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Friday, August 7, 2015


You know your fate is sealed when the stars align, the heavens open, and your friend plans to get Maui’eed during your spring break. When this happens you have no choice and you HAVE TO GO TO MAUI!!! This year, everything pointed that Maui for spring break was my destiny and who am I to go against DESTINY?

So (disclaimer time) my friend “claims” she planned her wedding because it fell on her and her (now) husband’s anniversary, but the truth is she just really wanted me there and I would not have been able to go during school. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!) Once the date was set for their magical Maui marriage it was time to start planning my next budget saving vacation.

Now (time for another disclaimer) I did not do as well on deals for this trip as I would have liked. Hawaii is freaking expensive!!!! and I tried to be as cheap as possible but there are just some things not available for cheap in the Aloha State. With that being said, my ultimate goal was to spend no more than $1000 for 5 days in Magical Maui and I came as close as cheaply possible.

I found the best possible deal I could at the time I purchased my flights and got roundtrip airfare for $525. This isn’t too bad but it is not up to my usual deal guru standards. However I did make up for it with condo costs. If anyone has traveled to Hawaii they know how ridiculously expensive it is to stay there. Hotel costs are CRAY CRAY and trying to find condos or people who rent apartments or homes isn’t much easier, especially if you want to stay in a prime location (say on the beach?) which of course you do duh you’re going to HAWAII. So this is where being a cool person who gets along well with others comes in handy. The best friend of the bride was looking for roomies to get a place to stay at in Maui so we split the costs between the 2 of us and each of our guests. She just so happened to know someone who knew someone who owned a condo RIGHT ON THE BEACH and was willing to rent to us for practically nothing (by Hawaii standards). AND to make it even better it was just a few miles from where our friend was getting Maui’eed! Like I said, when the universe wants you to go to Maui you HAVE TO GO TO MAUI!! Anyways, my overall cost for 5 nights in Maui was $263. If that’s not Pure Maui Magic then I don’t know what is!!!

So now that airfare and lodging were taken care of I of course had to plan adventures. I CANNOT go on a vacation and not buy a single deal, it goes against my soul (yes I do have a soul thank you very much)! Unfortunately since Maui is not very big there were not many deals available. However, I was able to get a sweet zip-lining deal on Living Social for $89 (regularly $129). AND there was an online special for a turtle snorkel adventure that included snorkeling gear, food, and adult beverages for $50 (regularly $60). (You should know by now that when something includes food and alcohol I am going to be there!!!) Fortunately, there were no sharks anywhere near me (my bladder and pride were very thankful for this) so I was able to enjoy the deep crystal blue sea as a happy human rather than shark bait! #WINNING

SOOOOOOOO, all that added up brought the total to $929 which YAY was in my budget!! But BOO I still had to get a rental car because there is no way to get around Maui without one. I searched the heavens, scoured the depths of the ocean, and seeked the snitch in a game of Quidditch (how many people get this reference?) for the best rental car deal possible and was unable to find anything remotely reasonable (sad face). So I had to push aside my pride and pay (gulp) full price for a rental car (super sad face) which ended up being $243 (serious sad face). In the end I spent $1170 on a week vacay in Maui; which isn’t too bad considering full price costs can range from $1500-$2500 (or more). Like I said, not up to par with my usual cheap status ways but still worth bragging about J (thank you thank you applause later please). Most importantly, it was worth it to see my friend Maui’eed right on the beach to the love of her life (while on Spring Break).

So all in all, I got to fly through the trees like Tarzan, beach bum it every day in Maui’s marvelousness, tumble in the waters with some turtles, and be a wedding witness to a truly beautiful couple. Not a bad way to spend $1170 if you ask me (you are reading this blog so you asked me, end of story).

MAHOLA for joining me on another Adventure4Less!!! Enjoy the pics and remember to have Fun4Less!!!


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Gift EYEdeas4Less

Christmas, Hanukah, Celebrations OH MY!!  The holidays are behind us but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn how to be a great gift giver now! There are still plenty of opportunities coming up that require spending money for someone else’s enjoyment. Seriously, I truly believe someday there will be an excuse to celebrate something or spend money on someone every week if not every day. So for those Millennials out there you may want to learn how to get more bang for your buck now!!  Let me show you how to put that eye for gift giving into action for celebrations to come. It seems daunting but getting thoughtful creative gifts is possible. You just have to take a little extra time (usually several thousand hours) into finding that perfect star worthy present. Here are some tips to help you come up with some EYEdeas.

First, I am a firm believe that experience is the best gift possible. Experiences are much more memorable than material items (This is proven science folks!!!) Of course this will depend on how well you know the person and what your relationship with them is like. I don’t suggest buying your boss that exclusive VIP club experience if you hardly know them (unless you really need that raise then I say go for it!!). But if you are trying to get a gift for someone you truly care about then try to think about an experience they would like to take part in. Seriously, if you’re significant other has been stressing a lot lately then get them that massage, facial or spa day package. Groupon, Living Social, and Travelzoo have these deals ALL THE TIME!! And it’s perfect for those of us who love to be poked, prodded, and pummeled by strangers’ foreign fingers. If your friend has expressed interest in some adventure, dining experience, event, excursion or anything that involves living life, then get it!!! Check to see if these magical deal sites have those experiences because most of the time they do!! Making memories is much more valuable than a sweater that may eventually be too small or fade with use.

Next EYEdea worth thinking about: If you aren’t that close with the person anymore or you just can’t swing the cash, then the next best present purchase (in my humble opinion) is memories of experiences. This can include any form of expressing or showing how a memory was made or how an experience was lived. If you’re artistic then maybe drawing pictures or writing poems are the way to go. I’m a photo slut so I love to show my experiences with pictures. Framing fun times with friends, creating photo albums, or scrapbooking are great ways to revisit the good times and show someone you do care about them. You can put photos on anything these days: books, cards, blankets, coffee mugs, chinaware, clothes, and who knows what else. With technology these days anything is possible. Even if all you can get is a gift card, maybe making a homemade birthday/holiday card with a picture can make it all the more meaningful. And doing all this does not have to be expensive. Check groupon, they have deals ALL THE TIME!!!! (sensing a theme yet?)
What if you don’t have photos and aren’t creative? Well then I suggest trying to personalize the gift somehow. People love to see their names on things. Especially if they have a unique name that can’t be found on tourist shop key chains. I once got a cousin a colorful make-up bag with her name engraved on it and she loved it (that’s what she said and I choose to believe it!). The best thing is: you can personalize gifts however you want to. It doesn’t have to just be with their name. You can engrave inside jokes, or important dates, or meaningful quotes. The point is to make things personal. Doing even just that shows you didn’t forget about them and run by Walmart on the way to their birthday party. And these things really aren’t that expensive. Groupon, Living Social, Travelzoo OH MY!!! If you personalize gifts frequently then joining a site like shutterfly becomes beneficial in the long run. I receive discounts through their site and free gifts all the time (especially around the holidays). It pays to spend but it’s always better to spend less!!

So this is usually the part where I breakdown how much I’ve spent on stuff versus what it normally costs, but I’m not going to put myself on blast and let everyone know what I spent on their gifts. Sorry guys!! But I will provide a list of gift EYEdeas I have purchased before.

Photo albums galore! These are great for any reason. Christmas, birthdays, Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, you get the EYEdea. They take time to create, but are worth seeing the person’s face light up with joy at the memories.

Photo calendars. Another great gift for any reason. Photo gifts are especially good for people with kids. Creating a calendar or album with pictures of their kids shows you sense what is truly important to them. And with social media at our fingertips every second of every day you can just facebook stalk the person to get whatever pics they post online. Seriously though, be careful what you put online!!

Photo blankets, mugs, holiday/bday cards. Like I said I’m a photo slut. Having photographic proof of my life helps me remember the good times. Although, there are probably plenty of times where having photographic evidence wasn’t a good thing (JK no shame here)

Subject specific t-shirts as graduation gifts.

LIFE EXPERIENCE!!! If someone has mentioned something they want to do, I try to make it happen if it’s feasible on my limited graduate student budget.
So all of this is going to depend largely on how well you know the person. First consider what your relationship is with that person. How close are you? How often do you talk or see each other? What kinds of things do you definitely know about them? A wine enthusiast may love engraved wine glasses but a recovering alcoholic will not appreciate that so much. An 18-year old girl may love an engraved make-up bag but your 50 year old father probably won’t. For me, if I’m really stuck I try to make a list of everything I do know about the person, even if all I know is their age, gender, and location. Simply knowing that can help you narrow down or have a starting point for gift EYEdeas.
Of course you may not be able to provide those perfect tear-inducing presents all the time. And it does get stressful when you think “crap now what am I supposed to get next time” when you’ve already gotten the most amazing heartfelt gift of eternity. I’ve often thought I’ll never be able to top myself next time. But if you are getting gifts for the people you care about and they care about you then they will understand you can’t always be perfectly amazing. But if every once in a while you are able to show the thought and effort you put into a gift then they will truly cherish you in their lives.

Now for all my family and friends out there who have said they love the gift I got them but really don’t like it: Please keep that to yourself. I’m not trying to lose credibility here. Love you all!!!!!!!!!! :-D

Saturday, January 31, 2015


Guys, I am so sorry it’s been such a long time since I’ve posted a blog. This whole grad school thing has literally taken over my life (why did no one warn me?!). I don’t know how often I will be able to keep up with this wonderful creation of writing but I shall aim for every couple months (this is not a binding contract!). Now that that disclosure is out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff.

Five months ago I embarked on a life-changing experience. I moved mountains and swam oceans to uproot my life to the vast, mystical land that is Southern California (from the far-off land that is Northern California). Even though I have ventured to the tanning capitol of the world many times before there are still countless sunny, sand-filled experiences I have yet to revel in. Because I don’t want to be a lonely duckling embarking on these adventures, I have forced my family and friends to come visit me. When they visit me I get to impress them with my newfound SoCal street smarts and it gives me an excuse to show off my deal guru ways (when my face isn’t glued to textbooks and word documents).

One of my very good friends came to visit me for Halloween, my mom visited me the following weekend, and my best sister/friend visited me right after finals. With them visiting me, we got to experience hydrobikes, the Queen Mary, a fashion show, the San Diego Safari Park, bottomless mimosa brunches, an Irish pub, whale watching, and a food tour. Sounds like a bank breaker amount of fun right?! WRONG!!! If you don’t believe me then see my handy dandy chart below to see what I paid vs. what Hollywood stars pay!


What I Paid

Hollywood Stars Pay




Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor



Brunch (for 2) w/ bottomless mimosas @ The Green House



F.A.C.E. fashion show



San Diego Safari Park



Shenanigans food & drinks



Queen Mary’s historical tour



Marina Del Rey whale Watching



Brunch (for 2) w/ bottomless mimosas @ Alegria Cocina



Old Towne Orange Walking Food Tour






That was back-to-back weekends and a much needed grad school free weekend of non-stop SoCalscapades (bad or good name merge?) for less than half off!!  Living in SoCal may be expensive but having fun doesn’t have to be!!!

Riding hydrobikes was pretty interesting. It required a lot more leg work than I had anticipated and I left with some jelly-filled calves the rest of the day. But that makes it even better. Having fun and working out = SCORE!!!! And for half off the normal price? Even better!!!

Later that day my friend and I went to the Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor for some spooktacular scarefest Halloween fun. And even though it literally rained on our parade, we had a blast. Anytime someone creepy comes crawling at me I can’t help but laugh/scream at the same time! Plus we totally got to like rock out in our totally awesome 80s wear!! Jealous much?!
The next day we got to enjoy a delicious bottomless mimosa filled brunch (BOTTOMLESS MIMOSAS)!!!!
Plus they had pictures on the wall of the restaurant like this:
Who wouldn’t love this place?!

Then we went to a “fashion” show in downtown LA which was more of a “please take your shirt off super-hot buff guy, that outfit looks ridiculous” kind of show. (I’m certainly not complaining) Not a bad way to spend a Saturday night if I do say so myself. It was definitely a weekend full of sunny SoCal (except pouring rain) fun. Thanks for visiting me Okerra!!!!!
After all that crazy and wild life in my 20s kind of fun I got to spend the next weekend with my mom. She came to visit me for 4 whole days and we got to have a much more relaxing while still adventurous fun in the sun kind of weekend. Tigers, cheetahs, dolphins oh my!! From the San Diego Safari Park to whale watching we saw all kinds of scarily captured and ocean roaming creatures.

Going to the San Diego Safari Park was definitely a fun way to spend the day if it weren’t for the unnecessary 90+ degree weather in November!!! For crying out loud SoCal have some seasonal decency!!! Even the tigers weren’t a fan of the ridiculously hot sun!!
Seriously though SoCal? Pouring rain one weekend and 90+ degrees the next weekend? I do not approve!!!!

As for the whale watching, even though we only got to see a couple of dolphins and one whale, it was still a relaxing, hypnotic ride out to the deep blue sea. Truth be told though, we didn’t get to see the whale in full form; all we got see was the water coming out of her blowhole and I’m pretty sure that was her way of giving us the finger. But it was still fun to see everyone running over each other from one end of the boat to the other for that potential glimpse of Shamu.
While we didn’t enjoy any shirtless fashion shows, it was still just as enjoyable. Thanks for coming to visit mom, I love you!!!!
Then right after finals my best sister-friend visited me for some much needed escapism. We got our grub on at the Old Town Orange Walking Food Tour and an interesting brunch with bottomless mimosas at Alegria Cocina. Food and drinks: What more does a girl need in life after 4 months of slaving away through grad school hysteria?

So I know $200 seems like kind of a lot of money but when it's spread out over 3 different staycations with 3 different people, it's really not that much. Especially not when you consider doing all of those things would have cost me over $400 if I wasn't such a brilliantly cut-rate savant living that cheap grad student life!!

Stick with me folks, I'll take you places ;-)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


Let me start with saying I HATE running.  I do not like to run for exercise.  I am a very let's do this ish and get it done with kind of person and long-distance running just does not fit in to that category for me.  With that being said, I have come to appreciate the art of running (or in my case jogging/walking) when I have a desirable location to do it.  OR in the case of a fun 5k where there are more obstacles then actual running.  Eventually I would like to work my way up to doing the 12k tough mudder (who wants to do it with me?).

If you would have asked me 3 years ago if I would participate in a mud run, or any 5k race, I would have side stink-eyed and laughed at you.  Why would I want to willingly get dirty and smell like living bacon? Who does that sort of thing?  Well, apparently I do!!!  I love mud runs, obstacle courses, night runs (where I get to where my light up tutu!!), and any other "run" that lets me be silly and crazy.  BUT, these things can cost way too much money for my liking, especially now that I'm on that struggling grad student income!!

HOWEVER, that's why I love Groupon and Living Social so much (endorsements much?).  These sites almost always have a local run available for half off or even sometimes 3/4 the price.  Yes you do have to pay for these "runs" but if you are going to pay you might as well pay less than everyone else right?  Amirite?  Here's a list of all the runs I have done thanks to my fun run gurus Groupon and Living Social and what I paid versus what a professional athlete might pay:

                                           What I Paid                       Athletes Pay
Mud Factor                              $35                                     $75       
Run or Dye                               $19                                     $45
Rugged Maniac Mud Run      $26                                     $53
Color in Motion                       $25                                     $50 
Glow Run                                 $19                                     $28
ROC race                                 $61                                     $105    
TOTAL                                   $185                                    $366

SO not every run is as fun as the other but my faves are ones that include plenty of obstacles (and light on the actual running part).  Mud runs are infamous for this.  SO many obstacles and very little actual running.  AND you can get as dirty as you want.  No one will tell you not to play in the dirt!!  Isn't that a childhood fantasy come true?!  If you don't believe me that they are fun check out the pics below.  Also please note there would be a video of one of the mud runs but someone (cough cough Gabrielle cough cough) had the GoPro on upside down the entire race!!

Obstacle courses such as the ROC race are also life altering degrees of fun.  You get to jump around in bounce houses, swing from ropes Tarzan style and tightrope walk over water-filled blow-up pools.  What about that doesn't sound awesome?! AND I only hurt myself in one obstacle (damn old age!).  I do have to be honest thought because I didn't actually purchase this deal.  My really extremely great friend Gabrielle got this for me as moving away present because she is an awesomely amazing person like that (luv ya chica).  BUT because she has learned from me she purchased the race on groupon!!


Other 5k fun runs worth doing are color runs and night runs.  With the color runs you get to have dried paint thrown all over you as you "run" along a course.  The night runs are usually LED lit up courses where everyone dresses up in their best 80s/rave wear.  Anytime I get to wear my light up tutu is a Win-Win for me.  BUT the downside to these runs is there aren't any obstacles so you have to actually run or pretend you are injured (wink wink) and walk most of it.


There are all kinds of races all the time available on Groupon and Living Social.  Check them out and you will find the funnest things to do.  Especially with the holidays coming up there will be zombie runs and ugly Christmas sweater runs galore.  So don't give me any excuses about not trying it out!!  My next goal in life is to partake in a slime run!!  Who's with me?!  We can live out our nickelodeon fantasies together!!