Less Than Challenge

Living life with less than…


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TKEES Knock-Offs from Forever 21

After developing a total obsession with TKEES last month, but not having the will to spend $50 on flip-flops, I was thrilled to discover super cheap knock-offs at Forever 21 thanks to Knock Me Off!

Forever 21 vs. TKEES

Apparently I missed the boat on getting a pair in black, but $6.80 seems like the right price for trendy knock-offs in crazy colors anyway. I particularly love Forever 21’s teal option (a choice the real TKEES don’t yet offer), so of course I had to order a pair. They arrived on my doorstep last night, and I am quite pleased with this new addition to my shoe collection!

20130716-191033.jpg20130716-191046.jpgThe soles are significantly more cushioned and comfortable than I expected, and the reviews online were spot-on in suggesting a sandal one size bigger than my actual shoe size. I normally wear a 7 but I went with an 8 in these they seem to fit just right.

Until I take the plunge and buy those authentic black TKEES I’m still longing for, I won’t be able to compare the knock-off to the real deal, but for now I’m quite pleased with new, designer-inspired flip flops for less than $7!


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Less Than Perfect

Last weekend, I had big plans to write a post about the amazing American cake I was baking for Fourth of July weekend. Other than the staples like eggs and oil that were already available at the house, I got all the ingredients for less than $10 and I set everything up so nicely to share with you guys:20130714-145534.jpg

Things started off well…
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…but then, disaster struck.

20130714-145917.jpgAs you may have seen on Twitter and/or Facebook last Saturday, when I tried to extract the cake from the pan to frost it…total catastrophe! I made a brief attempt to salvage the thing by frosting it anyway, but that was clearly no help .

At first, I was really disappointed and pretty embarrassed by my baking inabilities. But then, I decided to try all over again, minus the step of removing the cake from the pan. It was a total success, everyone seemed to like it a lot, and we had a very good laugh over the first attempt’s tragic end.

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about the little failures we inevitably face while living on less. Forgetting to use really great coupons before they expire (did that twice this week), going out to lunch when you are too lazy to make a sandwich with what you have at home (did that at least twice this week too), and having to re-buy all the ingredients for what was supposed to be a “less-than” cake after things go horribly wrong. Even though it’s no fun to fail, it’s all these little shortcomings that make it feel so good when we do score an awesome deal or knock a recipe out of the park.

So enjoy it when things turn out a little less than perfect. At least you know you’re trying, and sooner or later, you’ll get it just right.

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Five Fun Bikinis for Less Than $40

With summer well underway, I’ve been wanting to share a few of my favorite swimsuits of the season. After an extensive online search and much deliberation, I give you my top five bikinis of the moment, all available for less than $40.

Less Than Challenge Bikinis
1. H&M Green Patterned Bikini Top and Bottoms ($30.90 for both pieces)
2. Kohl’s Derek Lam Midkini (originally $44.00 per piece; now $30.80 for both pieces)
3. Target Xhiliration Multicolor Print Top and Bottoms (on sale in stores only; $28.00 for both pieces)
4. Aerie Fringed Print Bandeau Top and Bottoms (both pieces on sale now; $34.98 for both pieces)
5. Forever 21 Multi-Wear Bandeau Bikini ($26.60 for both pieces)

I’m very intrigued by the Kohl’s midkini, the fringe on the Aerie suit is super fun, and I think the multi-wear top from Forever 21 could be great. Plus I’m liking all of the patterns, so I think I could be happy with any one of these suits. I have my heart set on getting one before my summer vacation at the start of August, so please weigh in on your favorite looks and help me decide!


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A Bachelorette Change of Heart

You may recall, I kicked off LTC’s Favorite Things a few weeks back with my thoughts on The Bachelorette. At the time, I foolishly decided to root for Michael G. because we went to the same college. Pretty much immediately thereafter, he turned into this crazy, “you can’t handle the truth” lawyer type and I was instantly ready for Des to send him home.

To avoid any spoilers for those of you who are behind on your DVR, I won’t say any more about Michael. And that’s fine because I’d much rather focus on my new favorite bachelor: Zak W!!!

Truthfully, I liked Zak from his very first, shirtless appearance on the show. But over the last few weeks, he’s really proven himself to be a serious charmer. So cute, so nice, so funny. Seriously, what’s not to like?!

I’m not convinced that Zak will make it to the end, considering my theory that Des is already completely in love with Chris, and the previews for the next few weeks are utterly and completely confusing, but if I were The Bachelorette, I would be giving Zak every rose for the rest of the season.

Have you had a change of heart yet this season? Which guy is getting your fan love now?


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New Nikes For Less Than $20

I have been extremely overdue for new sneakers, and last weekend, Brendan helped me figure out how I could combine a bunch of deals to get brand new Nikes for less than $20. I’ll explain how in a second, but first you just have to see them!
New Nikes for Less Than $20
After checking out a few pairs at the mall, I settled on the Nike Flex Run 2013 in teal. We ordered online from FootLocker.com because they didn’t have the teal in my size, and they just arrived yesterday. I broke them in on a brisk walk this morning, and I could not be more pleased.

My old workout shoes were sturdy but stiff, and they had been known to make my toes tingle if worn for too long. These new shoes are super-light, flexible, breathable, AND comfortable, and with them I feel like I have a fresh take on fitness again. That being said, I am committed to hitting the gym at least 3 times this week!

So the shoes are awesome, and I was sorely in need of them at any price, but the most exciting part of all of this is that the final charge for these $80 Nikes after discounts and deals was a whopping $17.59!!

Viggle Reward HistoryProbably about a year and half ago, I discovered the Viggle app on my iPhone. Since then, Brendan and I have racked up more than 500,000 Viggle points by watching television (or, at least, “checking in” to tons of TV shows with the app). I know I sort of threw him under the bus in my last post, but he is really a master of less-than living, especially when it comes to earning points for free stuff. So every bit of this sneaker success story should really be credited to him. He has done about 95% of the “Viggling” in our relationship, and yet somehow I seem to be reaping the rewards.

Anyway, Viggle allows you to redeem the points you’ve earned with the app for various products and/or gift cards from national retailers like JC Penney, Best Buy, and (you guessed it) Foot Locker. It cost us 100,000 points to claim $50 in Foot Locker gift cards, which sounds like a lot, but we really have so many points and I needed to make a sneaker purchase sooner rather than later.

On top of the Viggle rewards, our Entertainment Book had a Foot Locker coupon for $15 off a purchase of $75 or more, bringing the cost of the shoes down to $65 to get us started. If the shoes had been available in the size and color I wanted in the store, we really could have paid the rest off with Viggle gift cards, but for some reason the Foot Locker website only allows you to redeem five gift cards in one transaction. So we knocked off another $50 with our Viggle rewards, and were left to pay just $15 plus tax. Pretty sweet deal, right?

Are you using Viggle yet? If so, I’m curious to know if you’re saving up for a big ticket item or redeeming your points for smaller rewards as you go. If not, I definitely suggest you give it a try. My feet sure are happy that we did!  🙂


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All-American Meal for ALMOST Less Than $5

I was thisclose to getting all the fixings for our Independence Day dinner for less than $5, but our total grocery bill came to $5.02. Still, at a savings of more than 58%, I was pretty darn pleased.

Shoprite Haul 7/4/2013

Granted, this wasn’t the healthiest or most well-balanced meal I’ve ever had, but it sure was tasty and perfect for the Fourth of July. I was only planning on making hot dogs and corn on the cob, but Brendan threw the Doritos in our basket on impulse. And he’s the only one who used mustard, so it’s really his fault that we didn’t achieve a less than $5 dinner. Seeing, however, as I ate the majority of the Doritos and he actually paid for the food, I won’t hold any of this against him.

Anyway…here’s how we did it:
(all deals from Shoprite, good thru today)

  • Fresh yellow corn on the cob: $0.19 each w/ Price Plus card (x3)
  • Oscar Mayer classic wieners: $1.79 w/ Price Plus card (half price)
  • Shoprite brand hot dog rolls: $1.69, reduced to $0.39 after sale plus coupon from 6/30 ad
  • French’s 8 oz. mustard: $1.59, reduced to $0.39 after sale plus coupon from 6/30 ad
  • Cool Ranch Doritos: $1.88 w/ Price Plus card (half price)

TOTAL SPENT = $5.02; TOTAL SAVINGS = $7.07

One little confession: you were supposed to spend $15 or more to redeem the $0.39 coupons (which I completely missed in the fine print) but the very kind cashier at Shoprite overrode the system and let us use them anyway. So extra points for Shoprite in my favorite grocery store rankings this week.

Did you take advantage of any great deals this week? Be sure to share!


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Less Than Look: Independence Day

20130704-115445.jpgHappy Fourth of July, people!! Today is one of my favorite days of the year, what with the sunshine, the hot dogs, and the happiness that are pretty much inherent to the holiday. And the fireworks. I looooove me some fireworks.

I also get a lot of joy out of working red, white, blue, stars, and/or stripes into my Independence Day look, and this year is no exception.

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I got this tank for less than $3 last summer at Target (thank you, 70% off rack), and I’ve been looking forward to wearing it on July 4th ever since. I did a little hunting and found something similar here in case your closet is short one patriotic racerback tank at this point.

The shorts are one of the two new pairs I was just telling you about, which means you should have no trouble finding them now at Target. (Is it obvious by now that I’m obsessed with Target?!) Whether you’re into the obvious Americana look today or not, a little denim seems entirely appropriate, don’t you think?

Whatever you’re doing to celebrate the Fourth, have fun and enjoy it to the fullest!