pets enrich your life

 

Last Thursday, I wrote a post about how having pets can hold you back. That is only half of the story though! The other half of the story is how pets enrich your life. They may be expensive little boogers that prevent you from doing all the things, but they are worth it!

How Pets Enrich your life

Pets enrich your life in so many immeasurable ways. It’s way easier to discuss how they hold you back, because you can put a price on it. You can’t always put a price on the benefits of pet ownership, but I’m going to try!

Welcome Home

You know what’s a great feeling? Having someone super excited to see you when you get home, no matter what. They are always there, either wagging their tails (dogs) or pretending that they don’t care even though you know they do because why else would they have interrupted their nap (cats)? And welcome home time isn’t even dinner time, so the only reason they are there is to great me. It’s great to feel that kind of unconditional love from something.

Stress relief

Did you know that the simple act of petting a dog or cat reduces stress? It’s true! Studies have shown that giving your beloved Fido or Tabby belly rubs releases oxytocin, which is a stress reducing hormone. Researchers also found that people who own cats have a thirty percent lower chance of dying from a heart attack! I guess I can deal with those midnight howls if I get to live a longer, healthier life.

Hilarious

Another way pets enrich your life is by being freaking hilarious. People wouldn’t spend all day watching cat videos on YouTube if they weren’t entertaining! And you know what’s better than YouTube? The live show! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve laughed hysterically because one of my babies missed his jump, fell off the bed, or got a little too crazy with the laser pointer. They are such goofy little guys who provide countless hours of entertainment.

My dogs provide tons of entertainment as well. Coyote is such a little jerkface, and Malaki, although only five, acts like a grumpy old man. He is always tired of Coyote’s shit (but to be fair, we all are). Watching these two interact is fantastic.

But Also Cuddly

If you aren’t in the mood for laughs, they are always available to be cuddle buddies – even when it’s inconvenient. And somehow, they always know when you are in a bad mood and offer cuddles to make it better. Having a warm kitty snuggle up next to you, purring it’s little head off because it loves you so much, is guaranteed to lift your spirits after a rough day. It also lifts mine!

In fact, my babies are all so adorably cuddly and entertaining that I started an Instagram account to document their antics. Check it out here.

Exercise!

Pets enrich your life by being an awesome excuse to exercise! Sometimes I don’t want to leave the house, but Mr. Coyote has way too much energy so I need to either walk him or take him to the park. Sometimes he settles for a little game of tug of war or fetch in the house, but either way, he always keeps me moving!

My cats give me a work out too! Caesar, the darlingest of the little angels, absolutely loves being chased around the house. It’s his favorite thing ever. He will run up to me and run away trying to get me to chase him. And he chases me back too! We run circles around the house giving each other a good chase. It’s great fun. I’m not sure how we started this game (my other cats aren’t as into it) but I’ve been playing chase with him since he was a baby, and we both love it.

How pets enrich your life

Did my cats actually make me money?

I know I said that pets hold you back because it’s difficult to find rentals that allow them. And in many cases, this is absolutely true. It was true in my case as well, but it ended up making me money! One of the main reasons why I decided to purchase a home in California was because of my cats. I couldn’t find many landlords who were willing to accept so many darlings, so I decided to buy a house so that my cats would have a place to live.

That decision ended up being one of the best decisions of my life! I bought my house near the bottom of the market in 2011, and sold near the peak in 2017. I made a pretty decent profit on the house, and that really kick-started my journey to financial independence. Don’t just get a cat so you have to buy a house though, as your results may vary.

Related: Thinking of buying a house? Check out these 8 tips for home buyers!

Part of the Family

But the main point of this is that pets are part of the family. They enrich your live in so many ways, offering unconditional love, warmth, cuddles, and entertainment. They are worth the price and the sacrifice.

However, before getting a pet, please make sure that you are willing to make these sacrifices. Pet ownership is a long-term commitment (I’ve had my oldest baby for 11 years, and I hope to have her for at least 11 more!). She’s outlasted four boyfriends and three different houses. She’s going to be with me until the end of her life, and it’s my job to make sure she’s healthy and happy for as long as possible. If you aren’t ready for that type of commitment, maybe you should wait on getting a pet.

Do you have fur babies? Tell me about how your pets enrich your life in the comments!

 

Ways pets enrich your life
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pets hold you back

I love animals. I have a bunch of furry critters living with me, four cats and two dogs (Yeah, I know it’s a bit insane). But unfortunately, after adopting all my darlings, I realized that pets hold you back in a number of ways.  Still totally worth having the little creatons though!

How Pets Hold You Back

The Basics

First, let’s talk about the cost of having a pet. I have two big dogs, and they eat a lot! I spend about thirty dollars a month on dog food just to keep them fed. Cat food and kitty litter for four cats gets expensive too, I spend about seventy dollars a month just on that! That’s one hundred dollars of my monthly grocery budget gone, just on the pet food and litter. That’s a lot of money!

I also get topical flea medication for all my little ones. One four pack of advantage is just over forty bucks! It breaks down to about ten dollars per treatment, and with six sweeties in the house, that’s sixty more dollars a month.

So just the basics of pet ownership put me back $160 per month. But that’s not the only way pets hold you back (and I’m sure most people don’t have quite as many pets as I do!).

Vet Care

Yes, veterinary care is a basic. But I don’t consider it a basic basic like food and shelter. Either way, my angels are on wellness plans that includes all of their shots, dental cleaning, and unlimited office visits. The plans cost about $55 a month though, and with six babies that really adds up – to $330 per month to be exact.

So now I’m spending almost $500 a month just take care of my flock. That’s about $80 per pet, it you just have one. But they are kind of like potato chips, who can have just one?

Other Ways Pets Hold You Back

Pets hold you back in tons of ways that don’t include your wallet though. Even having just one can have a drastic affect on your lifestyle.

Housing

The main way that pets hold most people back is with housing. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find a rental that accepts one baby – much less six? It’s nearly impossible! The whole reason I bought a house in Savannah rather than renting is that I couldn’t find any place on such short notice that would allow my sweeties to live with me.

But even if you get lucky enough to find a place that does accept pets, you’re going to have to pay a pet fee. This usually comes in the form of a non-refundable deposit and an extra “pet fee” every month with your rent. With so many people in the U.S. owning pets, I don’t understand why it’s so difficult to find housing that allows them.

Travel

Traveling with pets is a huge hassle, whether you take them with you or leave them at home. Cats don’t travel well in the first place, so I definitely don’t recommend bringing them with you. But if you are going to be gone for more than a few days, someone will need to take care of them. Dogs travel better, but also need more attention. They can’t be left alone for a few days. You have to find someone to watch them even for a short weekend trip. It can really be a hassle.

My Fire Goals

Do you guys remember that post I wrote a while back about my Fire goals? If you don’t you can read it here, but if you do, you’ll remember that one of my goals is to buy an RV and travel cross country. How fun would that be! But can you imagine living in an RV with four cats and two dogs? That sounds pretty terrible to be honest, even to this crazy cat lady! They are definitely going to hold me back from accomplishing that one.

Worth It!

My pets may hold me back, but I love the little guys with all my heart. And, they do a whole lot to improve my life too! My next post is going to outline all the ways that having my sweeties has enriched my life, so stay tuned!

Do you have pet? How has having them held you back?

 

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Family values

We seriously need to change the conversation about family values. For far too many people (on both sides!), the term “family values” has become synonymous with the pro-life movement, and that’s stupid!  

We need to change the conversation! We need to redefine what family values really are, because it’s not a single issue. Lots of families value lots of different things; but I guarantee most of them value their financial security (Or would, if they had any).

What are family values?

I’d argue that the term “family values” should refer to things that family’s actually value.  What an outrageous concept, right? Money (or lack thereof!) is really the thing that will make or break a household, isn’t it? So I’d have to guess that most families value things that help them thrive financially. These things that help families thrive are the things that really should be considered family values.

Policies that help families Thrive

Family values – Family Planning

One thing that families really do value is the ability to decide when to have children and how many to have. Having a child at the wrong time can wreak havoc on a family’s finances- kids are freaking expensive! Family planning helps families thrive.

Unfortunately, most of the discourse on family planning is centered on the abortion issue. While that is a tool that helps prevent families from having children that they aren’t ready for, it’s not the only tool and it’s far from the most important. The most important tool (and the one that’s been proven again and again to reduce abortion rates) is access to contraception. Curiously enough though, many supporters of “family values” don’t support easy access to contraception. How does that make any kind of sense? No one likes the idea of abortion, but instead of banning it why not support policies that make it extremely rare?

Family values – Taking care of young children

Another major thing that most families value is actually being able to take care of their children – in a literal sense. This could include things like paid parental leave policies, affordable child care options, and access to paid sick days. More people would surely have families if childcare was accessible and affordable!

Paid parental leave

Paid parental leave policies give parents the ability to stay home with their children during the crucial first few months of their lives. Unfortunately, the United States is leagues behind the rest of the world when it comes to parental leave. There’s the FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) which gives employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for major medical events, such as the birth of a child, but that’s all we’ve got. And remember its UNPAID! How are people who need that paycheck supposed so survive for 12 whole weeks without it? The answer is they’re not. Mothers are returning to work weeks after giving birth or going without. How is that family values? Hint: it’s not.

Child Care

Affordable childcare options would also help families thrive. Many families need to rely on extended family or un-registered facilities to care for their children while they work, as childcare costs continue to soar. How are people supposed to have children if they can’t afford to pay for their care? Parents are working extra jobs and extra hours just  to make ends meet. Some are dropping out of the workforce altogether because their salaries wouldn’t even cover the cost of childcare (and lets not even get started on how this will affect the non-working parent’s lifetime earnings and retirement!)

Paid Time Off

Did you know that the US is one of the only countries that doesn’t require access to paid sick days?  What if your kid is sick? In many low wage industries, that’s just too bad. Either come to work or don’t get paid. It’s unfortunate that those who are least able to afford it are the ones who are hit the hardest. I think most families would really value access to paid sick days, I mean adults get sick too! And I don’t want a cook coming to work when he’s sick!  He’s going to infect everyone  at the restaurant! Paid sick days make logical sense for everyone. 

what are family values

Family Values – Healthcare

You know what else families value? Affordable access to healthcare. People want to be able to take their children to the doctor when they are sick. Unfortunately, healthcare costs in the United States are ridiculous. The Affordable Care Act was supposed to mitigate this, but instead of ensuring that people had access to healthcare, all it did was ensure that people had access to health insurance. Some people have to pay such high deductibles on their insurance plans that they can’t even afford basic care. It’s a sham.

Outrageous medical bills are still the number one cause of bankruptcy in the United States. Way too many families are just one medical emergency from total ruin. That’s insane! How can any family thrive with that hanging over their heads?

Family Values – Education

Everyone wants their kids to be successful, and the number one path to success for lots of people is still a college education. Unfortunately, tuition rates have been soaring for the past few decades, and most people can’t afford it without the help of student loans. So now, families have a terrible choice to make: do you take out thousands of dollars for that chance, or do you skip college and head straight into the workforce, lowering your lifetime earning potential but saving yourself from mountains of debt? That’s not an easy choice.

While its true that trade schools are a wonderful alternative for many students, they aren’t a one size fits all solution. We need kids to go to university so that we can have future doctors, engineers, teachers, biologists, and hundreds of other professionals that require advanced education. I don’t want us to turn into a country where only the rich can afford the training and education necessary for professional careers.

Family Values – Home Ownership

What parent doesn’t want to raise their kids in a nice house with a little yard to play in? That’s the American Dream anyway, isn’t it? Unfortunately though, the housing market continues to soar and homes are unaffordable for many young families. That’s not even the worst news though! Even renting is becoming unaffordable for low wage families! In the largest metro areas in the country, families would have to make a minimum of $22 per hour just to afford a two-bedroom apartment!  How are families supposed to thrive if they can’t even afford a place to live??

Family Values – Jobs and Balance

How are families supposed to afford any of these things? Most people don’t want a handout, they want to work to earn their keep. Unfortunately, middle- and lower-class wages have been stagnant for the past few years, while the cost of everything else on this list continues to skyrocket. All people really want are jobs that will give them the ability to support their families.

However, there is a caveat to that. Jobs with living wages are great and all (and necessary!), but they don’t really help families if they suck all the parents’ time away. There needs to be balance. Parents need to be able to disconnect when they are home so they can focus on their kids. They need to be able to help with homework, take the kids to the park, and go to the school plays. Families value family time! Who would’ve guessed?

Family Values – The Environment

Do you want your children and grandchildren to inherit a wasteland? No? Then your family values the environment! We all want to protect our resources, to ensure that the world is still here and working correctly for years to come. Families want to protect our National Parks so they have places to go camping. Families want to protect the climate so that the planet isn’t destroyed. Protecting the environment is immensely important. It may not be as immediate as the other things on the list, but if we don’t take steps now to protect our planet, it won’t be here for our children.

Supporting Family Values

This list is obviously not all inclusive. I’m sure tons of families value tons of different things, and it’s impossible to list them all. But when I think of family values, I think of things that families need to thrive, and those are the things on this list. What do you think? What does your family value?

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"the five best things to buy online"

Hey folks! Transparency Disclosure- Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. That means I’ll receive a small commission if you decide to click on it and buy something. Don’t worry, it doesn’t cost you anything extra!

Ok guys -confession time! I’m not the biggest fan of online shopping. Blasphemy, right? Do I need to turn in my millennial card? I’m not a fan of shopping in general though, and as a personal finance blogger, I have to say that you shouldn’t buy anything that you don’t need or that doesn’t fit in with your money goals. With all that being said, there are a few things that I do buy online. Even I, the technologically challenged millennial, have accepted that some things are better to buy online. Read on to find out what those things are!

The Best things to Buy Online

Single Use Coffee (K-Cups)

My absolute favorite thing to buy online are single use cups for my morning coffee. I know, I know, those are literally the worst things for the environment. But that’s why I only buy them online! Did you know that you can get compostable single use cups on Amazon?? San Francisco Bay sells a huge variety of flavors, and the cups are compostable! And they are a tiny bit cheaper than the normal cups you get in the store. A win for the environment, a win for my wallet, and super convenient. You can’t beat that. My favorite flavors are espresso and fog chaser, but try the variety pack to find yours! I’ve also tried the Faro brand, which is just as tasty.


Gifts for Kids

My niece and nephew live in Chicago, and I live far far away from there. I still want to send them gifts for their birthdays and Christmas, but I absolutely don’t want to deal with the post office. Being able to buy their gifts online has been a godsend! I just ask my brother what they want, find it online, and have it shipped directly to his house. So easy! I can even get it gift wrapped! Which is really just a fancy box, but hey, I’ll take it.

Books

Books are a great thing to buy online because they tend to ship well and you know exactly what you are getting. Also, there’s no way I could write a post about shopping online without talking about books; the megalith Amazon got started with books! They are obviously a hot online item. That being said, there is something about browsing a bookstore, so I hope you don’t do all of your book shopping online. Buy a few at Barnes & Nobles too so we can keep them in business!

Camisoles

I generally hate buying clothing online. It never fits correctly and then you have to deal with sending it back, which is such a huge hassle. I’ll pass. But there is one clothing item that I love to buy online, and that’s camisoles. I wear them every day, under pretty much everything. So of course, I need to find the best deal. I can usually find them for ten bucks each at target, but the online deals are way better! I can get 4 camis online for only $23, that’s less than 6 bucks a piece, and they come right to my door. The best part is that most camis are sized correctly. A small is a small pretty much everywhere, so I don’t have to worry about returning them because they didn’t fit.


Specialty Items

Do you have a weird hobby that no one else has? Or a hobby that you can’t find supplies for at the normal stores? I do too! I have a microscope and I love making slides of things to look at under it. Unfortunately, most stores don’t carry microscope slides (or dissecting kits, or dyes). I’m so glad I can buy this stuff online. The best thing about online shopping is that you can find pretty much anything! What’s your odd hobby that you can’t find supplies for in the store? I’d love to hear about it!

Do you enjoy shopping online? What is your favorite thing to buy and why?

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"Play the lottery"

 

Dang, the new mega millions jackpot is 1.6 billion dollars. That’s insane! Ok, lets be real. I know that I shouldn’t play the lottery. I know it’s basically a poor tax, and I know that my odds of winning are minuscule. And by minuscule, I mean it’s nearly impossible. But still, 1.6 billion…

Why I’ll play the lottery

I’m not going to lie. I’m going to play the lottery. In fact, I played on Friday when the jackpot was a mere 990 million. So, if I know that my chances of winning are slim to none, why do I still play?

Well that’s easy! I’m not spending two bucks on a ticket because I know I’m going to win – I’m fairly certain I’m not. I’m spending two bucks for hours of entertainment. The fun in playing the lottery isn’t winning because we all know that’s not going to happen (though wouldn’t it be awesome?). The fun in playing is imagining what you would do if you did win! It’s cheaper than a movie ticket, and I get way more entertainment out of it!

Should you play the lottery?

Not everyone should play the lottery. If you are playing because you really think you’re going to win, you probably shouldn’t be playing. If you spend more than two bucks per person on tickets to “increase your odds of winning”, you probably shouldn’t be playing. And if that two bucks per person is money you need for something else, guess what? You probably shouldn’t be playing.

 I’d also say that you probably shouldn’t be spending two bucks twice a week every week on lottery tickets. That’s $192 per year, which doesn’t sound like much, but if you invest that money instead you would have about $18000 after thirty years (assuming 7% return).

The bottom line is that if winning the lottery is your retirement plan, or playing the lottery is breaking the budget, you probably shouldn’t be playing. However, it is fun to play the lottery every now and again, just for enjoyment of imagining what you’d do if you won.

If I won the lottery

We’ve all thought about it, right? The first thing I’d do if I won is pay off all of my debt, even the stuff that I’m just cosigned on. It would feel great to be free of all that nonsense! Next, I would write a list of the people I’d like to help, and gift them all something (obviously taking the tax obligations into consideration!). I don’t want to be mean, but I would not help anyone who isn’t on my list. Most lottery winners lose all of their winnings within five years, and a big portion of that is because distant relatives and old “friends” come out of the woodwork asking for loans. Sorry, but if you aren’t on my list, you aren’t getting squat!

Next, I would fully fund all my bank accounts. There is nothing wrong with having cash on hand! Then I would treat myself to a trip. I’d take an extravagant (for me, I don’t need any gold-plated toilets or private planes!) trip to Egypt to see the pyramids and the Valley of the Kings. But after that, I’d put the rest of the money in various investment vehicles. Id set up a trust for my future kids, niece, and nephew, and have a super diversified portfolio. I don’t even think I’d quit my job right away (even though I love to talk about it haha).

What would you do?

Are you playing this week’s huge mega millions lottery?  If so, what would you do if you won? Sharing our ideas is part of the fun, isn’t it?

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"complain about companies"

 

I love Twitter. It’s definitely my favorite social media platform. Twitter is so easy to use, and it’s so easy to engage with people on the platform. It’s also easy to complain about companies on Twitter, and I definitely take advantage of that feature.

Why Complain about Companies on Twitter?

Complaining on Twitter is definitely my generation’s “I want to see your manager”. I complain about companies when they provide poor service. I’ve called out Panera, Dominos, and even my trash removal company. And guess what? Every time I’ve posted on twitter, I’ve gotten a response. Most of the time, my problem is resolved with coupon codes for free services to replace what was messed up. Hey, if I’m going to be financially independent, I can’t waste money on sub-par service. And you shouldn’t either!

"complain about companies on twitter"

Why Companies Care

Twitter is a great place to complain because companies actually care. No, they don’t care about you or your complaint, that’s just ridiculous. But they do care about the negative attention they might receive from the complaint. It’s incredibly easy to reach thousands of potential customers on Twitter, and incredibly easy to tell those customers exactly why the service sucked. Companies hate that! They can’t let you go around bad mouthing them!  All of the companies that I reached out to have responded almost immediately in an attempt to remedy the issue. And again, they usually provide me with a coupon code or something similar to replace the item that was messed up. It’s a win for me, and it’s kind of a win for them as well. They get to show all of their potential customers how much they care about making things right.

Don’t Abuse Twitter Complaints

The thing is, I never complain over nothing. I complained about Domino’s because the pizza they delivered was burnt and barely edible. Panera got a complaint because the food was cold, and the employees told us we could just “microwave it ourselves” (hint: that’s pretty awful customer service!). I complained to my trash company because they hadn’t picked up my recycling in weeks and calling them wasn’t getting any results. The thing is, I never make up complaints, and I don’t complain about things that aren’t a big deal. Remember, with great power comes great responsibility.

So what does complaining on Twitter have to do with Personal Finance or financial Independence?

Maybe you haven’t noticed yet, but pretty much everything in your life ties into finance in some way, shape, or form. This is no different. Complaining about companies on Twitter helps prevent you from wasting money. You paid twenty bucks for that ruined Pizza, are you just going to eat that twenty bucks? Or are you going to do something to get it back? And yes, getting it back in the form of a replacement pizza counts!

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to waste any money on my journey to financial independence. If a service or item that I’m paying for is not correct, I’m going to get it replaced or get my money back.

What are some of the things that you do to make sure you get your money’s worth on things?

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"healthy skin"

 

We all want to stay looking young, right? I’m in my mid-to late thirties, and I constantly get comments on how much younger than that I look. I think I’ve done a great job of taking care of myself and staying healthy (or maybe people are just being nice, who knows). I’ve put together a list of the top things I do to maintain young looking, healthy skin. Most of them are free (and save you money!), but I found frugal solutions to the ones that aren’t.  So without any further ado, here are my top tips for healthy skin.

Top Tips For Healthy Skin

Free and Money Saving Tips

 

1.  Don’t Smoke

Seriously, smoking is probably the worst thing you can do for your skin and your health. I don’t know the chemical reasons why, but people who smoke always seem to look about ten years older than people who don’t. It’s also terrible for your health in general. If you haven’t tried it yet, don’t. There are no advantages to smoking. If you are a smoker and want to quit, try some of these smoking cessation products. Your skin (and the rest of your body!) will thank you. (Disclaimer: I’ve never smoked, so I’ve never used any of these products. I’m just trying to help!)

Smoking is also crazy expensive. People spend five bucks a day on a pack of cigarettes! That’s insane! Five dollars a day every year is $1825. That can buy you a trip to Europe, or it can be invested for your future. Quitting smoking will save your skin and be better for your wallet.

 

2.  Stay out of the Sun or use Sunscreen

All the fun things are outdoors. But unfortunately, the sun’s rays can have disastrous effects on our skin. According to WebMD, exposure to the sun is the leading cause of wrinkles and sunspots. It can also lead to serious health problems such as skin cancer!

However, being outside is sometimes unavoidable. I like to wear a fun sun hat when I’m outside to shield my face from the most dangerous rays (They are also quite fashionable! So I’ve been told. I don’t understand fashion). It’s also essential that you wear sunscreen whenever you are going to be outside for extended periods.

 

3.  Minimize Alcohol Use

Sure, I have a tasty drink every now and again. There’s nothing wrong with indulging in a delicious adult beverage, in moderation. But I have seen the affects that prolonged alcohol use can have on someone’s skin, and it’s not pretty. I used to date a serious alcoholic, and after a night of heavy drinking my thirty-year-old boyfriend would look like he was in his sixties. That’s just from being drunk one night!  it wasn’t that drastic over the course of many years, but it was still noticeable. Drinking heavily is definitely not good for your skin or for your overall health.

 

4.  Don’t wear a Lot of Make-up

When I was little, my dad told me that wearing make up would destroy my face. He said women don’t need to wear make up to be beautiful, and if you wear too much you end up needing it. That may very well have been the case in the eighties and early nineties, but today there are lots of make-up options that are neutral or even beneficial for your skin.

I don’t wear a lot of make-up and I think my skin looks pretty good. However, I’m not going to tell anyone not to wear make-up. You should do what makes you happy. If wearing make up makes you feel beautiful, wear all the make-up you want. My best advice is to use the good products that hydrate your skin while you wear it.  

 

5.  Work Out!

Yeah, I hate exercise too. But it’s one of the best ways to stay healthy and young looking, and not just in the face! It keeps your entire body fit and healthy.

It is really good for your skin though. According to WebMD(I like Web MD because I know it’s reputable!), increasing your blood flow (like when you work out) helps nourish skin cells and keeps them healthy. The increased blood flow also helps remove waste products. The end result is clean, glowing skin. So get your sweat on!

 

6.  Stay Hydrated

A lot of aging issues are caused by dehydration. If you don’t drink enough water, your body will take it from the organs that don’t need it to survive. One of the first organs on the chopping block: your skin. So make sure you are drinking a few glasses of water throughout the day. It will keep your body hydrated and your skin glowing.

Not So Free, but Frugal!

These first six tips are all very easy, and some of them actually save you money!  How much more frugal can you get? These next three tips are facial products that I personally use which I think have really helped me keep young, healthy looking skin. You can get them all at Amazon, or you can pick them up on your next Target run! You can also ignore them and tell me what your favorite products are in the comments.

 

7.  Toner

My aunt got my hooked on using toner after I wash my face. Apparently, washing alone doesn’t get all the gunk and junk off your face. After you dry, take a cotton ball and dip it in toner, then rub it on your face. You will see all the yucky stuff that the toner gets up! It’s really kind of gross. I use Neutrogena’s Alcohol-Free Toner(because alcohol can dry you out!) This stuff is also super cheap, it’s only six bucks on Amazon! And one bottle generally lasts me about a year.

 

8.  Fight Acne

Another huge barrier to healthy skin is acne. I am thirty-five freaking years old, I should not be having to deal with acne at my age!  But unfortunately, I am. I’ve tried so many different over the counter cleaners, lotions, pastes, and scrubs to control my acne, but I finally found one that works for me.

I use Clean & Clear Persa-Gel 10 every morning after I wash and tone my face. It’s a 10% benzoyl peroxide formula and it has worked wonders on my acne!  I still get the occasional blemish, but it’s not nearly as bad as it has been. This is the most expensive skin care product that I use, it can cost up to twenty bucks  for four 1 ounce tubes on Amazon. But, I only use a small amount each day, so each tube lasts for about six months. My cleaner, clearer skin is definitely worth that.

 

 

9.  Moisturize

Moisturizing goes hand in hand with staying hydrated. A good facial moisturizer will freshen your skin and won’t leave it greasy.  I never used to use it because every single moisturizer I ever tried to use either caused more problem with acne or left my skin dry and itchy.

My best friend in the whole world on the other hand, always has the freshest, healthiest skin of anyone I’ve ever known. I caught her moisturizing one day and asked what she used. As it turns out, she uses a very common brand that can be found at Target and Amazon, Alba Botanica Hawaiian Oil-Free Moisturizer, Aloe & Green Tea, 3 oz.. I always use the oil free, because my skin is prone to acne. It’s only 11 bucks for a small jar, which lasts me about a year. Talk about a frugal win!

 

What are your tips?

So there you have it folks, my nine frugal tips to healthy skin. I am by no means a dermatologist, but these are the products and tips that have worked for me. I am not being sponsored by any of these products/companies; however the Amazon links are affiliate links. These are the products that have worked for me, and that is why I am recommending them. I would love to hear about what you use to maintain healthy skin as well!

And since we are on the subject of skin care, I need some help! The one thing that I still haven’t been able to figure out is how to minimize the dark circles under my eyes. If anyone has a frugal product they recommend on how to best deal with these, I’d love to hear it!

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I love playing video games. In fact, one of the things I want to do when I achieve financial independence is to become a Twitch affiliate, and make some extra cash streaming my favorite games. That’s the dream for lots of us, isn’t it? I don’t have a lot of free time to work on this side passion right now, but luckily, it’s my boyfriend’s number one side project, so I get to ride his coattails and dabble in it while he takes it seriously!  Yay for having a partner!

What is Twitch?

I know a lot of you are into finance and not so much gaming (Hey, I can have layers, right?) so let me briefly explain Twitch.  Twitch is an online gaming platform that allows you to watch other people play games. It also allows you to stream when you play, so others can watch you. Streaming is all the rage in the gaming world, it’s a great way to connect with people who like similar games.  It’s a lot of fun too!

Lots of gamers also make money on Twitch. There are even a few big shots who stream video games as a full-time job! (living the dream there, right!). The first step to making money on Twitch is becoming a Twitch Affiliate.

What are the Requirements to be a Twitch Affiliate?

Twitch has a few requirements you have to meet before you can become an affiliate.  You have to stream for at least 500 minutes per thirty-day period (that’s a little over 8 hours a month) with at least seven unique broadcast periods. That means you can’t stream once per month for 8 hours and call it a day, you have to stream at least 7 days per month. It’s not just about time though, Twitch needs to make sure people are watching you before they let you become an affiliate. You need to have an average of three or more viewers per thirty-day period and you need to have at least 50 followers on the platform. This all seems incredibly daunting, but it’s totally doable!

 

"twitch requirements"

 

How Do I Become a Twitch Affiliate?

Dedication – Putting in the Hours

The first step to becoming a Twitch affiliate is actually streaming on Twitch. This can take a lot of time and dedication.

Time

The biggest hurdle for me to become a Twitch affiliate is time. I can’t find seven days a month to dedicate a few hours to streaming. But my boyfriend can! Since gaming is his passion, he dedicates the same amount of time to it as I dedicate to blogging. He put in over twenty hours of streaming during his first thirty days on the platform. You need that type of dedication if you want to achieve affiliation.

Putting in a lot of time can also hurt your chances of Twitch affiliation. Streaming for 100 hours with no viewers is going to hurt your average (remember you need 3!). So if you have having an off night with no viewers, it might be better to turn the stream off. 

Timing

The time of day that you stream is very important too.  He works nights, so he could easily stream during the day while I’m at work. But unfortunately, most of the people who would want to watch his streams are at work/school during this time. You have to stream when your audience is free to watch. In order to meet his audience at the right time, he streams at night after I have gone to bed, which is usually around 11 pm our time. The great thing is that we are on the East Coast of the US, so most of the country is still awake.  Once a week, I try to stream with him. When I play with him, we get online a little earlier so that our friends in the UK can stop by and hang out with us. Like I said, it’s important to stream when people are available to watch.

Schedule

Streaming is a lot like blogging in that you need consistency in order to keep your audience. If you stop streaming for three weeks, people are going to stop following you. You need to stream regularly, and unfortunately that makes streaming feel even more like job. Blogging is easier in that regard, because if I don’t feel like writing on Wednesday, I can do it on Thursday and no one will know the difference. It’s a bit more flexible.

If you want to be a Twitch affiliate, you have to stick to a schedule. Obviously, life comes first though. These past few weeks were a bit hard on Brian, because his days off got switched so he had to adjust his streaming schedule. That’s ok!  It’s ok to change things up when life happens, but maintaining a schedule is the best way to keep your regular followers happy.

 

Pro Tip 1: Be Entertaining!! Brian is Hilarious!

Getting People to Come

Ok, so you put in all this time and have a set schedule, now what?  One of the hardest things to do is to get people to stop by your stream. There are so many gamers on Twitch that it is hard to stand out.  You may have the most entertaining stream on the planet, but if people don’t know about it, they aren’t going to watch.

Social Media

The best way to advertise your stream is through social media. We primarily used Twitter, because it’s the easiest platform to connect with like-minded people and create a community. The Twitter gaming community has been fantastic! Both Brian and I have made awesome streamer friends on Twitter, and they are some of the most supportive people I’ve had the pleasure of engaging with. They are highly entertaining too!

If you are trying to become a Twitch Affiliate, you need to be on Twitter. You can share your Twitch link, advertise when you are streaming, and make friends who will want to support you. It’s an all-around win for everyone! There is no way that Brian would have become a Twitch affiliate so quickly without the help of Twitter.  Shameless plug:  If you are on Twitter but struggling with engagement, check out my guide on how to gain 500 Twitter followers in one month, it will show you how to build an engaged Twitter community (also feel free to reach out to me for advice, you can find me here!).

I’m sure you can advertise through the other big social media sites, particularly Facebook and Instagram, but outside of sharing a link to our friends on Facebook, we haven’t really explored those platforms yet. If you have a lot of gamer friends on those, it wouldn’t hurt to share your links whenever you play.

 

Pro Tip 2: Advertise!  People Need To Find Your Stream!

Game Choice

Another great way to get people to check out your stream is by choosing the right games to play. You will want to play something that’s popular, but not so popular that everyone else is streaming it. Right now, everyone is playing and streaming fortnight, so it might be hard to get noticed as a small streamer. There’s too much competition.  

But you also don’t want to play a game that nobody cares about. The one time I tried streaming on own account I played Bubble Bobble, an old school regular Nintendo game that hardly anyone has ever heard of. Nobody is searching for Bubble Bobble, nobody wants to watch someone play a game that they don’t know. I had a big fat zero viewers.

You need to find a balance between these two extremes. Brian played a lot of Dead Cells during his first thirty days. It’s a newer, popular game with a lot of action. But it isn’t so popular that you can’t be found by people who are interested in that game. It worked out, as he managed to average a few viewers per stream.

Keeping your viewers

Alright, so you are streaming a lot and getting people to stop by. Great! Now the last step is keeping them! How do you get people to stay and watch your stream? How do you keep your average viewer count up?

Be Personable

The first step is to be personable. I know it can be super awkward to talk to yourself, but you have to power through. No one is going to stay and watch you quietly play a game. They want to hear your voice! Talk about what you are doing in the game and why, talk about your day, tell jokes, have fun!  That’s why everyone is there. Brian is incredibly high energy so this comes easily to him. He can tell stories and entertain himself all day long, and that tends to keep his viewers entertained. It might take some practice and some stepping out of your comfort zone, but it will be worth it.

Engage with your chat

People really like to be seen and heard. One of the best ways to get someone who is just checking you out to stay is to talk to them. When someone new joins your stream, say “hi” and thank them for joining.  Monitor the chat, ask your viewers questions, have them help you while you are playing the game. Make friends with your viewers and your followers. They are much more likely to stay and to come back if they feel a personal connection with you. And you get to make new friends in the process!  Everyone wins.

Party Games

Another great way to get your viewers involved is to play party games. They can play along with you! We love to play Jackbox, which is an assortment of short party games that anyone can play along with via cell phone. This is a great way to engage with viewers. It gives you something to talk about and keeps them involved at the same time.

Obviously, you don’t want to only play party games. You want to play your favorite games. But having a party game session every now and again is a great way to mix things up and make new friends. We’ve had people come and join us just because we were playing Jackbox who decided to follow and come watch us play different games. They stayed because we followed the other two rules above, we were personable and engaging while playing the other games. We treat everyone who watches like friends who are in the same room with us.

Pro Tip 3: Be Supportive!  People Will Help You if You Help Them!

Be Supportive

Twitch, like blogging, is not just a one man show. It’s a community. One of the best things you can do to gain and keep followers is to support other streamers. Follow other streamers on Twitch, engage with their chats, and retweet their links when they are streaming. Doing these things will not only make you feel good (because it’s always nice to help others) but it will come back to you as well. Support others and they will support you. Make friends with others in the community and they will support you.

I think one of the main reasons that Brian achieved affiliation is quickly is because of how supportive he is. He is constantly on Twitter engaging with his streamer friends, even when he doesn’t have time to stream. He makes sure that he hosts his Twitter friends on his channel when he isn’t playing.  In addition, he follows people and watches their streams.  He’s a great Twitch friend to have, and his quickly growing community proves it.

Give yourself a head start

The last thing you can do to reach affiliate status in thirty days is give yourself a tiny little boost. Brian and I both have twitch accounts, so whenever he was streaming, my tablet was signed into my account and it was watching him as a follower. That counts as one of the three average views you need to reach affiliation.

It also helps in another important way. Humans are naturally drawn to groups. Someone who is just browsing is way more likely to check out a stream that already has viewers than one that has no viewers. It’s just human nature.

You can also ask any gamer friends you have to come hang out with you while you play. Brian’s best friend enjoys playing games as well, and will often come over and hang out while he plays. And you guessed it, his phone is usually on, signed into his Twitch account, and following along. He’s engaging in with the chat while also hanging out with Brian. He’s also providing additional entertainment to the online viewers. Don’t be afraid to invite your real-life friends over for a night of gaming, and have them follow along on your Twitch account. It will definitely boost your viewership and be a more entertaining stream for your viewers.

You Can Do It

Becoming a Twitch affiliate is hard work, but as I said before it is doable. If you follow these guidelines, you will get there in about thirty days. If you need any more advice, feel free to reach out to Brian on Twitter, he’s always willing to help smaller streams gain their affiliations. Let’s Partner together to be Twitch affiliates!

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As you know from my post about having adult conversations before moving in together, I’m all about getting difficult conversations out of the way before they are 100% necessary. So of course we would have plenty of conversations before having kids! We already had quite a few talks about what our lives would look like with children and how we would raise them.

Childcare Vs Stay at Home Parent

Given that childcare is one of the biggest contributors to the outrageous cost of having children, our first conversation was about whether one of us should be a stay at home parent.

The first thing to consider is whether it would make financial sense for one of us to stay home. With daycare costs averaging over $900 per month in the United States (and being higher in cities!) one of us could end up working just to pay for the daycare!

But there are more things to consider than just the financial. First, we would have to think about what’s best for the baby. I would assume that a parent would be more attentive to the baby than a day care worker, but maybe we could find a super awesome daycare. And, the child might miss out on some early socialization with children its own age if one of us stays home.

Another consideration is whether whoever stays home with the baby will be fulfilled in doing that. I wouldn’t want either of us to be miserable. I make more money than my boyfriend does and my job provides much better benefits. It would make more financial sense for him to stay home than for me to stay home.

But would he be happy staying home? This is something that we have discussed at length. He does love streaming video games, and being a stay at home dad would give him an opportunity to grow his audience even more. He’s more than willing to give it a try, and we are both understand that it’s something we will have to continuously readdress to make sure we are both happy. If it turns out that he hates it, we can make other arrangements.

Priorities

Many relationships suffer after having kids. There’s suddenly this brand-new person who basically requires all of your time and energy. We understand that the first year will be hard, because obviously the baby won’t be able to take care of itself. But we also understand that we have to prioritize our relationship.

I think a lot of parents get their priorities wrong. A lot of parents prioritize the kid’s needs, kid’s wants, parent’s needs, then parent’s wants. I don’t think it’s intentional.  It’s just as easy to get the child’s needs and wants confused as it is to get our own needs and wants confused.

We are going to make a concentrated effort to adjust our priorities. Our goal is to have our priority order more like this: child’s needs, parent’s needs, parent’s wants, child’s wants. We know it will be difficult, but I think it will ensure that we continue to have a healthy and happy relationship. And I think that is important for the kid’s sense of stability. A child needs to see a healthy relationship between his parents more than he needs to be coddled. At least that’s my opinion, and that is what we are going to strive for.

Discipline and Parenting Styles

It’s important that you and your partner are on the same page in regards to parenting styles. Is one of you going to be a helicopter parent while the other is more hands off? What will the rules be as the children age? How much independence are you comfortable giving them? These are things that should be discussed before having kids.

One of the reasons I didn’t want to have children is because lots of parents treat their kids like best friends, and don’t want to be the bad guy. This is not going to fly with me! I will not raise my kids to be entitled spoiled little brats who think the world revolves around them. I will also not raise my kids to be helpless. You hear horror stories of mothers going to job interviews for their kids, or still doing their laundry when they are in their twenties; and that just isn’t going to happen. I am going to be more of a free-range parent, and teach my kids independence from an early age. Luckily, my boyfriend feels the same way. We know we are going to have to adjust as the kids grow up, but I think having a game plan beforehand will make things go smoother.

Religion, Values, and Morals

I am not a religious person, and neither is my boyfriend. So, we already know that we won’t be raising our children with any religious affiliation. But what if you and your partner come from different religious backgrounds? Will you expose the children to both or will you choose one? This is an important thing to talk about before having kids.

We both want to raise our children to be good, kind people. You don’t need religion for that. We will show them by example that being compassionate and caring is the way to go, even if you don’t get anything in return.

We do differ on our political affiliations, he is a conservative country boy while I’m a liberal city girl (It’s funny to label ourselves that way, but we both lean more towards center). We both want our children to grow up thinking for themselves though. We want to provide them with the relevant information and show them how to look critically at both sides. We don’t want them to be sheep, voting for a party just because we do.

What Else should we discuss before having kids?

Obviously thinking about what we need to talk about before having kids is brand new to me. Outside of these things, I don’t have a clue! Help me out!  What am I missing? Am I way off base? What do we need to talk about before getting pregnant? Are there any disagreements that you and your partner have had that you wish you would have resolved before having kids?  Did anything pop up that you didn’t expect at all? Let me know in the comments, so we can have that adult conversation before trying for a baby!

 

 

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"biological children"

 The thought of not being able to have biological children has been weighing heavily on me since I made the decision that I want to have kids. What if I can’t? What if I waited too long, and now the window is closed? I know I can’t know the answer to that until I try; and I know I’m not ready to try, but I kind of want to try to know if I can. Does that make sense?

Why I may not be able to have biological children

Age

I’m worried that I’m getting too old to have healthy children. This is one of the driving forces for me wanting to start now even though I know we aren’t ready. I’m not getting any younger. At 35 (almost 36) I’m way too close to the age where any pregnancy will be a high-risk pregnancy. I’m also at the tail end of my most fertile years. According to USA today, as women reach age 35 and beyond, it gets harder and harder to conceive. And according to Baby Center, a whopping two thirds of women over forty have fertility issues! 

I know the older I get the harder it will be to conceive. I’m lucky (and thankful) that I changed my mind about it before the window was closed for good.

PCOS

But wait, there’s more!  Age isn’t my only issue. I have also been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is a hormonal disorder that affects a women’s reproductive system. It affects the ovaries’ ability to produce and release eggs. Most women with PCOS, even young women, have trouble conceiving because our ovaries don’t produce monthly eggs the way that healthy ovaries do. It’s sporadic at best.  And because eggs aren’t being produced, many women can go months without menstruating.

Fortunately for me (I think) I’ve always had fairly regular periods.  The longest I’ve had to wait is about 2 weeks. I’m hoping this means that my ovaries do regularly produce eggs, even though they have the little cysts in them. But it’s also possible that I’m one of the unlucky few who gets periods but no eggs. If I’m not going to get eggs, I’d rather skip the period all together.

 

                                                                                     

Other Options

Fortunately, there are plenty of options available for people who struggle with fertility. Fertility treatments and in-vitro fertilization are available to help people have biological children, while adoption and fostering help people who can’t have biological children have families. I’ve given thought to all of these options. 

Fertility Treatments

Fertility treatments are going to be my number one option. My doctor said that the majority of patients with PCOS can get pregnant with basic fertility treatments. I’m hoping that if I can’t get pregnant naturally, I will be able to get pregnant with the help of fertility drugs. I’ll just have to take a pill regularly, and as a bonus my insurance should cover the bulk of the cost. It’s easy and affordable, so hopefully if I have trouble conceiving, it will be fixed with these treatments.

 

                                                                                       

In-Vitro Fertilization

If fertility treatments don’t work, I could also opt for In-Vitro Fertilization. They harvest eggs and sperm, make embryos in a petri dish, and then implant these embryos back into the uterus. The technology behind In-Vitro has really come a long way, and tons of people get positive results.

The big disadvantage to In-Vitro is that it’s still very expensive. One In-Vitro session can cost between 12 and 15 thousand dollars! And unfortunately, most insurance companies don’t cover it. Honestly, I don’t think I would pay that much money for the chance of having a biological baby. If my insurance covered most of the cost, I might give it a try, but it isn’t something that I would pay out of pocket for. Raising kids is crazy expensive as it is, I don’t want to add an extra twelve grand on top of that!

Non Biological Children

Given all of the above, I may not be able to have biological children. But there are still options for being a parent!

Adoption

The first option everyone turns to when they find that they can’t have biological children is adoption. Many want-to-be parents want a baby to take care of, and adoption is the best option for this. Unfortunately, adopting a baby is just as expensive (sometimes even more so!) as In-Vitro, and has a lot more hoops.

 

                                                                                       

 

If I were to chose adoption, I think I’d try to adopt an older child in need of a good home. Adopting an older child out of the foster system is the least expensive option.

 

Fostering

Given that, I think I would chose fostering over adoption if I couldn’t have biological children. Foster children have things rough. Their parents might be in jail, or on drugs, or abusive, or negligent. Their situations are usually very sad. But it’s these kids that need the love of a stable parent the most. These kids need guidance and support to prevent them from going down the same path that their biological parents went down.  I also think I would have the opportunity to help more children if I became a foster parent than if I adopted.

Don’t get me wrong, I know this is the more difficult path. I can only imagine how heartbreaking it will be to love and protect a child, and then have to watch them return to their abusers. However, if I can provide just a few months of stability, a few months of love, and a few months of showing a child that the world can be better, it will be worthwhile. And maybe I can end up adopting some children out of the foster system. Hey, I might even foster some kids if I can have biological children.

 

                                                                                    

 

What are your thoughts on being unable to have biological children? If you’ve had experience with this issue, I’d love to hear your story!

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