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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

On the Market: Reflections of an Educated, Unemployed Twenty–Something

Hi all!  Here is a wonderfully insightful guest post by Michael Oghia (bio and links below).

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Discount Beauty Queen

I had a flash of inspiration to write this post, as I was in the shower.  I felt I had to share some things I've learned this year about saving money on beauty and personal hygiene products.

So today I went shopping for some items I needed.  One of the things I needed was a shower gel (body wash).  A lot of women use three main products in the shower; a body wash (or soap), a shaving cream, and a "feminine hygiene wash".  My personal stance on beauty and personal care items is to purchase items which can multitask; one item to use for multiple purposes.  So let's say the three items mentioned cost you $5 each.  You'd be spending $15 for three items when you can use one for all three.  My secret?  Baby Wash.

A baby wash is an ultra gentle cleanser for babies.  But why should babies have all the good stuff?  My skin is sensitive and should be treated with TLC.  And as for your hoo-haa, duh that's something you need to treat with special care.  You gotta treat her like the queen she is.  In case you didn't know, you shouldn't be using regular soap down there.  Baby Wash is perfect because it has the keywords to look for: soap-free, gentle, sensitive, pH-balanced.  If you check the label of a Summer's Eve feminine wash, those are the same words used on the bottle.  Baby wash/baby soap is just as gentle AND yes it does lather so you can use it to shave too.  I just got two of the Rite-Aid brand because it was two for only $5!  So instead of spending $15 on three different items, I saved $10 AND got two items!  SCORE!

Next up, lotion.  I have sensitive skin so I don't like using creams and lotions with heavy fragrances (I get fragrance free).  If you really like perfumed creams and lotions you can add fragrance to them yourself and save money.  Just buy a fragrance-free lotion and add some scented oil to it, in whatever scent you like.  Now in terms of multitasking...the reason I buy fragrance free lotions and creams specifically for sensitive skin is because you can use them on both your body AND face.  Sure you can spend money on special serums, night creams, yada yada.  But I find that the less junk is on my face the less likely it'll react negatively on me.  Again I have sensitive skin so I like using products which are gentle and don't have a lot of extras in them.  But even if you don't have sensitive skin, if you just want to moisturize your face, why spend money on an extra bottle just for your face? One bottle can go for both. Or even if you just want one separate lotion for your face, you still save money with this method because if you haven't noticed those face creams come in teeny tiny bottles which don't last at all.  Let's do the math.  A bottle of a generic brand, fragrance-free lotion is about $5 and can last you about 3 months, whereas a tiny bottle of face lotion will be about $10 and last one month.

Finally, hair.  I spend more money on my hair than anything else.  I don't splurge on an item that's not staying in my hair.  Shampoos and Conditioners and meant to be washed out, so why spend $10 on a bottle?  It doesn't matter what kind of miracle it promises to do to your hair, it's gonna be WASHED OUT!  It's like throwing money down the drain. I can understand if you want to spend a little more on conditioners, but if your hair needs moisture better to invest in a leave-in conditioner which will go a longer way than a regular conditioner to wash out.

I'm sure there are a million plus ways to save money on your beauty routine, just do a little research before you go shopping next time.

What kind of beauty secrets do you have to share?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Make Money Online

There are tons of legitimate ways to make money online.  And I'm not talking about schemes or MLM business opportunities.  You can make a good amount of money working online by freelancing.

Market your skills and put them to use!  You can freelance full-time or part-time; it's up to you! When you freelance by working online (also known as working remotely, virtual jobs, and telecommuting) you can make your own schedule and be your own boss!

I am gonna list the websites I found to be the most helpful:

oDesk - you create a free profile, take some free skills tests (proof for employers), and then apply for gigs.  You set how much you want to get paid and they have a variety of jobs.  I'm currently working on a writing assignment through this website.  Again it's completely free to join and search for jobs.

Fiverr is one of my favorites.  You pretty much promote different skill sets you have in the form of jobs you'd be wiling to do for a minimum of $5.  For example you can offer to write a blog post for someone, for $5.  You can also offer extra services for more money.  I've used this site to hire freelancers.  If you're looking to hire someone for a gig, this is one of the best websites to do it from.  It's free to join and post for freelancers.

Flexjobs - they post all kinds of telecommuting and work from home jobs here.  The only thing is that you have to pay a fee to join the site, in order to search and apply for jobs.  I paid the fee last year, for 6 months, and while they had plenty of work from home job opportunities which were hard to find elsewhere, I was not able to successfully obtain work from this site.  So I personally do not feel it's worth it to spend money to look for work, especially if you're unemployed and can't afford it.  It's not super expensive but I'd rather spend my funds on necessary things.  If you have the money however, go for it.

Elance - you can also create a free profile to search for freelance opportunities.  I just started using this site so I don't have other feedback to provide other than it's free to use.

Which websites have you used to find work online?

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

How to find a Job in a “Jobless” Market

A lot of people are unemployed and feeling down on their luck.  Many believe the situation with the economy and the job market is hopeless.  I've been there; I was unemployed and underemployed for about a year.  I got by on gigs on Craigslist and other side jobs, all the while going to job fairs and applying to jobs like a maniac.

First thing you have to do is change your attitude and outlook.  If you believe the situation is hopeless, then it will be.  Plus no one will want to hire you if you’re in “Debbie Downer” mode.

Use your resources: ask your friends, family, ex-coworkers and previous supervisors to help you with your job search; they may know someone who is hiring.  Also try buddying up with one of your unemployed friends and take turns helping each other apply for jobs, check each other’s resumes, etc…

Put yourself out there!  Emailing your resume a million times isn't enough.  Go to networking events, join Yahoo Groups, Meetup, LinkedIn, and join different groups of professionals in your area and/or your field.  Many times job postings are listed there (especially LinkedIn).  Also try reaching out to your school’s alumni network and get in contact with some alumni in your field. 

Post your resume and make it visible on websites like Monster, so that recruiters are able to get in contact with you.  Also join different temp and employment agencies.  Headhunters can provide a great deal of help with your job search.  Don’t sleep on temp jobs!  Many positions start out as temporary and may become permanent.  Plus the advantage of having a temp job is that if you don’t like it, the end will be near.

If you still can’t find a job, how about creating one?  Why not start your own business?  Don’t be scared; it’s very easy to start a business, especially a home business.  There are tons of resources at your disposal to get your business started. 

Lastly, don’t forget to take it easy once in a while.  Looking for a job is a job in itself.  You deserve a mental health break every so often, especially if you find yourself exhausted and overly stressed from the job search.  It’s OK to take a break!  Sometimes you need to replenish your energy to get back in the game.

Good luck with your job search and by the way, check out my post on Government Benefits for the Unemployed, to help you out during this time.

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Sunday, December 9, 2012

Short-term Housing in Downtown San Diego

This is a follow-up to my review on Old Town Place.  I'm currently staying at Newport Place, managed by the same company, which is located in the downtown section of San Diego.

I am staying in a huge room, which is almost like a studio except I share the bathroom and kitchen with someone else.  The room has a private entrance, is fully furnished, and even has a refrigerator and microwave.  Just like with Old Town Place, all utilities are included; there is a laundry facility and computer station on site, and it is in a central location.  Newport Place is perfect for anyone needing short-term housing in downtown San Diego, especially students of San Diego City College since it is about a block away.

Everything is pretty much within walking distance; supermarkets, shopping, post office, and more.  I highly recommend this place to anyone in need of housing in San Diego.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

20K For College Students!

College Students get your money on!  Here's a chance to win $20,000 from Fila USA!! Pimp your wallet!!

Free Classes and Tutorials!

Welcome to the School of Life, where you can learn pretty much anything for FREE!
Want to learn a new dance, a new language, how to make a dress out of old t-shirts? YOUTUBE might be the place for you. There are tons of videos up on just about everything you can think of; just try a search on what you’re looking for. Some helpful YouTube channels include: Expert Village, eHow, and ThreadBanger among others.

Do you dream of becoming the next J.K. Rowling?  If so, you may want to check out some of the free writing classes and seminars offered by, to brush up those writing skills. 

If computers are more your thing, check out some free classes offered by your local public library (NYPL), or from an amazing company called NobleDesktop which offers free seminars on some of the latest software (both online and at their NYC location).  If you need the software you are trying to learn, but can't afford to purchase it, try the free downloads at CNET.  CNET offers free downloads for both PC's and Macs. 

Another helpful website which lists all kinds of free stuff for New Yorkers (such as courses, events, concerts, etc...) is ClubFreeTime.  It's worth it to join just to get access to the wealth of resources offered.

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FREE Classes at Wellesley College!

Starting Fall 2013 Wellesley College will be offering FREE Online courses for both women and men!  Join their mailing list for updates on classes and schedules.  You better get your free education on!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Win passes to San Diego Comic Con 2013!

G4TV has a contest to win passes to San Diego Comic Con for this upcoming summer!  This is a great opportunity to win free passes, 4 nights at a hotel and much more!  Enter now!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Short-term Housing in San Diego

So I recently relocated from NYC to San Diego for various reasons, but before I moved I spent a number of hours researching short-term housing options in San Diego.  

Short-term housing is good if you are a student, or a professional on a business trip, or someone in transition from relocating.  I also think short-term housing can often times be more economical than hostels and/or traditional hotels.  Being that I was in the process of moving I did not feel comfortable signing a lease to an apartment that I was not able to physically view.  I was primarily dealing with people by phone or internet and was just paranoid of getting ripped off.  There are so many housing scams out there that you just don’t know who to trust.

In any case, I came across a couple of options: airbnb and Old Town Place.  With airbnb you can rent rooms and private homes directly from the owners, and the site also offers reviews on the location and host.  You can view pictures and descriptions; overall you feel comfortable reserving housing there.  I found some great options but you have to pay your entire stay up-front plus a fee for the service; I just found it to be a little pricey.  I came across Old Town Place (as well as Newport Place – a “sister site” where I’ll be staying at next - review coming soon!) which is promoted as short-term student housing, mainly for international students, but anyone can stay here as long as you stay the minimum of one month.  The staff is extremely helpful and courteous (I dealt directly with Kristy Ward who is the Business Manager), and the great thing is you can pay only a deposit to hold your room (and/or studio) and then pay your month’s rent upon arrival.  I thought this was a great option because you can pay your rent once you are physically there and are able to see the place.  All rooms and studios are fully furnished; the rent includes your typical utilities (such as electricity, water, etc…) as well as Wi-Fi, and cable.  They also have laundry facilities and a cleaning service for the common areas (such as the living room and kitchen). 

The pictures on the website don’t do this place justice!  I am staying in room 2B which is part of a 2 bedroom apartment.  This bedroom has a private entrance, as well as a door leading into the kitchen and bathroom area (two doors total in the room).  Both doors have locks and upon arrival you receive a set of keys for the front door and laundry room, as well as for your mailbox.  The room has a desk, mirror, wastepaper basket, television, night stand, lamps, alarm clock, and closet.  They also include fresh towels and linens.  The kitchen is fully equipped with a refrigerator, stove, table, utensils, pots, cups, and all kinds of appliances (such as a microwave, blender and coffee maker).  They also include cleaning supplies, an ironing board and iron, and plenty of shelf space.  Finally, the bathroom has a sink, toilet and shower, and is a decent size for two people to share. 

By the way, the outside is gorgeous!  They have a little patio area, which in front of my door is a table and chairs for those lovely sunny days.  And I have yet to explore the rest of the complex and area, but I’m sure it’s all beautiful. 

If you plan on staying in San Diego for a month or longer, I think this place would be your best bet.  I think you will find it to be the most economical and also the most convenient.  If you’re concerned about the privacy and/or noise level, you have nothing to worry about.  Everyone is respectful; you barely hear any outside noise.  Also all your doors can be locked and only accessed by you.  If you don’t drive the Trolley and Bus station is only a few blocks away (which by the way I highly suggest walking around Old Town, it’s definitely eye-gasmic!). 

I felt inspired to write about this place because I did not find much information in my initial online search for short-term housing in San Diego, so hopefully this review serves as a guide for you.  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Want more money? Declutter your space!

Ok I just had to write a quick post on the power of decluttering! And no this is not about Feng Shui (spelling?).

I am in the process of cleaning my room as I prepare for my move out West and in doing so I've already "found" $600 and I'm not even finished! How did I find so much money from just cleaning my space? Well for starters I sold a bunch of unwanted items on ebay. These were things that would have been trashed but instead I chose to give them a chance to make me some money by placing them in a kind of 'virtual garage sale'. Remember one person's know the rest. I made about $100 total from the stuff I would have thrown out. If ebay is not your thing I also sold some things on Craigslist so try there as well.

Next way to make money by cleaning is by going through all of your papers; any old letters laying around, 'important documents' collecting dust, envelopes you haven't opened. You'd be surprised how much money you have there! Trust me you will find some useful things! I found a few gift certificates I never used, a few money orders never redeemed; in one day I found about $400 worth just laying there waiting for me. Not to mention the change you have lying around! If you were to place all those coins in a jar and then take them to a Coin Star or Penny Arcade, I'm sure you would walk out a happy camper!

Now on to the 'woo-woo' stuff. Decluttering your space, especially the area(s) of your house and/or business dealing with money, opens your door to abundance. Do you ever wonder why you try and work so hard but don't see your financial situation improving? Or do you feel like you're in an uphill battle? The money is right there in front of you, just sitting waiting for you to use it. Plus how can you expect abundance and prosperity when your space is filled with money you're not even aware of or using? Why would more money enter your life when the money you have is not being put to good use?

Even if you think you have nothing of value in your home or business, try clearing out the space. Go through each and every one of those items you haven't used or looked over in a while. Believe me I think you will be pleasantly surprised by what you find.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Win Free Groceries for Christmas!

Prevention Magazine has a contest to win free groceries for the holidays!  You can win up to $1500 in gift cards to shop till you drop!  This will definitely help you save money!  ENTER HERE.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Shecky's Beauty Night Out SALE!!

Goldstar(.com) has a 1 day sale going on now for Shecky’s Beauty Night Out tickets (for NYC, but they also have events in other cities as well)!  You can get them for $10-$12 (regular price is $30+)!  If you’ve never been to a Shecky’s event, let me tell you they are worth going to no matter what you pay!  I’m featuring this event on my blog because even though the event is not free, you get back more than your money’s worth so in essence it is free because you get so many goodies for nothing! 
First off the drinks are free and flowing!  The bar is open (and free) from open to close and the drinks are all by sponsors (which means you won’t get the cheap stuff).  BEWARE!  Make sure to eat something first because there is rarely any food at their events; there may be some snack samples from the vendors but not nearly enough to be considered a meal.
If you go you MUST purchase a ticket to receive a goodie bag; the goodie bags are the best part!  The bags are filled with all kinds of items from the event sponsors and they are always worth about 3 times the amount you paid for to even go.  The bags are not just filled with sample sizes, many times they include the full size products.  The items range from cosmetics, to skincare, etc…all good stuff!  A tip for you: pick up the goodie bag at the end (when you’re about to leave) because they are usually heavy and you don’t want to lug it, along with your purse, while trying to walk around.  These events are usually packed, and it can get hot in there.  Plus there is usually more than 1 level so you’ll be doing quite a bit of walking.
And finally, there are TONS of vendors, most of them offering samples and/or raffles.  So aside from your swag bag, you’ll also pick up some awesome freebies from the sponsors and vendors.  Just make sure to walk around to each and every table, and sometimes they might not have the freebies visible so just ask for them.
Shecky’s hosts events all year round, but in my opinion Beauty Night Out is the best one; it doesn’t happen as often as the other events and the products/samples offered are usually higher quality.  You do not want to miss this! 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Freebies for Veterans!

Our Vets deserve much more than this but here are a couple of sites which list some cool freebies for you!  Have a very Happy Veterans Day!

Freebies for Service Members

Veterans Day Specials

Friday, November 9, 2012

FREE Weight Watchers??

I’ve never tried Weight Watchers, but I know friends who have and liked the program.  WW is not free though and for those of you who know me I love getting free stuff!  I knew there had to be a way to incorporate the WW program for free.  I think if you’re not sure if you want to spend the money OR maybe you just don’t have the funds to invest, then this article will help you get something similar for FREE!

First off the very basic nature of the WW program is counting calories.  Anyone can do this without necessarily signing on to a program but what’s great about it is that it makes counting the calories much easier.  3500 calories make 1 pound so if you are eating anywhere near that on a daily basis you are bound to keep gaining weight rapidly.  In order to lose weight you have to cut calories.  This doesn’t mean you have to eat less, it just means you have to be more aware of what you are putting into your body.  If you incorporate some exercise along with lower caloric intake, then you should see faster results for weight loss. 

I found this great, FREE app called “MyFitnessPal” (which I use on my Android phone) where you can log your meals and snacks and keep track of how many calories you are taking in.  When you first set it up, you put your information and level of activity and it will calculate how many calories you can eat on a daily basis in order to meet your goal.  You can choose how much weight you want to lose, how many calories you want to take in, etc…so it is very easy to modify.  Plus you can search for many different types of foods to log into your food diary.  I think what’s great is that when you are putting down what you eat it gives you a moment to really reflect on what you are putting into your body.  This app also breaks down (depending on what you are eating) how much of fat, protein, sodium, etc. you are eating so you start to notice if maybe you are eating foods with too much sodium or sugar, which can lead to serious medical issues.

I think using an app like this can give you a preview of what to expect if you choose to later on try Weight Watchers, or just stick with this to lose weight on your own.  Another thing to note is that if you need extra support, for example if you feel you need to meet with other individuals who want to lose weight, who share the same struggles as you, you can join existing support groups for free.  You can either create one yourself and advertise on outlets like Yahoo groups or Meetup(.com), or join existing groups (on sites mentioned) or check out “OverEaters Anonymous”’; they have free OA meetings across the county.  I’ll post an update in about a month to let you know how this free version of WW is working out for me!

Lastly I will be posting soon about ways to work out for free, so you won’t have to spend money at a gym!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Save more by SPENDING more??

Is it possible? Can you actually save money by spending more of it? The answer is YES!

It's a very simple trick...all you have to do is play around with your budget so that everything you spend is rounded up to the next whole dollar amount. Even if you are really lazy and hate budgeting your money, all you do here is just add and subtract.

First get a piece of paper and write down the amount you currently have to spend. This includes everything; money for bills, for food, recreation etc...if your intention is to spend it then that number would go at the top.

Let's say you just got paid $600 and that's all you have until the next pay period, then $600 is the number which goes at the top of the paper. The next step is to write down all of your expenses until the next pay period below your starting amount. Let's say you get paid every 2 weeks; you would list all of your expenses from this pay period until the next so possibly some bills, lunch, transportation,etc.

The most crucial step after listing all of your expenses is to round the amounts up to the next whole dollar amount. So if your phone bill is $56.75 then you would list it as $57 under your starting amount ($600) and that is what you would subtract.

Every little bit helps and goes a long way especially if you're not very good at saving. By rounding up your expenses you end up indirectly saving. I highly suggest whatever amount is left over after either a pay cycle or the end of the month, you put in a savings account. Keep in mind this trick applies to both debit and cash transactions. For cash, pay only with bills and any coins left over place in a jar (or piggy bank). At the end of the month put everything from the jar into your savings.

If you don't have a savings account, check with the bank you have a checking account with to see what they have to offer for savings. I don't have a savings account with a bank I actually prefer online savings accounts such as Smarty Pig
where you can set savings goals. I think when you have a goal to save for you become more responsible and aware about saving; your success rate is much higher for achieving that goal. Maybe you want to save for an expensive item you've been wanting to splurge on or possibly a dream vacation you've been wanting to take; whatever it is this method will help you get started towards accomplishing that goal.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Free Writing Classes in NYC!

GothamWriters' Workshop is offering a bunch of FREE writing classes between Tuesday the 18th and Wednesday the 19th, in New York City.  This is a great opportunity to get a taste of the classes Gotham Writers' Workshop has to offer, before paying full price for one.  This is especially useful if you’re an aspiring writer or a seasoned writer, to brush up on your skills.  They offer a variety of classes to learn very useful writing techniques such as Creative Writing, Screenwriting, etc...You have to register online for the classes, so do it now because space is limited!  Don't miss the opportunity to attend a free writing class!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Start your HOME BUSINESS on a Budget today!

Hello all!  I recently published an ebook on Amazon for Kindle titled "BYOB (Be Your Own Boss): How to Start a Home Business on a Budget".  This ebook serves as a great guide for those of you interested in supplementing your income by starting a small business from home.  This is a very informative and easy to understand guide.  It provides step-by-step instructions for starting your business, marketing, and also has some great free and low-cost resources to use.  Check it out!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Ways to save as a family

Learn how to save money individually and as a family via my article on Yahoo Voices: Ways to Save

Monday, March 12, 2012

4th Annual Prom Dress Giveaway NYC!! FREE Dresses for Prom!

****SAVE THE DATE**** 
Dominican Sunday, Inc and Operation PROM's 
NYC Prom Dress Giveaway Event will be held on:

SATURDAY MAY 12th, 2012 from 12-5pm!!

22 East 17th Street, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10003 
**For directions by bus/train check out**

Come for your chance to get a DRESS, SHOES, and ACCESSORIES for your Prom or Graduation, ALL FOR FREE!

There will also be FREE MAKEOVERS, GIVEAWAYS, RAFFLES, and much more! ALL FOR FREE!

For ladies going to their SENIOR PROMS ONLY (NYC High School). MUST BRING PROOF: Letter from your school, OR Copy of School ID with Photo, OR Copy of Transcript.

For more information email: Khiraldo @ HelpProm.Org

Spread the word!

Follow us on Twitter!
@OperationProm  @Khiraline

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Thursday, March 1, 2012

$17 a day

Ok so my goal for this month is to save up AT LEAST $500 which is about $16.66/day but I’ll round up to $17 per day.  Some things to note: I am currently unemployed and make money with little odd jobs here and there, so I really have to hustle. 

Today ended GREAT which already shows me that the curse has lifted and things are looking up for me!  I had $2 in my pocket this morning and earned $120 today; $20 was expected, $100 was not.  Out of the $120 I’m putting $100 towards my savings, which equals about 5 days worth of saving!  I already have 5 days worth of funds saved so I’m putting it in the bank.  I also just set up a SmartyPig account ( to help me reach my goal.  I heard about it from a friend so once I’m all set up with it I think it’ll really help me for future goals as well.

So I have the funds covered for 3/1-3/5; let’s see what magic happens to cover the rest of the days!  I’ll keep you posted!

**********Update 3/2/12**************
Just made $20 from creating a resume, so now I have 7 days covered; from 3/1-3/7, yeahh!  I'm adding all funds to my smartypig account where I can save up towards this goal.  I'm actually putting it all towards my "MOVING OUT" goal, which I want to have at least $3,000 by June 1st.  More details to come!