1.31.2011

Weekly Spending & Fitness Recap 1/24-1/30/2011

Monday
NO SPEND DAY!
+35.85 returned some clothes
Cardio Mix - 1 hour

Tuesday
Dinner $27 (This lasted until Wednesday dinner so 4 meals for BF & me)
Ran 1 mile around hills

Wednesday
NO SPEND DAY!
Cardio Mix - 1 hour
Weights - legs

Thursday
Groceries $9.97
Weights - abs, arms, legs

Friday
NO SPEND DAY!
Turbo Kick - 1 hour

Saturday
USPS $10.50
Sold a bag +95
Wal Mart $51.47
24S.E.T. (cardio w/ weights) - 1 hour

Sunday
Gas $28.50
Elliptical 30 mins
Weights - Abs, legs
Ran 1.5 miles

TOTAL SPENDING: $127.44
TOTAL HOURS OF WORKOUT: 7

My total spending does not include any additional income I have made. I just feel like spending should show my total spending. If I allow myself to add all the money I made this week it will seem like I spent basically nothing and I don't want to think that since I don't want to think I can allow myself to spend more THIS week! I went kinda crazy at Wal-Mart on Saturday - bought snacks for work (I've been ravenous since working out so much) and bought necessities such as coolant for my car and contact lenses solution.

The weekend was pretty low-key, the BF and I just hung out all weekend and watched movies on our computer. I didn't work out AS MUCH as I wanted to. The 24SET class was truly amazing - cardio with weights made me feel SO good! I am definitely going back this Saturday. Sunday, on the other hand, was a TOTAL fail. I went to Step class at 9:30am and the teacher was so advanced and I could not get any of the routines down - she was mambo-ing and turning every other second on and off the step. I am usually pretty coordinated as I can keep up with Turbo Kickboxing, Zumba and other classes but this one was INTENSE. I literally left my step there and walked out within 10 minutes...I know I'm so embarrassed! I drove super fast to the other gym to get to Zumba class at 10 but of course it was already full :(


So that's pretty much it! Anyone else have a fitness story fail?

1.28.2011

My Problem with Cash


Don’t get me wrong now… I love me my money! Savings accounts, investments, 401k, debit cards, yada yada yada. Cash? Not so much. Yes it holds its value when I need to say, BRIBE someone on the spot or something but other than that I feel that I have transitioned into a cash-less human being. (Not talking about other forms of cash such as money market accounts or anything… just the plain green paper kind.)



Why I prefer not to carry cash:
  • I turned my Chase debit card into a rewards card. Using the credit option gets me tons of points. I've already redeemed over $75 worth of gift cards this year. 
  • When I have cash in my wallet I spend it. I’m more inclined to offer to pay if I have cash in hand. It makes me feel more generous and richer I suppose. Coincidentally when I go out with friends I actually bring cash because it's easier to split the bill up. 
  • I tend to be attracted into cash-only stores. "Oooh, a cash only sign, let's go in! I have cash!".............Those cups of froyo add up!
  • I have no problem spending it at the vending machine. Again this adds up when I get that gnawing pain in my stomach midday at work (for candy!) 
  • I don’t track my cash transactions as well as my debit ones since Mint.com doesn’t do it for me (I have to input those in manually). READ: I'm lazy and I hate receipts so I throw them away instantly. Yeah I'm one of those people.

  • This is related to my last point, but after I forget those cash transactions, it SCREWS UP MY BUDGET! Me no likey.


I know there's more to it but plain and simple, I never seem to be able to save it. It's too tempting and I am not good at saying no to temptation! 

There are pros to it too… emergency money, no transaction fees, etc.

This brings me to my next point. 

How much emergency cash do you all carry on a daily basis? 

I started reading up about mad money and having a stash of cash just in case of emergencies, ie. natural disasters and the banks are closed, power is out, ATMs not working, the world ends and you need money. I don't know, things like that. I figured I needed at least $150 and so I had a $100 bill and a $50 bill. After thinking about it some more I thought smaller bills would be easier to manage in case of an emergency because who's going to have change for big bills? THEN, when I had smaller bills in my wallet it somehow became easier for me to spend it. So now I'm left with a $10 bill, a $5 bill and four $1's....

Eventually I want to hide a safe of some cash under my backyard deck or something JUST in case and I want to have more emergency money with me. Right now I feel better when it's accruing interest in my savings and investment accounts though. I still need to replenish my $150 emergency cash in my wallet too, but it's sort of dangerous keeping it within reach every time I pay for something.

Interested in hearing how much everyone carries as "emergency cash", not jars or cash that you are saving for something. Just plain ol EMERGENCY CASH.

1.27.2011

Relationship Chronicles: Monthly Financial Meetings

Last night the BF and I had a long discussion about our finances and our future. We decided that we needed a monthly meeting the first weekend of each month to discuss our financial goals and milestones we need to be meeting (savings goals, future plans, etc) to stay on track.

He’s finally going to use Mint.com to monitor all his finances which I am really happy about. We’re going to use Microsoft Project to track our milestones and Excel to plan out how much to spend and save in order to reach our goals. I’m really excited! 

Nerdy? Kind of. 
Necessary? Probably so!


One page we weren’t both on was how long it would take to move out and actually live in a place of our own. At the moment we live with his parents semi-rent-free (he pays for their credit card bills ~$300/mo and I pay ~$150/mo for food/utilities) and they have been so gracious letting us stay. I will get into that more in another post, but anyway, I was thinking we would only be staying with them for a max of 2 years. BF, on the other hand, wants us to be financially secure and wants us to not worry about money, ever. His plan was to move out in about 5 years. Last night we figured out that we could possibly do it in 3 years.

Basically, we COULD move out right now and rent a place. In SoCal rent is close to $1500/mo for a tiny apartment. In our case, renting is just not for us. We would rather own a place and save money for a down payment. Our plan is to put down 25-30% for a condo, rent it out (while we are living with his parents), and pay it off in about 5 years. By the time we buy a 2nd property, that first investment property will be paid off and the monthly rent shall be purely profit, which will help pay the mortgage on the 2nd property.

Could we buy the 2nd property before paying off the first one? That was my question. I want to get out of his parents’ house sooner, but if we do that, we would be trying hard to pay off the first property while paying a high mortgage on the 2nd property. There is also the risk of interest rates increasing, and basing it off our current salaries, it would be difficult. By compromising, we are hoping for 3 years and hopefully we both get nice raises within that time frame to help speed up the process. In addition, BF is starting a side business which could potentially bring in $25k-$100k the first year...it could totally take off or it could sort of flop, but the good news is the start-up cost is basically nonexistent.

Is our plan foolproof? Probably not, but that’s okay. We’re working on it. I’m just glad that we’re both being open-minded and trying our best to give ourselves (and future kids) a comfortable life in the future.

How do you discuss finances with your partner? 

Or do you just keep it separate?

1.26.2011

How I Upgraded to First Class For Free!


I have been meaning to post this after New Year's but somehow January flew by and next week it's February. How'd that happen?!

As you may or may not know I caught a horrible combination of the flu, sinus infection and cold right before my flight for Christmas to visit my hometown. Originally I bought my plane ticket for $44.70, such an AWESOME price right? 

PROOF THAT I PAID $44.70 ORIGINALLY!
If you’ve flown Virgin America before you would know that they charge $25 for any checked baggage. Usually I would be okay with this since I only bring a carry-on and wouldn’t check in anything, but since it was Christmas, I had a huge bag of gifts to check in. When I checked in online, they offered me an option to upgrade to first class for an additional $40. 

First class? Nah, too expensive, I thought. Not for me, not for an hour flight. I absent-mindedly checked in online and added 1 bag to check in as well. The next day (day of my flight) I was running a high fever, coughing my brains out and had major body aches. The last thing I wanted to do was board a plane. After thinking about canceling my flight, I calculated that upgrading to first class would only be $15 (after checking 1 bag in for $25) since they offer 2 FREE bags to check in. Since I was sick it would be best to at least be comfortable while flying. It’s a no brainer right? I boarded first, sat in the front row, was brought 2 cups of hot tea, bottled water, a free movie, extra extra leg room, fancy food, first class bathroom and no waiting to exit the plane. It was the best! If only the flight was longer than an hour..I wish I wasn't sick so I could take advantage of the unlimited free alcohol! The gal next to me had about 4 bailey's on the rocks...

If I wasn’t sick I don’t think I would have even thought about first class but I actually went on for free since I checked in 2 bags anyway (would have been $50 to check in) but I paid $40 to upgrade to first class! Basically I SAVED $10 to fly first class! 

Next time I won’t brush it off as unnecessary… but now that I’ve had a taste of Virgin America’s first class, I don’t know how I can say no next time!

Do you find yourself avoiding first class fares? Or is it economy class all the way?

1.25.2011

Using My $20 Amazon Gift Card for...

I received my LivingSocial Amazon gift card the other day and applied the $20 to my account. Initially I thought I would use it to buy some shoes off Endless.com (one of my favorite shoe shopping sites) or that I would buy some books off Amazon that I have been sort of wanting to buy (fiction as well as personal finance).

This may also seem bizarre but I have been wanting to buy food items off Amazon - 1) candy and 2) pop chips! I love pop chips so much but buying them at my local Henry's is expensive for a tiny bag of chips. I can get 48 oz of pop chips off Amazon for only $16. I'm also quite the candy connoisseur (ok, a candyholic) and the BF has been wanting me to try Bon Bons out (a french candy, apparently his favorite as a child) and I've been dying to try them!
So what would you do? Buy the chips, candy, books, or save it for an awesome pair of shoes?

1.24.2011

Weekly Spending & Fitness Recap 1/17/2011-1/23/2011

Monday
NO SPEND DAY!
+130.47 returned boots
Pilates Pulse - 1 hour
Turbo Kick - 1 hour
Cardio Mix - 1 hour

Tuesday
Amazon Gift Card: $10
Lunch: $4.01
Ran 1 mile around hills

Wednesday
Breakfast $6.72
Lunch $3.86
Cardio Mix - 1 hour

Thursday
Gas $32.68
Zumba - 1 hour 

Friday
NO SPEND DAY!
Turbo Kick - 1 hour

Saturday
Lunch for 2 $21.66
Froyo $1.87
Dinner $10.11
Zumba - 1 hour 

Sunday
Groceries $47.64
WalMart $14.57
Cardio Mix - 1 hour
Zumba - 1 hour
Ran 1.5 miles around hills

TOTAL SPENDING: $153.12
TOTAL HOURS OF WORKOUT: 10!

Dangit I really wanted to come in around the $100 mark again this week but I failed. I ate out way too much. I'm hoping the groceries will last me at least 1.5 weeks (work lunches and breakfasts). I had an awesome week of working out though. I love group exercise classes!

How Much to Spend on Fitness Clothes?


CRAZY CONFESSION TIME. I have been yearning to buy some new workout clothes, namely sports bras, pants, cropped pants, and cute workout tank tops. I bought a pair of shorts and a workout top at Target last week for $20 total but I feel like I should invest in more. Before I learned how to embrace a saving mentality, I used to leave those floodgates open and buy whatever I wanted at the time. Now I find myself thinking about it more and spending days, nights and hours thinking about if I should make a $150 purchase (incl tax). $150!? It sounds like so much!

Here’s what I was thinking. I don’t care for quality work out clothes, but I do care for quantity. I love LuluLemon and all but I’m not willing to shell out $90 for a pair of pants no matter how awesome they make my butt look. Since I am working out about 5-6 times a week, I need clean ones everyday because I sweat up a storm! No one wants to wear stinky clothes and as much as I would want to do laundry every day, it’s not gonna happen people!
Forever 21 has an Activewear line and it’s actually pretty cheap. I could get a few sports bras, pants, a pair of shorts, and lots of cute tops for about $160 or so. The thing is, which ones do I really need? Should I set a limit on the amount I spend or the amount of items I buy? Btw, my boobs are small (A cup -_-) so I don’t need the craziest/most supportive sports bra ever made.

Because I’m so indecisive I’ll post my cart here and you can all help me out.

Disclaimer: Note that there are some items in here not fitness related... I feel ashamed haha but those earrings are so cute and so are those "tap shorts". Agh!!!!


 Please tell me I don't need all this stuff!!!!!!!!!!!!!

1.21.2011

Project Confidence Boost


I hate to come right out and say it, because I've always thought I was a confident person... but the BF has always told me that I need more confidence in myself. It's not that he's putting me down, he is usually there encouraging me and reminding me constantly that I don't give myself enough credit. I tend to put myself down a lot and think I can't stand to the competition...whether it be in school, jobs, parents, friends, life, etc. I don't always do this but I do it occasionally and when he reminds me, I feel better and know that I just need that little push sometimes.

I came across these tips on a gym trainer's blog, I forgot the website because I copied and pasted it onto my computer awhile back but if I find it I will of course post the source here. I thought I would share it here because it's been a general goal in my life to always stay confident. Confidence is key in looking good, feeling good, and as a result - doing well. It can help us stay focused on paying down debt, saving up for a house or staying on track with working out. I really believe confidence will make your life less stressful! I added my input underneath his tips.

DO YOU NEED A CONFIDENCE BOOST? 


* Look for a model (someone who has self confidence) and learn from them. What is it they do that makes them confident, how do they act?
I do this often, especially for working out. Looking at celebrities' perfect bodies really make me want to work up a sweat at the gym, but remember not to compare yourself too much! Things don't happen overnight, it takes time.

* Focus on your achievements rather than your failures. If you do find yourself thinking about how you failed then look at what you managed to do right and how you could correct what you did next time.
Agh, I tend to put too much pressure on myself when it comes to obsessing over failures rather than achievements. This is a major one that I need to stick with. It's good to learn from your mistakes but there must be some good that comes out of a bad situation!

* Learn how to feel good about yourself
This will be different for everyone, it depends on what makes YOU feel good daily. Dress for the life you want to live, wear those shoes that you love but everyone else hates, eat a healthy breakfast, etc. For me, when I work out a lot and eat healthy I feel really great. Working out gives you endorphins!


* Act as if you were self confident! You will feel more confident.
This one's a no brainer but I always forget to act it even though I don't feel confident.


* Focus on who you are and what you like about yourself. Why do your friends like you?
I'm not sure why my friends like me...maybe they don't haha! See there I go again with putting myself down. I think they like me because I'm super easy to talk to and I love to laugh and make them laugh. I think I'm pretty fun to be around if I say so myself.

* Prepare thoroughly for any task so that you can be sure you are ready.
I'm no stranger to planning and I think it helps a lot. If you go in with a plan, you will feel confident about what you are doing. In a sense, practicing something makes you feel more confident. Also, planning out what you will be doing lets you think about things to fix any oversight that may occur later. I use my phone for note taking and making lists, I'll share my favorite Android apps in another post.

* Work on any skills you need to do what you want, you can never be over trained or over skilled for any challenge in life.
Makes sense. This reminds me of that saying that you can never overdose on Vitamin C, not sure why lol. I think what the trainer is trying to say is that you can never be too prepared or too ready for what you plan to take on.

* Work on your relaxation skills

* Always smile and stand up straight
A big problem for me is standing up straight! I slouch way too much. This should be another new year's goal. It's so difficult to remember!

* Set reachable goals for yourself and break difficult tasks into smaller steps
Agreed!

* Reward yourself when you succeed no matter how small the achievement
I agree! Just not with anything that makes you take 2 steps back... like buying a new car when you get out of debt if you haven't saved up for it haha.

* Finally, I advise you not to be too competitive or compare yourself with others. Be yourself and accept that life is not a race against others but your self confidence depends on you and your personal needs.

1.20.2011

Finding Holes in Statements


Sometimes I am totally baffled by the things people say. Take for instance, what happened yesterday. I was looking through Craigslist postings last night and found an ad where someone wanted to trade their Samsung Epic 4G for an HTC Evo 4G. I have an Evo and was looking for someone that was interested in trading their Epic so obviously this seemed like a great idea. I contacted Joe* to let him know I was interested and that I had an Evo up for trade. 

*Joe is definitely not his real name. It’s a pretend name.

Hole #1
I asked Joe if the phone had a clean ESN. This would mean that the phone is not stolen and there is no money owed by using it. I want to activate it quickly with no hassle. 

Joe told me he had to go check the number, but the person he bought it from assured him it was a clean ESN. (Why would I even believe that other person, assuming there really was another person involved?)

Joe’s response: “The ESN is clean, I bought it at the Sprint store.”

I thought Joe just said he bought it off someone?! He’s lying to me now, isn’t he…

Hole #2
I then asked Joe about the phone itself. Are there any scratches, signs of use or wear, and is it broken in any way? Is it fully usable and is it in like-new condition?

Keep in mind Joe wants to trade his Epic for an Evo, remember?

Joe’s response: “Yes the phone is in great like new condition. The only reason why I am selling my phone is because I need to pay bills.”

What?! I am so lost… I thought we were trading. His ad also said he wanted to trade for an Evo. If you are trading for a phone equal in cost to the one you are trading, I don’t see how this will help you pay your bills.

Conclusion
Joe must think I’m not the average Joe (no pun intended), because if he thinks he has sold me with his awesome reasoning skills, I’m definitely NOT down for a trade. Maybe if he sounded like a semi-decent person I would have been interested in seeing the phone in person. In fact, I decided to lay off Craigslist for awhile and keep my precious phone. Thanks Joe!

(Don't get me wrong, bartering is awesome, I do it all the time with other online friends with bags, but this just put me off to trading with strangers)

So what do you guys think, am I being overly cautious and being too hard on poor Joe who just wants to trade his phone? Or is he totally the reason why Craigslist gets a bad rep?

1.19.2011

Starbucks Mobile Payments


Just read an interesting article on Mashable.

Starbucks is officially accepting mobile payments through iPhone, iPod touch & blackberry through the Starbucks Card Mobile app. I'm disappointed that it isn't out through the Android market but there is one through the App Brain market for those of you interested with an Android phone. Until Starbucks releases an official one for Android I will test it out with my iPod touch through Starbucks' free wi-fi.

 Starbucks Card Mobile is an app that you can download where you can add Starbucks cards, track rewards and reload cards via PayPal or credit card (debit card too I’m assuming). This app is pretty nifty since all you need to do is press the pay button and hold up a barcode to a scanner at the register instead of opening your wallet, counting out cash or handing over your card.

I thought this would make waiting in line nonexistent but it seems as though the “paying” process is just shortened. Obviously every customer will not be using mobile payments so you may well be still waiting in a long line if you are the only person using this app to pay. The benefit would be eliminating any Starbucks cards and gift cards you may have fattening up your wallet as well as easy access to your Starbucks account.

So I guess if I forget my purse or wallet somewhere, I won’t starve if I have my phone with me. Nice to know!

Will you be trying this out any time soon?

$10 for a $20 AMAZON GIFT CARD!!!!

I rarely buy things on LivingSocial but if you're going to use it anyway, IT IS A DEAL!

Today they are having a $20 Amazon gift card for only $10.

Click HERE for the deal!


I bought one for $10 because the limit is only 1 but I wish I could have gotten 2. I'm thinking of signing up under a different email just to get another one. Anyone else think that? I use Amazon a lot and will always need one. Btw, if you refer 3 people to buy one through your link, you will get your deal for free!

Happy hump day everyone! :)

1.18.2011

Weekly Money Check-Up

Weekly Money Check-Up a la My Pretty Pennies. It's still Tuesday so I figured I should post this up! 



1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on paying myself! I transferred $900 to my emergency fund. Sadly other than that, the most I've spent this past week was $21 on Sprinkles cupcakes! As a whole, I feel like I've spent a lot of eating out.. lots of fast food :( Oh wait I forgot I spent $65 at Aeropostale on some jeans & PJs, they were having a 40% off clearance sale so each pair came out to under $12... I think I may be returning them though since they are all too big.

2. Today I feel bored with money. Every time I transfer money to my savings accounts and investments, I feel like everything grows slowly. It could be that I compulsively check Mint.com and know every penny spent and earned to the miniscule detail but I am bored with it all. I think I will feel better once I hit the $10,000 mark with my e-fund, travel fund, and gift fund combined.

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was see my family and stay with them at the Hilton. It was so much fun and I was really happy to see them. Last time I saw them was on Christmas.

4. I will consider this week a success if I continue with my workout regimen. I took 3 one-hour workout classes yesterday. I'm beat so I'm taking a rest day today but I definitely want to take classes everyday until Sunday!

5. My signature outfit is skinny jeans, a white ruffley top, a cute jacket or sweater (if needed). I wear a bunch of boots (knee high mostly) and wedges. I like my H&M light wash skinnies the best. They're the "SLIM" style.

1.17.2011

Workout Schedule

Getting back in shape is like getting your finances back in shape. It takes a lot of dedication, motivation and time. I love group exercise classes and found all the classes I'd love to take. Here is my schedule of classes. They are spread across a couple different locations so I will get to pick and choose:


Monday:
PQ
10:30am Pilates Pulse (for sure)
MIRAMAR
4:30pm Turbo Kick

Tuesday:
BALBOA
4:30pm Pilates
UTC
4:30pm Yoga
MIRAMAR
5:30pm Turbo Kick
6:30pm Camp24

Wednesday:
PQ & MISSION VALLEY
4:30pm Pilates
UTC
4:30pm Muscle Blast
7:30pm Turbo Kick

Thursday:
UTC
4:30pm Zumba
6:30pm Turbo Kick
MISSION VALLEY
4:30pm Turbo Kick
MIRAMAR
5:30pm Camp24
BALBOA
7:30pm Pilates

Friday:
PQ
10:30am Turbo Kick (for sure. SO MUCH FUN!)
MIRAMAR
5:30pm Cardio Mix
Saturday:
BALBOA
8:30am Turbo Kick
10:30am 24S.E.T.
11:30am Zumba
UTC
9:00am Cardio Mix
11:00am Camp24
PQ
8:30am Step
9:30am 24Pilates Fusion
10:30am Core Central (45 mins)
11:15am Amp’d Abs (15 mins)
MIRAMAR & MISSION VALLEY
10:00am Turbo Kick

Sunday:
MIRAMAR
8:00am Zumba
PQ
8:30am Turbo Kick
UTC
9:00am Cardio Mix
10:00am Zumba
BALBOA
9:30 am Step
10:30 am Pilates
MISSION VALLEY
10:00am Turbo Kick

Along with my weekly spending recaps I will be posting my weekly workout recaps. I have found that tracking my spending has held me accountable on not spending frivolously. With working out, if I post my weekly workouts I'm thinking it will give me more motivation to go and be held accountable in case I find myself feeling like falling off the wagon again. I already know for sure that I will be taking classes on Monday, Friday and Saturday. On Tuesday-Thursday and Sunday, I will probably take 1 or 2 rest days and the rest of the days I will take a class or just go to the gym to do some running on the treadmill, elliptical, and weight machines. 

If you are in the SD area and take these classes (all at 24 hour fitness), feel free to email me so we can take some together! :)

Weekly Spending Recap 1/10/2011-1/16/2011

Monday
NO SPEND DAY!

Tuesday
Coffee/breakfast $6.07

Wednesday
NO SPEND DAY!

Thursday
NO SPEND DAY!

Friday - Payday!
Target (workout clothes) $20.50
Sally's Beauty (hair dye for my mom) $9.22
Dinner for 2: $17 (cash)

Saturday
Breakfast: $10 (cash)
Sprinkles Cupcakes $21.00
Gas $15

Sunday
NO SPEND DAY!

TOTAL SPENDING: $98.79

Wow, I have never seen my weekly spending so low, ever. The BF paid for some things this week (Chipotle on Thursday, dinner on Sunday) and then my parents paid for a lot too (dinner on Saturday, lunch on Sunday, hotel). We had breakfast at the hotel for free on Saturday and I also didn't buy anything when we went to the mall on Saturday and Sunday :) I paid for $15 of gas on Saturday though because we couldn't find an Arco and we were running on empty for almost 30 miles. I used my AMC gift card (from Chase rewards points) on Saturday night and my Arco gas gift card on Sunday. All in all, a good week... hopefully I can do the same this week. I'm trying not to buy lunch today but I am going to pilates class on my lunch break and I didn't bring anything so I hope I don't get hungry.

If anyone has an Android phone... you should know about the free tethering! I used the app PDA Net on my EVO at Hilton because they didn't offer free wi-fi. I saved $10 a day! Plus, there's 4G there so my internet was lightning fast. I was able to stream shows and everything. It seemed just as fast as wi-fi at home. I love my phone!

It really sucks that I have to work on MLK Jr. Day when everyone else has the day off!
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