Monday, November 20, 2017

4 ways to save money holiday shopping

How crazy is it that we're already talking about holiday shopping!? With Black Friday later this week gift guides and sales ads seem to be all that's on the internet at the moment. I won't be sharing my gift guides until later, but I couldn't let the start of holiday shopping season go by without a post. I still have a few gifts to get (if anyone's seen any good guides for dogs or boyfriend's parents please send them my way), but I've actually done almost all my holiday shopping this year. I'm going home next week to visit my family and it just made more sense to have gifts shipped there, wrap them, and leave them under the tree before I come back to Vail. Holiday shopping is fun, but it can easily get expensive. Today I wanted to share 4 ways to save money holiday shopping!

1. Make a list - saving money holiday shopping is really all about being efficient and making a list is my favorite way to be efficient. I wrote this post last year about deciding who to buy a gift for, and I think it's one of the most important posts I've ever written. The most obvious way to save money is by not buying so much; making a list (and checking it twice!) ensures you're buying only for those you really want to buy for and don't get carried away.

2. Stick to a budget - I love giving gifts which is great for my sense of goodwill to men but not so great for my bank account. Once you've made a list of who to buy for you can make a budget. I like to make a total budget and then decide from that how much I can spend on each person. Going over $10 or $20 on a person may not seem like much, but that quickly adds up if it happens with everyone on your list.

3. Shop around - This tip works best if you know what you want to buy someone already. Just do a simple google search of that item and black Friday deals and if it's on sale somewhere the ads will pop up. Growing up I loved to look though the newspaper ads on Thanksgiving to see what was going to be on sale the next day, but now thanks to the rise of online shopping stores have already announced their sales days ahead of time!

4. Know your deals - Some stores do the same Black Friday specials every year; this is nice because it takes some of the guess work out. If you know your favorite store usually does a certain discount across the whole store you can figure out how that gift fits into your budget. Another deal I love to use is exchanging my credit card points for gift cards. You can either gift these cards or use the cards to buy gifts. And if you plan on doing online shopping, make sure to use Ebates!

What are your tips to save money holiday shopping?

Sunday, November 12, 2017

12 Winter Coats under $200

Confession, before I moved to Vail two years ago ( how has it already been two years!?) I didn't own a coat. I owned a North Face fleece jacket and a Patagonia Fleece and that was more than good enough to get me through the bitter winters of Mississippi. One of the first things I bought when I decided to make the move was a coat, a no-brainer thing your wardrobe needs in a ski town. That first coat purchase sparks a serious love affair with this wardrobe staple. While I love coats; I don't love their price tags. While browsing the Nordstrom fall sale I noticed they had a great coat collection at great prices. Today I decided to share 12 winter coats under $200.

A dark neutral, like black or navy, are usual go-tos for a winter coat because they go with so much. But I'm personally a big fan of something more fun like yellow! Last fall I actually bought a yellow coat very similar to the one pictured and wearing it is so fun! At the risk of sounding extra basic, I think adding a leopard print coat to my closet is my deepest wardrobe desire.

What do you look for in a winter coat?

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

8 things I'm thankful for right now

I'm currently in the most stressful and busy three weeks of work I've ever experienced. Working in Vail most people experience a ton of seasonality in their jobs with May and October traditionally being the slow periods. So I was totally unprepared for this work load. For the 10 day stretch that I'm in I have a group with events every single day, some days multiple groups with events. Add to that the fact that we're upgrading our computer system and I'm the "area expert" responsible for chairing the group rebuilding the whole thing and you can see I've got a lot on my plate at the moment.

My office has dubbed me Polly Anna because overtime training gets intense I have something positive to say. Honestly it's because if I don't keep reminding myself of the positive things I might end up crying. In that spirit and the spirit of Thanksgiving today I wanted to share 8 things I'm thankful for right now.

1. Taylor Swift's new CD comes out Friday! To say I'm pumped about Taylor putting out new music is an extreme understatement. Taylor gets me on a deep level and I connect with more of her songs than any other artist out there. From the singles she's put out so far from this album she really seems to be coming into her own and I think that's so exciting.

2. I'm sleeping with my heated blanket nightly without feeling like I'm being overdramatic. Last Black Friday I bought this heated blanket from Target and it was the best $15 I've ever spent. Our electric bill is outrageous in the winter, but having this blanket keeps me toasty warm without having to turn the heat up as high. It looks like it'll be part of Target's Black Friday sale again this year!

3. It's large mugs full of soup season. Call me boring but I don't think there is any lunch better than a soup and sandwich. When the temperatures drop there is nothing as satisfying as a hot mug full of soup. If you remember from last year's gift guides my sister gifted me Chrissy Teigen's cookbook Cravings and she has a recipe for Chunky Creamy Mushroom Soup I'm planning to try in the next few weeks.

4. The Christmas bug seems to have bitten everyone early this year. I'm usually a big proponent of not skipping over holidays, something that stems from an old family rule of not talking about someone's birthday unless they were next in line. But this year I'm totally jumping on the skipping Thanksgiving bandwagon. Even though this will be my third Thanksgiving away from home it still feels wrong to celebrate the day anyway but with my mom in the kitchen. Add that to the fact that Christmas is my favorite holiday and I'm all kinds of holly and jolly. I was watching Christmas movies and listening to my holiday playlist on November 1 this year.

5. It'll soon be cold enough to wear my favorite beanie every day. One of the very first items I bought when I decided to make the move to Colorado two years ago was this adorable Helly Hansen beanie and it quickly became a wardrobe staple. It's actually funny because without knowing it I ended up buying the brand that's the official brand of our resort!

6. I'm going home to Mississippi at the end of the month. When I went home in July for my birthday I thought that'd be the last time I saw my family until 2018 because winter flights are usually so expensive in and out of Denver. Like I get it, everyone is trying to come ski, but I'm just trying to return to the land of sweet tea and humidity. Thanks to maybe the best Southwest sale I've ever seen I'm getting to go home for a week between Thanksgiving and Christmas. And as an added bonus I just found out my boyfriend gets to come too!

7. I've reached the point where I feel comfortable in my job. Even though this week is by far the most stressed I've ever felt in a job I honestly feel like I'm doing as good a job as anyone could in this situation. I've been in my position about 4 months and I think I'm finally getting the hang of everything. I should probably knock on wood though because this system upgrade means we're changing most of our SOPs and winter means a totally different type of group business.

8. I've figured out a way to make flannel shirts work appropriate. I finally don't have to wear a uniform to work anymore and while I'm thrilled to not be wearing something so ill fitting and uncomfortable trying to figure out how to make winter wear work appropriate was a challenge. I've discovered that a flannel paired with a pencil skirt, tights, and booties is both cute and office appropriate. I recently added this one and this one to my collection.

What are you thankful for currently?

Friday, November 3, 2017

Guilt free Cheat Days

For the past about two months I've really been trying to be better about my eating habits (maybe you noticed it included in my September and October goals). I've come to the realization that going to the gym is just not something I enjoy and have a very difficult time making a priority. So in order to live a healthier life I've accepted that what I put into my body is going to make all the difference. Luckily I genuinely like fresh fruits, veggies, and salads; however, I also really love tacos, donuts, and anything pumpkin flavored. In order to not go on a complete bender I know I need cheat days to survive. But not all cheat days are made equally. Today I wanted to share a few of my tips for guilt free cheat days.

1. Using veggies instead of chips - Chips and dip is one of my favorite foods; I could eat chips and guacamole all day every day. But if I'm being honest the dip is really the part I'm interested in consuming copious amounts of. If you slice a cucumber and load it up with enough dip I promise you won't even mind that you're not putting a Wavy Lays in your mouth. Carrots with ranch, celery with peanut butter, and bell peppers with hummus are all great options too. 

2. Make your own snack mix - I work next to a cupcake shop and a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory so when the afternoon munchies hit I need an alternative or else I'm going to support the local economy and buy something. I like to make my own snack mix, put it in a tubberware and leave it in my desk for emergencies. Making your own is better than buying already mixed trail mix because you can count exactly how many calories you're putting in and you're not stuck with any of the gross parts. My current favorite is to mix almonds, honeynut Cheerios, pretzel Goldfish, and chocolate chips for the perfect salty sweet combination. 

3. Have a backup / emergency meal option - Days that were long at work when I have no leftovers at home are the days I'm most likely to cheat. After getting my butt kicked for 8 hours the McDonald's drive thru (literally the only drive thru in Vail) starts looking like the best idea. I've found if I have something easy to throw together already at home it's much easier to avoid this major healthy eating detour. Some of my favorites are cereal and milk with fresh fruit, packets of tuna, or everyone's favorite Lean Cuisines. These easy weeknight meals have also been a life saver many a time. 

4. Be honest about what you're craving - I've shared this tip before, but it's so good I want to share it again. When I crave Mexican food what I really want is the tacos or the burritos not so much the rice and beans on the side. If they're on my plate I'm going to eat them, but if they're not I'm not going to miss them. There are so many times to use this trick to cut calories while still getting what you're actually craving. Think fast-food without the fries or leaving the whip cream off your Starbucks order.

What are your tips for guilt free cheat days.