Top 5 Ways to Get Through College Without Student Loans

I will graduate for the University of Sacramento in a few weeks and I will do it completely debt free. I didn’t get any financial aide because I didn’t qualify for it and I never took out a student loan. I was responsible for half of my college—tuition and books. Sacramento State is a commuter college, so my fuel costs are a lot, which I pay for. Graduating debt free was a huge goal of mine. Here are the top 5 things I did in college that saved me a lot of money. There are a lot of little things I do too, but I will save those for another post.

Live with your parents.

Living with your parents, if possible, is the best way to save through college. I don’t pay for power, water, cable, internet, or most of my food.
Butte Community College, Oroville, CA

Community College First.

Go to a community college. I attended Butte College where I received my AS-T Degree in Business Administration. Attending a community college saved me over 4 semesters at the university. That is a savings of about $25,000. Community college is also great if you don’t know what degree you want to get because you can take classes in areas which you’re interested at a much lower price than at university. Also, if you live in California all community colleges are free for the first year. I didn’t get a free first year because it became available the year I graduated. Be sure to investigate this because that’s a huge savings too.
Olli, 3D-printed, electric-powered autonomous shuttle, Sacramento State

Choose a State College.

Choose a state college. State colleges are cheaper. For clarification California State University (CSU) and State University (SU) are the same thing. I live in California and CSUs or SUs are more affordable than UCs, (University of California). At Sacramento State, there are programs to help students save and finish their undergrad quickly. There is the “Finish in Four” program for first-year students and the “Through in Two” program for transfer students, these programs provide incentives and support for students who commit to taking at least 30 units a year. 30 units a year, are the minimum units needed to complete their degrees in four years or two years, respectively. I took advantage of the Through in Two and in addition to saving on tuition I also received one of my summer courses (an $855 value) for free. Check with your college and see if they have any programs like this.

Get a job and save.

When I was in high school, I knew that I wanted to go to college, and I knew that I had to find a way to pay for half of it. My parents saved for my brother and I to go to college, but they always told us that we would be responsible for half because they thought it was very important for us to invest in ourselves. My dad also would say, “I want you to have some skin in the game.” Meaning I would be more driven to apply myself, pass my classes, and graduate on time if it was my money to. Knowing that I would have to pay I began working and saving when I was in high school. I saved everything. When I received birthday money or Christmas money, I didn’t spend it, it went directly into the bank. The same with my part-time job and babysitting money.

Apply for Scholarships and contests.

I have applied for scholarships for four years straight and I only received one. But every bit helps so don’t give up. Applying for scholarships isn’t easy and it’s important to find your niche. I was able to apply for scholarships geared toward women, Native Americans, and business students. I recommend people look for scholarships in areas that apply to them. I also applied for a few contests, which I placed in. The local Chico and Oroville Optimist clubs co-sponsored the “I Have a Dream” Speech Contest as well as a writing contest. I got 2nd and 3rd place and though it wasn’t a lot of money it all adds up.
It’s hard work and sacrifice to graduate without debt but it’s so worth it.
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Deconstructed Thai Spring Rolls

I love Thai food. My favorite appetizer are fresh spring rolls. They contain fresh vegetables and herbs wrapped in rice paper and served with peanut sauce and sometimes sweet chili sauce. At home I make a deconstructed version that is packed full of flavor. It’s fresh, healthful, and super delicious.
I use iceberg lettuce as the base because it has a nice crunch. I add shredded carrots, English cucumbers, scallions (green onions), cilantro, mung bean sprouts, fresh mint, and Thai basil. Be sure to get the Thai basil because it tastes completely different than regular basil. I didn’t have an avocado or bell peppers but I usually add those too. Pile on any veggies you love…the more the better.
I use rice noodle sticks as substitute for the rice paper. Cook the noodles according to the package. Place a big bed of noodles on plate and add the salad on top.
When I’m not is a rush, I will make homemade peanut sauce, but I’ve found this Trader Joe’s Asian Style Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette is a great replacement. I drizzle on the peanut dressing, sweet chili sauce, and a spoonful of the garlic chili sauce (I like it spicy) and top it with chopped peanuts. Enjoy!
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It’s Overall Season

Do you have that one outfit you can’t wait to wear when Spring finally comes? Maybe it’s a dress, a pair of cutoffs, or a romper. For me it’s my overalls! Pockets, denim, casual yet fashionable, what’s not to love? I wear them with a simple white tank top or one of my many baseball tees and occasionally I add a red plaid flannel shirt to complete my look. I have had these overalls for years and let me tell you, I love them!
Last year I miss placed them, I couldn’t find them until the season had passed. They were in a random box, so this year I will be sure they get the love they deserve. And since Spring is in full bloom, I did a little photo shoot with my mom as my photographer. 

It's All About The Pockets

The pockets are great because I can pack so many things around with me, but they haven’t always worked. Years ago, I wore my overalls to my cousins 3rd birthday party, a pool party for the kids. One of my cousins swam to the edge and called out to me, ready to recite his many tales of their swimming. And as I bent over down to his level, I completely forgot my phone was tucked in the front pocket on my chest. My cousin went silent when he noticed my look of horror as the phone made a splash and sunk to the bottom of the pool. It was retrieved, placed in a bag of rice, but my phone never turned on again…I learned two very important lessons: 1) back-up your phone, and 2) don’t put important things in the front chest pocket of your overalls.
Though, I had been frustrated with how my overalls let me down, I knew I wasn’t going to stop wearing them. I also knew I’d probably end up putting my phone in the front pocket again…which I have many times. Fortunately, I have been sure to stay away from pools since that dreaded day! So my phone simply falls on the ground when I bend over instead of into water.
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Summer Plans: Okinawa, Japan

This June, I leave for a two-week trip to Okinawa. I’ve never been out of the country, it’s been a lot of fun researching and planning. I’m going to meet and train with the Grand Master of my Martial Arts. Currently, I am working toward my 2nd degree black belt. I’m a little nervous about training, we train hard in America but they take it to a whole new level in Okinawa. There’s also a lot of pressure to represent my dojo and not let my teachers down. The dojos in Okinawa don’t have air conditioning or padded floors, which I have taken for granted in my dojos here. The training will be rigorous and physically testing, and hot and humid. Very exciting but also stressful.
Karate aside, I’m excited about the amazing beaches and ancient culture. I want to go to the Ocean Park Expo. The large park is home to the Churaumi Aquarium, Tropical Dream Center (botanical garden), and Native Okinawan Village. I also hear shopping in Naha, the biggest city (350,000 pop) in Okinawa is a must.
Okinawa is one of the Blue Zones. They are known for their longevity, healthy aging, and are among the longest living on Earth. The women in Okinawa live longer than any women on the planet. They rely mostly on a plant-based diet, a diet that I try to stick to. I can’t wait to try the food. This trip is going to be an adventure! Do you have any adventures you’re planning on for this Summer?
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Urban Decay You’ve Done Me Wrong!

Finding the perfect eyeshadow palette can be tough, especially with so many options out there. It’s a lot of work swatching the colors, deciding on a brand, and finally taking the plunge investing your hard-earned money.
Urban Decay Naked Smoky Palette
We all have that “one” palette or “one” color we reach for. It’s our Holy Grail. We know it won’t fail us. It’s the perfect color, it will blend beautifully, it’s long lasting, it will accent the color of our eyes perfectly—it won’t do us wrong. My Holy Grail is Urban Decay Naked Smoky Eyeshadow Palette. Hitting pan (oh the horror!) on several colors in my palette, I went into my local Ulta. I headed straight to the Urban Decay section. To my surprise there weren’t any.
The sales woman who was swiftly approaching me asked me if I needed help finding something. When I told her, I was looking for the Naked Smoky palette she said, “We won’t be getting any more palettes because they are discontinued.” DISCONTIUED? Surely, I heard her wrong. This is the best palette on the planet, they would never discontinue it. I resisted the urge to clutch my chest and crumble to the floor. Instead, I pushed my panic aside and I remained calm. Thinking quickly, I said, “I’ll just buy singles of the colors I used most in the palette.” That seemed reasonable and like a quick fix. Her dreadful words almost broke me. “We don’t have singles of those colors.” I wanted to clinch my fists and shake them to the heavens and scream, “Why Urban Decay, Why!” However, before she even finished her sentence, I quickly jumped onto the Urban Decay website to see if there were any available. The makeup Gods were on my side, they were still available. I promptly ordered two.
All kidding aside, I am on the hunt for a new Holy Grail Palette, my two back-ups can only hold me over for so long. If you have any suggestions let me know. If you too like the Smoky palette be sure to pick one up before they are gone forever.
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My Mom Texts Me the Craziest Sh*t

My mom is seriously the best person I know. She’s wildly supportive—it’s scary how she can be like Beverly Goldberg sometimes! She spontaneous—when I was 13, she and I drove to Idaho. It was a girl’s road trip, we dug for dinosaurs’ bones, walked the Snake River, and pulled over on the side of the road and did yoga in a corn field. We also chugged a gallon of Sunny Delight to keep us awake on the way back home (that may not sound like a big deal, but my mom is a total health nut). We got sugar rushes and we were tripping like you would not believe! Neither of us have had Sunny D since. My mom is humble and ambitious, honest and beautiful…the list could go on and on but the one thing I love most about my mom is she is the funniest person I know. She literally cracks me up and honestly, she doesn’t mean to, it’s just who she is.
My mom will text me the craziest sh*t. And when I question her on it, she is oblivious of the fact that is was crazy. Normally I screenshot the text and send it to my brother or my dad so they can share in her entertaining verbiage.

Mom's Texts Need Their Own Hashtag

In honor of her, I have decided to start a hashtag on my Instagram account so I can share of the crazy-ass texts. #MomTextMonday #MomPostMonday.
A few weeks ago, I downloaded Post Malone’s album to my mom’s phone so she can play it in her car. Well, this is the text I get from her while I was sitting in class. Apparently, she connected with his song, I Fall Apart.
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Brown Bag Your Lunch

I am about to graduate from college, May 2019, and I’ve eaten on campus less than ten times. I try to stick to a plant-based diet, and I find it easier and more healthful to pack my own lunch. But there are a lot of other benefits to packing your own lunch. You save money, consume less junk food, you can control your portions, so you don’t over eat, and it’s also a time saver because you don’t waste time walking to the food court or waiting in line. I usually eat in class or in between classes. Preparing a homemade meal doesn’t have to be time consuming or complicated. Here is one of my favorite salads to pack.

Balela Salad

Balela salad is a healthy salad mixing garbanzo beans (chickpeas), black beans, tomatoes, onion, mint and parsley. Its dressed with a spicy lemon dressing. It’s incredibly simple to make and easy to take to school. It’s super flavorful and packed with lots of fiber and nutrients—perfect to power you through the rest of the day.

Balela Salad Recipe:

2 (15 ounce) cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained & rinsed

2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained & rinsed

1 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 cup chopped fresh mint

One small thinly sliced red onion

1 pint grape tomatoes cut in half

1 large jalapeño pepper roughly chopped

3 cloves of garlic

1/4 cup olive oil

2 lemons juiced

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Salt & pepper to taste


In a large bowl, mix together the garbanzo beans, black beans, parsley, mint, onion, and grape tomatoes.

Dressing: Place the jalapeño pepper, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and red wine vinegar into a blender, and blend until thoroughly combined. (I use a NutriBullet. You can use an immersion blender too). Pour the dressing over the salad and toss. Season with salt and pepper.

I always bring a 32oz bottle of water, some fresh fruit, and some nuts with whatever I pack. If you’re looking for a quick on-the-go breakfast check out this Easy Overnight Oats Recipe.

Take the time to take care of yourself this semester!

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Star Wars Obsession

My obsession with Star Wars started when I was 5. I stumbled into the game room and found my brother watching, Revenge of the Sith. I stopped in my tracks in awe. The movie captivated me instantly. All the action, the over the top characters and the futuristic world was enthralling. I also had a huge crush on Anakin. It didn’t take long for me to discover all the prequels and of course watch all the sequels.

I wanted to be apart of the Star Wars universe.The force became with me, always. There were endless lightsaber battles with my brother—until we were in our late teens. I’ve owned everything from bubbled bath, to pajamas, boxes of cereal, puzzles, pillows, and a slew of toys. As an adult my collection has grown to tracking down rare items and hording posters—which I refuse to open because I’m afraid they will be devalued. When I was 13 I dressed up as Padmé—I made my costume and it was so much fun.

This was our game room growing up, I love that my brother’s Star Wars banner was right above my dollhouse!

More importantly, my love of Star Wars reminds me of my childhood. I had zero responsibility and my imagination was allowed to run wild. They were happy and carefree times. Snuggled up on the sofa with my brother and friends to stay up late and binge watching all the movies. Christmas stockings full of Star Wars goodies, hunting for Star Wars Easter eggs, trick or treating in a Star Wars costume and even sending out Star Wars Valentines. On Star Wars Day last year (May 4Th), I did R2D2 inspired makeup.

Every so often I hope you find yourself reminiscing about your favorite childhood movie. 

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Self-Care Needs to be Self-Initiated

I’m a senior in college—the assignments are endless. I’m currently working on developing an app—lots of meetings and decision making. I plan on testing for my second-degree black belt in a few months—heading to Japan this summer to meet the Grand Master of my martial arts style.

Experiencing exhaustion and burnout, I was told that I need to focus on self-care. I expect a lot from myself therefore, it’s important to be good to myself. I know one of the main excuses people have for not taking care of themselves is they simply don’t have the time. This was my excuse. I didn’t think twice about putting self-care on the backburner because I honestly didn’t feel that I was running myself ragged. I love all that I do, and I didn’t really feel stressed—and if there was stress, it was good stress. It’s worth noting my doctor told me the body doesn’t recognize good stress or bad stress as different—it’s all stress to the body. That was my wake-up call.

Self-care is different for everyone and it’s important to find what works for you. When I’m stressed and I need a quick way to decompress and relax I find the most beneficial thing I can do for myself is simply give myself a little alone time.

Here are a few small, simple self-care habits that I do:

  • Go for a walk outside, just being in nature
  • Meditate or do deep breathing for five minutes
  • Chill with my dog or one of my cats
  • Once a week try and meet a friend for lunch, movie, or to simply hang out
  • Eat well everyday
  • Learn to say ‘No.’
  • Get a good night’s sleep
  • Take time to read a book

Be good to yourself!

Prioritizing self-care is so important, the benefits can be felt emotionally and physically. Self-care is all about balance. You have to strike a balance between being a hard worker, being driven, and packing your days full of tasks and activities while also listening to your body when it tells you to take better care of it.

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