Free Workout Videos

Summer is just around the corner! Or at least, that’s what they tell me. You’d never think so considering it’s 50° here in Massachusetts today. But those beach days are quickly approaching and I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting to tone up a bit before slipping into a bikini.

While I do have a membership at a local gym (where I’m still paying the student rate – score!), I sometimes prefer to work out in the privacy of my own home. One of the fun ways I like to exercise is by trying new routines, to keep things interesting, but since I’m no fitness expert, I never know where to start. Which is why I’ve taken up using free workout videos. Who knew there were so many free videos out there?!

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YouTube is a great place to get short exercise videos. I like to search YouTube if I want to try a new move or type of equipment, such as when I first started using kettlebells.

You can also search Pinterest for workout videos. While this usually doesn’t take you right to a video, it can give you lists of free ones that come recommended. This lessens the amount of time you’d spend weeding through lower quality videos to find the ones you like.

If you have a subscription, Hulu Plus is another great resource. Most of these are clips, so you don’t get a full length video, but it will definitely give you ideas for some new moves to work into your routine. Tip: try searching “fitness”; they can be a little hard to find otherwise.

Living at home with my parents has its advantages and one of those is Comcast On Demand. There are all kinds of full length workouts for a variety of experience levels. If you have some space in your living room, you can do anything from yoga to Zumba, all for no more than you already pay!

I would recommend checking out these resources if you’re looking to change up your exercise routine. Do you have any favorite workout sites or videos to share?

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Office Summer Casual

Today is Memorial Day and for many of us, especially up in New England, this marks the unofficial start to summer. Many offices, mine included, start to allow employees to have a bit more casual dress code, known as “summer business casual”. But what exactly does this mean?

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As with any dress code, what’s appropriate varies with your company’s standards, so be sure to check your employee handbook or office notices to ensure you dress within their expectations.

My company employs a summer business casual dress code. This means that while some aspects of our typical dress code are relaxed, we’re still required to dress at a professional level.

As I’m now entering my second summer in the real world, here are some tips I’ve compiled for successful summer business casual:

Dress Sandals. Flip flops and other causal sandals are a no-no for the office any time of the year, but dressier sandals are a good option. Wedges, espadrilles or strappy flat sandals in fun colors are my favorite.

Sleeveless, not strapless. Forgoing the typical cardigan is acceptable in the warmer months, but your shoulders should still be mostly covered. No spaghetti straps or strapless tops unless you’re wearing something over them.

No beachwear. If you have a cute sundress you’d wear to the beach, you should save it for the weekends and not wear it to the office. Lighter materials and fun prints and colors are definitely ok, but make sure the length, neckline and structure are work appropriate.

If you’re ever unsure of whether something fits your work’s dress code, err on the side of caution and wear something else. And if you’re new to the office, take your cues from coworkers and follow their lead in choosing your summer casual attire.

What is your company’s dress code like? Have you ever had trouble determining what’s appropriate for the summer months?

Review: Old Navy Credit Card

Back in the day (and by that I mean senior year in high school), I had a part-time job at Old Navy. It was a great way to earn some extra cash, and the discount was great because Old Navy is owned by Gap, which also owns Banana Republic, Athleta and Piperlime, which meant I got a discount at each of those stores!

During my time there, I learned quite a lot about the Old Navy Card, which is the store credit card they offer to customers. A few years later, it became my first credit card when I realized I needed to start earning some credit before I graduated college. I’ve had the card for a few years now, so I thought I would share my thoughts with my fellow bargain-lovers…

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The Old Navy Card has pretty standard rates and rewards. APR depends on your credit, but like most store cards, it’s higher than a traditional credit card. You earn 1pt/dollar spent, with 200 points earning you a $5 reward certificate, redeemable in-store or online.

Pros
•Great “starter card” for someone trying to build credit. The limits are generally pretty low (under $1,000) unless you have excellent credit. This is why I originally got the card; I’d make small purchases every few months and pay them off quickly to establish a good pattern of timely payment.

•Additional rewards. While Old Navy often has different sales and discounts circulating, cardholders receive additional discounts for purchases made with the card.

•Can be used at other stores owned by Gap, Inc. Unlike other cards where you’re restricted solely to that store, being able to use the card at any store under the Gap umbrella gives you more flexibility to earn rewards.

•Accepts “mobile” coupons. Some other stores require you to have the printed out coupon, but Old Navy allows you to pull up your email or even a screenshot from your online account, which means you can maximize your savings.

•10% Tuesdays. I always forget about this feature, but cardholders save an additional 10% on Tuesdays when using their cards. This was a nice surprise for me earlier this week!

Cons
•Online platform is not very user-friendly. Maybe I’m just being picky, but I’m not at all a fan of the online site for cardholders.

•No card-specific mobile app. Again, could just be me, but I would prefer to have an app where I can log into my account and make payments, download coupons, etc.

•Cannot pay the card in-store. Unlike some other store cards, you can’t make payments right in store. You have to pay online, or by mail/phone.

Having had the card for a few years now, I would recommend it to someone who shops somewhat regularly at Old Navy. It has decent rewards and can get you some great discounts.

Do you have an Old Navy Card? Or what store cards do you have that you’d recommend?

Learning LinkedIn: Picture This

Time for a long overdue addition to my Learning LinkedIn series!

LinkedIn is a great free networking tool for people of all ages. But tools only work when you use them properly. One vital, yet often overlooked, feature of LinkedIn is the profile picture. Why is this so important? And how do you decide which picture to use?

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Profile pictures are an easy way for your connections to recognize you, which is one reason it’s important to have one. But beyond that, if you are in the market for a new job, recruiters will be looking at your page and your picture can sway them one way or another. Seeing a photo of someone who is professional and approachable may cause a recruiter to be more likely to call you back.

Here are my tips for a strong LinkedIn profile picture:

1. Choose a professional-looking photo. This means no pictures of you from social events or wearing a crazy outfit/makeup/hairstyle.

2. Quality is key. Whether you use a professional photographer for your picture is totally up to you. I think you should consider what stage you are in career-wise and whether it would be a worthwhile investment if you are seriously looking for a career change. Regardless, you want to make sure you upload a clear (not grainy or pixelated) photo, so choose a high-quality format.

3. Keep it current. Make sure to use a recent photo! The last thing you would want is for a potential employer or connection to not recognize you..

4. Close up. The profile picture icon is very small on LinkedIn. As such, a headshot fits best for your profile. If you choose a longer shot, it will be difficult for others to make out your face.

5. Choose a neutral background. You want your photo to be the focal point, so choose one with a plain and non-distracting background. One tip: you often have to get a photo taken for an office job, so consider using that.

As I said, a photo might seem like a minor detail, but it can really have an impact on how others view your profile, so be sure to upload one if you haven’t already!

Do you have any LinkedIn profile picture tips to share? Where is your photo from?

Graduation Gifts from Etsy

May is definitely the month for college graduations, and high school graduations aren’t too long after. To celebrate this momentous occasion, we usually give the graduate some sort of gift, right? While gift cards and scratch tickets are a common go-to present, I prefer something a little more personal. And that’s where one of my favorite sites – Etsy comes in handy!

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Etsy is an online marketplace where individuals can sell their creations. You can find all kinds of amazing crafts and products on Etsy. The only difficult thing I’ve found about Etsy is sometimes there are so many options, I don’t know where to begin! Which is why I thought I’d suggest a few “shops” I’ve purchased from over the past several months.

Each of the gifts pictured below would make a great graduation gift. Everything I’ve bought from these artists has been of great quality and loved by the recipient of the gift. I’ve included the shop name from which each item came from, in case you’d like to check them out!

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Rehabulous creates items out of recycled materials, in this instance a Grey Goose vodka bottle. It’s perfect for the new grad who’s not quite ready to leave their college partying days behind. In addition to lamps, this shop has serving dishes, glasses, candles and more!

I purchased a custom etched recipe box from decadentdesigns for a family member and loved the quality and how quickly it arrived, even though it was right before Christmas. This shop has lots of customizable products that are great not only for graduations, but housewarmings and weddings as well.

FatCatLeather has some great options for the men in your life. I recently purchased this money clip in black for my boyfriend and he loved it. It’s got a personal touch with the initialing, but looks sophisticated for a young man entering the full-time work world for the first time.

Personalized stationery is also a great option for graduates. LetterLoveDesigns has products including the notepad above, but also notebooks, cards and bracelets, among other customizable items.

These are all great options for graduation gifts, and are just a sampling of all that Etsy has to offer. If you haven’t checked it out before, I highly suggest you do!

What are your favorite items purchased from Etsy? Are there any shops you would recommend?