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CheapWeek,

CheapWeek: Getting Involved

This week was action packed – guest TA-ing a class for General Assembly, Volunteering for Chicago Cares, and representing Zipcar in Pride!

6/22 – #BrandChat and Solar Charger

Today was an interesting day for me.

Let’s start with one of my favorite Twitter Chats – #Brandchat. It’s Wednesdays at 10am CST, and last week I won a participation reward. The physical representation was a branded hat. Although it doesn’t seem like a big deal, I’m becoming more and more recognized for having some expertise in the Twitter Chat community. This is a huge part of my Twitter growth strategy, especially as it relates to growing the Chicago Cheap Ass brand. On that note, a post I wrote for Social Media Beast got picked up by Business2Community and has been shared 160+ times and counting! Kind of a big deal.

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As far as future blog posts go, I received a solar charger in the mail from Verizon, so look forward to a post about that in the near future! I’d like to give it a full test at a music or neighborhood festival before revealing my opinions 🙂

6/23 – #Foodiechats and Professional Development Considerations

The most exciting news of the day was being invited to another #Foodiechats event. This one is the Monday after the Fourth of July Weekend, at Frontier in Chicago. I’m looking forward to it! I owe you all a play-by-play of the last event I went to… But look forward to that and a lot of other posts in the next week 🙂

Also, a lot of friends have been reaching out to me for help with their resumes, LinkedIn profiles, and Twitter handles. Rob is taking the lead on networking events, but are you interested in seeing more professional development-related content? Although this website is Chicago Cheap Ass… I want there to be some aspirational elements. Basically, we all have to start somewhere… but it’s good to have goals. And it’s important to have a roadmap for how to achieve them. I’m happy to throw together some posts/ebooks/how-to guides if you guys would be into that and get some use out of them 🙂

6/24 – General Assembly Possibilities

Let’s start with lunch. I got it for free at Fresha Place, which I’ve been DYING to check out. It’s all nutritious ingredients that are well-balanced so you stay full throughout the day. But I’m sure you’re wondering how I got it for free. Well, first I’d suggest following them on Instagram… they giveaway freebies all the time, no funny business necessary. But I’d also recommend you download the Freebie app and connect your social accounts. Your connections may be worth tons of free meals!

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So one of the great nerd loves of my life is Front End Web Development. I was talking to a General Assembly staff member at a Zipcar event last week and inquired as to the teaching side of things. On Wednesday I attended a class as a guest TA to get an idea of how classes are run. I’m going to look into it further as an after-work activity to get back in the game! I’ve been taking more freelance clients lately so it would be great to teach or assist in teaching the subject to refresh my own knowledge.

Do you have extensive digital or technical experience? Do you like sharing ideas and teaching beginners? You should look into working part or full-time for General Assembly.

A funny sign at the ParadigmNEXT office

A funny sign at the ParadigmNEXT office

Because one thing is never enough to fill up my day after work, I also attended a networking event at ParadigmNEXT for Techweek Chicago. I met a lot of interesting entrepreneurs, Chicago Chamber of Commerce members, and even saw and old buddy from high school at the Graffiti Lounge! Small world. It was a free event, like many at Techweek, so there’s no excuse not to check out these things!

6/25 – Chicago Techweek

I left work a little early today to check out Techweek Chicago with Social Media Beast’s Director of Content. We checked out panels as diverse as “Think Before You Tweet” – general legal considerations for posting on social media and a panel on dating in the digital world. I’ve got to say – I was not as impressed with Techweek as I had been last year. It seemed a lot less claustrophobic on the main floor last year… not to mention more and better panel discussions. It was also incredibly difficult to figure out just what and when the panels were. The schedule on the website and the app were not very user friendly. Definitely a disappointment that prevented me from coming back the next day. Although I did get a cute little Nalgene bottle from Mira if that counts for anything. I’d say in the future… if you can get a free media pass – check out the Thursday speakers and see what you think. But not something I would’ve paid out of pocket for.

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One awesome thing that happened today was our Graphic Designer Drew traced a picture I sent him and made me a nifty new profile picture. Check it out!

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6/26 – Townhouse and Jurassic World

One easy way to feel classy is by purchasing upscale dining deals on Gilt City. I just bought a sweet lunch deal for Tippling Hall. My boyfriend had bought one (well two actually…) for Townhouse Restaurant and Wine Bar. For $45, we had $90 to spend, which was enough for two appetizers, two entrees, and four drinks. Now that’s a steal. The food was great, and the perfect pregame to the latter part of our evening. We saw Jurassic World FINALLY after waiting for awhile to have the time. GO SEE IT. It’s crazy. It’s action packed. And it’s a great date night movie.

6/27 – Chicago Cares and Weird Al

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My mom somehow managed to convince me to wake up at 7am for a charity event (Serve-A-Thon) through Chicago Cares. Honestly, one of the greatest joys in my life revolves around volunteering and getting involved with different charities. Chicago Cares is a well-oiled machine that involves itself in many service projects at different Chicago institutions, notably schools. About 5,000 people gave their Saturdays to make a difference. My mom, myself, and her friend were sent to Edward Burke Elementary School and got to exercise our creative muscles painting a quote on the wall. Chicago Cares costed a $10 registration fee with the expectation that you raise an additional $50 (although they don’t really enforce it). In exchange, you get breakfast, lunch, and early dinner (or a late lunch depending on how you look at it?), not to mention a t-shirt, drawstring bag, and Gatorade water bottle my boyfriend was pretty jealous about. I mean… don’t do it for the fringe benefits, but know that there are some good ones. It all ends in a big party in Daley Square complete with free beer, hotdogs, and a live band. I’m definitely doing it again next year – especially if it means I have a whole day to spend with my mom who I never get to see.

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Later in the night, after hanging out with some friends who also did Chicago Cares, my boyfriend and I went to go see Weird Al. Everyone thinks we’re ridiculous, but it was one of my favorite concerts to date. The tickets are among some of the most expensive I’ve bought recently, but TOTALLY worth it!

Weird Al Stormtrooper

Weird Al Stormtrooper

6/28 – Zipcar at the Pride Parade

One of the reasons I love working part-time for Zipcar is because they’ve got their fingers on the pulse of what’s going on in the city. We had a “float” (really a decorated car with speakers, but who’s judging) in the Pride Parade, and had a ton of cool swag to give out to parade-goers. I’ve participated on both sides – on the sidelines and in the parade. I have to say – I absolutely love being a part of the parade and interacting with everyone along the route. Definitely get involved if you get a chance! Ask friends what their doing or see if your company or any organizations you’re a part of are doing something!

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Don’t just read about good deals – get them yourself! Find of-the-moment updates by liking Chicago Cheap Ass on Facebook.

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Reviews, Technology,

Save or Splurge? Fitbit Aria

When I was in college, I started my own personal blog to get in the habit of writing and to document my travels. I was asked to review products for Verizon due to my young, technologically-savvy readership. I had a blast testing out all sorts of tech toys.

Fast forward to today. I’ve started a new blog with a similar audience. I reached out to Verizon’s Chicago team and will continue my technology reviews with a different twist. I call it “Save or Splurge?” because technology is never (well… rarely) cheap, but can certainly be worth the cost. Although the products are provided to me on a free rental basis, I’m given no direction on how the review should be written. So rest assured, lovely readers. What you’re getting from me is 100% no-bullshit.

Fitbit Aria: A Review

So I decided to start my reviews with a product I’ve been lusting over – the Fitbit Aria Scale. I’m pretty obsessed with my Fitbit tracker (the Flex model). I’ve convinced many of my friends to get one so we can participate in weekly step challenges – I’m always first or second, and it gets super competitive 🙂 What initially drew me to the Aria scale was that it pairs with any Fitbit tracker. If you’re like me, you like things that connect seamlessly. This would explain my obsession with Apple technology – each device is a specific extension of the others. I use my Fitbit not only to track my steps, but also to use that data to sync with MyFitnessPal to get a more complete picture of my health. So why not add the extra step?

So let’s talk specifics. The Aria is not cheap, especially by my standards. At $129.99, it’s a product you have to justify before swiping your card. The Aria can support up to 8 different users’ data – perfect if you live with another person who owns a Fitbit tracker. If you don’t, you can still use the scale on Guest mode without a Fitbit. The scale uses wifi to sync with your Fitbit account and track your data – no manual input required! The Aria scale tracks body fat percentage and lean fat so that the other numbers it tracks (weight and BMI) give a more complete picture of your health. This calculator shows you if you’re within a healthy range of body fat based on the type of lifestyle you lead.

I had the Fitbit Aria for about a month and weighed myself at least once a day (sometimes more). The battery stayed strong throughout my time with it. From a health perspective, it was beneficial for me to see the day to day changes in my body (and what stayed the same). Since your weight can fluctuate a few pounds everyday, it can sometimes be frustrating to see a higher number on the scale than what you expected. Having additional data made these fluctuations more bearable. Having a Fitbit (pedometer) has already helped change some of my health habits for the better. I make more excuses to walk instead of taking public transportation or cabs. And as previously mentioned, it’s gamified fitness in challenges against my friends. Having the Fitbit Aria Scale has made me more aware of what I eat and my fitness routine – I can see the changes on the scale everyday.

It’s worth mentioning the Fitbit Aria’s competition: the Wi-Fi Body Scale by Withings. It uses Twitter to keep you honest by tweeting your results to your Twitter followers. Definitely a good feature for someone looking to make a change, but it’s also more expensive than the Fitbit Aria at $159.99.

So what should you do? Save or Splurge? I would say this is right in the grey area. If you’re not super into health and fitness, you’re wasting your money by purchasing a scale that gives you more than the basic data most people seek from a scale. If you’re into data as it applies to your own personal health trends, you probably already own a Fitbit, and additional accessories are within the realm of possibility. Plus, if you’re into fitness, you’re probably already getting these measurements done at the gym or with a personal trainer… it’s so much more empowering (and convenient) to do it yourself.

What fitness technology do you think is worth a splurge? Let us know in the comments!