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What are smart financial goals?

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Good morning Loves.  How are your goals going so far in 2015?  My savings goal is on track (more about that in a couple of weeks), my career goal to learn about SEO is coming along and my weight loss goal is slowly but surely still working.  I’ve already lost a bit of weight (but not as much as I’d like) and I hope to be down another five pounds by the end of June.  I wanted to lose five pounds a month but my body just doesn’t seem to be cooperating.  So far all in all I’m happy with my progress.

I usually don’t like commitment, partially because I don’t like to be told what to do and partially because I can’t focus on one task for too long before getting bored.  Every single year I set New Year’s resolutions and by March they go completely out the window.  But not this year.

Make sure you really want your goal

So why is 2015 so different? I think it’s because I set smart financial goals this year a.k.a. realistic goals that I actually WANT to achieve.  So often people set goals because they think they should, but the truth is if you don’t want to achieve your goals you never will.  If you know you should stop smoking, but don’t really want to then you’ll never do it.  I really want to save money this year and I’m willing to make sacrifices to do so.  That’s why I’ll achieve my goal.

Be sure you get something great out of it

If you’ve set a goal what are you getting out of it?  If you love smoking and you stop smoking you’ll be healthier but you’ll probably also be miserable.  I like setting goals that give me something in the end, I don’t want to feel like I’m missing out on anything – that’s why I never give up chocolate.  Losing weight is not easy, but in the end I’ll be skinnier, healthier and ultimately happier.  That’s a goal well worth working towards.

Don’t get a goal buddy

I know a lot of people say to get a friend to workout with or compare your weight loss with someone who has similar goals, but that doesn’t work for me.  Part of setting smart financial goals – or goals of any kind – is that they’re personal.  Comparing yourself to others can only hurt the process, even though it’s intended to help.

Goals should always be realistic

If you set goals you want to achieve them, right?!  It’s nice to have something to work towards but at the same time they have to be realistic.  I know that I can realistically save $7000 by the end of the year if I cut out some of my extra spending, but not all.  I know myself, if I scrimp on everyday living I won’t stick with it.  I need to set goals that are achievable because watching the progress motivates me to keep going.

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Friday Faves: Must Haves for My New Apartment

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Happy Friday!  Today we’re talking all about the ways I’m decorating our new apartment.  Can I still call it new if BF and I moved back in October?  I think so.  I’m going to call it our new apartment for a year.  I’m happy to say we finally started decorating our apartment and we’re doing it on a budget which is nice.

Decorating our home on a budget

Of course I would love our apartment to look like something out of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, but unfortunately that’s not our reality.  I’ve learned that it’s the small things that really make an apartment stand out and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune.  As long as we spend money wisely on quality items instead of filling up our apartment with cheap knick-knacks it will be all good.

I like adding character and color to our apartment through accents because it’s a lot easier and a lot cheaper to change the accents and statement pieces than it is to redo the entire decor if you want to redecorate in a year or two.

Here are the budget-friendly ways we’re decorating our new apartment.

Fresh cut and fake flowers

I love the smell of fresh cut flowers, but unfortunately keeping them in the house can be very expensive.  Instead I purchase good quality fake flowers from Michael’s craft store.  I paid $20 per bouquet because they were on sale and I had a coupon.  Now I keep one vase of fresh cut flowers in my kitchen (when I can afford it) and fill my house with colorful fake bouquets in the other rooms.

Plants and greenery

Plants are a lovely alternative to buying fresh cut flowers, they’re cheaper and live longer than fresh cut flowers.  They still add color and life into a home without having to spend too much money or dish out money regularly to replace flowers when they die.

Pillows

I’m sure you probably know this about me but I love pillows. My personal motto is that a home can never have enough pillows.  It makes your home welcoming, it adds color into a room and it’s comfy when you’re laying in bed watching a movie or sitting on the couch chatting with guests.  I don’t think you can ever have enough color in your home.

Candles

You may remember that my mother taught me to always keep my home smelling good.  We always have oil burning, Wallflowers plugged in or candles burning.  I think nice smells are comforting and there’s nothing better than a little apple cinnamon to brighten up your day.  Candles don’t have to be expensive you can get great ones at Target and Wal-Mart.  Sometimes even the pharmacy has deals or liquidations on last season’s scents.

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Cutting the Cord: 7 Legal Ways to Drop Your Cable Provider

1649ff72d3cd4bd585048a0dce14cc25You’re tired of paying for cable services every month. You want to cut the cord, desperately, but you want a legal alternative. Sure, you could scour bittorrent sites to find the newest episode of your favorite T.V. show, but that avenue is usually illegal and always carries a serious risk of a phone call, a visit from law enforcement, or a nastygram in the mail from a network threatening to sue you. We advise against that. Here’s how to stay on the right side of the law, and still satisfy your viewing needs.

Get Hulu

Hulu is probably the most well-known service for free T.V. and movies. That’s because it was one of the first to arrive on the scene to offer free T.V. Sure you have to endure the commercials, but you aren’t paying for anything on this site. You just watch and enjoy.

If you ever do get tired of the commercials, you can upgrade to Hulu Plus, cut down on the commercials, and get a lot more content in the form of back episodes for your favorite shows. One peculiarity of this site that stands out immediately is the fact that some shows aren’t actually hosted on the site. Instead, the company links out to the network’s website where you can watch the show. Another criticism of the site is that you don’t get the freshest content, and the selection is somewhat limited.

Finally, the biggest complaint voiced by users is that, for Hulu Plus, even though you’re paying for the subscription, you still have to put up with commercials. You cannot speed through them either, unlike standard cable with a DVR. 

Get Netflix

Netflix has gained a lot of traction over the years and is now integrated into a lot of devices like smart T.V.s, Apple T.V. and other electronics. There’s a good reason why. This mail-order-video-turned-streaming-movie service has worked hard to create a strong brand and solid programming. They’re also a lot cheaper than most services you’ll find out there. No, it’s not free, but you’ll probably find them to be a steal compared to your current cable provider. A few dollars compared to $50 or more. It’s no contest.

While Netflix also suffers from some dated content choices (i.e. the full Knight Rider series, starring David Hasselhoff), and it often takes a long time for the company to secure the rights to newer series (i.e. The Walking Dead), it’s also not a second-hand company aiming to be the best “content curator.” It spends money developing its own original programming like Orange is the New Black and House of Cards. And, it secures tier-one talent for those shows too, like Kevin Spacey. Netflix is currently responsible for a third of all Internet traffic, so clearly they’re doing something right.

Get Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime costs $99 per year, and you get access to several thousand movie titles and over a million songs. You also get free 2-day shipping on just about anything you buy on the site – a nice bonus. Finally, the service comes with, of course, books.

Of all of the services out there, this is probably the most unique. The Amazon Interface can sometimes feel a little cluttered. But, the company’s 4-service offering at a very reasonable price makes it hard to ignore.

Rent Movies

You can always rent movies and T.V. shows on iTunes or similar services (i.e. Amazon). At $3.99 to $5.99, the rentals aren’t the cheapest in the world, and buying a T.V. show might not appeal to you, but it’s often cheaper than paying for a year’s worth of cable if you only watch a handful of shows.

Redbox is also an alternative to the online renting scheme. This company has cornered the market that Netflix left behind. If you live in a large city (or even a small one), it’s not too difficult to find a Redbox location. These machines dispense DVDs for a $1 per night of rental. There are no late fees, and you can usually find all the new or newer releases and sometimes even older ones. It’s uncomplicated, and that’s why we love it.

Download Videos From YouTube

You can always find copyright-free independent films and videos on YouTube and download them for later personal viewing. A simple YouTube downloader like the one at http://youtubedownload.altervista.org/ is all you need for that, and the rest is free. Make sure that you’re not breaking any copyright laws. That point cannot be stressed enough.

Most of the original shows on YouTube are pretty flexible about this, but never make any assumptions. Contact the channel owner or scope out the channel’s page for details about downloading. Some channels actually encourage you to save it to your computer and pass it around – free publicity. Just remember to respect intellectual property.

Get Free T.V. Online

There are several places you can score free T.V. online, like Crackle. It’s a legit service owned by Sony, with licensed content so don’t worry about stealing or violating intellectual property laws. It’s ad-supported, but there are movies and T.V. shows on there for free, so what do you want? If you’re into Anime, Crunchyroll is probably the best site out there for Japanese T.V.

Ivonne Strauss loves technology for productivity and entertainment. She enjoys writing about maximizing potential without breaking the banks.

4 Tips to Help You Start Running

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So you want to start running?  I think that’s a great idea!  I love running for a variety of reasons: it’s a big adrenaline rush, you can get a great workout in 30 minutes, it helps with your posture and you feel like a million bucks when you’re done.

I am by no means running a marathon anytime soon, but I do love running.  I try to get in three runs a week at the gym.  For medical reasons (I have a weird spine) I am unable to run outside, but I hear it’s even better than running indoors.  I should also tell you that I’m not a size 2 so if you think running is just for skinny people I’m here to tell you that’s not true.

Here are four things that helped me start running and keep me motivated:

Get cute gear

You don’t need to spend a lot of money on high end gear, just get a few (three or so) outfits that you feel good in and can mix and match.  I invested in good running shoes ($89 Mizuno’s from DSW) but the rest of my gear is from Aeropostale, they have great shorts that don’t ride up when you run.  Long tank tops are also better because they tend to ride up when you run, at least mine do.

Start in intervals

This is how I run.  I do a 30 minute workout; combined I run for 10 minutes and walk at an incline for 5 minutes via intervals.  Part of the reason is because I hate doing the same thing for too long and the other part is having a deadline keeps me motivated.  Use blocks of five minutes to keep track, start by running for one minute and walking for four.  Then run two minutes for every three you walk etc.  It’s really helped me step up my running game.

Leave the water until the end

I used to drink water every time the treadmill was at walking speed but I found that when I started running again I would get a cramp – that sucks.  A friend told me to run through a cramp, but that’s easier said than done.  Now I go hard for 30 minutes and reward myself with ice cold water at the end.

Pick a focus point on the wall

When I tell you that I’m clumsy it’s the honest truth. If I look to the left or right or check out what the other runners beside me are doing I completely lose focus and break my stride.  Even a quick glance at the clock on the wall can cause me to completely lose focus.

When I run I have to focus on one point and stick with it for 30 minutes until I’m done.  I’m sure I look like a crazy stalker fixated on their prey but I can’t help it.  I’ve already had one injury where I messed up my knee because I was running out of stride.  I don’t want to go there again.

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