2.24.2012

Tag! Questions

I was tagged by Rafiki of Upendilife to answer these 11 questions so I thought it would be fun to talk about random things for today.
Here are the rules:
1. Post these rules.
2. Answer the 11 questions from the person who tagged you.
3. Create 11 new questions for the people you tag.
4. Tag 11 people and link them to your post.
5. Let them know that you tagged them.

Questions:

1. What is one thing that brings you joy that requires money? A lot of stuff! I will have to say working out, because I truly love working out at the gym. I would die if I couldn't go to the gym or to the pilates studio. It really releases stress and gives me that happy feeling. I honestly believe that this is #1 on my list. Next would have to be eating out because I love trying and finding new restaurants. When I was a broke college student, I yearned to eat different kinds of food and now that I can, I take advantage of it.

2. What would your ideal retirement be like? Well firstly, I'd love to retire early, while I still can enjoy traveling and doing a lot of activities. I would also like to be near family because this is something that I'm not able to do right now. When I'm old and done with working, family will be all I have!


3. Do you use a mac, windows or a linux based computer? I use a macbook at home and a PC (Dell) at work.


4. What got you into blogging? I actually have been blogging since I was a teenager on xanga! I used to talk about fun stuff my friends and I were doing. I then ventured into fashion blogging but got tired of posting outfits and buying new stuff all of the time. After that whole experience, I found myself in a lot of debt and finally started blogging productively here! I love that I can talk about life, finances, and work with people with similar interests.


5. Do you love your current job? I do! Read my job analysis:)


6. Do you have any pets? I have one dog who just turned 7 years old on February 16th. He's a pekingese/toy poodle and everyone thinks he's a puppy. He is my best friend and the sweetest, most loyal little fella you'll ever meet.


7. What is the most important thing to you on earth? The people in my life, specifically my family, my boyfriend and my friends. Let's also not forget my dog!


8. What is one thing that you miss that has either entirely disappeared or is slowly disappearing because of technology? I really miss the days when people weren't always on their phones or ipads or tablets - the days when you had to call your friends' house phones and chat with their parents until they gave the phones to your friend, or when you actually rang the doorbell and hung out at someone's house for a bit before leaving to go out. I really hate how I will be having a catch-up dinner or lunch with a friend, and they will be constantly texting while I'm talking to them. What has happened to society?!


9. Do you think the recession is still a valid argument for people not doing something about their financial situation? I think there are some situations where the argument is still valid, but in others' situations I would have to say no. There are lots of ways to get out of your financial situation if you just do something about it. For example, my best friend was on unemployment for a year and at the same time she just gave birth. I really hated hearing her vent about losing unemployment and how she would talk about being so entitled to it. I wanted to scream and say that she was relying on and taking advantage of government assistance for those who actually need it. She was complaining when she just moved to a huge new place (but she wanted a big house), and she wanted to shop and her husband wanted a lot of frivolous things as well. In that case I really don't think it's right for people to keep blaming the recession just because they can't find a job. If you can't find a job, don't expect to live off of the government's money and then proceed to want things well above your means, EVEN IF you had a job! I think this warrants a post later...I still get angry thinking about it and she never listens to me.


10. How do you start your day? I wake up at 6, take my dog out to go bathroom, get ready within 10-15 mins, sometimes toast an english muffin w/ hazelnut butter and jam, and then out the door by 6:30am. I get to work around 6:45/7 and prepare a cup of decaf coffee. 


11. What is one skill you dream of learning? Well, I really wish I could speak another language besides English. I can partially understand Tagalog (I'm half Filipino) but I really wish I could speak Spanish since I live in San Diego as well as Mandarin (I'm part Chinese). Silly me took French in high school and sure I can read and understand a bunch of it, but I don't plan to use this language much! I also have a dream of becoming a personal trainer or a pilates instructor but my career path has always been focused on becoming an attorney...so maybe one day, I will get to do both!

And just for fun.... here is a collage I made awhile back of my 6 favorite things in life:


First off, these are kind of out of order and my family should be included w/ my sister. The being weird part just encompasses my personality. I'm just a laid back person who doesn't really care for drama and I am pretty goofy at times, I just love to laugh! I don't have any new questions to add so feel free to answer these questions if you feel like it. And let me know if you did, I'd love to read it!

2.23.2012

Condo Update!!!!

Hey everyone! I know you are all probably tired of hearing about our investment property/condo shopping process but it has consumed my life as of late! I've been terribly busy at work and I haven't had time to finish my notary training. I'm sort of glad that I'm this busy since the anxiety revolving around waiting to hear back from schools is killer. So here is the latest and greatest condo we found:




We went to go see a condo last Friday in the area the BF and I both love. It's actually in a very busy and developing area (good school districts, family-oriented area) and it's right next to a country club and ritzy hotel with 3 golf courses! The price was awesome for San Diego at $159,900 for a 2 bedroom/2 bathroom 1,091 sq foot place. We would have loved a 2-story condo but alas, our options are slim to none. The great part about this place is that it has a ton of storage including a detached 1 car garage and a nice private patio. It has also been fully upgraded with very nice upgrades!!! The only downside is that we have to buy appliances and there are some very minor cosmetic repairs to make. ALSO there is this permanent open window...hard to describe. Do you see it in the picture above? It's actually PERMANENTLY OPEN! I've never seen anything like this. We're hoping that it won't cost too much to put a real sealed window over it, does anyone know? HELP! Anyway, the "complex" is not really a complex - the style of the condos remind me of a mission. I love it.

We put an offer at list price plus closing costs because we knew this was a good deal and we really wanted it. It's not an REO or a short sale which is SO hard to find these days - it's investor owned, and he actually upgraded everything in there just to turn around and sell it. It's a really great deal since it's still cheaper than all of the comps in the area/complex. A similar unit in the same complex sold for $200k just last month so we really consider ourselves lucky. We received a counter-offer last night basically agreeing to our offer and the terms of the agreement, as well as their preferred list of lenders. We're thinking of going with one of theirs since they are offering us a $450 credit for the appraisal. 


This is all moving so fast and I'm so excited! I'm really glad you all are here too to join me in this process because no one else is really as interested in this type of stuff haha. I'm still learning along the way too and it's been great hearing input from you all as well.

I've also been back on track with going to the gym and I also found a new Turbo Kick class that I absolutely LOVE! It's on Monday mornings which is great because my other favorite teacher's Turbo Kick class is on Friday mornings... it really a great way to start and end the work week :)


In addiction, since health and fitness is my life and has always been, I decided to start a new fitness blog. I'll still be blogging on here of course but I really wanted a place to write about my eating and exercise habits since it's my passion and actually a hobby too. Once I build it up more, I'll post a link here!

Hope everyone is having a great week!

2.17.2012

My Job Analysis

Funny thing is... I posted about factors for a job analysis, however I didn't post one of my own! *slaps forehead* It's been so fun reading everyone else's analysis though!

via
1. Salary: Ehhhh it's okay. I definitely don't make as much as I thought I would make when I graduated college, but I think that rings true for a lot of new grads that started their careers in 2009 up until now. I graduated at the peak of the recession because a lot of my friends got jobs in 2008, but in 2009 it was tough. I interviewed for a ton of jobs I didn't want such as receptionist and assistant positions but finally held out for the one I truly wanted. I can safely say I love my job but the salary leaves something to be desired. Let's just say the range of my salary if $40-45k range and I'm really hoping for a huge raise one day.

2. Job Duties: I love what I do. I'm the sole person for my division that handles the non-standard contracts, RFPs (responses to proposals/bids), and a lot of other agreements. This means I'm usually in negotiations with clients and our sales executives, lots of conference calls with our attorneys and upper management, and reading and redlining on the computer at my desk. A lot of people come to me when they need their contracts and I love that. My boss also does not micro-manage me and we don't have too many deadlines so it's a relatively low-stress job 50% of the time. Sometimes it gets way too crazy though when I'm swamped with tons of things to do and I feel like we could use another person but the job security is great. The one thing I don't like is the quietness here! It is insanely quiet and I'm naturally a talkative person so it took awhile to get used to. I just plug in my earphones and lipsync and dance to keep me sane.

3. Location/Commute: It could be better but I will not complain because there is no traffic when I go to work since I miss rush hour. I do have to take 3 different freeways but it takes me about 15-20 minutes. We are near 24 hour fitness, my pilates studio, and a lot of other eateries and shopping such as Marshall's and Ross. I try to take advantage of the area by running errands during my lunch.

4. Co-Workers: The nice thing about my job is that I work with a ton of people in my division as well as across the US. We have 4 people in our dept here in SD, 1 person in LA and 1 person in Reno. We're all part of the contracts/leases dept. Our company has many locations and draw stations around the US and world so we all work together regarding huge contractual issues. I get along with everyone for the most part and I love my coworkers from other locations as well from other departments. We all chat through Communicator (company IM) so it's a lot of fun. I had the pleasure of meeting a lot of the higher ups in North Carolina last year including our CEO and I like that we can all get along even though this company has over 28,000 employees. The sales execs though can be a bit hard to deal with.

5. Atmosphere: Like I mentioned above, I wish it wasn't so quiet. I do like that I can dress casually since we don't see clients like the sales execs. I can seriously wear jeans, yoga pants, cropped yoga leggings, leggings, etc. Sometimes I may look 18 but no one seems to care which is awesome because I get to be comfortable. I also like the atmosphere that everyone works independently.

6. Flexibility: I like that I can make up my own schedule. I'm salaried so my normal day starts around 7 and I leave around 3:30pm. Sometimes I take a 30 min lunch, sometimes an hour, sometimes more than an hour. I just have to make sure I get my stuff done and I do work over 8 hours most of the time anyway. I can go to the gym when I want but I do have to let my boss know if I'm going to be taking a half day or something. It is a bit harder to request time off since I have 5 other people in the dept requesting time off, but only around the holidays does it get a bit difficult to schedule time off.

7. Advancement: Working at a huge corporation has its perk in this area. I've seen it happen a lot where people transfer to higher positions or to different locations just because they can. I've seen acquisitions happen where people move up or replace others. It's easy to do and if you stay here long enough or play your cards right I think there is always an opportunity to advance. I'm not sure how this will play out for me but I'm hoping to stay here for awhile.

Wow, I guess I don't have any big cons about my job. I actually never complain about it and I wrote a post before about how I liked it so this shouldn't be a huge surprise! I guess I will have to stick it out and just hope for a huge raise one day. Then I think I'll have the perfect job!

2.16.2012

Thursday: Most and Least

Yay for Thursdays! Thursday is my favorite weekday aside from Friday so I thought I'd do this little Most and Least exercise from Teacher Finance. Let me know if you do this too!

MOSTS AND LEASTS
Thursday 2/9/2012 - Thursday 2/16/2012:


Most expensive purchase: Here's the kicker...brace yourself. I spent $50 on a jacket. Not just any jacket but a LULULEMON one. I bought it off ebay so I'm still waiting for it, but it's originally $150 + tax. It's like the scuba hoodie but with no hood. Now that I'm not studying or writing essays for my apps, I am back in gym beast mode. I go everyday during lunch so I thought I would treat myself to a lululemon hoodie, my first lululemon purchase! Since my work dress code is super casual, I can wear this to work too.



Least expensive purchase: $1.35 coffee from AM/PM. We have a keurig at work and when I make a small cup of coffee, it's way too strong. I tried using the same k-cup twice and the 2nd time it came out watery. I end up drinking decaf since it's not as strong but I do prefer coffee elsewhere.

Most exciting purchase: $11 on hair dye from Sally's (dye and developer, and a bowl and brush because my mom took my old ones). I almost went to the salon to get my hair toned but knew that it would cost over $60. I decided to do it myself since I was just toning out my hair and my highlights are still visible. The ION brand is always reliable as I've used this one a lot for my hair and my mom's.

Least exciting purchase: I had to pay $262 for a notary class for work. I didn't list this in the most expensive purchase category because I will be reimbursed.

Most fun purchase: I bought Seasons 1 and 2 of Fringe as a Valentine's day present for the BF and myself. I got an amazing deal from ebay - total $39 shipped and they are blu-ray! If we bought them on iTunes HD it would be $30 per season. We didn't go out for Valentine's day so this was our only treat. Usually we get massages on Vday but we recently discovered Fringe and we are hooked! A lot cheaper than massages too :)




Least fun purchase: $35 on gas. I really hate filling up but I do like seeing a full tank. My gas tank and I have a love-hate relationship.



Final verdict: Spendy spendy! Gotta reign it in for the rest of month. 


How'd you guys do?

2.14.2012

My Day Off Wasn't Really a Day Off

Does anyone else ever take a day off yet it turns into the busiest day ever? Yesterday I actually worked from home to take a notary class online. In between, I was doing several other things that had piled up for awhile which included lots of calling, viewing a townhouse, dyeing my hair by myself, walking the dog, and going to the gym.

I took an amazing turbo kick class at the gym at 8:30am since I never get the chance to take it. The instructor was fantastic and so full of energy! I wish I could go to her class every Monday but I don't know how well that would work. If I came in around 10am, I'd have to stay until 6pm which doesn't sound that fun. Otherwise I'd come in earlier and take my lunch from 8:30-9:30am. Still thinking about it though since I'm not sure I can wake up early on Mondays!

I also called Citibank to transfer my driver's edge rebates to Thank You points. It sucks that you have to do it this way (over the phone) because I am betting that a lot of people are going to forget to call by March 1st, 2012 and thus, lose all of their driver's edge rebates. I had no idea just how many rebates I accumulated and it turns out I had over 9,000 (I'd had this card for the past 6 years). It's crazy to me that they only send you an email to call them to transfer your rebates. It was pretty painless to do but I have been putting this off for awhile.

Next up, I called Chase because I got denied when I applied for a Freedom card. I have the Sapphire Preferred which requires a better credit score so I called to complain. I'm guessing that they know I pay my credit card off each month without paying interest so maybe they didn't want me to reap more rewards? I also have a checking and savings account with them so I was sure that I'd be able to get reconsidered. After 10 minutes of being transferred and talking to 3 different people, I was able to get approved for the card! So now I'll be able to use my credit cards to my liking and reap the most benefits. Read about my plan here.

I also went to check out a townhouse with our realtor yesterday. BF and I both fell in love with the place and I was so happy to see everything we wanted. When I got to the last room, I saw a huge crack in the wall. It went from corner to corner and horizontally across one whole wall. It could be a structural problem so we're waiting to hear back from our realtor. We probably won't be getting the place. I'm pretty sick of this process but I know it takes a lot of patience so we'll keep plowing along.

Sorry this post was everywhere..it feels like a Monday to me! I'm pretty sure the BF and I won't be doing anything tonight. We'll probably continue on with our The Walking Dead and Supernatural marathons. I'm really enjoying my Hulu+ and Netflix trials right now! We use the PS3 to watch shows on our flat screen TV and it's awesome!

Anyone have any Valentine's day plans? Also does anyone have any last minute gift ideas I can get my BF? I am the world's worst GF, I didn't get him a gift!

2.08.2012

Learning the Investment Property Shopping Process


As a follow up to my last post, the BF and I talked it out and we even went to go check this place out. We both agreed that although we both love it and would love to live in it, we have to think realistically about why we are buying a place. Our initial and sole reason to buy a place was to rent it out so it should only be an investment property. This means I can't "fall in love" with a place in comparison to house hunting for myself. In BF's words I have to choose with my brain and get the most "bang for our buck" which is totally true. He already brings me back to reality and we really do make a great team.

We decided not to put an offer on the place and researched other areas we thought we could make more money. We had to think outside of the box and let go of some of our wants. I've seen a lot of posts around about what people learned from buying a place but I've never seen anyone list out what they've learned during the shopping process for an investment property so here's what I've learned during this process. I'll be sure to update it once we actually purchase one as well!

1. Play the Numbers
This has played a HUGE part in our shopping process. We have been including closing costs to the purchase price and adding the homeowner's insurance, property taxes, and HOA. This gives us a great snapshot of our monthly mortgage. We also play around with it and lower/increase the deposit as well as play around with the interest rate to see how much it could fluctuate.

2. Be Creative
If you want to fix up a property, think of the renovations you could do to the place. Often times there are great deals as short sales or bank-owned properties right now but they need some cosmetic renos. Calculate and estimate the costs of repairs, labor and materials to see how much you could be saving vs. buying an already remodeled place. Since it's an investment property, you don't have to go all out with the renovations. Do simple upgrades.

3. Use Your Head
This part (as referenced in my last post) has been the hardest part for me. I've been looking for places and getting emotionally attached to them. I have to keep in mind that the property is supposed to be providing a greater return and less risk. An investment property wouldn't be an investment if I didn't take the time to research and use my brain to figure out if it's a good investment or not.

4. Research
Just with regular house shopping, one must compare, compare, compare! It's easy to get caught up in looking around in the same area but there are a ton of places to check out. Make sure you check to see if the area is developing, what the comps are like, how much previous places sold for or are selling for, tenant to renter ratio, the association and their reserve money, the age of the complex or house, the school district, the proximity to freeways and shopping, the traffic, and the list goes on!

5. Rental Market
This is basically the biggest deciding factor for an investment property because the rental market is who you are catering to. Check out the shopping areas around to get a feel for the people that live there. Visit the place in the morning, midday and at night to see what it's truly like to live there. Check Craigslist for the going rates to see how much you could rent it out for and also talk to people that currently live there and rent out.

6. Money Cushion
Also with regular house shopping, a money cushion should be set in place and accounted for. It is especially important in this case because you need to be able to cover the monthly mortgage for a few months if you can't find people to rent out the property. Also you need to be prepared to pay for that monthly mortgage in case (and hopefully this doesn't happen if you did your homework) you can never find renters! Don't forget you will need money for repairs.

7. Explore the Unknown
Since this is an investment property, you have to be open to places where you wouldn't normally look. We did not want to live in Eastern San Diego or Southern San Diego. We wanted to look by the coast and by the areas with the award-winning school districts. We basically were looking where we wanted to live in but we figured out that we need to look in the areas that are more heavily populated, closer to the main part of the city, and where there is a bigger rental market.

Anything else to add? Feel free to share! 
(note: all aspects while regular house hunting should apply as well!)

2.07.2012

House Shopping Anxiety

I haven't written in here in awhile because I've been so busy with house hunting. It takes a lot of time searching for the right areas, checking out the area in the day time/night time, figuring out what needs repairing, HOA fees, Mello Roos fees, proximity to freeways and shopping, school districts, and the list goes on.

I'm frustrated right now because we found a beautiful place, in a developing area, and it's in our price range. It's a 3-story 1 bedroom condo with a loft and a 2-car attached tandem garage. Pictures above are pictures of the actual complex. It's only 6 years old meaning we wouldn't have to do repairs and it comes with new appliances. It seems like a no brainer right? The BF and I are having a lot of disagreements with this place.

At this point I'm stressed out.

MY POINT OF VIEW
For one, I think it's an amazing deal. Other units in this complex and area go for well over $300,000. Yes there is Mello Roos but it is in an award-winning school district, and it's near huge companies such as Sony and HP. The area around it caters to the upper middle-class to upper-class folks since surrounding houses are in the million dollar range, and if rented, they rent out for over $5,000/mo.

For a $200,000 mortgage and 20% down, our monthly payment INCLUDING taxes, insurance, HOA and Mello Roos comes out to about $1700 with a 4% interest rate (just estimating everything here). If we rented this place out, we could possibly rent it for $1600 compared to other similar places in the complex and area. Paying an extra $100-$200 is nothing to me when it's for a place such as this. When Mello Roos is paid for (which could be 5-10 years, I need to check), HOA is only $160, possibly the cheapest I've seen ever around here.

BF'S POINT OF VIEW
He thinks that the Mello Roos is horrible at $177/month. The thing with Mello Roos is that it's a bond that is being paid off due to the development of the town. This area is a newer area, and it's still near freeways and shopping (walking distance to shopping in fact). He also thinks that since this will first and foremost be an investment property (we plan to move in once I'm finished with law school), he wants this place to be rented out for the actual monthly mortgage amount. He DOES NOT think that we can rent out this place for $1,700 which is sound and reasonable. Other 1-bedroom condos in the area rent for $1200-$1300. These are places that DO NOT have attached garages, 3 stories, and a loft. At the bare minimum, we could rent this place out for $1300 but BF does not think that's worth it. He wants to actually GAIN a profit each month.

Now...
After searching for places for almost a year, I can tell you that you can't have EVERYTHING YOU WANT. You have to compromise and it's going to be difficult but you need to have your priorities in order. Location is our #1 that's for sure and definitely price/rent. I think it's ridiculous that paying an extra $100-$200 a month is stopping BF from wanting to commit to this place, because it has everything we want. In the long-term, this place is ideal for us and the community and area is wonderful. We would not have to do repairs since it's only 6 years old.

So tell me.... what do you all think? Am I being unreasonable? Obviously this post is biased to my point of view but if you have any other questions I'd be glad to answer them. I want to know if I'm being unjustified here. I am tired of searching for places and compromising on every aspect. I finally find the place that I want to invest in and buy and now there are more hurdles. How do you work things out with your significant other when you TRULY believe in something?

2.01.2012

Where Did January Go?

This time of the year always flies by too quickly. How is it already February? I am still having trouble remembering it's 2012. The good news or maybe bad news was that January flew by too quickly that I didn't even set goals for myself or participate in any challenges. However I did manage to stay under my food budget (haven't been able to for the past 2-3 months) and under budget for mostly everything. I also started going to the gym again and I go everyday during lunch, so that's 5 days a week. I've been busy on the weekends but hopefully this weekend I'll get to go because I miss taking classes.



January was a good month:
Gas - I have been going to the gym everyday which is about a 5 min drive from work. Only $9 over budget though so not too bad.
Phone - I paid twice this month. This fluctuates because it's not due until the 16th of each month so I paid for December's bill on January 1st I believe, and then I paid January's right when I got the statement.
Entertainment - We didn't really do anything notable in this category this month. $14 includes iPad apps, songs from iTunes and blockbuster express rentals.
Food - This includes groceries. I beat it by $1. Yay.
Health & Fitness - Some itch cream
Shopping - This includes every type of shopping including necessities at Wal-Mart and my wrist guards from Rite Aid. We did a lot of that this month such as oil for my car, contact solution, house stuff, etc. I didn't buy anything frivolous for myself besides that $6 on foundation.

I spent a lot on school stuff - $254 on 3 law school apps, $74 for editing my diversity statement, and $100 for LEEWs audio prep course for law essay exam writing system, and 2 other prep books before my 1L.

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