Ever wonder if there’s something that would make your life easier and more enjoyable? Are you hoping to learn something you might not already know that could provide an “aha” moment? The purpose of “These are my favorite things blog” is to introduce ideas, concepts, and things that you might not already know about to hopefully make life more livable. Enjoy!

1. Pact– an app that gives you $$$ for going to the gym and keeping track of your calorie intake.  How it works: Set a goal (i.e. “I will go to the gym 4 times this week and keep track of my calories 3 days this week”). For every goal you reach each week you’ll receive money. Assuming you always reach your goal (you can set them as low as you wish) you’ll never have to pay into the app! Of note, you can also take pics of fruits/veggies to earn money as well.

2. Timeshare rentals- Many people own timeshares that require an annual maintenance fee regardless of whether or not they use it. Search Craigslist for some amazing deals on unused timeshares and bargain down to the price you’re willing to pay for it with the owner.  A spectacular bargain I’ve gotten in the past: One week in St Thomas over the Xmas holiday for $250.

3. Eat With– This growing trend now includes most major cities. Sign up to eat a meal worth hundreds for a fraction of the price from excellent chefs (reviews are included on the website so you’re sure to enjoy your experience). You’ll be in the comfort of their home along with other guests who have also signed up for the occasion.

4. Uber– Nicer, cleaner, and more affordable than taxis. Sign up with my code to receive $20 off your first ride: michelleh167. Uber is fantastic because you know when your driver will arrive as well as the car make, model, & license plate along with a picture of the driver. Once you’ve tried Uber you’ll never take another cab ride again!

5. Give experiences instead of gifts this year- Interested in making memories with the people you love versus giving gifts? If so, think about buying them the gift of togetherness.

Some ideas to consider:

6. Skiplagged– The newest way to find great deals on flights. Move over Kayak, your time has passed.

7. My favorite Trader Joes products:

  • Avocado’s Number Guacamole paired with Garlic and Herb Pita Chips
  • Mediterranean Hummus
  • Pumpkin Bread
  • Chicken Tikka Masala (found in the freezer section)
  • White Cheddar Corn Puffs
  • Creamy Toscano Cheese soaked in Syrah
  • Sea Salt Brownie Petites (likely more addictive than cocaine)
  • Cookie Butter

8. Airbnb– The newest way to travel and meet locals while saving $25 by using my code MHolm77. Tired of overpriced hotels and added fees? With Airbnb you can rent out an entire home or just a bedroom depending on how much privacy you prefer. We’ve been traveling consistently through Airbnb for the past several years and have been pleasantly surprised by the low cost, wonderful hosts we’ve met in various countries, and the invaluable advice we receive from our hosts about the location upon arrival.

9. TV goodness:

  • Breaking Bad
  • Homeland
  • House of Cards
  • Scandal
  • Big Bang Theory
  • Friends

10. Favorite journalist: Nicholas Kristof, opinion writer for the New York Times, writes noteworthy articles from multiple perspectives. Sign up for his free newsletter to learn how rats can sniff out land mines more effectively than humans, how cataract surgery can be done for just $25, and the “Trickle Up” approach to graduating from poverty.

11. My favorite charities are listed on my Causes page. A “shout out” to my newest cause, Hospital Albert Schweitzer (HAS), located in Haiti: an incredible organization that serves a population of 350,000 people (roughly the size of Oakland, CA) equipped with 131 hospital beds. The healthcare personnel are passionate about increasing their medical knowledge which is evident through daily grand rounds held in their medical library. I’m excited to be apart of a medical partnership with such a fantastic organization focused on using funds to support their mission of helping patients.

12. Favorite podcast: Serial looks deeper into a murder case surrounding Adnan Syed. Adnan has become a household name so if you haven’t already dove headfirst into this podcast now is the time because he was just approved for another hearing.

13. Books you don’t want to miss are located on my Book Recommendations blog. I stand behind each and every recommendation but my all-time favorite book, “The Glass Castle”, is a must-read so if reading is a fairly new hobby for you I would suggest starting with this book first.

Hopefully you’ve found at least one thing on this list you didn’t already know about and something you can pass along to others. I’d love to hear about some of your favorite things as well so feel free to leave a comment!