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December 2015

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Top 5 Favorite Books of 2015

I love to read, so for my last post in 2015, I would like to share my top 5 favorite books of the year!

1. Moonwalking with Einstein

1.  Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything (Must Read!)
This book details the author, Joshua Foer’s journey from being a journalist with average memory to a participant in the U.S. Memory Championship. Joshua Foer was skeptical that memory can be improved or that you can train anyone to memorize thousands of random numbers and have them be able to recite them back forbadom. The book discusses the evolution of memory usage, the anatomy of the brain and tricks to improve our memory. The most fascinating for me was memory palaces. Memory palaces are physical places where you know inside and out, in most cases, your home. Then you associate random words or numbers with vivid images as you walk through the house. Later, you are able to recall these random words when you mentally walk through your house.

My Opinion: I am absolutely stunned by this book because I tried one of the short mental practices and it actually works! An example string of words in the book is: “bear”, “truck”, “college”, “shoe”, “drama”, “garbage”, and “watermelon”. By using images, I was able to remember this random string of words for around 5 hours! Normally these words would be gone within a minute.

2. Elon Musk_Tesla, SpaceX, and the Question for a Fantastic Future

2.  Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future (Must Read!)
Elon Musk is the CEO and Chairman of leading companies today including Tesla, SpaceX and SolarCity. This book begins with his childhood in South Africa and details his journey to Canada, U.S., then starting Zip2, PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla and SolarCity. His goal in life is to make humans a multi-planetary species. Ashlee Vance spent over 40 hours talking to Musk and interviewed over 300 people. The result: a phenomenal book on how Elon started and ran his companies and glimpses of who he is and how he thinks.

My Opinion: For disclosure I have always been a long time admirer of Elon Musk so I loved reading this book and think it’s a must read for everyone!

I really enjoyed the background story about Elon’s family and childhood; especially about Elon’s maternal grandfather, Joshua Norman Halderman, who picked up flying and moved the family to South Africa.

Then the chapters about Elon starting and running Zip 2, PayPal, SpaceX and Tesla were truly fascinating. The book went in depth on each company, how it was started, the challenges each company faced and how Elon ran each company. What you come away with is how hard Elon works for his ultimate goal of settlement on Mars, making humans a multi-planetary species. Elon is just different, this guy is giving away all of Tesla’s patents because he wants all automotive companies to make electrical cars because he believes electrical cars is the better path for human kinds.

This book inspires me to work harder. It challenges your thinking; if you want a 9-5 job then you simple don’t invest in yourself enough to achieve anything great.

I love the fast pace of this book with its ability to combine technical explanations of what’s going on with Tesla and SpaceX. If you loved reading Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson then you are guaranteed to love this book!
3. The Nightingale

3.  The Nightingale
The Nightingale is a story about two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, during Nazi’s invasion of France during World War II. Vianne is more reserved and cautious while Isabelle is more outspoken and audacious. The story starts with Vianne and Isabelle trying to survive under the Nazi rule and transforms into them running secret missions to help as many people as they could.

My Opinion: I purchased the book simply because I have never seen another book with such high ratings on Amazon. I loved this book and both storylines about these two sisters with different personalities. This book “action-packed” and is definitely is a page-turner.


4. What She Left Behind

4.  What She Left Behind
This book tells two parallel stories of Clara and Izzy. Clara’s story is set in 1929 as a daughter of a wealthy family. She fell in love with an immigrant so her family sent her to a genteel home. Then when her family lost its fortune in the stock market crash, she was sent to a public asylum. The reader will follow her through the conditions and treatments of patients in public asylums during that era. Izzy’s story takes place in modern day, where she moves from foster home to foster home. Izzy’s mother is in jail for shooting her father when Izzy was young.

My Opinion: This book stirred my emotions more than any book this year and the most prominent emotion is anger. How the mentally unstable patients were treated in the 30s blows my mind. I loved Clara’s Story, which has many twists and turns. Izzy’s story is okay and is more suited for young adults, but the ending to her story definitely surprised me and made me appreciate her storyline much more.


5. China Rich Girlfriend

5.  China Rich Girlfriend
This book is the sequel to Kevin Kwan’s first book, Crazy Rich Asians. These books offer a glimpse into the lives of the ultra rich Asians. This sequel continues the story of the main characters from the first book, Rachel Chu, Nicolas Young and Astrid Leong. It talks about billion dollar homes, private jets, jewelries from 600 B.C., owning properties the size of central park in Singapore, old money vs. new money divides, how money changes people, crazy shopping trips in Europe and much more.

My Opinion: This book is purely for entertainment; it definitely brought a few good laughs out of me. If you like love stories, funny drama and fashion and are curious about how ultra rich people live then you will like this book!

 

Thanks for reading and please let me know if you have any book suggestions for me!

Fashion, Home

My Absolute Favorite Bootie of the Year!

My absolute favorite bootie this year is the Ted Baker Lorca 2 booties! I purchased the booties from Nordstroms but Amazon is currently having a 25% off this booties using the promo code HOLIDAYS25! I love the Ted Baker Lorca 2 booties because it is super comfortable, well made and the simple shape is beautiful and sleek.

1.1 Ted Baker Lorca 2 Booties_Front1.2 Ted Baker Lorca 2 Booties_Front1.3 Ted Baker Lorca 2 Booties_Side
1.4 Ted Baker Lorca 2 Booties_Back

2.1 Ted Baker Lorca 2 Booties Selection

Leather Types and Colors
The Ted Baker Lorca 2 booties come in four different colors and in either leather or suede. I was debating between the black leather, tan leather and the dark green suede. I think the black leather would let the gold rims stand out and the dark green suede would look stunning with dark jeans! However, I decided on the tan leather in the end because I have too many black booties and also because I think the tan color is very unique.

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Home, Personal Finance

3 Ultra Easy Ways to Stay Financially Organized

Staying organized financially is the first step to achieve financial independence. I want to share three ultra easy ways I personally use to stay financially organized. These methods may seem intuitive but are underutilized! Hopefully you will find this post helpful!

1. Have Different Credit Cards for Different Purchases

1 – Have Different Credit Cards for Different Purchases
The easiest way to stay financially organized is to use different credit cards for different categories of purchases. That way you can instantly know how much you have spent on each type in a given month.

For example, I have three credit cards. One is for corporate and recurring expenses, one is for all food related expenses and the last one is for all other discretionary spending.

  • Corporate Expenses – Keeping corporate expenses apart will help you keep track of these expenses and make sure you get reimbursed for all charges.
  • Recurring Expenses – These are expenses that are automatically charged every month; this can include any subscription services, memberships, donations, etc. Although these recurring expenses may seem low monthly, they can add up to a substantial amount annually. It is important to keep an eye on your recurring expenses and try to minimize them!
  • Food Expenses – Food is generally a big cost category for most people and having a card that is designated for food spending can help you stay on top of your budget! For example, if your food budget is $300 a month and you have charged $250 on your card with 10 days left, resist the urge to eat out!
  • Discretionary Spending – This bucket is for all other spending. Discretionary spending can really get out of hand so it is important to create a monthly budget for this expense category and stick to it! For me, shopping is the largest component of my discretionary spending so once I see that I have spent up to my discretionary budget for the month, I cut myself off from any purchases.

Once you get the routine going and charge specific types of expenses to different cards, you can easily check individual credit card balances and make sure you stay within your monthly budget!

2. Create a Virtual Divide_Checking vs. Saving Accounts

2 – Create a Virtual Divide: Checking vs. Saving Accounts
Simply having separate checking and savings accounts will help you stay financially organized. Although this method is intuitive, people don’t utilize this enough! In fact, many people think savings accounts are old fashion and unnecessary. However, by having this simple virtual divide, it will help you cut down spending and increase savings!

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Fashion, Home

Prada Saffiano Double Zip Tote Alternatives

A few weekends ago, I saw a two ladies debating between a Prada Saffiano Double Zip tote and the Prada Saffiano Cuir Leather tote. I didn’t want to be rude and interrupt but now I wish I had approached them and gave them my thoughts on the two bags. The double zip tote and the cuir leather tote are two similar and popular bags from Prada and anyone looking to buy a Prada Saffiano tote will likely debate between the two. I personally have the Prada Saffiano Double Zip Tote (BN2274) in Cammeo and if I have the chance to repurchase between these two bags I would choose the Prada Saffiano Cuir Leather tote without a doubt.

1. Prada Saffiano Double Zip Tote vs. Prada Saffiano Cuir Leather Tote

Prada Saffiano Double Zip Tote vs. Prada Saffiano Cuir Leather Tote
The main reason I would pick the cuir leather tote over the double zip tote is the sealant. Due to the curvature and construction of the double zip tote corners, the sealant is very prone to cracking. The sealant is essentially trying to hold together leather parts that are meant to move; therefore the sealant is guaranteed to crack sooner or later.

Please see my review on the Prada Saffiano Double Zip Tote for a close up picture of the cracking sealant. With the cuir leather tote, the ridge of the bag is still lined with sealants but the larger curvature and the construction looks much better (the sealant is not used to hold any leather parts together).

Another reason is the gold zippers. I personally like the look of the double zip; however the zippers are starting to tarnish which is super annoying given the price of the bag. Also the cloths around the zippers are starting to fuzz slightly. The cuir leather tote has minimal hardware so tarnishing will not be an issue and the bag is made with all leather.

This price difference between the two bags is a hefty $390. However, if I were to repurchase a Prada saffiano tote again, I would personally go with the cuir leather tote so I don’t need to deal with the sealants cracking, gold tarnishing and cloth fuzzing issues. Also for a higher price, the cuir leather tote is made with all leather whereas the double zip tote is lined with cloth inside. Plus the contrasting leather interiors on the cuir tote adds an extra touch to the bag!

The shape of the bag is also a point of consideration; the double zip tote is boxier with straight lines whereas the cuir tote is curvier. I used to like the straight lines of the zip tote but now I’m leaning towards the slightly curvier cuir tote.

2. Prada Saffiano Double Zip Tote vs. YSL Sac de Jour

Prada Double Zip Tote vs. YSL Sac de Jour
Another similar bag is the YSL Sac de Jour. The Sac de Jour comes in an array of rich colors and the simple design also makes it classic and very work appropriate. The YSL has minimal hardware and the smaller bags come with a long shoulder strap. Also I love the side fan paneling on this minimal bag!

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