Advent Calendars

Hey there! It’s been a while; but, I’m back! ☺️

2020 has been one crazy year and so for that I gave myself permission to start celebrating my favorite time of the year SUPER EARLY! This holiday season I am obsessed with advent calendars! Here are a few of my favorites!

Nespresso ($), L’Occitane ($$), Jo Malone ($$$ I won’t be buying this one), Charlotte Tilbury ($$)

The Ultimate Staycation!

The Ultimate Staycation is a second home in the same city. I literally can’t make this stuff up. I have an idea that sounds crazy to most… I explore the topic by Googling it and wallah… others are doing the same!

Four years ago the Wall Street Journal wrote an article describing how couples from New York to Florida to California are pursuing this trend. Here are a couple of examples from the article:

  1. Different neighborhoods have different experiences,” said New York City real-estate agent Shaun Osher of Core, who said he has several clients with more than one home in the city. “If you walk on the street in the West Village, it’s like a different world to the Upper East Side.” EXACTLY!
  2. Empty-nesters Alan and Sue Ravitz live primarily in a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan’s Gramercy Park neighborhood. Instead of buying a larger home, “we thought it would be much more fun to have a completely different environment in the city for us to experience,” said Ms. Ravitz, 58. YEP!

See also: 👀 After rash of racist incidents, Airbnb partners with NAACP to help Black people cash in (The  Grio) #airbnbwhileblack

Favorite Notebook & Pen

Since before I can remember, I have always loved to write. I love pretty notebooks, pen and paper. As a child, I used to take a JC Penny Catalog and write down everything I would buy if I was rich. Everything from sheets to clothing, houseware, beauty items, you name it! When I was done, I really enjoyed looking back at my list!

The adult version of my writing past time has turned into planning – writing down how I (will) spend my time, my priorities for the week/month, my financial/profession goals and tasks, everything. I like to write it all down so I can “look back at it.”

My notebook of choice is by Louis Vuitton. I buy (or request them as gifts) because I like the way the look and that they add a luxurious feel to my planning / writing process. My pen of choice is a rollerball by Swarovski. I have the gold one now; but, since my new rainbow-inspired LV notebook has silver foil, I think I will add the silver on to my collection as well!

Follow my planning Instagram account for a view into my planner world.

Personal Finances and COVID-19 (1 of 2)

Coronavirus has changed everything for everybody. There is no doubt about it. Everyone’s personal finances are or will (or should be) be impacted  – whether you keep your job, lose your job or never had one to begin with (already unemployed, retired, etc.) SAVING AS MUCH MONEY AS YOU CAN IS PARAMOUNT. Beyond, that simple imperative, my strategy is simple and two-fold: cash is KING and bring RECEIPTS.


Today I will tackle the first statement: CASH IS KING:

  • Spend little, very little. Re-evaluate everything based on your current situation or what may become your situation. If you are paying for subscriptions and are in a financial situation where spending $9.99 a month can make or break you, cancel it asap. (I told you before that I hate paying for subscriptions… NO RECURRING BILLS!).
  • Budgeting / expense tracking goes without saying but, I recently read a new way to categorize and keep track of EACH AND EVERY purchase you make. The new categories are: Fixed, Discretionary, Reduceable, or Forbearance Eligible. (Frugal Woods) I am definitely doing this!
  • Here’s the deal… I am delaying everything I can, even it if means a large lump sum payment at the end of the forbearance period. Why? Because we don’t know what we don’t know – this is true for income, expenses and what the federal, state or local government may or may not due over the next 6-9 months. If you are already financially responsible, making a payment equaling to x number of months you are in forbearance for your mortgage should not scare you (required with the new bill – READ!!!) If you are not financially astute or able to save large sums of money and can afford to pay your mortgage each month, continue to pay. If you cannot pay and need to prioritize eating over paying your mortgage, I think you know what to do – just be sure call your mortgage company (or landlord) and ask for help. More likely than not, they will oblige.
  • As it relates to (government) student loans, we all get 6-months no payments / no interest / no lump sum due at the end. I will not be paying my normal $200 month during this automatic forebarance period. What I AM going to do is pay my loan completely off on September 29th (the day the forbearance period is up) – pending no drastic changes in my financial position. There is no financial gain or benefit or negative impact to me paying today vs 6 months from now, except that my CASH will continue to sit in my savings account, earning a very small amount of interest; but, I will take that thank you very much! The beautiful thing is that I was planning to pay my student loans off this year anyway and my payment will go 100% towards my principle. WIN!
  • I also refinanced our mortgage at exactly the right time. Saves $250/month AND because it’s a new loan, we get to skip 2 months of our mortgage payments (just like when you initially close on a house). WIN!
  • I have been an avid user of my rewards credit cards, most recently the Delta American Express since I already have Lifetime Titanium status with Marriott. Last week I switched from using my AMEX (reward credit card) to my debit card. Why? First, ain’t nobody going anywhere anytime soon and Secondly, I know that I will evaluate expenses much more carefully when I use my debit card. I changed the default payment method on my normal accounts such as Target. DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU.
  • Finally, I organized my pantry. Going out for groceries is essential; but, not it you have things at home you can eat. Seeing all of your items helps greatly and can reduce your spending! Check out my recent post on how I did this – now, it’s true I didn’t have to buy those baskets, especially in this uncertain time; but, I did. And I will continue to check daily for price reductions for the items I purchased to try and save a few more coins by asking for a price match (over the phone).

I am reading a lot more these days – mostly online – because there is a lot I don’t know. Things are constantly changing. Blogs, news, you name it! READ THE FINE PRINT to make sure you understand EXACTLY what is or is not. None of our opinions matter, only the facts. And certainly not #FAKENEWS. Treat what people tell you about your finances just like you do sayings for the bible – READ IT FOR YOURSELF FROM THE ORIGINAL SOURCE, not a third party! Context is almost always required. There is no single answer / approach that can or should be applied to your unique circumstance.

Now, my last question is how much cash do you actually have? As in assets? Can you prove it? We will discuss in my next post, stay tuned!

Bri Alys

Pantry Organization

This week I crossed something off my to do list – organize my pantry. As a self proclaimed organization queen, it was super fun!! Here’s what was important to me in the process:

  • I knew I wanted uniformity
  • I wanted to be able to quickly see all my items
  • I liked the idea of combining containers so it was not too robotic looking
  • Gray, wicker and black would be the color scheme. (I saw some great baskets with chrome handles but they just did not go well with my decor)

So I set out on a trip to Target and here’s what I found (white bowls in the pic above previously purchased from Macy’s):

Seagrass WICKER BASKETS link

WIRE BASKETS by Magnolia Homes (large and small) link

Clear storage bins link

The after is shown above, here is the before:

I need to make a few more tweaks; but, for the most part it’s done! Get started on your pantry today! You won’t regret it.

Bri Alys