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My Confession

I just finished watching “Confessions of a Shopaholic.”  And I liked it.  Mostly.  If you haven’t seen it, don’t worry, you’ll catch on Smartypants.

Per my sister’s recommendation, I broke down and rented this movie from the library (no way was I paying the $1 for Redbox).  Being a chick flick, there was the inevitable hunky love interest, wacky best friend, and awkward comedy scenes.  Despite its predictability, the financial message of this movie was actually positive.  Once I got past the unwatchable shopping spree scenes, I began to understand that this film is simply a satire of today’s materialistic society.  Am I stretching here?  You bet.  But there’s an opportunity for learning everywhere.  If you’re worried about spoilers, you can figure the whole movie out by reading the back cover.

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Article publié pour la première fois le 28/06/2010

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Spending Under Pressure

This past weekend Husband, Friend and I visited the “grassy knoll” where JFK was shot.  My nerdy camera around my neck, I stopped to read a historical plaque.  As I read, behind me Husband and Friend were approached by a man in a fanny pack (I should realized right then and there that something was amiss, my mother taught me never to trust men with fanny packs).

Fanny Pack Man (FPM from here on out) pointed out the window where Oswald shot from and told me mumbled to me that the view was better for picture-taking across the street.  Clearly it was, so us three adults, oddly plus one FPM, crossed to get a better look.  

Once across, FPM’s intentions became apparent as he gave us a mini-lecture about the scene in front of us.  He pointed out the marks that indicated where the gun shots hit.  He relayed the different conspiracy theories.  He wanted money

At the end of his half-mumbled, semi-informative speech, FPM delivered a time-perfected line that in effect told us we owed him $5 a pop for the presentation.  I like to say we got “Mariachi Banded” (common where we used to live in south Texas) – we received a service we didn’t ask for and were then told to pay up.  

Much to my dismay Friend and Husband reached for their wallets.  Gasp.  The rest happened in slow motion. 

*Re-reading that last sentence, I realize I might have given the impression that we were in danger.  No, we were not being robbed, at least not literally.*


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Article publié pour la première fois le 06/09/2010

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Money Love – Part One

Money is the root of all evil.  The love of money is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10). This frequently misquoted biblical reference is what I’m thinking about today.  

If money were the root of all evil, that would sure be an easy enough problem to solve: just burn all the money.  Bam!  No more evil.  Though, you might have some Federal laws with which to contend.

Unfortunately, the problem is infinitely more complicated.  Love is a human emotion and you cannot burn emotions, at least that I know of.  Although, some emotions may lead to burning sensations…

Moving on.

The topic infiltrated my brain after reading this article in the Charlotte Observer.  In their “Young Voices” forum, the Observer poses questions to young persons, obviously, college aged and under.  Here’s how they phrased September 13th’s question: 

Does happiness or satisfaction with life come with a price-tag? Evangelist David Platt says we should all live on no more than $50,000 and give away what’s left. A new study in Time magazine says $75,000 is the benchmark for happiness. What do you think? Has too much emphasis been placed on material possessions?

You may argue that it’s nonsensical to analyize the thoughts of these immature (intended in the clinical sense of the word, not as an insult) minds.  Teenagers frequently do things that don’t make any sense: they jump off of buildings, they consume massive amounts of carbohydrates without gaining a pound, THEY LIKE THE JONAS BROTHERS.

So why am I taking note of their financial inclings?  Because kids are like sponges: they collect germs and they absorb things, like what adults say for example. 

I can picture an adult I know saying every single one of these statements and, in some cases, that annoys me.


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Article publié pour la première fois le 27/09/2010

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Last time, I talked about how to save money on more expensive makeup. Now we’re going to talk about how to stretch the life of that makeup and other beauty products. After all, if you’re going to spend the money, you want to make them last.

Here are a just a few of the ways I’ve found to increase the life of my makeup and save money in the process:

Use only what you need. Saying this reminds me of what Lone Star says to Princess Vespa “Take only what you need to survive” but it’s true. A little bit goes a long way, and the less you wear, the less you use. Also, by using less, you wind up enhancing your looks rather than looking like cast off from Ringling Bros. Clown School. As a subcategory to this, I suggest you only buy what are going to wear. While this doesn’t exactly stretch the life of your products, there’s no sense in buying neon yellow eye shadow just because you think you might wear it one day.

Pay attention to expiration dates. I didn’t know this until recently but you know that number on shampoo bottles and some perfumes that is typically on the back of the bottle, under the ingredients? That’s an expiration date. Typically, these dates are on products that are more plant-based or natural based (think Aveda or The Body Shop). It’s really important to pay attention to these for a few reasons. One, you don’t want to use an expired product because you don’t know the effect it can have on your skin or hair. Two, you want to make sure that you finish the product before it expires; if you can’t finish the product before the expiration date, you’ve wasted money.  And three, the expiration date will affect the frequency with which you use a product (ex., if I have a foundation with a 6 month shelf-life, I’m going to buy a smaller bottle and use it every day).

Squeeze out every last drop. I’m not suggesting that you water down your shampoo or cut open a tube of toothpaste but turning a bottle upside down does stretch the life of a product. I do this with my lotion from Bath and Body Works. By doing this, I have been able to use a bottle for at least a week (or more!) longer. I’ve also opened my foundation bottle and been able to access what was left in the bottle that the little straw thing couldn’t get to. At $29.50 a bottle, you can bet I’m getting out every last drop! This post also has some great ways to get that last bit.

Buy the right tools. I know this seems counter intuitive in a post about saving money but if you have good brushes or a good base and top coat, you will be surprised not only at how long your makeup and nail polish will last, post-application but it stretches the life of the products as well. I recently bought a great base coat for my nail polish and now I can go about 10-14 days in between doing my nails. This means that my nail polish is going to last longer, saving me money.

Store your makeup appropriately. It’s crucial that you make sure your makeup and nail polish are stored accordingly. Leaving $15 lip stick in a hot car is not only a bad idea but it’s a huge pain to clean up. If your makeup is stored incorrectly, it can compromise the integrity of the product leading to breakouts or something worse.  Additionally, by storing your makeup in the right places, it can stretch the life of the product far beyond what you would typically think (ex., storing nail polish, upright, in the fridge will reduce discoloration).

What tips do you have for saving money and making your beauty products last? 

Article publié pour la première fois le 07/02/2012


Got Lemons?

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade and a bunch of other great stuff!  Lemons are truly a super fruit, they are actually kind of my hero.  I know they seem summery but because of the many types of lemons out there that bloom and ripen at different times they are actually a year-round fruit– Valentine’s, Christmas, whatever. I really don’t know why old-timey children used to freak for joy when they got an orange in their stockings (it was pretty much like getting the hottest new video game before it even hit stores).  I would have preferred its sunny sour cousin.  Lemons are beautiful, versatile, and best of all (landing them a spot on this blog) cheap.  Because you may receive a box of lemons as a Christmas gift from your uncle in San Diego, or maybe you are in the right area and have them growing in your backyard I am going to share some clever uses for them.

Lemons are medicine, cleaner, disinfectant, beauty treatment, food and drink– Just to name a few uses. Lucky for us they are available worldwide and they are pretty much dirt cheap. From lemons you can extract an essential oil.  They are attractive as home decor.  What is more welcoming than a sunny kitchen with a bowl of smiling lemons?  Put a slice in a cup of tea with some honey to sooth a cold.  Use the zest or a few drops of juice in cake recipes. Obviously you can squeeze them to use the juice for lemonade.  Chefs around the world always have lemons on hand for endless uses in cooking or just a pretty garnish for food or cocktails.  Try lemon juice as a disinfectant or to help remove a stain.  The best and safest way to clean a wooden cutting board and disinfect it is by rubbing is with half a lemon maybe add some coarse salt to really scrub off food bits.  Instead of using bleach for stains or cleaning the sink some use a mixture of lemon juice and baking soda.  Half a lemon in the refrigerator or dishwasher eliminates bad odors and keeps appliances smelling fresh.  Lemons are a source of citric acid which is used as a natural preservative– try lemon juice on sliced apples, avocado, and banana to prevent them from turning yucky brown. Plus, add a few drops of lemon to your fruit and give it a little kick of flavor too.  The lemon’s pith and peel yield pectin which is used in the food industry as a  thickener, emulsifier, and gelling agent.  Additionally there is and oil extracted from the peel that is used in the food pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries.  Translation for home use– lemons brighten up that blonde hair and make a good additive to a facial mask to perk you up.  Don’t forget that they will help you get your vitamin C!!!  They make great wood cleaner and polish.  Lemons dissolve old wax, fingerprints, and grime.  Would you believe they also make a wonderful nontoxic insecticide?  Heck, I even saw a science experiment involving lemons, electrodes and a wristwatch– those babies even produce electricity! The list of uses for lemons could go on and on because lemons truly are a colorful, flavorful, versatile, amazing fruit.

Are there any other lemon lovers out there?  What are your favorite ways to use them?

Article publié pour la première fois le 06/11/2012


Getting Started Forex Trading

Forex trading is the trading of currencies in the global commodities market.  It has become increasingly popular over the last few years as individuals have looked for alternative investments.  However, trading in the foreign exchange (Forex) market is very risky, and as such, you really need to practice and understand everything before you get started.

 The Forex Market

The Forex market is the decentralized market for trading currencies.  The most common way this market exists is traditional currency exchanges for travel.  However, many traders and investors use this market to speculate on the movement of currencies in the marketplace.

The Forex market is unique because it is the largest market in the world by volume.  It is also has continuous trading during weekdays, which allows for trades to take place at any time.  Finally, the marketplace uses leverage, which can really enhance profits if the trade goes in the right direction (however, this is also what adds considerable risk to trading in the Forex Market).

The other great thing about the Forex market is the availability of information to traders.  Since currency rates are set by the central government, and policy decisions are public, traders have access to up to date information as soon as it is available.  This is different than many other types of securities.

Getting Started

To get started trading currencies in the Forex market, you should start with a practice account, such as the one provided by Alpari’s Forex trading platforms.  Having a practice account allows you to make Forex market trades without risking real money.  This can give you a feel for the market and the research available, without being on the hook for real money.

Practicing will give people like me the hands on experience without risking my hard earned money.  It also can help get my head around something new.  Overall, the idea of having a practice site for trading really would help me determine if Forex trading is for me or not.  Normally I stick with debt payoff, but something new could be good.

Once you feel comfortable with trading in the Forex market, you can use real money to buy a pair of currencies.  Remember to place limit orders on your trade because changes overnight can affect your position while you are sleeping and you could lose all your money.  Remember, your trades are leveraged, so this has a big implication on your position.

Article publié pour la première fois le 19/08/2012