LIVING THE FI KINDA LIFE
Meditation, gardening, minimalism, fitness, and everything else that keeps us healthy, happy, and on our road to Financial Independence! Here you will find stories about our lives. You will also see some of the cool things that you will be able to do if you stick a FI lifestyle! Lots of people think that they would have to give up so much in their daily lives to achieve financial independence, but that’s not true! We have loads of fun on the road to freedom! The trick is balance! So let go a little, have some fun, and see how you can have both!
The latest Lifestyle tips:
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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?
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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 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.
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!
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.
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!