7.11.2014

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

This post is long overdue!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5.28.2014

2/3 Done

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyone have any fun summer plans?

5.27.2014

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

[Below is guest post.]

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

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

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

Learn to Trade

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

Take Advantage of High-Interest Savings Accounts. 

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

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

Buy an Investment Property and Generate Income as Rent

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

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

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

3.18.2014

How Much for Man's Best Friend?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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