7.11.2014

An Engagement Ring Story, BUT I'm Not Engaged...Yet

This post is long overdue!

I've always wondered how the BF and I would go about choosing an engagement ring. We've been together for 8.5 years now, and marriage is something we've talked about since the first year we've been together. (We're kinda crazy.)

Anyway, the BF is really bad at keeping secrets. Thus, I knew that he could never go through the whole e-ring process by himself, without mentioning anything to me. I mean, he can't even buy me a birthday gift or Christmas gift without asking me a ton of questions before finally revealing the truth!

We decided a year ago that we would go through the e-ring process together, since we are on the same page with our finances and he wanted me to be happy with a ring that I would wear for the rest of my life. I've had friends tell me that I should let him "surprise" me and pick out the ring himself, but we're unconventional and we decided to do it the way that works for us.

Since we're trying to be somewhat frugal about this, we've been researching and considering different options for over a year now. A few weeks ago we finally started the process and I'm now the proud owner of a beautiful diamond! It's exactly what I wanted (a cushion cut). We bought it at a wholesaler in San Francisco with my parents in tow, and purchased the diamond from the same saleswoman that sold my parents their rings.

It was a fun experience overall with my BF, dad, mom and little sister as we all closely examined and inspected different diamonds, then negotiated prices. We initially had a budget of $5,000 for the diamond, but my parents traded in my mom's diamond for $800 and applied that credit towards our purchase. Out of pocket, the BF paid $5,900 so we ended up going $900 over our budget. I didn't want to go over budget but the BF insisted that we could just spend less on the setting or lower our wedding budget. I'm really happy with our decision to do it this way and I fell absolutely in love with the diamond.

We're now looking at settings and we are going to design the ring with a local jeweler here in San Diego that we met a few months ago. I love his work and he is really helping us with keeping the costs low. We're going to purchase the wedding bands at the same time since it will be cheaper overall. We're aiming to spend no more than $4,000 on this, but trust me I would love to get that number lower!

After we finish designing the ring, I'm going to let the BF hold onto it until he's ready to propose. That way we can have somewhat of an element of surprise. BUT I do know that we plan to get married soon (in court) because we have been going over our finances and it just saves us more money to file our taxes together. Besides that, a wedding is definitely not in the near future since we plan to use our cash for a down payment on a condo first.

It's kinda funny how this all worked out. I didn't plan to do it this way but I am really happy to be involved. I sort of have a type A personality and I think this just worked out the best for us haha.

I also want to share our current state of finances and future plans in my next post. So many things have changed, and I'm looking at a lot more debt now (I was debt free just 2 years ago, CRAZY!!). The BF and I talk about our finances so much since we are together for the summer, and let's just say it's difficult to deal with a lot of debt, but it's also fun to plan and keep each other motivated to stay on track with savings and future goals.

---

Anyway -- I'd love to hear different stories about engagement rings. It sucks that I can't just go up to people and ask them how they paid for their e-rings and how much they costed. 

Question of the day - I know it's completely up to each couple, but I'm curious to know if you got your e-ring the traditional way or went an unconventional way. If you're not engaged or married - ideally what would you want to do?

5.28.2014

2/3 Done

My 2nd year of law school is officially done (assuming I pass my classes lol). I just finished the longest finals period, ever...4.5 weeks of torture. I had 2 closed book exams, a 73-hour take-home final, a regular take-home final, and a 30-page paper to finish. It was intense, but I'm just glad it's over!

So lately I've been avoiding the blog because my life revolves around school and extracurriculars and all that over-achieving fun school stuff. But lately, I've just been thinking...law school doesn't last forever. You get stuck in this twilight zone of wanting to be the best in your class, with good grades and taking leadership roles in journals or moot court boards, obtaining prestigious jobs at firms or companies, and just generally feeling like you need to be this "person" that everyone wants to be. That's not real life at all.

Since I'm now 2/3 done with this experience, the future is a lot closer than it seemed when I first started. I will be taking the bar next July, and there won't be this current transition period where everything stands still. BF and I often talk about how we can't do anything about my debt right now. My loans are in deferral, he's paying off his loans, and we don't live together.

I miss those days before I went to school where I had a paycheck every other Friday, and I knew how much I could spend and how much I'd be saving. It was an amazing feeling, to be able to control that and have ZERO debt. I will forever look back fondly at those memories, but I'm also excited for what the future holds - hopefully with a new job, wedding planning (my next post will talk about engagement ring shopping!), starting a family, and just generally moving onto the next chapter of my life.

It's crazy how before law school the BF and I were much closer to our dream of owning a home and starting our lives together, and he put all of that on hold for me to pursue my dreams. He knew how much debt I was going to add to our relationship and he was willing to make things work as well as endure a 3-year long distance relationship. I'm forever grateful for him and I'm just looking at dealing with this debt as another challenge we will have to face.

For now and for another year, please bear with me as I forge on through another year of school. At 26, I definitely feel like I should have been done with school sooner, but at the same time if I didn't start working after college I wouldn't have learned about saving and budgeting. Everything happens for a reason.

This summer I hope to blog more, hoping I'll have more free time since I will be working two part-time jobs instead of one full-time job. I'll be working at the company I worked at prior to law school (doing legal things) as well as doing legal stuff for the boyfriend's start-up company.

I won't be making tons of money this summer so it will be interesting to keep up with my eating healthy regimen. I don't eat out often anymore, only the occasional celebration for a birthday or graduation here and there. It's cut down on my spending a ton so I hope to post more about cheap eats!

Other than working and being in San Diego for summer, I have a few more graduations to attend and I'll be in and out of LA visiting family. I'm excited for the next 2.5 months!

Anyone have any fun summer plans?

5.27.2014

Making Money Work for You: How to Generate Income on the Side.

[Below is guest post.]

There just never seems to be enough of it: money.

Let’s face it, we could all use more of it, whether to buy our first car or home, go on that much needed holiday, or pay off our debts and get back into the black. But apart from working our 9 to 5s, sticking to our budgets religiously, and hoping for that winning lotto ticket, there are other ways to generate more income. And it doesn’t require you putting in more hours or selling a kidney.

Making your own money work for you can help you achieve your financial goals, and all it requires is a little planning, organization and the occasional spout of effort. Here are three ways you can use your own money to generate more income for you and your loved ones.

Learn to Trade

They say that it takes money to make money. And they’re totally right. Learning how to trade foreign currency can be one of the best decisions you make in your life. The skills you learn can literally help you make a fortune. It isn’t that hard to learn, and is relatively low risk. There are plenty of places online where you can learn the fine art of trading on the Forex market, such as at www.knowledgetoaction.com.au or at their Facebook page. There are also tons of books and video courses too. Of course, you’ll need to be careful and disciplined when trading with your money. But as long as you take things slowly, and commit to learning the ins and outs of trading, there isn’t any reason why you cannot find yourself at the top tier of financial success.

Take Advantage of High-Interest Savings Accounts. 

There’s no better feeling than scanning over your monthly bank statements and seeing far more credits trickling into your account than debits. Assuming that the credits are significant, and much higher than the withdrawal amounts, this state of affairs generally signifies one thing: you’re in great financial standing. Yet for most of us, this will never be the case. Unless you work a million jobs, or are a charity, convincing people to give you more money is just plain hard! However, apart from your monthly salary payments, and the occasional tax return, everyone should be able to guarantee at least one other monthly credit payment into their account.

True, the amounts may not be as high as we’d like initially, but over the long-term they can add up to more than a pretty penny. In case you haven’t guess it by now, we’re talking about interest payments here. These days there are a plethora of high-interest savings accounts that you can sign up for and watch your money grow. The best ones (i.e., having the higher interest rates) are generally based online, so you’ll need to be Internet savvy in order to keep track of your wealth. But once you join, you can sit back and watch the interest payments trickle in. It’s basically free money from the bank; now who wouldn’t want that?

Buy an Investment Property and Generate Income as Rent

Lastly, if you have a significant chunk of change nestling away in one of your bank accounts, bring it out into the real world and purchase an investment property. Generally, property has a way of increasing in value over time, meaning that when it comes time to sell it in 10, 20 or 30 years, you’ll have made a significant profit. But you can also start generating extra income immediately after purchasing your property by putting it on the rentals market.

Having this steady side income can eliminate much financial strain, and help you on your way to becoming financially free and secure. There you have it. Making your own money work for you can not only give you the financial results you’re looking for, but it can also give you more time to spend with your friends and family.

So what do you think? What other ways are there to generate income on the side? Please leave a comment or story from your own experience below.

3.18.2014

How Much for Man's Best Friend?

So it's time to break the silence. I haven't blogged since November 2013 and it's now March 2014. Whoaaaaa, where did time go?! Let's see, Christmas came and went, the semester ended, and I ran away to San Diego for winter break only to return to a busy busy semester that I am currently drowning in. That was a long sentence. More on school later.

Anyway, yes today's post is about my precious dog, Booboo. He just turned 8 years old this year and he's the sweetest and most loyal dog you'll ever meet. He's had back problems in the past, but today I finally took him in for a check-up since he woke up with a seizure.

He ended up getting blood work and x-rays done, and needed shots for vomiting, an IV for dehydration, and muscle relaxers for his back. The x-rays showed 4 herniated discs on his spine. He has to go back to get another x-ray tomorrow to see if the foreign object is still in there. I suspect that it may be a pluot seed that he ate last October. He never passed it last year and we thought the seed was digested. He's been vomiting on and off for the past 3-4 months but we thought it was just from not eating during the day. I'm pretty nervous if it is a seed, since he'll need surgery to remove it from his stomach.

I can't stop tearing up as I type or think about this. It's been on my mind since I found out and I'm just so worried for him because I love him so much. He's been with me since I was in college, and we've traveled California together. We've moved houses 6 times in the past 8 years together and he's the best little roommate and friend I could ask for. Naturally, the bill came out to the tune of $744 and the BF and I didn't hesitate to pay.

I'm glad I followed my instincts and took him to the vet today. He never showed signs that his back was hurting since he injured it 2 years ago, and I thought he was fine. Getting the x-ray was worth it and if he indeed needs surgery, I think we'll have to look into some type of pet insurance to help us cover it.

I saw a poster at the vet where a dog owner signed up for pet insurance since her dog needed foreign body removal surgery and the insurance company paid 90% of the surgery. It said total paid: ~$3,500, but I'm not sure if that meant the dog owner or the insurance company paid that much. We'll need to take money out of our savings, but at this point I would do anything to save my dog. He is a member of the family and there's no price I can put on his life.

Have any pet owners had to deal with a similar situation? Do you recommend any type of pet insurance?

11.29.2013

Save, Share, Spend - Christmas Giveaway!

Hi everyone! Happy black Friday :) Are you all out shopping, or are you waiting for cyber Monday so you can shop online, or are you passing altogether on shopping? Fear not...today's post offers up FIVE chances to win gift cards for your holiday shopping needs.


Christmas Shopping Giveaway!

First Prize Two $50.00 Visa Gift Cards

Second Prize One $50.00 Home Depot Gift Card and One $25.00 Home Depot Gift Card

Third Prize One $50.00 Target Gift Card and one $25.00 Target Gift Card

Fourth Prize One $50.00 Walmart Gift Card and one $25.00 Target Gift Card

Fifth Prize One $50.00 Starbucks Gift Card and one $25.00 Starbucks Gift Card

You can save these gift cards for something special. You can share them with someone else. You can spend them on anything you like. The choice is up to you, but you have five chances to win!


Contest Details:
  • Contest runs from November 29th to December 13th!
  • This is a blogger sponsored giveaway (meaning that a bunch of bloggers got together to pay for your prizes, this is not sponsored by any companies :))
  • Winners will be notified by email, therefore a valid email is required. 
  • All entries in the RaffleCopter are optional but each entry = 1 entry!
  • Terms and conditions are in the RaffleCopter widget.
  • Open to North America Only (Gift cards cannot be shipped to PO Boxes). 
  • All entries will be verified.
What I'd Spend the Gift Cards On

If I won a Target gift card I'd try to spend it on gifts but me and you both know that I would have to either spend it in the shoe section (cute boots/heels), clothing section (cute sweaters!), make-up section, and if all else fails...there's also the cute home decor, and you can always use it on toiletries or food! If I had some Home Depot gift cards to spare, I'm pretty sure I'd win best girlfriend award. My bf loves to create things and fix things so we used to spend a lot of time at Home Depot when we lived together in San Diego. I used to hate going there but now it's fun exploring the store and seeing how he creatively fixes things from parts of Home Depot lol. If I won the Visa gift cards I have a few things on my wishlist that I'd like to get. I want a slimmer peacoat in camel, a chunky cardigan, and I need a skirt suit. Also, Walmart and Starbucks giftcards are always essential in my book.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Which gift card would you most like to win and what would you buy with them? (or who would you give them to?)

11.28.2013

Thanksgiving and Family Group Texts

Happy Thanksgiving! I've been in an incredibly positive mood lately. I'm not sure if it's because I'm not completely inundated with work or if I'm finally getting enough sleep or if it's because I love the holiday season! I'm enjoying the time before having to study for finals this weekend by spending time with family.

My sister and I went grocery shopping to make some side dishes for our family Thanksgiving party today. I'm making a green bean side dish (made with bacon, a homemade cheddar cream sauce, and panko breadcrumbs), artichoke spinach dip in a crock pot, red velvet cake with cheesecake pudding filling and topped with icing and crushed oreos. (Got all of my recipes from Pinterest!) My mom is bringing the ham, eggrolls, chow mein, fried rice, dutch crunch apple pie and drinks. My aunt is bringing the turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy, and my other aunts are making stuffing, mac and cheese, and other side dishes. Our family parties always include raw tuna with sesame oil/seaweed and BBQ, and various other goodies!

My family consists of a lot of females, so we were group texting yesterday and planning to match outfits for today's party. We started discussing it in the morning and finally decided around 7pm haha. We are just so ridiculous, we couldn't make up our minds. At first I suggested everyone dressing in "fall" colors like cream, burnt orange, tan, beige, brown, etc. My cousin then countered with purple, to which I responded..."We'll all be wearing purple and eating turkey?!" hahah sooo after bouncing different ideas around from leggings to denim to coordinating colors, we finally agreed on a somewhat neutral palette of navy blue, cream, brown. Basically, everyone just thought about what they were going to wear and planned all of our outfits together. We also plan to go Black Friday shopping at 12am since we've never done that and we thought it would be fun to do it with family! I'm pretty excited to spend time with family this year since I've been really busy and I also won't be spending Christmas with them this year (I'll be spending it with my dad and stepmom in LA).

Every night I say a little prayer of what I'm thankful for that day, but usually it's that I had a good day and I just give my thanks for being alive and whatnot. During Thanksgiving I really appreciate the things in my life that I sometimes take for granted.

I'm thankful for so many things...
  • Lots of supportive people in my life - I am not sure what I would do if I had to hold all of my emotions in. So many people listen to me complain and whine, and in addition, provide supportive words and advice to get me through. I am so thankful for family, friends, my boyfriend, mentors, and also blog friends.
  • Lifestyle - I feel blessed to live a lifestyle that allows me to not go to bed starving or hungry, to have a roof over my head and a warm bed to sleep in every night, a closet full of clothes, a choice of what to eat each day, and freedom to do what I want each day whether it's go to school, go to the gym, or avoid those things altogether :)
  • Never being bored! I'm not sure what I did before technology..thanks to YouTube, Blogger, Twitter, Instagram, Netflix, Hulu, Pinterest, Bloglovin, etc I am NEVER bored. I'm also now a huge procrastinator but it's so much fun!
I think that sums up what I'm the most thankful for, but of course I am excited to partake in all the eating festivities that Thanksgiving brings! I hope you all have a safe holiday and if you go shopping tonight - be careful! :)

11.24.2013

A Little Bit of This and That

Hi everyone, how is it almost December already? I swear we were just celebrating the holidays. Sorry about falling off the face of the blog world again, I've been really busy with school as usual.

Shopping Update

My last post I mentioned that I was shopping again, and yes it's still hard to resist shopping especially since it provides an almost therapeutic escape from all the stress that I've been enduring this semester. I returned a lot of things that I decided I didn't need, things that I bought impulsively.

I've been able to control my shopping urges because the 2 hardest and most time-sucking things ended in the beginning of November...my advocacy class along with my negotiation competition, and all the research, brief-writing, oral arguing, negotiating practices, meetings, and stuff ended. We got 1st place in contract drafting and 5th in negotiation. Right now I still have 3 finals to study for but I'm happy that my workload lightened up a bit.

Thanks for all of your suggestions in my last post about resisting the urge to shop. I agreed with a lot of things to help such as meditating, putting my energy towards something else, and making sure you have a limit for shopping money. I have turned to studying a lot, watching youtube videos, catching up with friends, watching tv shows, and going to the gym when I have free time instead of getting sucked into going to the mall or shopping online. I do have to admit, with all of the holiday sales and winter wear in stores, it's very hard to resist. I allow myself to browse online once in awhile because I just can't go cold turkey, and it sounds weird but it is calming for me to "online shop." Does this happen to anyone else?

I think it's hard to find a middle ground in something that you were very extreme in, almost like any other addiction such as smoking. My boyfriend was a smoker for 6 years and then in order to quit, he just had to go cold turkey. That was almost 7 years ago so I'm proud of him! I just think for shopping, there's a difficult line to draw as to what exactly "cold turkey" is. I don't think I could stop shopping such as online shopping, completely avoiding the mall (and uhh does Target count?), etc...that's just not gonna happen. But I think it's also good to abstain from spending money on anything unnecessary; btw I liked your guys' suggestions on having a set amount to spend each month/every few months for shopping. It's also difficult to find a middle ground because shopping is more broad and can include shopping for groceries, toiletries, and food.

Fall and the Holidays

Anyway, how is it almost the end of Fall?! I love this season...the weather, nature, food, decor, and fashion of this season is just the best.

photo - brunchatsaks.blogspot.com
After Thanksgiving, it will be Christmas! Last year I made the mistake of skipping Thanksgiving with my family to study for finals, but I ended up getting sick and having the most terrible time ever and missing all the fun around the holiday season. This year I'm definitely going to soak up the holidays and remember that law is not supposed to take over my entire life. I should take a break every once in awhile to keep from burning out. I also went Christmas shopping with my mom to help her find gifts for a lot of our family members. It was so fun because I love shopping (obvs), I wasn't the one spending money, and it was cool trying to get quality items for a good price. We ended up getting almost 20 GREAT gifts for $300.

Btw I'm liking anything and everything oxblood aka maroon this season. Maybe liking isn't the right word, more like obsessed.

This color:
source
And I know this is pretty counter-intuitive especially on my shopping update post but I got these Target wedge booties recently and they are absolutely adorable.

source
What are your favorite parts of Fall and the holiday season? Anyone start listening to some Christmas music already? I might have :)

10.29.2013

Wedding Talk and Dress Budget - Soulmates Dresses Giveaway!


Hey everyone! Today I'm able to offer this awesome giveaway, thanks to my buddy Jess at Mo' Money Mo' Houses. Special thanks to Jess for allowing me to be part of this giveaway! Also, special thanks to Soulmates Dresses for hosting a fabulous giveaway :)

So let's talk about weddings today. This has been something that's been on my mind quite often lately. I'm turning 26 this Sunday and I guess it's just that *time* where marriage, babies, growing up and all that jazz are often in the near future. A lot of my friends have gotten married, are planning to get married, or are pregnant. I'm not even engaged yet, but being in a long-term relationship yields lots of marriage and wedding discussion between us so I've definitely thought about it!

Anyway, as I discussed in a previous post, I'm not up for a huge wedding. I'm mindful of our debt (thanks law school) and I want to focus on living frugally to pay off that debt and live within our means. In addition, a huge wedding is just something that I don't really care for. My boyfriend and I agreed that we are more into investing money into an engagement ring and our wedding bands. It's not about having a diamond, but it's more the symbolic meaning behind this as well as it being something we can wear and look at everyday to remind us of our love. They can also be passed down.

We've discussed having some sort of a wedding that is a cross between an elopement and a destination wedding, where immediate family members can come if they like and we would just get married without a reception, just a little ceremony. Right now we were thinking in the ballpark of $5,000 or less. Even at the $5,000 mark I sort of cringe knowing where we are with our financial state right now, but knowing that a wedding ceremony wouldn't take place for another few years (after I pass the bar/get a job) I realize it's an arbitrary number at this point and I can't predict what will happen in the future. We might think it's way too expensive and skip (postpone?) it or it might just be in our price range.

During this ceremony I've often thought of what kind of dress I'd want to wear. One thing I would want is not to spend an exorbitant amount on a dress. I'd want it to be white or beige-ish, but nothing extravagant. My cousin had a small court wedding just last month, and what was hilarious was selecting a dress for the mother of the groom. It took several days and they ended up finding a dress at Forever 21 (not ideal, but it worked). If you are looking for an appropriate dress for the mother of a bride/groom, definitely check out Soulmates Dresses and enter the giveaway by following the prompts in the Rafflecopter widget below! Good luck! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

10.09.2013

Falling Back into the Black Hole

I need to come clean. I have fallen into the black hole that is shopping, and I mean shopping. Having no income and living solely off of student loans is not good for my shopping habits, not good AT ALL. The reason why I first fell into the black hole of shopping often is because I was bored. I was bored in college and I had nothing else to do. It later became a hobby, and I started buying and selling often, going on treasure hunts and thrift shopping to find cool vintage things to sell. Later it turned into an unhealthy obsession with finding unlimited designer bags and shoes.

Well now....now, I've been turning to it because I am completely stressed out. I spoke to my counselor about how stressed I am with school and she mentioned something about avoidance behavior. It's completely normal for people to avoid doing work because they are stressed out. These past few weeks have been absolute hell for me. I procrastinated on my appellate brief for as long as I could until it hit me that I only had a week to tighten up my research and write the dang thing. I just submitted my brief last Thursday and finished the first draft of our contract for our moot court competition. I had a quiz last week and I have another midterm this Thursday, followed by a quiz next week, an oral argument the week after that, and a bunch of sparring sessions for our negotiating competition in November. It is only getting worse and worse on the school front.

My avoidance technique of choice has been SHOPPING. I cannot help turning to shopping online at night when I am stressed the F out. Why? It's easier than crying and it's easier to focus my attention on something that makes me happy rather than something that just depresses me. I also try to turn to exercising but I end up tiring myself out because I end up working out too much. Shopping can take only a few minutes and you don't have to go anywhere.

So let's talk about the damage shall we? I'm almost afraid to think about it. I've purchased a blush from MAC ~$25, a few drugstore make-up products from Ulta (mascara, foundation, concealer) ~$50, some Fall clothes from Old Navy ~$90, ankle boots from Charlotte Russe ~$50, and 2 massages ~$150. This is all within the past 2 months and I am probably missing a few little things that I can't even remember. I know, it's completely excessive, but I just can't find the strength to resist. Why do things seem more enticing when I'm stressed? Why does shopping help ease the pain of law school so much?! It's funny, I talk to my law school friends and they are the same way. Retail therapy is really that....retail therapy.

So this is it guys. I need to stop, and I need your help. What should I do? Btw, I am not using student loans to pay for all this stuff. My dad gives me money each month but instead of saving it like I usually do, I've somehow convinced myself otherwise. I need to get back on the saving bandwagon. I am not making any income right now!! Also, this will bite me in the butt when I get a job and realize I could have saved all this money. It's just been so easy to keep spending when I've already opened the door, and this semester has been the most stressful time of my entire life...I'm not exaggerating. I can't wait for this semester to just end.
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