Chump Change: A Broke Girl’s Guide to Living Well

 

For many of us, the bulk of our stress has deep financial roots. Whether or not you make as much as you deserve, feeding your families, paying the rent on time, and having enough for extra fun is daunting.  Like a lot of 20-somethings, I’m sure I’m not alone in my experience in not having a lot of money. It can be really difficult, especially for those with student loans or medical expenses and those living under the poverty line. I in no way mean to undermine your struggles. I’m definitely no financial expert, but I have learned a few tips for living well within your means and finding the joy in things that cost no money at all, and that’s what I want to share with you today.

Obviously, money is a security blanket. It’s what we can fall back on in case of emergencies or unexpected circumstances. It gives us peace of mind. It’s great to have savings and emergency funds, but money is not the be all end all, no matter what our society says. Being grateful for what we do have, whether that’s good health, good relationships, or a good sense of humor, will help you realize the significance simply because money can’t buy those things! Be thankful and count your blessings. Life is too short to worry about your bank account when you’ve been blessed with life’s biggest treasures.

Yes, it’s fun to try out trendy bars & expensive restaurants and go to the movies when you’re out with friends. But these aren’t your only options, and you certainly don’t need to shell out half your paycheck when you’re out on the town in order to have a good time. Get creative with your free time — make it a tradition to host stay-in nights with your friends and play board games with drinks & homemade dinners. Or opt for having date night at home for once. Also, take advantage of your local library! You can find pretty much any movie there nowadays and it’s totally free (as long as you return it on time ;)). If you stay involved with your city, you’ll be in the know when free events are happening too, like public markets or clothing swaps. Although the market may cost money if you plan to shop, it can also be fun to just wander around and people watch. You might even make some connections with someone who has an interesting shop or stand, or maybe even find out how to bring your own trade to the market for some extra cash.

It’s important to learn how being frugal can help you in every area of your life, but especially when it comes to things like clothes and shoes and things you don’t actually need. This one can be hard for me personally because I love keeping my wardrobe updated and switching things up, but you can get things on the cheap if you know where to look. Scour your thrift stores, people! There’s much more than ugly sweaters and old Keds. I’ve found designer clothes thrifting for a fraction of the price. Being frugal doesn’t mean depriving yourself of your desires entirely, it just means tweaking your expectations a bit. Maybe you won’t be able to afford everything that’s on your wishlist at the moment, but I’m sure you’ll be able to thrift some pieces that are pretty damn close.

If you depend solely on money for your happiness, I truly am sorry, cause there’s a good change you might be a miserable person. There’s so much more to life than your bank account — most of which are priceless. Of course material goods can bring quick satisfaction, but over time that satisfaction fades and you’re looking at an empty wallet and pining for a new item that you just can’t have. Is it worth it? Is it worth it to succumb to the cycle of depending on an outside resource for pleasure? Inner peace and happiness have no connection to money. You can say that you’re secure with yourself because you’re making six figures, but if you’re not really satisfied deep down, why does it matter? It may be rooted in competitiveness or maybe an outside source like the largely superficial culture  we live in. We can’t help that, but we can take steps needed to stop depending on anything but yourself for pure happiness. It’s priceless. And so, so worth it.

Always remember, whatever you’re going through right now is temporary. You may look back ten years from now and laugh or sigh with relief.  Maybe you’re in a pickle because the cost of living is up, or maybe you’re drowning in student loans, or maybe you just suffered a job loss  — but these things are temporary! It is way too easy to get discouraged about a less-than-ideal financial situation,  but always aim to enjoy every bit of your life because you may even be envious of what you have now some odd years down the road.

It’s lovely to go out to your favorite spot to eat and enjoy a bite with friends or loved ones, but it’s not always lovely on the wallet. However, dining in doesn’t have to suck, you just gotta up your cooking game! Make it a goal to cook meals at home when you’re trying to be frugal. There’s no shortage of delicious recipes out there, and cooking is a great way to bring some creativity, culture, and catharsis into your life without even leaving your home. It’s also way cheaper than eating out all the time! Even if you’re only going to Starbucks once a day on your lunch break, those drinks add up. Preparing your meals and coffee at home, even if it means waking up earlier, is worth it in the end if you’re trying to save.

And no, shopping does not count as a hobby. Read books that inspire you, watch films that open your eyes and make you forget even for a little while that you’re struggling. Use your free time to uplift yourself instead of getting depressed! Truly living well wouldn’t be complete without immersing yourself into something that’s both fun and intellectually stimulating. Maybe you’re an artist and your job demands so much of you that you can’t seem to get anything done anymore — well on your next day off, make it a goal to finish something you started or at least get some artwork done. Feeding your soul creatively feels so good and it’s totally free. Getting back in touch with your hobbies means getting in touch with yourself, and that’s a habit anyone should get behind — frugal or not.

Even if you don’t make a lot, you can start a change jar — that chump change will add up someday! Or maybe you have enough to put away $20 a month, or even $10 or $5. So save up for that trip you’ve been wanting to take, or treat it as an investment for your future or just make enough to put away in your savings account for emergencies.  You deserve it, after all. If it’s a vacation, treat it like something that’s already planned or create a vision board so you can always be reminded of what you’re saving for. Start today by putting one dollar into an envelop and see where it takes you.

You don’t need to make a lot of money in order to be happy. Yes, a great job with awesome benefits can really help you out in a lot of ways, but it’s not necessary for happiness.  That comes from within. The tips above are just some of the ways to live the life you love without necessarily making a lot of money. If you have some tips of your own, feel free to share them! 🙂

5 Budget-Friendly Holy Grail Beauty Products

I wouldn’t necessarily classify myself as a makeup or beauty junkie — I know what I like and what works for me and I stick with it! I also believe good skin care is the foundation for any good makeup routine, so most of these beauty products will fall into the skin care category. Simple and natural ingredients are often quite inexpensive if you know where to look, and as I’ve gotten older and started to value skincare over makeup, I’ve developed a near perfect routine with some high-quality yet inexpensive products. I’ll have to make another list for actual makeup, but here is my round-up of reliable, affordable products than can easily fit into any beauty routine! If you’ve tried any of these or if you have your own recommendations feel free to let me know in the comments! 🙂

 

Get the 4-pack here

I’ve probably been using this cleanser a little over a year now. I used to switch from product to product, not settling until I found “the best,” but after picking this up for around $5 I was instantly hooked! It’s made from a formula of primrose oil and sunflower seed extract, which is chock full of essential fatty acids. Simple ingredients really appeal to me and I like going natural in my skincare routine as often as possible, so this is a win-win all around. It’s gentle enough for everyday use and leaves my face feeling fresh and super smooth!

Buy here for $22.00 

This moisturizer is extremely lightweight & is truly what it advertises: a skin drink! I like using it in the hotter weather because it’s just so refreshing and will really wake up tired skin. You can even stick it in the fridge overnight for extra-cooling and de-puffing purposes. Made with aloe vera, rosemary, and green tea, this is the gentle yet powerful moisturizer you’ve been looking for.

 


Get it here – $10.99 for the entire pack!

I’m sure you all have heard of the simple magic that is the sheet mask, but Tony Moly, a skin care brand launched in South Korea, takes it to the next level. I love sheet masks because they’re quick and portable, plus these ones in particular leave my face feeling silky and seriously rejuvenated. This is a great pack if you like a variety — my personal favorites are the Tea Tree and the Avocado, but the best part about a variety pack is trying them all! The packaging is too cute and the masks are all free of parabens, talc, and artificial pigments. I’ve yet to find a better sheet mask, especially for the price!


   

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get the pack of 5 here

This soap is a godsend — with natural ingredients and a super-rich lather, you can’t go wrong. Before trying these, I’ve never used a natural soap that made me ready to chuck my shower gel in the trash but believe me, this is the stuff! Once you try it, there’s no way to justify spending so much on a liquid formula packed with chemicals. It’s vegetarian and gluten free, plus it’s made with ultra-moisturizing and naturally homogenized goat’s milk. Zum Bar comes in a variety of scents, but my favorite is the Oatmeal Lavender. Oatmeal is a natural cleanser and the lavender scent is heavenly. I’ve also found that the scents really seep into my skin, so it definitely won’t wear off the minute you step out of the shower.


Get it here for only $5.45

I use this almost daily! Not only does it add a nice shine and scent to my hair, but it makes it fuller and softer, too. My hair is already pretty full (as I have a lot of it) but it’s also super thin! If you’re like me and struggle with lifeless hair from time to time, this is definitely a product for you. It adds a perfectly weightless moisture, giving your hair a healthy lift in the time span of one or two little sprays! You can use it on damp or dry hair and it’s safe for all hair types, even color-treated. It’s made with biotin, collagen, and hydrolyzed wheat protein and even smells amazing too!