Friday, 22 March 2013

O4. How to Avoid Impulse Buying

Photo courtesy of Morguefile. (MorgueFile free photo: you are allowed to copy, distribute, transmit the work or to adapt the work. Attribution is not required. You are prohibited from using this work in a stand alone manner.)

You walk into your favourite clothes store and see that 'must-have' dress. It's perfect, you think, as you try it on. The glitter and sparkles are just so chic, and the design? Totes amazing. So you walk up to the counter and buy it, swiping away $250 from your credit card without a second thought. get home. What was I thinking? The colour is all wrong, the style doesn't go with anything else in the wardrobe and sparkles? How did this happen?

Shaking your head, you promise yourself never to make another impulse purchase again. This is how to follow through.

Have a basic idea of what you want to buy and set a budget. Don't be too specific with what you want at the beginning, or you may find yourself limited and end up disappointed when nothing at the mall matches your ideal. Depending on what you are buying, your budget should be around $100 to $300 for clothes, shoes and make up (it could be lower or higher depending on your financial situation or the items you are looking to purchase).

If possible, carry cash and ditch the credit cards. Having about a maximum of $300 in cash when going shopping. When you pay with cash, it's easier to keep track of how much you're spending and it 'feels' more real than just swiping cards and putting numbers in (I personally did a lot of impulse buying when shopping online with credit cards as opposed to paying in cash at retail outlets). Let's face it, if you're buying a $500 pair of jeans, handing over a couple of precious greenbacks will make you think twice than swipe, click, 'congratulations your purchase has been accepted'.

***Of course, if you're making an expensive purchase for a special occasion, carrying large quantities of cash may not be practical or safe, so generally stick to cards (debit? this way you're spending your own money) when making purchases over $300. Additionally, if you live in an area where pick pocketing,  petty crime, muggings, beggars etc. are common, it may not be advisable to carry cash. If you shop at tourist-y or high density areas, it may not be advisable to carry cash either because of scammers and higher frequency of pick pockets. I generally carry cash, since I shop at suburban shops where it is extremely unlikely to be a victim of crime. Use common sense when deciding whether or not to apply this tip (you know your local shopping destination better than me).

Shop with one sensible friend or family member. It's good to have a calm head of reason advising you of the pros and cons of a particular purchase, so you are more likely to make a rational decision. Try to avoid shopping with a large group as they may either influence you to make an impulse purchase ("that top totes looks amazingggg on you! Forget about the price tag, just get it!!!!!"), or you may not have enough time to comparison shop.
Stop! Drop! Roll! I'm using the fire slogan we all learnt in primary school, but it applies in this situation here too.
  • See an outfit that you think looks great on you? Stop! Look at the quality, price tag, colour and fabric first. Ask yourself: (1) Does it go with anything else in my wardrobe? (2) Realistically, how often will I wear it? (i.e. do I really need a trench coat if I live in a reaaalllyy hot country town in Australia?) (3) Do I feel comfortable in it? Do I see myself wearing this in real life? (i.e. if I'm a preppy, polo shirt, ironed-jeans kind of gal, do I really feel comfortable in a bright red leather dress?)
  • Drop! the outfit (not literally). If you still like the outfit after carefully examining and analysing it, put it back on the rack or if possible, ask the shop assistant to 'hold' the item for a while.
  • Roll out of the store (once again, not literally). Do some comparison shopping or browse at other stores. You will start to think rationally once the outfit is out of your sights. Stay away for 15 minutes at least. If you still really feel that the outfit is perfect and reasonably priced, go back to the store and buy it. Then pat yourself on the back for making a rational, sensible purchase.
There you have it, how to avoid impulse purchases. Hope you find the tips helpful, and if you have any more tips, advice or stories, please share in the comments section.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

O3. Replacements: How to Have Guilt-Free Pleasures

 Photo courtesy of Morguefile. (MorgueFile free photo: you are allowed to copy, distribute, transmit the work or to adapt the work. Attribution is not required. You are prohibited from using this work in a stand alone manner.)

Have you ever thought to yourself, if only I could eat delicious snacks without getting fat? If only I could study and have fun at the same time? If only I could watch TV without being a couch potato?

Well, maybe you can. Try the following replacements so you can have your cake and eat it too. If only I could read this blog without seeing silly cliches like that ... Sorry.

O5. Delicious snacks without guilt

Try ice cubes! Basically, get some fruit that you enjoy eating (e.g. mangoes, grapes, strawberries, raspberries etc.) and blend them each separately in a blender. Then pour the blended fruit invoice cube moulds and put them in the freezer. Once they're frozen, take them out and eat them like little frozen ice lollies! You can also try this with just plain ice cubes (then you can tell your friends that you drink solid water,because, you know, liquid water is too mainstream). Mmmm... Delicious and nutritious.

O4. Study + fun = possible

Try flash cards - write down the question on one side and the answer on the other. Make sure the flash cards are colourful and super peppy looking so you are keen to study. Personalise it. Then test yourself. May the cards be ever in your favour.

Try funny associations - it's a fact that we remember facts better if we associate them with something funny or interesting. For example, learning German vocab? To remember dog (der Hund), try to picture a dog standing on its hind legs, then substitute 'i' in hind for 'u' and you get Hund. Or chemistry, trying to learn the properties of the Noble gases? Think of the gases as 'noble' like Mr Darcy, who is not attracted to anyone and repels people (at first, obviously he falls in love with Lizzy later), so the Noble gases are not attracted chemically to anything and thus do not  generally form compounds (think couple, if we continue to use the pride and prejudice analogy). This is especially fun to do with a group of friends in a study group. Soon you'll be laughing (and learning) like there's no tomorrow and developing the most intelligent inside jokes.

O3. Watch TV without being a couch potato?

Don't just turn on the TV and watch aimlessnessly, rather choose a TV program beforehand and only watch that program. For example, don't just grab the remote and hope that there will e something good on TV, rather look up the TV guide and pick one program to watch (google is your friend). Then turn on the TV when the program starts and turn it off when it finishes. This way, you get optimal reward (fab. TV show) with minimum wastage.

While watching TV, don't just sit on the couch. Try to do some light stretching to improve your flexibility (e.g calves stretches, quads, lunges etc.). If you have a cycling bike machine or a treadmill, go on the lowest setting. This way, you can still enjoy the TV program, but will still do something productive.

O2. Energy without caffeine?

Lots of people need their morning coffee to feel normal, but have you ever considered alternatives? Sports drinks (NOT energy drinks) like Powerade and Gatorade contain way water, carbohydrates (which replace glycogen energy stores) and electrolytes (which helps rehydration) - and no caffeine (Powerade and Gatorade don't). Or even better, a ice water will REALLY wake you up and keep you hydrated. WIN-WIN.

O1. Chocolate

Yeah, we all love chocolate. Not gonna lie. It's amazing. But did you know that you can substitute chocolate with ... Chocolate? That's right! Did you know that dark chocolate is good for you? Dark chocolate contains anti-oxidants, lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, stimulates endorphin production which produces feelings of pleasure, and contains serotonin which is an anti-depressant. But obviously, no matter how good it is for you, moderation is key. Not too much chocolate, okay?

O2. 1O Ways to Deal with Stress

Photo courtesy of Morguefile. (MorgueFile free photo: you are allowed to copy, distribute, transmit the work or to adapt the work. Attribution is not required. You are prohibited from using this work in a stand alone manner.)

Is your exam tomorrow and you haven't studied? Assignments piling up? You've got to be in about a million places in the space of 30 minutes? Too many expectations from others? Demanding bosses? Commitment overload?

Sometimes we just need to hit the 'off' button and chill for a little bit. Here are some tried and true tips that I have personally found useful for de-stressing over the last few months and years (wow, that makes me sound old haha).

1O. Take a cold shower (or a warm one if the thought of a cold shower gives you shivers)
There is nothing more refreshing than taking a shower in the middle of an all-nighter. This has literally been a lifesaver during my year as a high school senior, where I would find myself having a panic attack over the history assignment that was due tomorrow (oh wait, I meant today, it's 1am) that had currently five words on the page. In fact, I would take a five minute shower every half hour or whenever I felt like I was going to collapse I'm exhaustion. Cold showers during all nighters are a must - refreshing, calming and a gentle wake up call - what more could you want (oh yeah, sleep, that's right).

O9. Stargazing
Climb up onto your roof (only if it's safe and legal) or lean back in your deck chair in the backyard and just gaze at the stars. Depending on your personal preference, you may either want to absorb the sounds of nature or put in your earphones and listen to a relaxing playlist. Set aside 30 minutes to an hour at least for this. Trust me, it's one of the most soothing and relaxing things you could do (as long  as you remember insect repellant).

O8. Walk in the rain
It's raining? Go for a walk in it. Ditch the umbrella. Feel the rain on your skin, because no one else can feel it for you (yes, I love Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield). The colours of the sky become a soft blue-grey shade and just sets a beautiful tone. Enjoy the soft mist on your skin. Feel your troubles melt away. Of course, remember to have a warm shower afterwards and change into warm and dry clothes

(If you have a medical condition or sensitivity to temperature or rain, consult your doctor before doing so; and to everyone, when I say rain, I mean the gentle, light rain - DO NOT attempt this if it is heavy rain, flooding, storming, you see thunder or lightning, hail or anything that may be dangerous).

O7. Go for a run
This is probably mentioned over and over again, but running is honestly a great destressor. It clears your mind and you feel great afterwards. If you don't like or are unable to run, maybe you could  go for a walk, cycle, long drive or [insert your preferred activity here].

O6. Listen to music
Compile a relaxing playlist of songs you like (e.g. Still Fighting It - Ben Folds, When It Rains - Paramore, Heartbeat - The Fray, Stand - Rascal Flatts, Plans - Birds of Tokyo, You Raise Me Up - Josh Groban etc. are some of my favourites). Put your earphones in and shut out the world for a little while (but not too long).

O5. Watch a nature documentary
I know, I know - you're probably thinking, documentaries? Booorrrriiinnggg. But hear me out. I've really warmed to nature documentaries, especially the ones with amazing cinematography (David Attenbrough etc.). Just trust me on this one, it's a pretty amazing way to unwind.

O4. Treat yourself
Go to your local patisserie and buy the most decadent little pastry or cake you see. Just one. Then indulge in the beautiful, creamy, rich textures and delicious flavours. Mmmmm!

O3. Build a fort
I'm not even joking. Grab a blanket, spread it over some chairs, add a mattress and ZING! You are the envy of all the kids in town. Next, put some pillows and blankets in the fort, play a soft playlist in the background, and take a nap. A little throwback to your childhood.

O2. Get a massage
Your local masseuse, a friend or family, a massage chair, or even yourself - doesn't matter. A good massage will just make you feel brand new as your stress quickly melts away into a blissful state of chill.

O1. Chocolate
Need I say more? (Just remember, moderation is key). Enjoy with fruit to reduce the guilt factor. :)

O1. Will anyone even read this blog?

Sometimes life is just way too hectic. One commitment after another. Oh, you've finished that assignment from work or school? Time to relax, right? No. Now you've got to call so-and-so, write that email to that certain person, meet up with what's-her-name again ... Oh and of course, do the laundry.

Sometimes we wish we could just chill. Take a deep breath. Remember the simple things. Just relax. Go to our own little 'Neverland' and escape the responsibilities of the real world, even for just five minutes.

This is what I want this blog to do. Just a few minutes each day to chill - for me, and hopefully for you too.

This is my first go at this, so pretty please be nice? :)