10 ways to sneak in 50 minutes of working out each day

For me, finding time to workout each day is quite the task. I spend 45 minutes commuting to and from work in the mornings and evenings. And I am working 10 hours days during the week with the occasional Saturday work day. Toss in needing to shower, eat and sleep each day and that does not leave me with a whole lot of time. My daily trip to the gym was one of the first things to get tossed aside.

This posed quite the problem for me though. I need to workout at least every other day because I want to be healthy and fit. And I discovered some time ago that when I am working out regularly that I feel way better. Plus, I really miss spending time on the rowing machine to work out my stress.

While I do not have time to go to the gym for a half hour, I can squeeze in bursts of fitness throughout my day and have it not take any extra time. If you have a full schedule like me you might want to try something like this. Instead of spending a half hour at the gym I break it up and end up getting almost an hour of exercise and it doesn’t cut into my time of doing something else.

Here are 10 ways that I have snuck in at least 50 minutes of working out into my day.

One Yoga poses while waiting for coffee to brew, 5 minutes

Two – Get to work and walk up 9 flights of stairs instead of taking the elevator, 5 minutes

Three – Working in some wall push-ups when I take bathroom breaks, 5 minutes

Four – Spend part of my morning 15 minute break in the stairwell going up and down the stairs, 5 minutes

Five – If weather permits, walking outside on my lunch break. Or driving to a nearby mall to get in some walking. Or even just walking around the building here at work, 5 minutes.

Six – After lunch, another break spent walking up some stairs or doing wall push-ups, 5 minutes

Seven – At home, play a little video games to wind down from work and stay standing and in chair pose, 5 minutes (but usually more like 20). Sometimes I do this after I start dinner and am waiting for a timer to go off in the kitchen, which doubles as a way to make sure I do not spend too much time on the gaming console!

Eight – At home, walk to get mail and take a brisk walk around apt complex while opening mail, 5 minutes.

Nine – While making dinner, using 5lb weights for some iron pumping with my free hand. Then alternating to other hand, 5 minutes.

Ten Resistance band exercises while watching the news or other television, 5 minutes

Prep yourself for an interview

If you are job hunting then you know that landing an interview is only half the battle. You’ve gotten your foot in the door and now you need to bust that door wide open. But interviews can be tricky sometimes and even though you are completely qualified for a position a bad interview can cost you the job. And that blows.

If you are preparing for an interview, here are some things to keep in mind…

The prospective employer that you will be interview with will make the hiring decision based on these factors:

1) Attitude and Business Poise
2) Image/ Presentation and Communication skills
3) Experience / Skill Set
4) Education / Certifications
5) Transferable Industry / Technical Background

So, these are the things that you need to be conscious of. I would even go so far as to say that for a lot of interviews this is really the order of importance of their criteria they are using to evaluate you with. Note however that I do not, nor have I ever worked in HR.

And here are a few things you might want to be prepared for when it is time for your interview. Go ahead and prepare some points for these before the interview.

**Tell the employer why you are the most interested person in the opportunity or company.

**Tell the employer why you are the most qualified person for the position.

**Be enthusiastic about the position and the company.

**Ask good, specific questions. Respond positively to the interviewer’s questions whenever possible.

**Do not discuss salary or benefit packages. Remain open. And remember, studies have show that when it comes to negotiations the first party to quote a number is always the “loser” of the negotiation.

**“Sell your attitude” during the interview. Ask for the position/ be pro-active at the end of the interview.

Turning debt reduction into a crazy game

I think that once you have been carrying around debt for quite some time, 10 years in my case, you get to a moment of crazy. Now hear me out on this and see if you don’t agree with me.

I got a credit card when I was 17 – I lived in a small town and banked at a small town one-branch bank that for some reason gave a 17 year old a credit card. Anyways, I started out responsible. I only charged what I could pay off. It was a good system until I went to college and had more expenses on my own and more free time to have fun, which means charge up fun things that I could not afford. That is when the domino effect started which has led me to where I am today, still carrying around a buttload of debt. I’ve been puttering along and paying the minimum payments, plus a little more when I could. Not that it mattered though because I was still using them!! Well, after getting this new job with a nice increase in salary I started to realize that if we were really good about the money we spent that we could pay off a big chunk of that debt in no time. How short of time is no time? Well, we could pay off all of our credit cards in four months when I ran the numbers yesterday. My first calculation was for seven months but that was allowing room for funny money and such. My girlfriend decided that she wanted to get aggressive and see if we could pay it off sooner. After getting aggressive we can pay off around $16,000 in about four months.

This is where the crazy comes in.

We were talking about how this debt has been with us for what seems like forever. And we were also discussing how everyone we know (including parents) are lugging around all of this debt and how we do not want to be “those people” any longer. Then we both said it at the same time, just in different words.

Her – “Wonder how fast we can really pay it off?”
Me – “I bet we can do it in less than 4 months if we try real hard.”

That was the moment that debt reduction became a crazy game. The game is how quickly can we do it? The objective is – each month we make a budget deciding how much we spend in allotted categories and then we strive to see how much under budget we can come in at! The extra money that is left over in each category goes toward debt and debt only, assuming there are no hospital visits, etc. Basically, we are trying out to do ourselves each month by living on less than the month before all in the pursuit to maximize how much can go towards credit card debt. And it doesn’t end there. I upped the ante by proclaiming that I can work 10 hours days at work for overtime pay! Then we cheered.

My boss high-fived me

I have worked a lot of different jobs and had a lot of different bosses. Most of them were pretty bad. Both the bosses and the jobs! I have had a few good of each though.

I always seem to notice though that a lot of the bosses that I have had seem to have trouble letting people know that they are doing a good job. It is almost as if they do not know how to praise. Kind of weird.

Well, I have been at my current job about a month now. Things are going well, but I am still learning a lot as it is a senior level position. I spent the past week working on pretty much one thing and finally finished it Friday afternoon. I told my boss that I had emerged victorious and she high-fived me. It was not the response that I was expecting. It was fun though and something that maybe more managers should do. I can honestly say that I have never had a boss high-five me before.

If I were in sales, I would have expected it – but this is accounting!

Winter Health and Beauty Tips

don’t know if you are like me, but winter weather has pretty much the same meaning for me every year – dry skin and colds. With a little preventative measures though some of that can be overcome.

Today my assistant came in with some kind of funky cold. Actually it was more than a cold and she was at my desk practically all day – coughing, sneezing, blowing her nose and so on. And of course she manhandled most of my pens and such on my desk. On my lunch break I got my anti-bacterial hand stuff from my car (I keep there for when I come out of the gym) and took it back to my desk.

I really do not want to get sick. The odds are against me though considering I spent the day with someone that ended up leaving early due to feeling bad. I won’t even get started with my whole “why did she come to work in the first place?” rant. So, if you have had a day like this where you were exposed to a lot of sick germs, or if you just want some general tips, here are some things you can do to try fight off the colds and flu.

Drink your liquids! We all know that vitamin C is good for you, so drink up the OJ if you got it in the mornings. Spend your day drinking about eight to ten of the 8-ounce glasses of water. It sounds like a lot but it will flush out your system and maybe prevent that ickiness from coming your way. And at night before bed have yourself some tea. Now myself, I prefer some hot tea but you can go cold if you want. See, tea has some amino acids in it that gives your immune system a boost so that it can fight infections like a ninja warrior.

Yogurt?! Yes, grab yourself some Yoplait at the grocery store because it just might keep you from getting sick.  The live and active cultures in yogurt have been proven to boost that immune system.And apparently there have been studies where people that noshed on yogurt were 25% less likely to catch colds. (I had some at lunch – my immune system will be a full blown ninja warrior by morning)

Fruits & veggies.  There is something called phytochemicals that is in fruits and veggies that dukes it out against colds and flus. Dark green, red and yellow fruits and veggies pack the most phytochemicals (so your best bang for the buck). Some examples are: broccoli, tomatoes, oranges, berries, pomegranates, grapes, garlic and almonds.

And also remember to wash your hands!!

As for skincare, I am all about finding ways to keep my skin moisturized in the winter. Here are 5 quick tips on winter skin care:

  1. Drinking eight to ten glasses of water keeps you hydrated and keeps your skin healthy.
  2.  Keep a lip balm with you to keep your lips from getting dry and chapped. I am a fan of the Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm.
  3. Use a humidifier in your home to lessen that dry air effect. It will also prevent winter nose bleeds from that dry air.
  4. Experts say to switch up to an oil-based moisturized for winter weather.
  5. Even though it is cold, fight the urge to take a long, steamy, hot shower – it will just give you dry skin!


5 tips for stress free holiday travel

Will be you traveling over Christmas or New Year’s? That can be one of the most stressful times to travel. There are always a lot of other people traveling and there always seem to be a lot of delays at the airports.

Here are 5 tips for stress free travel this holiday season.

1. Do it in advance. Do not wait until the last minute when you get to the airport to get your boarding pass. The line is likely to be quite long so print your boarding pass in advance. If you are staying at a hotel check to see if they have a business center or a computer that guests can use. If that fails, look for a Kinko’s, public library or internet cafe nearby.

2. Pack with the TSA in mind. Remember that you can’t have super size liquids in your carry ons. You also can’t have bottles of water, soda or anything else! Visit the TSA website to be sure you are only packing what is allowed in your carry on items.

3. Remember to not wrap gifts. If you forget and wrap your gifts before packing them it will not be your relatives that are ripping into the packages. Instead it will be your friendly TSA agents. And something tells me that they won’t have that same look of glee on their faces that your relatives will.

4. Be prepared for problems. Don’t get to the airport to discover your flight has been canceled due to bad weather somewhere else. Check online or on the weather channel before you leave for the airport. And make sure you give yourself ample time to get to the airport as a lot of other people will be trying to get there at the same time. And make sure you have something to keep you occupied in the airport in the event that your flight is delayed.

5. Schedule your connecting flight somewhere sunny instead of somewhere snowy. If you are going to say Washington DC, do not have a connecting flight in Chicago. One, it is a super busy airport. Two, there is a good possibility of a delayed flight due to snow. Instead, connect somewhere like Memphis where there is less of a chance of snow.

Minimalist thoughts: Who needs all that furniture?

Until this year, I have spent the last 10 years without any dressers or any type of decent looking bed frame. I had a kitchen table and chairs but I sold it last year because the only use it got was as a place to lay the mail every day. It actually caused more clutter. And I really hate clutter, hence the whole trying to be a minimalist thing.

I am currently in the process of evaluating the furniture that I have and then deciding what I really and truly need. I am doing this for two reasons. One, I know that I have furniture that I really do not need. Two, when our apartment lease is up in a couple of months my girlfriend and I plan on ditching our pricey 2 bedroom townhouse apartment and getting a cheap studio to save some cash. And that means too much furniture will make that small space very cramped.

First things first, make an inventory of what you have. (Actually walk around your home and do this. If you just try to think about it you are likely to forget about something.) I think it is easiest to list this by room.

Here is what my list looks like:

Den = fold-up table as computer desk, office chair, metal stackable cubes, 2-drawer wood end table, 4 drawer plastic rolly cart.

Laundry room = fold up card table, several plastic Rubbermaid tubs

Living room = couch, coffee table, tv stand, audio pier, end table, 2 short bookcases, 2 gaming chairs

2nd bedroom = corner style desk, media stand, office chair, metal stool, rolly cart with drawers in closet

Master bedroom = platform bed, mattress and box springs, 2 dressers, 3-piece wooden cube thing with drawers, metal stackable cubes, wooden “toy chest’ used for blankets

So, I do not have a lot of furniture, but I still have too much. The thing about furniture though is what you need really depends on closet and shelving space. For instance, I got the cheap wooden toy chest for blankets back when I didn’t have any closet space. Now, I don’t really need it but I might at the next apartment. However, it would probably sell pretty good on Craigslist.

Next, I made a list of things that I could get rid of now and things that I could get rid of when I got ready to move out. Meaning, I would use them until it was time to move them because I didn’t want to keep them. And I also made a “maybe” list.

To get rid of now:

  • Card table
  • Coffee table
  • Audio pie
  • End table

Get rid of before move:

  • Couch
  • Corner desk
  • Platform bed

Maybe list:

  • Fold up desk
  • Both office chairs (if we get rid of desktops and get laptops would we really need the desk and chairs?)
  • Dressers (these were cheap but we might need them in the new place)
  • Wooden ‘toy chest’TV stand (with television)
  • Box springs (if we put the mattress on the floor do we really need the box springs?)

So, that does not leave a whole lot, which excites me! Let’s look at what I would definitely be keeping and why.

2 different sets of metal stackable cubes <– These are great for storing things as well as for clothes. I like the multipurpose part of them. Doesn’t take up a lot of space!

A 2-drawer wood end table and a 3-piece wooden cube thing with drawers <– I got these at Target and you can stack them up high all together or all separate. Doesn’t take up a lot of space and offers multi-purpose uses.

2 of the 4-drawer plastic rolly carts <– Doesn’t take up a lot of space, easy to move around due to wheels. Great for clothes (like socks and undies) or general items.

Several plastic Rubbermaid tubs <– I always use these to move with. They hold a lot of stuff, keep things from getting wet or dusty. They can all stack one on top of the other and makes a great makeshift table.

2 short bookcases <– When being frugal, books are good cheap fun. We have a lot of books, and we also keep cds and dvds on these.

2 gaming chairs <– Bought on clearance and more comfortable than the couch! We don’t entertain anyone so we have no need for the couch and these will suffice for tv watching.

media stand <– use this for oversized books and some dvds. It is technically a TV stand with side storage though.

metal stool <– folds up so it takes up virtually no space. Good for guitar playing.

Mattress <– well, we gotta sleep on something! And I’ve tried to do an air mattress for an extended period of time – no fun!

From the looks of this list, I think we would be fine in a studio apartment. All that remains is to actually stick to the list! That means posting ads on Craigslist to get that furniture out of there! Also on the to-do list is to look for used furniture stores that will come to your home and buy stuff. Also take a moment to note what the majority of stuff that I am keeping has in common. Did you find it? Most of the things have multiple uses so that I can make them work no matter what the situation. I think that the key is having mostly items like that.

Do you have more furniture than you need? Or have you already purged? If so, share your tips with me as I am actively working on this!

What you should know before buying a home overseas

I have a dream of someday paying off all of my debt and buying a home overseas. To keep that dream alive I do a lot of reading up on how you do that and what surprises to expect and so on. I have learned some interesting stuff, so when I am able to take that plunge I should be ready!

If you are interested in buying yourself a home overseas you should know that things are likely to be done in a bit of a different manner than what you are used to in your home country. As a result, you could purchase property overseas and find your self inheriting a mountain of debt since some countries tie debt to properties instead of individuals. That is just one of the things that could happen if you purchase property abroad without being well informed of what problems might arise.

Whether you are purchasing a second home, a retirement home or a new residence for an exciting relocation abroad you should know that you can encounter problems when purchasing a home abroad. There are many foreign property owners in most countries, many of which never encountered a single problem. However, there are also those that have horror stories about property that they have purchased. While you should not be discouraged from buying property overseas, you should simply go into the process well informed.

One of the best things that you can do to avoid problems when buying property in a foreign country is to locate a reputable local lawyer that has experience not only in local property laws but in helping other foreigners purchase property. Many of the people that experience problems when buying a home in a foreign country do so because they did not seek legal advice beforehand. It is important that you find a lawyer before you pay a deposit or sign a contract. When you are doing your search for a lawyer you should look for the association that regulates law professionals in that country, such as the ABA in the United States, to make sure that the lawyer you are interested in is a credentialed professional.

Some of the problems that you may experience when buying property in a foreign country include properties purchased that do not have a legal title, properties that have been built or enlarged without proper planning permission, properties that have missing infrastructure, builders that go bankrupt before completing your home but after you have given them your money, unpaid mortgages from the previous owner, outstanding utility bills from the previous owner, intermediaries that disappear with your money, being overcharged because you are a foreigner and properties that have been sold to more than one buyer.

A common problem is to find properties that were built with no planning permission or that were not built according to approved plans. In some cases you may discover a home that was built on land that was not zoned for building. This is what you need a lawyer for as they can research all of these items for you.

Oftentimes foreigners buy up inexpensive older properties with the intentions of renovating it to grandness. The problem with this is that renovation costs often get underestimated because the buyer did not have a surveyor come out and look at the property before buying it. For this reason, it is essential to have a surveyor do a complete survey of the property before you purchase.

A law that is in both Ireland and Portugal, and possibly some other countries, that foreigners may be unfamiliar with is the law of subrogation. This means that any property debt, which can be mortgages, taxes, and utility bills, remain with the property as opposed to the property owner. This means that you could unknowingly take out a mortgage to buy a home only to discover that is has an unpaid mortgage tied to it. And if you did not have a lawyer that would have looked into this before you purchased you would be stuck with a house with two mortgages.

Another common problem is for sellers to tell you they want a lower price on the sales contract and will take an under the table cash payment for the remainder so that you will save on fees. This is great for them as it means they have less capital gains taxes to pay and bad for you when you get ready to sell as you will have higher capital gains taxes to pay. And if you are selling you should never do this under the table method as many buyers will verbally agree to the under the table payment but never actually pay it and you have no legal recourse since it is not in the contract.

Buying off-plan is when you purchase an un-built property off of the builder’s plans for what the home will look like. In theory this is a good idea as you get a lower price, however the risk is that the builder can go bankrupt and never finish and then you are out your money with no home. If you want to buy off-plan you should look for a builder that provides a banker’s termination guarantee or insurance policy that protects your money in the event that the builder goes broke.

And those are some of the things that I have learned about buying property abroad. Let’s just hope that I can remember it all by the time I am ready to take this step!

10 things I wish you had never learned

1. I wish I had never learned that self-worth is determined by sex appeal.

2. I wish I had never learned that being emotional is a sign of weakness.

3. I wish I had never learned that it’s better to follow societal norms instead of doing what makes you happy.

4. I wish I had never learned that you can’t always count on who you think you can.

5. I wish I had never learned that parents know best.

6. I wish I had never learned that it’s rude to call people on their prejudices.

7. I wish I had never learned that your parents will love you no matter what.

8. I wish I had never learned that my singing is annoying.

9. I wish I had never learned that I look silly dancing.

10.  I wish I had never learned that being considered attractive is directly related to what size jeans you wear.

These are the things that I have been told/ learned over the past almost 30 years. Some may be truths (like the dancing) and some not. Regardless of that fact, they inhibited personal growth in some manner and some still do to this day.


Frugal ways to furnish your home

Furniture can be expensive. And if you are moving out on your own for the first time you have to buy everything which can get really expensive. Of course, you can choose to be a minimalist and not buy loads of furniture. Or you can just be broke and not buy a lot of furniture :)

At my first apartment I had a year lease and I never bought a couch. Couches are expensive and at the time I didn’t know about things like Craigslist. At my current place we do not have a dining room table. We don’t have a need for it so we don’t waste the money.

If you do need furniture though there is no need to spend a fortune on things. In fact, you can get by with frugally furnishing your entire place.

The cheapest and most frugal way to furnish your home is with freebies. You can ask around and see if anyone has any furniture they want to get rid of. You can look online on places like Freecycle and Craigslist for free items. You can also look to places like churches that are getting rid of items. And if you are so inclined, there is always the curb or “dumpster diving” for furnishings. And if it is that time of year when college kids are leaving dorms and putting perfectly good furniture out for the trash man, be sure to stop by and see if it is okay if you take what you want.

As a quick note though, just remember that you could be bringing critters into your home. For instance, the couch you get for free could have a family of cockroaches or fleas living it in. And if you are allergic to pet hair how can you be sure there were no pets on it? Just some practical food for thought here.

Your next step of frugal furnishing is going used but cheap. You can look for these items on Craigslist also. But do not forget to stop by the Goodwill Store or the Salvation Army. And where I live there is a chain of used items stores called “New Uses” that sometimes carries furniture.  You can also look in the classified section of the local newspaper or penny saver paper. And do not overlook yard sales and garage sales for cheap used furniture.

Then you come to cheap – new furniture.  Can you say Big Lots? They have some amazingly nice furniture on their website. I had my eye on some dressers at Target that were around $300 and when I looked at the Big Lots website I found something almost identical in look for under $100 each. Sure, the quality is not quite as good as the Target ones but I am okay with that and it meets my current needs. Another website I have looked for furniture on is Overstock.com. They are especially nice thanks to product reviews. It is awesome to read if someone bought something and it was nicer than expected or that it fell apart a week later.

And for my desks, I wait for a coupon for an office supply store like Staples and then go to their fold-up table section – not the expensive desks section – and get a nice fold up table and a nice chair. It comes out way cheaper, I end up with more space to work and when I get ready to move all I have to do is fold it up!

The important thing to remember about buying furniture is do not buy it if you do not need it. If you are single, do you really need a couch and a loveseat? Honestly? Do you really need a table and chairs or can you get by with tv trays?