Free Date Nights

When Ricky & I met we were two broke kids living outside of Boston trying to figure out how to maximize this new thing called a salary from our full-time jobs, while having as much fun as possible with our friends. Then, we decided to pack up all of our belongings and move to New York City and become two broker kids living in the heart of Manhattan. Dating on a budget is not easy, especially in a city, but somehow Ricky always seemed to think of simple ideas to make our dates special. To all the guys out there, putting in the extra effort to think of something fun is better than buying us something useless. I'm going to give you a little insight on our first few dates and our tips to enjoying a FREE date night!

Our First date was at the mall... we were 23 years old, haha! From what I can remember we just walked around and chatted before dinner at TGI Friday's. And for those of you wondering, yes, I did split the bill with him. Guess what ladies, young guys who, like you, don't have that much money will appreciate you offering to split the bill. Just don't be annoyed about it when he takes you up on that offer; be genuine about it! After that, we drove around the area for a bit and found a playground. We sat on the swing set for hours talking. At the end of the night, Ricky leaned in to kiss me and (just like a movie) he fell off of the swing right onto his face! I'm not sure I had ever laughed so hard. 
*Now this, is a simple & classic first date - dinner. But we made it special by extending the night and doing something different. Know the area where you're going to dinner and try to find something to do afterward if you want to extend the date (a park, a lake, a walk around the neighborhood, etc.).

One of our next dates was in Boston, and I can't remember the area specifically, but it was a park that Ricky seemed to know. We parked by the water & were walking around the area when we stumbled upon a black & white film on a giant projector screen. There was a free movie night happening in the park and there were tons of people out on lawn chairs and blankets watching. This was the cutest thing. We sat down and enjoyed some of the movies before continuing our walk. And again, quite movie-like, at the end of our walk by the water there were fireworks. (This just happened to be a perfect/lucky coincidence) 
*Keep an eye out for activities in the area. I know to some of us millennials, a newspaper may seem ancient, but they often have free things to do in the entertainment section of the paper. It's a great place to find out what's happening and what may be fun to do with your date. There's also the internet of course; just google things to do this weekend in *your town*. 

Because Ricky & I like to be outside, most of our dates were focused around this. We took walks along the Somerville Mystic River, a nature walk near my home town, had picnics in local parks, walking around local college campuses, and we also watched the airplanes fly over our heads at the local airport at night. Anything that was free and outdoors, we were interested. 

Some of our favorite free date night tips:

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Sunshine Blogger Award

Ricky & I were recently nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award by Hanna at RatedByHanna . Thank you, Hanna! We've recently been researching new bloggers to follow and learn from so this is perfect timing! We're excited to use this platform to nominate some of our new favorites! 

What is the Sunshine Blogger Award? 
The Sunshine Blogger Award is given to those who are inspiring and bring sunshine into the lives of their readers and fellow bloggers. 

Who brings sunshine into your day? Let us know in the comments below!

The Rules: 
1. Thank the person that nominated you.
2. Answer the questions from the person that nominated you.
3. Nominate some other bloggers for this award.
4. Write the same amount of questions for the bloggers you have nominated.
5. Notify the bloggers you have nominated.

Q&A's
1. How many posts do you have sitting in your drafts and/or scheduled posts?
We have eleven posts sitting in our drafts (posts to publish once a week until the middle of November). We like to be ahead of the game so we can write when we have time and focus on learning how to blog "better" and marketing our blog throughout each week.
2. When and why did you start blogging?
We started our blog because we wanted to have an outlet to share our travels and lifestyle with friends & family. People were always asking us how we live in NYC and travel as often as we do. To us, the answer was simple: save money, budget, and plan. So we put it in a blog! 
3. What is the weirdest or worst experience you've had at a business?
For my birthday this year, Ricky & I went to an Italian restaurant in our neighborhood. The one waitress was also the bartender AND the owner of the restaurant. Her sister was sitting at the bar with a laptop and they were talking & swearing (very loudly) about an upcoming family wedding. They were also both drinking at the bar. Our meal took quite a while to come out and was no good when it finally came out. When we asked for the check, it took 10-15 minutes to get so Ricky finally went to the bar to get it and the waitress came back with him to tell me how cute he was. It was very uncomfortable the way she was expressing this. We got out of there as quickly as we could and Ricky spent the rest of the evening in the bathroom... sick. 
4. What is on your bucket list for the next five years?
We'd like to be house flipping and have a blog to share this experience. We'd also like 10,000 people on our blogging email list. :)
5. What topic do you like blogging about the most?
We love blogging about travel; sharing our experience and our itineraries is our favorite. But we also love those blogs that are strictly financial tips. We have a few coming up that we're excited about as well!
6. Which blog are you most proud of?
Stick with your Budget-one of our Financial blogs. We're also proud of our Colorado blog; we tried something new with that one and had fun with it.
7. How do you stay motivated to keep blogging even when viewership or positive feedback is low?
We just keep studying. Our blog is still so new, so we know we have a lot to learn. 

Nominees:
*Mascara in the City 
*Krista Aoki's Lifestyle & Travel Blog 
*Helene in Between 
*Mommy on Purpose 

My Questions for the Nominees:
1. Why did you start your blog and what do you want others to get from reading your blog?
2. What do you like most about blogging?
3. If you could give one piece of advice to a new blogger, what would it be and why?
4. What is your favorite piece that you've written and posted on your blog?
5. Do you plan on making new friends through your blog (or have you already)? If not, why?
6. What do you do in your spare time/what are your favorite hobbies (other than blogging!)
7. If money was not a factor, where would you travel?

Look forward to reading all of your responses! 

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Learning To Blog

We have been spending a lot of time actually LEARNING how to blog. Now that we're doing the research, we keep re-reading the same thing over and over again: "blogging is a FULL-TIME JOB." And it's true!! We had no idea how much truly goes into this. Not only do you have to keep up with writing (which so far hasn't been a problem for us!) but we also keep finding things to improve on our page (and now we're actually changing our blogging platforms soon!). Making sure our page looks good and has good content is just part of the whole blogging thing. There's also social media - social media outlets that I didn't even know existed - and a number of things that go into keeping up with these platforms. Pinterest is WAY more than we all think it is. Who knew?? Pinterest seems to open up a world for all of us bloggers and present us with opportunities we didn't know were attainable so early on. We seriously owe a lot of our Pinterest knowledge to Carly who writes the Mommy on Purpose Blog. She wrote an e-book that was super helpful for us and referenced us to a lot of other useful e-books, websites, and sources to find the information we needed. (Shout out to my sister, Mary, for directing us to Carly's blog... through Pinterest of course!) We also want to shout out Hanna from ratedbyhanna.wordpress.com who has given us tips here and there throughout this blogging process! We're so lucky to have these two dedicated followers and the many others who have supported our blog! 

We've  been learning a great deal about Affiliates, Plugins, Analytics, and more. So this is our short & sweet blogger 101 for beginner bloggers:

  1. Affiliates: We call these our partners. They are companies that you link up with to get Ads onto your site. You should definitely consider doing this the moment you publish your first blog because when people click on your ad and purchase something through your link, you get a commission. You can check out our list of affiliates at the bottom of this page. We used CJ Affiliates and Awin Affiliates to get some of our affiliates.
    • When using affiliates, you need to put a disclaimer message on your blog. We've added ours to the footer of every page so you can check it out there!
  2. Plugins: These are software programs that add features to your website. Some examples include Social Share Buttons (a definite for all blogs), Email Subscription Pop Up (also a must), Pin It Buttons for images, etc. This one we're still learning about but it's something to look in to when you're first starting out. Make sure you understand how they work and don't overdo it with the plugins; they can slow down your page. There are a lot of great articles about plugins that you can find on Pinterest!
  3. Analytics: There are a number of ways to track your page views and unique viewers. We use Google Analytics to track this information. Set this up right away so you're able to document where your site traffic is coming from. That'll help you focus on building up that traffic source to continue gaining viewers from that platform. And help you find out where you aren't gaining followers who translate to blog readers.


There is truly so much that goes into blogging and you need to be ready to take on this full-time job. Ricky & I are lucky to be able to divide and conquer as we both have 9-5 full-time jobs, but it is still a lot of work. We've each found our specialty areas and we're able to focus on the items involved in building the blog that we understand the most. If you're just starting a blog, reach out to us and we can tell you more about the things that we've learned thus far! If you are a seasoned blogger and have tips, we'd love to hear them!

Here's where we need to thank our first few affiliate partnerships: 

Amazon: My first stop every time I need to buy pretty much anything is Amazon these days. I buy makeup products here, electronics, clothes, shoes, etc. Love Amazon so much! They have great deals and competitive prices so it's definitely worth the browse :) Now, if you NEED to purchase something, please click our link and head to Amazon! But don't go spending money if it's only a want and not a need! But don't go spending money if it's only a want and not need. You can seriously get caught up shopping on Amazon for hours! 

Romwe: This is one of my favorite online shopping stores for fashion needs. They have the cutest trends on here and have sales all the time (their 60% off emails always get me!) I've got a number of cute tops, sweaters (that I'm obsessed with), bathing suits, and dresses from here. The few sweaters that I got from Romwe are my absolute favorites. I see them in my closet every day and they make me excited for the fall (which is never the case!) When Ricky and I launch our Fashion Gallery, you'll get to see my favorite pieces! 

eBay: This is Ricky's go to place for purchases. When we got our Tandem Bike, he got all of the accessories (new seats, new handlebars, cell phone holders, etc.) on eBay. Anytime we mention we need something, Ricky hits eBay and I hit Amazon and we see what the best option is. They've expanded so much in the last 3-5 years and I've started purchasing clothing on here as well. So many good options! 

FabFitFun: We are super excited to be partners with FabFitFun #FabFitFunPartner !! This is one of my favorite topics to talk about when I talk beauty & fashion. I've had the opportunity to try out so many new products through FabFitFun and learn about a number of incredible products (check out one of my favorites RealHer) You can get $10 off by using the code SUNSHINE here! #FabFitFun @fabfitfun

Naked Zebra: This place is located right in the heart of LA and it carries super cute & trendy clothes! It's good quality clothing. When you head to their site, you're going to get hooked so be ready! 

We're so grateful for the opportunities that this blog is creating for us and the future of this blog. Can't wait to keep sharing with all of you! 

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Stop & Shop

We did our grocery shopping at Stop & Shop today and this 10 for $10 deal on Red, Yellow & Orange Peppers was too good not to share! We saved about $9 with this deal - super exciting! Also, by shopping at Stop & Shop (and using our Stop & Shop card) we've saved about $275 since January of 2017. The receipt in the picture only shows our coupon from Starbucks (which saved us $1.50) but we also used coupons that Stop & Shop sent us and saved another $5.25  (which means with the use of all of our coupons, we've saved over $275 with our grocery shopping this year!) Happy grocery shopping!

Snacking

Like we mentioned in our grocery post, we do a lot of meal prep and baking to keep our grocery shopping within budget and healthy. Today, I made one of our favorites - angel food cake. It's the perfect thing to snack on during our busy weeks and is quick & easy to make. The box of angel food costs less than $2 and you can mix it with a can of crushed pineapple for less than $2 as well. Bake for 45 minutes and you've got a snack for the whole week! 

Wondering if you can turn one of your favorite snacks into a healthy treat for the week? Send us your faves and we'll suggest some healthy alternatives & suggestions for baking! 

Our Tandem Bike

We just bought a tandem bike... cute, right? I'm totally not a gym person, so Ricky & I find ways to exercise outside that are free (like our hiking we mentioned the other day!). We each invested in a pair of rollerblades when we first moved here that we could use almost every night. It's something to do, we can explore our city, and it's exercise. The one time $75 rollerblades were well worth it. The first summer we had them, we rollerbladed at least three times a week, and we even use them in the winter. Now, we've purchased a bike! We had been renting a tandem bike at least twice a month to ride around the city. It cost $40 each time we rented but we purchased the bike above at JC Penny for $325. We only have to ride it 11 times to pay it off so you do the math! 

Here's a list of the things we do all four seasons - yes, even in the winter!

*Rollerblading
*Bike Riding
*Hiking
*Walking (If you run, that's good too!)
*One-time expense of kickboxing gloves for the rainy days

Find something that you like and go for it! 

Real Her

Alright, this post is a total women's post... but guys, if you have a woman in your life that you care about you should keep reading! Real Her's mission is to "inspire and bring out the best in the modern woman: to know her worth, to feel proud of her individuality, to love each and every one of her flaws, and to not fear who she really is." I was fortunate enough to get this lip kit in my FabFitFun box that came yesterday (which I'll write more about next week)! But I'm crazy about this product and had to write about it today! Real Her donates 20% of their gross profits to the American Association of University Women . AAUW is a nonprofit that focuses on women empowerment through leadership programs and education. How could you not totally fall in love with this product simply because of what they do?! Plus, this lip kit comes with a lip liner, lipstick, and a lip gloss and has encouraging messages that you can read each time you use the product. In love yet? :)

World Water Day

"Do what you can, do it with others, and do it with passion." - Guy Rider, chair of UN Water.

Today is World Water Day. Did y'all know that 1.8 BILLION people use a source of drinking water that is contaminated with feces? This puts them at risk of some diseases, including cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and polio. Every day, nearly 1,000 children die from these diseases that are linked to unsafe water and poor sanitation. The UN, along with some other world health organizations, have launched a goal, the Sustainable Development Goals, to ensure that everyone has access to safe water by the year 2030. This makes water a KEY ISSUE in the fight to eradicate extreme poverty. 

So what can YOU do to help out? 
Check out what events are happening in your area.
Donate. Today, I donated the babysitting money that I made this morning to the cause. 
Spread the word on your social media pages

There are some resources out there for you. We can't fix the world's problems by ourselves but we can do what we can to make a difference.