5 Ways To Save During The Holidaze

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Between shopping for family, that significant other or simply yourself-let’s face it. You are spending more money than you typically would during the months leading up to the holidays. And that’s why it’s so important to SAVE while you spend!

This year has been different than the previous years I’ve celebrated Christmas because I now have a full time j-o-b. Yep. It’s pretty liberating. I can now afford to buy things I couldn’t afford as an intern, bartender or babysitter. While I haven’t quite graduated to a brand new pair of red bottoms or a nice big Louis, I can afford to give nice gifts, donate to charity and go a little over board at the shops this year.

Although my budget has expanded, I still enjoy saving a buck. Because the more doll hairs saved-the more I have leftover to spend! So I’ve compiled a conservative list of what I do to try and save a few during the holiday spending craze.

#1- | sign up at your favorite stores |

What’s better than getting a great deal on that one must-have thing you’ve been eyeing the past couple of months? You’re right: nothing. Imagine living in a world where your favorite store in the world knows you, your name, your birthday and your email address. And as soon as you sign up for their email list, rewards program or credit card with points and coupons, you are instantly VIP. This tactic works best for stores you can find in any city that has a population greater than 200,000 people, i.e. Banana Republic, Gap, Victoria’s Secret, Express, Nordstrom, Bath & Body Works, Macy’s and more. For the smaller boutiques? Get on their email list and ask how you can be first to learn about sales or promotions. Most stores are more than happy to tell you how you can buy more from them.

#2- | follow/like your favorite stores |

For the social media savvy brands, it is imperative that you find them on Facebook and Twitter. Stores will post what’s new, what’s on sale and often times coupons exclusively for their followers. Find freebies and coupons for many restaurants and bars by checking in on Yelp during your visit.

#3- | use your credit card & save |

Whether your card earns you cash back or travel points-use the card that gives some sort of return. Before I go any further I must disclaim this tactic: **you must be responsible and aware of your current financial situation before you go buck wild with the plastic.** Before using a credit card, it’s crucial to be aware of your current bank situation. Never spend more than what you currently have in the bank. Ever. If you trust yourself, it’s the best and easiest way to save money. I used to use the Bank Of America cash rewards card where I earned 1-3% cash back on all purchases. I recently switched to the Southwest Airlines card where I earn flight points on every purchase I make. Plus I earned TWO free, roundtrip flights- just for signing up! Hello free VACAY!

#4- | stop acting like you’re too good for Black Friday |

I get it. Nothing sounds more appalling than being trampled in a line 500 people deep just to save a couple bucks. But I have to tell you my Black Friday experience this year was far from appalling. And there are a few reasons why. 1-I avoided the larger, traditional stores like Best Buy, Target and Walmart. 2-more people than ever before are using the internet to get their shopping done early, and many stores have paid attention to this. Many deals offered in stores were also available online. 2.5- Cyber Monday has taken a slice of the black friday pie, leaving a portion of the regular crowd satisfied behind a screen. 3- Black Friday has snuck its way into Thanksgiving Thursday. I always thought the idea of shopping during the evening of a holiday you are supposed to be spending quality time with your family was a bit outrageous. But this year, I found myself with time to spare. I spent time with family, caught the cowboys game, and instead of going into a second food coma for dinner-I went shopping. What I found was shocking: no crazy lines, no stampedes, no fights. I got what I wanted without being pushed, breathed on or hassled. It was awesome. Some of my favorite finds?

  • Warm, soft, text friendly gloves- $4
  • Navy blue with pin stripe sleeve blazer $84.95: $24.95
  • Stainless steel crockpot- $8
  • Bluetooth speaker bar- $40
  • Francescas- 30% off entire store
  • Nike frees- 20% off
  • Banana Republic- 50% off

#5 | Post-Christmas Shopping |

Every year I save half of my Christmas shopping money for the day after Christmas. This is another AMAZING time to save on things you’ve been eyeing-especially boots, sweaters, coats and any other winter related item. I think the dumbest thing you can do is pay full price for something that you know costs a tenth of what it’s being retailed for. Be patient and WAIT. Fashion trends don’t change as rapidly as the advertisers would like you to believe. One of the biggest strategies marketers use is the fear of loss. That jacket will not look any different than it did full price than it does at the end of December at half the price. And it will look amazing for the next five winter season to come. Don’t get me wrong. This is always HARD for me {as impatient as I am}. But I also have no patience for wasting money on something I know will go on sale.

In short, more money saved=more opportunity to max out your shopping potential. Pick a budget, follow the money saving tips above, and happy shopping!

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Writers Block

It’s strange when you’ve been a natural writer your whole life but suddenly, a few things change, and you suddenly can’t think of anything you feel the need to write about. Sometimes life throw you curveballs, but I’m not one to give up on what I love and what truly makes me happy. While I’ve been silent the past couple of months, I’m promising myself it won’t last.

Stay tuned for updates as I find myself again through these changes. Updates will come. <3 XXXO

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Read My Article

Update: HUGE thanks to everyone who shared my article- I won the cash!

Read My Article

I am thrilled to announce InternMatch.com chose me to guest author for their blog and published an article I wrote specifically for their site. I definitely recommend checking out their website: internmatch.com if you’re looking for internships or entry-level jobs.

This is my very first article published, so I am especially excited about this “first-time” achievement. Please read and let me know what you think. Just click “Read My Article”, up at the top! The more shares and views it gets, the higher the chance is that I will win $100!

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Las Vegas, Nevada

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Post-Vegas Update: what a trip. I’m ready to go back.

My first experience in Vegas was fun, but now that I’ve set my foot down there, I’d like to have a more planned out trip for my next visit. This visit was unplanned and we just went with it. While this is fun, it was spring break. It was packed and all the DJs we planned on seeing had sold out shows. With a little more planning and thinking ahead (partially my fault), next time will be a blast.

Some highlights:

The Hardrock Hotel

We stayed at the Hardrock and I loved it. The pool rocked (pun intended) and so did the food. We were regulars at Pink Taco and Mr. Lucky’s. FU wasn’t bad either. I also liked the room- it was clean, updated and the beds were extra soft. Perfect place to stay, just off the strip. We walked a few times to the strip, about a mile. Not bad if you’re in shape!

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The Bank at the Bellagio

On our first night, we got to experience The Bank. New to the Vegas club scene, I thought it was wild that it had it’s own escalator (I later found out many clubs have this kind of entrance). I felt I was about to enter the Rolls Royce of night clubs. We got together with a couple behind us in line who were also from Texas and bought bottle service. This was definitely the way to go: no waiting in line, no pushing people over for a drink at the bar, and the best part of all: a body guard to keep out all of our over-intoxicated “peers” from our table and VIP area. The club experience for me now is different than four years ago. I don’t necessarily enjoy being shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of sweaty, wasted twenty-somethings (or fake-id holders). So having our own table, a place to sit and an unlimited supply of drinks was more than ideal. I can’t wait to go back.. I know the nightlife gets even better than what I got to see.

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The Venetian

On Sunday afternoon, we explored the strip. One of our first stops: The Venetian hotel. I am the cheesy type who saw a post on Pinterest about their gondola rides. So we definitely hopped on one of those bad boys. We floated along the inner (air-conditioned) channel and were serenaded by our talented coxswain. After our float on the Venetian river, we enjoyed a delicious slice of pizza on our way out.

Oh and I met Justin Timberlake.

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The MGM Pool (Almost Wet Republic)

After hearing all the buzz about the Wet Republic, we walked almost a mile through the MGM to get to our destination. We arrive at the pool and were directed down a path leading the daytime pool club. Half way down the path, we notice an opening to the pool. Thinking we just skipped the line and overpriced cover, we immediately split to find drinks. Our friends eventually met us and we felt accomplished: we are at the coolest pool in Vegas, and we got in for free!

…wrong. It seemed like a pretty poppin pool? We were listening to a DJ and the pool was packed. Come to find out (after asking around), we were at the marvelous MGM pool! Wet Republic was right behind us, slightly above us and out of our vision. All we could see from where we sat was the bouncer who checked IDs.

The Cosmopolitan

After a little touching up after the pool, we headed straight to the Cosmo via limo! I wanted to see the chandelier bar and wanted to have a Cosmo at the Cosmo. I loved this hotel and would love to stay there next time we visit. I also hear it attracts the younger generation, which is fine considering I’m the prime target for this hotel. The chandelier bar was beautiful! I swear the chandelier was never ending. Although I didn’t get a “Cosmo”, I enjoyed a nice glass of champagne.

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Planet Hollywood

Our last stop on our last night was Planet Hollywood. Although I wished I could see Britney Spear’s show, I could at least admire all the memorabilia since, after all, her residence is at PH. Our limo driver told us her show hasn’t received great reviews and is a waste of time. I really don’t care. It’s Britney Spears. I just want to hear all her songs in a live (lip-synced) concert. Don’t get me wrong- I haven’t forgotten about my number one favorite singer who has real vocal talent. The amazing. Christina Aguilera. I can only dream she gets residence in Vegas one day. Probably not. But I can dream.

Back to PH: We ended up getting another bottle service which was perfect for our last night. We relaxed, danced, enjoyed VIP and ended our stay on the right note.

Vegas, it was nice meeting you. I’ll be seeing you again.

ph

 

 

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Blackfish

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A year after it’s initial release date, the documentary “Blackfish” has shocked many people around the world. It caused more than an outbreak of controversy revolving around Seaworld, but also a division of belief. Does the documentary illustrate the ultimate truth about Seaworld, or is it simply a compilation of former angry Seaworld trainers?

I’ve been following the impact of the film over the past several months. Musicians such as The Beach Boys, Willie Nelson and Martina McBride have cancelled their events at Seaworld. I’ve only seen a few PR-focused responses directly from Seaworld, and with a PR background, these responses seem routine and, in my opinion, generic. They don’t make me feel warm and fuzzy inside, and they definitely haven’t convinced me to disregard everything disputed in the documentary.

In the past month, Seaworld made three blog posts. Killer whales were the subject of each post. I think Seaworld should have taken a stance and made an immediate response the moment this documentary was released in January 2013 at the Sundance Film Festival.

Recently becoming a target, Southwest Airlines has been asked by film supporters to discontinue their partnership with Seaworld. Southwest  responded to this request stating they are in a “listening and education mode”. I may be bias since I am a huge Southwest fan, but I think this is the perfect response- neutral and understanding. They aren’t making any irrational decisions and continue to stay true to their culture, which is why I am constantly a proud supporter of Southwest. Other companies under fire include Groupon and Toys’R’Us. Clearly this documentary sparked many fires of passion for these animals, whether you’re for or against the Seaworld operation.

As for my view: I grew up visiting Seaworld. Being from Dallas, San Antonio is an easy weekend getaway for most families. I’ve been there at least a half dozen times. The last time was during my sophomore year in college with my family. I always enjoyed myself and never left with a sad feeling. Along with the entertainment, I remember learning facts about marine animals and how Seaworld has helped conserve and give back. Never once did I have a negative thought about this wonderful place.

October seemed to be the month Blackfish went ‘viral’. I saw dozens of posts about it on Facebook, and being a Netflix subscriber, I instantly watched it. After viewing the film, I was left in complete shock. I felt so sad for the animals and it seemed I had been unknowingly betrayed by the Seaworld brand. My non-profit of choice is any charity that involves rescuing, rehabilitating or conserving the precious lives of animals, so this film had an immediate effect on me.

With that said- I know Blackfish is a documentary. I know it was exposing all the terrible things that have happened and it was made to sway the opinions of the viewing audience. While this film deeply saddened me, I cannot say I believe 100 percent of the claims being made. I’ve taken away a few things from Blackfish.

#1- When you are faced with a crisis, you must make an immediate response. If Seaworld would have been more present since the beginning of the film’s release, I believe they could have prevented some of the mess that has been made.

#2- Don’t change your beliefs after being exposed to one side of a story. People want you to be on their side, and sometimes they will do whatever it takes to get you to believe in what they are selling you. I love documentaries and I think many of them have exposed many truths, but I know not to let them completely change my view on things.

#3- Out of all those affected by this documentary, Southwest Airlines decided to stay neutral. That’s the best approach in my opinion. They need time and more research before reaching a solid decision.

Having a background in public relations helped me keep my ground on this subject and I know there’s always two sides to every story. This is an ongoing study that I personally find very interesting and will continue to research.

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One Reason Why Being Happy on Valentine’s Day is Better

We all see it. Between Buzzfeed, Thought Catalogue, Elite Daily and all the other websites producing viral articles on the world wide web.. there are constant comparisons being made between being single or in a relationship.

Well guess what.

There’s this crazy thing called happiness that really controls whether it’s better to be in a relationship or single. I’ve experienced Valentine’s Day both ways, and I must say, I like it either way!

“All The Single Ladies”

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Single? Who doesn’t love a reason to go out and grab drinks with the girls or guys? It’s important to not dwell on the fact that you don’t necessarily have one special person to share it with. If you’re single, you have to appreciate all your friends who are there for you on the reg rooting for you to  m o v e   o n   t o   t h e   n e x t.

Another plus- Valentine’s day is on FRIDAY this year. Wow the possibilities are endless!

A double plus? The weather will be WARM and it is patio weather! Ladies pull out the crop tops, it’s time to show off your sexy!

“I Will Always Love You”

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In a relationship? Time to cheese it up and gush about your love for your significant other! I think it’s always important to make sure you show your appreciation for your loved one on this day because who knows what kind of nonsense you’ve put them through in the past year. No one’s perfect, and no one should underestimate the power of nice, thoughtful words on this day of love.

**Guys don’t you dare forget those flowers.** Unless your girl is extremely abnormally allergic to pollen or whatever flowers are made of, there is not one reason you should fall short on this.

“But I don’t think she’s into flo…” No. She is. “Tom” boy or not. Just do it. Make her day and she will make yours at the end of the night.

My point is, it doesn’t matter which situation you’ve found yourself in. Valentine’s Day is a holiday meant to spread the L.O.V.E. Tell your best friends how beautiful they are, tell your lovers how much you love them, and don’t forget to MAKE it a good, fun & happy day.

Happy Valentine’s Day Ya’ll <3<3<3

XXXO

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Low Carb Chicken Noodle Soup

This recipe is far from gourmet, but I am currently obsessed with my crock pot! Last night I diced the carrots, celery and cilantro. I also cut the bad parts off the chicken breast. And that was the hardest part of this whole recipe.. so here it is:

-2 chicken breasts

-1 Box of chicken stock

-1 Bag of carrots (peeled and diced)

-1/2 Stalk of celery (cut into small pieces)

-Fresh cilantro (I just pulled off a handful and cut into small pieces)

-Dreamfield Spaghetti* (a lo-carb pasta, for more info click here.)

-1 cup of water

-Seasoning of choice (I used sea salt, pepper, Tony’s, garlic salt and a weber’s grill chicken-flavored seasoning.)

I put all the ingredients listed above in the crockpot this morning and let it cook on HIGH for 4 hours. I came home for lunch and it was PERFECT!! I have to admit, I did mess up. I set the crockpot on low after I ate lunch and didn’t turn it off until 5 hours later. Now the noodles are way over-cooked. So make sure if you decide to cook it on high that you don’t leave it on too long. But, I still ate it for dinner as well. I love it! Can’t wait to enjoy it for lunch the rest of this week!

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Chipotle Copycat Chicken Salad

A few weeks ago, I attempted to recreate my favorite salad in the world: a chicken salad from Chipotle. Thanks to Pinterest, I found a recipe that mimicked the “fast food” chain’s chicken and cooked up a pretty similar rendition.

I added romaine lettuce, cilantro-lime brown rice, black beans, pre-made pico de gallo from Market Street, white corn, fat free sour cream and topped it with salsa. It was absolutely scrumptious. AND I had leftovers for 3 more lunches! I will definitely make this again.

Link to full recipe.

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Vail, CO

A New Year Well Spent in Vail, Colorado

I stayed in Vail, Colorado from December 27-January 2, 2014. Boy had I missed Colorado.

My first stop was in Durango with my mom for another one of her business trips. Durango is a small resort town just North of New Mexico. I enjoyed seeing the town my mom always talked to me about. They have a train ride (we weren’t able to go on) and a historical downtown district. We arrived on Christmas day when everything was closed, so we weren’t able to get the “full” Durango experience, but we still made our own fun as always. My mom went to work the next day and I worked away from the office editing a video for my job. The next day we drove back to Albequerque (where we originally flew into) and I caught a flight on Southwest to Denver, a short 2-hour drive from Vail. I arrived in Vail Friday evening.

Day 1 (Saturday, December 28th): This was my first day of ski school. I’d only been skiing once, in North Carolina, and I thought I would get it down instantly. I was wrong. I attended a half day of ski school and decided to go ahead and “ski” on down the mountain.

Let’s just say I got down the mountain without breaking any bones. But it wasn’t pretty. Afterwords, I definitely took advantage of the hot tub and some cold Coors Light (I was pretty excited to hold my beer out in front of me and look at the rockies on the can with the real rockies in the background).

Day 2 (Sunday, December 29th): We took a break from skiing, and went to the next town over to watch The Wolf Of Wall Street. I loved this movie, but I do agree with critics that we got the point of all the drugs, alcohol and partying. Maybe cut 15-30 minutes of it, the movie still would’ve been great.

Day 3: (Monday, December 30th): I took another shot at skiing on this day. It was better but not perfect. I basically hung out on the bunny slope for half the day. The other half, I slid down the green slopes.

Day 4: (Tuesday, December 31st): On this day, I got to ski with my boyfriend and his “uncle”- Randy. He’s basically an expert at skiing, been skiing for over 40 years.

I had high anxiety on this day. I was starting to get anxious and down on myself since I hadn’t “mastered” skiing. I like to be good, if not the best at the things I do. I like to think I’m athletic enough to pick up most sports, so I was really disappointed in myself and wasn’t in the best of spirits.

Luckily, I received some help that moved me to the next level. Randy helped me with my stops, which were the hardest for me to master. He also helped build my confidence. After going down a couple slopes, I was getting better and I felt better. I still felt a little anxious, but I knew I had control. We went all the way down the mountain and ended in Vail Village. Funny thing is, they tricked me and brought me down blues the whole way. I was still a little scared, but I pushed through and got down only falling once.

Once we got to the bottom, we definitely made a stop at Garfinkel’s to enjoy a beer. I felt so accomplished! That’s one of the biggest reasons I love trying new things- although I can’t expect myself to be perfect at something new the first go around, it’s such a rewarding feeling when you’ve achieved a goal. My goal was to learn to ski and not look like a complete fool while doing it. Maybe next time I’ll learn to snow board.

Later this night, we went out for New Years to a cool place in Vail Village. I forgot the name, but it was a nice restaurant, pretty large on the inside. There was a band and a champagne toast at midnight. The songs the band played were a mix of oldies and songs from today. We definitely had fun and rang in the new year the right way.

Day 5: (Wednesday, January 1st) We watched skiers ski down the mountain from the living room and patio on this day. We were worn out and relaxed. There was a lot of cleaning and packing to do. We went out to eat for dinner and watched the Baylor football game. I was sad to leave, it was so much fun and so beautiful in Vail. But between the physical and mental requirements of skiing for the first time, I was also extremely tired. It was time to say good bye.

This is a trip I will never forget. I’ve visited Colorado several times before, but not like this. I am so blessed and am thankful for the people who have been in my life and allow me to enjoy these experiences.

 

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