice of Glitter, Elegant Custom Wedding Cake Toppers, Unique Wedding Cake Topper (S001)    love David's Bridal

                 Etsy                                    Amazon                                David’s Bridal

I decided not to purchase a cake topper – to me it wasn’t a must have, so I decided not to spend the money on it (#styleandsavings). I knew the cake would be gorgeous on it’s own.

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Our cake table

Photo Credit: Marta Lewis Photography

 

Happy Wedding Wednesday!

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