Lavendar Pillow Spray | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Lavendar Pillow Spray

Good sleep is crucial to mental health. Bring some calm to your night time routine with this homemade Lavendar Pillow Spray. With only two ingredients, you can make your own bottle for next to nothing.

Lavendar Pillow Spray | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

I remember a couple of years ago hearing a sleep expert interviewed on Fresh Air with Terry Gross. He was talking about the effects of sleep deprivation on your overall health. What sticks in my memory was when he could immediately point out that Terry hadn’t gotten enough sleep. Sleep deprivation effects basically every system within your body, and it doesn’t take much missed sleep for negative effects to start to rear their ugly heads.

Since then, I’ve been more cognizant of my quality of sleep, and I know for a fact that when I don’t get enough sleep, I’m grumpy and forgetful. I make more mistakes at work. My memory sucks. I even tend to trip or drop things more because my coordination is affected.

There are a lot of tips and tricks out there to improve your quality of sleep, but I think the best thing you can do is to have a routine, and to go to bed at the roughly same time every night, even at weekends. One of my favorite parts of my bedtime routine is my Lavendar Pillow Spray.

Lavendar Pillow Spray | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Lavendar has long been associated with calm and peace. I don’t know if the science really back up whether or not lavendar can help you fall asleep, but I don’t do it for science. Lavendar Pillow Spray is part of my bedtime ritual. When I smell it, I know it’s time to relax. It makes me happy. That’s why I love it.

All you need to make Lavendar Pillow Spray is about 25 drops of lavendar essential oil in a 100 ml (preferably reusable glass) bottle. Top the rest up distilled water. Give it a shake before you spray it every time. That’s it. Done. My bottle has lasted me months. It couldn’t be simpler.

Good sleep will make us all happier and smarter. Lavendar Pillow Spray will make bedtime a little more awesome.

Looking for more ways to use your essential oils? Try this Homemade Yoga Mat Spray.

Yoga Mat Spray | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Yoga Mat Spray

Yoga Mat Spray | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Have you thought about buying a bottle of yoga mat spray? Did you know you can make your own custom yoga mat spray at home and save yourself tons of money? I’ll show you how.

I’m constantly resetting my intention to get more exercise. Every other week I’m trying to reframe it in my mind so that it doesn’t seem like torture. I have a fitness tracker watch that tracks my heart rate and makes me feel guilty when I don’t get my intensity minutes. I used to be able to get them from going on a nice brisk walk. That doesn’t cut it anymore. I’ve had to start jogging again, and it sucks.

While yoga doesn’t get me those precious intensity minutes, it’s the one form of moving my body outside of dance that actually makes me feel good. I really prefer a low-key yoga class that makes me sweat, helps me focus, and keeps me grounded all without taking itself too seriously. I fully believe that laughing and yoga should go together.

Yoga Mat Spray | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

When I started going to a public class last year, I had to finally buy myself a yoga mat. Previously, I’d just been splaying out on my carpet talking to myself and yelling at my TV when a pose was too hard. That means I also had to come up with a way to keep my yoga mat clean.

Rather than going online and paying $10 for a bottle of yoga mat spray online, I turned to my essential oil collection. I knew I could use what I already had to make an all-natural yoga mat spray.

I turned to my long time internet yoga teacher, Adrienne, and of course, she had a solution. A little witch hazel, a few drops of your favorite essential oils, and some distilled water is all you need. I chose lavender and eucalyptus. Beyond just smelling great, which is probably the best part, lavender has calming properties, ideal for that post-yoga vibe. Eucalyptus is also a natural antiseptic, so it will help get rid of any gross stuff on your yoga mat.

All of these ingredients are also good for your skin, so I often also spray it on my face at the end of practice. It’s really refreshing after a sweaty practice. When I brought this to my group class, everyone wanted to try it. I even ended up making up a bottle for one of my classmates.

But wait, aren’t essential oils expensive? Well, yeah, buying these ingredients would initially cost more than just buying a little bottle at the yoga studio. But we’re only going to use tiny amounts of each thing, so you could make 10 bottles of yoga mat spray and still have more leftover for other uses around your home. If you’re at all interested in making your own skincare, home fragrance, natural remedies, or cleaning products, it’s totally worth the investment.

Yoga Mat Spray | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

If you practice yoga or Pilates or any type of mat workout, make yourself some homemade yoga mat spray. It’s easy, inexpensive, and totally awesome.

10 No Brainer Budgeting Tips

No-Brainer Budgeting Tips

10 No Brainer Budgeting Tips

Let me guess. You want to save money, but you don’t want to do math. Percentages and spreadsheets make you glaze over or break out in hives. The idea of a bunch of cash filled envelopes lying about just seems dumb. It’s okay. I’m here for you. I’ve got a few simple things you can keep in mind to help you save money without having to overthink it.

  1. Carry cash– In case you never figured out the name of my blog, I take out the equivalent of $20 a day from the ATM once a week on Fridays. Living here in Glasgow, that means I put £90 in my wallet each week, and that’s all the money I get to spend on incidentals like clothes, extra bits from the grocery story, drinks at the bar, etc. If you use your debit card for everything AND you hate doing math, there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to lose track of how much money you spend. I find this amount to be just right for me. Some weeks I have money leftover, and other weeks, Thursdays are sad. That’s life.
  2. Stop buying crap– Become more intentional about what you buy. Before you make an impulsive purchase, ask yourself “Is this something I know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” I don’t know who said that, but it’s worked for me. You don’t have to be a stingy miser, but if you live in the real world, you probably can’t just have whatever you want. 
  3. Sleep on it– Since we’re trying to stop buying crap, I find it useful to walk away for a day from something I’m interested in buying, especially if it costs a little bit more than I would normally pay. It may be that you can look around and find it cheaper somewhere else, or it may be that with a little bit of space, you realize you don’t actually need it. If you’re still in love with the item the next day and you have the cash in your wallet, go back and get it.
  4. Think about how you’re going to get there– We don’t have a car right now, so our options are pretty limited, but I think it’s always worth it to consider walking somewhere. It’s free, and it’s great exercise. Yeah it takes a bit longer, but if I’m by myself, I listen to news podcasts and get smarter, and if I’m with my husband or a friend, it’s the perfect opportunity to have some great conversation without having your face stuck in your phone.
  5. Embrace store brand– There are a few things, like peanut butter, that I just won’t compromise on, but for the most part, I’m quite happy to save a bit of money on fancy packaging and advertising and just buy the store brand. If you find you don’t like the quality on a certain product, just don’t buy it again. Most of the time, though, you can’t tell.
  6. Pack a lunch– When I find my wallet empty at the end of the week, it’s usually because I’ve been forgetting to bring my lunch with me to work. When you’re putting leftovers away from dinner, pack them in single-serving portions so you can just grab something from the fridge on your way out the door. I can barely navigate my toothbrush in the morning. Forget about making a sandwich. Make your life as easy as possible.
  7. Check for a Groupon– If you haven’t checked out any of these types of sites in a while, it’s definitely worth checking out. Rememer #2. Don’t go buying stuff just because there’s a groupon, but you may find something you already needed or wanted for half the price, at which point it would be dumb not to get it. It’s a great way to try a restaurant or experience that may have otherwise been inaccessible because of price.
  8. Buy things that last– When you’re shopping for things that are non-consumable, take into consideration how quickly something may need to be replaced. I’ve had the same black pencil skirt since I graduated from college. If something is going to be useful to you for a long time, make sure it’s going to last. Spending a little bit more one time equals spending less in the long run if you end up having to buy it again.
  9. Invite your friends over– Instead of going out to a restaurant or bar to socialize with your friends, invite them to your home. You don’t have to do anything extravagant. Ask friends to bring stuff to contribute to the night. It spreads the cost around, but you can bet everyone will still spend less than they would going out. You’ll be able to hear each other talk, and sometimes your friends will even do the dishes. 
  10. Put some money away– Now that you’re being more conscientious about your spending, you’ll have some money to save at the end of the month. If you don’t, you may need to reevaluate your life a little bit. Here’s what I do. First, make sure you have a separate savings account that you can easily transfer to online. When payday comes around, I look at my last balance before the deposit. Subtract from that balance the amount you pay in rent (so you know you at least always have an extra month’s worth on hand at any given moment), then put the rest into your savings account. I know we don’t like to do math, so just round to the nearest hundred (or ten if you have to). Don’t overthink it. Then sit back and watch your money add up. 

Saving money, sort of like losing weight, isn’t really about tricks. It’s much more about changing your habits and your attitude. Say no to the pressure to consume. Don’t feel you need to deprive yourself, but don’t give in to every little whim to spend. If you’re feeling pressure to keep up with the Joneses, just remember that the Joneses aren’t actually as cool as you. Eventually, being awesome on $20 a day just becomes your life. 

To Surinder Singh or not to Surinder Singh…

How to get a UK Spouse Visa without a lawyer

. . . that is the question!

Renee is still stuck in the hospital so Geoff is here to keep you company again. I’m constantly researching the convoluted ways of moving to different countries. Call it a, “hobby” if you will! I figured that as I’m doing the hard work, I should impart some of my wisdom to you, the lucky readers. Immigration lawyers are expensive and generally not-needed. Some countries are relatively easy, others keep you wrapped up in red tape. Hopefully we’ll be able to save you some of your hard-earned money in the time-honored “Awesome On $20” way. Let’s look at UK immigration first of all.

Our first option is the official UK Government route for coming home with a non-EU spouse.

To qualify for a spouse visa the UK citizen needs to meet the following specifications:

Needs a confirmed job offer for a job in the UK, earning £18,600 or more per year, starting no more than 3 months after your application.

Needs to have been earning the foreign equivalent of £18,600 per year for either 6 months (if you have worked for the same employer for the last six months and are still employed with them at the time of application) or 12 months (averaged out over the last 12 months for multiple jobs).

If you have children that you are also bringing with you, the amount is increased by £3,800 for the first child and then an extra £2,400 per child.

Note: If you have £62,500 or more in savings (and have had that in your account for at least 6 months) then none of this applies to you. You are automatically awarded a visa. Congratulations.

The tricky part is actually getting a job without having a face to face interview. I did manage to get my first job in the US while I was still living in Taiwan, via Skype, but not sure how common this is. If you can afford to fly home for interviews, great, but if you are like the rest of us, this probably isn’t an option. Of course there’s a whole load of paperwork and “evidence” that you need to collect to show that you earn a certain amount. Click HERE to get detailed info straight from the horse’s arse mouth. This visa costs £885.

Renee in London
Tourist-mode back on our last visit

The second option is called the “Surinder Singh” route. So called after a famous court case. Basically, this is a back-door option that circumvents the UK Government’s visa restrictions. If the UK citizen goes to live and work in another EU country, their non-EU spouse can go with them and also work. Once you can prove that the UK citizen’s ‘centre of life’ has moved to the other EU country, you are free to apply for an EEA Family Permit. This permit is as good as a visa and allows you to live and work in the UK indefinitely! The guideline for time spent in the other EU country is 3 months minimum.

When applying for the EEA Family Permit, you’ll need:

Proof of address for the UK citizen in the other EU country (rental agreement or perhaps bank statements).

Proof of ‘integration’ (anything that shows the UK citizen became involved with the local community. Maybe a letter from a club or society).

Proof that the UK citizen was working (wage slips, contracts, tax returns etc).

The best thing about the Surinder Singh route is that there’s no cost for an EEA Family Permit! How’s that for being Awesome on $20?

Other European citizens can move to the UK straight away and work with no hassle! A Polish person could bring an Indian spouse into the UK easier than a Brit bringing in an American! Crazy!

Stay tuned for more free immigration advice. Next time we will look at getting your American Green Card!

Hopefully Renee will be back on her feet and making delicious treats for you fine folks in no time at all. Here’s to a quick recovery!

Even British horses are cool...
Even British horses are cool…

$20 a Day in the Closet: 10 Tips for Cheap Clothes

$20 a Day in the Closet


$20 a Day in the Closet: 10 Tips for Cheap Clothes

I am a long way from a fashion icon, but I’m not completely frumpy, either. It’s sometimes a struggle trying to be both cheap and cute, but I believe it can be done. Here are my tips for how to maintain a pretty great wardrobe without making your wallet cry.

1. Don’t buy a ton of crap

This almost too obvious, but if you want to save money, you just can’t have a ton of crap. Sorry, it just doesn’t work. When I go to the mall, it’s more like visiting a museum. I look, sometimes I even try on, but I rarely ever buy. 100 years ago, average people were lucky to have like five outfits, so just learn to live with less.

2. Don’t throw anything out

Just the other day, I got several compliments on a top and a skirt I’ve had for probably 10 years. If your clothes still fit you and aren’t torn, stained, or otherwise inappropriate, you can probably hold onto them and figure out ways to give them new life. Most people aren’t going to care or even notice that you’ve been wearing the same dress forever.

3. Buy classic pieces

 Pencil skirts in black and tan, black pants, white and black button down shirts, and comfortable but awesomely hot black heels will never ever go out of style. You don’t even have to spend a bunch of money if you’re patient enough to find good stuff at discount stores like Ross or TJ Maxx. Take good care of them, and you’ll be able to make a million outfits for years.

4. Go shopping with a plan

Before you step into the shop, think about what you actually need. Don’t just randomly shop impulsively. It’s the same effect as going to the grocery store hungry. You end up spending money on things you don’t actually need and will probably never wear. 

5. Try on in store then shop online

If you’re buying from a major chain like Old Navy, they’ll probably send you a bajillion emails with all kinds of great coupon codes. It’s kind of annoying until you need something. There’s a pretty good chance you can get 20% off or more if you can be patient.

6. Don’t buy stuff just because it’s on sale

If you spend $20 on a $50 piece that you never actually wear, you didn’t save $30, you actually wasted $20. A sale, in and of itself, is not a good enough reason to buy something. I mean, if you need something and can get it on sale, that’s obviously good, but I think you get the point.

7. Always try stuff on

If you’re anything like me, there’s a good chance you’re too lazy to actually take stuff back to the store if it doesn’t fit right, so make sure it’s going to work before you get it home. 

8. Don’t buy stuff unless it makes you feel awesome

Similar to #6, if you buy the cheap version of something you need, but you don’t love it, you’re probably not going to wear it. Money wasted. It’s worth it to spend a little more on something that makes you feel excited about getting dressed in the morning.

9. Have fun with accessories

I’m a scarf and hat girl, personally, but you can pick up a few fun accessories to add a pop of color to your wardrobe and stay on trend. You’re gonna have a lot of classic pieces and old stuff, so play around with the little cheap things.

10. Don’t feel guilty

You deserve to look good, even if you can barely afford a fashion magazine, let alone all the stuff inside. If you want to save your pennies and splurge on something that makes you feel like a movie star, don’t beat yourself up about it.  We all know that material things aren’t what really matters, but you don’t need to feel guilty about buying something beautiful every now and then.

You deserve to feel awesome. With a little patience and creativity, you can collect a wardrobe of reliable pieces, throw in a few trendy accessories, and look and feel totally rad. Everything is possible.

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