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December 28, 2016

Money Saving Challenge 2017


The end of 2016 is rapidly approaching and honestly....thank goodness. A lot has happened this year, both good and bad, and I'm ready for a completely new start! Along with pretty much the rest of the planet, I've been making some resolutions for 2017 when the good folks over at Earnest, the loan refinancing company, suggested taking on their money saving challenge for the new year! As a college freshman, I've never had more financial responsibility than I do right now. As such, I need to start stepping up and not splurging all my money on, say, that online flash sale or the milkshake machine at Wawa. So without further ado, this is the Money Saving Challenge 2017! Are you willing to undertake the challenge?
Earnest split 2017 into quarters and has set financial goals for each month. (All the goals are broken down in the graphics from Earnest for quick reminders!) For January, they suggest splitting a possible holiday bonus into thirds, which is a great challenge! Now, if you're like me and don't have a bonus coming, here's an alternative challenge: try cutting out one service you don't really use or one that isn't a necessity. This means Netflix or cable, Pandora radio, food delivery instead of grocery shopping etc. This might be difficult at first, but your bank account will thank you!

In February, Earnest suggests taking a 30 day break from your favorite coffee shop and brew at home. This is the perfect opportunity to kick that caffeine-infused Starbucks habit that you swear you don't have. And we're not suggesting going without, just try breaking out your neglected Keurig and get sipping!

The tip for the month of March is actually one of my personal financial resolutions for the year: stop online shopping (for at least one month)! Nothing gets me going like seeing the words FLASH SALE pop up in my inbox and nothing de-stresses me more than clicking the ORDER button so it's pretty safe to say I'm an online shopping addict. I really need to start curbing this habit--if only for that extra Wawa money!


In April, Earnest suggests splitting your tax return into thirds (much like your holiday bonus). If you're like me and have never had a tax return or aren't expecting a big one, here's an alternative challenge: create (and contribute to!) an emergency fund for yourself. Now, an emergency fund and a savings account are often seen as the same thing but I suggest splitting them because, if you're like me, you sometimes dip into your savings to tide you over until the end of the month. By creating an untouchable, strictly-emergencies-only fund you will always have money for the unpredictable moments in life.

In May, Earnest suggests bringing a bagged lunch to the office for 30 days. I brought my lunch to school everyday throughout high school--always leftovers from last nights dinner. (Leftovers are always better anyway) Brownbag it for a month and see how much those daily visits to the taco truck are taking a toll on your bank account (not to mention your waistline)! If you're in college, like me, I suggest an amended version of this challenge: stop late night deli or snack bar runs and instead stock up on (healthier?) definitely cheaper alternatives during a weekly or biweekly grocery store run. 

June is again one of my own financial resolutions: cut eating-out expenses back to a maximum of one per week! Yes, I have a meal plan that is more than enough to get me through week to week but dining hall food is notoriously repetitive and sometimes I tire of the same options. This is why Panera Bread delivery has been both a blessing and a curse. By limiting myself to only ordering in once a week, at a maximum, I'm forcing myself to really reconsider my food priorities and stand back in line for the salad bar.

For the month of July, Earnest suggests evaluating your debt and considering refinancing any loans you may have--perhaps with Earnest! Perfect for refinancing your student or personal loans, Earnest offers dedicated service that cuts out the middle man--Earnest is with you until your loan is fully repaid! With Earnest, if you lose your job, you can have your payments postponed for a total of 12 months. Earnest looks at more than just your credit score and debt level, taking into account your education and employment histories among other information. Check out this article comparing Earnest to other student loan refinancers, and check out Earnest at Earnest.com for all your refinancing needs! (All this information I researched and found on my own from a 3rd party site and was not given to me by representatives of Earnest.com)

For the month of August, try taking a 30 day break from your favorite happy hour spot! This could be the perfect opportunity to brush up on your bartending skills! As someone under 21, I can't actually enjoy happy hour for a few more years so I can amend this challenge into: take a break from your favorite lunch/takeout spot! Go cold turkey for a full 30 days, sticking solely to your meal plan or your grocery store buys. Make yourself a weekly meal plan, buy a lunchbox, and get ready to restore your bank account! If you follow my June challenge, that will surely prepare you for August.

My challenge for the month of September is to dedicate increasing amounts of money to your savings account (or emergency fund!). Start with something simple like 1 dollar the first week, amp it up to 5 the next week, 10 the next etc. Challenge yourself to transfer as much money as possible into your savings--and then don't touch it! This might mean one less Grande Frappuccino or a few fewer trips to 7/11 (or, in my case, Wawa).

In October, try creating a holiday budget that includes everything from travel to food and gifts! Your annual Halloween raging bash? Budget it in before the holiday shows up so there are no surprises in your account and you can focus on the quality instead of the quantity. If you budget out holiday gifts you can make sure to get something for everyone on your list without feeling overwhelmed by your credit card statements. (Pssst, if you need help understanding credit cards and finance in general check out my post here, and if you need help budgeting I've got the post for you right here)

For November, challenge yourself to take the month off and stop shopping for yourself! Of course, continue to buy yourself groceries, toilet paper, shampoo--things we all can't (and shouldn't) live without. But as the holidays approach and you're undoubtedly spending a significant portion of your paycheck on gifts for others, save the boots that you absolutely-cannot-live-without for next month. Better yet--put them on your holiday wish list and maybe Santa will surprise you!

Finally, in December, my fourth and final personal financial resolution for 2017: set a maximum amount on all of your spending by maintaining a minimum balance in your checking account. Force yourself to stay above a certain line--for me, setting my minimum balance at $50 for the month would be a good challenge. A great way to check your 'accidental' spending, forcing yourself to stay above a certain number forces you to pay attention to what you're spending your money on and reprioritize. 

There you have it! Inspired by Earnest.com, here is the Money Saving Challenge 2017! Will you be undertaking the challenge? Let's chat about it in the comments or on any of my Social pages!

xx

I did not receive any compensation for this post from Earnest.com or their affiliates and all opinions stated within this post are, as always, my own.
December 14, 2016

My Christmas List 2016

'Tis the season of loving those around you, being extra nice to everybody, and giving gifts! I love giving gifts, especially when I know the person will love what I got them! It's priceless to see the look on someone's face when they open a gift that reminded you of them. So, to possibly give you ideas about what to get that special tea-drinking, Golden Girls-watching, travel blogger in your life, here is my Christmas List 2016! (Feel free to steal some stuff off of it, I know you'll want to!)


Camera lens // After a heavy bit of research (aka endless scrolling through my favorite bloggers' FAQ pages), I found my dream gift that goes at the top of my wish list....this pancake lens! I love taking pictures of my food in restaurants, but I'm also embarrassed and feel very tourist-y taking my camera with its normal big lens into the restaurant! A pancake lens, that works for close and far away, solves all of my problems!
Retails on BestBuy.com for $110.99 (currently on sale!)

Boots! // I blogged about these boots in my November Favorites and for a good reason! I'm in love with these thigh-high crushed blue velvet masterpieces. I may not be able to walk very far in them, but I will stand and/or sit damn pretty in these boots from Asos!
Retails on Asos.com for $83.00

Golden Girls mug // If you didn't already know, I may be one of the biggest Golden Girls fans ever. Turned onto the show in my middle school years I have seen every episode multiple times, enough to point out when something is edited for TV, all the available bloopers, reunions etc. I have a book called "Golden Girls Forever". I'm hooked! So this #squadgoals mug of the Girls was an immediate addition to my Christmas list. 
Sold by an Etsy Shop that is currently on break! :(

Golden Girls script // Continuing with my love for anything and everything Golden Girls (my friend Jess got me a Golden Girls Rose figurine for Christmas and I cried), a special Etsy shop sells signed scripts of several different TV shows and movies. There is a Golden Girls episode signed script and I would probably scream if someone gave this to me for Christmas.....
Sold by the Hollywood Finds Etsy shop for $18.95

Measuring Cups set // I love to bake (and love sharing my recipes with you here on the blog!) but I found out the hard way that baking in the dorm kitchen is not easy stuff. This is why I'm asking for basically a full set of cooking and baking stuff for Christmas....including these absolutely adorable measuring cups! Anthropolgie is the store of my soul and if I wasn't a broke college student I would definitely shop there more!
Retails on Anthropologie.com for $48.00

Makeup palette // Ashley Tisdale, aka Queen of my childhood as Maddie on Suite Life and as Sharpay in all the High School Musicals, has founded a makeup company: Illuminate by Ashley. Of course, the woman is gorgeous so I had to check it out and not only do I love the products, they're all-vegan, non-animal tested, and help you keep your beach goddess vibe all year round! Plus, the cheek and eye palette that I'm drooling over with 12 colors is well within my budget at under $15!
Retails on IlluminateCosmetics.com for $12.50 (currently on sale!)

MAC Lipstick // Once described to me as the most universally flattering red lipstick shade, this MAC Ruby Woo lipstick found its way onto my Christmas list. I've been wanting to experiment with red lipstick for a while but as a very pale & very blonde person I was worried that I would come off more vampire-like than intended. I've decided to take the leap and placed this Ruby Woo MAC lipstick shade on my list. 
Retails on Nordstrom.com for $17.00

Gift cards! // Last but not least the gift I hate giving but love to receive...gift cards! Oh how can I count the ways I could use gift cards as a broke college student. Specifically I've requested Forever 21, Target, Dominos Pizza, Panera Bread, Wawa Convenience Market, Amazon, and iTunes gift cards. (But I'm not picky :)

xx

That's my Christmas List 2016! What's on your Christmas list? Do you like giving gifts or getting gifts better? Let's chat in the comments! (Or on social media--let's be friends on Twitter and Instagram)
December 7, 2016

More Songs From My Best Friend!

This playlist is a little bit different from the others I’ve done, because in the past few weeks, I’ve been exploring a new genre that’s proved to be very, very therapeutic in these times of stress and disillusionment (*cough* college *cough* election). It turns out that naming this genre can get pretty tricky. It’s like EDM and house or progressive house. I don’t know. I’m new. But this kind of music is becoming more and more prominent these days, and for good reason. I know some people like to go, “It’s just noise, what happened to music?” Those people are boring.

Photo creds to aLive Coverage for ElectricZooFestival.com

Walking With Lions — Codeko ft. Raphaella
This song was apparently the official anthem for a music festival, and it is so GRAND and so LIT. (K's note: Official anthem of the Electric Zoo music festival which looks SO AMAZING also this song also makes you feel like you're standing on top of the world so definite new fave)

Indian Summer — Jai Wolf
I first heard this on How to Get Away With Murder, and for whatever reason I just loved it, and so began my love affair with Jai Wolf.

With You — Jai Wolf 
Ahhhhh I’m not sure what I can say about this song aside from the fact that I love it so, so much and that it reminds me of summer and makes me want to dance. 

Whole Heart — Gryffin & Bipolar Sunshine
I think I first heard this on some ex-Bachelorette’s Instagram which is embarrassing but then I heard it again while exploring the Proximity YouTube channel. It’s so big and grand, a daydream-esque song that’ll bring all kinds of art and beauty back into your head. 

Love On Me — Galantis & Hook N Sling
THIS SONG IS SUNSHINE. (K's note: also the music video is an explosion of color and takes place in Thailand--must watch!)

Artist interpretation of Jai Wolf's logo (artist creds here)

Sober (ft. JRY) — DJ Snake
This is by the same man behind Let Me Love You featuring Justin Bieber, so it’s obvious gold.

Desire (Bunt Remix) — Years and Years
Happiness.

Parachute (P Williams Deep House Remix) — Jaymes Young
This song’s just one big fuck you and I live for it. 

Love Like We Used To — Captain Cuts (feat. Nateur)
Dis jam. You’re welcome.

Drive (feat. Chain Gang of 1974) — Jai Wolf

Here’s the third Jai Wolf song I’ve included on this playlist, and probably the one I think is most beautiful. People have said this is a song for driving around on a warm night, and I think that sums it up pretty well. It has proved to be the most therapeutic thing for me on some dull, artless days, because when I’m listening to it all my daydreams seem possible. AND I AM SEEING HIM LIVE THIS WEEK. Hope dis song makes your heart feel as full as it makes mine. 
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This post comes from my resident music expert, and best friend, Amrita! I always turn to her when I need new music in my life, and though we share a similar taste in music she'll always be 10x cooler than I am in this regard (and every aspect if I'm honest...) I've never been much into EDM/house music but this playlist is changing my mind with every song!

From A: There are some real diamonds you’ll find when you give new things a shot. These songs have become the soundtrack of my life lately. I also want to note that I wish I’d discovered these songs in the summer rather than the fall. I hope they do for you what they’ve done for me. <3

Wanna be a contributor? Let's chat! bombshelltobeblogger@gmail.com
November 30, 2016

November Favorites

This laugh-out-loud, blubber-cry Netflix series
Grace and Frankie are two ladies in their golden years whose husbands of 40 years dump them for each other. This leaves Grace and Frankie left picking up the pieces of their shattered marriages and figuring out how to live as singles. This show is not only good for genuine laughs, but for heartfelt sentiment as well. As one of the biggest Golden Girls fans ever, this show really appealed to me and I love the way Netflix is handling issues like gay marriage and aging in a society that emphasizes the need for youth. This show packs a powerful emotional punch that will keep you reaching for the tissues constantly--both tears of joy and heartbreak.
Find Grace and Frankie on Netflix

This gut wrenching book from Donna Tartt (her first in 11 years!)
This book is a lot. It's a lot emotionally, it's several hundred pages long....it's just a lot. The Goldfinch tells the story of Theodore Decker who survives a museum bombing and begins on a long, at times, depressing journey--all while tied to this stolen Goldfinch painting. I'm not even through with this book yet and I already know it's going on my Classics/Favorites shelf. Recommended to me by a friend, and now I'm recommending it to you.
You can find The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt on Barnes & Noble.com

The Batong Boys, aka BTS: one of the most popular K-pop boy bands
K-pop has become more popular in the Western world as of late, but spending my high school years in Asia it was everywhere! I even met a K-pop star once, in an airport on a school trip. I didn't know who they were exactly but it was a thrilling experience nevertheless. I more recently stumbled upon "Save Me" by BTS--and instantly fell in love. This song has been on repeat for weeks and weeks now. I highly suggest checking out the rest of their work (and try to not fall in love with Taehyung and Jimin, the way I did ahem)
You can find BTS on iTunes

When I had the opportunity to try this famed fast food place for the first time when I visited Mom in Nevada, you best believe I jumped at it. As a vegetarian, there isn't an option for me technically, but their not-so-secret menu revealed that ordering a grilled cheese was a popular vegetarian option. I'm not exaggerating when I say that this grilled cheese sandwich....was one of the best of my entire life. Mom, resident carnivore, liked that all the ingredients tasted fresh and more natural than other fast food joints, and her order of animal-style fries were gone in seconds. All in all, In-n-Out deserves all the hype it gets and I'll definitely be returning anytime I'm on the West Coast.
Find the closest In-n-Out to you here

These thigh-high blue velvet boots from ASOS
Hi I'm Kate and I'm a boot-aholic. The minute I spotted these crushed blue velvet beauties they made it onto my Christmas list and I've been drooling over them ever since. They come in this color (that makes Elvis proud) as well as in black (sold out at the moment). They have half sizes available....and they're currently on sale at Asos.com!
You can find these boots here on Asos.com for $58.00 USD
November 14, 2016

9 Ways to Improve Your Life Right Now

The holidays are approaching and though they are my favorite time of year, they often indicate the most stressful time of the year. School is stressful with exams, the end of the quarter is approaching at work, and trying to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list is definitely trying. With all this in mind, here are my 9 ways to improve your life right now.

clean // all that clutter in your room, apartment, house, garage, car etc. is not just cluttering up your space it's cluttering up your mind as well! If you take the time, an hour, a day, however long you need, to clean out your space you will feel so much better about approaching the other stressful aspects about life. Plus, it's just much easier to relax in a space where everything is tidy.

get ahead // if you can prepare for that presentation, paper, proposal, concert now, you won't have to stress about it when you have less time and more responsibilities. Believe me, procrastination is enemy #1 when it comes to being stressed out. Even just jotting down a quick outline for that task and working on it a bit everyday will take so much weight off your mind!

treat yourself // my personal favorite way to de-stress! Treat yourself to a day of doing nothing, a day of movies and junk food, a sleepover with friends, a special outing with your besties, or a day at the spa! Sneak off and get a pedicure or a massage after a grueling day or take a Saturday, invite your best friends, and plan to not budge from your sofa for as long as possible. Friends + food is the best stress-busting combination.

get exercise // as much as I hate to admit it sometimes, Mom is always right when she suggests doing some exercise to help solve my problems. We all know that "exercise releases endorphins blah blah blah" but the real trick is that if you work out extra hard then you feel extra kick-ass and that will prepare you to tackle anything stressful in your path. 

read a book // taking time away from a screen and reminding yourself why you love reading is a great way to beat stress. I find I don't have a lot of time to read if I don't specifically set a time where there is nothing else I should be/want to be doing and just read. Pick up a random new book, get a recommendation from a friend, check bestseller lists, or even read an old favorite! Just sit and read for a chapter or three it will calm you right away. (Bonus relaxation points if you read in the bath)
go out with friends // after a stressful week, month, or semester sometimes there's nothing better than going out and cutting lose with your closest friends. In high school, our after-prom party was at a club and the entire grade was so grateful to cut loose after the grueling month of IB exams. At college there are plenty of parties available to cut loose when you need it, and as an adult you and your friends can hit any bar or club any weekend you want!

head outdoors // if you don't have the time for a full treat yourself day, or even a night to go out, a nice walk outside can do wonders for your stress levels! Take a stroll through a park, up and down the street, through a farmers market, or down a walking path with your four-legged pals, with a friend, or even alone. Being in nature will refresh your mind and a bit of exercise will prepare you to tackle whatever is stressing you. 

unplug // social media, instant news updates, a cacophony of sounds and video assaults us constantly these days. Unplugging completely by turning your phone off, not just silencing it, and turning off the TV and laptops/tablets for the night will greatly decrease your stress levels, and help you sleep a lot better.

take a nap // sleep is one of the best ways to recharge your batteries! Whenever I feel like something is too difficult to finish or I'm getting frustrated because something isn't working the way I expected it to, I usually take a 40-60 minute nap. It's a simple way to refresh your mind and get you back on track. Now, napping is not to replace an entire nights' sleep and I never recommend pulling an all-nighter, but napping? I'll always recommend napping.

xx

What are your tiny tricks to improving your life?
November 9, 2016

My Open Letter to Every Trump Supporter


I don't get very political on my blog. I don't think it serves any purpose usually, and usually I'm not feeling as much about it as I am today. So, this is going to be a departure from my usual due to the election that occurred in America last night. Please feel free to leave comments supporting any political view or ideal, I would love to have a discussion about this. But please note that any comment that is degrading or rude will be deleted.
November 2, 2016

October Favorites

These Halloween bat balloons from ModCloth
Happy November 2nd! I don't know about you but I like to stock up on everything Halloween related these few days after the holiday. Everything's on sale! Halloween candy, dresses, costumes, accessories...and these balloons!
Normally retailing for $19.99 these fun bat balloons are only $11.99 right now on ModCloth.com!

Greeting cards from Papyrus
I'm a sucker for getting mail the old-fashioned way. Since I've been off to college, Mom has been sending me a few random cards here and there--and it really makes my whole day when I get them! Papyrus is one of my favorite greeting card companies (you can get the card pictured above here) and I love all of their cute designs! Take this as a sign to send someone you've been thinking about lately a funny Thanksgiving card!
Most Papyrus cards retail around $5

These bat, stars, and moon tights from ASOS
In keeping with the Halloween-related sales, these absolutely adorable tights are on sale! Because Halloween was a Monday this year, a lot of people didn't wear their costumes on the actual day. If you're someone who isn't entirely comfortable wearing your sexy T-Rex costume to the office or to class, you can always slip into a pair of tights like these to keep the spooky theme with you all day!
These tights are on sale on asos.com for $8.50

"Chronic" by Phoebe Ryan
This hazy, sweet-as-sugar song belongs at the top of your playlist for the next month. If you're not a winter fan, this song will definitely have you dreaming of spring break. The retro beat is perfect for everything--from rollerblading down the boardwalk to doing homework in your room. You'll have it on your mind, promise.
Find Phoebe Ryan's Chronic on youtube.com here

This ugly Chimney Santa sweater from Forever 21
Now, I know I told you I'm stocking up on my Halloween supplies for next year. And that's true! But as soon as the clock hit midnight on Monday, I was ready for the holiday season. There's no better way to get ready for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, or New Years than to partake in the ugly sweater tradition! Ugly sweaters are a staple of this time, and this year Forever 21 has a whole line of them!
This Chimney Santa sweater retails on forever21.com for $24.90
October 31, 2016

Halloween 2016


Happy Halloween everyone! This year truthfully I was planning on doing a huge Oceans 11-esque shoot with 11 of my friends all dolled up with code names and jobs and everything! The day itself came and...well...we were all really tired that day! Instead Jess, Tessa, and I decided to dress up on the actual day of Halloween and an impromptu photo shoot followed! Happy Halloween from Miss Fire, Teacup, and Master K!
Our hardened criminal Teacup
A duel between the sniper and the boss; Miss Fire and Master K
A cow, an elephant, and a unicorn crashed our shoot!

Hope y'all have a great Halloween 2016!

xx

What did you dress up as this year? Do you like Halloween or could you live without it? Let's chat in the comments!

PS Check out some of these photos on my Instagram!