Brooke’s our 20-something money + savings blogger. We think she has superpowers so we asked her to write about them, along with her ups + downs in navigating life + money as a millennial.

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SUMMER BLUES REBUTTALS


Hello everyone and happy summer!

With the start of summer just days away, this beautiful weather has me eating popsicles, laying out in the sun with my dog and soaking it all in, so I don't have many complaints since returning home for the summer, but that story was a little different a few weeks ago.

Graduation at UMass Amherst took place the second weekend in May, so I moved back home the following Tuesday. The departure was obviously extremely bittersweet due to leaving my friends, my apartment, and a campus/town that is now near and dear to my heart so I say bittersweet because I was also slightly excited to having a clean, quiet house and bedroom to catch up on my sleep and was looking forward to my parents supplying the household (and therefore me) with food, toiletries and all that other good stuff I was running out of (along with money) at the end of the semester.

I was so busy with senior activities, commencement, final exams and graduation, that after finally chilling out and having time to think, I began to notice some (less than ideal) things about being home that I’d totally forgotten about. Right around week 2 of moving back it hit me – I had zero structure to my day or time. I’d signed up for an online class and quickly realized that the online style and difficulty level wasn’t helping my structure problem. I was actively looking for a part-time job but still found myself with more time than I knew what to do with and far less to do.

Also, let’s be honest. Living at home as a 20-something year old can be tricky and no longer living with seven close friends in a 20-something year old hub like the town of Amherst can be even more cumbersome. Luckily my “wallowing” so to speak didn't last long as I thought of ways to beat these weird summer blues.

So…here are my rebuttals to summer blues!

Lack of structure
Going from a very tight, busy schedule to a nonexistent one was super nice at first, don't get me wrong, but when I started waking up past 10:00am because I could, then watching television, surfing the web, and going down for a nap (this exact example only happened once, I swear!) I knew I needed to change something.

I was used to having set obligations, places to be, people to hold me accountable, so each night I’ve been setting those obligations for myself by writing down what I want to do or accomplish the next day, in the order I want to do it in. I usually come up with a combination of activities like hiking or running and less “fun” tasks pertaining to my job search (found one, woohoo!), class work, or household chores.

My lists are working wonders – I’ve been able to break my procrastinator habits and spread my online class work out, doing a little each day instead of cramming it all in right before it’s due. I even started setting my alarm for 8 or 9 AM (without pressing snooze) and am much more productive, getting things done before it’s too late, and sometimes rewarding myself with an afternoon nap. ;)

Having too little to do and too much time
This problem (again, I’m aware to some people it’s a dream - I thought it was mine!) is similar to the one above but still slightly different. During my nightly brainstorm sessions, I try to think of anything and everything I want to do or accomplish this summer. Lots of ideas come to mind that I’ve been meaning to tackle for awhile but never get around to. This is stuff like cleaning out my closet and giving old belongings to Good Will or scheduling a dentist appointment – which I really don't want to do, but seeing as I’m now “adulting” (see adulting post), I should.

This list actually goes on and on so I’ve started chipping away at it. I’ve also been trying to incorporate fun, recreational activities and personal/fitness goals that I want to reach by September. A prime example of this is how I recently wrote down that I wanted to go to few Red Sox games this summer… just a few days later two friends and I bought tickets on a whim because it was such a beautiful day and we had a phenomenal time! Honestly, I don't think we would have gone to a game this early into the summer unless I had brainstormed the idea and solidified it by writing it down.

Separation from friends & the hub of Amherst
I’m very lucky to live in a great town that a lot of people come back to (especially immediately post-grad) and to have amazing, local friends in the same boat this summer AKA living with their parents in their childhood home. I am also lucky that my house is a walk away from our downtown and a short drive into Boston, so sticking with the theme of this blog - I shall not complain – but it’s a different world.

At school, my seven girlfriends and I shared two stories of a three story house that was located smack in the middle of downtown Amherst. We could walk out the front door to every restaurant/cafe/shop Amherst has to offer, and were a quick walk to campus for access to the library, recreation center/gym, all the food on campus (and we’re rated #1 dining in the country if you didn't know), so the possibilities were endless. There were also 22,000 undergraduates (greater than the population of my town), an additional 6,000 graduate students, plus the professors and staff.

I’m sure you're getting my gist; I was living in a town surrounded mostly by peers where everything was just a hop, skip and a jump away. I’m finding now it’s a lot easier to be convinced OUT of doing something when it feels like more planning or effort. It’s easy to get into the pattern of choosing the couch and TV over going to movie, or making something at home over eating out, especially when you’re in your 20’s and barely making an income. I’ve found that, really, the only cure is to be aware of your tendency to becoming a homebody and actively try not to. Of course low-key, stay at home nights are great but too much time secluded, watching Netflix in your bed is not the healthiest.

The great part is you can get out and about, socialize and save $ by taking advantage of sites like Groupon that offer amazing deals on activies and excursions at a fraction of what they’d normally cost. Even better, most businesses now provide discounts for students with proof with a school ID.

So there you have it! If you're a recent graduate, recently moved home for whatever reason, or just occasionally find yourself in similar situations to the ones I mentioned above, I hope my summer blues rebuttals were helpful! Either way, I whole heartedly believe that writing to-do lists and physically writing down goals, ideas, or tasks you want to get done really does help to organize your thoughts and increase the likelihood that you will actually get stuff done. If you follow us on Facebook, comment on the SUPERpowers post with your own experiences and let me know how these suggestions have worked out for you!


 

LIVING THE EARTH-LOVING LIFE

 

Hi everyone,

I hope you're having a great day, wherever you are! I’ve mentioned a few times in previous blog posts how nature and being outdoors is something that’s super important to me. That being said, I definitely want to do everything in my power to make sure our planet Earth stays healthy so I can (selfishly) keep reaping its benefits. I began brainstorming ways to step up my Earth-loving behaviors a few months ago, and my sudden burst of inspiration led me to setting very high goals such as living entirely waste-free. The idea of adopting a zero-waste lifestyle is a goal that I will hopefully reach one day, but it definitely requires a large amount of adjustment, and I found myself slipping back into old habits pretty soon after I tried living this new lifestyle.

After Earth Day, I found myself once again full of pride and enthusiasm for our planet, but also a bit disappointed in myself for failing to follow through with the goals I set a few months back. However, after more reflection I realized that although I may not have reached my ambitious goal of living completely waste-free, there are still many small things I’ve been doing that have not only saved me money but have also been small steps towards saving the planet. Whether my actions were intentional or unintentional - thinking back on them now has made me realize that you don't have to change your whole way of life to make an important difference. These small changes in behavior can be daily acts of kindness towards the Earth as well as towards your wallet - not a bad deal huh?

Cut the Plastic
Living in my apartment this year has made me realize two important things - my roommates and I eat a lot, and we curate a whole lot of trash. Neither of the two are bad things, but both require a lot of shopping bags and trash bags. Living off campus, it feels like I’m trekking to the store at least every other day to pick up some food item or product. Sometimes I can ditch the bags all together, but I usually need one to carry my stuff, which leads me to hoard an excessive amount of plastic bags that I never use up.

As I’m sure we all know, plastic is bad for the environment and if there are small, mindless ways for me to reduce my plastic usage you better believe I’m doing it. One of those ways is swapping plastic bags for reusable bags! You can pick up reusable bags almost anywhere these days, which is a minuscule investment for something you’ll use almost daily. You can also get smaller/insulated reusable bags for things like bringing lunch to work or school. If you're familiar with Trader Joe’s (my second home) you know they provide very sustainable paper grocery bags, which my roommates and I have been using to organize trash and recycling. If one of us forgets our reusable bag on a grocery run, then the paper ones we bring home are placed in the trash corner of our kitchen and used as a replacement for traditional garbage bags. That’s a win/win if you ask me!

The examples above are not the only small actions that I’ve been implementing in my life to cut costs and reduce damage to the environment. I have also been…
• Consciously choosing cardboard options over styrofoam/plastic, and especially avoiding styrofoam all together. For instance, I’ve been refraining from getting hot cups for my drinks when I go to Dunks, or I’ll ask if a place has cardboard to-go boxes instead of styrofoam
• Not buying single-use plastic straws or using them when I’m out to eat
• Using an aluminum reusable water bottle everyday instead of purchasing plastic water bottles. Doing this with coffee as well - making a cup at home and putting it in a reusable travel mug. This substantially reduces costs from random, daily purchase
• Making sure to recycle any chance I can - for example, bringing old clothes to Goodwill instead of just throwing them in the garbage, or using plastic containers that I’ve gotten from take-out for storage or other uses
• Choosing glass over plastic - storing things in glass mason jars, purchasing beverages that come in a glass bottle instead of plastic, trying to be creative with leftover glassware
• Being much more mindful of my daily actions in regard to the environment - making sure to not litter, to throw out litter when I come across it, recycle whenever possible, and monitor my overall consumption especially concerning daily, unnecessary purchases

There you have it folks! These are just some of the many, small ways that you can live a more environmentally conscious life and maybe even save a buck - or fifty - while you're at it. As I mentioned, it may seem like you have to make huge lifestyle changes to live more environmentally friendly, but from my personal experience that is not the case. No matter how small the action, everything that is done with the intention of also helping the planet is powerful and makes a difference. You can start out small by trying one of the examples provided above, or you can go big and attempt to start shifting your lifestyle to one that is waste-free, but either way the important part is you're actually taking a step regardless the size!!

 

MY 3 SIMPLE WINTER BLUES PICK-ME-UPS

Hello everyone!

I hope you’re having a fantastic 2018 so far and sticking to any goals or resolutions you may have made! Two posts ago, I discussed a few tricks I use for staying warm this season without breaking the bank, which is especially relevant this particular winter with the record low temps. A stark drop in temperature can be a huge adjustment and an obstacle for completing daily activities, and is just another thing us brave Nor‘easterners have to manage along with adjusting to the lack of sunlight! Let’s talk about sun…

Every summer - either June 20th, 21st or 22nd - everyone living north of the equator experiences a summer solstice, which results in the longest day of the year. After the summer solstice, the hours of sunlight in a day gradually dwindles until it’s time for the winter solstice - which occurred this past December 21, 2017 - and resulted in the shortest day of the year. Although we’re past the shortest day of the year and technically on the mend, the sun still sets far earlier than I’m comfortable with (4:56pm tonight to be exact), and the lack of sunlight can still mess with me.

To combat the blues that come with the excessive darkness, I have complied a list of tips that I find help me the most in maintaining bright spirits, while of course doing it all on a budget. Just like my heat hacks, all that these solutions require is a little bit of brainstorming and some effort to reap significant warm rewards. Here we go!

When it's dark on the outside, light up the inside
This may sound like a no brainer, but when it gets dark outside I find that a simple and effective fix is to create a bright, cheery atmosphere on the inside. When the sun sets 4 minutes before 5 like it does today, there is still three-fourths or more of the day left, and giving in to the hibernation-temptation is typically not an option. You can’t blame yourself for failing to stick to resolutions when its pitch-black outside, so staying energized and productive by adjusting your environment can be extremely helpful.

For starters, lights! Generating light, even if it’s artificial, is a sure-fire way to help trick your brain into believing that good ole Mr. Sun is still shining. For me personally, I love putting strings of lights around the perimeter of ceilings to add a warm feel to a room. The idea of having so many lights on for an extended period of time may make you wonder what the energy bill will look like, which is why I always opt for LED lighting. LED lights use at least 75% less energy and last 25x longer than older, incandescent lighting. As well as consuming less energy, LED lights don’t emit as much heat and are more resistant to breakage. Some people are hesitant to use LED lights due to reservations about the type of lighting they give off or their price. Yes, some LED lights give off a fluorescent hue like what you typically find in retail stores, but there are many other colors to choose from, such as ‘warm white’ or ‘soft white’ that will produce a yellow glow similar to incandescents. And yes, LED lights can be a bit pricier than other lights at the initial purchase, but their longevity and the long-term savings will most definitely outweigh the original price.

I know that each person reading this may be envisioning a different environment, so whether it’s a home, office, cubicle, studio, etc., try to brainstorm where you could add a touch of light. Even something small as a simple little corner lamp or a funky string of lights could be the environment pick-me-up you need.
 
Adding greenery to your space

If adjusting the light in your environment isn’t an option, try adding a plant to your room, office, or desk. You can take the ambitious path of growing your own, or simplify your indoor gardening by purchasing a low-maintenance, already grown plant. Whichever route you decide on, having a live plant around will provide many benefits, some of which I’m sure you’ve never thought of!

Adding plants to your surroundings will help keep the air clean, lower blood pressure, increase attentiveness and energy levels, and improve the overall perception of a space. Fun fact: did you know it’s been proven that having live plants inside an office can make employees more productive, take fewer sick days, make fewer mistakes, and feel happier overall? Adding greenery to a space is a great idea regardless of the season and the benefits can be much more significant when there are no leaves on the trees and its dark before 5pm.
 
Soak up the sun/move your body
During this time of year we only get 9-9.5 hours of sunlight per day, starting around 7-7:30am depending on the exact date. In order to get optimal exposure to the sun, I suggest setting your alarm just a little bit earlier and going to bed earlier to tailor your schedule around maximum sunlight. It will only take a week or two to shift your internal clock, and once you adjust you’ll notice how much better you feel with having more hours of sun in your day.

Exercise is a great winter-blues buster and moving your body in the sun is the best way to soak up some vitamin D (the sun can provide us with 90% of our necessary vitamin D) and get that exercise in simultaneously. It can be in any form you want; walking, hiking, running, biking, snow shoeing - you name it.

I hope you now feel a little more equipped to finish out this winter season like a pro! We all know how long the feeling of winter can last, even long after the first day of spring, so it’s never too late to start giving these tips a try. Or, if you’re a Northeast warrior and just can’t relate, pass this info onto a friend who needs some hibernation-prevention and together we can beat the winter blues!

 

EXPRESSING GRATITUDE, WHAT'S THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN?

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

I have been thinking about this turkey & pie holiday more than usual and after some reflecting, I realized I’m slightly confused about what it’s even all about. We grow up learning to first associate the holiday with a turkey due to the endless arts & crafts in elementary school that are centered around the animal. It sounds funny to say, but it’s true! If you have any old schoolwork, take a look at it and I promise you will find tons of thanksgiving-related, but more specifically turkey-related art projects, especially ones where you used your hand as a stencil for the body. Later you come to know the holiday as having some relation to Pilgrims and Native Americans, probably by having to perform in a school play, but think of it more in terms of the time off from school, football games, and an enormous feast with family.

Thanksgiving is celebrated in many countries around the world such as Germany, Korea and Japan, but is celebrated primarily in the United States and Canada. For American thanksgiving, the holiday generally stems from the 1621 harvest feast that took place among the Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag Indians after they survived a brutal winter together and produced a bountiful harvest. The meaning of Thanksgiving varies based on country and culture, and even the meaning of the holiday in the U.S. has undergone numerous transitions throughout history. However, despite the various differences, I believe the greatest overarching theme and the one I personally like most is that Thanksgiving is a day dedicated to expressing gratitude.

Life seems busier today than ever before, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but the more there is going on, the more pre-occupied we tend to get with minute, everyday details. It’s difficult not to get caught up in the specifics of daily life, which is why I think we should celebrate Thanksgiving by putting the emphasis back on expressing gratitude, instead of focusing so much on other traditions. That’s not to say you should ditch all the things you love about Thanksgiving, but along with that, we should make a conscience effort to be grateful for all the great things in life and express our gratitude in whatever way we feel is best. With the recent natural disasters and other tragic events our world has experienced, there is no better time than now to start feeling and expressing gratitude. What’s the worst that could happen?

There are many ways to show gratitude. It does not matter how you show it, any act big or small, will spread kindness and create a positive effect. For instance, if someone has helped you in some way, you can either tell them face-to-face how much they mean to you, or you can communicate your gratitude through nice actions such as a gift or free, simple acts of kindness. If you are grateful for your quality of life you can express that by giving back to those less fortunate by volunteering or through some other type of charity.

Those are just a few ideas, and now that I think of it, Wakefield Co-operative Bank is a prime example of what it looks to prioritize gratitude. The bank’s philosophy on giving, which I admire very much, is that “The loyalty of our customers and the strength of our communities have helped make us the bank we are today, so it seems only right that we give back in as many ways as we can”.

It’s not just with monetary donations that WCB gives back. Along with donations, sponsorships, and hours of volunteering, WCB gives in small ways every day through their interactions with customers, treatment of employees, and much more. Wakefield Co-operative Bank is truly the epitome of what it means to give back, and you can feel the amount of prosperity and happiness that comes from doing so.

As you watch your football and eat your pumpkin pie this coming Thursday, don't forget to take some time to reflect on all that you are grateful for in life - the good and even the bad. Our world needs as much positivity as it can get, so any act of gratitude will create a ripple that is guaranteed to touch people, no matter how small. If you are inspired to produce more “visible” acts of gratitude, there’s never a shortage of charities and organizations that would love your time and attention. Just plug any cause that you care about into Google search and you will find many ways to help. In the great words of Gandhi, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

 

COZY HEAT HACKS TO SAVE MONEY AND KEEP YOU FROM HIBERNATING

Hello everyone!

As I type this week’s blog I am gazing out the windows of the 17th floor of the library, looking out onto the beautiful UMass scenery of…absolute pitch black. Yup, it’s that time of the year again. The time of year where it feels like 9pm when its 5pm, and when all you can think about is jumping into your warm, cozy bed until you realize you have another hundred things to do. Not to mention the temperature seemingly drops a solid 15-20 degrees out of nowhere, leaving you feeling like you might as well do what the bears do and pop into hibernation until spring.

I’m kidding! This time of the year isn't all that bad - well only sort of. We have Thanksgiving coming up shortly, then the beloved holidays of Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa, and then the celebration of the New Year - 2018!! This time of the year is full of joy and excitement, which is a great distraction from the plummeting temperatures and lack of sunshine. Plus, I have some cheap hacks in store to help you avoid entering a full-fledge hibernation so that you can enjoy all that this season has to offer!

Let’s start, shall we?

The main thing my roommates and I have struggled with in the wake of Daylight Saving Time and the onset of winter-like weather, is the (almost) freezing temperatures. I thought the jump from 50 to 40 degrees was bad, but that is nothing compared to the shock that comes with the jump from the 40s to the 30s. For a born and raised New-Englander I know I might sound like a huge wimp, but it’s safe to say the first below-freezing walks to and from the bus/campus were nothing short of brutal. An additional factor is that the house we are living in this year is very old, which means very drafty, which means that our home isn't always as much of an escape from the cold as we would like. However, we are smart, problem-solving adults and have found a few cheap solutions to our heat - or lack thereof - issue.

Make-shift insulated curtains
Windows can be a huge heating/cooling sucker AKA money sucker. Did you know that 20-50% of all the energy that is used to heat up a typical home during the winter is lost through its windows? This wasted energy increases our heating bills as well as our carbon footprint, neither of which does anyone any good. There are many solutions to help deal with this problem, such as window insulation film and thermal/insulated curtains, but most of these fixes are fairly pricey and can get up to $50-100 or greater. To combat this issue, my roommates and I decided to create our own make-shift insulated curtains. If you Google ‘DIY insulated curtains’ you will find a wide array of great tutorials - some more elaborate than others. Due to our lack of money and our desire to save money through this project - we only relied on what we had laying around. We also only had three big windows to insulate so it didn't require excessive amounts of material. The main point we took away from the various online instructions was that layering is the key to insulation success, and it is. My roommates and I collected all the spare blankets, sheets, duvet covers - you name it, that we could find around our house, and layered our materials to create 3 somewhat equally thick “curtains”. We used industrial size clips that my roommate had to hang each layering of materials above one of the three windows, and to all of our surprise they actually work!! It could be placebo effect but it seems as though our living room is substantially warmer than before and the couch next to the window is no longer the most dreaded seat in the house.

Opening curtains for natural heat
While we’re still on the topic of curtains, if it’s a sunny day make sure to open those curtains up! Sunlight provides plenty of natural warmth on a cold day, and seeing or feeling the sun on your skin - even indirectly through a glass window - can still be a great mood booster. Just make sure to close the curtains as soon as the sun sets to retain heat. By creating your own thermal/insulated curtains like the ones I mentioned above, the act of closing your curtain every night will produce even greater benefits!

DIY draft stoppers
Windows aren't the only things that can result in hundreds of heating dollars flushed down the drain. Windows, doors, attic hatches and more, all can have drafts, which are gaps in construction that leaves an opening unsealed to the outside. The cold air that enters into your home through these un-insulated spaces can raise your heating bill and allow not only cold air in, but moisture and even little critters too. There are practically a million ways to create a draft stopper from free belongings you have laying around, which will put a lot of money back into your pocket. Common, simple draft stoppers can be made from cutting an old pair of tights or using an old pair of stretched out tube socks and stuffing them with almost anything - from rice and lentils to sand and gravel.

Using ceiling fans for heat 
Who knew that ceiling fans, when used properly, can reduce both heating and air-conditioning costs?! Not me - at least not until one of my roommates shared this great little tidbit with me. Not all ceiling fans have this function, but if yours does, try running it in a clockwise direction and on low to gently circulate hot air that is trapped near the ceiling. I’m sure most of you remember being taught in science class that heat rises, so by setting the fan to run counter clockwise and on low, the air near the ceiling is pushed up and outward causing it to circulate down near the perimeter of the room. This will result in warmer air at floor level, which means that the thermostat can be set lower and you will not only be saving money but also helping the environment at the same time. Talk about a win-win!!

So you see folks, even the most unenjoyable aspects of a situation, such as the cold and darkness that come with this time of year, can be dealt with in inexpensive and effective ways to create an overall better sense of well-being. Most of the time, practical solutions to problems are right at our finger tips (or in the case of the DIY curtains right in our storage closets) and all it takes is a little brainstorming and some effort. I hope that you try out some of these heat-hacks, or at least pass the word on to a cold friend, and let me know if any of them work out for you!



ADULTING AS A MILLENIAL (BECAUSE PARKING TICKETS ARE ACTUALLY A SIGN OF MATURITY)

Hello peeps!

In the past year or two there has become an obsession with the term “adulting”. In my own words I consider adulting to be doing things that you would imagine a real adult (mom/dad) to do, not things that a fake adult would do, AKA someone who is technically considered an adult by law but in no means feels like one. I’m assuming most 18 to mid-20 year olds resonate with this term, but hey, I'm sure even real adults feel like a fraud from time to time.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the term, urban dictionary uses the definition:

Adulting (v): to carry out one or more of the duties and responsibilities expected of fully developed individuals (paying off that credit card debt, settling disputes without putting it all over social media, etc.). Exclusively used by those who adult less than 50% of the time.
Used in a sentence: Jane is adulting quite well today as she is on time for work promptly at 8am and appears well groomed.

The definition and sentence above are slightly satirical because I’m assuming most people can arrive to work on time and be well groomed without having an immense amount of maturity. However, there are several instances I’ve encountered this year that have made me feel like I was truly adulting, or at least trying my best to adult. Here they are!

Adulting at home
This year I am living in a house with six of my closest friends. It’s been very exciting because we’re in a real house in an impeccable location, and living in an off-campus house for senior year is something my friends and I have always looked forward to. As great as it’s been, we’ve run into a few obstacles with the house that we were completely unaware of when we signed our lives away last June. The multiple issues that have occurred this year have been nothing short of aggravating but they are things that need to be dealt with in a calm and mature manner. My roommates and I are all 21+, all of our names are on the lease, and most of us are paying rent ourselves, so when it comes to dealing with the issues, we all enter our adult mode. The majority of our issues have been resolved, none of which were our fault, and I'm very proud of the way we’ve conducted ourselves each time. I’ve learned it can be intimidating confronting “real” adults in difficult situations, but it is totally necessary to “adult” in such situations!

Adulting at the laundromat
While we’re on the topic of my house, the two glorious appliances it’s missing are a washing and drying machine. The fake adult in me desperately wants to wear things inside-out or just spray a little perfume and pretend my clothes are fresh out the dryer, but the real adult in me knows that cannot be the case. That being said, I have been “adulting” this year in the laundromat. I know some of you reading this must think it’s funny that I feel so accomplished about this (and I know it’s not that impressive) but before September, I’d never been to one. I’ve always had the convenience of a washer and dryer nearby so I was a little apprehensive about the whole thing, but now being halfway through the semester I have the system down pat. I know exactly which laundromat to go to (naïve me went to the most expensive ones the first few times) and I know what to do to get in and out quickly. This adulting accomplishment is a small one but it’s an accomplishment nonetheless.

Adulting at the bank
Something that still scares me a little is dealing with my finances. Money matters feel like matters that are truly for real adults, so being a half adult means that I tend to want to avoid them completely. I can’t think of many things that sound less appealing than going to a bank and pretending I know what I’m talking about, BUT, with Wakefield Co-operative Bank money matters aren’t that scary after all. Wherever you choose to bank (small, local, and community is where it’s at!) mobile and online banking are KEY. The best thing about Wakefield Co-op’s mobile banking is that it’s easy to use and lets you check your accounts from literally anywhere. You can set up alerts to warn you of weird activity on your account or if your balance gets too low, and it even lets you turn your debit card off from your phone if you (god forbid) leave it at the finest, local establishment on Main Street late in the evening.  The thing is, all these awesome features are great for those of us just testing out adulting and those out there who have already been adulting for years because they offer unlimited ease and convenience in handling your finances - two words I never thought I’d use when talking about money.

So folks, there you have it. If I didn't impress you with my adulting skills I promise there have been many other instances that have forced me to tap into my mature side, like the time my car battery died and had to be replaced, or the time I got that ticket (parking, not speeding, see - maturity!). I hope that you at least got a few laughs and will maybe even start using the new trendy term “adulting”.

 

9.19.17  ::  BACK TO LIFE, BACK TO REALITY

I’m sure we’ve all heard the song, or at least the saying, ‘back to life back to reality’. Well let’s be real, I bet most of us 20-something year olds haven't actually heard the song…I for one had to look it up. But that’s beside the point. The point is that I can guarantee most of us found ourselves waking up the morning after Labor Day feeling like we’d been slapped across the face by reality. It’s practically like the minute the clock strikes 12:00am on the first Tuesday of every September thirty percent of the leaves change color and the weather drops at least ten degrees.

It can take a minute to adjust, but now that I’m getting settled I can confidently say that reality isn't all that bad. Being back at school has been nothing short of an SNL skit. Let me take you through all the highs and lows that came with it. Here we go!

September 2nd, 2017
Alas, move in day! Sounds exciting, right? It was…minus the whole loading and unloading of a 15 foot U-Haul truck that contained two entire rooms worth of furniture. My roommate Jaclyn and I decided to split a U-Haul truck and were accompanied by both our parents, also two of our roommates had already moved in so luckily we had some assistance with unpacking. Although, even with the extra hands it’s safe to say that I will never look for a future occupation in the moving industry. One of the luxuries that comes with our new apartment is a fantastic front porch, so after hours of running up and down stairs, unloading furniture and fumbling with command strips we all took to the porch for some much needed rest and relaxation.

Oh! Almost forgot to mention that my wing of our new apartment that contains a hallway, my bedroom and my roommate Melissa’s bedroom were completely powerless when we arrived on Saturday. That meant there were no working overhead lights, no working outlets, and the best part was that the real estate agent we rent our apartment through wasn't going to be open until Tuesday, September 5th. That resulted in three glorious nights of me using my iPhone flashlight to fumble through my new room, woo-hoo!

September 5th, 2017
Anddd, classes begin. But, not only was it the first day of classes, it was also the first day I had power in my room and got my own set of keys to our new apartment. Improvements! The only setbacks I experienced were due to me almost completely forgetting how to navigate the campus after being away for eight months. I found myself getting lost or confused more times than I’d like to admit, and even ended up driving to campus the first day because I was already running late and didn’t have time to re-figure out the bus schedule. I’m happy to report that I did make it to all my classes, but not without a little struggle!

September 7th, 2017
Add/drop period is both a blessing and a curse. Between the first day of classes and the third day I ended up almost completely changing my schedule around. It was fine to do because it was within the add/drop period, but, it just meant that I had to shlep around the campus to a few more classrooms, meet a few new professors, and read a few more syllabuses (syllabi?). However, the trouble was worth it because I am much happier with my current schedule.

September 9th, 2017
The first tailgate of the year and an amazing one at that!! My worlds collided when my two friends from England, Matt and Lorcan, who I met during my semester abroad visited me in Amherst. They contacted me in August telling me that they were doing some traveling throughout the States and were going to be in Boston the second weekend of September. I immediately invited them to visit me at school, especially once I knew it was our first tailgate, and they immediately accepted. It is safe to say that this past weekend was one that we all, but especially Matt and Lorcan, will remember forever. They were able to see and experience things that they never thought they would, and I am so happy I was able to help facilitate and partake in their American adventure.

September 12th, 2017
First day of Monday classes complete. As of tomorrow it will officially be one week since I started my senior year…ah! But now as I sit in good ole’ W.E.B. Du Bois library and reflect, it has been one amazing week. Granted, there was an adjustment period and of course some ups and downs but as we all know – that’s just how life goes.

As apprehensive as I was of jumping back into reality, I think the only way to do it was to literally jump feet first. Life is always moving at an incredibly fast pace so instead of dreading/fearing what’s to come, you might as well enjoy it. Based on this first week I would say I have a long, interesting, fantastic year to come and I can’t wait to bring you along with me!

Until next time :)

MY DOG DAYS OF SUMMER + HOW I QUIT THE DRAMATICS

Hi readers, nice to finally talk with you again!!

When you last heard from me it had only been a few weeks since my return from Barcelona and writing that blog post ended up being an unexpected therapy session, allowing me to reflect upon my adjustment process and really consider how I felt since being back home. I touched upon the inevitable aspect of life - change - and how although it can be bittersweet and even scary to end one chapter and start another, it’s all about your mindset and learning not to get hung up on one specific chapter and enjoy the entire book.

As easy as that sounds, I too suddenly found myself falling victim to ‘new chapter anxiety’. Here I was, post-semester abroad where I was living my most free and independent life, to being back under my parents roof, jobless, and completely dependent upon them and their finances.

I’m not gonna lie…I took a few days to wallow in my own self pity and spent unnecessary hours wishing my circumstances were different. But, once I finally quit the dramatics, I realized that all I had to do was change my mindset and the way I was looking at my situation to see that things were not that bad and it was all up to me to write an amazing next chapter: summer 2017.

The main thing that I had to tackle, which was a big source of stress and lack of independence, was my unemployment. I knew that I had a few back up options in case push really came to shove, but those jobs were all very comfortable to me and after my semester abroad I was in-spired to find something new and uncharted. I gave myself one week to land a job before retreating back to more familiar options, and ironically enough my first day of searching led me to a Craigslist ad that resulted in a summer job I will remember forever.

So Ladies and Gentleman, you are hearing from Massachusetts' new top dog walker! Joking…there’s no official ranking that says I'm a ‘top dog walker’ but I’m at least an average one and I couldn’t be happier about it. I had a relatively open mind going into my job search, despite some self-doubt that I should be doing something more geared towards my professional career, but when I saw an ad for ‘Dog Walker’ I could not have clicked faster.

The ad promised high pay, a flexible schedule, great working hours and plenty of exercise and fresh air, all in exchange for walking and playing with dogs. Okay, there might have been a littttle more work such as communicating with clients and management, driving to different homes, providing fresh food, water and cleanup for the dogs, but I can honestly say that it almost never felt like what I was doing was work. Minus the occasional rainy day walks that I can count on one hand, I was spending everyday outside in beautiful nature, forming bonds with unbelievably cute dogs all while getting exercise AND getting paid for it…is there a better summer job? I think not.

All kidding aside this summer job was an absolutely amazing experience. Not only because I was literally getting paid to hang out with dogs, but also because of the process leading up to it and how much I learned about myself. Despite having tons of doubt and apprehension about being back home and what to do with myself, I was able to channel that negativity into positive motivation to go out and find a job that allowed me to be my best, happiest self, even if I wasn't in my most ideal circumstance.

A quick summary of my latest life chapter would entail many dogs (of course), as well as lots of time for family, friends, the beach, hiking and incredible new adventures. As summer comes to a close and the chapter of senior year quickly approaches, I am feeling nothing other than excitement and anticipation for what’s to come. I know to expect some bumps in the road just like with any transition, but I have total confidence in myself knowing that I turned an undesirable adjustment from a semester in Barcelona to a summer at home into one of the best summers of my life. I trust myself and I trust what’s to come and I cannot wait to bring you all along with me as I embark upon my senior year!

Talk to you all next time :)

 

THOUGHTS ON MY NEWFOUND FISCAL WILLPOWER + APPRECIATING EVERY CHAPTER OF YOUR BOOK

Hello readers, long time no talk!

Notice that I am greeting you in English again because yes, lo and behold, I am back in America. Time doesn't slow down when you return to your home country because I cannot believe I’ve been back for over a month. The last few weeks have been packed full of family, friends, catching up on sleep, and attempting to re-adjust to home-life and routine, but because I’ve been so busy I haven't really had time to reflect upon my adjustment process until sitting down to write this blog.

After thinking long and hard, I’ve compiled a list of my top three aspects of daily life that have required the greatest amount of re-adjustment after living overseas.

Finances
First things first…glorious finances. The way I dealt with and spent my money while living abroad was extremely different than the way I manage my money in the States. That being said, readjusting to finances and the way I spend money at home hasn't been too hard (if anything it’s been easier), but an adjustment nonetheless.

Abroad, I was living in an apartment with three other girls, which is a very different set up compared to when I’m home living under my parents’ roof. When I was living abroad I was responsible for purchasing everything I needed for daily life such as food, toiletries, household supplies, etc., which allowed me to see firsthand the way in which expenses add up. The daily/weekly costs I was racking up just on daily necessities was something I had to adjust to during my first few weeks away, and something I now realize I’ve taken for granted at home (home, where I never have to check if I have enough money to spend on a tube of toothpaste or a roll of paper towels).

Secondly, the main place I spent my money was on traveling, so when the “just getting by” lifestyle began to stress me out, I cut back on other expenses in order to afford weekend trips. Random little purchases that I wouldn't think twice about at home such as a coffee in the morning, new mascara, or a pair of sunglasses had to be curbed by my newfound fiscal willpower. Since I’ve been home and am no longer booking trips to different countries I’m feeling a lot less guilt when it comes to spending on things like a Dunks iced coffee, but my outlook on even the most minuscule purchases will forever be changed.

Experience/Adventure
Of course there are pros and cons to everything, so even though it’s been easy adjusting to spending (or at least feeling like I'm spending) less money at home, it’s been very difficult adjusting to the lack of experience and adventure that comes with home life.

In foreign lands, a simple five minute stroll down the road had potential of turning into the greatest adventure. No matter where I went, everything was always brand new, unfamiliar, and exciting. Even in Barcelona, where I considered myself a local by the end of four months (Ha!), venturing down an unknown road or hopping off a metro stop I’d never been before would lead me to the most amazing new sights, smells, people, and culture.

At home where I truly am a local, I’m among the same type of sights, smells, people, and culture wherever I go, and that has been a hard pill to swallow. The reality of this initially left me feeling bored and underwhelmed but I’ve come to realize that no good will come from drowning in my own self pity and these emotions can be channeled into something positive. Just because I’m not in Europe anymore doesn't mean I have to stop adventuring and having new and exhilarating experiences. I may be back to the same place I've been living for almost 21 years, but I’m sure there's an abundance of experiences, sights, opportunities and unchartered territories waiting for me. I’ve returned home with a fresh pair of eyes and a broadened horizon, and it’s up to me to make the first step, even if it’s in my own back yard.

Independence
Lastly, independence; the one thing I was expecting to have the hardest time with upon returning home, but interestingly enough, isn’t as bad as expected.

My biggest concern (which I was right about) was going from living outside the U.S. and traveling to other countries without my parents for four months, to living under the same roof with them full time. Since I didn’t miraculously make enough money abroad to purchase my own apartment when I got home, this has been as tough of an adjustment as anticipated. We had a period of adjusting to the classic “Where are you going?”, “When are you coming home?”, “Why didn't you put your dish away?” parent questions, but after about a week I got used to it.

To my surprise, I even began to notice aspects of home life that actually made me feel very independent. For one, the independence that comes with having a car is something I completely forgot about. I relied on public transportation throughout my foreign adventures, which meant I often planned my days to accommodate the transportation schedule.

Seemingly simple things like grabbing a quick bite to eat with friends or getting to a final exam on time required dependence upon public transportation (and all that comes with it) to get me there. Now that I’m home, I have freedom to get in my car at any time to go anywhere with ease.

All of this brings me to my next point and one that I definitely took for granted… the independence that comes with speaking a country’s native language. When I found myself unable to speak or understand the native language of my current location, I felt extremely dependent and quite honestly – dumb. These language barriers did help my independence flourish, forcing me to be self reliant and figure problems out, but when I’m actually able to read signs and fluently communicate with people around me, it makes me that much more aware and appreciative of how independent I really am.

So…the moral of the story is that there are going to be ups and downs with any transition in life. Whether you are graduating college, changing jobs, moving, getting a dog, whatever, there are going to be aspects of the new chapter in your life that you love and aspects of the old chapter that you miss. The key is to not compare one chapter to the other and to appreciate every single part of the entire book. So even though I may miss living in my parent-less apartment in gorgeous Barcelona I am extremely appreciative for the home and life I was able to come back to. We all must learn to embrace and love change, for it’s the only part of life you can count on!



WALKING YOUR OWN PATH DURING THE BELOVED 20-SOMETHING YEARS

Uncertainty is a feeling that does not discriminate against age, race, class, or gender. No matter what stage of life you are in, it’s virtually impossible to avoid feeling unsure about whether you are making the right life choices or if you're on the “right” path. The ironic thing is that every human being, whether they like to admit it or not, faces doubt and uncertainty on a daily basis. I’m sure each one of you reading this can think of someone who seems perfect and appears to have their whole life figured out. Chances are, even that person has a laundry list of doubts and insecurities (and might just be better at hiding them). I’ve learned that these emotions are completely normal and come with the territory of life; the key is to not get hung up on the fleeting doubts or to start comparing your own unique path to the stereotypical “right” path.

The beloved 20-somethings are some of the best times in life, but also chock-full of uncertainty, anxiety, and doubt. This is a time where there are a million different routes to take and things to do, and everyone is looking to find what the next “right” move to make is, both personally and professionally. I am currently experiencing this 20-something predicament first-hand and it’s extremely interesting and somewhat saddening at the same time.

With the semester coming to a close, I’ve started to notice people around me becoming consumed with “summer plan anxiety”. Some are frantically setting up Skype interviews with companies in the States to score that oh-so-sought-after title of ‘Intern’. Some are scrambling to solidify plans of either continuing to live in Spain or carrying on with their overseas adventures. Some, with a little more peace of mind, are going home to part-time jobs, and some have absolutely no clue what they're going to do.

The most compelling part of all of this is that no matter who I’m talking to, whether they’re applying to corporate internships, nannying jobs, or random work overseas, each person has their own share of doubts and insecurities. Those putting more emphasis on their career can’t help but wonder if they’re jipping themselves of once-in-a-lifetime travel and adventure. Those putting more emphasis on experience and personal growth worry they're going to be at a disadvantage when they enter the work force. The bottom line is: there will always be room to worry, question, and compare, especially in your 20’s, but it’s essential we stop ourselves before falling too far into that trap.

No two people are the same - crazy right?! Which means no two people are going to walk the same exact life path. Each person has their own individual wants and needs, and it’s vital that everyone listen to the voice inside their own head instead of the blaring voices of others who may not see things the same way. At the end of the day, there is no one right way to do things and I personally believe it’s much easier to live with a decision knowing that you tried and failed instead of never even trying at all.

So, going forward I hope that those of you reading this choose to make the decisions that YOU want to make, even if it’s ultimately not what society, or whomever, deems as the “perfect” next step. As we’ve all been told since Kindergarten, there is no such thing as perfect, so as long as you are being true to yourself and following your heart you will be just fine!


 

MY PRICELESS REVELATIONS WHILE LIVING ABROAD.

Hola readers!!

As I sit and write this from my apartment balcony (my go-to spot) watching the city of Barcelona wake up, I can’t help but get emotional thinking about how I’m nearing the end of my semester abroad. Yes, it’s true, I am officially two weeks past the halfway mark and constantly baffled as to how time flies so fast. When I sit and reflect on the first half of the semester, I realize my most amazing, rewarding experiences haven’t been monetary. They’ve been the small, usually overlooked, experiences and emotions that have stuck with me most and have benefited me most as an individual.

So, I figured I'd fill you in on my top 'priceless' revelations while studying abroad. Here we go!

Independence & Self Reliance
I cannot stress this one enough. Choosing to study abroad has expanded my understanding of self reliance and independence more than I ever could’ve imagined. I considered myself a relatively independent and self sufficient person before boarding the plane in January, but I had no idea the number of personal barriers I was going to break through in the coming months. Going to a foreign country where I don't speak the native language - and alone – turned a simple trip to the grocery store for milk into a test of my independence.

Granted, at this point I feel like a local who knows the city like the back of my hand (even sometimes getting annoyed at ‘tourists’) but this level of independence didn't happen overnight. The first few weeks to month and a half was a daily evaluation of my level of self sufficiency. I had to learn how to navigate an entire metro in a different language and maneuver the city to get to classes and find stores for basic, daily needs. I quickly realized the need to pick up on a few phrases, in both Spanish and Catalan, just to get by in conversations with locals. I was forced to adjust to the new cultural norms to make sure I was appearing respectful in my new city, and to try not to stick out like a sore thumb.
 
I could go on for hours about this, but moral of the story is that studying abroad in Barcelona has made me an exceptionally more independent and self reliant person, which has also given me boundless confidence and a feeling of freedom.

Getting Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
It’s safe to say that I am now a pro in feeling uncomfortable. Coming to study abroad alone in a country where I don't speak the language meant I was opening the flood gates to uncomfortable experiences. I had to get extremely comfortable putting myself out there to make new friends and get comfortable doing many things alone until I made those friendships (which I finally did, thank God). I had to get comfortable looking like a huge tourist every time I got lost, didn't understand what someone was saying, didn't understand cultural differences, etc. I had to get comfortable dealing with the occasional, yet expected, bump in the road like missing a connecting flight, getting sick, and the (always) unique interactions on the metro. As cliché as it sounds, I've come to find the humor in uncomfortable situations. Now, if I mess up or embarrass myself I’m more apt to relax and laugh it off. If I find myself in an interesting situation (like having a homeless man flirt with me in the metro), I’ve learned to laugh at the experience and even grow to appreciate it. It’s safe to say one of my biggest takeaways of this semester is that life truly begins at the end of your comfort zone.

And finally...


Unbreakable Bonds & Once in a Lifetime Experiences
Last but not least, the endless once-in-a-lifetime experiences and unbreakable bonds I’ve formed as a result of this adventure so far. Yes, I admit these experiences transpired as a result of paying for a flight to a different country, but beyond that, the simple act of walking around and soaking in the new culture and people is what I enjoy most.

I am a huge nature lover and have found that free hikes, a $10 bike rental, laying out on the beach, or simply wandering around a natural area have been some of my favorite times. I’ve definitely paid for some excursions; one of the best was scaling rocks on the Coast of Brava (northeastern area of Spain), but it was money spent on a physical outdoor activity, not a material item or night out at a club.

The number of amazing people I’ve met and created lifelong friendships with is one of the absolute highlights of my experience. I have close friends from the states but now also from Belgium, UK, Iceland, Spain, and Venezuela that I‘ll be eternally grateful for and wouldn’t have otherwise.

So folks, whether you’re a high school student reading this, college student, or post-grad, I highly recommend traveling abroad. Whether you do it through an ‘official’ program or just on your own, I truly believe that the priceless moments completely outweigh the monetary costs. I am learning, doing, and seeing things that I will carry for the rest of my life and that is something money cannot buy.

I hope you guys enjoyed this week’s post and check back in next week for more…in the mean time, go out and see the world! If you can’t get to another country, start in a neighboring town or even your own back yard.



SOMETIMES IT'S WHO YOU KNOW, ESPECIALLY WHEN HER NAME IS ESTER.


Last weekend I had the pleasure of visiting the impeccable country of Iceland. Now you're thinking, “What in the world would entice you to visit Iceland? It’s not on the usual list of countries to visit in Europe...” and my answer is, I know. It was not originally on my list of must-visit places… in fact, it only takes one hour longer to travel from Boston to Reykjavik than from Barcelona to Reykjavik, but I had a few serious factors persuading me to go, one being the way I’d be able to cut substantial costs on what is usually a very pricey trip.

My roommate Jamie was the first one to commit to traveling to Reykjavik during the second weekend of February. I was very excited for her, yet also pretty jealous because I’d seen pictures of Iceland and heard from multiple people of how incredible the natural beauty is. Jamie came abroad knowing that Iceland would be one of her main adventures because she has a very close native Icelandic friend who had already offered her house as a place to stay and her car for transportation. It wasn't until Jamie started to channel her inner sales person and pitch me the idea of tagging along and how much I could save compared to other trips, that I seriously started considering it.

Iceland is known as the land of the sheep, northern lights, volcanoes with unpronounceable names, and insanely high prices, yet on this particular trip I was able to avoid (for the most part) the least desirable aspect of Iceland. We stayed with Ester, the native Icelandic friend-of-a-friend, so room and board for three nights was completely free of charge and we also received a few free meals due to the graciousness of her amazing parents!

For transportation, Jamie and I paid a mere 2,348 Króna’s (the Icelandic currency, which is very confusing - I recommend plugging it into Google if you want to learn more), or 20 Euros, for a quick bus ride from the airport to a hotel five minutes away from Ester’s home. Ester picked us up from the hotel at 3am, brought us to her home, and then proceeded to chauffer us around to all the copious site seeing locations and other adventures we had planned throughout the weekend.

Jamie and I ended up splitting one tank of gas in a pathetic effort to express even a quarter of our gratitude. Having Ester by our side allowed us to completely avoid the cost of a tour guide. She’s lived in Iceland her whole life (minus frequent visits to family in America) and knows Reykjavik and Iceland like the back of her hand so it was like having the best tour guide money could buy - but for free! Instead of paying to sit on a tour bus for hours, we rode in the comfort of Ester’s car around the breathtakingly beautiful country while she told us all about its history. Ester also stood in as our own personal translator for one of the trickiest languages in the world and immersed us in true Icelandic culture, taking us to the best local spots and introducing us to the cool local people.

I should add that Ester is more than just a good tour guide. She is an amazing person for a multitude of reasons, but Jamie and I are forever grateful to her for helping us cut an extensive amount of costs off our trip. All in all, I only had to pay for flights, the 20 euro bus, a few meals, drinks, and added personal expenses like a ticket to the blue lagoon and souvenirs to bring home to friends. Iceland was one of the most amazing places I’ve visited in my life; one I probably would have visited at some point, but with the help of Ester’s built-in-discounts I was able to go now instead of later. Now having gone and experienced this unbelievable country, I have no choice but to return; the only challenge will be pulling off this caliber of frugalness again!

 

2.1.17 :: INTERNAL BATTLES WITH CHURROS + THE BIGGER PICTURE

Hola readers!

I’m back this week with another post - international style.

I’m finding it hard to believe that I arrived in this beautiful city exactly three weeks ago. These few weeks have felt like the quickest, yet most amazing and eye-opening time of my life, and I am wanting nothing more than for time to slow down! I’ve learned so much in my time here (about both myself and the incredible new people and culture around me) and one thing I’m becoming a master in is saving money!! I thought I was smart with my savings in the states, but living abroad has taken my expertise to a whole new level. Now I’m going to share a few ideas I’ve put to use not only to survive, but thrive, while studying abroad on a slim budget. Here we go!

The bigger picture
Prioritizing for the bigger picture or a bigger plan…this is an all-encompassing idea that applies to almost every aspect of my daily life abroad. When there are so many amazing opportunities and adventures to spend money on, you have to really question what you're willing to pay for and what you can do without. I feel as though the money-conscious part of my brain is constantly at work, evaluating whether something is worth the five Euros or if it’d be smarter to put the money towards a ‘bigger plan’ such as a flight to another country or a metro pass to explore an unknown part of Barcelona. The main theme I’ve tried to impress upon my readers throughout SUPERpowers is that every little bit counts, and I am noticing that concept is even more prevalent and true while living and venturing throughout Europe.

Sacrificing
I feel silly even referring to these actions as ‘sacrifices’ because how much sacrificing am I really doing while traveling the world, but you get what I mean! This kind of ties back to the idea of prioritizing; there have been many instances where I’ve had to adjust plans or choose an option that wasn’t my first preference just to cut costs. For example, when booking flights to other countries I obviously want to get the cheapest flights possible. Come to find out, this means having to leave at strange (often extremely early/late) hours or opting for the middle seat instead of the window. I’ve had to restrain myself many times from walking around Barcelona when the churros con chocolate or gelato has been calling my name because I know that money could be better spent elsewhere. I’ve had to get out of my comfort zone many, many times by walking instead of hailing a taxi or getting a metro pass, which usually entails me getting lost at least once and wandering about asking ‘hablas ingles’ to multiple strangers until someone finally says yes and can help a girl out!

Time is on our side
It’s extremely easy to get carried away while traveling when there are a hundred and one amazing things to do and places to see, but budgeting and planning ahead is a must. I have to keep reminding myself that I have four months to see all the sites and countries on my list and that they aren’t just going to disappear on me, I have time! Setting a weekly and monthly budget for spending on necessities like groceries, transportation, daily life and then leisure activities such as traveling, going out, and on-a-whim spending is very beneficial. I’ve also continued to keep my handy-dandy agenda/planner nearby to map out when I’m going where and what activities I’ll be doing to be fully aware of the costs involved and to decide if I need to further space things out.

So, I’ve decided I’m not going to totally limit myself… this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and time to travel and take in everything around me, but being smart about it is key. It can be easy to lose track of spending, but with a little conscious effort, I’m discovering it’s also very easy not to - and I sure am choosing the latter! I hope you all enjoyed this second blog post from overseas. Be sure to tune in next time when I dish on more foreign experiences and money related stories!

Adios!

 

1.19.17 :: WHEN LIFE HANDS YOU LAYOVERS, HANG OUT IN DUBLIN

Hello readers…I am currently writing you from Barcelona, Spain!

I’m taking 'SUPERpowers' international for the next four months and will continue to document my experiences with finances and saving while living and studying in my new, beautiful city of Barcelona and traveling Europe. I’ve only been here for a week - one exciting, hectic, unbelievably amazing week - but saving money whichever way possible is already a priority. Now I’m not only a broke college student, but also a broke college student living in a big city and trying to squeeze the absolute most out of Europe, so it’s safe to say I am going to have to get creative. I can’t wait to share my experiences and the ways in which I navigate this unchartered territory on a tight budget.

But first, I have a little story for you all. My first savings experience actually happened before I even got to my new favorite city. To get to Barcelona, I had to stop for a quick layover in Dublin, Ireland. The ‘quick’ layover of 40 minutes ended up being a little too quick because when my plane from Boston to Dublin departed a mere 25 minutes late, it meant I was going to miss my connecting flight to Barcelona, turning my 40 minutes in Dublin into 12 hours.

Luckily, I was with a few other people that I knew but, still, this was not an ideal situation. My friends and I decided to make the most out of the 40-minute mishap - and obviously on a budget. We had the options of either staying inside the Dublin airport for 12 hours, taking an expensive bus ride into the city to shop and eat, or hopping a less expensive bus to the famous Guinness Brewery. Now, I wouldn’t classify myself as a big Guinness drinker so I was more inclined to choose the second option, but most of my group wanted to do the brewery since it was cheapest. I complied, and boy I am happy I did. The inexpensive bus ride to the brewery took us all throughout the city on a great double-decker bus, which ended up being its own little form of a tour and when we got to the brewery, we used our student IDs to get a significant student discount. The brewery itself ended up being extremely interesting and informative, and the last part of the tour brought us to the top level of the factory where we got to enjoy a magnificent 360 degree view of Dublin.

Long story short, the decision my group made based on our low-budget status ended up being the best idea, giving us an unexpected visit and tour of the gorgeous city of Dublin, Ireland that we easily could have passed or missed out on. Something tells me that perhaps some of my most memorable experiences in the months to come will be spontaneous, on-a-whim, and on a budget!

Hopefully this is just a little taste of what’s to come during my next four months studying abroad, and I hope you all continue to come along with me on this amazing new ride!



12.19.16 :: A REMINDER FROM GRANDPA TO DRINK YOUR CEREAL MILK


I’m sure most of you can agree there are certain things you do in your day-to-day life, like particular habits, house rules, or traditions that were impressed upon on you by family members or friends.

We’ve all had that moment where we catch ourselves doing something and think - I’m so much like _______ , or this reminds me of _______ (fill in the blank). Well, that can apply to anything, especially money saving habits. I know for me, personally, there are many things that I do to cut corners or save a buck or two that I’ve learned by witnessing others’ behaviors, and of course occasionally being lectured, for years and years. Although sometimes I resented these habits (mostly during the angsty teen years) I’m glad that they're part of my daily routine now and I’m here to share them with you all!

Doing little things around the house
My parents have always been big on the small ways you can save by partaking in a few simple behaviors. Doing things around the house such as shutting off lights, unplugging electronics, turning off water, managing the heat/ac, are all habits that have been hammered into second nature. Once you overcome the laziness and start practicing these habits, you really will begin to reap the benefits of putting in a little effort. Taking for granted all of the collective ways that you can save money is probably one of the biggest causes of money down the drain.

Keeping your eyes peeled for sales
Sales and coupons both tend to get overlooked, but it’s important to take advantage of them. I always noticed my parents stocking up on things like household supplies and nonperishable goods whenever they were on sale, which makes sense, because if you’re going to need those items in the near future you might as well get them while they’re at a discount. Although, make sure not to get too carried away by purchasing things just for the sake of the sale. You probably don’t need a mountain of tuna fish and pasta sauce in your pantry.

Not being wasteful
My grandpa was a very big advocate of using things until their last drop, so it’s safe to say this concept was drilled into my mind. The morning after sleepovers my friends would sometimes make fun of me for drinking the milk from my cereal, but that’s just something I was taught to do from my grandpa! I’m not saying that you need to drink strawberry-flavored cereal milk to save money, it’s the idea of getting the most out of a product that you should take away. Little behaviors such as wrapping up leftovers and eating them later, rolling your toothpaste tube to get the most out, or passing down clothes to little siblings or friends are great ways of not wasting perfectly usable products.

Whether you like to admit that you're like your family or not, some passed down habits and traditions should be embraced. Being like your crafty Aunt Karen or frugal Uncle Joe is nothing to be ashamed of, especially when you're putting the saved money towards things like nice Christmas presents or booking flights to an exotic destination. I hope you enjoyed hearing about my family’s money saving tips, and leave a comment if you have any special passed down family habits or traditions!



12.8.16 :: FINDING STASIS AMIDST THE LOPSIDED CRAZINESS

Finding the school/life, work/life, and for some of us school/work/life balance, is something we all strive for but can be quite difficult to attain. If you find yourself feeling a little lopsided from time to time, you're not alone. It’s hard to maintain balance in this day and age when there are millions of things to do and expectations to meet, and it’s easy to catch ourselves feeling spread too thin so I’d like to share a few of my own tactics to find stasis amidst all of life’s craziness (to the best of my abilities, that is).

Organization is Key
If I didn’t have an organizational planner I would constantly be running around like a chicken with its head cut off. My planner is the map by which I live my life, and without it I would be truly lost. It’s very easy to feel overwhelmed when you have a billion and one things to do, but jotting tasks/events down in a planner or calendar is an immediate way to alleviate that stress. When you know exactly what is due and when, you'll be able to manage your time much more efficiently, allotting yourself extra time to spend doing leisurely activities or hanging with friends. (And you're also less inclined to accidentally blow off the date that you agreed to last week.)

To-do Lists
This is an extension of my first tip, but to-do lists are crucial. I love to write my to do lists the old fashioned way, on a piece of paper, but you can also utilize your handy smartphone to jot the list down in your notes. Having a physical list - not just one in your head - ensures that everything is in one place and allows you to prioritize tasks by planning the order in which you'll do them and identify what needs your immediate attention, and what you can leave until later. There’s nothing more satisfying than crossing off a big task from your to-do list, which is more of an incentive to go back to the stone ages and use a pen and paper.

Everything in Moderation
The concept of moderation is somewhat of a myth nowadays, but I think it is still very important to remember. In life, and especially college, there’s a large focus on competition and striving for excellence. This mindset can become a trap, leaving us completely engulfed in school or work, to an almost destructive degree. As a society, we need to retrain ourselves to think about doing everything in moderation. For instance, choosing to get a few hours of sleep instead of pulling an all-nighter to cram for my exam may result in me get a B+ instead of an A, but will that be detrimental to my life in the long run? Most likely not. And, my future self will be thanking me for making that decision when I have the energy to accomplish much more the next day. This is just one example, but the message behind it can apply to all aspects of life.

We gotta keep the steam in our engines in order to keep plugging along on the tipsy, turvy, terrain of life. Life isn't as fun when all our time and energy is invested in one thing, so try to stay organized, prioritize, and remember moderation so you can get the most enjoyment out of every day!

 

12.1.16 :: GRATITUDE + HELPING OUT THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

Well folks, it seems as though the holiday season is officially in full swing. No matter what holiday you celebrate, this is always an exceptional time of year. It’s full of excitement, comfort, and a perpetual sense of child-like enchantment, but there can also be some downfalls. As delightful as the holiday season can be, it’s very common to find ourselves feeling overwhelmed with all of the hustle and bustle that comes along with it. There are parties to plan, parties to attend, gifts to buy, family members to see, and the list can stretch on for miles. When this happens, it’s important to take a step back and try to put things into perspective. While lavish parties and shiny new toys will always be a part of holiday festivities, this season is really about simply being grateful for what you have, getting a little relaxation, and spending time with those you love.

A great way to enjoy the holiday season is to show your gratitude by giving back to those less fortunate. There’s a common misconception that giving back requires tons of time or money, but that could not be farther from the truth. You do not have to be Bill Gates to help a great cause or make someone’s day, and if everyone were to make just one small contribution the impact would be incredible.

Here are some non-expensive ways to give back this holiday season!

Donate Food To a Food Pantry
I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that my family has an entire cupboard dedicated to canned foods. It’s not that one day someone went out and bought a stock-pile worth of canned goods, but overtime we have accumulated numerous cans of various vegetables, fruits, sauces, and soups, and I don’t see it going down any time soon. Donating even just a few cans from your family’s collection can go a long way, and is a cost-free way to help the 1 in 7 people struggling with hunger in the United States.

Donate Your Spare Change
Donating spare change is one of the easiest and most effective ways to give back. No amount of money is overlooked by a charity or organization, even as little as a dollar can make a difference. As cliché as it sounds, I’m sure if most of you reading this now looked through your couch cushions or car seats you would compile enough change to make a substantial contribution to an organization in need. You can find a Coinstar in practically every grocery or convenience store, which will convert your coins into cash or a gift card for you to donate to a charity of your choosing.

Donate Your Time
Volunteering can be just as, or even more effective, than donating cash or material goods. People are sometimes more inclined to just write a check to a charity, but what is more often needed are hands behind the scenes doing the dirty work. Time is a valuable commodity and volunteers are a very valuable resource for non-profits, many of which look for extra help around the holidays. Tossing on a hairnet to serve food at food kitchen, or heading to your local senior center to spend time with the senior citizens is a very beneficial way to spend your time and way to cultivate a sense of community this holiday season.

These are just a few of the countless ways to give back at any time, but especially around this time of year. As fun as secret-Santa, gingerbread houses, and eight days of presents can be, it’s important not to lose sight of what really matters. We must not underestimate the great ripple-effect that can come from just 5 dollars or 5 minutes of time. I hope I sparked some interest in giving back this holiday season and I guarantee if you do, not only will the people receiving the help feel great, but you will too!

 

11.10.16 :: MAINTAINING YOUR MARBLES (FOR FREE)

Everyone needs a break from time to time. I don't care who you are - the Pope, Superman, or the President - we’re all human and need an occasional escape from the stress and pressures that come with daily life. Although I may not fit into one of those three categories (just yet), I’m still a twenty-something college student juggling many different responsibilities and when I don't give myself a breather now and again I really start to lose my marbles. Here’s how I try to keep my sanity when life gets a little chaotic and I need to clear my head.

Nothing does the trick like getting some fresh air! After being cooped up all day in a classroom or cubicle, there is nothing better than utilizing the planet at zero charge to relieve some stress. Walking, running, or hiking outside is not only a great form of exercise, it's a proven way to uplift your mood and give you more energy. Did you know that just twenty minutes of working-out in nature is equivalent to drinking one cup of coffee in terms of its energy-boosting effects? Not only that, exercising in nature raises serotonin levels, provides more sensory stimulus, increases feelings of well-being, and sun exposure raises vitamin D levels which is imperative to feeling your best, especially this time of year when the sun is only up for such a limited amount of time. I’m telling you, getting in tune with nature through a leisurely walk or hike is the perfect way to relax (and sneak in some exercise) and allows you to come back ready to tackle your tasks with a clear mind and an abundance of energy.

This next tip is in connection to last week: cooking/baking can be a phenomenal way to decompress from a long day. Of course the whole point here is to find ways to relax without spending money, so I recommend looking around your kitchen to see what you already have that can be whipped into a delicious meal or dessert. 9 out of 10 times that I’ve done this, I’ve made delectable meals that I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise using miscellaneous ingredients in my cupboards. Cooking can be very soothing and help tap into creativity that you may not be able to fully utilize during your school or work day. Put some of your favorite music on in the background and feel your worries begin to melt away when you start trying out different creations, all of which you’ll (hopefully) be able to eat at the end!

Lastly (and this may sound obvious), when I have the opportunity to chill out for a few hours there’s nothing I love more than getting cozy and throwing on a movie or picking up a good book. When I’m stressed out or overwhelmed, watching a movie I already own is a surefire way to help me relax and lift my spirits. The same goes for books. I wouldn't go out of my way to purchase a new movie or book (spending $ you don’t really have = more stress), but making use of what you already do have can give you that “blast from the past” feeling and help you unwind and forget about all that you have to do - a least for a little while.

Taking a break from our busy lives should not require spending tons of money. After all, there’s nothing relaxing about spending money that you can’t truly afford to spend. Next time you’re in need of some peace and quiet, I hope you try one of these frugal relaxation strategies instead. Remember, with a little creativity and dedication you can do almost anything on a budget, and I am here to help you along the way!

Until next week!!

 

11.3.16 :: EATING HEALTHY ON A BUDGET + AVOIDING PINTEREST-FAILS

My health is something that I take pretty seriously. I’m only in my twenties, which means I have a lot more life to live in this body, so I try to make sure it’s in tip-top condition. Most people think it requires insane amounts of time and money to eat healthy but I am here to debunk that myth because, really, the only major charge is some willpower and commitment.

Everyone has been there before - life gets hectic and we fall into the trap of going through the drive-thru for dinner or sneaking pop tarts from the vending machine for lunch. No need to feel guilty about it, but I am here to let you know there are more nutritious and affordable options out there.

$1.50 a day
For starters, shopping for healthy food isn’t nearly as expensive as people think. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health did a study on the average cost of healthy versus unhealthy diets, and they concluded that a so-called “healthy” diet costs only $1.50 more per day than an unhealthy one. That means that over the course of a year, a person will spend $550 more if they choose to eat healthy. When you weigh that price in comparison to the health risks you’ll avoid by eating clean, you can look at it as a cost that’ll cancel itself out in the form of a healthy, happy, body. 

Simple planning
When it comes to eating healthy and saving money, planning is essential. Plan your meals and snacks for each day of the upcoming week, make a grocery list of what you’ll need, and scan your fridge and cabinets for hidden items you forgot about and put them to use. Also, plan out your coupons accordingly ahead of time if you want to shave off a few extra bucks! Only purchase items you're going to actually use and want to eat so you don't end up throwing stuff away... which brings me to my next tip…

Shop full
Don’t go grocery shopping when you're hungry!! I’m sure you've heard this before but it’s extremely important. Shopping hungry makes it very easy to get sidetracked and pick up unnecessary and unhealthy options, which can lead to unintended, expensive purchases. You know what it’s like – strolling through the aisles when, suddenly, whipping up a five-star vegan meal seems like the most genius idea you’ve ever had.  Sadly, these on-a-whim dinners often turn into one of those Pinterest-fails leaving us hungry, disappointed, and more inclined to walk down the street to the local pizza shop.

Eat-in
This next tip brings me back to my first point. It costs $550 more a year to eat healthy, but the average American spends about $1,000 annually eating out. This means that if you cut-out on eating-out, you could actually save $450! Generally, you can feed a family of four for the same amount it costs for two people to dine out at a restaurant. Plus! Not only is eating out more expensive, you usually consume far more calories at a restaurant than if you were to cook the meal at home yourself.

Snack attack
The worst is when you're out and about and start to feel those dreaded hunger pains come on. You can save yourself money and calories by having a healthy snack on hand rather than rushing to the nearest convenience store to grab a bag of chips. Making sure you’re equipped with a snack does require a little extra thought in the morning, but this is one habit I’ve found to save me significant money every month. My favorite healthy on-the-go snacks are trail mix, granola bars (my favorite is KIND bars), cheese and crackers, and either pita chips/veggies with hummus (all in a chilled lunch box of course). There’s no justifying a Big Mac when you have handy, healthy snacks right by your side.

Well, that's it for this week. I hope that you guys try some of these out and let me know how your wallet and belt buckle thank you!

 

10.27.16 :: HALLOWEEN IS SCARY BUT THESE LAST-MINUTE SAVINGS TIPS ARE NOT.


Does anyone else feel like this year is passing in the blink of an eye? It seems like just yesterday I was laying on the beach soaking in the final days of summer, and now Halloween is just a few days away…what!? Before we know it there will be snow on the ground and we won’t be able to turn on the TV or radio without being bombarded with holiday advertisements. This means we’re officially entering the “Holiday Hallmark” season, my friends. Don’t panic and let’s take it one holiday at a time. First, Halloween.

Halloween is scary. It’s not only the haunted houses, creepy costumes, and killer clowns, but also the hefty costs associated with it. Did you know Halloween is the fifth most expensive holiday, as well as the most expensive non-gift giving holiday? According to the National Retail Federation, Americans spent a whopping $6.9 billion celebrating Halloween last year, which means the average person spent about $74.34. Decorations, candy, and costumes are the last things my roommates and I want to spend close to 80 bucks on, so in order to take part in the festivities and pay next month’s rent on time, we decided to take matters into our own hands.

First, we went to our local Dollar Tree for decorations and candy. There was a ton of selection on quality candy brands - at $1 per bag.  (Really cheap compared to the usual $3-$5 bags in most other stores.) We also picked up cute window stickers and fake pumpkins at $1 each to decorate the apartment. And for all you over-achievers out there - your winter holiday decorations, cards, and stocking stuffers are already on display!

Costumes are usually the steepest part of total Halloween costs, so that’s where savvy savings and creative-thinking skills come in. Halloween costumes aren’t the best investment because they’re usually only worn once, yet it’s common occurrence to drop outrageous amounts of money just to have the funniest or scariest get-up at the party. Plus, stores hike up prices knowing consumers will give in, and most often do, but not this year!

Thrift-fully, my roommates and I first looked to our own closets to see what clothing we could work with, and then took a little drive to the Salvation Army for the missing pieces. The Salvation Army is an awesome place to go for any type of clothing need, and especially when it comes to costumes. With their huge selection, I was able to put together a killer costume for practically nothing.

If you want to get crafty, most costumes can be a DIY… you might just need to use a little creativity, and a lot of glue. Pick up a cheap, plain shirt or pair of shorts that you can cut and create into your best Halloween costume yet.

Halloween should be a time of fun, thrill, and of course a little fear - but none of which should stem from the costs that come with it. Put in a little extra effort to save this year and you'll be able to enjoy one of falls most beloved holidays without having to spend an arm and a leg.


 

10.20.16 :: A CONFESSION ABOUT MY NOT-SO EXTREME COUPONING HABITS

I have a confession to make. Now, this may come as a surprise to some but I’ve never used coupons before this week. Yes, I know you’re like,’ how has a 20-something never used a coupon?’ I thought that too, which is why I decided to conduct a little couponing experiment.

Whenever I thought of “couponing” I envisioned people with three-ring binders and huge stock piles in their basements like you see on that TLC ‘Extreme Couponing’ show. But as I recently learned, that does not have to be the case! Coupons can be an easy way to save a few extra bucks, whether it’s for a quick run to the store or a big shopping spree.

My roommates and I were running low on some essential household items so I decided it would be the perfect time to head to Target and test out the whole couponing thing while I was at it. I wrote down a list of items we needed and then typed ‘Target Coupons’ into the search engine on my computer. A multitude of websites popped up, but I clicked on the actual Target company coupon page and to my surprise almost everything on my list, aside from a few items, had coupons available.

I had to enter my cell phone number to print the coupons (which Target explicitly stated would not be used or shared for marketing purposes), enter the verification code that was sent to me via text, and wallah!! I had access to 30 pages worth of savings. I printed my coupons, headed to the store, and the adventure that followed was interesting - to say the least.

I’m not sure if this shopping trip convinced me to take up the extreme sport of couponing, but I’m definitely glad I did it and was able to compile a list of couponing pros and cons to share with you all!

Pros:
> To start, I saved $7.84! My initial total was $52.86 and with coupons it came out to $45.02, which means I saved 14%…not too shabby.

> The coupons were extremely easy to find. Just typing “Target Coupons” into Google resulted in an endless list of websites with different deals and promo codes. Obviously the best part is this method doesn't just apply to Target. With a little internet search you can find a coupon for almost every grocery store, retail shop, restaurant - you name it. For Target specifically, I was very surprised to find just how many items were discounted. I’m talking about well-known, quality brands on everything ranging from apparel and beauty products, to food, to pet care.

> I go to Target about twice a month to stock up on household “stuff” so if I aim to save $8 or $9 each trip, it’ll result in $200 savings a YEAR. I think that’s pretty good.

> A lot of businesses are now jumping on the mobile app bandwagon and offering coupons and discounts through their smart phone app, which eliminates the need for printing. Extra points here for convenience!

Cons:
My coupon experiment ended in saving a glorious 14%, but I should divulge that there were a few bumps along the road to my savings destination.

> To start, you need to be careful while searching for coupons. When I was scanning the thirty-pages worth of coupons to find what I needed, I kept catching myself wanting to buy things for the sole reason that they were either $0.50 or $1.00 off. It wasn’t that I actually needed the item, but I kept on being tempted to buy a new lipstick or mascara just because it was at a discount, which ultimately defeats the whole purpose of saving money.

> Secondly, some of the items I had coupons for weren’t actually in the store. We were in desperate need of disposable, disinfectant cleaning wipes so I was excited to find a $0.50 off coupon on one particular brand. When I got to the store, I must’ve spent at least thirty minutes searching high and low in one aisle. I found every brand of wipe imaginable besides the one I was looking for! I ended up buying a different brand of wipes for about the same price, which was no biggie, but it took extra time to compare everything on the shelf and decide on the best deal. Which made me wonder… if I was in a rush or had been pushed to my limits of couponing-aggravation would I have just picked up the nearest tub of wipes so I could get the heck out of there and ended up overspending?

> Lastly, you need to make sure the items you pick up correspond exactly with what’s on the coupon. This can be tricky because there tends to be slight variations amongst products of the same brand. Knowing this beforehand can save you the time and embarrassment of running back and forth from the cashier to the aisle, and spare you all those dirty looks from customers waiting in line behind you (sorry to any of you if you're reading this).

All in all, I would consider my coupon experiment to be a success – mess-ups included. I hope I could be the scapegoat for anyone reading this who was like me last week, yet to try couponing. Trying to be aware of your spending and saving habits doesn't necessarily mean adopting a whole new couponer lifestyle, but if you're looking to cut costs here and there a little coupon could do the trick!

 

10.14.16 :: THE LUXURIES OF HOME


Just because you consider yourself an independent, highly capable 20-something year old doesn't mean a taste of “home” isn’t needed from time to time. It can be very helpful to stop home to recharge your batteries with home-cooked meals, sleep, and puppy therapy - and that is exactly what I did this past Columbus Day weekend.

While I was back soaking in the luxuries of home, I kept catching myself in certain behaviors that I hadn’t engaged in since moving into my apartment at the beginning of the semester. While living at school, my roommates and I are all in the same boat - the broke college student boat - trying try to cut costs any way possible. When I was home, I realized how easy it was to shrug off my poor-college-student persona for the weekend and take advantage of the temporary relief of the financial burden of housing and expenses that come with it. Once I realized what I was doing, I stopped to think about all the small, easy ways I try to save when the financial responsibility falls in my lap, the ones I should be continuing even when I’m sleeping under my parents’ roof.

So, I decided to compile this list of money saving tips on housing and utilities, which may seem obvious, but could end up flushing many hard earned dollars down the drain.

Shutting off the water
I live with four other girls, so between all the daily showers it’s easy to rack up the water bill. Did you know that shaving a minute or two off your daily shower could lower your bill by 10-20%? Another tip is to turn the water off in between rinsing when brushing your teeth and washing your face! That same rule applies to when washing dishes by hand. 

Turning off lights/unplugging electronics from the wall
Did you know you can save energy by turning off all lights and unplugging appliances even when they aren't being used? My roommates and I do this for appliances like the toaster and coffee maker. Each plugged-in appliance can consume anywhere between 1 to 5 watts of energy!

Opening windows/putting on layers
Everyone can relate to this! Living in New England means we’re subjected to really temperamental weather conditions. One day it’s 75 and sunny, the next 45 and rainy. In order to deal with the uncertainty of weather, we acclimate ourselves to the weather and not the apartment. If it’s a warm day, open the windows and use fans; if it’s cool, double up on sweatshirts and socks to save energy and $. Once it gets too cold we all have to give in, but try to hold out for as long as possible!

Cancel Cable TV
This might seem like a stretch for some people, but we just pulled the cord on cable - literally. Most of the shows we watch these days are available on Netflix or Hulu, so we decided to test out a cable-free zone and it has worked out so far!

Taking public transportation/walking
This is something that took a little getting used to, but I can honestly say I’m a fan of public transportation. At UMass, there are free (with a student ID) busses that run practically all day and night and go all over town. If I need to pick something up at CVS or get to a class across campus, I can always count on the bus to get me there. My roommates and I also enjoy walking to and from campus. It’s only a 15-20 minute walk and a great way to start off - or decompress from - a busy day.

Saving leftovers
Lastly, my roommates and I make a point of not being wasteful with food; we purposefully make meals we know will stay good for a few days. If there’s left-over food, don't just toss it! Wrap it up and save it for later. It might sound strange, but you’ll thank yourself when you're hungry and suddenly remember throwing out a perfectly good salad or piece of chicken that could’ve satisfied that raging hunger inside!

I hope you’ll try out some of these money saving tips and are pleasantly surprised the next time you check your utility, gas or grocery bill. Sometimes it just takes a little reminding and repetition to make these behaviors a habit, but once you do, saving money will be your second nature.


 

10.6.16 :: MY TOP 3 WAYS TO SAVE (THAT DON'T INCLUDE SCAVENGING FOR SPARE CHANGE)


As a college student, it is completely normal to occasionally feel like the world is conspiring against you. You are caught in this weird in-between stage of life, where you’re trying to juggle doing well in school, making money, saving money, participating in clubs, maintaining a social life, getting a little exercise here and there (does walking up to the fourth floor count?), and it can get overwhelming. The good news is that most people have sympathy for college students! Chances are they have been in our shoes, know just how hard it can be, and want to lend a helping hand when it comes to the stress related to spending and saving.

So where can you find the best student discounts? For starters, look within your own school. Most students don’t realize all the great deals schools offer to help cut costs, including major discounts on computer and telephone products from popular companies like Apple. Not only do colleges give students competitive deals on school supplies, but most give out free or discounted tickets to a wide array of activities such as museums, movie theaters, or fun local attractions. Look for this info on your school’s website under the ‘student life’ or ‘community’ section, or try googling your school’s name with ‘student discounts’ tagged on the end. You’re bound to find amazing deals; you just gotta know where to look!

Another easy way to save is to look at your bank account and pay attention to the "small” charges that add up over time. Maybe it’s your daily coffee or bi-weekly trip to the pizza shop (because who can resist a slice of Antonio’s). Look at how much you’re paying in ATM fees or monthly charges on your account… and just stop! There are student checking accounts like Wakefield Co-operative Bank’s FREEDOM account that offer no ATM fees (or reimbursement of them), no monthly fee, and a bunch of other awesome perks.

Many popular businesses are also willing to help us poor college folk. Check out Odyssey’s Ultimate List of College Student Discounts for all kinds of discounts ranging from Amtrak and Greyhound, to H&M and Vineyard Vines, to Dunkin Donuts and Subway, to Amazon Prime and Apple (although I’d check out your school’s Apple discounts first). Seriously! All we need to do is flash our student ID (and maybe a smile) to get discounts ranging from 8% to 75% - pretty sweet huh?

I hope this information proves helpful, and that the next time you find yourself scavenging the washing machine for spare change or placing arm wrestling bets for extra cash, this blog post comes to mind. It is very easy to cut costs as a college student, and although it may not seem like you're saving that much I promise it will start to add up in big ways. It might require a little more effort to search for specific deals and discounts, but taking advantage of the tips I’ve mentioned here is a good way to start. It will be completely worth it and your future self will thank you!!


 

9.29.16 :: HELLO!
My name is Brooke Powers and I am your typical 20-something year old, just trying to navigate my way through the everyday ups and downs of life. I recently began my junior year at UMass Amherst as a communications major, following a summer as Wakefield Co-operative Bank’s first-ever marketing intern. I was lucky to be given the opportunity to work with the fabulous Marketing & Social Media Manager, Jennie Terry, and innovative President & CEO, Michael Wolnik. I’m so excited to continue my relationship with the bank and to keep my creativity flowing by writing this blog SUPERpowers, even while miles away.

I invite all of you to come along with me on this journey as I document the way a 20-something, like myself, maneuvers through everyday life on a tight budget - now trust me, it will get interesting!

I’ll be posting weekly on a variety of topics like ways to save, how I manage my money, and I’ll share experiments related to my finances. I look forward to sharing my tips, tricks, good (and not so good) experiences with my fellow millennials while having some fun and providing a little entertainment all the while. I hope you’ll join me on this exciting new adventure! 