Local Socal Lifestyle
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by Karen Vazquez, Owner and Senior Editor of LoSoCal
I didn’t grow up with a silver spoon in my mouth. I am going to be brutally honest. I had grandparents that were from lower class backgrounds and they worked hard to build better lives for themselves and their children. It was not easy for either side of my family. I have heard the stories over the years. I know my thrifty nature comes from a family background that has had to face hard times, endured over the years and later even prospered due to hard, honest work, saving money and living within their means. I was always taught and told some of the following values: “You do not waste food. You only get up from the table after you have eaten everything on your plate. You do chores and earn your allowance. You don’t get to buy the brand name items at the store. You get what is affordable and the best quality for the money. You don’t get everything you want in life. You earn your way.”
Ha! That is the truth, and how interesting that at that time as a young person, I HATED hearing all of it. I say interesting because now I am so grateful I was taught these things as a youth. In other words, I wasn’t raised by snobs, so I didn’t become one. Amen. And thank God for that.
I have lived a pretty full life. I have had periods of time in my life when I had lots and lots of money and other times where I had hardly any at all. I am proud of that. By experiencing life on both ends of the financial spectrum, I have learned a great deal about living a good lifestyle on a budget and it built my character over the years. Now, I am what I like to call “thrifty and thoughtful.” I am not pretentious...and I never will be. Let me share a few of my secrets with you to help you on your own journey with frugality. The tips below are not anything new under the sun. I didn’t create these tips. I have just had them beaten into my head throughout my life and this is what has worked for me. My favorite thrifty tips are listed and explained as follows:
*Live on a budget. This means you must create one. Yes. Break out a notebook and pen and log in to your banking app. Start paying closer attention to where the hell you spend your money!!! Sorry. I get a little passionate about this. Lol. I am just trying to help. It is so easy once you start utilizing some simple planning steps and best practices for your own personal financial peace. Some banks even have an analysis aspect built into the site, so with a click of a button you can see your financial spending broken down by category. Analyze this. Start obsessing over it. Use CASH whenever possible. Seeing the cash in your hand and seeing yourself pass it over to someone in exchange for a purchase is actually a very powerful way to start disciplining yourself with spending. I do not even bother to set foot into a store or restaurant if I know I am in a season where my budget is a bit tight. I will go to free events and go on hikes and do everything I can to get out while protecting my budget. I don’t like to torture myself, so I won’t even bother to tempt myself when I know I have a bigger picture goal to live within my means. Short term self control for long term financial peace. That sounds good to me. I analyze the mess out of my finances and I have acquired enough possessions over the years, taken very good care of my things and myself and now I buy things with a very high level of mindfulness. I love going out. I know that most of my extra spending money is spent on entertainment. I know that. It is good that I am AWARE of that. Being aware and having a plan and a budget is what protects me from getting into any trouble. Ok? Good. Create a budget if you haven’t already. Do it today. Now. There is no time like the present. Next point. Here we go.
*Make Lists. I am a huge list person. I make lists like nobody’s business. I am a writer, so I know it probably comes easier to me than some because it is a regular habit for me. I write everyday in one way or another. Writer or not, start making lists. If the thought of writing in a notebook makes you want to dry heave, then use the “notes” option on your phone or computer. Make lists. Plan. Plan your trip to the grocery store. Don’t just cruise in on an empty stomach and go binge shopping when you know darn well it is a BAD idea. Lol. Bad idea. That is always a very, very, very BAD idea. Make lists. Even if you are going to the store and you think you only need one thing...make sure you only need one thing before you go. Be prepared. That is half the battle right there. This brings me to my next point.
*Avoid credit cards. In general, I try to avoid being financially impulsive. That being said, I refuse to have credit cards from stores. This is a huge point I want to make. Having lots of credit cards usually means lots of extra spending that will eventually bite you in the ass! I absolutely refuse to have credit cards from stores and if a sales associate tries to talk to me about getting one, I hear them out for a brief moment and then I tell them no. Remember this- “NO” is a complete sentence. Say it with me right now. “NO!!!!!!” I understand that having certain types of credit cards can be beneficial for building your credit. It is good to know one very important detail though...credit cards like a Visa or Mastercard can only build your credit if you can afford to make the payments! And, credit cards from department stores actually hurt your credit more than they help it. Unless, you are a highly disciplined person that has no difficulty consistently living within your means where you pay off your credit card bill IN FULL every month, then it is just a recipe for disaster waiting to happen. If you have any credit cards from any stores, I suggest this very fun exercise. Go to your kitchen or office and find a pair of scissors. Take the scissors and cut up these credit cards. Cut them up in to tiny, little, itsy-bitsy PIECES!!!!!! For extra dramatic affect, you could laugh out loud like a crazy person and attempt your best Jim Carrey impersonation. That’s entirely up to you, of course. Lol. I think you get my point. Once you cut up your department store credit cards there are a few more steps, obviously. They are- do not use the cards anymore, pay them off and finally, CLOSE THE ACCOUNTS! Let me recap. Do not be impulsive with credit cards and if you must have one, choose a standard credit card company with a very good interest rate. If there are perks for the card, even better, but read the fine print. Don’t choose a card based on the perks. Choose a card based on the best interest rate AND the perks AND all of the fine print. On to my next point…
*BE THRIFTY!!!!! YAY! I love being thrifty. There is no shame in my game. I am THRIFTY AF. I encourage all of my family and friends to be thrifty. I love going shopping alone and walking around with a calculator while I am shopping and strategically adding up my purchase BEFORE I even get to the register. I know I am sick in the head. It is fine. I accept that. Haha! I don’t care what I am shopping for and where I am shopping. I happily admit that I like to carefully select the things I am buying and I like to take my time. I also like to check out at the register with a clear head and without experiencing “buyer’s remorse” after the fact. I rarely return anything. Once I have committed to a purchase, I commit forever. I might exchange or return something if it breaks right after a purchase and there is a manufacturer’s defect in some way, but that is an entirely different issue. In a nutshell, I think being thrifty is a way of life. I believe in many ways, that it is grounded in shopping with a set of values. Planning. Organization. Humility. Discipline. Self Control. Thoughtfulness. Thrifty and thoughtful. That’s what I am always aiming for whenever I am shopping.
There are are so many other things I can't wait to share about being thrifty and thoughtful. For now, these are a few tips that I thought you might enjoy. Stay tuned for my next post which will highlight a few of my favorite places to shop when I am “on the thrift.” I love hitting up boutiques, spas, estate sales, thrift shops, antique stores and more. I have an insane collection of things that I have acquired over the years and I love, love, love my collection. I buy a ton of brand new things from boutiques and shops as well, but I’m always mindful when I do that it meets my budget. I embrace it all. I don’t care if people know my secrets and if they think I am bat shit crazy for being so frugal. Hey. I am proud of it! And, if you are the same way, you should feel proud of yourself too. Shop a day in my closet and you would see that I say what I mean, and I mean what I say.
Thanks for reading LoSoCal Babe on a Budget. Until next time, stay thrifty and thoughtful when you are out and about spending your money. When you have the money to spend, remember: Shop local. Eat local. Spend local. Live local.
I promise you that shopping local is a better lifestyle that is worth the effort and you’ll be supporting our local shops, restaurants and boutiques. Why? I can tell you. It’s better because you will be choosing mindful consumerism which supports our local communities and these local spots won’t offer you a line of credit that has you living beyond your means. You’ll also get better quality products, better service and more!
Below is a quote and a YouTube video by financial guru, Dave Ramsey, who also taught me a great deal about financial planning which leads to financial peace! His financial wisdom has changed my lifestyle forever. If you want to learn more just google him and you can get started on your budget TODAY.
My name is Karen Vazquez. I love “all things local” and I’m always writing about my favorite things in SoCal. If you want to learn more about me or you want to reach out to say hello, simply click on the “Contact” section of the blog! Thanks LoSoCal readers. Thank you so much for your support. Make it a great day!!!
By Mel Jumper
Any San Diegan will tell you, June and July are the best months to be a local. From street fairs to Over The Line to Comic Con to Pride, if you like community entertainment, SD has got you covered. I never miss San Diego Pride. For years, I would spend the day under the trees in Balboa Park, which is the end of the parade route.
Unfortunately, I would often see dehydrated dogs with burned paws stumbling down the hot pavement. I would tell their owners that they needed to stop now and I’d pull them onto the grassy shaded area and pour them a bowl of water. It upset me greatly. Three years ago, I was talking to a close friend of mine about the issue and his response to me was, “Why don’t you do something about it?” He was right. I immediately started researching dog shoe companies and I found Pawz Dog Boots out of NY.
Pawz agreed to match me dollar for dollar and between a Gofundme account, and donations given at Pride, I was able to purchase over a grand worth of stock. The dog shoes I ordered are made of a natural rubber and are said to be excellent for hot asphalt as well as ice and snow. They are color coated by size which I found to be really cool because I was able to display them in a rainbow. I set up my first Pawz for Pride, Free Dog Shoes booth in front of the Alibi Bar on University Ave in 2015. To everyone’s surprise, it stormed that day. Dogs still came over by the dozens for free booties while happy parade spectators took shelter under my Easy Up and supplied my wonderful volunteers and I with Jello and Melon Shots.
Everyone was happy to see us. Despite the rain, it was a great start. The following year, my sister came aboard and we set up my canopy in the DMV parking lot on Normal St. It was a very hot day. I used a thermometer gun to show people how on a 77 degree day, the asphalt is around 125 degrees. You can boil on egg at 130 degrees. Doggies were able to come to the booth and enjoy fresh water and treats while receiving a fitting. We also walked around and fitted dogs belonging to parade spectators. It was said that we put shoes on around 80% of the dogs present that year. I hope the people I met through the campaign continue to be more mindful of their dogs’ needs. You can purchase various brands of dog shoes at most large chain pet stores.
San Diego is a wonderful city not just because of the weather, but also because of the wonderful people who take part in our community. If you have an idea for something that might brighten our hometown, I highly suggest pursuing it. We may not all be scientists or wealthy philanthropists but we can all create a legacy, one random act of kindness at a time.
by Michael Arnold
Hey there LoSoCal readers! This past weekend, I had the privilege of going to Joshua Tree National Park. For natives of Southern California, the prickly and twisted looking Joshua Trees may be a common destination. For visitors, it may be reason enough to make a visit to Southern California. Regardless of where you are originally from, it is ubiquitously agreed that the wavy and odd looking Joshua Trees transport people to a strange world that seems straight out of a Dr. Seuss book.
We began out back country trek on a Friday afternoon, intending to do the forty mile Pacific Coast Trail during our weekend stay. For avid movie goers, you may have seen it done by Reese Witherspoon in the 2014 film “Wild”. The trail starts at the west entrance of the national park and goes through the back country and finishes at the north gate. With a few hours of daylight left, we readied our backpacks and said goodbye to our phones and modern comforts for the weekend. Although we got a late start to the trek, we managed to knock out seven miles before setting up camp at sun down.
We found a dried out spring a few hundred feet from the trail. The soft, flat dirt made a perfect foundation for our tents. With the temperature dropping into the forties, wind picking up to twenty miles an hour, and park policy against camp fires, we relied on our bottle of whiskey to keep us warm. Miles away from any major light source, the night sky came to life. Silhouettes of rock formations and the mountain ridge line were painted across a backdrop of endless stars. The outline of Joshua Trees in all of their unique splendor dotted the landscape in front of us. I live for those moments - to be surrounded by the quiet of nature and sit in awe before all its vastness. With a reluctance, we turned in for the night. We still had thirty miles to go.
With a quick breakfast and morning coffee, we were on the trail again. The trail took us out of our temporary river-bed home and back into the sprawling wasteland of the national park. A few hours into our stride, we hit the major incline of the journey. Switchbacks took us to 5,000 feet above sea level and into a beautiful view of the park. We took a moment to catch our breath and hydrate while soaking in the beautiful landscape of mountains, Joshua Trees, and rock formations. We found a shady spot beside a large boulder and ate lunch with occasional rabbit visitors curious about our business.
The remainder of the day’s trek was downhill or flat and we made excellent time. We reached the twenty mile mark and were confident that we would complete the trail in the following day. Unfortunately, Robert Burns spoke the truth when he wrote “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”. One of my friends twisted his ankle on a rock. It was not an emergency, but there was no way he could finish the rest of the trail. We all stuck together and decided to make camp for the night and go home first thing in the morning. We found a spot walking distance from the main road and set up for our last night in Joshua Tree.
Though we did not finish the trail, the last night was a perfect end to a fantastic yet shortened weekend. We finished our bottle of whiskey and laid out on the rocks to watch the sunset. As the mountain range obscured the last vestiges of light, the moonlight and stars dominated the night sky. We talked for hours and shared our favorite moments from the weekend amidst an alien landscape with a forest of the oddly shaped Joshua Tree.
We did not accomplish what we set out to do, but I am fine with that. Plans can only take you so far, and the most exciting part of it is adapting to whatever happens. My time in Joshua Tree was a surreal experience and I will definitely be returning soon to finish the Pacific Coast Trail. Although I attempt to capture my time through writing, it falls short of true experience. If anything, I hope that this piece is simply an introduction for your own adventures and experiences at Joshua Tree National Park and the beautiful world we inhabit.
Hey LoSoCal readers! My name is Michael Arnold and I have been a proud Southern Californian for twenty two years. I am a UC Santa Barbara alumni (Go Gauchos!) who enjoys the outdoors, nature, and generally living healthy and happy. The goal of my writing is to not only publicize some of the great things SoCal has to offer, but to also inspire my readers to go out and have great experiences! Some of my topics of interest include hiking, mindfulness, health and wellness, scuba diving, and poetry.
...find me on Instagram @LoSoCal @LoSoCalStyle
Owner, Lead Blogger
My name is Karen Vazquez. I have lived in Southern California for over thirty years. I recently realized that it was time for me to give back to this wonderful community by supporting local SoCal businesses, performers, restaurants, spas, boutiques, fitness studios, farmers markets and more. My support shines through here by highlighting these fabulous local SoCal spots. You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram (see the attached link to my page) and my LinkedIn. I will be featuring many local destinations in the area that have been my personal favorites for years and am currently recruiting guest bloggers to expand the voice of LoSoCal. I have had guest bloggers in the past, but aim to incorporate local SoCal bloggers on a regular basis as a fun and creative way to connect with the local community here. Essentially, LoSoCal is a local community blog, and it is meant to be resource to locals in the SoCal area and visitors from around the world. Please tell your contacts about my blog. Thanks for stopping by...
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