Thursday, July 28, 2016

A College Girl's Guide to Smart Shopping.

Going back to school this time around means living like an actual “broke college student.” While I’m not sporting free t-shirts seven days a week, nor am I living off ramen noodles, I am adjusting to not blowing all my money on a whim at Target.

With rent, a car payment, gas, grad school expenses, groceries, and all the other fun, expected stuff that comes with adulting, knowing when and how to spend money can be difficult. Even though I’m still adjusting to my lack of funds, I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks along the way. With back to school clothes shopping approaching quickly, I thought I would share the wealth (ha!) as we all gear up to head back to college in a month!

Know when to invest…and when to not. Every single fashion blogger tells you “invest in pieces that will last forever” etc. And to a great extent, I agree. Invest in one (ONE!) classic pair of jeans, a versatile and durable handbag, and maybe a good coat if you live some place cold. But personally, I’ll opt for three $9 t-shirts at Target versus one $30 tee from Nordstrom. I have expensive taste, but I’m on a tight budget, and I have to constantly remind myself that this broke college girl lifestyle will not be forever.

(Speaking of Forever, also snagged this little number for just $10.90 this past weekend)

If you want to go a little more upscale in your spending without breaking the bank, check the outlets. Clothing wise, I can find ‘going out’ tops at the Express outlet for $20-$25 a piece. Francesca’s is also another favorite of mine: classy, feminine items that don’t entirely run my wallet dry. If you are looking to invest in a more luxurious item, again, check outlets first! Last week, I found a $350 Coach cognac leather tote bag for just $99. HOLLA. Now that’s an investment I was willing to make.

TIP: subscribe to Coach email blasts and bring coupons to the outlets. I’ve heard through the grapevine that you can apply their 25% off coupons to outlet items! AND always check for student discounts. J.Crew Factory gives 15% off if you have a student ID!

Avoid “good deal” shopping. With websites like Retail Me Not and Slick Deals, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of “this is such a great deal!” spending, but it’s an easy way to drop $$$ on stuff you don’t actually need. If it’s something you’re in the market for, purchase away. But if it’s a “YOLO” item, put it down and back away slowly.

Buy cheap. Dish soap, hand soap, sponges, cleaners, etc. are all easy generic brand buys. While I love The Honest Company, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to spend $5 on hand soap when Softsoap is a whopping $1.97.

DISCOUNT IT UP. Target goers, I’m looking at you. I personally have a Target debit card, but if you’re looking to build credit (and feel responsible enough to actually be able to pay off your debt every single month), look into their credit card. You save 5% on every purchase, and you get free shipping online for literally everything. Also, utilize the Cartwheel app! I check that baby on the reg for good deals on stuff I was already planning on buying.

Get a library card! I love reading in my spare time, but buying books for pleasure reading gets expensive real quick. $12-$15 for a book I might not even like? Na. My library card is my new best friend because I can get all dee books for none of da monies.

Allow yourself a splurge every now and then. But try to avoid impulsive purchases! I used to buy whatever I want whenever I wanted, even if it meant throwing an extra hundred bucks on my credit card bill. Oh, those were the happy days. Now, I make lists of what I want to spend my money on, and if there’s something I really feel like I need (or just really want), I’ll “sit on it” for a few days, or even a week. If I’m still thinking about it, I’ll go for it.

Do you still do "back to school shopping"? Any good deals going on that I should know about? Or maybe don't tell me... 


Friday, July 22, 2016

Finally...Summer 2016!

Hellloooo and happy Friday!

It's been just over 48 hours since I walked out of my neuroanatomy final and it feels so, so good to finally be done with summer classes. You better believe I knocked out my last two assignments for conceptual physics online that very night so that Thursday morning I could wake up a new woman...AKA a woman with no academic ties until the end of August.

With that said, I have no idea what to do with all this free mental space. Yesterday, I felt so overwhelmed by all of the things I "could do" now that I have time, that I fell on the couch and never got back up. I'm determined to make sure that doesn't happen every day for the rest of the summer, so I'm in the process of creating a fun little to-do list for myself before the craziness of graduate school ensues. Here's what I have so far:

Learn new makeup tips and tricks from my good old friend, Youtube. 

I don't like caking a lot of makeup on for every day wear, but I do have a lot of nice makeup that I'd like to get better at applying. Obviously I'll be all up on Jaclyn Hill's videos (what up, Tampa girl!). I also follow Casey Holmes and recently Samantha Schuerman. Any other makeup guru suggestions?

Put my library card to good use.

I just got a new library card last month, and was so excited that I took out two books right away. Bad decision. Between my birthday, 4th of July, getting a new car, and two neuro exams in the last month, I made zero time to read and ended up returning the books before I could even get halfway through one of them. Any suggestions for a new read?

Day drink by the pool...or at the beach...or wherever the hell I want.

Because what screams "I have no responsibilities for a month" like having a mimosa induced headache by 5 p.m.? Not much.

Get creative.

Finish a DIY project, bake a few new recipes, make a fancy dinner for Ryan, work on my watercolor skills, make some bracelets, color in one of my "adult" coloring books. I feel like I rarely make time for this kind of stuff anymore. I'm in desperate need of a creative outlet.

Spend some extra time with my friends and family.

Enough said. Nothing tops quality time with the people you love.

Get back into a regular workout routine.

I've been working out consistently since last November, but ever since life got a little hectic around my birthday last month, my schedule has been a little out of whack. I miss looking forward to getting a good sweat in!

Have a "sloth" day.

Spend one entire day in pajamas, bring our comforter and pillows out to the couch, order a pizza, and watch movies all day long. No work, no responsibility, no feeling guilty about being a lazy bag of bones. OOOO, I definitely need to plan this one ASAP.

Any other suggestions for indulging in my free time before starting graduate school next month?


Friday, July 15, 2016

On Handling Life's Curveballs.

To my core, I am a planner.

I spend too much money on fresh agendas at the beginning of every school year. I extensively research every restaurant I plan to eat at while on vacation. I schedule date nights with friends at least two weeks in advance.

So when it was brought to my attention that my 2008 Nissan Sentra needed a couple thousand bucks worth of maintenance and replacements, let’s just say that I was not prepared.

I’ve spent the last week walking in and out of car dealerships by myself. I feel like I’m back in my networking days with all of the “warm lead” calls I’ve been subjected to in the last 72 hours. I’ve researched and haggled, and researched and haggled some more. It is, indeed, a grueling process.

And I am exhausted.

But strangely enough, it feels good to be doing this on my own. Not just with my own money (okay, that part doesn’t feel THAT good), but visiting dealerships on my own, test driving on my own, not giving into salespeople’s shit on my own. It’s a learning process, and I think we can always be thankful for a chance to learn about ourselves and what kind of person we are capable of being.

Just a little reminder that “unexpected” doesn’t necessarily mean “bad.” I’m not exactly thrilled to be dishing out some extra change each month, but it will feel good to feel safe in my own vehicle, which I haven’t in awhile. I was banking on ol’ Bessie Blue (my car…) to get me through the next two years of graduate school, but sometimes things don’t work out the way you planned. And that's okay.

Have you ever dealt with buying/leasing your own car? If anyone is interested in some tips on negotiating with car salespeople, let me know! I feel like a borderline expert at this point. Not really, but really.


Monday, July 11, 2016

Exploring Florida | Weeki Wachee Springs.

I've always felt lucky having grown up in Florida. It's a place that people from all over the world come to for vacation, and I grew up with one of the most beautiful beaches in the country right in my backyard. While I've never experienced a true change of seasons, or the real magic that happens when you sip a pumpkin spice latte on a crisp October day ("crisp" is a word we reserve to describe the weather during a day or two in January), I've always had white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, and Disney World at my finger tips.

Having said all that, there's a whole lot of Florida that I haven't discovered yet. This state has so many beautiful state parks and springs that I just haven't gotten around to visiting, so when my good friend Brittany decided to have her birthday celebration at Weeki Wachee Springs this past weekend, I checked any reservation at the door and forced myself (and Ryan!) to sign up for the adventure!

Saturday morning, we left at 6:15 a.m. and watched the sun rise during our hour and fifteen minute drive to the springs. Shortly after announcing "it isn't supposed to rain until 2!", a storm formed completely out of nowhere right where we needed to be. Thankfully, the storm only lasted about 30 minutes, and we all piled into a couple vans to take us to the top of the river.

We had the option to rent canoes, single or double kayaks, or paddle boards. We did our rentals through The Kayak Shack, and it was only about $35-40 per transportation (so only $40 for two people on a double kayak, but it was $35 for me on a paddle board and $35 for Ryan on a single!), and that also includes your launching fee from the river, parking, and transportation of your canoe/kayak + yourself! Overall, I think it was a pretty good deal.

From the launching site, you have about 5.5 miles of river to trek through, and I'm not lying when I say every inch is absolutely beautiful. The water is crystal clear, so you can see all sorts of wildlife below. Some were even lucky enough to see manatees! Unfortunately, we weren't some of those people, but we did see plenty of fish! 

Throughout the river, there are plenty of shallow, sandy bits to dock your transportation and just swim along the spring, eat some snacks, etc. Be warned, it's freezing. But in the middle of a hot, humid Florida summer, it felt more refreshing than cold. There were several tree swings and man made jumping platforms to launch yourself into the spring, so it's definitely worth it to make some stops. Plus, starting at 8 a.m. with "closing time" at 6 p.m., you'll want to utilize all the time you can! 

Needless to say, it was a beautiful day with some really great people, and it made me love and appreciate my home state even more! It's crazy to think that this was just over an hour away from where I've lived my whole life, and I'd never been. I would love to visit one more time this summer! 

If you're a Florida native (or even if you aren't!), have you ever been to Weeki Wachee?


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

My First Month of Rocksbox (And How to Get Your First Month FREE!)

Awhile back, I talked about how I've grown to hate shopping. Specifically, I felt I'd lost my sense of style. While I've worked on building my closet with staple tops and classic jeans, there's something to be said about building an outfit around accessories.

When it comes to jewelry, I'm typically a repeat offender. Stud earrings, dangle necklace, simple bracelets; most all gold with maybe a pop of color. I don't venture much out of my comfort zone, so when Rocksbox reached out to me about trying their service, I jumped at the chance!

Rocksbox is a membership jewelry service that delivers three pieces of designer jewelry straight to your door each month (with free shipping both ways!) for just $19 a month. You're also offered a discount for any jewelry you'd like to keep!

After filling out a quick survey, you're paired with a stylist that handpicks your pieces, and even adds a personalized message to your box. You can also add your Instagram account to your profile, follow +Rocksbox, and comment #wishlist under any photo of a piece of jewelry you like! Your stylist will see it, and you may get it in your next box.

I actually just received my second box, but this will be a quick recap of my first! I've been ogling Kendra Scott jewelry for months, so I made it a point to request one of her Rayne necklaces...and that's exactly what I got!

To be honest, hot pink wasn't my first choice...but I wore it with everything. If I wasn't trying desperately to save money right now, I would have absolutely jumped at purchasing this one. I still plan outfits around it and I don't even have it anymore! First world problems.

My next piece was a Loren Hope cuff bracelet. I absolutely adored this bracelet (even though it was a little awkward coming on and off). It was the perfect addition to any outfit, and enough statement to wear it alone.

Finally, the stud earrings. For some reason, I wasn't super excited about these when I first took them out of the box. But much like the hot pink Kendra Scott necklace, I got a lot of wear out of these, and I'm definitely regretting not purchasing them (could have gotten them for just $22!).

Overall, I was really pleased with my first Rocksbox! I already love my new pieces from this month's box, and I'm excited to see what's up next. 

Want to try it for yourself? Get your first month FREE by using "SAMANTHAROSEXOXO" at checkout! 

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