Monday, February 28, 2011

I Got the Job!

It's official...


It took a bit longer than expected. It's slightly less money than we initially discussed. But I'm okay with that. The benefits are amazing (4 weeks vacation plus sick & work-from-home days, 401k matching up to 4% with immediate full vesting, solid health/dental/vision, gym discounts, etc), the people I interviewed with were awesome and this honestly was one of the easiest decisions I've ever made. :)

I was able to negotiate my start date to the end of March, so I have just under a month left in San Diego before the huge cross-country move. It's going to be a whirlwind and I'll be a New Yorker before I know it!

I am so excited. My dream is now reality! I'm on a cloud and I don't think it'll actually feel real until I'm in the middle of that pulsing, energizing, constantly-moving-always-on city. :) My to-do list just became insane but luckily I have an amazing support system and a decent amount of time (and luckily money saved, since there's no relocation package with the position) to make this huge life change.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

U.S. Citizenship

In case you don't know, I'm a Canadian citizen. I was born in Toronto and when I was 10, my family relocated to Seattle for my Dad's job. We've been resident aliens (aka green card holders) since I was 12. Since all of our green cards are expiring in 2012, we decided to finally become dual citizens.

We downloaded the application forms and over Thanksgiving, spent about two days filling them out and reviewing. The hardest part was listing every single time we've left the country since arriving. You guys, we are AVID TRAVELERS. This was ridiculous and we had to use additional pages! Not only to you have to list the dates you were out of the country for, but where you went and how many days you were gone. When we thought we were done, I ended up remembering about two trips that we all managed to miss. What a process, but it was really fun to go "Oh yeah, remember that?!" :) Applications and fees were sent in at the beginning of December.

By early January I received a letter telling me to report for fingerprinting, the first part of the process. It was relatively painless minus the waiting time (no cell phones AT ALL) and the fact that the appointment, of course, was in the middle of my work day. Not even two weeks after that I received my notification to come in for the citizenship exam! It's a week from today and they gave me a basic civics study guide...which takes me all the way back to 8th grade social studies and my high school AP U.S. History classes. The interview/exam is broken down into four components:

  • Civics Test (answer 6 out of 10 questions correctly from a bank of 100 questions)
  • Speaking Test (various questions asked to you by a USCIS officer)
  • Reading Test (read 1 out of 3 sentences to demonstrate English reading ability)
  • Writing Test (write 1 out of 3 sentences to demonstrate English writing ability)
My exam is scheduled for early in the morning and takes approximately 2-3 hours. Time to start some light studying! And yes, the Civics Test is the portion that the majority of Americans would (unfortunately) most likely fail...sad.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Thursday Thoughts

I'm not doing very well on updating my budget this month. I'm keeping a rough track but most of it is in my head. I'm finding that because I don't live paycheck to paycheck, I don't need to be so diligent about tracking my spending. However, I do love knowing what I have leftover at the end of every month and choosing what to do with that extra money! At the end of February I plan on making some charitable donations because I definitely fell off that bandwagon in 2010 and that needs to be remedied.

Also, I need to add a line item to my budget for Kindle purchases. I'm finding some Kindle books are more than their paperback counterparts but there are a lot of $5 ones which I am more than happy to pay for :) I've already read the entire Hunger Games series on it! (I used an Amazon gift card so all the books were free.)

I'm still in the waiting game on the NY job that I interviewed for a few weeks ago. Instead of being stressed and anxious about it, I'm actually at peace: they are a huge company that most likely has much bigger fish to hire than me! The HR rep I've been interacting with has been very positive about the whole situation so I figure it's just a matter of time. :) (But I'll probably call again if I don't get another update by next Tuesday.)

I received my second eBates cash back check! Here's my referral link in case you'd like to sign up. That $20.65 will serve nicely for some of the social events I have on the horizon. I also finally shifted some money around in my bank accounts and sent $2K to my Roth IRA for 2011 thanks to my bonus! I've also done some shopping recently, including three necklaces from various stores, three v-neck t-shirts from H&M ($6 each in lots of colors! LOVE!), a sparkly 3/4-sleeve shrug from Charlotte Russe and a long black sweater, also from H&M. All of those items came to $50 total!

I'm addicted to my iPhone! I've had zero service problems thanks to Verizon so far and I have a lot of apps on it... from games to music to productivity and the best part? They have all been free! Okay, time to stop the random updates/thoughts and read a free book I downloaded from the Kindle store: Life from Scratch. :)

I Had a Valentine!

I've been dating a boy (dubbed Airport Boy thanks to where we met!) for the past month. A few weeks ago he asked me to be his valentine and of course I said yes. He didn't strike me as the romantic or planning type so I figured we would have a low-key night, maybe cook dinner together or watch a movie. Well, that wasn't quite how the night turned out!

On Valentine's Day, he came over all dressed up (he usually wears jeans and plain t-shirts, needless to say I was stunned as he cleans up WELL!) bearing flowers, my favorite wine and a home cooked meal! He pre-made it at his place as a surprise, since his only instruction to me was to be ready by 6pm. We ate dinner at my place where my roommates were seriously impressed.

About an hour later he told me he also had dessert reservations but would give no hints as to where, other than I would need a warm jacket. We hopped in his car and off we drove...and drove...almost 30 minutes later, after my multiple guesses as to where we were headed, we end up at a hotel. I'm thinking there must be a nice restaurant in the hotel with good dessert. Try again! We were going for an evening GONDOLA RIDE!! He had also brought champagne for us to share and there were complimentary chocolate covered strawberries. The weather was absolutely perfect, the blanket that was provided was comfy and the entire hour we were steered around in the water was bliss. We cuddled close and talked the entire time. It was really romantic, a little bit cheesy (he told me he likes all that stuff for special occasions) and a LOT of fun! I've never done an all out Valentine's Day ever so I LOVED it! Plus it's been three years since I last had a valentine which made it extra exciting. :)

[image via]

Friday, February 4, 2011

Taxes + Annual Bonus

I finished my taxes the day after I got all of my forms (a few 1099s and my W-2) and by January 28th I had received a refund of $664 from Federal and $341 from State. I used $15 of that to pay for the state filing at TaxACT, which I've used the last three years to do my taxes. It only took me about an hour to do everything online and my taxes are very easy! So I have a $990 tax refund to figure out what to do with...

On the 31st, I received my annual bonus for work done in 2010. Hooray! It was $7,000 gross (umm, I expected HALF that so what a nice surprise!) and I netted $3,634 after taxes. This is how it's broken down:

$2K, 2011 Roth IRA
$500, E-Fund
$500, Travel Fund
$200, iPhone (for Verizon...finally!)
$40, Case for my new Kindle (Mom bought it as an early Valentine's Day present for me. LOVE!)
$394, Other/Miscellaneous (Gifts for friends, clothing & I want this tote since I bring my lunch to work every day.)

Are you getting a tax refund or do you owe? What are you going to do with your refund if you do get it?

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