RWA Series – Subscriptions

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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?

#girlboss

It’s a term I absolutely love! According to a popular Netflix movie, a #girlboss is strong, smart, resilient, opinionated, confident and feisty! Do you agree? If not, no worries! Everyone has a different definition. While the point is to define what being a #girlboss means FOR YOU, the more important thing is to BE THAT. In your personal life, work life or however else you define your life.

BE. THE. BOSS. OF. YOUR. OWN. LIFE.

Not someone else’s. Live your best life. Stay in your lane and mind your own business. 🙋🏽 If you need to find (or re-find) inspiration you can listen to a #girlboss playlist (Spotify), read a #girlboss book, check out #girlboss quotes on Pinterest, set up a #girlboss lockscreen on your phone or take a #girlboss trip. #whateverworks

LIVE. THE. LIFE. YOU. WANT. MAKE. IT. HAPPEN.

You can be 20 or 30 or 40 or 50 or 60 or 100+! Just know that while you are doing all those things, so are others and it’s okay! For me, being a #girlboss means protecting my space and my peace. I guard that very closely because most times I just CANNOT!!!! 🚫

FIND. YOUR. PASSION. AND. DO. THAT.

FACT: I like writing and paper. And guess what? So do A LOT of other people. As normal, we take the things we love whole new #levels! See also: Planner Situation, my current favorite pen (there’s nothing wrong with a little bling!) or Shop PaperSource. Another one of my personal #girlboss criteria is to have order in my life – in written form of course – (and to look the part 😉)! The essential item I use to do this is an agenda. Mine is currently being repaired and I feel SO VERY stifled. 😩

You may have noticed I underlined a few words above: FIND, BE, DO, LIVE. They are all verbs because at the heart of being a #girlboss is to take ACTION.

GO. GET. IT. 🖤

#PamperMeSunday with Products

20130606-170822I ❤️ watching lifestyle bloggers on YouTube. They talk about everything from fashion to beauty, health, book recommendations, how they structure their days and so much more! I’d say I spend at least an hour each day watching videos (or reading blog posts online). I’m learning different ways to take better care of myself (mentally, physically, spiritually) and it keeps me from sitting in front of the idiot box all day even though nothing is really ever on. Establishing a regular self-care/pamper routine has been one of my learnings and I do it on Sundays since that’s the day I always have time to do a little extra. It also helps you relax before the work week starts!

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This post is about having a routine to pamper yourself. To be honest, I’ve never really done this before, nor have I had a staple set of staple products to assist in such an effort. Thanks to YouTube, that has changed!!! 👍🏽💃🏽

When it comes to the routine below, modify the products/steps to fit your budget and/or tastes. i.e. If you don’t do your own nails, skip that step. And before you waiver on the need to do all this / for the complexity… don’t you deserve pampering?? If not every week, then every other week or maybe once a month? I think yes! (Note: The times are just estimates – start whenever you want – and I DO multi-task where it makes sense to speed things up a bit. I also included pictures of my absolute favorite items! and a few emojis because… why not?

_658859507:55 PM Set the tone! Turn off the tv, light a Diptyque (Nordstrom) or Nest candle (Nordstrom) and turn on some relaxing music 🎤 (Spotify). The kind that will help you turn ⬇️ not turn ⬆️! This is a great time to listen to a new album or audiobook. PS: recycle the jar!

07:59 PM Pull your hair back with a headband (Target).

08:00 PM Prep face. Remove  EYE MAKEUP with Lancome’s Bi-Facial Double-Action Eye Makeup Remover (Nordstrom) and Shiseido Facial Cotton (Nordstrom). For remaining makeup, apply Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water (Target) to a fresh Shiseido cotton pad and wipe your face squeaky clean! This will remove ALL excess grime and grit. It’s important to get EVERYTHING OFF before we proceed so this step is extremely important!

08:05 PM Apply SK-II facial treatment mask (Nordstrom) and let it sit for 15 minutes.

08:07 PM Prep nails: Remove nail polish from hands and feet with Pure Body Polish Remover (Amazon), trim then buff (Target). Step-by-step guide here.

08:19 PM Rinse mask off face with lukewarm mater and pat dry with a fresh white hand towel or face cloth – not the one you used yesterday! 😱 (Nordstrom).

08:20 PM Shower (or take a bubble bath if you prefer)

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  • Wash hair with Art Naturals Organic Shampoo (Amazon). Divide into 4 sections, comb out and apply It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-in Conditioner to each section (Target).
  • Buff feet with Amopé Pedi Perfect Electronic Foot File (Amazon)
  • Push cuticles back (hands and feet).
  • Splash a little water on your face (it should not be scorching hot) 🚫🔥.
  • Gently massage one pump of Kiehl’s Calendula Deep Cleansing Foaming Face Wash onto your face & neck (Nordstrom) then use a Clairsonic for a deeper clean (Nordstrom) and pat your face dry.
  • Clean your body with Fresh ‘Hesperides Grapefruit’ Bath & Shower Gel
    (Nordstrom) and shower gloves (Target). LOVE LOVE LOVE this combination!!! (the gloves provide a gentle exfoliation)
  • Apply *L’Occitane’s Almond Shower Oil to your body (HEAVENLY!) with an organic sea sponge (Nordstrom, Target) 😍😍
  • Exit the shower

screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-7-04-21-pmFace care starts immediately after exiting the shower while your hands are still CLEAN!

08:40 PM Tone your face and neck with Kiehl’s Calendula Herbal-Extract Alcohol-Free Toner (Nordstrom)

08:41 Treat face and neck with SK-II facial treatment essence (Nordstrom)…. let this miracle water soak in for a couple of minutes.

08:43 PM Gently press (DO NOT RUB) La Mer Creme de La Mer Moisturizing Cream onto your face. You only need a dime size and 1 oz should last you 6-8 months (Nordstrom). 😍💯

08:45 PM Treat your upper and lower eyes with Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado (Nordstrom).

08:46 PM Protect your underarms with Kiehl’s Superbly Efficient Anti-Perspirant & Deodorant Cream (Nordstrom).

08:47 PM Moisturize your skin with L’Occitane Almond Milk Concentrate. The smell is absolutely AMAZING and your hubby/significant other will LOVE you for it!😍😍 (Nordstrom)

08:52 PM Put on your most luxurious pajamas (Nordstrom).

09:00 PM Apply Soap & Glory Heel Genius to your feet (Amazon) and put on some fancy socks (Nordstrom).

09:05 pm Select and lay out your clothes for the next day! Including jewelry, other accessories, lipstick color, handbag and shoes!

09:15 PM Steep you favorite tea in a fabulous mug (Teavana, Target).

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09:20 pm Polish nails with Nails Inc base & top coat (Sephora) followed by Bobbi Brown Nail Polish (Belk) in this manner to allow maximum drying/setting time: foot 1, foot 2, hand 1, hand 2, then repeat TIP: Coordinate your nail polish with the outfit you picked out so you’ll feel extra special on Monday!

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09:45 PM Curl up with your favorite blanket (Nordstrom), tea and read a book! 📚 (Amazon).

10:45 PM Brush your teeth wit an Oral-B electronic toothbrush (Amazon) and Tom’s Toothpaste (Amazon).

10:50 PM Protect your lips with La Mer Lip Balm (Nordstrom) and hands with L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream (Nordstrom) or La Mer Hand Treatment (Nordstrom). I like them both!

11:00 PM Put on a fancy sleep mask and get some zzz’s! (Nordstrom) 😴💤 tip: get the matching pillowcase, too (Nordstrom)

lamerFinal thought: DO NOT rush the process!!! If you find yourself rushing through steps or wondering if you’re doing it right you are missing the point! It’s called #PamperMeSunday for a reason!! Enjoy feeling fabulous! 😘

*This product is not cheap! Use no more than a quarter-size for your upper body and another quarter-size for your lower half. Squeeze your sea sponge frequently to maximize the product.

Mixtape for Netflix

It’s July and I already have the perfect low-cost, tech-savvy gift idea for teens, adults and everyone in between! The gift idea comes courtesy of Netflix.

Flixtape is a short playlist of Netflix titles based around a theme, a mood, or message. It’s like a mixtape, but for Netflix! If you’re a fan of a few shows you think your pal would like, create a Flixtape and share it with your bestie! No shipping is required AND you can gift the SAME Flixtape to multiple people. How cool is that? If you need some inspiration for what to include, use Bri’s Commandments and Google “best netflix series”. Here’s what my search results turned up:

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I can tell you straight away that I’m all over the first two series shown above: Orange is the New Black and House of Cards. In fact, I only spend $20 on Netflix per year. That gets me 2 months of viewing (the subscription costs $9.99 per month). When new seasons of OITB or HOC come out, I simply buy a month, binge watch the episodes and use the remaining time to catch up on anything else that has caught my eye. #dontjudgeme You can also view new Titles on Netflix here.

NOW, BACK TO MY FABULOUS GIFT IDEA. All that is required is a Netflix subscription and a little elbow finger grease to set up the playlist flixtape. If you purchase a $30 subscription your pal will get 3 months free. It’s the gift that keeps on giving long after the holidays! You can also EMAIL the subscription the day of! This is absolutely perfect for me because I’m thinking about taking a Christmas vacation this year. Oh, and while we’re on the subject of gifting via email you can also apply the same concept to music with Spotify (my fav) and Apple Music.

#giftcardsgonewild #everybodygetsgiftcardsthisyear #happyegifting

BONUS: For tips on how to find the best Spotify playlists, click here

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The Ultimate Entertainment Package

Today I’m reviewing my ultimate entertainment package – a list of my must have services to keep you going while you wait, when you’re in between tasks or just when you need something to do! There are a lot of things I could have added, one-offs like TED Talks, but this list includes only things I do on a very regularly bases. In no particular order:

InstagramTHE best place to view (pretty) pictures. I mostly follow people who buy/display pretty things: handbags, shoes, jewelry, other accounts that post funny videos and travel-related things. I’m not on it to gain followers or friends. I also don’t care about likes.

TwitterMy goto for trending topics. At any given moment I can see the top 10 things the country/world is talking about. I also regularly use it when I’m watching shows/sporting events to see what other people are saying about the topic.

SpotifyMust have music streaming service. The music industry is becoming more and more fragmented everyday. From Beyonce (Tidal) to Drake (Apple Music), Chance the Rapper (Apple Music), Kanye (Tidal) and others – artists are striking deals that make their music available solely on one music service and not the others. But be patient grasshoppers, eventually their music will be available on your preferred music streaming service (usually ~2 weeks later) and you’ll be able to freely partake without spending more $. Until then, there’s always YouTube and VEVO. BTW: Mondays are for DiscoverWeekly and always Spotify while you shower.

Netflix – THE best movie streaming service. House of Cards, Orange is the New Black and MANY more. There’s not much more to say other than it’s awesome. (I also have access to Amazon Prime Video; but that’s only an added bonus of my Prime membership).

Overcast – This one is fairly new for me; but, I’m loving it! It’s the very best way to listen to podcasts on your iPhone. So far I’m into: The Read, Keepin it 1600 and Watching Thrones. I’m sure I’ll add others over time. Listen while you cook, clean, work or commute!

HBO – I love HBO. OMG, I can’t tell you how many great shows, (original) series and documentaries they have. Game of Thrones, Real Time with Bill Mahr, Silicon Valley, …. I could go on and on! In the past few days I’ve even been thinking about buying some stock. 🤑

Feedly – I’ve told you about this one before. It’s basically a news aggregator of things I like to read. Instead of having multiple sites (Lifehacker, The Every Girl, Mashable, etc.) flood your inbox with emails everyday, you can subscribe to their articles/posts and read them using the Feedly app – on/at your own time. Feedly creates of a pull situation – I have to physically go retrieve items when I want to read them – vs. a push situation where you are automatically notified/sent updates. Now, I do like the push approach for music i.e. when artists I follow release a new album, just not for news.

I know some of you may be thinking Snapchat, Periscope and Facebook are missing but honestly I’m just not into those that much. I do use them, just not on a regular basis. Also chat services like GroupMe and What’s App are not on my list. Yes, I have accounts with those an the apps are on my phone; but, I honestly don’t use them that much and I’m NOT a fan of group texts. I also sometimes will check Pinterest and We Heart It but those have also worn off over time… do what works for you!

So, here’s the thing: all of the services on my list are super convenient, easy to access and very affordable. Feedly, Overcast, Instagram and Twitter are free and you can get Spotify, Netflix and HBO for about $10-$15/month each$35/month gets you all in. I’d never have cable if my husband didn’t pay for it. Actually the extent of my relationship with Comcast would be internet service (that is, until Google Fiber comes to town). Happy Entertaining!!!

My Home Screen = Most Important Screen

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