Bri’s Favorite Things 2018

It’s that time again! For the 5th year in a row I’m publishing Bri’s Favorite Things, which can also be used a Holiday Gift Guide for your friends and loved ones. (See also: 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014).

Because it’s year FIVE, I’m going BIGGER and BETTER and offering you TONS of options, so…. BUCKLE UP!

BOOKS & WRITING

Becoming , Crazy Rich Asians, Make Your Bed, The Four Agreements, NotebookMildliner

TECH

AirPods, White Marble iPhone Case,*Tortoiseshell iPhone Case, HP Sprocket (case, paper), Marshall Bluetooth Speaker,*Popsocket, iPad Mini

BEAUTY

FARMACY Green Clean Makeup Meltaway, Benefit Brow Pencil, Travel Size CologneLipstickBloom Perfume

ACESSORIES

Double G Brooch,*Crystal Alphabet Charm, Supreme Backpack, Mini Pochette,*Gold Diamond Initial Necklace (Silver)

TV

Outlander (STARZ), Woman in White (PBS), The Crown (Netflix), Greenleaf (OWN)

CLOTHING & SHOES

Quarter-Zip Sharpa,*Houndstooth Tweed Jacket, Adidas Trefoil Tee,*Vogue Sweatshirt, Slippers, Rain Boots, Alabama Sweatshirt

Happy Shopping!

*items I do not own

 

RWA Series – Subscriptions

Vector subscription business model concept in flat style – pricing plan for app or website service

A few weeks ago I started an adulting series called RWA (Reading, Writing, Arithmetic). The first post focused on Writing using a technique called Bullet Journaling. Today’s post is the second in that series, focused on Arithmetic and Subscriptions.

Subscriptions are those things you sign up and are automatically billed for each month. You don’t even have to think about renewing the service because the company automatically does it for you (by way of an invoice or more frequently an automatic payment from your bank account or credit card). Items that fit this category are: Spotify (music), Netflix (movies), Audible (books), iCloud Storage and the recently popular subscription boxes (wine clubs, book of the month, beauty products). Just about every company has a Subscription model these days and why not, it’s easy cash for them!

The subscription model is a booming field. In recent years, this market has grown by more than 100% a year, increasing from $57 million in sales in 2011 to $2.6 billion in 2016. This is from a recent article in Stanford Business Journal that also predicts that, “Everything you purchase — from transportation to entertainment to groceries — will soon come with a monthly plan.”

Sure, the costs are nominal; but, this discussion is not about being able to afford the service or not. I’m sure most people reading this could sign up for 10 or more of these monthly services and still be ok financially. I say JustSayNo because once you get sucked in, it’s hard to get out. Gym membership anyone? 🏋🏽‍♀️🏋🏽‍♀️🏋🏽‍♀️

Do you remember that infomercial from back in the day about a popular cooking device that had the popular slogan, “Set it and Forget It.” That’s EXACTLY how I think about subscriptions. Often times we sign up for products/services and either use it VERY SPARINGLY or completely forget about it altogether!

When it comes to expenses, they can of course be need vs want; but, the actual payments themselves can also be PUSH vs PULL. When expenses are PUSHED, you consciously send your money somewhere for something you decide you want. For example, I saw Michelle Obama on the Today Show and decided I would like to read her new book, Becoming. As are result of that conscious decision, I purchased her book. Under this scenario, I have just given my money to someone for a product I chose.  Conversely, when expenses are PULLED you unconsciously send money to someone for something you may or may not want to experience/enjoy or chose. Sure, the monthly charge appears small (i.e. $9.99/month for Spotify); but, the real question is are you using the service and getting value from it or do you keep it around as a nice-to-have or because of a “just-in-case” philosophy.  As in, just in case there’s a new movie, book or album I want to partake in this month…

For needs (rent/mortgage, long term disability insurance, student loans, car insurance), I’m completely ok with the PULL technique – it saves me time and energy on things I know I have to pay anyway; however, when it comes to wants (entertainment, luxuries) I prefer to PUSH at intervals I consciously choose.

Didn’t there used to be a time when people wanted to decide where their money went and for what? Now, we’re ok letting complete strangers decide for us?? 🤔 Are they smarter or more in tune with our actual needs, wants and desires than we are? A popular finance blog, MoneyCrashers lists the cons of popular product-based subscription boxes this way:

  • Overbuying – While a subscription box usually costs less than buying all the items in it separately, there’s a good chance you wouldn’t buy all those items if they didn’t come in your box.
  • Unclear value – You get a different assortment of products every month, and you don’t even know what they’re going to be.
  • Problems With Returns – Sometimes companies won’t return/exchange items you don’t use. Most often people just don’t bother.
  • Difficulty of Quitting – As long as the fee is low enough to make it seem like a good deal, it won’t seem worthwhile to cancel the service.

There is a such thing as a subscription hoarder. According to GQ magazine, people spend more than twice as much on subscriptions as they think they do. The average initial estimate was $79.74 per month. The actual average was a whopping $237.33 per month. When companies uncouple your payment from your enjoyment of their product, it’s easy to forget you ever paid.

I currently have one monthly subscription- Netflix – and that’s because we actually use it. On everything else, I consciously choose to pass. Don’t get me wrong, all subscriptions are not bad; however, the adulting tip of the day in this RWA series is that when it comes to subscriptions, choose wisely!!!

What are you paying for every month?

City Guides by Louis

Did you know Louis Vuitton is a writer? For a while now, the luxury brand has put out super expensive city guides that cover places like Milan, Paris, Shanghai – a total of 25 cities from around the world. It’s the kind of gift travelers would love to have in their collection but also the kind that most of us can’t (or don’t want) to afford.

Well, Louis Vuitton is making its city guides accessible to all via a mobile app (iOS only). 24 city guides are available for download @ $9.99 each. You can download Paris for FREE until December 31st if you want just give it a spin and see what it’s like. Check out the video below for a brief intro. Individual city videos are also available as a playlist (~3 minutes each in the designer’s YouTube channel). Enjoy!

Zuckerberg Reads

picI’m so proud of my oldest niece – she purchased her first set of Christmas gifts this year with her own money. She KNOWS I LOVE to read so my gift was a book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin (book review). I smile every time I look at it. Now, even though I said Bye-Bye to Facebook in 2015, there is one positive thing related to the social network that has been in the news lately. Here’s a recent quote from Facebook founder & CEO Mark Zuckerberg:

“My challenge for 2015 is to read a new book every other week – with an emphasis on learning about different cultures, beliefs, histories and technologies. I’ve found reading books very intellectually fulfilling. Books allow you to fully explore a topic and immerse yourself in a deeper way than most media today. I’m looking forward to shifting more of my media diet towards reading books.” (Wired).

Kind of ironic, no? That the founder and CEO of one of the world’s largest social networks is diverting his time and attention to reading 2 books a month and discussing it online? Kind of like Steve Jobs not letting his kids use iPads (NY Times). Maybe it’s all part of his plan to further infuse Facebook into our everyday lives OR win back some of the user’s they have lost. Either way, I’ll call that using social media for GOOD! (I am not rejoining Facebook)

powerThe End of Power is an economics title by Moisés Naím, former executive director of the World Bank and Venezuela’s former minister of industry and trade. The book’s claim is that power is shifting towards the individual. “We know that power is shifting: From West to East and North to South, from presidential palaces to public squares, from once formidable corporate behemoths to nimble startups and, slowly but surely, from men to women. But power is not merely shifting and dispersing. It is also decaying. Those in power today are more constrained in what they can do with it and more at risk of losing it than ever before.” The book was first published in 2013. 

You probably recall the impact Oprah’s Book Club has on the publishing industry for years. The Zuckerberg effect may not be as big; but, it is definitely making a splash:

“We’ve seen several big spikes in ebook demand, and it was immediately out of stock [in print],” said Steinberger, whose team has worked with the digital platform Constellation to ensure it is now available in print. “It’s in five figures, the number of copies we’ve had to print in the last couple of days … All over the world people have started reading it.”

Check it out!

Bookless Libraries

I’m posting this article, mostly in its entirety because it’s so awesome!

IMG_0887.JPGThere are no dusty bookshelves or piles of textbooks in the library of Florida’s newest university. Welcoming its first students this week, Florida Polytechnic University’s new library houses not a single physical book.

Instead, its inaugural class of 500 will have access to around 135,000 ebooks. “Our on-campus library is entirely digital,” said director of libraries Kathryn Miller. “We have access to print books through the state university system’s interlibrary loan program.  However, we strongly encourage our students to read and work with information digitally.”

The 11,000 square-foot library is situated within a huge, white-domed building, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. Eschewing physical books, it is a bright, open space featuring computer terminals, desks, and comfortable spots to read.

A budget of $60,000 (£36,000) has also been set aside for students to read ebooks that the library doesn’t already own. Once a book has been viewed twice on this system, it will be automatically purchased. The set-up, said Miller, “allows for many more books to be available for the students, and the university only has to pay when the student or faculty member uses the book”, allowing students “to make direct choices regarding the books they want to read and have available in the library”.

The new university offers courses exclusively in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and Miller said that one of its objectives was to “prepare students for the high-tech workforce by giving them hands-on experience with advanced technology”. 

Source: The Guardian