Friday, April 30, 2010


I'm getting the itch to travel again! Even though I've already gone on a cruise and taken a trip to Vegas this year, I always want to continue to go places :) My company is very generous, and I get 15 vacation days per year so I'm using them in all sorts of ways!

Here's what I have planned so far for the rest of the year:

  • Seattle, beginning of June (my brother's graduating college! technically just a visit home.)
  • Denver, end of June (to visit a girlfriend who now lives there)
  • NYC, end of September (to attend a wedding! & I'm obsessed! :) )
  • Jamaica, end of December (family vacation! we haven't been an international one in YEARS! so excited!)
And there might be more! Other friends want to go to Vegas again and I'd like to visit a girlfriend in San Francisco, potentially making it a girls' weekend with my Mom! I'm open to just seeing what comes my way and going from there.

What trips are you taking this year? Any suggestions for the places I'm going?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Three Paycheck Month

This month is a three paycheck month for me! I'm rounding it up to $1,010 and this is what I plan on doing with it:

  • Roth IRA $500
  • Emergency Fund $250
  • Self $100 (much needed haircut and probably a mani/pedi...a girl needs some pampering!)
  • CL Fund $85
  • Travel Fund $50
  • Gift Fund $25
Definitely nice to have these "extra" paychecks each year! :)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Why I Pay 41% of Take Home Pay in Rent

Recently, Debt Ninja over at Punch Debt in the Face asked his readers what their housing allowance was. I crunched my own numbers and realized that 41% of my take-home pay goes towards my rent! Yes, this is the largest expense I have. And no, it doesn't include my portion of utilities, which would tack on an additional 3%. Is it worth it to me? Definitely!

There are many reasons why I am comfortable paying this much towards my rent: I have no debt, I'm still able to save a decent amount each month, I live in a beautiful city where rents can be (and are!) high, the tri-level townhouse I rent with my roommates is huge... but the main reason why I'm okay with that amount? Location!

I live in one of the nicest and safest neighborhoods of my city. In terms of driving distances, I'm 6.5 miles from work and 2 miles (or less!) from all of my favorite grocery stores. There's also a movie theater and driving range nearby! This area is also very walkable: I can walk to my gym, a huge mall, a library, a drugstore, my doctor's office, grocery stores, various parks, restaurants and even bars! In fact, the walk score of this area is 75. :)

I'm now very attached to this location. I don't want to leave it! I drive against traffic, I have a short commute, I feel safe walking at any time of day or night and everything I want/need is extremely close by!

Are you attached to the location you live in? Would you pay more for a better location?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Awesome Weekend!

I had an absolutely amazing weekend! Definitely one for the books - exciting, non-stop and exhausting, but completely worth it! Here's a rundown of what I did:

Friday: Quick errands after work (including buying my Mom an early Mother's Day gift, as she'll be visiting family out of the country in May!), happy hour with friends ($9 for dinner & a drink) then I picked my parents up at the airport!

Saturday: After staying up til almost midnight hanging out with my parents, we went for dim sum (Chinese pastries were delicious!), played golf, had a drink at a popular local brewery, went to a fancy downtown hotel for drinks on the 40th floor, went to dinner at a Japanese restaurant and then I went out until 3am for a friend's birthday! (...okay, I'm exhausted from just typing all of that!)

Sunday turned into a rest day, we just ended up driving and seeing lots of local beach towns, then went for dinner at our favorite restaurant EVER! Amazing, of course! I absolutely love it when my parents visit - they treat me so well and it's always fun exploring new places and restaurants with them in the city! :) Sometime I wish they lived in the same state as me, though. But these visits from them and my trips home each year are always great!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Family Weekend!

My parents are coming into town tonight to visit me until Monday! I am so excited, as I haven't seen them since Christmas. They like to visit me once a year. We have a ton planned and I can't wait! I love having them come visit because they love to treat me to nice dinners and fun activities that are generally out of my budget. :)

On Saturday, we're going for dim sum and then we're playing golf in the afternoon. I made dinner reservations as a surprise Japanese restaurant for Saturday night, and I also want to take them to an awesome downtown bar with spectacular views of the city.

On Sunday, we're going for pho and then an afternoon hike if the weather's decent. I'll probably also do some shopping with my Mom! On Monday, my car is going to the shop to finally get it's 60K maintenance. It's almost at 70K... oops! My parents have offered to pay (they're way too generous!) but after some discussion, we've decided to split whatever the cost turns out to be.

To top it off, I have a friend coming into town this weekend, too! Luckily, she's staying with my old roommates, but we'll all be meeting up for drinks/dinner tonight before my parents arrive.

What are your weekend plans? Hope it's a great one!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Spending List

I never report my daily/weekly spending, but this week has been a little crazy and busy, so I thought I would just for fun!

$7, Drink at a bar on Saturday with friends
$3.30, Starbucks on Sunday (breakfast prior to my cooking class)
$25, Charity
$6, Dinner out
$1, Book Club fee
$14.13, Wine from Trader Joe's (gift for a friend)
$8.12, CVS (2 cards & a gift bag)

I had expected to spend about $14 on dinner tonight for my friend's graduation, but her family graciously paid for everyone! So kind! :) However, there are going to be some more expenses the rest of the week! I found what I want to buy my Mom for Mother's Day, which will run me $30. I'll also be going out with friends on Friday, dinner and drinks, ~$20.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Williams-Sonoma Healthy Cooking Technique Class: Seafood

One of my coworker friends signed us up for FREE healthy cooking technique classes in April through Williams-Sonoma. The first one, out of the set of three in April, was for seafood. We received a handout with recipes that were showcased, including what Williams-Sonoma items were used. The recipes were pan-fried salmon with a mango-cucumber-pineapple salsa and shrimp with mixed greens salad. The vinaigrette for the salad was super simple and delicious, all whisked together in a bowl:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup Kern's pear nectar
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
An easy shrimp recipe, foolproof to not having that dreaded "rubbery" texture? Season shrimp with olive oil, salt, pepper and/or your favorite seasonings, then bake in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes, flipping the shrimp halfway through. There were lots of awesome kitchen gadgets used, too! However, I find chopping vegetables very therapeutic, so I'm not a fan of all the vegetable choppers - especially since most of them are very arduous to clean!

Next week's class is on vegetables and the final class is on chicken! :)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Earthquake Preparedness

On Easter Sunday, there was a magnitude 7.2 earthquake that hit Baja California and was felt by millions in Southern California and beyond. I was grocery shopping and everyone literally just froze when the rumbling started. As everything swayed, I backed away from the shelves I was next to and started walking towards the exit of the store. Luckily, nothing fell off any shelves and a minute later I had checked out with my groceries. I've already felt 6 aftershocks/other earthquakes since then!

I've felt some earthquakes before, but this was the second most intense by feeling and the most intense by magnitude; I had been in a 6.8 in my home state in 2001. At 4:15am one day last week, when I was awoken by one of the larger aftershocks, my thoughts immediately drifted to what I would grab if I had to run out of my apartment in the event of a much more serious earthquake... and I realized I don't have any safety precautions in place. The following is a brief list of what I have decided to do in preparation for a potential emergency in the future:

1. I need to make an EQ kit.
It should include a blanket, a sweatshirt/extra clothes, bottles of water, flashlight, extra batteries, first aid items, copies of my important documents and assorted foodstuffs. I already have some of these items in the back of my car as a precaution, but I know it's not enough. One set for my car and one set for my apartment.

2. I need to know what to grab.
Other than my EQ kit, I would hands-down grab my laptop/external hard drive and my purse if I had no time or a few minutes. If it was more... sentimental jewelry, maybe some of my beloved heels or favorite clothing items?

3. I need to back items up/record items.
A list of important phone numbers/account numbers that are e-mailed to myself so I know who to contact (insurance company, checking/savings account numbers to access my money, etc). Important documents (or copies of) all in a folder. Pictures of my most expensive items. Inventory of what I own and estimated costs, even though it does not amount to a lot of money - yet!

4. Get renter's insurance.
I said I would get renter's insurance when I started this blog... and never got around to it. Now I definitely want/need it! I will talk to my insurance company soon and hopefully get some sort of discount as it will be an additional policy on top of my car insurance. From the research I've done online, earthquake insurance is not worth the additional cost, since I currently do not own that much stuff (rough estimate of ~$10-15K, not including my car).

Are you prepared for any sort of disaster? Do you have any "specialty" or additional insurance, such as EQ or flood?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I Wish...

I wish I could afford to buy lunch more than once every other week.

I wish I earned more money.

I wish there was a financial literacy program I could volunteer with in my city.

I wish I could replace my entire wardrobe, except for a few select items.

I wish I lived closer to my family and most of my best friends, who are all in other states.

I wish I could max out my 401k.

I wish I could travel abroad every year, on my own dime.

I wish I had a boyfriend, especially one who is successful, driven and financially responsible.

(I'm sure some of my wishes will come true soon enough!) :)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

March Month-End & Networth Update

I forgot to do a March month-end post! Well, here it is, a week into April! ;)

March was the first month since I started working full-time in June 2008 that I did not have any budget leftovers! This was because I decided to do a little spring/summer shopping early... but it was all worth it. :) And, I took out $450 from my Travel Fund to go to Vegas for a weekend with friends, so my cash savings decreased.

Even with the lack of extra savings, my networth still increased by 2.70% thanks to my retirement accounts. I'm going to try to rein in my spending in April, but I have one weekend where a friend is visiting from out-of-state. Though when my parents visit mid-month, they will probably spoil me a bit as they usually do! I can't wait! :)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Follow-Up: How Much Do You Spend on Groceries?

This is my follow-up post to last month's How Much Do You Spend On Groceries? There were lots of great comments, so be sure to check them out!

Of course, the sample set was interesting. (Though I would say it's biased towards my mostly frugally-conscious readers. :) ) The average amount spent per month was $283, with the lowest being $100 for 1 person and the highest at $400 for 2 people. Most people were located in large cities (LA, NYC) and those on the higher end of the monthly grocery bills tended towards organic/natural food. I loved all the responses!

Here is my information:

Location: San Diego, CA
Monthly Grocery $: $105 (2009 average; a LOT lower than I expected it to be! I budget $125-$150/month)
For: 1 person
Other: I don't buy any processed foods and avoid most expensive snacks. I buy in-season produce. I also buy generic brand of anything and everything. I always shop at my "trifecta" in Southern California: Ralph's, Henry's and Trader Joe's. I don't use coupons, and I bring my lunch to work every day. I don't buy a lot of meat (maybe 1 bag of frozen chicken thighs/breasts at Costco per month) and try to eat mostly vegetarian... but I always have ice cream in the apartment! :)

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