Less Than Challenge

Living life with less than…

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Weekend Recommendations

With all the heat we’ve been experiencing in Upstate New York over the last week, I’ve spent very little time at home (in my sweltering hot, attic level apartment) and thus I’ve had very little time to blog. But before this weekend comes to an end, I wanted to take a moment to share a few of my favorite things of late. If you’re looking for something to watch, read, or listen to, these are my current recommendations.

(Readers beware, the songs and videos included below are not so family-friendly.)

WATCH: Orange is the New Black (brand new on Netflix)

If you take only one recommendation from this post, let it be this one. In the last week, I’ve watched all 13 episodes of this new Netflix show, and I have been completely captivated. It’s funny and sad and entertaining and surprising and thought-provoking all at the same time. Season 2 cannot come soon enough. I’m no TV critic so I’ll let a few reviews do the rest of the talking, but please, give this show a try.

The Great Orange Is the New Black Is Suddenly the Best Netflix Series Yet (Grantland)
Obsessed Report Card: Orange Is the New Black (Glamour)

LISTEN: Magna Carta Holy Grail – Jay-Z (listen for free on Spotify)
Not gonna lie…my interest was definitely piqued when Samsung and Jay-Z announced this new album during the NBA Finals. I had the good fortune to get my hands on a copy right after it came out, and while I can’t say I love every song, there are a few I’ve been playing over and over again on repeat. I’d recommend listening to it all at least once, but if you’d like to start with my favorite songs, try these:

Lean In

READ: Lean In – Sheryl Sandberg (get it at your local library, or on Amazon)

I know I’m a little behind the times on this one, but I am about a quarter of the way into this “feminist manifesto” by the COO of Facebook, and so far I’m very intrigued. While I don’t necessarily find myself agreeing with every point that Sandberg makes, a lot of what she says is very interesting. I do find myself thinking more deeply (if not any differently) about women and work as I read.  And with a book like this, isn’t that kind of the whole point?

Now that I’ve finished Orange is the New Black, I’m going to need some new things to keep me entertained until season 2 debuts. If you’ve got recommendations to share, be sure to leave them below!


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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?


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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Introducing LTC’s Favorite Things

First things first: LTC = Less Than Challenge. For simplicity’s sake, it just seemed like time to give the blog its own acronym.

It also seemed like time to institute a new feature to share my take on the books, movies, music, and shows that enrich my less than lifestyle. And so I introduce to you…LTC’s Favorite Things!

In case you’re wondering what pop culture has to do with the Less Than Challenge, here’s one of many possible answers…

If there is any situation in which I find it practically impossible to stick to a budget, a diet, or a schedule, it would be a night out with my girlfriends. Even a simple happy hour can wreak total havoc on my will to live on less. But pop culture has the potential to provide plenty of entertainment for pennies in comparison to a night out on the town.

Acknowledging this simple fact, my friend Tara and I have instituted weekly Bachelorette-viewing parties in an effort to hang out more while splurging less.  So far, it’s been pretty successful. We’re trying to feast on healthy snacks (and wine) and we’re spending less than $15 a week on our little get-togethers. On top of all that, I’ve somehow become an actual fan of The Bachelorette – something I never expected to say.

So without further ado, I give you the first of my favorite things:

The-Bachelorette-Season-9-logoWhat: The Bachelorette, Season 9

When: Mondays, 8/7c on ABC

Why: I’ve always been a fan of reality love competitions, but I felt like The Bachelor franchise took itself wayyyy too seriously for my liking.  Then I started watching this season, and it was a lot more fun than I anticipated. I still reserve the right to change my mind about this when we get to the fantasy suites and marriage proposal part of the show, but for now, Des is a cutie pie, and I have been totally sucked in to rooting for (and against) her many suitors.

Fun Fact: I learned this week that not one, but TWO of this season’s eligible bachelors are graduates of my alma mater! One of them was sent home on the first night, so I won’t even mention him, but the other, Michael G., is still going strong! According to this bio, Michael’s life path has been remarkably similar to my own fiance’s, so obviously I’d say he’s marriage material. On top of that, he’s very anti-Ben, so we have that in common too. I’m not confident that Michael will make it to the end, but he’s definitely got my vote for my now.  Go Irish!  🙂