Saturday, January 30, 2016

Fabletics January 2016 Review

Despite fit issues with last month's Fabletics, I couldn't miss out on this month's snuggly winter wear.  And the super-soft, comfy lounge outfit I received ("Hemisphere") is a winner.  In fact, it might be my favourite Fabletics outfit to date!!

For those who are unfamiliar with Fabletics, they offer monthly workout outfits (or loungewear, if you're more like me) starting at $49.95 for VIPs (and seemingly at $10 increments from that point depending on the items and the number of items - outfits tend to be 2 or 3 pieces).  It is a subscription program so at the beginning of each month, you must either choose an outfit or opt out for that month - if you fail to do either, you will be charged the $49.95 minimum cost although you can later use that money to make a purchase (it's not like a punishment fee or anything).  To make things even more enticing, Fabletics offers your first month at half price - that's $25 for one of the cheaper outfits (or half of whatever the cost is of the outfit you choose).  Note the phrasing there:  "first month" - that means that taking advantage of this offer will set you up in their VIP program and you will then either need to purchase/skip each month. . . or I guess you could take advantage of the offer and then cancel if you really wanted to.

Now that that's out of the way, on to this month's outfit! 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Julep January 2016 Review

Julep's January 2016 collection is "New Year, New You" which is. . . well. . . standard for January, right? Do I need more nail polish? - nope.  But these shades really drew my eye and I just couldn't hit "skip."  Incidentally, that coupon code above? Use it if you like - it's not unique.

Julep is a monthly nail polish subscription box / beauty subscription.  Their polishes are 5-free and vegan-friendly which I love! For $24.99 per month (or $19.99 per month if you sign up for 3 months up front), you will receive your choice of 2-3 nail polish / beauty items each month according to your profile.  "Classic With a Twist", "Bombshell" and "Boho Glam" profiles receive 2 polishes and 1 beauty item; "It Girls" receive 3 polishes and "Modern Beauties" receive 2 beauty items.  But now, no matter what profile you are, you can totally customize your box or even switch to a totally different box! And you can skip any month after your first month as a Maven (Welcome Boxes don't count).  Sounds perfect to me!  

If you're interested in trying out the subscription, my links will take you to a FREE Welcome Box, just pay the cost of shipping - this will sign you up for the subscription so be forewarned about that (if you scroll down though, you can get in for the 3 month rate of $19.99 per month).  Check out the Welcome Box I received here.  This is an American sub so do factor in the cost of exchange although, aside from Welcome Boxes, shipping is free for Mavens - even Canadian ones :)

On to the products! 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Five Four Club December 2015 Review

This is the first month (or "volume") for the winter season with Five Four Club.  Starting in September, Five Four indicated a slight change to their subscription model in order to provide customers with a more cohesive range of outfits per season.  In September, my husband received two shirts - one dress shirt and one lightweight hoodie (that review here); in October, a fantastic fall jacket and scarf (that review here); and November's shipment offered a pullover and a hoodie (that review here).  Now you may be thinking what I'm thinking - no pants? How "cohesive" can an outfit be without any pants?! We were hoping December's shipment would include some but, as you can see above, nope - another hoodie and a button-down shirt were sent.  While we really love Five Four's clothing, we will give them another month and then contact them regarding this issue.  My husband loves the clothes he is receiving but it seems strange that they would make a point of saying he'd be getting a "range of outfits" and then not sending anything for his bottom half!  

Never heard of Five Four Club? It is a men's clothing subscription out of California.  They have a lot of celebrity clients (including Mark Wahlberg) and offer a variety of Five Four-branded clothing items.  It is a little pricey at $60/month (especially for Canadians since there is an additional $25 surcharge for us - boo! - and exchange on top of that!) but there are, occasionally, deals to be had.  We find that with recent exchange rates, it works out to $115-120 Canadian. . . so a bit of a splurge but my husband looks great and doesn't have to go shopping.

When you join Five Four Club, you fill in a pretty detailed profile indicating your sizing and preferences so that your stylist can select the perfect items for you.  The style profiles available are Casual, Forward, Classic and Mix and my husband currently subscribes to the "Mix" option.

So, what did he get this month?

Saturday, January 23, 2016

LVL UP+ (or Level Up) December 2015 Review - Updated!

Loot Crate is a favourite subscription for many who are into "geeky" stuff - they usually include some gadgets, wearable items and collectibles (Pop Funko figures are usually pretty standard) related to a monthly theme.  They also offer special edition crates usually focusing on a particular show / film / whatever. They even offer Anime and Pet subs! We're definitely into gaming and classic sci-fi (and some new stuff too) but really don't need any posters, lanyards or collectible figures. . . so LVL UP+ (or Level Up, depending on where you look) is perfect!  They have four different options:  t-shirt, wearable (hat, sweatshirt, etc.), socks or accessories. . . or you can bundle the ones you want.  We opted for the wearable / socks bundle at $26.99 / month.  While you can save if you sign up for more months in advance, we wanted the flexibility to cancel and resub if/when the theme doesn't suit us (or my husband, more specifically, since the items are for him!). . . although now they offer monthly skips so that might change our minds!

December's LVL UP+ and regular Loot Crate were, of course, Star Wars themed!! Which is why I just had to sub to this for my husband.  While we're both pretty big Star Wars fans (we've been playing a lot of Battlefront since the holidays and went to see the movie the opening weekend), my husband probably takes the cake when it comes to his knowledge of ridiculous / useless Star Wars facts.

LVL UP+ comes in a small-ish black bubble mailer and includes a glossy magazine which shows all the items sent out that month.  Note that the t-shirt sub is just beginning with this month (January) so it's not included below.

Monday, January 18, 2016

FabFitFun Winter 2015-2016 Review

Yes, that's the condition this box arrived in.  No, I'm not kidding.  The full details ahead!

I loved my Fall FabFitFun box so much that I actually signed up for a full year on the spot (it saves money! plus, I knew what I was getting in that one and was able to use a lot of it for the best Christmas gifts ever!).  This is the Winter box and also has an excellent value and some really great items.  But I don't love it quite as much.  That might have something to do with the fact that I waited 3 weeks after receiving my shipping notice before reaching out to customer service who basically said they weren't sure where my box was.  A few days later (Christmas Eve, in fact), it arrived on my doorstep looking decidedly the worse for wear and missing an item! FabFitFun was apologetic and sent me a replacement item. .  . but with the holidays and all, it just arrived about a week ago.  I'm glad I wasn't planning on gifting it!

Apparently it took a little trip!?!

FabFitFun had clearly labelled the box correctly with my address so I'm assuming the shipping problem was most likely courtesy of the USPS? Or Canada Post? Regardless, FFF made things right for me so no worries!

What is FabFitFun? A seasonal lifestyle box which includes items to help you feel fab, get fit and have fun.  An individual box costs $49.99 or you can sub to a whole year (4 boxes) for $179.99.  I have no idea how they do it but the value of items in this box alone is so outstanding, it covers the yearly cost! And there are lots of coupon codes out there to make it even more of a deal - in fact, if you use my links, you may be offered a $10 off coupon code (it was working when I posted this so let me know if it isn't)!!  While a $50 box does sound pricey, since it's a quarterly box, that really works out to under $20 per month.  So I can justify that :)

Incidentally, if this review makes you want to try FabFitFun, your first box will be a "welcome box" which includes the ear buds featured in this review, Passport to Beauty Tibetan Goji Berry Eye Serum, a Wren 14K gold dipped necklace, and more - those three items alone have an RV of $268!!  So you could sub for the year (like I did) and start with the welcome box or you could just pick up a single box for $49.99 (or $39.99 with my coupon code).  This is a US sub so add exchange and $8 shipping if you are Canadian.  It's still an awesome value. . . check it out:
That is jam-packed, right?


Hi all, it's been a while.  Don't worry, I'm not leaving you! I am, however, heading back to work in a few short weeks.  Despite my efforts at frugality (and sensible splurges), we simply need my income in its full, complete state.  And that's the most responsible thing to do for finances, really - increase your income if you can!

What does this mean to you?  Well, likely, not that much.  I am going to continue my sub box reviews (I still have a few from December that I'm hoping to get up this week), the occasional haul/product review post (I was actually selected to do some reviews through Chick Advisor!) and some parenting posts sporadically, as usual (look for one in my Colour Blind Kids series soon).  But Frugal Fridays. . . I can't swing a weekly deadline with everything else right now.  So there will be Frugal Fridays posts and they will happen on Fridays - just not every Friday, okay?

That's it.

On to a review!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Tea Sparrow December 2015 Review

Another month of delicious teas. . . and all Christmas-appropriate with creamy, nutty and chocolatey flavours.  Mmmm!  I can't get enough tea in wintertime - although it doesn't quite feel like winter yet.  Is that going to happen sometime soon, you think?

What is Tea Sparrow?  A fave sub in my house!  For $20 CAD per month (including shipping), Tea Sparrow sends 4 different types of loose leaf tea (so yes, you need some way to brew loose leaf  - tea balls are an inexpensive option) - usually a green, a black, a rooibos and an herbal but sometimes they mix it up.  The teas are separately packaged and are each approximately 0.6oz for a total of about 35 cups of tea per month (less if you use a lot of tea in brewing, maybe more if you're willing to brew twice using the same tea). 

If you want to try Tea Sparrow, check out this 60% off offer and get your first month for only $8!  When you click the above link, you will be taken to a password-protected page.  Enter "teas" as your password and you will be offered the promotional discount.  Please be aware that this will start a recurring monthly subscription but Tea Sparrow allows you to skip any month through their website (although why would you want to?) and you can cancel at any time.  Enjoy!

Friday, January 08, 2016

Frugal Fridays: Minimizing Variable Expenses

Last week, on Saturday (my bad!), I shared some ideas on how to decrease your fixed costs (like, the necessary ones for life).  Today, some ideas to get a handle on other costs in your budget - those that vary.

Variable expenses are those bills and purchases that can be significantly more or less each month and are, therefore, much harder to budget for.  You can still aim for a specific amount to spend on each and you can still save, though!  While some of these expenses are absolute necessities (like food!), they can still be minimized. . . and others can be virtually eliminated.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Mask Maven December 2015 Review

A new sub! Well, new to me.  If you've been reading here for a while, you know that I'm a sucker for sheet masks.  I love them and I use them 2-3 times a week, usually.  Enter Beauteque.  Beauteque is an American beauty shop specializing in Asian beauty and skincare products and they offer two monthly subs:  a BB Bag which includes 6-8 full-sized products in a cosmetics bag, and Mask Maven which is a variety pack of 9-11 masks.  While the BB Bag also sounds awesome, I know I'll get the most out of Mask Maven.  It costs $15 per month plus $6.95 shipping, in US funds, but you can get it for less if you purchase longer subscriptions.  I picked up a full year of this subscription when they were having a 30% off sale for a total of $264.06 Canadian, including shipping - that's about $22 Canadian per month.  If you would like to check out either of these subs, you can do that right here :)

The "theme" for December's Mask Maven was "Bit of Everything" which is, well, not the most exciting theme as themes go but I'm in this for the masks not the theme! Let's check those out, shall we?  I'll include the "value" of each mask from Beauteque, without shipping or exchange.  Many can be purchased cheaper elsewhere though so this is really just a ballpark of value.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Frugal Saturday??: Decreasing Fixed Costs

Yeah. . .umm. . . I forgot yesterday was Friday so this is a Frugal Saturday post!

Happy New Year!!

In the spirit of getting back on track after the holidays, I think a lot of us want to get our budgeting under control and pay off some of our holiday bills (I'm looking at you, Mastercard!).  But paying bills without the cash available to pay them leads to a vicious cycle:  pay credit card with line of credit, pay line of credit when I get paid, but then I don't have money for other bills so. . . pay them with line of credit. . . and so on.  In order to actually pay off debt, you need to actually, you know, have money. . . which, obviously if you did, you wouldn't have the debt to begin with!

So, what to do?

Start by finding some money! I don't mean scouting the sidewalks when you're walking the dog or going through old purses.  I mean, find money you already have, that's wasting away in your budget!  And you do that by reducing your "fixed costs".  A "fixed cost" is something you must pay every month - your regular bills, aside from any spending that is more flexible (like shopping trips, entertainment and even food).