Category: money and happiness

13 Ways To Buy Happiness For $5 Or Less

Can you buy happiness? That's debatable. You can, however, buy 1 of these 13 things that will brighten your day/life ... for less than $5. Click through for fun ideas! >>
Can you really buy happiness? No!  Of course, not!  Buuuut, it can buy you things that will temporarily entertain, feed, and/or enlighten you.

13 ways to buy happiness (or at least brighten your day) for $5 or less

1. One of those awesome multi-colored pens
You know, the kind you had in 4th grade?  And you used to write notes to your BFF about how cute Rick Burgstaler was?  And then you wouldn’t let anyone use the pink color because you were ‘saving’ it?  You can still get one and use it to take notes in work meetings or sign your rent checks in purple ink.
2. Redbox
If you’re one of the five people left in the world who don’t have Hulu+ or Netflix (or you actually enjoy the act of holding your video rental in your hand) check out a Redbox DVD.  Get something fluffy and awful that nobody will watch with you and watch every bit of it.  Even the special features.
3. Fancy soap
TJ Maxx and Marshalls always have giant bars of soap for $3 that smell like grapefruit + clean linens + rich people.  And who doesn’t want to smell like rich people for $3?
4. Shower steamer
Shower steamers are like a bath bomb for your shower – a ball of awesome (and essential oils) that’s released in the steam of your shower.  Lovely!
5. Ice cream cone
For $5 you can get quite a nice sized cone.  Try out a new flavor – Norwegian chai, cream cheese, sweet corn or cereal milk!
6. Tacky nail polish and DIY manicure
If you’re saving your pennies for a proper manicure, you probably want to choose a color that works in multiple environments – like the office and that wedding.  But if you’re doing it yourself, why not do neon green with rainbow sparkly ring fingers?
7. Fancy chocolate bar
You know, for the antioxidants.
8. Matinee at the cheapo theater
Second-run theaters are lovely!  You can finally see that silly movie you were too embarrassed to see when it came out.
9. Download your favorite can’t-help-but-dance-to-it songs
You know the ones.  The ones where you sing along in the car while fervently slapping the steering wheel?
10. One-use face mask
Squeeze it out, smear it on, put your feet up, and read a magazine.
11. Disposable camera
Because it’s oddly awesome to find out what your pictures look like several days after you take them.  Delayed gratification!  How novel!
12. A package of  your favorite childhood candy
For me, it’s Big League Chew or Fun Dip.  Maybe you love Red Vines or Fruit-by-the-foot?
13. Sparklers
They’re awesome any time of year, but oddly more awesome outside of the traditional fireworks holidays. (Here’s a great how-to on taking long exposure photos with sparklers!)

What are your favorite five dollar (or less!) day makers?

P.S. 23 ways to treat yourself that don’t involve buying or eating anything!

Photo by Keila Hötzel on Unsplash

10 Ways To Feel Rich (no matter your bank account balance)

Looking for ways to feel rich? Luxury doesn't have to cost a lot and money doesn't buy class. Click through for 10 budget-friendly ways to feel rich without spending a lot of money!
How does “being rich” feel? How does luxury and abundance feel in your skin? How does it look? The good news for all of us is that there are plenty of ways to feel rich, and most of them are available to us for less money than we’d expect. Today, Sarah McColl shares her favorite ways to feel rich.

Valuing a dollar, counting your pennies, stretching the last cent…it’s all fine and good until someone starts to feel punished.

Like being on an overly restrictive diet, unless you treat yourself along the way, you’re eventually going to gorge on spaghetti and meatballs until you need to go take your pants off. I myself have felt that my concern about money has become a little joyless lately.

But feeling rich, like anything, is in part a state of mind. Surrounding yourself with luxury that scratches that itch without sending you to the poor house is exactly the way to strike the balance of feeling like a have when really you don’t have a lot.

10 ways to feel rich no matter what your bank account says

Go to an elegant restaurant…for lunch

I’ll never forget the time a group of friends and I went to a French restaurant I’d been longing to visit that was a little pricey. It was tucked away on a leafy, residential street. Inside, tall windows surrounded a dining room, bare save for the wooden tables with thick, sturdy legs.

We enjoyed the bread basket, drank a carafe of the rough house red, and I ate a croque madame, oozy with egg yolk. We shared dessert, something chocolatey as I recall, and sat for a long while that afternoon finishing the wine in the early spring sunshine. To this day it was one of the best $20 I ever spent.

Step into a high-end boutique

Touch the clothes, appreciate the craftsmanship, try on whatever you like. Then breeze right out, unscathed.

Fill up your virtual shopping cart…and then close your browser

For me personally, this works much better than actually going into a store which will somehow inevitably make me feel bad about myself and angry at the world. I hit up Anthropologie, ShopBop, ModCloth, Nordstrom, or Sephora and load my shopping basket full of everything I want.

Then I look at the total — so glad I won’t be adding all those digits to my credit card — and close the computer. The end feeling is one that I got whatever I wanted and didn’t have to suffer the consequences.

Take yourself out for tea or cappuccino

And I don’t mean the kind you grab on the way to the subway. Go somewhere they will serve you in proper china with an adorable little spoon. Seat yourself at a table. Enjoy the ritual of the experience. Don’t read; just sit back and enjoy the aroma of your beverage, the hot cup in your hands, and the luxury of doing nothing.

Experience abundance

Have you ever gone to a store with just lots and lots of one thing? Plastic boxes deep with buttons that you can sink your hands into, a room ringed with bolts of colorful fabrics, shelves lined with bottles of wine, a flower shop filled with fragrant blooms.

Sometimes just experiencing abundance — even of something as unassuming as a ball of yarn — can give you a sense of abundance, and if you’re lucky, maybe even a bit of wonder.

Pick up perfume samples

I am experiencing a new obsession with perfume, and great perfumes are as complex and subtle as the best cheese and wine. What makes them even more fun, though, is how personal and evocative they are, and how they tap into imagination and fantasy.

Buy wee little samples of exquisite scents here, ask for free samples of your favorite at Sephora, or just read some of the best perfume blogs for a taste of olfactory luxury.

Buy a new lipstick

Isn’t there just something about the makeup counters in department stores? The sales associates are pleasantly fawning and all the glass and reflective surfaces evoke Grace Farrell’s dressing room. Walk away with a new lipstick and you may just feel like a new woman. Is there anything more glamorous than a bare face, a shock of red lipstick, and big sunglasses?

Get culturally rich

There are so many free programs at planetariums, libraries, book stores, and museums. You might be listening to a lecture about something a little (or a lot) esoteric — 15th century Provençal literary traditions or how printmaking has changed through the ages — but you’ll walk out with your knowledge base broadened and your experience of life enriched.

Get pampered on the cheap

There may not be an Aveda Institute near you, but there are certainly other schools for natural healers at which you can receive discounted treatments performed by students. Also, keep your eyes peeled for no-frills bodywork and reflexology places in your area.

Or do what the thriftiest of those in need of pampering do: take some beauty products to your gym (an exfoliating treatment, a thick body butter, a facial mask) and turn the locker room into your own mini-spa.

Count your blessings

You knew this one was coming. The surest way to remember the embarrassment of riches already at your feet, for free.

What else? I’m sure you have lots of tricks up your sleeves for feeling posh, glamorous, and loaded…even when you’re not. Do tell!

P.S. 23 ways to treat yourself without buying or eating anything

Photo by Andrew Pons on Unsplash

How To Have A Social Life On A Budget (and not hate your life)

Is it possible to have a decent social life on a budget? Without hating your life and alienating all of your friends? Yes! Click through for tons of great ways to have fun, see your friends, and NOT spend tons of money >>
Want a social life on a budget? Trick question – doesn’t everyone?! If you want to see your friends, get out of the house, and socialize without breaking the bank, keep reading. Anna Newell Jones has some great cheap socializing ideas for you!

The friend/social thing is tricky. It was crazy when I realized how much money came into play with my interactions with people.
The people in my life were used to me doing things with them (everything) and then suddenly I wasn’t able to do all of the same things with them anymore.
I think the key is to make it seem like you’re not having a hard time with doing the Spending Fast and that you’re not like “Woe is me, look at me suffering over here…” friends don’t want to see their friends suffer, you know.
Give your buds an explanation and be honest if you can’t afford to do something and then seriously, don’t do it.  Don’t dwell on not being able to do something; suggest something else to do.

If the friend persists in their questioning or if they insist on paying so you can participate, tell them all about what you are doing and why.

Tell them that you’re going to be in a better place at the end of the Spending Fast and that’s why you’re doing it in the first place – that will go a long way in helping the situation.

Go with your friends and do the cheapest (read: free) version of whatever they are doing.

If they are going for drinks, get a tonic water with lime so it looks like a drink and no one will give you grief. Have drinks at someone’s (or your) house before you all go out. If it’s dinner out that they’re doing, find a friend to split an appetizer with or eat dinner at home before you go.

Just don’t make it a big deal that you’re not spending money. Have a great time. Don't focus on the not- spending-money part. Click To Tweet

It’s not about spending money it’s about spending time with your friends and the money-spending-part is just a common side-effect of hanging out with friends. You’re being pro-active and doing what you need to do to get yourself out of debt. It’s a very good and responsible thing to undertake.

You might be surprised how many of your buds are in the same situation financial situation as you and you just don’t know it. Being broke and being in debt isn’t something that many people talk about. It’s typically considered very private information.

A lot of people do what they have to do to keep up appearances and they may not be doing as well financially as they seem to be.

I racked up a lot of my debt because I kept doing things and buying things that I just could not afford because I wanted to keep up appearances and keep up with everyone else. I tried to avoid realizing and recognizing this for a long time and I got into a lot of debt because of it.

Free (or super cheap) things to do with friends

Eat your brown bagged lunches from home in the park together

This is a good one to do with work friends!

Start a Spending Fast Group Challenge

How much can you each save? This can be set up on a percentage basis (similar to how The Biggest Loser TV show does it since they all start at different weights).

Get a thrift store tennis racquet and go to the public tennis court and hit some balls

Even if you have no idea how to play tennis it’s fun to run around and whack the balls.

Do a clothing swap

Everyone rounds up all of their un-used and un-wanted items and trades. Everyone gets something new to them. (Here’s how to purge your closet without losing your mind.)

Host a game night at one of your houses

Check out movies from the library and gather up at someone’s house to watch

Variations on this classic saving money option is to theme it out: Horror/scary themed movies. 80’s movies. Nicholas Cage movies… Bonus: home popped popcorn is super cheap. If you already have Amazon Prime or Netflix there are tons of movies you can stream for free!

Get together and make crafts using supplies you all collectively already own

Who can bring what and what can you make?

Group bike ride

 Everyone takes turns mapping out a route!

Hike can help you find the best trails in your area!

Volunteer together

Volunteer Match is a great place to start!

Start a book club

Check out the same book from the library. Again, if you’ve got Amazon Prime and a Kindle, you’ll have access to tons of free books!

Team up with a bud and be getting-out-of-debt supporters for each other

Bonus: you’ll have someone to split appetizers with and cheer you along.

Google “free things to do in (insert your city here)”

There are probably a lot of things going on that you don’t know about!

Host a potluck

Just don’t buy anything new for the ingredients! Only use what you all already have in your kitchen. If you can only make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich make a couple and cut them in 4’s. There you go – finger foods! And really, who doesn’t love PB&J? Or host a breakfast potluck!

Do a group yardsale

Go to the public pool

If you’re here in Minneapolis, check out the Webber natural swimming pool!

Do a picture Scavenger Hunt

Make lists and separate into smaller groups. Here’s a great roundup of photo scavenger hunt lists!

Go camping!

Pull an HGTV and re-arrange a room in each others houses

It’s amazing what a fresh pair of eyes can do with a space!

Sit on a patio and ask each other questions you’ve never asked before.

Here are 55 ‘Would you rather’ questions!

Doing a Spending Fast is hard and you’ll have to make sacrifices. Dynamics of some relationships might change. Just know that despite the occasional awkwardness the hard times really do payoff in the long run. Trust me – it is so worth it!

How do you guys navigate budgets and friendships? I’d love to hear your tips in the comments!

P.S. You can choose to want less

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Picking Your Luxuries: A Guide To Living Lavishly With Less

Can you live luxuriously while living on a budget? Yes! Sort of. Click through for find out how >>
This guest post comes via the fantastic Megan over at (the now-sadly-defunct) Charade. Pop over and read through her archives about  style, career and living a fabulous life on a student budget.

When you’re surviving (however stylishly) on a budget, you’re never going to ‘have it all.’

Five star penthouse? Chauffeured limousine? Overflowing Chanel wardrobe?

Hmm… not so much, but that doesn’t mean you should get into a habit of scarcity and lacking, because to become too accustomed to the scrimping and saving lifestyle is to beat any chance at abundant living. Trying to have it all might fail you, but picking your luxuries might not.

Define your Ultimate Luxuries

Our ideas of what constitutes a luxury are all different, for some of us, travelling the globe is the meaning of life; for some, the latest fashion and style rule. Some think good food is next to godliness, whilst some prefer getting sozzled on great wine. A personal trainer might make your day, or a shiny new laptop; perhaps a stonking CD collection is your idea of heaven, or regular Swedish massages.
My point is, there are tonnes of ways to lap up the luxury in your life, and not one of them can be called a luxury with any more validity than the next; it’s all relative.

So, what’s it going to be for you? For Sex and the City’s Carrie, it was shoes; for Paddington Bear, Marmalade Sandwiches; for my sister, Cath Kidston; for me, five star hotels (the Bellagio for my 21st birthday? Yes please.) What feels most luxurious in your life? What has you starry-eyed at a mere mention? Choose it. That’s your ultimate luxury, your one, unashamed, frivolous necessity, for which you openly celebrate with not a scrap of guilt.

Don’t let other people’s opinions of how you should spend your time or where your money should go affect your choice. It’s your life, after all, and whatever it is that gives you the dizzying warm and fuzzies is absolutely worth the investment. You deserve it.

If your ultimate luxury is a small one (Lush products every bath time, a complete Audrey Hepburn DVD collection) then choose two, choose several, choose as many as you can to fit within your budget.

Assume a Luxurious Mindset

Now that you’ve chosen your ultimate luxury, let the feeling of opulence reach its loving arms around your life and squeeze all the goodness out that it can. If you can afford only one ultimate luxury, that’s no reason to allow the rest of your existence to pale into mediocrity alongside it.
Try to look at your whole life as a series of little luxuries, from your first cup of tea in the morning, to a few drops of lavender on your pillow at night. Appreciation is the sole source of worth within any luxury, why not up your appreciation of the day-to-day? Let your whole life be a luxury.

But! A Word of Warning on Luxury

The luxurious mindset is not living above your means; I’ll never recommend getting into credit card debt to feed your fetish. A luxury stops being luxurious if you’re ruining the rest of your life to support it, and a gift that’s worked hard for is a gift that means a million times more.
Remember, too, that there are such things as long-term luxuries and the longer you have to wait for them the sweeter and more special they become. Having a savings account might seem like the most yawn-worthy activity you can imagine, but when looked at as a gleaming pot of gold to fund your dream French chateau, it starts to sound a little more interesting.
Moreover, a luxury is not an addiction, neither must it be simply hedonistic or materialist – it can be time spent with your family, or improving your knowledge on a certain topic, playing an instrument well etc. In other words, a luxury is what you make of it, hence why we can call anything a luxury, if we have the correct mindset.
What are you favorite luxuries? I love expensive cheese, Aveda shampoo, nice perfume, and really good pillows!
P.S. Did you know I host a free, private Facebook group for 3,000+ people who want to add more money and more happiness to their lives? Click here to join us!
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash // cc

True Story: I Didn’t Buy Anything New for One Year

True Story: I didn't buy anything new for one year //
This is one of many True Story interviews, in which we talk to people who have experienced interesting/challenging/amazing things. This is the story of Holly and her one-year shopping ban. Nothing new! For 365 days! Impressive, no?
Free 5-day money bootcamp

What was your relationship with money/consumerism before you took on this challenge?
Before the challenge my relationship with money was nuts! I spent most of my money within a week of getting paid, I had no savings, I paid off credit cards and store cards only to spend on them a few days later. I shopped without even thinking about it, just wandering about aimlessly and coming home with stuff I just didn’t need. I didn’t know anything about a budget and even though I have a well paid job I was always complaining about being broke.

What made you want to go on a shopping ban?
In the personal finance community we talk about what’s called a “Lightbulb Moment”. That’s the moment that you suddenly think “Uh oh, I need to change my ways or else.” For me it wasn’t really one moment but several over a couple of months.

I wore something new every day, I was always having packages delivered (I spent up to £50/$75 a month on books from Amazon), I had dinner out twice a week and eventually I realized that all these seemingly insignificant expenses were adding up to about £500/$740 per month. No wonder I was broke!

How did people in your life react to your decision?
At first some people laughed, they knew what I was like and didn’t think I’d be able to last a month! Someone even told me they could only go a year without shopping if they were in a coma! I’m glad they were doubtful though, it just spurred me on. Having a blog and writing about the challenge was great. I didn’t think anyone would care but the fact that complete strangers were taking the time to read and leave encouraging comments kept me motivated to finish the year. I didn’t want to let anyone down.

So tell us about your year! How did you make do with the things that you already had? Did you alter them? Do lots of borrowing and bartering?
I used to have mending days where I would sit and fix all the clothes that I didn’t wear because they were damaged (missing buttons, dropped hems etc.) then they’d be all lovely and new again. I didn’t need to borrow any clothes because I had so much stuff it was unreal.

One day I took everything out of my wardrobes (you call them closets!) and donated anything I didn’t need to charity. Having less stuff became a bit of a thrill and now I like to declutter as much as possible. I sold books, CDs and DVDs on Amazon, I donated things, held car boot sales (like a yard sale) and put all that money towards the debt. Instead of spending money partying I had friends over for games nights or movie nights which were so much more fun.

What were the biggest challenges? How did you get around those?
I didn’t miss clothes, shoes, bags or accessories as much as I thought I would. What I really missed was reading the Sunday papers in bed (newspapers and magazines were banned too) but luckily I had a subscription to my favorite magazine and I would look forward to it every month.

I’d set aside an evening to read it in bed and truly take it all in as opposed to flick through and chuck it on the floor (I used to buy about 20 magazines a month). The worst part though was when I accidentally spilled bleach down my favorite jeans within about 2 months of the challenge. It sounds so trivial but at the time I was distraught, I cried for about an hour. I just had to suck it up and get on with it though.

Did you ever cheat?
I personally didn’t buy a single thing on my banned items list during my year without shopping. I did however allow my parents to buy me a ski jacket despite the fact that people weren’t supposed to buy me things…very naughty! However, we were going on a ski trip and I didn’t have a proper jacket so it was really a necessity and I don’t feel too bad about it. Oh, and it was my Christmas present too!

How much money did you save? Are you going to put that money towards anything special?
By the end of the year I had saved about £5000/$7400. I built up an Emergency Fund of £3000/$4445 which is enough to cover my expenses if I was unemployed for six months. I’ve really come to realize how important it is to have some savings tucked away, it’s a real comfort knowing that it’s there.

I bought my first digital SLR camera and now I’m saving to buy a house. I also have a travel fund which I add money to every month so that whenever I fancy a trip away I already have the funds in place.

What was the first things that you bought when the ban was over?
I wanted to choose something really special that would be a symbol of the whole challenge so the first thing I bought was a gorgeous necklace from an Etsy shop. It’s absolutely beautiful and I’m so glad I bought something handmade from a unique designer. I always get compliments on it.

Do you feel that the shopping ban has permanently changed your shopping behavior?
Definitely! I’m way less frivolous and, even though I am allowed to shop again, I always think my purchases through. Savings comes first so as soon as I get paid I transfer money to my different savings accounts and then budget the rest so that I don’t go overboard. I try to stretch my money as far as possible so I walk everywhere and cook at home to save money.

Would you recommend trying a shopping ban? What advice would you give to someone who wanted to stop shopping?
If you want to get out of debt then I would absolutely recommend a shopping ban. Once you start only spending on necessities you’ll be amazed to find how much money you actually have. It’s important to sit down and make a budget, figure out what you owe, what has the highest interest and tackle that first.

If you’ve never saved before, put a little aside each month and watch it quickly add up. Cutting out small “treats” like a daily coffee, magazines, new lip gloss, takeout food saves money straight away. And remember, no matter how poor you feel, you are probably one of the richest people in the world. Check out Global Rich List to see how rich you really are – I’m in the top 5%, it’s a good reminder that we can survive with a lot less money than we think.

Have any of you ever put yourself on a shopping diet? Any questions for Holly?

P.S. I got laid off 3 times in 5 years & My house burned down + I lost 90% of my belongings

photo by clark street mercantile // cc

101 Ways To Cheer Yourself Up

Need to cheer yourself up? We all need some happiness tips from time to time! Whether you need better self-care or just a mood boost, these tips will help! #happinesstips #cheerup
Do you need to cheer yourself up? We all need a bit of cheering up from time to time – and it’s easy to fall back on the ol’ standbys of wine and Netflix. We can do better! This guest post from Steff can help!

101 ways to cheer yourself up