Tips To Help You Save Money + Why It’s Important

Hi all,

I’ve been thinking about writing a post like this for a while and finally decided to go for it, as I think it’s really important to know how to manage your money, especially as a teenager/young adult. Michael and I were sitting on our balcony in Santorini last month, watching the sunset, and I just kept thinking that I’m so grateful we’ve been smart enough with our money, to be able to splurge on experiences like these. We have seen so many people around us blow their money on drinking and useless spending, ultimately leading them to live from pay check to pay check. While I know some people enjoy that lifestyle, it was never for us, we always thought it was important to be wise with our money.

I’ve been working since I was sixteen, and pretty much saved every penny from my first three years of work. Except for a few clothing items I bought at the store I worked at and a last-minute trip to Punta Cana with Michael, I saved all the money I made. I never made any big purchases, I was very careful with what I spent my money on and weighed each decision before swiping my card. I learned the value of money at a young age and it was only when I moved onto a significantly higher paying job that I allowed myself to splurge on a few items (like a car and a Kate Spade purse!)

It also helps that I’m not the type of person to go out and party every weekend. I understand how fast money can be gone. In the few times that I’ve gone out, I must have spent about $40 each time for a couple drinks… that adds up quickly!

For me, saving money for my future was always important. I wanted to make sure that I had enough if ever something happened and that I would have enough for a down payment on a house when I graduate school. This end goal definitely helped me remain on track, money-saving wise.

Here are some of my tips:

  • First decide what you want to save money for. Is it a long term goal- a house, for example, that would require you save for a long period of time? Or is it a short-term goal- a Europe trip for example, that would require you to save lots in a short amount of time? This will help you decide how much you should be putting into your savings every pay check (more on that below).
  • Make a list of your necessary monthly expenses. This will allow you to see exactly what needs to be spent and what will remain from your pay checks. It will give you a realistic idea of how much you can hope to save in one year, for example. Try to be as honest with yourself as possible. If buying clothes is a necessary expense for you, then write it down. Although I would recommend you write down things that you wouldn’t be able to live without; food, gas, etc.
  • Make a list of things you could cut out of your budget- make concessions. I really do think that to save money, you do need to tighten your belt a little bit and cut out some unnecessary spending. I love shopping as much as the next blogger, but I know this can quickly eat away at my savings. As a general rule, other than a few items of clothing here and there, I tend to limit my shopping sprees to twice a year. I always take a small trip with my mom and brother to the US at the end of summer, so this is when I get some clothes for back to school. The other time is either after Christmas so I can take advantage of after Christmas sales, or in the spring, so that I can get some summer clothes. If you spend $50 a month on manicures and you can live with doing it at home for a couple of years, scrap it. It doesn’t seem like much, but that’s $600 a year! You can do lots with $600!
  • Save, save, save and save some more! Financial professionals will give you various percentages that you should spend and save from your pay check, but I believe that this varies from person to person. When I first started working, my percentage was practically 100% save. As I moved onto the higher-paying job, I found myself spending more because I could justify it with the higher pay, and this was when I had to remind myself that I should be saving more. At one point, I was automatically putting 50% in my savings, and keeping the other 50% in my checking account. This however did not mean that I was automatically spending the other 50%, it was just there if I needed it. If you really want to be strict about saving, I would recommend a 75-25 saving-spending percentage. The saving percentage can be higher if you want it to, it’s not necessary to spend!
  • Have two accounts: a savings and a checking. This is especially great if you can have your savings account not linked to your debit card. This way, you won’t be able to access your savings when you’re shopping, restricting what you can spend even further. Also, having to do a few extra steps (transferring x amount from one account to the other, waiting for it to get processed, etc) might deter you from actually doing it.
  • Find a balance. Even though I can be strict with my money, I do think it’s important to find a balance. I don’t spend much on clothes or electronics, but I don’t necessarily budget when it comes to a trip. I love travelling and I don’t want to sacrifice certain things on a trip because it might be the only time I get to go there! I really do think you can take advantage of your young years without destroying your future.
  • Make a mood board with your goals (financial or otherwise). This one doesn’t only pertain to saving money, but if you have a picture of your goals right in front of you, it will be much easier to stick to your plan!

Thank you so much for reading, I really hope you enjoyed these tips! Do you have a tip that I didn’t mention? I’d love to hear it!

Marilyn

Strawberries and Cream Chia Pudding Recipe

Hi all,

I’ve been loving this recipe lately! It’s great for breakfast and makes for a very filling snack. Plus it’s dairy-free!

What you’ll need:

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  • 2 cups of fresh strawberries
  • 1/4 cup of maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 1 1/2 cups of coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract

What to do:

  1. Place the strawberries, maple syrup, coconut milk and vanilla bean extract in a blender and blend until smooth.IMG_7228IMG_7230
  2. Place the chia seeds in a bowl and pour the strawberry mixture over it. Whisk very well. Let it sit for about 10 minutes and then whisk it again.IMG_7232IMG_7234

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    Whisking it after 10 minutes.
  3. Cover and refrigerate it for at least 4 hours. I like to leave it in overnight so that it gets really thick.IMG_7239
  4. Enjoy!

Thanks for reading! What’s your favourite chia pudding recipe?

Marilyn

2 Week Greece Itinerary

Hi all,

I wanted to share our itinerary for the two weeks we recently spent in Greece. I’ll start by listing what we did and below I’ll speak about what I wish we had done differently.

Day 1: Travel to Athens overnight

Day 2: Land in Athens in the morning and travel to Chania, Crete. Pick up rental car. Spend night in Chania.

Day 3: Spend the day + night in Chania.

Day 4: Spend the day + night in Chania.

Day 5: Travel to Rethymnon, Crete + spend the night.

Day 6: Travel to Heraklion, Crete + spend the night. Drop off rental care in the afternoon.

Day 7: Take a high speed ferry to Santorini. Spend the rest of the day in Santorini.

Day 8: Spend the day in Santorini.

Day 9: Take high speed ferry to the island of Paros. Spend the night in Naoussa.

Day 10: Spend day + night in Naoussa.

Day 11: Spend day + night in Naoussa. Excursion to Antiparos on this day.

Day 12: Spend day + night in Naoussa.

Day 13: Travel by ferry to Athens. Spend the night in Athens.

Day 14: Spend the day + night in Athens.

Day 15: Spend the day + night in Athens.

Day 16: Come home 😦

What we would change:

I planned this trip rather quickly and decided on the three islands pretty randomly. Other than Santorini, I just took a chance with Crete and Paros. While we enjoyed our time in Crete, looking back on it, I’m not sure if I should have chosen this island. We felt like we were in Italy rather than in Greece.

We ended in Athens and I think I would have preferred to start there, since it was our least favourite part of the trip. It would have been better to start with “the worst part” and end with the best. Although it did make coming home a bit easier since we were eager to leave the city! (I know this may sound pretentious, but while we loved visiting the ruins, the city itself isn’t very nice- it’s not clean and it felt unsafe. I will be delving into more details with a full blog post on Athens in the next months.)

This is just the itinerary, I’ll definitely be writing more posts about what we did in each city in the next couple of months so make sure to check back for those! You can also subscribe to my blog that way you’ll never miss when a new post comes out!


Thank you so much for reading!

Marilyn

Summer Reading List

Hi all,

I know we’re already halfway into summer break, but I wanted to share my reading list for the rest of the break. I actually read a few of these while on vacation and will be reading the rest in the next couple of months. As you’ll see, I love to read a mix of teen and adult fiction. I love “beach” reads; books that don’t really require much concentration and that you can breeze through in one sitting. Here we go.

  1. Once and For All by Sarah Dessen
  2. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before trilogy by Jenny Han
  3. The Chemist by Stephanie Meyer
  4. Paris For One by Jojo Moyes
  5. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  6. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (I always like to read the book before I see the movie)
  7. Confessions Of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella- I’ve seen the movie multiple times and have the book, but have yet to read it, I think it’s time that I do!

What are some of the books on your summer reading list? I’d love some more suggestions!

Have a wonderful week!

Marilyn

What’s In My Carry-On?

Hi all,

Today I’m sharing what I carry with me on the plane. If I’m going on a beach vacation, I take my beach bag as my carry-on so that I don’t waste space in my suitcase. For this trip to Greece, I took my backpack so that I can fit a lot more in it. So what do I bring with me?

  • Empty water bottle: I bring this so that I can always have water on me while we’re travelling/sightseeing so I don’t have to buy water wherever we go.
  • Neck pillow
  • Earphones
  • Lip balm + important liquids & medication
  • Book
  • Sunglasses
  • Reading glasses
  • Travel documents
  • An extra outfit: When I’m travelling in the summer, I always make sure to bring an extra pair of shorts, one top, one pair of underwear and a bathing suit, just in case our luggage gets lost.
  • Chargers
  • Sweater: I don’t put this in my bag, I wear it, but I don’t ever take a flight without having a sweater.
  • Snacks
  • Sun hat

Thanks for reading! What’s one thing you can’t travel without?

Marilyn

Nail Polishes For Summer

Hi all,

If you know me at all, you know that I’m obsessed with nail polish and I’m always looking for new shades to try out. Since the official start of summer is in two days, I thought I’d share some of my favourite ones that are absolutely perfect for summer!

  1. Essie Gel Couture- Labels Only (#200)IMG_5258
  2. Essie Gel Couture: Signature Smile (#230)IMG_5249
  3. Essie: Mint Candy AppleIMG_5273
  4. Essie: The It-Factor (#300)IMG_5274

Do you have a favourite polish colour?

Thanks for reading!

Marilyn

Father’s Day Gift Ideas

Hi all,

With Father’s day in less than a week, I wanted to share some ideas for quick, yet meaningful gifts. Some of these can be made yourself at a very reasonable cost!

  1. Personalized mug- You can go to a ceramic cafe and paint your own (this does take longer though since they have to “cook” it) or you can buy a plain mug and decorate it yourself with some paint and paint pens.
  2. Picnic- By this time, we should be experiencing summer weather, which is perfect for a picnic. You can grab his favourite food and drinks and set up at a nice park, or even by the water. You can also try to find a spot that is near an ice cream parlour so you can grab a treat afterwards 😉
  3. Personalized t-shirt: There are many places that will print whatever you want on a t-shirt for a reasonable price. You can kick it up a notch if your dad has a good sense of humour and have one of your inside jokes printed on it.
  4. Take him out to dinner: This one is a classic, but can allow you to spend some quality time over some good food.
  5. Do one of his favourite activities with him: Does he like to fish? Kayak? Run? Offer to accompany him when he does one of his activities; he will love that you’re interested in what he’s doing! You could also offer to take him out for a drink or a meal afterwards.

I hope that this was helpful! What are you planning on getting/doing for your dad for Father’s Day?

Marilyn

Travel Outfit Ideas

Hi all,

I love to travel and I love everything that has to do with travelling, including outfit planning! When I’m travelling by plane, I love to be comfortable but also look somewhat put together. Here are three outfit ideas that I would wear (and have worn!).

1. Total Comfort.

This outfit is perfect for long haul flights, especially those that are overnight. You’ll feel like you’re in your pyjamas and you’ll be able to fall right asleep. I always travel with a sweater on the plane because a) I get cold and b) it doesn’t take up room in my suitcase.

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Leggings: Champion.

T-shirt: GAP Factory.

Sweater: GAP Factory (this is a similar one).

Shoes: Nike Tanjun (bought at Famous Footwear).

 

2. Comfortable but work appropriate.

This one would be great if you’re going on a business trip and will be making an appearance at the office or at a client’s shortly after getting off the plane. The jeans are very comfortable (and affordable!) and the jean jacket makes for a put together look. Plus, it doesn’t take up unnecessary space in your suitcase.

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Jean jacket: Reitmans.

Jeans: Forever 21.

Flats: DSW (similar ones).

T-shirt: GAP Factory.

3. For vacation.

I love to travel in maxi dresses when I’m going on a beach vacation because it gets me in the vacation mode and it covers my legs so I don’t get cold on the plane. I always like to bring either a cardigan or little jacket with me even on beach vacations just in case, so I paired the dress with my jean jackets, so it once again doesn’t take up space in my suitcase (do you see a pattern here?).

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Dress: Shein.com

Jean jacket: Reitmans.

Sandals: Steve Madden bought at TJ Maxx. These are similar ones.


Thanks for checking it out! What’s your favourite travel outfit?

Marilyn

Review of Pretty Happy: Healthy Ways To Love Your Body by Kate Hudson

Hi all,

I just wanted to share my thoughts/a quick review of the book Pretty Happy by Kate Hudson. Lately, I’ve been feeling like I just want to get to my healthiest self possible and focus on my body and mind. I heard some great things about this book so I decided to give it a read.

Writing Style

I found that the book is written in a very informal way, as if she was perhaps writing to one of her friends. I’m honestly not sure how I feel about this. On one hand, you feel like you can establish a “real” connection with her, but on the other, it just feels like it lacks professionalism. Also, you can very easily tell which parts she did not write. There’s some “scientific” jargon spread throughout, but I don’t think that it was very well integrated with the rest of her words. I felt like there was a clear cut, or break, in the paragraph when they had to explain something scientific. I have to admit though, this did get better as the book went on. I felt like there was a different between the beginning and end of the book in terms of the writing.

Helpful?

Although I’m not a huge fan of the writing aspect of the book, I did find she brought up some interesting points. I love what she says about Alkaline foods and I’m definitely going to try that out. I love that she (repeatedly) speaks about tuning into your body to find out what works best for you and makes you the happiest. I have to admit that since reading it, I’ve really tried to be more attentive to how my body responds to certain activities or foods.

I was apprehensive about the meditation part of the book, especially because prior to delving into it, she hinted at some spiritual terms. I was sure it was going to be all about spirituality but I was wrong. Although interesting, meditation is the one thing from the book that I have the most trouble applying to my life. One thing I did start doing, however, is taking a few minutes each night to reflect on my day and how certain things made me feel. I’m thinking that can be my kind of meditation?

The Drawing Board

She speaks about this numerous times, but I have to admit, I just don’t get it… She refers to it as a blue print of your body, so you can learn to adapt to its ever-changing needs. She says that she writes everything down in a journal. While I get the concept, I just think it seems kind of complicated. So every time you have a good or bad reaction to something, you write it down so that you’re able to look back on it and remind yourself to not do it again? Am I crazy, why am I not getting this?!

Bottom Line

All in all, I do think that it’s an interesting book that’s worth a read. I think it’s always great to constantly be seeing things from various points of view so as to open our mind and broaden our horizons. I did learn quite a few new things in regards to foods and nutrition and I was able to learn how to tune into my body.

Also, the hardcover would make for a great coffee table book; it’s really nice! Although, if you don’t care about aesthetics, I would recommend that you get it in paperback; it’s much less expensive (and a lot lighter).


I hope you enjoyed reading this review! Have any of you read this book? If so what were your thoughts on it? I’d love to read your comments below!

Marilyn

Money-Saving Travel Tips

Hi all,

This is the second year in a row that Michael and I have gone to Europe for our summer vacation so we’ve definitely learned a few things while planning both trips. I thought I’d share some of my tips to help you save money in certain areas to be able to put more in another, or just to save money in general. Here we go!

  1. Book non-refundable flights- If you’re 100% sure of your travel dates/plans, book these flights as they tend to be cheaper than refundable tickets.
  2. Book non-refundable hotel rooms- Once again, if you’re sure of your travel plans, make sure you choose the non-refundable option. On hotel booking websites such as Expedia, Hotels.com, Trivago, etc, you always have the option of choosing the non refundable rate, which is always less expensive.
  3. Don’t choose advanced seat selection- We always do this because I prefer to have the peace of mind knowing that I already have a seat next to who I’m traveling with but if it’s not a necessity for you- don’t do it. You could save a good $120, depending on the airline.
  4. Don’t stay in the city centre- This depends on what you want to do/get out of your vacation, but if your main goal is to save money, choose a hotel that isn’t in the main centre of the city, as these tend to be more expensive. For example, for our hotel in Athens, we chose one that is about 5km from the Acropolis and only paid $40 a night!
  5. Take public transit- Taxis can get so expensive, especially if you’re in a busy city and get stuck in traffic. It’s best to take the bus/metro as this usually costs only a couple of dollars per ride, depending on the city.
  6. Book your hotel on Hotels.com- We’ve used this website for the first time while planning our trip to Greece and it’s been awesome. When you sign up for an account, you can start collecting nights. Once you’re at 10 nights booked on the website, you get the 11th for free (the value is the average of the amount you spent on your 10 nights). The nights can accumulate quickly, especially if you’re planning a Europe trip. You get the free night once your 10th night stay is complete. Since we haven’t travelled to Greece yet, we don’t have the free night in the account yet, but I will most likely write another post reviewing our experience with Hotels.com once we can use our free night.
  7. Find hotels that have breakfast included- Some hotels will have breakfast included, which is great because you can save some money on a meal. I only think this is worth it if it’s truly included in the cheapest rate and not if you have to pay an extra to get the breakfast, because the extra is usually more than what a decent breakfast elsewhere would cost.
  8. Don’t eat out at every meal- Once again, this totally depends on your vacationing preferences. We like to eat out all the time on vacation but if you want to save money, don’t eat out at every meal. You can go to a grocery store and get things to make your lunches; sandwiches, salads, etc. and only have to eat out at dinner. Plus if you can get breakfast included at your hotel, you only have to eat out for one meal a day.

Here are some of the things that I think are worth splurging on:

  • Room with a view: if you’re going somewhere that is known for its view, such as Santorini, I think it’s worth it to spend a little bit more money here to get a room with a beautiful view and cut back on a hotel elsewhere where the view isn’t as important.
  • Unique dining experience: we’ll be in Athens and we’ve decided that one night we will be eating at a restaurant with a rooftop so that we can have a view of the Acropolis. This is obviously not a necessity, but while we’re there, we think it would be really nice to take advantage of this view.

What I don’t think is worth splurging on:

  • First class flights: unless you can truly afford it, I don’t think that travelling first class is worth spending an exorbitant amount of money on. Unless you’re on an 18-hour flight, I don’t think that it’s truly necessary.
  • Lavish hotels: this obviously depends on your preference, but I don’t think that splurging on a fancy hotel is worth it, especially if you’re visiting Europe. You’ll be so busy exploring that you’re basically only going to use your room to sleep. As I wrote above, I do think however that a room with a nice view is a good splurge.

Thanks for reading & I hope that this will be useful to some of you!

Do you have any tips that help you save money when you travel? I’d love to know, write them below!

Marilyn