Small Changes Can Equal Big Savings in Your Monthly Bills

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ChangingPrepaid #CollectiveBias

When I lost my job last July I had to face a hard reality. While bills are due on a certain date, unemployment payment does not seem to have that requirement. As my unemployment fell farther and farther behind, it became a struggle to keep up with paying the bills without digging deeper into savings.

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Small Changes = Big Savings

When I took a look at where I could cut back, I found a lot of what I would call filler in my financial life. Small bills and payments that you don’t notice when things are going well, but once that regular paycheck goes away, can take chunks out of your savings. They add up. The $20 (each) for the gym membership that wasn’t getting used. The $24 per month for my audiobook membership. Four bucks for Pandora, $5 for PicMonkey, several other small payments for blog-related things, important, but still adding dollars to my monthly payout.

Then there are the bigger bills. Ever notice how insurance, whether it is home or auto, creeps up as the years go by? Or that cable package that was so great when you signed up for it five years ago, but has now almost doubled? All of these things can add up to hundreds of dollars in a month!

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My mobile phone bill was a huge culprit. My husband and I have three mobile phone lines. We are on a shared data plan that was supposed to save us money. We don’t use a lot of data since we use our home internet network most of the time, but somehow our bill ended up almost $250 each month! For three phones! Even looking at the bill is confusing, trying to figure out how, with a reasonable base rate, no overages, and nothing fancy in our plan, it comes in that high each month. Something needs to be done!

TMobile Prepaid 4Introducing Simply Prepaid from T-Mobile

The T-Mobile Simply Prepaid plan is, well, simple. For just $40 a month I can get 4G LTE data with unlimited talk and text. That’s it, no sneaky “supplemental charges” that add $$ to the bill. In fact, there isn’t a bill at all. I simply buy a $40 prepaid card, which is good for a month, then buy a new one the following month. Not only no bill, but no overages, credit check, or annual service contract required.

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In the past, the problem with prepaid mobile plans was that they often had slow data, spotty coverage, and second rate phones. Now, with Simply Prepaid you don’t have to settle for second rate prepaid wireless. You get the best in wireless on T-Mobile’s Nationwide 4G LTE Network, unlimited talk and text with your choice of high-speed data amount, starting at $40 per month, along with a choice of quality phones. The best in wireless, now prepaid.

TMobile Prepaid 3I was able to purchase my phone, the Samsung Avant, online at Walmart.com. Then I simply picked it up the next day at my local Walmart and headed to the electronics department, where I had the phone activated and purchased my first two months of prepaid data cards. The Avant works great, has a clear display, and takes good pictures. It’s also a perfect size to use on my runs, so I loaded it up with my audiobooks and running apps.

You can learn more about Simply Prepaid from T-Mobile and how it helps us stay connected in this video.

 

Implementing Savings Changes

Even though I am back at work, I see no reason to let go of the expense saving changes that I have made over the last few months. Those sneaky monthly filler charges? Gone for the most part, except those I felt were important. I also made changes in my cable company and auto insurance. And finally, with Simply Prepaid I can reduce my monthly phone bill and be confident that I will have the best in prepaid wireless.

 

What do you do to save money on your monthly expenses? I’d love to hear your tips!

The Week in Training: SLO Marathon and Yoga Challenges

SLO Marathon Training Recap, Week 8

For what may be the first time during this current training cycle, I am actually happy with my training. I know! I’ve been pretty negative about it all, with illness and work hours interfering with my plans. This week, they (illness & work) tried to interfere, but I overcame them! Win!

On Wednesday, which is supposed to be my second speed work day of the week I woke up with a migraine. It was bad enough that I couldn’t run, but I also had to cancel five clients! I hate doing that, but it couldn’t be helped. I stayed in bed all morning, then finally fell into a good, solid sleep and woke up around 1:30 with the headache gone. One of my shorter ones, thank goodness.

I decided to get out on Thursday morning with Alan and our neighbor Christina, to see if I could get in some type of tempo run. It would have to be short because I have to be at work by 7:30, but that always encourages me to run faster. Christina decided to run along with me, and we ran three pretty fast miles. No real warm up, though the first mile was the slowest. I was just happy to get it done.

Christina and I also ran together on Friday, four easy miles, and Saturday, for part of my long run. It’s nice to have a new training partner. She’s a very nice girl, a new runner, and about 25 years younger than me so I’m getting my ass kicked on a regular basis a good push.

Alan announced the Desert Triathlon this weekend. It is held on both days, with the sprint and duathlon on Saturday and the international on Sunday. They had quite a treat this year. Saturday brought wind, with gusts up to about 50 mph, and on Sunday it rained all day. At least the wind died.

When I headed out for my long run with Christina on Saturday, the winds weren’t too bad yet. She ran with me for the first five miles, then I was on my own. I was scheduled for 16 miles, and it just seemed so long to run my regular out and back route, all by myself, especially when the winds started to rise up. After much deliberation (and a lot of running route math going on in my head), I decided to add on mileage as I headed away from home, then finish up at Lake Cahuilla, which is where the triathlon (and Alan) was (were?).

Running math is kind of funny, especially when you start to get tired (which I was from mile 10 on). I know the distances, I’d figure out where I needed to turn because I had to add on six miles, but my brain had a hard time holding onto it. I’d figure it out once at one total mileage, then it would be different the next time. Well, at least it gave my brain something to think about as I plodded along. It all worked out perfectly in the end. I finished up about 25 feet from where Alan was at the finish line.

Long RunI was glad I was just running 16 miles (if you can believe that). The triathletes had to deal with a horrendous headwind as they headed back toward the park, not to mention the buoys in the water were blown way off course, so many swimmers got a little extra distance in. We all had sand in our hair and gritty teeth at the end though.

After I finished, I snagged some of Alan’s Gatorade, stretched, bundled up in one of his sweatshirts, and hung out until he was done. I even managed a couple yoga poses (see below)! One of the vendors brought me a smoothie, so I even got some refuel. Oh! And celebrities!

Two Hollywood stars competed in the sprint triathlon. Sadly, I am so out of touch that I have no idea who they were. There were good looking though. Even sadder, I was tired, stinky, and looked like I had just run 16 miles.

Chris Pratt

This is Chris Pratt. He played Andy Dwyer on Parks and Recreation and Bright Abbott in Everwood.

Chace Crawford

This is Chace Crawford. He played Nate Arhibald on the Gossip Girls.

 

Sunday is usually an easy, run with the dogs day, but since I ran Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and plan to run Monday, I took a well deserved day off of running.

This is week eight of my SLO Marathon training. I’m still a little short of my total weekly distance goals, but I feel happy with my training this week. I’m running the Run Through Redlands half marathon next Sunday (and have to work at 6:45 on Saturday), so this coming week will be a bit of a cutback week. I do plan to run the race at my goal marathon pace, so that will be interesting.

Remember, you can save $10 on registration for the SLO Marathon with the code WOODAMB.

Here’s the recap:

Monday: Intervals: 8 x .25 miles intervals at about 5k pace. Yoga warm up
Tuesday: Pilates Reformer workout, 20 minutes Balancing Flow from Yoga Download
Wednesday: Migraine. I did manage a little restorative yoga in the early evening.
Thursday: Tempo run. Three miles at lactate threshold pace. 30 minutes Pilates Reformer workout, 10 minutes Sun Salutations.
Friday: Four miles easy. A little yoga stretching after the run.
Saturday: Long run. 16 miles. Not much yoga, but I did manage to put my legs up the wall, er, up the tree.
Sunday: 90 minute Vinyasa class.

Take the Leap 30 Days of Yoga Challenge

We are approaching the last few days of the Take the Leap 30 days of yoga challenge with prAna and Fit Approach. I have loved this so much! I’m sorry that it is almost over, but I plan to keep up my yoga practice. Here is the last week of posing.

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Just a few days left!

Vegan Eats

I made some of my favorite recipes this week, including Pot Pie (though I used Beyond Meat chicken instead of tofu) and Pizza. Both were delicious.

Pot PiePizza

I also made a great smoothie on Sunday. I called it a “Kitchen Sink” smoothie. It was also delicious. Here’s the Instagram post:

How was your training week? Any events, races, or simply fun times?

The Training Begins: Immune Support for the Long Run

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias and its Advertiser. All thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone and should not be construed as medical advice. #24HourEsterC #CollectiveBias

As I mentioned in my 2015 Running Goals post, I will be training for my 37th marathon this year. Just think of that for a moment. Since my first marathon in 1996 I have raced almost 970 miles. Of course it’s during the training itself that the miles really add up. Just consider that to train for one marathon I would probably run around 500 miles. So the marathon training itself comes in at 18,500 miles. Wow! I even shocked myself!

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All that running takes its toll. I’m not talking about injuries here, I’m talking about the impact on my health. There is some evidence that sustained, higher intensity exercise can have an impact on your immune system. While this is probably not dangerous, the fact is that there a small, but measurable drop in immune function during intense training.

And I plan to train intensely. When I ran my 36th marathon last year my training was insufficient, and it showed, not only in my race time, but in how I felt during the race. Yes, Alan and I had a lot of fun, we rocked and rolled through 26.2 miles. But, I decided that if I’m going to do this again I want to do it right. Which means running more and longer distance, increased intensity in my workouts, and just running more frequently.

In addition to the strain on the immune system during training, the first few days post-marathon are even tougher. Immune function can be impacted for up to three days after running a marathon.

So, what’s a runner to do if they want to train hard? Here are a few suggestions that can help you support your immune system while training for a marathon (or any type of intense training).

  1. Get enough sleep. Lack of sleep negatively affects the immune system.
  2. Avoid overtraining and get enough rest. With intense training you can reach a point of diminishing returns. If you don’t get adequate rest between workouts, you set yourself up for injury, undermine your own training, and strain your immune system.
  3. Eat a healthy diet. Make sure that you are eating adequate calories to support your training, and eat a well-rounded diet with a lot of vegetables, fruits, lean protein, and healthy fats.
  4. Consider a vitamin C supplement. A vitamin C supplement, such as Ester-C®, provides around-the-clock immune system support.

 

I try to follow all four of my own suggestions to provide immune support during marathon training (and year round, really).  As a result, I feel confident that I am following a healthy path to my marathon.

Ester CAs part of this campaign I headed to Walmart to purchase my Ester-C®, which, while located in the vitamin aisle was not with the other vitamin C brands. Because we were in the area, we went to the brand new Walmart in Indio. It was laid out pretty much like my neighborhood store, so I had no problem finding what I was looking for. And the Ester-C® is on Rollback at Walmart too.

Why Ester-C®? The Better Vitamin C®. Ester-C® is a unique, exclusive form of Vitamin C designed to stay in your white blood cells for up to 24-hours, providing you with around-the-clock immune system support. It is non-acidic, which is helpful for people who have stomach problems when taking regular vitamin C. It is designed to get into your white blood cells, and provides anti-oxidant support to help neutralize cell-damaging free radicals.

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I feel confident that by following the steps above that I am doing everything I can to support my immune system during my marathon training (and beyond).

For more information on Ester-C® check out their website, Facebook page, or follow them on Twitter.

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How do you support your immune system?

Ester C Bottom Disclosure

 

My Busy Life. Getting a Boost from Pure Earth Juice

This post is sponsored by Del Monte and Pure Earth Juice. All opinions are my own.

I kind of touched on this a few days ago, but now that my personal training schedule is starting to fill up, life is becoming really hectic. I’m in the middle of marathon training, and the schedule that I planned out a few weeks ago is getting harder to keep up with because I keep scheduling clients earlier and earlier. Something has to give, and I’m not going to let it be my running.

Instead I have been taking my breakfast on the road several times a week to save time in my morning routine. I’ll make a smoothie if I have time, but even that sometimes is difficult. This morning as I took off for work I grabbed a banana and my new juice obsession Del Monte Pure Earth Juice.

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Reaching 2015 Goals with Help from Walmart Family Mobile

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HappyNewMe #CollectiveBias

As I promised in my 2015 Running and Fitness Goals, this is a week of running. And writing about running. From how to stay healthy and uninjured, how to train, and now, how to stay motivated during marathon training.

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Marathon training is pretty hard, especially when you’re, ahem, 57 and trying to set a high standard for your race. Day after day of running, increasing mileage, adding speed training, and of course, those beloved long runs of 18-22 miles. I better stop thinking about it before I really begin questioning myself!

Even though my husband is going to run the SLO Marathon with me, much of my training is on my own. When I’m out on the road I need a few things: safety, motivation, distraction, and diversion. Fortunately, Walmart Family Mobile and my new LG L90 Smartphone have me covered.

I recently headed to Walmart in Indio to sign up for Walmart Family Mobile and purchase my LG L90 Smartphone (I was looking specifically for that phone, so I had to go a little farther from home). I was happy that I did, as the Walmart in Indio is brand new, huge, and wasn’t very crowded. A perfect combination!

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I was really happy to learn about the Walmart Family Mobile plan. For only $34.88 a month ($29.88 for additional lines) you get unlimited talk, text, and web, and 5GB of 3G data. With the skyrocketing cost of mobile phone plans, it is nice to know that here is a family-friendly, budget-friendly option available.

I purchased the LG L90 Smartphone. It has everything I can need in a smartphone, with an Android based system (running 4.4 KitKat for you techies out there). Since this phone is designated as my “Run Phone,” I immediately downloaded all the apps that I could think of that would help me reach my goals. This included music and audiobook apps, GPS tracking apps, running logs, and of course, Instagram and Twitter (still gotta share those milestones, right?).

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Of course, since I love my social media, photos are important, and the LG L90 has a good camera.

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I think the most important thing is that I have a good phone, with a strong 3G connection, that is convenient to carry with me while I’m running. You just never know when you will need to call for help and it really gives me a feeling of security to know I’m carrying this phone while I run. It fits easily in my Flipbelt or an armband, and is so light weight I barely notice that I’m carrying it.

Walmart Family Plan

I have it pulled out to show off the phone, but the LG L90 fits easily in the media pocket of my top.

We all need a little help with our goals from time to time. I love the motivation I get from this phone. It will help get me out the door, keep me safe and engaged while I’m out there, and record and track my training (and share it too!).

What motivates you to reach for your goals?

Living a Plant Based Life

This conversation is sponsored by Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.

I recently received a message from a parent of one of my cross country runners, “Hey Debbie, Question for you, do you have a vegan diet with a day by day list of what to eat? I have to get on an exact eating plan.

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I am not a nutritionist or a dietician, so I couldn’t give her exactly what she wanted, but I could give her a little advice, “I always planned my meals similar to non-vegan ones. Breakfast can be cereal with non-dairy milk, a smoothie, a tofu scramble. Lunch a salad, sandwich. Dinner the same. Choose healthy vegan protein sources like tofu, tempeh, beans, or seitan. Nothing wrong with using meat substitutes, especially at first. Read labels because there are a lot of hidden animal products in many foods.

Because it’s really not difficult to live a plant based life.

When I first adopted my vegan diet I simply substituted plant based alternatives. For dinner, many of my favorite recipes were easily prepared using a faux meat. Over the years I have also learned to make seitan, cook tempeh and tofu so that they taste delicious, and discovered the joy of jackfruit, but the idea remains the same. My meals today look and taste much the same, but no longer contain any animal ingredients.

A vegan lunch was even easier because in the past it usually consisted of a sandwich, a salad, or leftovers. I pile my sandwiches high with fresh, crispy veggies. And avocado. Always avocado. I’ll toss beans, nuts, seeds, or quinoa in my salad for the punch of protein. I do tend to make my own salad dressing more frequently now, but there are plenty of plant based options.  Just as I told my friend, it’s a matter of reading labels. I do not make my own bread (yet), but with careful reading it’s possible to find it without milk, honey, or eggs.

Breakfast, surprisingly, was more difficult.

I am always in a hurry in the morning. Always; especially on work days. So taking the time to create a vegan scramble (unless it’s leftovers from the night before) just isn’t in the cards. Even a smoothie seems to take more time than I have.

My previous beloved granola with yogurt was not available to me anymore. I made the switch to cereal, hot or cold, with soy or almond milk (plus toast, always toast), but I always felt like I was missing something. Well, I was. I was missing the satisfaction and protein burst that I’d had before.

Until now.

SilkSilk, a champion of vegan dairy alternatives from soy, almond, and coconut milk, to truly non-dairy coffee creamer, not to mention (since we’re just past the holidays), the best Holiday Nog, now has a Dairy Free Yogurt Alternative.

Made from completely plant-based ingredients, Silk Dairy-Free Yogurt Alternative contains six grams of protein per serving, is made with real fruit, live and active cultures, and is completely free of dairy, cholesterol, and artificial flavors and colors. It’s also gluten- and carrageenan-free, and a good source of calcium and Vitamin D.

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And, as I found when I tasted the samples I was sent, it is absolutely delicious. It has a smooth and creamy texture that blended well with the granola and fruit that I added-in. It also added a luscious creaminess to the smoothie I made (okay, sometimes I can find the time). It comes in six yummy flavors, so there are a lot of options: Black Cherry, Strawberry, Blueberry, Vanilla, Peach & Mango, and Tropical Pineapple.

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I can’t wait to make a non-dairy parfait, which is on the menu for my next breakfast. Keep an eye on the Silk Pinterest Board. I’ll post the picture (and the smoothie recipe) there. You can also join the Silk Community by signing up for their newsletter.

What is your favorite breakfast food? Are you always in a hurry like me, or do you save yourself time to make breakfast?

This conversation is sponsored by Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.