Weekly Spending/Fitness Recap 4/18-4/24/11

I am recovering from a seemingly short 3-day weekend and quick flights to and from SF. It was wonderful spending time with my entire family, and exactly what I needed to get away from the reality of work and the daily grind. I wish I could have stayed longer as I am sure there is no such thing as too much family time. On Friday right after work, I caught a flight home, my best friend and her hubby picked me up and we went straight to the mall. On Saturday I went to Target to buy my best friend's baby shower gifts and then went to her baby shower with my mom, which was an hour away! On Sunday, we went to my cousin's house for Easter BBQ and watched movies all day. Yesterday I had breakfast and bottomless mimosas with one of my good friends from high school, got my hair done (I know, again) at my favorite hairdresser (she fixed it this time FINALLY!) and then ran errands to see my grandma, aunt and best friend again before my mom dropped me off at the airport. Now I feel as though I'm coming down with a sickness, and I really really hope I can ward it off because I cannot afford to get sick right now. I have way too much work and I need to get back on track with my gym schedule.

I really hate looking at this week's past spending. I promise I will NOT eat out this week!

$8.86 Lunch

$12.23 Lunch
Ran 2 miles outdoors

$4.86 Breakfast
$5.98 Dinner
$40 Gas 

$15.01 Lunch

$2.49 Bagel
$3.45 Starbucks
$19.72 Dinner for 3

$74.14 Target (baby shower gifts, but BF gave me $40)

$3.41 USPS
$6.99 Ice cream for the Easter party



My Dad Just Bought a Condo!

The condo mania buying frenzy story continues... it's a buyer's market right now because as I inevitably spoke to my dad last night, he and my stepmom bought their first condo! It's amazing to me that I have 2 families that are completely different. My mom bought her first home in her 20's when she started working and kept on making equity and buying larger homes with huge down payments. Now she and my stepdad live in a home they purchased for $550,000 that is worth a million dollars, and it's completely paid off. My dad, on the other hand, has always lived a life of renting. I'm ecstatic that he finally bought his first condo and that I get to share in his excitement.

Actual photo of one of the units in the complex. In beautiful Anaheim Hills.
They were lucky to buy a beautiful like-new 3-story condo with an attached garage and it's a 1 bedroom 1.5 bath. It was a short sale, and the list price was $200k and they put in an offer of $210k. The bank approved it within less than a month! They only offered 5% above list price but the bank wanted to sell it since it has been on the market for 89 days. Since my dad is a veteran they took off $4,000 off the closing costs so in total they are paying $216,000 for the place.

We're in a pretty comparable situation since the condo we want is listed at $180k BUT it's a 1 story 2 bedroom 2 bathroom condo with an underground garage. The hard decision to make now is how much to offer. We were thinking of going 10% above list price but it has been on the market for over 100 days, does that mean we should try for lower? I am getting super anxious right now! We're going to see the condo today... I'll update you guys with the findings. Thanks for hanging with me on this condo hunt!


On to Getting Pre-Approved!

Right now I am extremely excited! I'm sorry that you all have been bombarded with housing posts but that's what's been on my mind these days and it's what I've been saving rigorously for. Today after work, BF and I will be heading to Navy Fed (BF works for a navy contractor) to get pre-approved for a condo.

We actually had a broker, a family friend, find us some rates but we want to see what else is out there. This condo will be our first place but it will be an investment property. This area is insanely convenient to everything in SD, close to downtown, across from malls/shopping/eating, minutes away from the trolley and in the heart of the city. We think it's perfect! The rental rates average $1,700/mo and our monthly mortgage payment would be around $1,200 or less with the FHA loan. I can honestly say this is the first time I've been head over heels in love with a condo after seeing many in different areas, and the price is right at a list price of $180,000. Of course it's a short sale so I'm not sure if the bank will approve of our offer but it's in our budget. The amenities are great - pool, spa, underground parking for 2, wifi, fitness center - perfect for college students, families or young professionals, which this area has an abundance of. Even if we don't get this particular unit, I will definitely wait for another one in this complex.


Our Decision to Build

In my last post I shared some news about building a house! We are planning on building a tiny 600 square foot home. We are not planning on having kids any time soon so it will be plenty of space for BF, me and our dog. The tiny house revolution intrigues me and although one day I would love a big house on an acre of land, I still find comfort in having a small but well-designed brand new home.

Why We Decided to Build a House

Cost - A 1-bedroom condo in the locations we love in San Diego cost anywhere from $170-$250k. A 2-bedroom condo in the same locations can cost way past $300k. Most of these homes are condo conversions, meaning the insides are old and the outsides are new, which is something I am not too comfortable with. Building our own house would mean we would get brand new everything for LESS than half the price of a 1-bedroom condo, our budget is under $100k. We will even get to customize the space to our needs and we won’t have to pay HOA fees, which range from $300-$400/mo here. We would be sharing utility bills with the main house which greatly reduces those costs as well. Besides not having a monthly mortgage, we are also avoiding having to rent a place which ranges between $1,000-$1,500 for a 1 bedroom tiny apartment. We are talking about saving over HUNDREDS of dollars in avoidance costs. 

Lot – We do not have to buy a lot right now because we currently live with BF’s parents. They have a huge backyard with a pool, a huge lawn, and even more space on the other side. They want us to use this lot to build our house and they have been suggesting this since last year before we even thought about it too much. Eventually BF’s parents will give the house to him and his 2 siblings (equal shares) and BF and I would just buy them out so that we own the entire house. Basically this house will bring up the property value in the future. I absolutely love the neighborhood in La Jolla and the homes are hitting the million dollar range. Imagine the possibilities!

Design – We do not like living in apartment style condos because of the lack of privacy and how thin the walls are. I hate hearing people walk, use their shower/sink, and open their garage. In addition we would get to customize the sizes of the rooms which is very useful to us. Since we appreciate cooking, we will get to have a say in the kitchen design! I also want a gorgeous bathroom which we will be able to do since the house is not big and we can afford to put more money into that.

[Both pics from The Tiny Life] 500 sq foot homes

I think the most intriguing part of building this space is the design and open layout of it all. 500-600 square feet can be a lot if you space everything out and utilize every part of the home. Also, having a smaller space means you can spend more money on the architecture, the expensive countertops and appliances, and a lavish bathroom (2-person standing shower or whirlpool spa bathtub w/ jets anyone?).

All in all, we know it’s going to take a lot of research, hard work and dedication but we are determined to do this for ourselves. The most important aspect of this project is that we both decided on it together, and we constantly discuss our future. We have already spent the past few days discussing our plans, wants, needs, researching permits/foundations/structures, estimating costs, measuring the area, reading up on the municipal code, checking the zoning, etc. I will be sharing our experiences on this blog so I hope you will all join me on this journey. I can’t wait for the finished product! 


Weekly Spending/Fitness Recap 4/11-4/17/11 + Exciting News

My weekly recaps seem to be the only thing keeping this blog afloat these days! Thanks for bearing with me as I try to organize my life right now. This week was super spendy because I went on a little shopping binge on Monday. It was uncalled for but very worth it because I bought some items that I have been pondering over for awhile now. Anyway, I will return some purchases that I don't like (I know, I'm a returnaholic).

I have exciting news! I really need to reign it in with spending now because... drumroll please, we are going to build a house! Okay maybe not a house but a 1 bedroom 1 bath 600-800 square foot little house. It's going to have a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, closet space, dining room, living room and hopefully laundry facilities. Ideally it will be comfortable enough for about 5 years while we save for our dream home. We will still be buying an investment property to rent it out but this investment is also a cheap but great addition to the lot. We have been researching it and I will write a more in-depth post about our decision soon.  For now I am super excited and if anyone has advice to share please let me know.

$134 A&F
$58.85 F21
Ran 2 miles outdoors

$2.30 Bagel
$4.98 Lunch
Ran 2 miles outdoors

$8.43 Lunch
Cardio Mix - 1 hour

$7.60 Lunch w/ coworker
$8.93 Rite Aid

Turbo Kick - 1 hour

$23.35 Target

Ran 3 miles at the beach

(will most likely return some clothing purchases next week)


Say Goodbye to Chase Ultimate Rewards

I mentioned in my last post that I opened up a USAA rewards checking account and I wanted to use it as my main checking account because my Chase ultimate rewards checking is costing me $25 a year (that's the annual fee to participate). I called up Chase yesterday (does anyone else hate those stupid outsourced customer service centers?!) and told them I wanted to terminate my rewards card and get back to the original no-fee checking account. Now, I heard that Chase was going to be cancelling their rewards program for debit cards but I didn't know there was an actual date.

Say Goodbye to Chase Ultimate Rewards Program on July 19, 2011! What this means for me?

I am happy that I won't be charged the $25 fee for this year which means I only paid for it for 2009 and 2010, and I was able to get quite a few $25 gift cards (about $100 worth) so I think it's safe to say I got my money's worth. I have a few points racked up and will probably try to rack up more points until I can get another gift card since I will still be able to use the points after July. I just won't be able to earn points after that date.

Once the Chase rewards program ends, I will be using my USAA checking account for rewards and changing my paycheck direct deposit so that it goes into my USAA account and not into my Chase account. To avoid the $10 monthly fee on my Chase checking account I will need to maintain a daily balance of $1,500 which is easily doable and I can just keep that as my short-term e-fund since it's easily accessible if needed. Without that $1,500 balance and without one monthly direct deposit of $500+, Chase customers are charged $10/month which I think is freaking RIDICULOUS! Anyone else miss WaMu!?

On another note, Chase and USAA both have the overdraft protection program where they will take out money from your savings if you overdraft on your checking account which I think is a fabulous idea. Not that I ever overdraft but if I ever do, it's nice to know that $35 charge won't hit me.

I have heard that other debit card rewards programs will be terminating as well because merchants are now getting a break on the fees they are charged when customers use their debit cards as a credit purchase. Anyone affected by this program?


Significance of Defining Savings Goals

It's hard to believe that it's already Spring 2011 and pretty soon we'll be hitting summer and then December will roll around and we will buying Christmas gifts again! It truly is hard to keep on saving and saving when there is no clear reason for it. I have defined my savings accounts accordingly such as emergency fund (which I use for my down payment fund), travel fund, gift fund, etc. Maybe the reason that I feel a bit tired of saving is because everything is just a number on my screen. I haven't gone on any nice trips or vacations or used my e-fund for an emergency (thank God!) but I feel as though this is the boring part of saving and I'm losing my drive.

Don't get me wrong I still love saving and I do it diligently like brushing teeth, it's just second nature to me. But I'm not motivated to starve myself of fun, some shopping and eating out. It's all about balance and I think that's what I struggle with the most. I like to be in total control of my finances which will lead me to a road of financial starvation at times (meaning I save every penny) but I transfer such large amounts to my down payment fund that I honestly think of it as a credit card bill. Since I already put it away for my down payment on the condo, it feels like the money is not mine. I don't know if that's a good thing or bad thing!

Since I've hit my $10,000 savings goal I need to start focusing on my travel fund which sits at $900. I want to bring that up to at least $3,000 by the end of this year. I also need to focus on my gifts goal which is at a measly little $225, and that needs to be at ~$500 by November. You all know that I opened up accounts at USAA but I found out that you can't deposit checks unless you have a loan or a credit card with them, which I don't so I'm a little bummed out. I don't know if I should close my Chase accounts yet because that was one of the main reasons I decided to bank with USAA.

I'm thinking of using the USAA accounts for a down payment on a 2nd property, the one we will actually live in and possibly making it my main checking account because of the free rewards. With my new USAA accounts, I now have 6 accounts - 4 savings and 2 checking accounts. Is that too much? I also have 2 roth IRAs and 1 401k at 2 different brokerages. How many accounts does everyone else have?


Weekly Spending and Fitness Recap 4/4-4/10/11

This past week was super hectic and crazy, it's surprising I actually have time to post this today! I went to North Carolina last Tuesday-Friday which explains the sporadic spending. We were fed so much food there and I didn't have time to do anything else besides meetings from 8am-6pm and then social events from 6-10pm. I lost my driver's license after security at the airport so I was still able to catch my connection to NC and I was stressing out so much. I paid for wi-fi on the plane to try to contact the airport, HR, my parents and BF to help me get new identification. Luckily someone turned it in at the airport and my BF was able to pick it up and overnight it to me :) All in all it was a great week, I met a lot of people that I work with everyday in person finally!

$7.35 Travel toiletries

$12.95 Wi-Fi on Plane

Ran 1 mile outdoors

Dancing? 2 hours

$7.93 Overpriced salad at airport
$5.10 Overpriced water at airport

$15.86 Breakfast for 2

$13.68 Lunch for 2
Ran 2 miles at the beach


I know my spending is extremely low this week, don't worry I already made up for it yesterday by going on a shopping binge, but I'll save that for next week's recap! In other news, I opened USAA checking and savings accounts since my dad was in the Navy. I really like that there are no fees and you get rewards. I will do a comparison with my current bank Chase to show why I chose to open accts with USAA. I'm still having trouble letting go of Chase because they have locations everywhere, and also because I opened up my WaMu account when I was 17. I guess I'm too attached! Anyone else too attached to their bank? Over the years, Chase started charging tons of fees and frankly I don't know why I still bank with them. I think I'm more overwhelmed to change my direct deposit, automatic roth IRA contributions, and everything else related to my Chase acct. I'm also hesitant to close it because I want to view my transactions for the past few years on Mint.


Weekly Spending and Fitness Recap 3/28-4/3/2011

Ahhhhhh! I don't even want to LOOK at this week's spending. This is what happens when I get careless. This must stop NOW! To be fair, what skewed my weekly spending was obviously the major trip to the hair salon. My hair is indeed fabulous and looks 20x healthier, but it really hurt to spend that much money on my hair. I definitely would go back to the salon and stylist I went to but I just can't and won't go that often. Luckily my hair is darker now and my roots won't be showing until it fades again.

I also made a few purchases I could have done without this week such as the Britney Spears album, these thigh high socks I ordered from Ebay, donuts and a wii game. When I type it all out like that it sounds bad but I guess I need to hold back on these little self-indulgences! We also BBQed yesterday and I had to buy some snacks for a business trip this week.

$240 Hair, Shampoo + Conditioner

$14.99 Britney Spears Album
+$38.83 Shoes
Ran 2 miles outdoors

$5.11 Starbucks
$14.99 Socks
$7 Ebay Groupon
Ran 1 mile outdoors

$7 Groceries
$20 Gas
$14.10 Rite Aid (toiletries)
Ran 2 miles outdoors

$11 Tip at restaurant
Turbo Kick - 1 hour


$8 Donuts
$19.56 Gamestop
$21.94 Groceries
+115 Macy's

($229.86 after returned purchases)

BF and I had our monthly financial meeting this past Friday and we are still condo hunting. What we didn't expect was that our purchase price would increase by $100k. We were originally looking to buy a condo for $125k but after checking out an assortment of condos priced differently and in various locations, we decided on a location and the price range for that area is significantly more - about $200-275k but after discussing this almost everyday for the past month, we are okay with our decision. Along with the higher price of a condo, we want to put more towards the down payment. We have found a few that we like but everyone seems to be buying right now, which means we are always late to make an offer and someone puts in an offer first. A few years ago, prices were about $400k for similar condos and the area is pricey. If anyone knows SoCal, the area we are looking to buy in is right next to La Jolla in San Diego.

Anyway that's just a little update with my life. I'm leaving for North Carolina at 6am tomorrow morning and won't be back until Friday night. I'm hoping I can squeeze in a post or 2 but I will be in meetings all day and I want to try to fit in a few gym sessions at night at the hotel. Hope everyone has a great week! 
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