15 Travel Tips For 2019

It’s 2019 and it’s time to start planning our vacations for the year.  I am a big advocate for vacations or small weekend trips.  I believe it’s necessary to step away from your every day life a few times a year to explore, relax, and to enjoy life.  I often hear about people not having time for vacation or not having enough money for a trip and it saddens me.  It only means that they did not properly plan and in my book, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail!  Quite frankly, I can’t imagine life with out a trip. Continue reading

The Purge by way of Poshmark!

Back in January I started my journey of letting go.  But this letting go was a little different than usual.  This letting go required me to face reality and my closet.  For a woman this can be dramatic.  We all keep things entirely too long.  We’ll buy a pair of shoes and wear them once and they will never get to see sunlight again because they tore our feet up that one time.  Or we may have old jeans that we swear we are going to get back into one day, when really we won’t.  One year block heels are in and they next they are out.  We go from pointed toe shoes to square to round trying to keep up with the latest fashion.  All of this, plus more, has left me to needing to declutter.

I’ve mentioned before how I’ve had separation anxiety even when it came down to material things.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m not a hoarder by any means.  I don’t collect junk (sorry if I offended you) but if I’ve paid good money for something or if I’ve had something a long time, I often find it hard to let go.  I had shoes in my closet that I had not worn in five or more years.  Not only was it time to let go but I was running out of room.

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I thought I would try selling a few of my clothing/shoe items online.  I posted a few things on Ebay in hopes of selling a few pair of shoes just to test the waters.  Nothing happened.  I mean no clicks, no likes, no offers.  I felt like I was amongst senior citizens in a public library my page was so dry.  I knew then that I would need to find another means of doing business.

After that big failure I decided to try Poshmark.  Again, I didn’t know what to expect but I really had nothing to lose.  To start, I posted a few pair of shoes and a few clothing items.  The buyer has the opportunity to purchase your item at the amount you list it as with no questions asked, or they can offer you a price and it’s then up to you if you are willing to accept it.  So the ball is always in your court.  Once I saw that people were interested in what I was posting,  I then decided to add more of my items, including purses.  FYI: I joined on a Sunday evening, by Tuesday of the same week I had already sold 3 things! I’m not telling you who to do your online business with but let me just say that Poshmark is the place to be!

When posting on Poshmark your listed items are then placed into what they refer to as “your closet” and I was adding items to my closet daily.  Later, I would invite my mother, sister, and aunt to join Poshmark with me and their closets have been in high demands as well.  We often joke and say we’re working in our store and that it’s our side business!

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My closet is always OPEN

When I first started posting, I felt bad for listing items at such high prices.  For instance I had a pair of casual/dress Timberland® boots that I literally only wore twice.  They looked brand new.  The heel of the shoes weren’t even dirty. Timberland Shoes - Timberland boots. Worn twice. Great condition

I listed them for $25.  Now that I think about it, I could have listed them for at least $35 and they probably would have sold for that price.  In my mind, I’m thinking I’ve had these shoes for at least 6 years.  Twenty-Five dollars is better than nothing!  But I’ve learned to never underestimate what someone else is willing to pay for your items!

What I love most about Poshmark is that it’s easy.  Poshmark does most of the work for you.  All I have to do is post my items to my closet.  Once someone decides to make a purchase, Poshmark will send me a label to print.  I have free boxes shipped to me from USPS (learned this through Poshmark), I add a nice “Thank You” note to the buyer, attach the prepaid label (the buyer pays for shipping) on the box and drop if off to the post office OR I can arrange for USPS to come and pickup the item for FREE (also learned this through Poshmark)!  Once the items are delivered to the buyer and it is accepted on their end, Poshmark then deposits the money into my Poshmark account.  At any time, I can have that money deposited into my bank account or I can let my account build up.

It’s really that simple.  So, if you’re looking to purge and get rid of some items that you no longer wear plus get paid for it….join me on Poshmark!  You’ll be surprised at the number of things that you haven’t worn in years.  I was also surprised when I found new items still in my closet that had tags on it.  Today, I’m still adding to my closet.  Every closet in my house is subject to be purged!

If you believe that you have items to sell or if you’re on the other end of the spectrum and is interested in shopping, join me on Poshmark. Use the code LUVLYTOY at sign up to receive $5 off your first purchase.  Ahead waits your chance to get rid of old items while building your bank account.

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You can access my personal closet HERE.

Hint: If you’re looking to buy some authentic name brand items; Gucci, Prada, Chanel, etc. etc.–visit Poshmark!

Be sure to follow me!

This post may contain affiliated links but all opinions are of my own!

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This post is based on my own opinion.

My PSA to African Americans

My people, my people!!  I’m tired of shaking my head at you!!!

In the year of 2018, there is no need to have to solicit money via GoFundMe® accounts to fund relatives funerals. I am aware of the price tag that comes with a death of a family member but just in case you were not aware there’s this thing called LIFE INSURANCE. This is an essential for every person in your family. Not only is it an essential it is a necessity.

No person or family deserves the added stress of not being able to afford to bury a family member because a life insurance policy wasn’t in effect. And if a policy doesn’t exist collaborating amongst your family to get the money is better than begging for it through a third-party app or account.

Oh, another thing. Most jobs offer life insurance polices during your duration there. This really is the least that one could do.  Jobs with benefits are important.  I’m just saying.  It’s 2018.  It’s time for us to do better, collectively.

Don’t hate the messenger.  Hate the message and accept that the truth hurts sometimes. Besides a great person leaves an inheritance to his/her children’s children.

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Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote | Streaming Media Player

Have you cut the cord?

Hey Friends!!!

Today’s question is brought to you by whatever streaming service that is out seeking your patronage.  Streaming TV seems to be the new “IT” thing to do.

I know for me, I was interested in saving money on my cable bill, however, I wasn’t really sure which route to go.  I didn’t have any problems with my cable besides the fact that every year it goes up more and more.

We were currently paying over $200 a month for cable, internet, and a phone that we NEVER used.  We only added the phone because of the bundle package that would essentially make our bill lower, so they claimed.

Before we decided to officially cut the cord, we did some trail runs with 3 different streaming services.  Hulu Live, PlayStation Vue, and Sling TV.  Before I give details on each, I would advise doing the trail runs at separate times.  That way you will have enough time to fully explore and get a feel of the streaming service.  I, however, signed up for all three at the same time and now I don’t feel like I had enough time to fully get a feel of all of them.

Let me also add, that as I have been researching different streaming services, there’s no way to fully be able to test all of them out and to really get a feel of which one will actually work best for you because there are so many.  For instance, there is DirectTV Now, YouTube TV, and of course the grandfather Netflix and a ton of other streaming services that I was just totally unaware of.  pexels-photo-704555.jpeg

MY REVIEW:

Hulu Live:

If you are familiar with Netflix this is very similar.  As it gives you shows and series, both new and old to watch and binge on.  The big difference with Hulu is they will air current running shows usually the day after their original air date (this feature cost $7.99).  With Hulu Live, you can also watch Live TV.  So the news, sports, different shows, you can watch as they air (this feature cost $34.99).  Hulu Live also has the option where you can pay extra for unlimited screens.  So you aren’t just limited to two screens (this add-on is an additional $14.99).

Sling TV:  

Airs shows and series as well and you can customize the packages to what you want to watch.  The call it A-La-Carte TV.  If you just want sports they have a package for that.  Of if you just want Kids TV, they have a package for that, etc. (depending on which package you choose determine how much you pay per month–packages start at $20/month).  The one thing that I did like about this particular streaming service is that they had a TV guide that look very similar to what you would get if you had cable and was searching for something to watch.

PlayStation Vue:

Here you will find many of your TV shows and channels that you can watch live (prices range from $39.99 to $74.99/month).  They also have On Demand where you can record shows as well, which is great.  They do not have the streaming catalog of movies and sitcom series as Hulu or Netflix would.  However, they specialize in movie channels and premium channels such as HBO and Showtime; so that’s where the higher price range comes in.  A good thing about this option is very similar to cable with all of the live TV options and you don’t have to have a PlayStation in order to enjoy this streaming service.

Pros:

Our biggest takeaway in cutting the cord was saving about 35% on our total cable/internet bill.  We also don’t have to pay for any equipment, we’re not on a contract, and we can cancel or pause subscription at any time.

There are a lot of TV shows and complete series of shows like the complete series of the Golden Girls or Living Single available at your fingertips that you wouldn’t have with a regular cable subscription.

Cons:

It takes some time getting use to turning on the TV and then having to go to the streaming channel and literally search.  As with cable you can just turn the TV on and enter your channel and enjoy your show.  With streaming it’s not so easy.

I miss the TV guide.  We went with Hulu Live because we liked what they had to offer as far as TV shows, the live option, and the catalog of movies and TV series that they have available; but we’re missing the TV guide.  We also decided to add the add-on option for multiple screens for $14.99/month.

We also miss certain stations such as VH1 or BET but if you know someone who has cable and who are willing to give you their login you can download the app to your TV -if you have a smart TV or Fire Stick, etc.- and log in that way.  (shhhhhh—-don’t tell anyone I told you that).

Tip:

Amazon Fire TV Sticks are one of the go-to media players available today.  The Alexa voice remote makes it easy to search for shows and channels.  This media player also gives you the access you’ll need in downloading additional apps and TV shows along with games and music. Click on the picture below to order yours today!

This post may contain affiliated links but all opinions are of my own!

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Q&A: Are you addicted to Labels?

Q:  I think I’m addicted to designer labels.  From Ferragamo, to Chanel, Tom Ford, Burberry, and Gucci; to name a few.  I did manage to go 62 days without shopping or buying clothes, but I recently messed up.  My girlfriend said she thinks my addiction stems from not having any kids and that’s how I supplement my void.  What do you think?

A:  If whatever you’re buying is within your means and you can afford it and you’re not using bill money or maxing out credit cards; I don’t see that as being addicted to shopping.  You’re not going through extreme measures that will cause significant consequences in order to supply your habit.  You may just love to shop and really love the finer things in life; such as designer labels.  Many of us enjoy the attention we get from wearing designer labels, which I don’t think anything is really wrong with that.  Many of us enjoy dwelling in luxury and being fashion-forward.  The saying, “you get what you pay for”, is really true.  On the flip side, I do believe that there are moments when shopping provides retail therapy and the thought or idea of buying something new is an instant spirit booster.  Perhaps, if this is happening more than usual, you may want to identify the reason(s) why you’re requiring so much “retail” therapy and address the root of that situation.  But just normal shopping, whether designer or not, I don’t think you have any worries..

Can anyone else provide some insight for this dear reader?  Do you think you’re addicted to shopping or buying designer labels?

If you have a question you would like to submit for feedback please email them to toja@itoja.com or inbox me on social media.

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Beverly Hills: Telling a story via Pictures

Once upon a time (like in 2016), I lived life as the Rich and Famous.  Even though it was only for a few hours….I lived it and I LOVED IT!!

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I could truly be a Hollywood type of girl, living in Beverly Hills…but I would want to be behind the scenes and just living my own little life.

One fancy store at a time…….

One fancy hotel at a time……

One great house at a time!!!!!

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One beautiful sunset at a time…..

Have you ever wondered what life would be like to be rich?  To be able to go and buy as you pleased whenever you wanted?  While I have no desire to really be rich I do have a desire to be wealthy.  And for me, being wealthy is only a matter of time and a matter of perspective.  No wondering needed on that part.  Give me a few more years and I’ll tell you what it’s like! Haha

via Daily Prompt: Wonder

via Photo Challenge: Story

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Dos and Don’ts (March Edition)

Well, well, well!

Your favorite blogger is back with your favorite segment of IToja which is the monthly edition of Dos and Don’ts!!! If you need to catch up the previous issues, please catch the 411 HERE for January and HERE for February!

All aboard? Lets go!

Shana:  Don’t pay full price for anything.  There are coupons for everything.  Let Google be your friend. If for whatever reason, the item you want is no longer available then you didn’t need it anyway.  Toya has some pretty good discounts at places she can hook you up with.

Toya:  My motto is, “Ball on a budget” I rarely pay full price for anything.  And if I do, then it’s something that is a must and there is no other way to get it.  I do believe in splurging every now and then but not all the time.  I love shopping online too, and usually you can find some good deals online.  I do a lot of shopping through Ebates, they literally pay you to shop.  You can click HERE to get started.

Also, RetailMeNot is a great app to use if you’re out and about and looking for last minute coupons.

S:  We all get mad, some easier than others, but count to 10 or whatever it is that you do to calm down, before you say something you may later regret.  I have zero filter sometimes so this helps me A LOT!! I seriously live by this, “every action does not deserve a reaction.”

T:  Don’t be tap dancing on my nerves! — I would say, check your delivery.  Because my reaction may be necessary but the delivery of my reaction may not be necessary.  My goal this year is to check my delivery.

S:  I think a really good investment besides a home and a car, is bedding!  You need to sleep to be able to function.  So good bedding is a must!  Sheets, blankets, definitely pillows and mattresses.

T:  Yaaaassss.  I’m trying to hold out until Spring to redo my room, my bedding, and to get new pillows but it’s taking so long to get here!  I just wish King size sheets and pillows weren’t so expensive.  Geez.

S:  This a hard one, but you really should have some sort of savings even if you’re only putting $5 a week in there.  You never know what’s going to happen.  You may need new tires, a furnace, or what if you lose your job?  A little cushion could come in handy.

T:  This is great advice.  Really great if you can get into the habit of saving at an early age.  I would also suggest that you have some type of savings deposited into a separate account before you even get your check.  It makes it easier.  It’s already taken care of and you will not have to make extra trips to the bank or end up spending it.

S:  Have relationships with people and not just your significant other.  I’m talking about your friends; take the time to get to know them.  The deep down them.  Their likes, dislikes, pet peeves, favorite color.  Make them feel appreciated.

T:  Friends are valuable.  It is important to be a great friend because one day you may need the favor returned.  I’m happy to say that I know just about everything about my closest friends.  Perhaps, too much!  Check out my post on friends HERE!

S:  This kind of goes along with the last one, but I recently had a friend lose their companion of many years.  Tomorrow is never promised so say, “I Love You” every chance you get and mean it.

T:  The older we get, the faster time goes, and the more deaths we come across.  From the very young to the very old.  At one point, all I was hearing was another person has died.  My family says “I Love You” all the time.  You just never know when the last time will be the last time.

S:  You know how when you were younger your parents would take food to a love ones house who had death in their family?  Well now that we are older we need to continue that “tradition” people really appreciate it probably much more than flowers.

T:  Definitely a “tradition” that is a must.  Letting a person know you’re thinking about them during a sad time is great.  Plus, no one wants to cook when going through the hardships of death.  People are steadily going in and out of there home to show their condolences.  Who wants to cook during this time?  Having that food already their and ready to eat is a blessing.

I would even like to challenge my readers to take this a step further.  To go back to being a good friend, when a friend is sick or just having a rough time stop by to visit them.  Take them a few snacks or some soup or their favorite things.  A little goes a long way.

S:  Everyone should have a hobby.  I use to think mine was shopping but as I’ve gotten older I think it is more decorating and crafts.  I also really enjoy blogging on IToja once a month, so I would consider writing and reading as another hobby.  Sometimes you just have to take a mental break and let your mind wander, with your hobby it’s easy to do that.

T:  Aww–so happy you’re enjoying our adventure together.

I think hobbies are great.  Overtime, my hobbies always seem to change but I think that has a lot to do with my personality.

S:  So, I recently went to a spa party and it was great!  I think you should pamper yourself even if it’s just buying a foot scrub, new lotion, or a face mask.  I try to do one of these at least once a week to help me unwind a little.

T:  I’m a total believer in taking care of yourself.  I love being pampered too.  So yes, everyone take time out to pamper yourself.  Put this on your to-do list, for sure!

S:  Everyone has an opinion, you know the saying.  So don’t get mad at someone just because theirs is different from yours.  Everyone is different.  It’s what makes the world go round.

T:  In today’s world its hard to let others have their own opinion but I think we need to always remember this.

S:  If you straighten your house a little everyday, say one room a day, then you won’t have to spend a whole day doing it all at one time.  This may just work for me though because I am so OCD.

T:  I wish I could do this everyday.  Now, I’ll just text my daughter and say, “Make sure you have your chores done.”  See–having a teenager isn’t all bad!

S:  Learn how to change a tire, this super important.  Your dad or man may not always be readily available to do this for you.

T:  Do you boo!  But, uh, I’m not changing a tire.  I do know how to check (not change) the oil though.  That has to count for something!

S:  I know cash is like a thing of the past, but it really is smart to keep a little bit with you at all times.  I usually try to keep $20 on me, you never know when you may need it.

T:  This sounds like my grandmother.  She say’s this all the time.  So yes, lets all try to keep a little cash on us–for the unexpected, right?

S:  Never expect too much from anyone. So that in the event that they do happen to let you down it doesn’t hurt as bad.  Because like I’ve said before not everyone has the same intentions as you.

T:  I’m stuck in between Do and Don’t on this one.  While I agree with the above statement I also feel like if I can’t depend on you, or expect for you to come through for me, then I don’t really need you.  I think it mostly depend on the person and the situation and the relationship that you have with someone.

S:  You should never have to prove a relationship or yourself to anyone.  If it’s real it’s real!

T:  Agreed.  Don’t worry about what others think.  Haters will always hate!!!!!! #IToja

As always, we would love to hear what you think.  Do you have a hobby? What about a spa ritual?  Have you implemented a savings plan?  We would love to hear your stories.

Leave your comments below and don’t forgot to hit the FOLLOW button so that you’re always up to speed on our Dos and Don’ts!!

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Shana lives in VA with her husband and daughter.

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