Smart Spending Strategies for Makeup + Hair Care Products

tips for saving on hair and makeup products

As an aspiring minimalist, my make up drawer is a total #fail, but truth be told, I don’t care.  When it comes to fitness and beauty products, I’m a-okay on thoughtfully spending money on looking and feeling my best, because that has a positive impact on my life in a lot of ways.

I’ll get into fitness-related savings in another post, but today, I want to share some ideas on saving on your cosmetics.  These are my general guidelines around buying beauty products.  If you have other ideas to add to this, I’d love to hear about it!

Tips for saving a bundle on hair and beauty products (my personal weakness). Click To Tweet

Drugstore brands provide better value than high-end brands.

Personally, I think makeup looks best when it’s appropriately matched to your skin tone and applied well, regardless of how expensive it is.  As someone who has been a long-standing fan of Mac lipsticks (which are $23 a tube), I can appreciate higher quality at a higher price, but keep in mind this simple fact….

A $23 lipstick has to look and perform 100% better than an $11.50 lipstick to justify the 100% increase in price.  
Now, while I like Mac lipstick, I don’t think it performs 120% better than my Revlon color stay that was only $7.99.    That said, you might think a certain foundation, lip plumper or eyeshadow is 150% better than every other brand on the market and if that’s the case, stick with it!  This is about understanding the value of what you’re investing in and appreciating how it benefits you. It’s not about getting the cheapest brand available.
Money saving makeup tips

Overall, you’re going to get a better bang for your buck in a drugstore and as cosmetics only continue to improve,  I’m inclined to always start there before going to pricier brands.

Bonus Tip: Got a high-end brand you love but it’s super pricey?  Check out this “dupe” list to see if you can get a less expensive alternative!

Cosmetic Subscription Boxes Aren’t Worth the Investment.  

Personally, I have only tried the FitFabFun box and Ipsy, but I can unequivocally say that unless you have a very high level of control over the products you get shipped, it’s probably not worth the money.  For even though you get a high volume of product in many cases, generally 50% or less of it will be items you will actually wear.  I have a drawer full of cosmetic samples that I probably won’t wear because the color is meant for someone with a very different skin tone than me.  In the case of FitFabFun, I continued to get things like weird scarves and beach blankets that I would never use and would end up in a donation pile.  $49 is a great price for a box full of beauty and lifestyle products, but only if it’s stuff you can actually put to use.  If it’s not, it’s just more clutter.

I recommend staying away from these subscriptions.  They just add to the clutter in your bathroom and the products are very hit or miss.  You would be better off taking the funds you would invest in the annual subscription and applying it to products that are perfect for you.

If you find something you love buy it in bulk.

One thing I don’t skimp on when it comes to beauty products is my shampoo.  I have some hair extensions in my hair (more on that in a moment) and I have to be really careful about using sulfate-free products or they won’t last.   Personally, I swear by Living Proof because it keeps your hair cleaner, longer so I can go 4 to 5 days without washing (with the help of a little dry shampoo as well).  Living Proof isn’t cheap, but because I only wash my hair 2 to 3 times a week, it’s still a good value, particularly when I buy it in bulk from Amazon.

Buy Hair Extensions on eBay.

I wear a few extensions in my hair for fullness as my hair is super fine.  If you’ve ever explored extensions, you know how crazy expensive they are!!  $130 a bundle (which is just a few strands) is not unusual and I find that they only last 3 to 6 months before they start looking pretty gnarly.  But then I discovered that you can buy them on eBay for less than half the price, AND free shipping!  I was a little apprehensive about the quality, but I bought two bundles for $60 and they look and feel amazing.  I’ll never pay full price for extensions again.

Bonus Tip: eBay is also a great place to find cosmetic brushes, eyeshadow palettes, and other makeup products that don’t expire.

Get your Retin-A online, from Mexico. 

If you want to save on Retin-A, I have heard from a number of people, that you can buy it in Mexico at a fraction of the cost.  I’m not going to link to anything here because I haven’t done it myself, so I don’t want to suggest anything I’m not personally familiar with, but I plan to and will report back when I do.  Meanwhile, the folks I know who have done this are trustworthy, so I have no qualms about giving it a try.  PS, you don’t need a prescription for it down there.

Got any strategies for saving on health and beauty products?  Please share them below!

 

A Minimalist Valentines Day: How to Celebrate Your Love Without Buying Crap <3

Minimal Valentines day

Here’s an interesting tidbit…the original Valentine’s Day tradition (which was actually the 15th of Feb) was inspired by the Romans who would get drunk and naked, kill a goat and/or dog and then throttle their love interest with the dead carcase before mating with them for the duration of the 3-day holiday (the love interest, not the carcas).

Warms your heart, right?

Minimal Valentines

But somewhere between the brutality of the dark ages and the last 20 years, the ritual turned from animal cruelty and sexual assault to trinket shopping and sugar-pushing. Now we feel kinda forced to demonstrate our affection for fear of being judged for not loving your partner enough. This year, the retail sector is expecting an $18.6 billion profit from the fake holiday, so they’re doing a great job of keeping that social pressure going.

Question – if your significant other didn’t recognize the holiday with some sort of tangible gift, card or event, would you consider that a reflection of their (less than stellar) love towards you?

For if you do, even just a little bit, then for at least this one day, the retail industry has more control over how you perceive your most intimate relationship than you do.

Just something to consider.

How to avoid buying crap nobody wants for Valentines Day this year. #minimalistloving Click To Tweet

Now clearly there are the romantic types that just want to enjoy indulging their partners, and I get that. Just like Christmas or Thanksgiving, it can be a fun ritual to celebrate (unless you’re single, in which case it can be miserable). But this year, I challenge you to think beyond giving flowers that have been jacked up 4x their regular price or going to a restaurant with an annoying prefix menu and think about how you can enjoy the modern-day meaning of the occasion without adding to that $18.6 million retail frenzy.

Here are a few ideas to inspire a special day of love without buying useless stuff…

  • My favorite – order takeout sushi and have a picnic on the living room floor. Got a fireplace? Even better. Got dogs? Watch they don’t steal your sashimi when you’re not looking.
  • Write your partner a letter or an email. Tell them exactly why you love and appreciate them. No one gets sick of hearing that stuff.
  • Do something for them that demonstrates care – cook a meal, make them coffee in bed, bake heart-shaped cookies.
  • Snuggle on the couch and watch your favorite shows with some chardonnay and a few homemade healthy truffles.
  • Give your SO a massage or do the bubble bath thing with candles.
  • Partake in adult activities, even if it’s a school night 😃

Probably the most important tip I can give you is to make your expressions of love and appreciation a daily ritual rather than waiting for an arbitrary day of the year with a dark and bizarre history to celebrate your relationship.

Love to all of you!

Marriage & Money: How to Set Your Spouse on FIRE

married saving budget

Once again, I’m not talking about pyromania here, but rather the concept of F.I.R.E. (financial independence to retire early). These are my ideas on how to influence your spouse to buy into the idea of taking control of your life and finances.

So maybe you’ve just read Mr. Money Mustache front to back, consumed every personal finance book and blog known to man and you’re now researching tiny houses and how to farm your own chickens. You’ve been officially indoctrinated into the FIRE movement and you’re totally sold on the idea of controlling your spending with the intention of building wealth that will sustain you for the rest of your life.

Don’t have any idea what I”m talking about? Go back and learn how to set yourself on FIRE first.

I know what that initial passion is like. When the idea sinks in, it can feel like your whole worldview has changed. No longer are you willing to spend money unconsciously because you now realize that with every dollar you waste, you take a few steps away from your goal of absolute peace and freedom.

It can be a real mindblower (and I speak from experience).

But what happens when your spouse isn’t buying it?

FIRE financial independence retire early

It happens! Let’s face it, the idea of frugality, minimalism or deprivation of any kind can feel like a threat to most people.

Hey honey, let’s commit to saving 70% of our income so we can live on less than $50K per year and then retire early and keep doing the same!

Not a good sell.

A better approach would be to ask your spouse if they could see a path to early retirement, would they be willing to make some lifestyle changes to achieve it? They’re probably going to say “heck ya!”, and then you can have a real conversation about just how much either of you is willing to sacrifice to make it happen.

Here’s the thing. You can’t sell people on the idea of deprivation. It needs to come from a place of being more intentional with spending and having a clear vision of the future, which might look different for each of you. Appreciate that no one wants to be told what they can and cannot do with their hard earned money. Ultimately, we all want control and choice, so approaching this with a fully baked plan might make your spouse feel like they’re not part of the decision.

Before you Pitch the Idea of FIRE, Build Some Awareness

Most people don’t have a clue about early retirement because we never hear about it. It’s not something the Jone’s are doing, so why would we even know it’s possible? I recommend that you start to warm your spouse up to the idea by sharing inspirational stories of other people who (with a similar life circumstance to your own) have done it.  The more your spouse can see themselves in the stories of other people who have done it, the likelier they are to believe it’s possible.

FIRE spouse planning

When You’re Ready to Pitch the Idea, Give them the Simple Math

I have found this basic principle to be the best way to conceptualize an early retirement: save 25x your annual spending and/or have enough saved that you can live off 4% of the returns of your investments. So if you have a million dollars saved, that’s a $40K annual salary for the rest of your life.

Help them see that FIRE is possible

Depending on where your finances are when you’re having this conversation, it may seem completely out of reach to have a million or more dollars saved for retirement. But no matter where you are, you can start right now to save more of what you earn, and earn more that you can save. It’s absolutely a mindset shift and the interesting thing is that once you start building momentum toward your goal, the journey can start getting pretty freaking exciting.

Some Cautionary Advice

I think the thing that will hang up most people is that idea of deprivation. As a couple, you have to find a happy medium where your cost of living is low enough that you’re saving without feeling overburdened or uncomfortable with the choices you’re making. Your cost-of-living has to be sustainable for the long term, not just until you’ve reached your FIRE figure (the number at which you feel comfortable calling yourself financially independent).

What to do if they don’t buy it?

If your spouse says a big hell no to your hopes and dreams, fear not. There are always compromises you can make. You can try planning for a mini-retirement, separate your finances so that you can work toward FIRE on your own (this route feels sad to me), or you can aspire to be Retired(ish) instead. This is the path my husband and I have chosen for ourselves and we’re both 100% onboard with it because it affords us a better lifestyle while still allowing us to do the work we’re passionate about.

But most important in all of this is that regardless of how your spouse reacts initially, over time they may come around. The key is to walk the talk in your own life. If you want to show others that they can be happy living with less, then start role modeling that behavior. Commit to starting down the FIRE path by shopping less, owning less, clearing clutter, saving more and pushing back on obligations that don’t serve you. As you simplify your own life, you’re going to be happier and your spouse will eventually see the attraction to it.

Good luck and remember this …. People are watching what you do, even when you don’t think they are. Use your life to inspire others by making intentional choices that improve your life circumstance. I guarantee you will eventually bring others along for the ride with you and what an awesome message to impart on the people you love.

Light Yourself On F.I.R.E. This Year (Financial Independence + Retire Early)

FIRE financial independence retire early

Nope, not talking about pyromania. I’m referring to F.I.R.E., which is an acronym for, you guessed it… financial independence + retire early.

Now clearly these are two different things, but they tend to get lumped together.  Since I see them as very separate and unique goals, I’ll define them that way.

financial independence early retirement FIRE

Financial Independence (otherwise known as “FI”) is simply having enough money that you no longer have to work to earn a living. Your money does that for you, whether it’s dividends from investments, income from real estate, or having a really sweet Sugar Daddy/Mama paying all your bills (not sure this one qualifies as “independence”, but you get the idea).

Retire Early needs no explanation, only what you might not realize is that there are many people with average incomes retiring in their 30’s instead of waiting until their 60’s.

While these are simple definitions and there’s nothing new about either idea, I think most people in the Western world don’t consider this an option because they assume it’s meant for those lucky few in the 1%.

I thought that too.

But somewhere in the middle of 2017, I stumbled upon this amazing subculture of regular, normal people like you and I who are focused on building wealth so that they can retire from their day jobs and just live off the proceeds of their investments.

Now, you might be thinking, “okay, that’s great but I don’t want to live on kibble and buy my underwear at the local Goodwill”.

Neither do I.
But if you’re willing to minimize unnecessary spending as much as possible and optimize your savings so that you never have to work another day in your life (if you don’t want to) those second-hand undies may start to sound more appealing. (Okay, kidding here, second-hand undies are gross.)

The point is that the road to financial independence is paved with many personal trade-offs, but the commute is not as long as you think. It’s totally possible and the more creative and flexible you are, the faster you’re going to get there.

The road to financial independence is paved with many personal trade-offs, but the commute is not as long as you think. Click To Tweet

But what if you don’t want to retire early?

Some people can’t imagine not working because it gives their lives structure and purpose. Some people LOVE their jobs and can’t imagine giving them up. If that’s you, I say – rock on, unicorn! But the reality is that most of us don’t feel that way about our primary jobs. More to the point, financial independence can make any job way less suck-worthy because you have the choice to walk away at any point. Financial independence provides the freedom of having absolute control over your time, energy and choices and that’s a very VERY happy-inducing place to be.

Financial independence makes any job way less suck-worthy because you have the choice to walk away at any point. Click To Tweet

The best part about FIRE (or even just FI) is the quality of life it affords and the ability to say “no” to doing things you don’t want to do. Consider how that would change your life! Perhaps it would alleviate unnecessary stress, open doors to more appealing opportunities or just allow you and your family to enjoy your lives in a much more meaningful way.

The idea feels pretty amazing, right?

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to write this post because it’s the #1 reason I started Funding Happy. The entire message behind this website is to fund what makes you happy – your time, your freedom and your creative energy.

Retiring Early(ish)?

This is a phrase I’ve coined for my own situation based on my age and level of financial independence. I’ll write more about this in a future post, but the point is that retiring early is relative based on how old you are when you first set that goal. I know several 20 and 30-somethings that view early retirement as something you do in your 40’s. As someone who is well into their 40’s already, I may have skipped the boat on the millennial version of early retirement, but that’s not really my goal, anyway.

Financially, I am at a place in life where I don’t have to do work I hate. I’m not entirely financially independent (I still need some income), so I call myself semi-retired in the sense that I can be picky about the work I do. I call this the “pants-optional” phase of my career because I hate commuting so I will only accept work I can do from home.

Okay, I just realized I should be careful about using the term “pants-optional” when talking about my career.

So while I’m not fully retired, I consider myself retired(ish) as I want to write for a living until the day my fingers can no longer translate my thoughts.

How to get started on your road to FIRE.

There is SO much to write about here, and while I’m not a guru at investing money (by a long shot), I am pretty savvy when it comes side hustles and saving, which are two key areas of accelerating financial independence.

My recommendation is to start where most of the FIRE community starts – Mr. Money Mustache.  His ideas are often considered radical, but his philosophy about money will change your life as it has for so many.  From there, head to Rockstar Finance to find a ton of personal finance bloggers who have already retired (or who are well on their way) and start following their journeys for inspiration.

Now I’d like to hear from you!  Does this sound like nonsense or is it something that appeals to you?  

Financial independence and retire early

 

Overcoming Your Emotional Attachment to Stuff.

travel happy

You know those things you have in your house that you never use, but can’t seem to part with?

Yep, those things.

I have them, too.  I think we all do.  But maybe it’s time to let them go… and release what they represent.

The reality is that we hang on to certain things because they represent hope. Hope for what we’ll one day be, do or accomplish somewhere down the road.

This is where we need the “come to Jesus” moment about our values, priorities and the realities of our lives. Because the more we can remove ourselves from the “one day I’ll get to that” mentally, the more free we become to open ourselves up to the things we really do want to explore. By physically releasing that “someday stuff” we’re able to embrace what’s important to us today.

getting rid of clutter

Ignoring stuff doesn’t help

When we’re not ready to release our “someday stuff”, we try to just ignore that it’s there. We rationalize keeping it because it doesn’t take up much space. But there’s an emotional weight that’s associated with it, too. It doesn’t just take up physical space, it takes up room in our minds and hearts. Every time you see that thing you haven’t used in years, there’s a mental heaviness that comes with it. A guilt of failing to do the things we promised ourselves we’d do, even though it’s not what we want anymore.

On the flip side, there’s a mental and emotional lightness to releasing stuff and having more open space in your home. Imagine the lightness you would feel, driving into a completely clean and uncluttered garage. What would your closet feel like if it only contained clothes you loved to wear regularly? How much nicer would your office be if it wasn’t cluttered with books, papers and other things you’ll get to someday.

Facing the pain of releasing “someday” stuff.

I’m not suggesting that letting go of “someday stuff” is going to be easy. It’s not. The idea of letting go of my road bike that I haven’t taken out in years feels like I’m giving up on a part of myself that I really loved…. my sense of adventure and competition. It represents a time in my life where I really stepped up into the unknown and crushed a huge goal (doing a half-ironman after not being on a bike since I was 10 years old). That was a big deal to me and my bike is a reminder of the long and hard challenge I endured to reach my goal. Can I really let that go?

For me, I think the answer requires some physical exploration. I need to get back on the bike again and see if my fears of being on the road are greater or lesser than my desire to recapture that adventurous side of myself. Or maybe I need to find adventure in what lights me up now, rather than projecting onto a bike I no longer care to ride.

That’s a hard one that I need to unwrap further, but there are other things that I’m ready to release, like the painting materials that I’ve collected and never use, the many books I’ll never read or the clothes I’ll never wear because I’m not the same person I was before. Those things must go because they’re weighing me down to an identity I no longer want to hold.

Hmmm…

Writing this has been a powerful reminder to me that I still have a long way to go on my minimalist journey. Until now, my focus has been on decluttering and letting go of things I know I don’t need or have an attachment to. Now I feel like I’m ready to start releasing that next layer of belongings that are deeply attached to my identity or hopes and desires that are no longer what I want or need.

I guess this is what it means to do the hard work to become who you really are.

Do you have things you hold on to because they represent someone you at some point hoped to be?

Goals for 2018 + How I’m looking at goal setting differently this year.

goals 2018 personal and professional

I love goal setting, but truth be told, I’m not great with follow through.  I tend to ignore them after they’re written down, so this year, I’m making a point of sharing them publicly and checking in on my monthly progress.  Accountability is a huge driver for me,  and, as with everything else focused on in my life right now, I’m crafting my goals with intention so they actually mean something to me.

One of the major themes in this season of my life is work.  I feel like I’ve made it to a point in my financial progress that I can say no to work that I don’t want to do, and only say yes to the work that fires me up.  That has incredible meaning and value to me, and I’m so grateful to find myself here (after many years of working at jobs that didn’t bring me joy).   But since I’m still in my wealth-building years, I still intend to bring in a six-figure income in 2018.

Career, Business, Money & Personal Goals

My 9 to 5 Career

Since leaving my corporate job in September I have been working as a freelance communications consultant, specifically in the area of change management.  This is a pretty niche field, so I was fortunate to land a client through upwork almost immediately after leaving my full-time job.  Next year, I have a goal to bring on at least 2 or 3 more clients and hit my six-figure income goal by the end of the year.

The Blog

Funding Happy is still less than a year old, but I’ve been blogging about health and fitness for over 10 years now.  However, this is the year I take my revenue goals more seriously.  With the focus of this website being geared toward readers who find themselves where I was several years ago (stuck, creatively unfulfilled and unaware of what I truly wanted and valued in life), I think there are ways to serve my readers while building a sustainable income from the blog.  My BHAG (Big Hairy-Assed Goal) is to finish 2018 with my blogs generating a combined $5K per month in income.  That might be a lofty goal, but I’m very dedicated to making it happen.

I’d also like to get my subscriber list up to 5K for this site. I think it’s at 20 right now, so there’s lots of room for improvement there 🙂

Money Goals

My husband and I are fortunate enough to be able to live off one salary, so the intention for this year is to invest 100% of the earrings from my business into our long-term retirement portfolio.

Personal Goals

Deeper Connections // Tribe

A friend sent me this article about the Harvard Men’s study.  The study followed a cohort of men of the same age but different socio-economic backgrounds throughout their entire lives to truly understand what a quality life looked like.  As it turns out, the men who thrived the most were not the wealthiest or the smartest, but those with the deepest connections to others.  Even science is proving that having a tribe is the most significant factor in a long and healthy life.

I consider myself to be blessed with great friends and family, both local and as far away as Canada and even Australia, but I feel like I could invest more time in some of my most valued relationships. I’d also love to make new connections to like-minded people, particularly where I live.  What I take from this study is that while it’s important to have a good mix of friends and acquaintances, it’s critical to have deep connections with people who understand and appreciate your values in life.  This is the year I invest in the connections I have but also broaden the circle to connect with people who share similar values and aspirations.

Marriage // Love // Travel

This year is my 10th year wedding anniversary to my awesome husband.  I’m amazed that he’s been willing to put up with me for as long as he has 😃.  To celebrate the best 10 years of our lives, we plan to take a fancy trip somewhere (Greek Islands maybe?) which I aim to do as much as humanly possible on points.

Health // Fitness

I spent years writing down weight loss goals that never came to fruition.  Now that I’m at a healthy weight, I prefer to focus on performance and growth goals.  This year, I’d like to gain 2lbs of lean muscle and end the year with the ability to do 10 unassisted pull-ups in a row.  Not an easy goal for someone who currently can’t do even one, but I’m excited to track this!!!

I’d also like to completely cut out sugar and gluten this year, 100%.

Adventure

I heard someone on a podcast recently say that they have a standing commitment to do something new and out of their comfort zone at least once a month.  What a cool way to ensure you’re always getting into new experiences!  I’m going to adopt that goal in 2018 and I invite you to do the same!

Here’s what I’m tracking this year.  Expect to see an update from me at the end of each month!

Area
Goal
Jan
Feb
March
Business
Funding Happy & The Fit Habit is making a combined 5K per month in revenue by Dec
Business
Funding Happy & The Fit Habit has a combined 5K subscriber list
Career
I hit my 6-figure income goal in my freelance business
Money
Invest 100% of my revenue/income in 2018
Marriage/Travel
Go somewhere amazing to celebrate our 10-year anniversary leveraging points as much as possible.
Fitness
Complete 10 unassisted pull-ups in a row
Fitness
Gain two pounds of lean muscle
Health
Cut out gluten 100% and reduce sugar intake
Tribe
Build more like-minded connections and spend more quality time with my friends and family (squishy and not very measurable, but let’s give it a go)
Adventure
Do something new and out of my comfort zone once a month.

Process as Art: Storytelling that’s valuable and relatable.

authentic storytelling
I just listened to James Altucher interview Gary V this morning.  I don’t often follow Gary, mostly because I find his energy overwhelming, but I respect his messages about doing what you love relentlessly.  I think there’s a beauty in being so passionate about something that you’re willing to eat a million shit sandwiches and patiently wait for success to happen (with no guarantee that it actually will come), just because you love doing what you’re doing that much.

I wish I had a love for anything that much.
authentic relatable stories
During the interview, James coined the term, process as art.  It was in relation to Gary’s idea that we should document the journey of our passion as it unfolds rather than creating a narrative that doesn’t exist yet.

I see a lot of people do the exact opposite of this on the internet.  From new bloggers blogging about pro-blogging to first-time entrepreneurs selling business-building courses, the web is full of people who assume expertise before seeing success with their own steps. While I can appreciate the raw initiative that these ventures are born from, I think there’s something to be said for people who demonstrate success before professing the rules of the game to others.

The idea of process as art makes me think about this coming year and my plans to start working for myself again.  I’ve tried (and failed) at entrepreneurship twice already  (three times if you count my attempt at being a Beachbody Coach… which I don’t) and the prospect of failing again scares me.  I’m hesitant to share my ideas here because talking about an idea in the making, hoping for success and then seeing it fail (publicly) is humbling.  And yet, what’s the alternative?  If you can’t speak confidently about an idea or venture, what hope does it have to succeed? But when I reframe that idea as the artful process of doing what I love as an expression of my life and passions, it holds a different energy.  Suddenly is more inspiring and hopeful and less terrifying and risky.

I also think it’s more interesting.  We talk a lot about authenticity in social media, but our pictures still have filters and our process is generally unseen in the final product, whether it’s the 14th take to capture the perfect picture or the edits that didn’t make the final cut of the youtube video.  It’s not that I think we need to share sub-par work to be authentic, but I think the real story is in the making of the final piece.  How we cut away at the shitty first draft to make the final product a work of art.  The art is the process, not the final product.  It’s the attempts that don’t work out and the perseverance to keep trying anyway that makes something valuable and relatable.

That’s the story I want to share this year.

Creative Ideas for People Who Don’t Want Anything For Christmas

gifts that aren't things

Before I say anything else, let me say this –  If someone says they don’t want anything for Christmas you might want to try just honoring that request.  It’s not the worst thing in the world for someone to not want gifts.  Ask them once to be very sure that’s what they mean when they say “I want nothing”, then perhaps just acknowledge their request and say you’re going to respect your wishes.

Done.

 But, if you really want to feel as though you’ve checked that box, or if you KNOW that person is just saying that but really expects something, then here’s some ideas to consider.

gift ideas that aren't things
  • Treat them to dinner over the holidays.  I did that with my friend who came to town over the holidays.  I thought about what I might buy her, but she was in between apartments and living at a friend’s so I knew “stuff” probably wasn’t what she needed at the moment.
  • Donate to their favorite charity on their behalf.  Oh, I would be THRILLED to receive donations to Muttville instead of stuff I don’t need.
  • Buy them tickets to something.  A show, the ballet, movie passes or anything they might be interested in attending.  Better to pick something that doesn’t have a designated date (like theater passes) so they can chose to go when they want.
  • Bake or cook for them.  My aunt used to make stacks of Irish potato bread and package it in tin boxes.  Let me tell you, that bread was the most coveted gift at all our family holiday parties.  I miss it so much.  I also worked with a CFO who’s wife made chocolate truffles for everyone in the office.  They were packaged in little 4-peice boxes that you can get at the dollar store.  Beautiful presentation and damn good chocolates!
  • Take a lesson together.  For Christmas one year, I bought myself and a friend a pass to a local cooking class where we both learned to make amazing food for an afternoon.  It was a great time, we both acquired a new skill and we got a great meal out of the experience as well.  I’ll never forget how much fun that day was.
  • Get them Yoga or other fitness related passes.  Most fitness facilities have holiday packages or gift certificates you can buy.  I love this idea as it’s often the kick-in-the-pants motivation someone needs to try something new and get their butts off the couch.
  • Give them a pass to SkillShare or CreativeLive.  This is particularly thoughtful if you know they have a certain passion or hobby they want to get better at.  Whether it’s graphic design, photography or writing romance novels, both of these platforms have amazing courses to chose from.
  • Adopt an exotic animal on their behalf.  From elephants to polar bears, you can adopt and protect pretty much any creature that calls to you from the World Wildlife Fund.  I can guarantee this is a gift that would make both of you feel like a hero.
  • Give them something to nerd out on.  23andme will send you a kit that will help them determine their ancestry or DNA.  I would find that interesting, wouldn’t you?

The common thread of all the things mentioned above is that they’re thoughtful ideas that say “I thought of you” without actually giving someone more stuff. When I was a kid, my mom always asked us to make something for her.  I thought this was a corny request, but now that I’m older, I totally understand where she’s coming from.  Stuff can be useful and there’s certainly nothing wrong with gifting things, particularly when they are requested.  But I feel like so much psychic energy is wasted on guessing what might be useful or appreciated, not to mention the time and energy actually acquiring the item.

I hope these ideas help you have a more peaceful, thoughtful holiday this year!

for minimalist

A Time To Give: For The Love Of Senior Rescue Dogs

When J. Money sent out a note to the Rockstar Finance Community asking for 20 bloggers who would be willing to take $100 (from him) and do some good with it, then blog about it, I didn’t hesitate to say ME PLEASE!!!! He wanted to know in advance exactly what each person would do with the funds and of course, my first thought was to send it to my favorite charity here in SF that rescues senior dogs.

muttville SF

Older dogs are often surrendered for a number of reasons and they are generally the last to be adopted, if ever. Muttville pulls old dogs from shelters (who often get euthanized almost immediately), gets them any medical attention they need, then puts them up for adoption so they can live out their remaining years with a loving family.

Older dogs are the bomb. They’re more relaxed and chill than younger pups, rarely eat shoes or chew your furniture and generally know how the whole potty thing works. I have two of them myself, and if I play my cards right, I’ll get a chance to foster one of these pooches-of-a-certain-age next year!!

So, unfortunately, I wasn’t one of the first 20 bloggers to respond to the invitation and I didn’t get the $100 do-good donation money. That’s the crappy part of living on the west coast. All the cool stuff is taken before I even roll out of bed in the morning. Damn east coasters!

But, giving is always part of my year-end tradition anyway, so I happily made my donation out of pocket.

And the best part? My donation was tripled!

I so love a good deal 😃

Anyway, I want to wish you all a wonderful holiday season and whatever you celebrate, I hope you have the company of people you love and a few furry critters to enjoy the time with. Oh, and if you’re lonely and looking for love in all the wrong places, check out Muttville. You can’t ask for a better love than that of a sweet little rescue dog. They warm my heart every single day.

From our family to yours,
Peace.

personal finance women

 

muttville senior dog rescue

Our Very Untraditional Christmas

untraditional christmas

My husband and I aren’t religious. We don’t have kids and we don’t have family nearby. We also stopped going “home” for the holidays (our respective birthplaces that aren’t really home anymore) years ago.

Given all that, Christmases aren’t typical in our home.

I’m not complaining about our nontraditional holiday season. On the upside, we don’t have huge lists of Christmas presents to buy, there’s no exhaustion from the hustle and bustle, no excessive holiday parties or time spent with family members we’d rather not hang out with. It’s a very peaceful, drama-free time of year for us, actually.

That said, there’s always an underlying sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) that comes with having an experience that’s different from what we see on TV and even in the blogosphere. I always have those moments of feeling as though I’m on the outside looking in when I see pictures of beautifully decorated homes or adults drinking eggnog and laughing away in their tacky Christmas sweaters.

Shouldn’t I be doing that, too?

Honestly, I’ve always had a sense of dread around Christmas for this very reason. When I was a kid, my father would always drink too much and go into a rage and the whole day would be ruined. It was anything BUT your normal family holiday scene. As a young adult, I felt bad if I was single at the holidays or didn’t have plans for New Years. In my 30’s, it was imperfect for so many reasons that would take a year to list, and even now, with my wonderful husband and two awesome fur babies, I feel a sense of lack around the holidays.

In the past few years, I’ve experimented with different ways of dealing with my holiday malaise. Last year, my husband and I went to Costa Rica. We literally spent the whole day on a plane on the 25th and I loved that we skipped the day entirely. However, traveling over the holidays has its own issues and after almost missing our connecting flight home and being stranded in customs with 7000 cranky travelers, we swore up we’d never travel over Christmas again.

There was also that year we skipped Christmas entirely. We decided to adopt the Jewish traditions for the holidays and just get takeout and watch movies all day long. There was no tree, no holiday cards, no gifts, no events. Just business, as usual, all December long. Ironically, the only things I really missed about the holidays that year was our annual Christmas card tradition. We always take a picture with the dogs and send cards out to everyone we know whether they celebrate Christmas or not (we keep the cards agnostic). I love this tradition because as I sit and write out the cards, I have a moment thinking about each person who receives it. It’s heartwarming to think about all the friends and family we have in our lives.

This year, we’re staying home for Christmas. I did put up a tree, mostly because I think it makes the living room look cozy and inviting. We’ll buy each other a few things that we’d probably want to get anyway, and we’re meeting up for dinner with a few friends that will be in town as well. That’s it!

What about you? Are Christmas traditions a big deal for you and your family?