10 Things Retail Workers Wish You Knew

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1) Stores have people counters that measure how many people walk in and make a purchase. So when you come into the store with your three children and husband and sister’s cousin’s friend (who leaves to use the bathroom twice), your measly scarf purchase cost me at least 7 bodies.

2) We have to greet you when you walk in the store. You know it, we know it. Just don’t be a jerk- smile or say hi back.

3) If you find yourself needing a shirt at the bottom of a freshly stacked pile, PLEASE ask for help. (Folding chiffon is no joke.)

4) When you ask where you can find our outfit and we reply that it’s “from last season”, that’s retail worker code for, “I don’t make enough money to actually shop here and this shirt is from Old Navy.” 6101649

5) Your 52 month old is totally adorable but she’s ripping down all the pearl necklaces with a vengeance and climbing under that mannequin doesn’t seem safe… Keep an eye on your little darlings. We are associates, not babysitters.

6) When heading to the fitting room, you really only need to bring back one color of that shirt. I promise the navy will fit the same as the sage and the magenta. The more you try, the more I have to hang back up. #GobacksForDays

7) Don’t share a fitting room. There’s no way for me to know if you’re siblings, friends or partners and I’d rather avoid a… sticky situation. Public indecency, anyone?

8) Leave your unwanted garments in the fitting room or on the rack provided. I know you think you’re being helpful by putting them away but you end up hiding items in plain site, leaving a lot more clean up at the end of the night.

9) Every retail worker’s FAVORITE thing to hear is, “This doesn’t have a tag. It must be free!” Ha ha…….ha. giphy

10) Retail workers have families and lives outside of the four thin walls of their store. Be mindful and don’t start to shop ten minutes before close. If you’re in a pinch and need something specific, locate an associate and let them help you. It’ll make your whole experience more positive for all.

 

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Meal Planning 101: Getting Started

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Week of 1/25/16

Menu

Breakfast: PB Chocolate Banana Shake

Lunch: Meatless Mex Mashup

Dinner: Mediterranean Chicken

Shopping List

  • protein powder (preferably chocolate peanut butter)
  • 4 large bananas
  • 4 cups skim/almond milk
  • 14 fajita-size flour tortillas
  • 5 large potatoes
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 small container any kind hummus (roasted red pepper is my favorite)
  • 3 avocados
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 2 bags frozen steamer vegetables (medley or broccoli work best)
  • 1 bag baby carrots
  • 1 container strawberries
  • 1 container blueberries

You should have in your pantry:

  • healthy snacks such as kashi bars, low-sodium turkey jerky, babybell cheeses
  • italian seasoning mix or herbs
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • containers

Recipes

PB Chocolate Banana Shake

Fill your blender with half a banana, one scoop protein powder, 1/2 c milk, 1/2 water, 3-5 ice cubes. Blend until smooth.

Mediterranean Chicken & Potatoes

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Clean boneless breasts. Beat to make tender and of even thickness. Arrange on a cookie sheet covered in foil. Coat in 1 tbsp of olive oil and italian seasoning on both sides. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn over and bake for 15 more minutes. Chicken is done when it is 160 degrees inside on food thermometer.

Scrub potato skins clean, then pierce with fork throughout. Place in microwave for 10-13 minutes. You may have to do this in two batches depending on the size of your microwave. Potatoes are done when they can easily be scooped from their skin.

Microwave frozen vegetables.

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Meatless Mex Mashup

Black Bean Potato: Arrange half the flour tortillas flat. Spread a thin layer of cooked potato innards onto each tortilla. (This should use about 1.5 potatoes.) Rinse black beans and place 1-2 tbsp on top of potatoes.

Avocado Hummus: Pit and scoop out avocados. On the other half of the tortillas, spread a thin layer of avocado. On top of that, put 1 heaping tsp of hummus.

Arrange

Each dinner container should include 4oz chicken, half potato, vegetables.

Each lunch container should include one of each type of tortilla and a cup of fruits and vegetables.

 

 

November Ipsy! Beauty Blast

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This month’s Ipsy came and boy is this bag killller. It’s sending me to galaxies far, far away…

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Tucker Ashley Perfecting Moisturizer

I’ve never heard of this brand but it smells really good and the white tube makes it feel somehow high-endy. Just me?

Smashbox Full Exposure Mascara

I have used this guy before. I like it a lot! It reminds me of a stiletto mascara: lacking a little in volume but great for long, spiky length. And the name is just cheeky enough.

ModelCo Highlighting Trio

Me? Model? You shouldn’t have! But seriously, the only thing better than gel formula is a cream and this blends better. I love having a gold, silver/white, and peachy glow all in one palette.

Absolute NY Nano Liner

Who doesn’t love a product with nano in the name that promises a thin precise eye line? I’m in! Comment for a tutorial.  

Trestique Matte Lip Crayon

I’ve gotten Trestique products in Ipsy bags before and I like them. I would compare them to elf quality. The matte only makes it better.

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Follow my instagram for more ipsy tutorials and looks!

@bianca_blando

 

Vacations under $500: Atlanta, GA

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Travelers and wanderlusters alike, if you have not seen Georgia, you need to. Now. Go book your flight, I’m serious.

I had the pleasure of spending the last week in Atlanta. What a beautiful city! Somewhere in my frequent treks up and back the east coast, I missed out on Georgia and its charm. (Next stop, Savannah.)

But seriously, to give my northeasters a scope. The city is the same size as Philly with a third of the population. No trash, few smokers, highly diverse.  I really enjoyed my time there. The city is very hilly. It reminded me of a baby San Fran. It was not uncommon to walk into a building off the street and be greeted by nothing but a lobby. The actual attractions were often up a flight of stairs.

The midtown area where I stayed is filled with little boutiquey tapas places and cocktail bars. Let’s take a moment to appreciate the awesome bar scene. There are bars and lounges on every corner and each hotel has at least two. These are not like schickler bars either. These are modern and fresh.

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Gladys Knight’s Chicken and Waffles

Speaking of hotels, I stayed at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis and though the hotel was beautiful, I would not stay there again. The hotel is driven toward business and conference shindigs and that was exactly why I stayed. (I was attending the National PR Students Society of America Conference that was happening right in the hotel.) The Marquis is truly dazzling and yes, it’s the one where “Mockingjay” was filmed. The elevators zoomed up and down to my 34th floor room so fast my ears popped.

One of the coolest attractions in the city (besides the gigantic, tourist-ridden ferris wheel that I didn’t do because I don’t do ferris wheels) is the World of Coca-Cola. The drink was created right in the ATL and the city is plastered with its love for it. Coke and Chick-fil-A. Any takers?

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The factory is a self-guided museum and costs less than $20. It has little theatres to watch old TV spots, some neat artifacts from around the world, and best of all- the tasting room! This giant space has soda dispensers from each continent where Coke products are sold. My favorites were the South African sodas/juices. Yes they were carbonated but they tasted like all kinds of fruity things mixed with candy and rainbows.

I am Italian so I had to try the one and only soda from Italy which happened to be the best selling soda in Europe, called Beverly. For anyone unaware, this is actually a pretty cute play-on words because “beve” is Italian for “drink”. I tried it knowing nothing of its lore as the most heinous drink made by Coke and possibly, the world round. And I tasted it…and I liked it. I wouldn’t drink it with my pizza but when a staff member told me it was meant as a palate cleanser, I totally understood. (Just as an addition, if you like the Beverly, don’t tell people. They will look at you like you’re crazy.)

Because I was a conference attendee I did not have time to visit the other attractions of Atlanta but I heard great things about the Georgia Aquarium (the largest in the US) and the Civil Rights Museum. All of these attractions are conveniently located in Pemberton Place, a small stone plaza.

Expert Tip Time!

Do: Buy an Atlanta CityPass. You can get a ride on the giant ferris wheel, plus receive admissions to World of Coke, the aquarium and the Civil Rights Museum for around $80. It’s $40 for the aquarium alone so this is a huge savings.

Do: Make this a long weekend trip. Even if you go to all the sites and try the local spots, three days will probably be plenty.

Do: Bring your bathing suit! It’s freezing up north but it’s 70 degrees in Georgia and all the hotels have indoor/outdoor pools.

Do: Visit the most fabulous mall EVER. The Lenox Square Mall has Gucci next to Fendi next to Prada next to Ferragamo next to Herrera. Need I say more?

The display cars are Masis. And I saw Fetty Wap in Louis Vuitton.

Take MARTA (public transit) and it will drop you off right outside.

IMG_5344Check out my Mistura Timepiece for the fabulous watch I bought while there! These are handmade and can only be found in two shops nationwide- Dallas and Atlanta. Each takes a whopping 85 hours to create and is made from genuine teak wood and leather.

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Average Cost

Hotel: $175 per night for 4 nights divided by 4 people per room at a high-end hotel

Food: $20 for a mid-range dinner

Drink: $10 for a mixed drink, $30 for a bottle of low-grade wine

Flight: $160

 

Next time…

Next visit to the ATL (and I will be back), I will stay in a cheaper hotel for 3 nights instead. I could probably do the trip for $400 that way.

Could all my Atlanters comment below with the best local spots we must try? Let me know if you plan to make this trip and need more tips, kids.

 

Happy travels,

Bi

 

Future Rich: A Lesson in Roth IRAs

We aren’t all born Kennedys and Gateses. Some of us have to make our own success from scratch and for some (fine, most of us) a major indicator of that success, however unwarranted, is money. Chaching, mula, bank. There are lots of ways to get that high-earning job and education plays a huge role. But today, I am here to talk about a way to start yourself off on the right financial foot from a young age. I am here to talk about investing.

For a lot of readers, investment is one of those terms you’ve only ever heard at the dinner table when your parents have those friends over for sangria, or at the doctor’s office when you overhear the guy in the room next to you (how is this all HIPAA approved?), or in those ads with the talking baby. The truth is, investing is just a way of building your money over time by making smart decisions and being patient, and you don’t have to have “CFA” (certified financial advisor) after your name to be hip on saving.

IRA is an acronym for individual retirement account. Don’t let that scare you off because today’s accounts make great high-yield savings for down payments on homes and college funds too. There are two main types of IRAs, traditional and Roth. Today’s post is going to focus on Roth IRAs because they are generally a better fit for young investors. Roths offer a lot more flexibility. (I definitely encourage you to do your research before doing any type of investing and I will list reputable resources for that at the end of the posting.)

A Roth IRA is a type of account which can be started by anyone of any age. You put money into it once you receive your paycheck just like you would with your normal savings account. The difference is that you are putting the money into an investment account, so it can fluctuate with the stock market. That fluctuation is what causes you to gain an average of 9% interest on your account versus the 1% going rate your bank offers. To give you an idea of that difference, $1000 placed in an account at your local bank will gain about $10 interest over the course of a year. By contrast, that same $1000 would gain close to $100 in interest in that year in a Roth.

Because we are talking about big money in interest, there is a cap on how much you can save in your Roth: up to $5500 a year. The money you contribute can be taken out at any time, which is one special feature of Roths. If an emergency were to happen, all your contributions could be returned to you within days. The interest you gain on your Roth can be removed at any time with a 10% penalty, or completely penalty free if you are over age 59 or using the money to buy a house or pay for school. Then $10000 of interest can be taken out penalty free as well, as long as you’ve been an account holder for five years.

Think you’re ready to take hold of your savings for the future and open a Roth of your own? Stay tuned for my next posting in the series, Future Rich: Choosing a Roth IRA.

Not sold yet? Check out this awesome graphic on how to turn $5000 a year into nearly $2.5 million. And no, I’m not a magician. (Courtesy of Bankrate)

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Happy #financefriday!

-BGB

Resources

Starter’s Guide

Official IRS Guidelines

Roth vs. Traditional

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Budgeting 101: Mint

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Being a full-time college student and part-time employee, I have a delicate balance in my hands. Free time is hard to come by but I don’t mind because I know that my balancing act is helping to cut down on college debt. Still, it’s important to make sure there is a light at the end of the tunnel besides just a lack of debt. For me, that light is travel.

Going to new places, meeting interesting people, and immersing myself in other cultures is what I live for. To get there, I budget my funds so I make sure there is enough to live the life I have planned in my head. (The one where I gently throw my hair over my shoulder when I meet that guy who backpacked all over Europe as I prepare him for an audio-representation of my travels.)

I don’t have the time or desire to sit down with a pen and paper or an Excel spreadsheet or to hold onto receipts like my grandmother. Instead, I do what any good millennial would: I use an app.

Mint is a completely free app by Intuit, the people who make TurboTax (which I am also a dedicated fan of). By completely free I mean no fees upfront, no trial period, no popups. Really free for your enjoyment and use. How often does that happen?

You can use the app from your phone or your computer. Once inside, you can connect all of your accounts like credit cards from your bank or stores, checking accounts and debit cards, savings accounts, IRAs, you name it. The app will track each purchase you make and categorize it based on your budget. No need for receipts- the power of online banking has you covered.

The first month you use Mint, you can set goals for yourself or use the program’s estimated budgeting goals. After that, you can stick to where you’re comfortable or be like me and treat personal spending as a cut-throat game of savings. I see how I can get those budgets down, not because I need to but because once you see the way spending adds up, it seems downright necessary. It doesn’t matter how many times your mom told you that packing your lunch is a lot cheaper than eating at Chipotle four times a week. Until you see your burritos lined up in dollar signs, it’s hard to validate the switch to PB&J. (More on how to not have to eat PB&J but still save money to come.)

The app also offers helpful tips and tricks based on your spending. For example, if you have a low interest savings account, Mint will show you alternatives with the same monthly fees that offer better rates. You can even get your Equifax credit score for free through the app with helpful tips on how to improve your score for next time.

Make sure once you get down the budgeting aspect of Mint you set goals for yourself in the computer-only “goals” tab. This is a great feature for my fellow (or future) world travelers who want a visual representation of how long it will take to get where they’re going.

Try it out and tell me what you think! Know an alternative? Comment below!

-BGB

Photo courtesy of Mint.com

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