Thursday, December 23, 2010

Off to Jamaica!

My family and I are spending 10 glorious days in Jamaica for Christmas and New Year's! We haven't been on a family vacation in years due to differing schedules. After all the crazy car troubles I've had over the past few weeks, the phone interviews for potential New York jobs and the ridiculous rain, I am ready to just RELAX! Oh, and have some delicious, fruity drinks...YUM!

I'm taking some books and my knitting. I can't wait to just hang out, lay on the beach, read, eat awesome Jamaican food, explore and have a great time with my family! I'm also excited about the fact that I'll basically be cut off from the real world for a cell phone or laptop for me on this trip.

Have a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and an AMAZING (safe) New Year's!
See you in

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Weekend Miscellaneous

I'm ALMOST done with my Christmas shopping! So far, I've spent $355.84. The last (and most important) gift on my list is my Dad. He likes running, travel, golf and Anthony Bourdain. Last year I got him an awesome Anthony Bourdain shirt (since my Dad already has ALL his books!) that he goes running in so I hit on two of those topics. I'm completely stuck this year on what to get him, and I want it to be great because he's helped me out tremendously in 2010. I have enough left in my Gift Fund to spend around $100. Any last-minute suggestions?

My fender bender is now behind me. The woman got a few estimates and the lowest was $450 which was below my $500 insurance deductible so I just paid her outright. We met up today, I wrote her a check and had her sign a note stating that the matter is hereby settled. Still glad that no one was injured, I know that accidents happen and I'll just be extra careful in the future!

In an unexpected turn of events, I heard back from my dream job! They want to schedule a second phone interview because the hiring manager did not feel like they had enough time to talk to me during the initial one, which was only 30 minutes between two people. The dynamics of hiring have always intrigued me and I know companies will set ideal dates...but that there really are no hard and fast rules at the end of the day. I'm excited and I know I'll be less nervous for this round! (Now if only I could find my dream boy...and have him stay, heh!)

Then I can go on vacation to Jamaica with my family and de-stress for the remainder of 2010 after all this craziness. :)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Dream Job & 2011

Since September, I've been seriously thinking about my career. Some of it has to do with the fact that I know I'm severely underpaid. Even though there's the potential for a "small raise" come April per recent a recent discussion with my boss... I've become restless at my current position. I feel a bit stagnant and while I'm constantly asking for more work and trying to always be a sponge, it doesn't seem to be going anywhere. What I do is somewhat specialized in the investment industry, and I wasn't sure if it was a career path I truly wanted but it has definitely been interesting. So I started casually job hunting just to see if there were any similar positions at all out there.

A few weeks ago, while I was home for Thanksgiving... I stumbled upon my dream job. In my dream city: New York!

I applied, figuring I'd never hear back as with most job applications. Lo-and-behold, FOUR days later, I received a call for an interview! An initial phone interview was scheduled and in my mind, I had already started moved myself to New York City...

But it's unfortunately been radio silence for over a week now. They had sounded very interested, asked if I'd be available in the near future for an in-person interview and said they would contact me. The only issue seemed to be the start date which was MUCH sooner than I could have anticipated. There was unfortunately no way I would be able to make that date work with my upcoming travel schedule plus obviously having to do a huge, cross-country relocation.


Regardless, that interview gave me the push I needed. My casual job hunt has turned into a full-blown, time-consuming endeavor with one goal in mind:

In 2011, I want to move to New York.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Healthy Eating

I've always eaten healthy. I was lucky in that when I was growing up, my parents could afford to buy good food and we sat down for dinner every single night to a healthy, home-cooked meal. I couldn't be more thankful that they rubbed off on me!

I'm very petite and have always had a fast metabolism. Instead of eating three large meals a day, I've always had three small/medium-sized meals plus a few snacks, as I find that I get hungry every few hours. I am currently trying to gain a few pounds and since I am now lifting weights, I know I need to eat more as I'm burning more calories and gaining muscle. As I type this, I've had an exceptionally healthy day even by my standards and thought I would share what I ate.

1 Chobani Vanilla Greek Yogurt
2 T Ground Flax Seed (I buy it in bulk at Costco)
Drink: Green Tea

Snack #1

1 slice 100% Whole Wheat Bread
Cottage Cheese
Seasoning Salt
1 piece Leftover Homemade Pizza (whole wheat crust, zucchini, roasted garlic, mozzarella cheese)
Drink: Water

Snack #2 (Oatmeal Pudding, made in blender)
1/4 cup Cottage Cheese
1/4 cup Raw Oats
1/2 cup Water
1 T Creamy Peanut Butter
1 t Honey

Green Lentils
1 Egg
Lite Soy Sauce
Drink: Green Tea

Are you a healthy eater? Where did you get your habits from? What are your favorite splurges?
Mine are Haagen Dazs ice cream and Ferrero Rocher chocolates. :)

[image via]

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Small Holiday Bonus

Unexpectedly, my work gave out small holiday bonuses this year! I netted exactly $300. What a nice surprise, especially around the holidays when extra money is always appreciated and needed!

Here's how I plan to spend it:

  • $50 Travel Fund
  • $100 Self (not sure what yet...)
  • $150 Gift Fund (because in addition to Christmas gifts, I have two wedding presents and a Bachelorette gift to buy!)

75K Car Maintenance

My car needed a little bit of TLC. It hadn't had an oil change in over 5,000 miles and had recently passed the 75K mark. It's 8 years old and also had not had an sort of maintenance in... well, a long time! I'm honestly not the best at taking care of my car.

After going through some Yelp reviews, I called around. Per my owner's manual, I was under the impression that my timing belt/water pump/spark plugs needed to be replaced, as it stated at either 110K miles OR 7 years, whichever came first. One of the repair shops I called told me that I was definitely okay on waiting for that until I hit 105K miles since I don't drive in extreme conditions and have a very reliable car. What an honest, trustworthy mechanic to discuss that with me! The other places all just gave me quotes of $800+ without batting an eye!

I got the 75K mileage service which came with all the necessities and then, at the recommendation of one of the mechanics after they had checked out my car, I also got the brake fluid/transmission fluid/cabin filters flushed/fixed. I don't think any of that had ever been done!

I got a discount for providing my own air filter (which had been sitting in my trunk for over a year!) and a 10% discount for being a AAA member. Total cost came to $403.17. Pricey? Sure, but it would have been at least $200 more at the dealership plus I didn't do any "unnecessary" repairs! And now my car is happy...even if it still needs to washed and vacuumed. (They don't have an on-site detailer.) Glad I have enough in my car maintenance fund to cover the costs!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Goodbye, New Boy

I knew it was coming, but it still hurts. After realizing that new boy was making excuses all this week and that he was definitely holding back, things ended today. We had a phone conversation and he basically said he wasn't having the feelings for me he should be having, and that he didn't want to drag it out any longer to try to see if something changed. (I've been on both sides of this situation before, so I know that it really sucks to admit it when you really don't want to hurt someone.)

I thanked him for at least having the balls to discuss it with me, even if it wasn't in person. Because we all know the disappearing act sucks. Why do I feel like this year is a repeat of last year dating-wise? But then again, I haven't even had a single relationship at all in 2010! Sigh.

Back to the eHarmony drawing board...

Friday, December 3, 2010

Fender Bender

I got in my first accident on Tuesday night, while driving to the gym in traffic. :( The person in front of me starting moving then stopped so abruptly that I plowed into her! Completely my fault and I take all responsibility. We are both okay though (thank goodness!) and we exchanged all the appropriate information. It was just a fender bender and my bumper looks way worse than hers, which is a good thing. I have about a 1-inch crack in mine and some scratching/scuffing but it's completely drivable.

She was really nice about the situation as she could tell I was rather upset. Then she offered to let me pay her outright if the damage is less than $500 instead of go through our insurances, so she's supposed to call me this weekend with a quote. Luckily, her car is a few years old and not high-end so I would be really surprised if the estimate is more than that! That was really nice of her, because I'd prefer it if my car insurance didn't go up, especially since I'm on the cusp of being 25 and haven't had an accident in my nine years of driving. I'm just glad it's not a full-flown accident or anything so I just have to wait and see what the outcome is. And I'm also glad I have over $800 in my car fund and a full emergency fund in case anything really bad had happened.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Black Friday Weekend Shopping

I did some Black Friday and weekend shopping on my lovely trip home. I might have gone a tiny bit overboard... but hey, I decided to spend some of the ~$600 in my 25th Birthday Fund a little early, and also decided to buy multiple (nice!) things instead of just one pair of overpriced but fabulous heels. (Don't worry, I'm slightly disappointed in myself too, but I know I'll buy some Christian Louboutins when the time is just right!) :)

I ended up with two pairs of shoes, both bought online and both hopefully arriving by the end of the week, plus a kick ass new pair of sunglasses, just in time for my family's Jamaica trip at the end of the month!

Stuart Weitzman Neudaisy Pumps in Gunmetal, $170.63

Aldo Laurance Boots, $45.66

Ray Ban Sunglasses, $120

I am SO excited about all my purchases! I desperately needed new sunglasses, as my first designer pair of Coach ones were 5+ years old and definitely had some scratches on them. I've been searching for a pair of aviators that fit my small face for almost two years and these are awesome and stylish! The boots are mostly for fun but I'd been eyeing them for a while and they were on sale, so how could I say no? And the pumps... I love my pumps! My old BCBGirls Kosty pumps in black patent have seen better days, though they have held up over the last 5 years very decently and are incredibly comfortable. I wear them almost every day to work and need a replacement pair, so I figured I would try a bit of a higher-end pump... and again, they were on sale! Oh, and my Mom bought me two new bras as a pre-Christmas present. The right fit truly makes a difference!

What did you buy this weekend? Did you splurge or buy necessities?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

What I'm Thankful For

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here's what I'm incredibly thankful for this year, all year...

Family: They are so amazing! My parents are incredibly supportive and helpful. My Mom is my best friend and we talk every day. They send me awesome care packages, they pay for some of my flights home and they like to give me monetary gifts every once in a while...oh and I'm still on their cell phone plan! I'm good to break the umbilical cord, but apparently they aren't ;)

Friends: I have fantastic friends. Most of those closest to me unfortunately live in other states, but even if weeks/months go by without talking... it doesn't matter because we can always pick up right where we left off! I put a lot of effort into my friendships and those that reciprocate are my true friends. There might not be many of them, but they are completely worth it. :)

Health: I love going to the gym. As a petite with a high metabolism, I know I don't need to - but it makes me feel good and it's fun! I also eat well as often as I can, including a few all-vegetarian meals a few times a week. I go for health screenings every year to make sure that my levels of calcium, iron, etc are all where they should be and adjust accordingly. I go for annual doctor visits as well as two dentist appointments to make sure everything is good!

Job & Health Insurance: This is basically self-explanatory, especially in this economy. Even though I've done some complaining before, I still actually have a job and I have really good (cheap!) health insurance. Also... I inquired again about a raise this past Monday (thanks to some encouragement by new boy who is himself a manager) and my boss told me that it's most likely that everyone will be getting small salary increases in April and that I should expect a bit on top of that due to the extra work I've taken on and my skill level, plus the fact that I've been at the low end of my pay scale and not had a raise in over two years! I am so excited to know that my hard work is paying off and that they recognize that I deserve an increase. Finally.

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving season?

[image via]

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Weekly Money Check Up

I try to participate the Weekly Money Check Up by My Pretty Pennies. Sometimes I forget, but here's this week's!

[image via MPP]

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on gifts! I bought a present for a friend's bridal shower and fabric to make a no-sew blanket for the new boy I'm dating... it's his birthday soon! Total spent: $52.82.

2. Today I feel good towards money. Everything is still on autopilot and I received a lot extra income this month!

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was go to a 1st Annual Pre-Thanksgiving Dinner! My amazing friends threw this on Sunday and while I did spend about $15 on some cheese, crackers & wine, the 5 hours of conversation, laughter and games was completely worth it. I can't wait for next year! :)

4. I will consider this week a success if I get home to Seattle in one piece! The weather has been crazy up there, as in record-low-temps... my body is acclimated to SoCal weather so this will be interesting. Also, I'm crossing my fingers for safe travels for everyone during Thanksgiving!

5. My favorite food at Thanksgiving is green bean casserole! Yummy! :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dating a New Boy

If you follow me on Twitter, you would know that I've been dating a new boy. Yes, he comes from eHarmony, which I signed up for a few months ago. Things are progressing slowly but very well. He's cute, fun and might talk more than I do! (Even though he's the texter and I'm the caller, haha.)

We've been on six dates and have had some impromptu hang outs apart from those. Our first two dates were prior to my 10 day vacation and they were great! Both times he took me to really nice restaurants and both times we talked for ~4 hours, usually the last ones left, barely even noticing that the places were empty! The waitstaff simply left us alone to chat. He's cooked for me once and I've cooked for him, we've gone out to a movie and more recently, we had an awesome Friday night date which included mini golf. :)

As someone who knows that dating can be expensive, especially from a guy's perspective as they tend to pay for the first few dates, I always offer to pay on the third date. Most guys will let me pay for part of the date after I've insisted. New boy has only let me pay for the movie on our fourth date (after much grumbling by him and insistence by me!) as well as the ingredients when I cooked for him, since he had no control over that. (Oh, but he did offer to pick up anything I might need.) When we did three different activities on our most recent date, I offered to pay at each part and he turned me down every single time!

The thing is, I know he has a well-paying job, so he can definitely afford it. (I did notice he pays with his debit card all the time, so that's a good thing.) But it's the principle of the matter! As a PF blogger who is in tune with my own finances and tries to be mindful of others, it does bother me a bit... but then again, it feels really nice to find someone who is successful, so giving and such a gentleman who wants to take care of me. :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Extra Income

I've received a lot of extra income this month and it's definitely needed due to the holidays!

  • Old Car Insurance Dividend Reimbursement: $98
  • New Car Insurance Refund (due to bundling of services): $63
  • E-Bates (my FIRST payout! Referral link here): $27
This has helped with extra dinners out with friends, renewal of my 24 Hour Fitness membership (through Costco!) and a plethora of gifts...including two birthdays and a bridal shower. I almost never get any extra income, funny how it all arrives at the same time. :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Vegas & NYC Recap

I've finally gotten around to figuring out my vacation spending! I pulled $750 from my Travel Fund to cover 3 days in Vegas and 7 days in NYC. I also used $250 from my 3rd paycheck in October for a grand total of $1,000.

$400 cash ($80 hotel, $40 class, $62 Thunder Down Under ticket, remainder on food & drinks)
$18.08 snacks/fast food for the road trip
$25 gas

$110 cash (taxis, dinners, drinks, pre-Halloween party supplies, $45 open bar on Halloween)
$32.81 food (Trader Joe's/Dunkin Donuts/airport meal)
$10.75 transportation
$4.75 atm fees
$9.78 Duane Reade (makeup for my Halloween costume)
$270.11 shopping (I'll recap in a separate post)

Total: $882.84

Vegas was so fun and everything a Bachelorette party should be! 6 of us girls stayed in one room at the Mandalay Bay. The rooms there are huge and the bathroom easily accommodated most of us :) We went out to The Palms on Friday and partied until the early hours of the morning. On Saturday we went to brunch at the Paris buffet, took a private pole dance/lap dance class which was super fun, and saw the Thunder Down Under show in the evening. The show was a ton of fun and the Aussies are hot and hilarious! Be wary - they try to get your group to take a picture with them at the end and charge $20 per person! We opted not to get a picture. Also, don't pay the extra $10 or so to get "VIP" seating. The venue is very small and the men run all around it so you never have a bad view, plus our table wasn't even at the very front! After the show, we ran into a ton of club promoters wandering around the hotel and somehow managed to land free bottle service at one of the smaller clubs! We each pitched in $20 for tip at the end of another fun night of dancing :) The best part of the trip was making new girlfriends!

And now for New York. The city is my one true love! I can never get enough of it and it's my dream to live there soon. My dad was there on business and my mom tagged along, so I spent the first few days with them... well, mostly shopping all over SoHo with mom, hence all the shopping! She is such an enabler, but then again I got some awesome pieces and I feel like my wardrobe gets pumped up a notch whenever I go there to shop. :) We went out to some awesome dinners so the foodie in me was beyond elated and also saw "Billy Eliot" which was great! I spent time with friends who live in the city and had another friend visit from the neighboring states. Halloween was fun, even though one of the clubs wouldn't accept my CA driver's license as a valid form of ID (grr, bouncers!) so we ended up at a party where it was $45 open bar all night, sort of a rave but minus the glowsticks, no checking of anyone's IDs and no drugs - at least that I could see! There were some awesome costumes and the best part was that I didn't see a single Snooki all night. Oh, and you would think getting a cab at 3am on Halloween would be way. It took us an hour and we had to pay $20 for a $10 cab ride after we begged an off-duty cab to take us back to my friend's place! That should have been prime fare time for them, but apparently not. I ate lots of bagels and got my fill of vanilla chai at Dunkin Donuts all week. Introduced my friends to the wonders of Trader Joe's (the new one in the UWS) where I was ecstatic to find out that the prices are EXACTLY the same as here in SoCal! That's the only place where anything has ever price-matched in that expensive city. Also, I swear I walked by Sarah Jessica Parker near Union Square! She had a hat and sunglasses, but that petite frame and her facial structure is recognizable to all SATC fans! :) Cannot wait to return to my favorite place in the world again soon.

Note to self: never again do back-to-back trips! I had an amazing time in both places but getting home at 9pm from Vegas, crashing and having to wake up/pack at 4am to make my 6:30am flight to NYC was exhausting...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Weekly Money Check Up

The weekly money check up is hosted by My Pretty Pennies. See her post here! :)

[image via]

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on renewing my AAA membership for $48.

2. Today I feel good towards money. Why? Because it's a three paycheck month! :)

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was have a Sunday night roommate family potluck dinner. I contributed homemade hummus and a bag of chips, so it was an inexpensive side dish. The company was worth any cost, thought!

4. I will consider this week a success if I renew my car's registration! It's due by Oct 26th and I'll be out of town on vacation...

5. If I could could quit my job for a month and travel throughout one country, I would choose ohh this is a hard one! I'm obsessed with India and Vietnam, but I've been to both those countries already... so, I'll go with Egypt. :)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Three Paycheck Month

October is the other three paycheck month of the year! I am so excited, and it couldn't come at a more perfect time. I'm leaving for two vacations in 11 days, my car tabs expire at the end of the month and so does my gym membership - which I will probably try to negotiate. It's already been spendy but as Suze Orman says: People First! :) Here's what I plan on doing with my extra paycheck, which will be about $1K even.

Travel Fund $250
Roth IRA $200
Gift Fund $200 (needs to be padded before Christmas!)
Car Registration Renewal $150 (I used this calculator and am over-budgeting by $50)
Self $200 (gym renewal or shopping or whatever!)

What are you doing with your extra paycheck this month?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Weekend Spending Report

I know, I've been a bad blogger recently! My posts have been few and far between. Sometimes it's just hard to find inspiration to write, especially about monetary matters when everything about my finances is basically automated. Set it and forget it! :) Plus, work is just draining me even without working any overtime, there is just a lot more to do and learning a lot of new responsibilities due to a co-worker quitting a month ago has been interesting on top of my regular work. I was able to do 1.5 hours of OT last week, which will be reflected on this upcoming paycheck, hooray!

On another note, here's my weekend spending breakdown:

  • $15, hookah bar & a drink with friends on Friday
  • $27.81, gas (my tank was at 1/4)
  • $5, lunch at Rubio's with some girlfriends on Saturday
  • $4, individual-sized Pumpkin Spice bundt cake as part of a gift
  • $3.51, Target for gift bag + tissue paper + a snack
  • $41, my tab for girlfriend's birthday on Saturday night (I forgot how much fun piano bars are!)
  • $12.50, delicious brunch with girlfriend & her husband on Sunday
Having an awesome weekend that included LOTS of much-needed friend time, a Sunday afternoon nap and a roommate family dinner of pot roast, mashed potatoes and mac & cheese? Worth. Every. Penny! :)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

You Never Know: A Follow-Up

Back at the end of July, I blogged about the you never know concept as it pertained to my job. I asked my boss about a potential salary increase and your encouraging comments were fantastic!

It's been two months... and I've got nothing to report back. My boss never followed up with me like she said she would in August. We also had an employee quit at the beginning of September so myself and the other associate have split his responsibilities. This week, there was a relevant conference up in San Francisco... but the other associate got to go, not me. Even though I'd been promised a conference for the past two years in my job since everyone else has been to at least one!

Needless to say: I'm frustrated. Very much so. I thought about bringing up the salary issue again with my boss, but didn't want to be a pest. My monthly meeting today was rushed and by the time she asked if I "had anything else" to discuss, she was already standing up near the door because she had another meeting. Of course, I didn't have the guts to bring it up right then!

So, I've made a decision. I'm going to start looking for another job. To see what's out there and test the waters. I spent the weekend re-writing my resume and searching for jobs. I figure this could go a few different ways:

  1. I find nothing and have to hang on to what I have,
  2. I find some jobs and can move onto something with better pay/opportunities, or
  3. I find some jobs and can use them as leverage for an increase at my current position.
I figure a little over two years' experience is a reasonable time to do this! Plus, to be honest, my department cannot afford to lose me right now as we just lost someone else and cannot replace them due to a hiring freeze so that should afford me some leverage. (I hope.)

Any thoughts/suggestions? What would you do?

[image via]

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New Favorite Sweater

My Mom recently went on a girl's weekend to Vancouver, Canada. While she was there, I asked if she could see if there was anything that I would like at my favorite store, Le Chateau. I told her I would pay her back for whatever she was able to find me. Their size XXS runs very small so I own a few items (which I bought at their NYC store) like basic tank tops and some belts.

This time, my Mom hit the jackpot... and told me to consider the clothing an early Christmas present! She's the best :) My favorite item was the below absolutely fabulous sweater! It's an acrylic/angora blend that's incredibly soft and I love the color. Dare I say this is now my favorite item of clothing?? I paired it with white jeans and one of my pairs of boots. I love the tunic style, especially that it's a bit longer at the back.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Weekly Money Check Up

Courtesy of My Pretty Pennies! I'm a few days late, but it's fun to do.

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on clothes! I spent $91.02 at H&M :)

2. Today I feel good towards money.

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was continue watching S4 of Dexter with friends.

4. I will consider this week a success if I don't spend too much on groceries! They are my vice.

5. My first job was the ticket seller at a go-karting track... other than babysitting. It was really fun and really easy! I think that's what started my interest in customer service. (Even though that's not currently what I do.)

Happy Friday! Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The New Young Investor: Shunning Stocks

The other day, I read this article on the Money section of CNN's website, entitled The New Young Investor: Shunning Stocks.

To be honest, the article didn't surprise me that much. Investing is very emotional for everyone. I can see how those of us in our 20s and early 30s might be confused/scared/nervous after seeing many of our parents and elders lose a lot of money in the stock market over the last decade.

However, I in no-way-shape-or-form believe that Generations X and Y should be pulling all of our money out of the stock market. It's a tried-and-true form of income, especially if you are investing for the long-haul of 35-40+ more years. Sure, even I've been slightly skeptical at times. But then again, I've only been investing for two years come this October! Of course the market is going to fluctuate during that short time frame, especially given the economic situation/recession we are in. 100% of my Roth IRA and 401k investments are in pure stocks. No bond funds for me! Of course, I do have a sizeable chunk of money is savings... but those are just for rainy days and I expect to deplete/replenish those accounts as life happens. My retirement funds are for the LONG haul!

I have faith in the stock market. I won't stop having faith in the stock market unless it completely implodes and disappears all together one day. I'm going to continue to invest and have a bit more money than those who have decided to pull out for the time being and who are trying to "time the market"... it's impossible to do!

What are your thoughts on the article?

Monday, September 6, 2010

An H&M Haul

Yesterday, after putzing around the apartment until noon, I finally got ready and headed out to do some shopping! It's been a while since I spent an entire afternoon popping into a bunch of stores, not looking for anything in particular so I had a blast. I tried on things at Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's and Bebe to no avail... and then hit up H&M. Now, I'm not usually a fan of H&M due to the low quality and the fact that most of the clothing doesn't fit me since I'm really petite. I think I own 1 sweater and 1 belt from there, both of which were lucky finds. Plus, the store completely overwhelms me because it's huge and always crowded! The lines for the dressing rooms and registers are ridiculously long, and today was no exception.

However, today was a different story, at least in terms of finding clothes! I spent $91.02 after tax for 6 items. I rarely have big hauls of clothing like this, especially at only one store so I was really excited! :) Here's what I bought:

2 t-shirts for $5.95 each. I swear by multiples! Here's one of them in navy with pink stripes. The other is navy with white stripes. I definitely needed some more basic items in my wardrobe.

I bought this dress and belt! Semi-casual on it's own or I could easily dress it up with tights/leggings and boots. Dress: $19.95. Belt: $6.95.

Leopard-print cardigan for $24.95. Same belt as above. Something fun for work, to be worn with black slacks or a black skirt. It's slightly wide on me, but I love the print so I couldn't say no!

Cream colored hoodie with navy stripes for $19.95. Really surprised that this fit so well! I absolutely love hoodies to just hang out in and for weekend wear. :)

Did you go shopping this weekend? What did you buy?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A Dinner Party

I hosted my first dinner party on Friday night! Due to a slight mis-communication between my roommate and I, it ended up just being myself and two of my friends. However, just having the two of them over turned out to be absolutely great! After a half-day at work, I stopped by some grocery stores to pick up food and alcohol because I wanted to make some fun cocktails.

Trader Joe's, $18.72

  • Mango & Sticky Rice Dessert (forgot about dessert, so didn't eat this yet)
  • Pita Crackers
  • Cilantro & Jalapeno Hummus (delicious... my new favorite hummus! The center tastes like chutney)
  • Bacardi White Rum (I had a $2-off coupon)
Ralph's, $13.29
  • Orange Juice
  • Pineapple Juice
  • 3 Chicken Kabob Skewers with Vegetables
For vegetables, I already had all the ingredients. I marinated two sliced zucchini with about 1/2 cup of Italian dressing and a few teaspoons of oregano, thyme and basil for 5 hours in my fridge. It's from this awesome recipe and I grilled them up on one side of the grill while the chicken kabobs grilled on the other. Pre-grilled zucchini:

[my own image via Blackberry]

We had the hummus and pita chips while we waited for the grilled items to finish, and I made some brown rice in my rice cooker as well. The food was delicious and so were the Mai Tai's that we made! Dark rum (already had), light rum, pineapple juice and orange juice. I might've enjoyed them a bit too much! ;)

My friends stayed until midnight and we just sat around the small dining room table eating and talking. It was a great night, even if it was a bit more elaborate and expensive since I bought everything... but they had hosted me for the final World Cup game so I was more than happy to return the favor! Plus it gave me a reason to try a new recipe and the grilled zucchini is definitely a keeper, and I was able to work on some hostess skills.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Larabar Contest

I won a Larabar giveaway last week! I was recently introduced to the bars by my Mom who sent me a few in a care package. I had heard a lot about them but find them a bit pricey ($1.25+/bar) but they are really healthy with only 2-5 ingredients per bar. Perfect for a pre- or post-workout snack!

While I was browsing the website, I saw they were doing a giveaway because one of their flavors (Cocoa Mole) is being retired. I entered my information on a whim (who doesn't love contests?!) and was notified via e-mail that I won! My prize pack will arrive in a few weeks and supposedly includes a t-shirt and some of the now-expired Cocoa Mole Larabars! I love free stuff...especially when it has to do with food. :) Thank you, Larabar!

Friday, September 3, 2010


So, I bit the bullet tonight and signed up for eHarmony! I haven't been on a date since May or seriously dated someone since last October and it's been bugging me, much like what me in millions posted about recently. Over the past month, I've been hearing a lot more about eHarmony from two girlfriends in NYC who are using it and friends of friends who have had success with it. I decided to go for it since it's the one popular dating site I haven't tried yet, and I'm paying attention to the signs that keep pointing me towards eHarmony... including two coworkers who met their spouses using it!

Over Labor Day they are offering one of their occasional "free communication" weekends... aka their awesome marketing ploy at getting people to sign up and pay! I know there are decent discounts around, so I'll test it out and see if I decide to go all-in. I'm ready for a relationship!

[images via & via]

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

New Renter's Insurance and Car Insurance

I posted last month about getting renter's insurance. I lived in my previous apartment for 2 years without having it (!) and knew that had to change! It's been on my to-do list for way too long.

When I tried to get renter's insurance through my current car insurance company (AAA) to see if I could bundle and get a discount... I was told that I "live with too many additional roommates." Uhh, what? Even if I just want to insure myself, 3 people in an apt is too many? That's not right.

So, I got some quotes online from GEICO, State Farm and All-State. In the end, State Farm was the cheapest so yesterday I went to a nearby office and set up a policy! It ended being $180 for a year to insure $20K worth of stuff. Expensive but worth it and I'm so glad I finally have renter's insurance because you just never know.

While I was there, the (really nice) agent I was talking to asked me about my car insurance. I thought I was paying a decent amount through AAA, which is the company my parents have used for YEARS and where I went to get my insurance through last year when my car was officially titled over to me from my Dad. Well, after going back to the office today with my AAA policy coverage and amounts, State Farm matched the same coverages for $300 less per year! Plus, they don't charge interest if you pay monthly (just a flat debit fee each month, $1 or $2) and you pay in 6 month installments instead of annually. Oh, and then they immediately gave me a multi-policy discount due to my renter's insurance so I'll be receiving a check for $39 soon because it dropped from $180 to $141. Awesome!

It was a bit of an effort, but in the end it's saving me $300 per year... plus there are no more forms to fill out (everything's online) and there was hardly any paperwork. Hooray for State Farm and saving money! :)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Monday Money Check-Up

This week I'm participating in the Monday Money Check-Up hosted by My Pretty Pennies! :)

1. The most I've spent this last week was on a pedicure! $27 including tip which is more than I normally pay.

2. Today I feel good towards money. My budget is looking to come quite a bit under for the end of August, and it's a long weekend with fun plans plus payday!

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was hang out with friends! Board game night on Friday and movie/wine on Saturday night. :)

4. I will consider this week a success if I go to a State Farm office and get renter's insurance. Seriously!

5. My favorite room in a house is the kitchen and living room. I find both very comforting, inviting and relaxing. :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mid-Week Money Musings

Bullet point format!

  • I'm getting $871 back from my $1K security deposit at my last apartment. Since my security deposit at my current place was $700, I'll have $171 leftover.

  • I've decided to use that $171 to get renter's insurance! The cheapest online price quote I found was $152 for a year through State Farm for $20K in coverage. A bit more than I wanted to pay, but I do live in Southern California and my stuff is worth it to me!

  • The remaining $19 will probably end up being used for a dinner out with friends.

  • I recently took 4 pairs of high heels for repair. The place had good reviews on Yelp... but I was very disappointed! It was really expensive to get the heel tips replaced, and the shoe cobbler didn't even clean my shoes - what?! They are hardly any better than they were. Guess I know where I'm not going back to! Total cost: $64. Ouch! :(

  • My next 3 weekends are completely booked, just like last weekend - and I love it! However, lots of friend time also equates to spending money on going to restaurants, gas for driving around, random activities, etc...

  • Aug 29th: Volunteering + visiting a girlfriend who lives an hour away (sleepover!). We'll probably get sushi, frozen yogurt and go shopping, then stay in with wine and a Redbox movie :)

  • Sept 4th/Labor Day Weekend: College friend who moved away is visiting! She'll stay with me for a night or two. Maybe hit the driving range and go hang out in the park? But probably also go out to the bars!

  • Sept 10th: A friend I made in Denver is coming to visit. Hopefully I can get some free activities in like hiking and beach time to offset the green fees for golf and going out!

  • Of the $150 I had been putting into my E-fund every month, I've decided to split it. $75 into whatever savings fund I feel like that month and $75 into my budget for any extras... shopping, keeping my social life alive, etc. :) Spend half and save half is a good compromise!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Weekend Spending Report

I had a very fun weekend! Mostly thanks to the Del Mar Races (lost the $8 I bet on various races), Weezer concert, coworker's baby shower (I won a game and got a teapot!) and awesome friends. :) Here's a breakdown of what I spent:

$14.29, bright blue floral beach dress/cover (for family trip to Jamaica at Christmas!)
$15.26, floppy sun hat from Macy's (on sale + a 10% discount because it was badly frayed)
$22.82, Target (new hair dryer, baby shower card/bag)
$16, Happy Hour!

$13.05, bright pink scarf to go around my hat
$3.25, CVS (snacks/water)
$24, Del Mar Races ($6 entry, $2 parking, $8 bets, $8 cocktail)

$8.49, CVS (Nexxus hair styling product w/ $3-off coupon)
$6.43, groceries
$10, pizza delivery

Total: $133.59

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Day at the Races

I am so excited for Saturday! A group of my friends plus my new roommates and I are all going to the famous Del Mar Racetrack. I've never been and neither have most of my friends. It's going to be an all-day excursion which are exactly the type of adventures I love... and oh, there will be tons of people-watching to be had! :) Entrance fee is $6 and we are going to bring our own folding chairs/blankets. (Getting a reserved seat in the stands is an additional $10.)

First, Beerfest starts at noon. I don't like beer, but I do enjoy a good cider... and since I've been told there are 75+ types, I figure there should be at least one cider for me! $15 for 5 samples.

Races start at 4pm. Bets are $2 each. I'm not a gambler, so I'll probably just bet the minimum per race. Two of my friends are AVID gamblers so it will be interesting to see how much they bet!

Finally, the main reason we are all going (sorry horses, we're not coming just for you!)... WEEZER in concert! The entrance fee includes admission to the concert which is great. However, since we'll be there almost all day, I'll pack some snacks but will mostly likely buy an overpriced hamburger or something for dinner, maybe $10?

For all of that and maybe a few dollars for parking, I'm budgeting $50. All of those items add up quickly - but it's cheaper than going to a regular concert and I'll be spending the entire day with friends! :)

Some Shopping

I did a bit of shopping recently but forgot to blog about it. A lot of it was done during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale (yay!) in July and I also bought some things on Amazon.

Here were the items I bought at Nordys (spent $132.24 plus got 5% cashback from Ebates!):

  • 2 sweaters (in graphite & black)
  • 1 pair of heather grey workout/yoga pants
  • 1 North Face jacket (it was on backorder so I'm still waiting for it to ship!)
From Amazon (spent $12.53 after using a $15 giftcard):
Most items were splurges but some were definitely the laundry hamper!

Friday, August 13, 2010

October Vacations

I just booked 6 days of vacation for October! The trips are back to back at the end of the month and I can't wait. :)

Trip #1: Girlfriend's Bachelorette Party in Vegas!
(3 days/2 nights)

Trip #2: New York City, my favorite place in the world!
(7 days/6 nights, including Halloween!)

For Vegas, I'm going to be taking 1 vacation day and driving with the bride-to-be and two other girls. Road trip! 5 other girls are coming from other states, so they are all meeting us there on Friday night. We're staying at the Mandalay Bay (I've never stayed there before), which I know is on the end of the Strip but there is a shuttle and with a large group of girls, cabs are always great options. We'll be there for two nights and this is NOT going to be a cheap weekend but it is going to a blast!
Tentative Budget: $600 (plus a $50 Bachelorette gift, to come from my Gift Fund)

For NYC, I'm taking 5 vacation days. I used 25,000 miles to buy my flight but had to pay $32.50 for a "partner airline booking fee" and taxes... but it's still the cheapest cross-country flight I've ever paid for! :) My Dad is going to be in the city for a few days on business, so I'll be able to hang out with him for a few meals. I'm going to be staying with a girlfriend so I'll save on hotel costs, but I definitely plan to eat and shop my heart out! I'll be meeting up with some friends who live just outside the city and a few who live there, too.
Tentative Budget: $400

Currently, I have $715 in my Travel Fund so I need to add at least $350. So any extra money (budget leftovers) between now and the last week of October will be funneled to beef it up. Good thing October is a 3-paycheck month! :)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Happy Weekend!


Have a fantastic weekend!
Here are my plans:
  • Happy hour with friends tonight! I'm going to walk the 1.5 miles to the bar for a nice after work stroll :)
  • Gym on Saturday morning
  • Movie/dinner with my book club on Saturday evening (The Girl Who Played With Fire)
  • Dexter marathon with old roommate
  • Coffee date with a girlfriend on Sunday afternoon
  • Errands: take heels for repair, buy a small cooking pot + blender
  • Organize my desk, closet + do laundry
  • Call various companies for renter's insurance quotes

Renter's Insurance

Much like My Pretty Pennies recently asked her readers about car insurance, I'm interested to know about your renter's insurance!

For the past two years, I didn't get renter's insurance. But moving to a new place has definitely made me think about it as a precaution! Unfortunately, I found out that I cannot bundle it with my car insurance due to the fact that I have "too many roommates" according to the company I use. So, that means I need to shop around for a good quote. I'm looking to get about $20,000 in coverage.

How much do you pay, what kind of coverage do you have and would you recommend your renter's insurance company?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Visitor + Moving Weekend!

I'm SO excited for this weekend! My Mom is flying to spend Thursday through Tuesday with me and to help me move. She's awesome at packing and organizing - but she happens to be amazing at interior decorating! We're going to have a blast getting my new room all set up. :)

I have boxes ready to pack, some friends ready to help and I can't wait. I'm really excited for new roommates and possible friends! Plus mother/daughter time, of course. This is going to be a great change, even if I am only moving 5 miles away from my current location. It's good to shake things up and I definitely need it right now.

In terms of spending, I have $300 saved to help with any expenses. However, whenever any of my family visits... they spoil me. So we'll see how much of that I'll actually end up spending! I'm also waiting to receive the majority of my security deposit back from my current place. At most, I think I'll lose $100 of it for cleaning, but possibly even less since there are three of us in the current place. I also still have to pay my rent and security deposit at my new place, so I'll have to pull some money from my E-fund to help with it while I wait for my old security deposit.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

You Never Know!

This morning I had my monthly meeting with my boss. We go over what I've been working on, what I'm going to be working on and just chat about life.

After two years at my company and 1.5 years in my current position/department, I'm getting antsy... for more money.

I started at a base salary of $33K and when I got my promotion, I didn't even get a big enough raise to hit the $35K mark (I'm technically $200 below that, and I'm not including annual bonuses)... I know I'm worth way more than that, but unfortunately my company is also known to be stingy when employees just start out. And I was okay with the low salary at first, because I work for an awesome company (no layoffs! great benefits!) but after two years I feel like I deserve more.

Also, we're on salary freezes. But you know what? I wanted it to be known that I feel underpaid.

So, I did it. I asked my boss for a salary increase... despite the fact that we're on salary freezes. And despite the fact that I was uber-nervous as I've never asked for a raise before! But, if you don't ask... you'll never know! Right? :)

And you know what? She said I brought up a very valid point, but she did reiterate that we are on salary freezes and my low pay is not due to my lack of skills, competence and performance as well as my incredible learning curve. Which I already knew, but it's always great to hear it! ;) So, I basically got a "maybe" as an answer. She said she would look into it, that it is unlikely but that I make a good point by bringing it up. Sounds like she'll be talking to some higher-ups in the company, which I don't think will do much, but it's a starting point and now I've put it out in the universe that I'd like more money. Either way, I'll be hearing something about it in a month when I have my next meeting with her.

MAYBE. It's not a no, and it's not a yes. It's something!

Sold the LoveSac!

I finally sold my LoveSac! I started it at the average price of what similar ones in my area were selling for on Craigslist, and then dropped it every few days. Apparently $175 was the magic number because I received three inquiries about it today!

I work on a first-contact-it's-yours policy, instead of a first-come-first-serve like some people. The young woman who contacted me first kept in touch with me throughout the day and came by this evening with a friend to pick it up. Perfect!

When she pulled out money to pay me, I just let her have it for $160 since she was sweet. :) I was going to put that money towards my move, but I already have $300 saved up for potential costs... so the extra income will go towards a recent mini shopping spree I did!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Free Samples

I've been getting quite a few free samples in the mail recently! It's really easy to sign up for them and I've received some good things. So far, no spam snail mail but I do get spam e-mail... so I use an old e-mail address when I register. Here are some of my recent freebies:

  • Burt's Bees Natural Toothpaste
  • Canned tuna + canned tuna chickpea salad
  • Mini Thai Cashew Chicken from Panda Express
  • PowerBar Energy Gel Blasts (still available here)
  • Starbucks VIA
  • Always Sanitary Pads (+ coupon for a FREE 18-pack!)
  • SouthBeach Living FiberFit Bar
Here's what I'm still waiting for in the mail:
  • Organic samples (various? the site wasn't specific...)
  • Nexxus Shampoo & Conditioner sample (this is a brand I use and love!)
  • Kraft Sandwich Ship Mayo sample
  • Other things I can't remember right now! :)

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