Fashion Friday: The Best Budget Beauty Buys

Happy Friday everyone! On Fridays I’ve been switching it up from our regularly scheduled investing talk, and writing some lighter posts to show you how you can save money shopping! This seems like perfect timing since quite a few of you mentioned in your emails that you were looking for ways to cut back spending.

Today’s Fashion Friday is all about budget beauty, because makeup can be scarily expensive sometimes. A few years ago I got my makeup done for my cousin’s wedding at the Tom Ford counter. I loved my look and asked to buy a few products at the end. Apparently Tom Ford lines their makeup boxes with gold, because when I went to pay, blush was $80 and lipstick was $50! I was too embarrassed to say anything to my fabulous makeup guy so I went back the next week and returned it all.

As one reader emailed me, many of us are looking for ways “to be better with my $$ while not looking homeless.” Through experimenting over the years I’ve found ways to look good without having a coronary at checkout. Here are my favorite budget beauty buys:

Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream - Fair/Light


If I could only choose one piece of makeup to wear, this would be it. This BB cream is basically a tinted moisturizer, so it evens out my skin without looking too heavy. It also has SPF coverage, which means I can protect my skin from sun damage without even thinking.

You can buy this BB Cream at any drugstore, Target, Walmart, etc. It’s marked as $12.99, but I’m almost always able to use a coupon or find it on sale at CVS. This one is one of the more expensive ones in the drugstore aisle, but it’s also one of the biggest (2.5 ounces vs. 1 ounce for others), so it’s a good price per ounce and lasts me a long time.

By the way, an easy way to get coupons at drug stores is to download their app on your phone, and then scan it at the kiosk when you walk in. You can print out coupons right at the kiosk rather than having to remember to bring them in. I’ve seen these kiosks at CVS and Walgreens.

Rimmel Lash Accelerator Mascara Black, .23 Ounce

At this point I feel like I’ve tried every mascara under the sun and this is the one I keep coming back to. I’m sure it’s in my head, but I feel like this mascara actually does make my lashes grow longer. Plus it doesn’t clump, which is my biggest mascara pet peeve.

This one retails for $9, and again, I almost always buy it with a coupon or on sale at CVS.

Sonia Kashuk® Beautifying Blush

First of all, is it just me or does it feel like Nars has implemented a giant conspiracy where every magazine recommends Nars blush in orgasm? Sorry folks, but I’m going to break away from the pack for a minute.

My favorite blush is Sonia Kashuk beautifying blush (I wear it in Flamingo). I like that it gives a light pink, almost sheer, flush. (Don’t be alarmed, my blush is much lighter in person than it is in the picture). You can only buy this blush at Target and it’s around $10, but it lasts me a year.

Barbasol Beard Buster Soothing Aloe Shaving Cream - 10 oz

I owe credit for this money-saving trick to my boyfriend. I’ve been buying the Skintimate (insert random girly scent) forever, not realizing the magic that is Barbasol until I followed him into the men’s shaving aisle one day. Turns out there is gender inequality in the shaving section.

This stuff is about half the price of the girly shaving creams, at $1.67 for 11 ounces. Plus it’s even creamier and thicker than the Skintimate I used to use. I buy it at Target or any drugstore.

I realize there are some makeup products that are worth splurging on (i.e. good foundation if your skin breaks out), but at least you can balance out that extra cost with savings on these items.

Check out my Fitnessista guest post: The 3 best places to save your money

Today is a very exciting day for me! One of my big hobbies (besides investing) is fitness, and for years I’ve been reading fitness blogs to pick up tips. Well, today my loves of fitness and investing are coming together as I am guest posting on The Fitnessista today!

The Fitnessista is one of my favorite blogs and one I’ve been reading for a long time, so I am really excited to be sharing my thoughts there. You can check out my post on the three best places to save your money here.

This is my favorite fitness and investing mash-up since I doubled my money in a lululemon (LULU) trade a few years ago.

For those of you who saw my guest post and are new to the blog, welcome! Here are some background posts you might enjoy:

Thanks for reading!

What the heck is the VIX fear index

With all of the market hoopla over the past few weeks, you might have heard a few foreign terms floating around. Today I’ll break down one of those random acronyms – the VIX- into non-technical language that actually makes some sense.

What is the VIX?

The VIX is the Chicago Board Options Exchange Market Volatility Index. In non-eye glazing terms, it’s a measure of the expected volatility of the S&P 500 index over the next 30 days (the S&P 500 being an index that represents the stock market overall).

The VIX is also known as the “fear index,” because it tends to shoot up when the market goes bad and stock prices fall. When the VIX hits 20 it generally means the market is falling. When everyone was predicting a market correction and the VIX shot to 30 last week, investors were basically doing this:

The index is calculated based on the prices of options on the S&P 500 index. An option – specifically called a call or a put – is a contract you buy that gives you the right to buy or sell a stock at a specified price.

For example, I could buy a call option that gives me the right to buy Apple (AAPL) for $105 within the next 30 days. If the price of Apple increases to $110 I get an automatic $5 profit, since I can buy the security at a lower price than it’s trading for. If Apple stays below $105 for the next 30 days, the option expires.

The market’s volatility and options prices are connected because as the market gets more volatile, stock prices tend to swing more widely. If a stock is experiencing large price swings, there’s more of a chance your option will hit its target price (will be “in the money”), and therefore the option becomes more valuable. So higher option prices mean a higher volatility, and therefore a higher VIX.

As I mentioned earlier, you can use high VIX numbers to tell you how badly the market is doing. When the market was sputtering last week the VIX shot to 30, but back in 2008, during the crash and recession, the VIX got all the way up to 79.



Here’s the catch…

In theory, the VIX would be a great hedge on your portfolio. Hedging just means you are adding in securities that reduce the risk of your portfolio (although they also reduce the return potential). To hedge, you add in securities that move in the opposite direction of what you hold. In this case, the VIX will rise when the market falls, so you won’t lose as much overall even if the market tanks.

The issue is you can’t actually trade the VIX. There are a few securities that are set up to mirror the VIX, such as TVIX and VXZ, but they are too delayed to accurately predict the next 30 days. So even though the % return of the VIX is beating the return of the S&P 500 year to date, the securities that track it have a negative return so far in 2014.

If you are interested in using volatility as a hedge, you should only use these products as short term trades due to their limitations. I’d only buy them if you think additional volatility is imminent (i.e. if you bought at the beginning of October) and sell once you see volatility spikes (i.e. last week). That way you can lock in some short term gains to balance out the dips in your holdings.

For those of you who aren’t actively trading, that’s not really a realistic strategy. Therefore, ignore the trading possibilities and just enjoy the feeling that you know one more random word than the next finance know-it-all you meet.

Apple earnings beat expectations and shares break the $100 mark

I have a confession. I was terrified for Apple (AAPL) earnings tonight. I’m sure it’s not a surprise that Apple is one of my favorite stocks at the moment (you can read some of my recent thoughts on Apple here and here) and I picked up some more shares last week while the market was down. Then I spent all of today wondering if that was a horrible mistake.

Trading right before or after earnings reports can be risky. Last week Netflix (NFLX) beat earnings per share expectations but missed on subscriber growth numbers and the stock plummeted over 25% and $100 per share!

Given that Apple is so hyped up I worried that any slightly bad news in the earnings announcement would throw investors into a state of selling panic. I seriously considered selling the shares I just bought but decided to hold them in my effort to make more long term investments.

Apple earnings are officially in now, and I can finally relax. Apple not only beat earnings expectations, but is up about $1 (1%) after hours.

Tim Cook Apple Mac

Everyone’s happy about Apple earnings! Especially Tim Cook (Source: Getty images)

It’s not much, but like I said I think the upside potential after Apple earnings is relatively limited since everyone just expects them to do well anyways. So the big surprise, and therefore big price swing, wouldn’t come from beating earnings; it would come from missing them. That’s why on Twitter I urged those of you who don’t own yet not to buy right before earnings. Too much risk for not enough reward potential.

Here’s a quick recap of the earnings figures Apple announced today:

  • Earnings per share (EPS) of $1.42 vs. expectations of $1.31 and up 20% from a year ago
  • Revenue of $42.1 billion vs. expectations of $39.9 billion and up 12% from a year ago
  • Apple sold 39 million phones last quarter, and over 10 million iPhone 6 models during their first weekend available in the U.S.
  • Going forward demand is “off the charts” for the iPhone 6 and 6 plus according to Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO
  • Emerging markets (i.e. China) are growing twice as fast as developed ones (i.e. the U.S.)
  • Very strong MacBook sales in time for back to school – number of units sold were up 25% from last year

Apple had another big announcement today when it launched Apple Pay. Iphone 6 users can now officially use your phone at 31 retailers, including McDonald’s, Whole Foods, and Macy’s. Apple also signed up the 6 biggest credit card issuers. You can check out the full list of participating retailers here.

Apple Pay on display.

Source: CNBC

Today made me even more convinced that Apple is a great long term investment. I’d look into buying additional shares after the earnings reaction dies down, possibly next week. They’re worth holding at least until the Q1 earnings are released, because those earnings will have a full quarter’s worth of iPhone 6 sales included.

While I love Apple from a technical perspective, I’m even more impressed from a real world experience perspective (investment decisions can be made away from charts too, FYI). I went into the Apple store to pick up my iPhone 6 a couple weeks after the phone had come out. The store was a zoo – it was so mobbed I considered either calling it quits and heading home or curling up in the fetal position in the corner to protect my vital organs.

Luckily, I did neither and as I was setting up my phone with an Apple sales person I asked him how the store’s craziness compared to normal. He said, “well, it’s a little extra crowded right now with the new phones but for the most part it’s always this packed.” As I made a mental note to do all of my Apple shopping online from now on, I silently calculated how many more shares I can buy. A store that consistently crowded, and that can deliver great earnings while maintaining huge cash stores, is a good investment in my book.

Fashion Friday: Save 30% on Sweaters and Outerwear at J.Crew

Happy almost weekend everyone! Anyone have anything fun on the agenda? This weekend I will be celebrating my cousin’s wedding and I am super excited! It’s also my first time as a bridesmaid so I am hoping I don’t trip down the aisle…

I’m trying to keep things light on Fridays and plan to keep up with weekly budget shopping posts from now on. Would love to hear in the comments if you all want to keep seeing these or not.

With temperatures dropping I’m in the mood for cozy sweaters and jackets. Luckily, J.Crew is to the rescue with a sale to help us avoid paying full price. Today they’re featuring 30% off sweaters, jackets, and blazers. Here are a few items I’m digging:

J.Crew Lambswool zip sweater in colorblock J.Crew Merino wool glen plaid-panel sweater

J.Crew Majesty peacoat Shiny puffer vest

Clockwise from top left: Colorblock sweater / Plaid sweater / Peacoat / Shiny puffer vest

Last but not least, have you all seen the drunk J.Crew tumblr? It’s incredible.

'Drunk J. Crew' Is the J. Crew for All of Us

Netflix’s terrible earnings day explained in one chart

Netflix (NFLX) had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. The TV and movie streaming website reported earnings after the market close today and it was a bloodbath. This chart pretty much sums ups the earnings disaster that was Netflix yesterday:

Netflix Earnings Crash

In word form, Netflix actually beat earnings expectations, earning 96 cents per share on 1.2 billion in revenue, ahead of analyst expectations of 93 cents per share on 1.4 billion in revenue during the third quarter. The issue is that Netflix missed the expectations for the amount of subscribers it would add in the past quarter, coming in about 400,000 subscribers short. Netflix blamed the subscriber miss on increasing its subscription cost by $1 per month.

After this news was released yesterday afternoon Netflix shares immediately went into free fall, and were down about 25% ($120) after hours last night. This plummet illustrates just how volatile the market has been recently. I almost never see a stock fall this much after an announcement, unless the company announces imminent bankruptcy. This insane Netflix hit would not have happened in a more stable market, which is why I urged you all to be very cautious before making market moves right now.

Analysts are also blaming the stock fall on Time Warner’s (TWC) announcement that it is offering a standalone HBO streaming subscription. The thing is, I don’t think that’s very relevant here. The HBO news came out at 11 am yesterday, well before earnings, and the stock even rose during the day in between the HBO announcement and the earnings announcement. Plus, the HBO service isn’t a substitute for Netflix since they carry two different sets of content. If you want Game of Thrones you need HBO; if you want House of Cards and Orange is the New Black you need Netflix.

And even if you have both subscriptions, you’ll still save money over having a cable TV subscription (post to come). I pretty much have this setup right now. I have a Netflix subscription and a Comcast package that gives me internet + basic cable + HBO.

So stop blaming Khaleesi, the crazy drop came from an earnings miss on an over-valued stock (the price to equity ratio was getting quite high at 136). In full disclosure I have 5 shares of Netflix I was hoping to make a quick couple of bucks on after earnings – I figured 5 would be a safe experiment amount but clearly a major fail. I am thinking of picking up a couple more shares at this lower price but will probably wait a couple of weeks on that. When the stock to dipped to $340 in January this year I bought some and it worked out well. I still like Netflix and think it will see more subscribers as 20-somethings move into their own apartments and skip cable.

Finally, let’s close on a happier note. Friends is coming to Netflix January 1st!

How to deal with the market dip: Don’t panic!

Up until two weeks ago the market was all sunshine and butterflies. The S&P 500 was breaking records and Alibaba (BABA) had the biggest IPO ever. Then, all of a sudden, the market mood turned to fire and brimstone. Last week the S&P index had its biggest weekly drop since May 2012 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average erased its gains for the year.

Analysts are running over each other to explain the drop. It’s Ebola, it’s the European economy, it’s Germany, it’s Ukraine, it’s the terrorists, it’s a bubble bursting, it’s the Martha Stewart and Gwyneth Paltrow feud! The real answer is there is no one answer for what is going on. Most likely it is a combination of all of the above (ok, minus the conscious coupling dig).

Honestly, the reasoning doesn’t even matter that much. What does matter is how you react to the situation in the market right now. There are two keys to remember when dealing with a drop like this:

  1. Do not panic!

The media might be over-hyping things a bit. For entertaining examples, check out the post Josh Brown, of The Reformed Broker, wrote yesterday on the dangers of “Correction Twitter.”

The S&P 500 lost 3.1% last week, and 5% from the record high it experienced on September 5th. While this is bad, it is not the imminent crash some articles are implying. The term “market correction” is being used over and over, and yet a market correction technically only applies when the market is down 10%.

For perspective, let’s take a look at the performance of the S&P 500 over the past 10 years.

market sp

First, you can see the big difference between last week’s drop and the pre-recession drop. This is nowhere near a crash situation.

Second, you can see that even if you had invested at the top of the market before 2008, if you stuck with your shares, you would have been at break even in 2013 and be making a good profit today (5 years later). And with earnings reports and the Christmas shopping season coming up there is a good chance for today’s market to stabilize relatively soon.

This brings me to my second point:

  1. Don’t make impulsive moves

The easiest thing to do in a downward market is panic and start selling off all your shares. I’m begging you not to do this.

I know from experience that this can be easier said than done. Over the past few years some of my biggest trading regrets have been selling out of losing positions that would have been extremely profitable had I just held and waited a couple years (see: Facebook (FB), Apple (AAPL)). It’s a reason I am trying to become less of a trader and more of an investor (despite the site title).

Hopefully you have not made these mistakes yet and can just learn from mine. Stocks almost always pan out in the long run. And luckily, one of the biggest assets of young investors is time.

While I urge you not to sell, I also think you should stay away from buying right now. I don’t think we have reached the bottom in the market drop yet, and I honestly have no idea how much farther the market is dropping. I would not try and buy a stock now just because it is “cheap,” since the stocks you think are cheap now may be expensive in a month.

That said, if there is a stock you are truly interested in from a value perspective, you may consider buying it now. You may not get a chance to get in at the bottom, but if you are looking to hold a stock for at least a year, purchasing it at the bottom doesn’t really matter. Just make sure you will have no regrets even if the stock goes down in the next few months. Two stocks I’m considering for this move are Apple and Gilead Sciences (GILD), but I’m going to hold off on buying anything for at least a week.

The easiest way to think about how to treat this bear market is to think about how you would treat a real bear attack. Don’t panic and don’t make any sudden moves.