3.28.2011

Weekly Spending and Fitness Recap 3/21-3/27/2011

Wow, all I could manage to post for the past week are 2 back to back spending and fitness recaps. I apologize for the sporadic and minimal effort posting, I hope to resume posting to normal frequency ASAP! This week was a total fail in terms of working out because of an impromptu road trip that BF planned to visit my best friend! It was so much fun and he even paid for most of our gas and food for the trip.

I plan to step it up this week for working out in addition to aiming for spending less, but I am going to the salon today as I mentioned in my last post. The stylist quoted me about $200ish so I am rather nervous to be spending that much. I hope that the color and cut turn out as fabulous as all the photos I have seen and reviews I have read. Wish me luck! This is the most I have ever spent on my hair in one trip!

Monday
$6.35 Breakfast

Tuesday
NO SPEND DAY!
Ran 2 miles outdoors

Wednesday
NO SPEND DAY!
Cardio Mix - 1 hour

Thursday
$4 Bakery
$11 Salad/Soup
Ran 2 miles outdoors

Friday
NO SPEND DAY!

Saturday
$27 Lunch
$35 Gas

Sunday
NO SPEND DAY!

TOTAL SPENDING: $83.35

I know this current week will be worse in terms of spending so it's nice to see a low amount for this past week. I haven't been as aggressive in putting money in my down payment fund and I should really get back on track with that. I have been putting in about $600-700 per paycheck but I would like to get back to putting $900-1000 per paycheck like I used to before this month. I also added more to my travel fund and it currently sits at $900ish. I also have a lot of returns to make... some items from my F21 order, my Shoebuy order (those leather mocs I talked about, didn't work out) and a Macy's Christmas gift that my dad wants me to return for him. I should be getting about $150 back total :)

3.25.2011

Weekly Spending and Fitness Recap 3/14-3/20/2011

I know I know...I've been terrible at blogging. I have been really worn out from work in addition to life. I have been diligently tracking my spending and I know I'm almost a week behind but at least I posted it on here. I now feel more accountable for my spending. For some reason I had cash in my wallet and I have been spending it like no tomorrow.

What's worse is I was long overdue for a haircut and color but my hairdresser seemed to have an off day when I went in on Sunday. My haircut is horrible (looks like she barely touched it and it's uneven) and the color of my roots are almost brassy orange. I'm going to a more upscale salon this Monday to fix everything and I'm basically never going back to my previous hairdresser.


Monday
NO SPEND DAY!
Cardio Mix - 1 hour

Tuesday
$17 Chipotle for 2
Ran 2 miles outdoors

Wednesday
$1.60 Vending Machine
$20 Dinner for 2

Thursday
$30 Bag
+60 FitCouture return
Ran 2 miles outdoors

Friday
$137.67 F21
$11 Movies
$7 Dinner
Turbo Kick - 1 hour
Saturday
NO SPEND DAY!

Sunday
$80 Hair Salon
$9.35 Lunch

TOTAL SPENDING: $313.62

3.18.2011

Forever 21 is donating 100% of every dollar spent online today to Japan.



Happy Friday! 

When I opened up my email this morning, I found an email from Forever 21 stating that they would be donating 100% of online orders today to Japan. It’s amazing to see how many retailers, celebrities, and just ordinary people from different countries are helping out as much as they can. Sandra Bullock and Demi Lovato have donated $1 million dollars and the large company my BF works for is also donating $1 million. 

I was planning to donate to the earthquake and tsunami relief efforts in Japan and was going to donate $100 to Red Cross this weekend. Since I saw this email, I was bought a plethora of clothes ranging from workout clothes to basics that totaled $140. I’m happy that 100% of my money will be going towards Japan but it was also an extra perk that I was able to receive items in return. I will most likely donate $100 more since my company matches any donations that I make.

Forever 21 is donating 100% of the money you spend on ONLINE orders today, March 18, 2011 from 12:01am to 11:59pm.  

Will you be shopping online at Forever21.com today or donating in any way?

3.15.2011

Is Being a Perfectionist Harmful to Your Wallet?


If you’re one who likes to shop, perhaps you’ve been involved in “The Hunt”


Basically, “The Hunt” is a long and dragged out hunt for THE ONE. I think this is what essentially led me to spend an insurmountable amount on pretty clothes, shoes and bags in the past. I’m such a perfectionist that I have to have what I am envisioning. I’m all about details, material, fit and color. When I shop I have a little perfectionist inside my head telling me what to look for. When it all plays out, I usually settle for simple pieces because I can’t find what I’m looking for. Other times, I end up spending much more than I had intended because I couldn’t find anything cheaper that fit my criteria. I’ve gone on long and windy journeys looking for the perfect piece. With my Balenciaga bag, it took forever to find the perfect leather that I wanted in the right shade of black. When I want to find heels with the right straps, platform, leather, color, heel thickness and heel height, I can never find it for a cheap price. If I had any creative talent for sewing or designing (or any artistic capabilities for that matter), I would probably create the stuff I’d wear and it would be a hell of a lot cheaper. Alas, I don’t have the means to make stuff or the money to hire someone to make stuff for me so I will have to figure out how to stop being such a perfectionist when I shop. 

As I grow more mature, I sort of miss how easy it was to shop in high school because going to Abercrombie and picking clothes was easy. Now that I know what fits and flatters my body type and lifestyle, I’m always looking for specific criteria in the things I shop for. In a way, the fact that I am just a general overthinker contributes to my perfectionist ways. I will think long and hard before I make a purchase and then I will think that I need to spend money on something I absolutely love, otherwise there’s no point in buying it. Sometimes I think “The Hunt” actually gets you to succumb into NEEDING that certain item. When you can’t find this wonderful product that you’ve made up in your head, it makes you want it that much more. When products are unavailable or are too expensive and exclusive, I tend to think that I need them too. I can spend hours on Shopstyle, eBay, Endless, Asos, Piperlime and a plethora of other online shops browsing for items that fit my specific guidelines.

What I’m leading up to is perfectionism. I am a big one when it comes to shopping and I think that plays a large part in my spending habits. I have toned it down quite a bit since starting this blog but since I always like to figure out the real reason behind things, I’ve narrowed down the reason for hefty spending to my perfectionism. 

Readers – Are you a perfectionist in terms of shopping? How so? Could you provide any tips on how I could play my perfectionist shopping tendencies down?

3.14.2011

Weekly Spending and Fitness Recap 3/7-3/13/2011

This week was unbelievably difficult for me because I only had about $8 in my checking account (sent too much to savings last paycheck) and $30 cash in my wallet. Turns out, I actually could do it! I'm going to have to leave as little as I can in my checking account before each paycheck. It makes me feel as though I need to live paycheck to paycheck but also teaches me to be more aware of my money and to budget accordingly. I only had $25 to spend to get gas this week, so it felt like a reality check that I couldn't get a full tank of gas when I'm so used to filling up my gas tank. I still was able to go about my normal weekly spending habits but I was definitely more aware and spent less than what I had. Although I was only "broke" for 4 days, it was an unexpected money lesson. Even with no money in my checking account, I was able to go to the gym and work out. This makes me want to actually participate in some No Spend Day challenges.

Anyway, if you're wondering why I bought moccasins on Saturday, I have a funny story. I really like wearing moccasins as opposed to ballet flats. They're comfortable (especially Minnetonka's Kilty Moc) but I bought the ones with the soft sole and wore them out for a few weeks already! Since I loved them so much, I bought the deerskin version (this time with a sole) so that I'm not actually wearing slippers in public. 

Monday
Bagel $2.29

Tuesday
McDonald's $3.00
Ran 2 miles outdoors

Wednesday
NO SPEND DAY!
Cardio Mix - 1 hour

Thursday
NO SPEND DAY!
Ran 2 miles outdoors

Friday
Vending Machine $1.60
Gas $25
Turbo Kick - 1 hour
Saturday
Moccasins $38
24SET (Cardio w/ weights) - 1 hour

Sunday
NO SPEND DAY!

TOTAL SPENDING: $69.89 (my lowest ever!)

3.13.2011

Lazy People + Personal Finance FTW!


Sidenote: Thanks for all your great comments lately, I have been reading them all and I am glad you can all relate to what I post. The best part about blogging is interacting and hearing from your readers. I find we all can feed off each other and we all influence each other in some way. So thanks again for stopping by!

Sidenote 2: I haven't been able to stop thinking about the disastrous earthquake and the aftershocks and tsunamis that have hit Japan. There's not a moment that goes by where I feel devastated that this happened to many people. My heart goes out to everyone there and it ceases to amaze me that throughout this all, they remain so gracious to each other. They are such a strong country and I know they will make it.

------------

Now, if you were to categorize me into a lazy person or a not so lazy person, I’d fall somewhere in the middle. I’ve found that it’s pretty easy to get into your finances even though it seems like a big chore.

Technology makes it easier to track your money.

I’ve raved about my love for Mint.com before but it’s seriously my favorite lazy person tool for finances. I don’t have to save my receipts, add up my transactions on an excel spreadsheet, create budgets, or categorize my spending on my own. I log in on my phone so that I carry it wherever I go, which helps when I’m out shopping or want to take a quick look at one of my accounts. I still do some of my finances on my own but for those that are not as financially organized, you can within minutes.

Get Automated.

Automating is not new. You just set up the automatic payment to pay bills or set up that transfer to savings each month so you don't have to think about it. I still like to pay for my credit card myself each month and make more transfers to savings on my own, but my money gets automatically transferred to my roth IRA and 401k each month. You can also request the billing date of mostly everything these days so that all of your billing dates are on the 1st.

Set it and Forget it.

I'm not talking about a kitchen gadget here. After you track your expenses for a bit and have enough money to spend, make sure you are contributing as much as you can to your 401k and/or Roth IRA. I put 5% into my 401k and 15% into my Roth each month. It wasn't that difficult for me because I was used to paying a lot on my credit card, so instead of paying Citibank, I'm paying myself now. Once you set these automatic contributions, set it and forget it! Pat yourself on the back for thinking of your future. 

Lazy People Can Save Too.

After work and especially on weekends, I'm much too lazy to cook a gourmet meal. I find that since I don't use too many ingredients, my grocery list is short and I don't spend too much. I know this will change if I ever have kids, but for now it's saving me tons of money. On the weekends, the BF and I get lazy to go out at night or do something grandiose so we end up saving a ton by finding free activities to do at home (right now we're stuck on playing Call of Duty Black Ops) or just going to the gym.

How does being lazy benefit your personal finances?

3.11.2011

15 (+2) Tips to Fight the Shopping Bug


I talk a lot about shopping on here, hence the title of this blog! In all honesty I would have to say my life revolves around shopping, not necessarily just for clothes and shoes (although about 75% of it is) but also for make-up, toiletries, groceries, food, etc. These have been my methods of survival when it comes to the shopping bug (these tips are mostly for clothes and shoes). Please let me know if you need clarification on any of these suggestions! I just saw that Money Pincher and Well Heeled Blog wrote similar posts. Check them out (click on their links and it will direct you to their posts). Great minds think alike!

15 (+2) Tips to Fight the Shopping Bug 

1. Write down ALL the items I want on paper
I have a notebook that I carry with me everywhere just to write down thoughts but I have noticed it’s turned into a money tracker/list of wants notebook. I tend to write down the items I want from particular stores or other splurges (like a haircut) and add them all up. After coming back to them in a few days, I usually don’t want them. 

2. Google ACTUAL pictures of the items on people or "in real life"
THIS is what really helps me. Photographers make items look lust-worthy online. Google the item name and you will most likely find it photographed for an eBay auction or on someone else’s lookbook or blog. I like seeing things "in real life" and worn by actual real people. This helps me in figuring out what it REALLY looks like and from there I usually decide I don’t want it. 

3. Add items to online cart and leave it in there
When I add items to my cart I have this mentality that I will buy it later, so it’s sort of bookmarked for me when I come back to that site. Since I don’t have to think about it too much, when I come back to the site, chances are stuff in my size are sold out or I just don’t want it anymore. The initial “wanting” stage when first seeing an item has worn off. 

4. Go to the store and try it on
This happens often to me. Everything looks enticing online because of the perfect lighting, model, and styling. If you can, go to the store and touch the material and see how it fits on you. Chances are it doesn’t look half as good in person as it did on my shiny laptop screen. This happens to me a lot and I end up wasting postage and gas to return the dang thing

5. Calculate how much money you will have left
When I add up everything that I want to buy, the total amount is insane! It’s almost an entire paycheck. Obviously I don’t buy everything I want but IF I think about it, it puts it into perspective for me for how much I would really spend on crap. This helps me curb those wants and also space out major purchases.


6. Think of what you could buy with the money if you don’t spend it
Is what you want equal to your entire gas budget for the month? Usually good quality pieces are. Think about if those $200 pair of ankle boots are really worth a month’s worth of food. That usually snaps me out of yearning for expensive but useless garb. 

7. Read reviews
Seriously, look and read for all reviews for the item you want. There will usually be some negative ones. All people are different so you can’t always count on those 5-star reviews that rave and rave about a product. Beware of companies' false advertising and rating their own products 5 stars. 

8. How much would you REALLY pay for it?
Look at the item, think of what you would wear it with and if it DIDN’T have a price tag. How much would you pay for it if you could give it your own price? Stores mark up their items like crazy so they can make a profit. If you wouldn’t pay $50 for that polyblend blouse, don’t buy it just because it’s on sale for $50!

9. Obvious one here – Focus on savings goals
I like using my Mint app on my phone to stay aligned with my savings goals while I’m out and about. I use the goals feature to see how I’m doing. Looking at your accounts will make you realize that saving is more important because you've come a long way to save that much money.  Blowing money on shopping will only deter you from those savings goals you desperately want to reach (travel fund, down payment fund?).


10. Buy a small pick me up treat
This can be fro-yo, an iced caramel macchiato, song off iTunes, a used book off Amazon. Just make sure it doesn’t break the bank or open the floodgates to heavier spending. This could be a catalyst but it could also be a great substitute to fight the bigger urge to shop. 

11. Head to the library
My favorite! A library card is usually only $2 or so. I absolutely love reading fiction and chick lit so I happily get books there instead of buying the $16 hardcovers at Barnes & Noble. 

12. Find free games on your phone (if you have a smartphone) or on your computer.
Free games are everywhere. I don’t know anyone that hates playing games. There are games for everyone! My personal faves are Words With Friends, MegaJump, and any of those Sally’s Salon type games. 

13. Play dress up
I could spend hours playing dress up and I’m a grown up (or so I think). In the mornings when I get ready I don't have much time, so when I really examine my closet in my free time, I end up pairing new outfits together and falling in love with pieces I already have. Try hanging outfits together such as a blouse with a cardigan you normally wouldn't conjure in the morning to make sure you will wear it together.


14. Calculate cost per wear
For a $3,000 bag, you will have to wear it 4,000 times to get the cost per wear down to $0.75. Is it worth it to you? Will you SERIOUSLY wear that bag that many times? If I will need a dress for a special occasion I think about the cost per wear and if I won’t wear it that often, the price should show that. 

15. Head to the gym or take a walk
Get active! That always takes my mind off shopping. I will usually be too tired to spend money afterwards. Whether it’s hitting the gym, taking your dog for a walk, or cleaning, you will get an endorphin high from working out! That’s always a great substitute for the shopping high I yearn for. 

16. Talk it out
When I talk about that sweater I want with the BF or my BFF, they always slap me back to reality, sometimes literally. OK joking, not literally, but they always put some sense into me or give me a 2nd opinion. They’re always looking out for me so I would suggest finding people you can rely on to stop your urges (not someone who will advocate it!).

17. Write it out
Lastly, I like to write it out. Writing makes me feel better and feels like I upchucked the shopping urge onto my blog instead of at the store and upon my wallet. I also write in a notebook (yes with a real pen and actual paper!) and that helps a lot. Try it out!
I hope you enjoyed these tips! These are all my personal tips for avoiding the shopping bug.
 
What helps you?!

3.08.2011

Marriage is for...Later?



When I see young couples get married I can’t say that I’m not a tinge jealous, because I am! Who wouldn’t want to have a day to themselves where you get to eat cake, dance, receive gifts, and wear a gorgeous dress walking down the aisle? (sidenote: I already planned my wedding dress. Le sigh) What crosses my mind when people my age (23) get married is “how the hell did they come up with all that money?”
 
Marriage to ME is something that you decide on when you are an adult, ready to start a family, combine finances and start a life together. When I get married, I want to be able to finance at least 80% of the wedding ourselves. I know my parents (both sets) and the BF’s parents would love to help and I will gladly oblige but I am not one to have them pay for my entire wedding and I do not want to fund a wedding with credit.

I recently found out that about 7 gals in my sorority and 5 other people I’ve known since junior high are getting married this year. We are all relatively in the same age bracket and I can’t figure out how everyone is funding these weddings. I would like a small and intimate beach wedding with a pretty dress, good food and great company. I still think I would need about $10,000 in cash to afford everything. After I’m married I want to concentrate on building our life together without heavy debt. BF already has school loans so why would I want to add to that and a future mortgage? That reminds me, I should start a wedding fund.

Is everyone getting their parents to fund their weddings? 
What’s the deal?!

For the BF and myself, I feel like we are doing things backwards. We already know we want to get married in the future and have kids but right now we are focusing on our careers, making investments, saving for travel, and saving for a place of our own. We have lived together throughout college and we do everything married couples do. I can’t help but wonder if I am missing out on being married like all my friends.

How did you save/pay for your wedding? Cash, credit? What was the total cost? How old were you?

3.07.2011

Weekly Spending and Fitness Recap 2/28-3/6/2011

Monday
Dinner $11.49
Ran 2 miles outdoors

Tuesday
Target $38.63
Plane ticket $59
Ran 2 miles outdoors

Wednesday
Dinner $13.01

Thursday
Starbucks $3.55
Living Social $9
Ran 2 miles outdoors

Friday
Gilt $56.95
Gas $30.45
Turbo Kick - 1 hour

Saturday
Lunch for 2 $18.00
Rite Aid $11.56
Body Pump - 1 hour
Elliptical 20 mins

Sunday
Groceries $5.45

TOTAL SPENDING: $257.09

Wow no "no spend" days this past week, that is not good at all. This week was super super spendy because I had to buy a plane ticket in addition to my hefty purchase on Gilt.com last Friday. I purchased a C&C California sweater on there that retails $150 on sale for $49, but I swear I have been looking for this type of sweater for ages and there it magically was so I snatched it up.

I think I need to halt the shopping for the rest of the month. I transferred a crapload of money to savings 2 weeks ago and now I'm down to $7 in my checking acct until payday this Friday. We'll see if I can get by until then. I'm such an idiot, I forgot that my roth IRA takes out $300 of my checking acct each 11th of the month. I am extremely lucky payday falls on the 11th otherwise I would have to transfer money back in.


On another note, the BF and I had our monthly financial meeting this past Friday and we are on top of our savings goals. We have been slacking in looking at condos but we think we finally found a great complex in an area we like. The unit we were looking at just sold so we're back to looking again.

3.04.2011

Splurge is the Word

Good morning and HAPPY FRIDAY!!!!

I enjoy reading LearnVest.com for financial advice, tips, articles and financial "bootcamps". It's a great resource of a financial website, mainly geared towards working women which is always a plus for us women!

They took a survey from LearnVest readers about Money Mistakes and Biggest Splurges - it was nice reading and learning that everyone else is human, spending and splurging regularly.

In the survey 2 out of 3 readers said "Money isn't everything". If I was to answer, I'm not sure what I would say. To me, yes money isn't everything, but it's more of a ticket to "freedom", where freedom means being able to live your life the way you want to. If you don't want to work, you don't have to. On the other hand, money isn't everything because family, friends, love, and time are all equally important and I would be just as happy without money if I just had my family's support.

1 out of 4 readers said "Money can't buy me love" and THAT truly is a statement I can wholeheartedly agree with. The BF and I met in college and he was supporting himself entirely. We had to come up with lots of ideas for dates and he did a fantastic job! He would take me hiking, go running at the track and the beach, visit various caves and other landmarks, cook me dinner, host BBQs, and other creative ideas. After he graduated, he couldn't find a job for a year and I unconditionally supported him when everyone else doubted him.


There was another part of the survey that asked if you were a saver or a spender. Out of the 4 categories, I would say I am in the top 46% that say they are good savers and know what goes in and out. I still can't believe 16% answered "wonder where it all went". I would think that readers reading this website would have garnered some rather awesome tips and became motivated to take control of their finances. I also thought that more than 6% would be HUGE savers.

Next up - my favorite topic. Favorite splurges! I resonate with the top 3 answers of travel, car or home and designer wares. Traveling brings fond memories that you'll never forget, a car or home is basically essential in my life, and I appreciate the quality of any designer wares - to me it would be bags and shoes over clothes. I might also have to add my smartphone with unlimited minutes, data and texts - I realize I spend over $800 a year on my phone bill alone but I wouldn't give it up for anything, it's my life!

When I read the story about a reader spending $4k in 4 days to save her dying puppy I wanted to cry,  because I would absolutely do the same for my dog if I were in that situation and if I had the money to try to save him.


What are your top 3 splurges? Is there a splurge you'll never forget?

3.01.2011

Which Generation Would You Live In?

Sometimes I wish I was born into a different era like the 1950’s and 60’s when business and life in the US was sort of just blooming rapidly. Discoveries and businesses were popping up all over the place such as movie theatres, diners, coca-cola, etc. Now it seems as though we’ve used up so many resources and we have to save ourselves and our future generations by sustaining each resource left. My parents were born in the early-mid 60’s and they were extremely lucky to be living a lavish lifestyle comfortably these days.
 
Back then, my dad was able to go to the navy for 2 years first and then they paid for him to get his engineering degree. He is now the CEO of his own electrical engineering firm that does major work for Northern CA. My mom rose quickly on the ladder and is now a senior property accountant at a seriously awesome company with all the perks you could ever want. I’m guessing their success is due to a combination of hard work, luck, and logic.

My mom bought a duplex for $125k with a negative amortization loan in Northern CA back in the early 1990’s. She only put $4,000 down on that place but after 4 years, she was able to sell it for $185k so she made out. Thereafter, she put a hefty down payment on a $198k 4-bedroom house in the same area. My dad graduated college in 1995, at the peak of the dot com boom, and they sold that house for $298k to buy a brand new 5-bedroom house for $550k. After only 10 years, they have paid it off. To say I’m envious to say the least is an understatement! 

These days, you would be lucky to even have a job at a young age straight out of college. Salaries start so low now, compared to 15 years ago, starting salaries were the same. Cost of living increased at a crazy rate… movie tickets are $10 rather than $5, gas is almost $5/gallon rather than $2 and still our starting salaries haven’t even as so much grown a 1/4 of what it was 15 years ago. I feel like the world is going backwards and forwards at the same time!

I wanted to post this today because of how hard it is to buy a condo these days. A 2-bed 2-bath condo in SoCal can go all the way up past $300k depending on the location. If it’s by the beach, it’s possibly close to $1 million no matter what since a 3 or 4-bedroom overlooking the beach could be $10 million+.

Don’t get me wrong, I love being a Gen Y’er. I love the Internet, social networking and all the new and cool gadgets and new technology out there that make everyone’s lives easier. I just wish I could keep up with inflation!

So which generation would you prefer to live in - Baby Boomers, Gen X, or Gen Y?
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