Friday, January 29, 2010


I have been mentioning that my company decided to give out annual bonuses for 2009. Well, I found this week how much mine is, and it turns out it's more than I expected. I work for a fantastic company and even though the recession hurt us in terms of clients, we are still doing good for where we're at. All in all, the company is being incredibly generous. The most surprising thing was that my bonus actually increased from last year's. Wow, I feel very privileged, as I still have a job and on top of that I'm getting a bonus! (It's also a nice addition to my mediocre salary, since 2010 will be the second year I will not be receiving a cost-of-living adjustment/raise.)

How much was my bonus? After taxes and 401k were taken out, I netted $3,150.
The following is my allocation:

E-Fund: $1,000
Roth IRA (2010): $1,000
CFA June Exam Fees: $500*
Travel Fund: $225
Gift Fund: $125
Clothes: $100
Other/Misc: $200

*still debating if I want to take the exam again in June

Did you get a bonus this year? Is your job giving you a raise in 2010?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Cooking Class

So I finally used my Groupon and went to a cooking class last night!

It was a lot of fun! The group was really small, about 15 people came to the class. The theme was soups and sandwiches aka comfort food. I got a seat right up front and it was a blast. The chef was really enthusiastic, very friendly and funny. It was pretty casual and you could ask questions while he was cooking. 2 of the soups were pre-made since they take a bit longer. We got to try all 4 soups (including a dessert one!) and 3 sandwiches. I came home with a food coma because the portions were HUGE due to the fact that the class size was small! :) There was also a delicious appetizer and the waitstaff gave everyone two glasses of wine and constantly filled up water... better service than at some restaurants! Everything was absolutely fantastic! Here's what we ate:

  • Creamy Tomato Bisque with Grilled Cheddar & Bleu Cheese Bacon/Green Apple Sandwich
  • Roasted Butternut Squash Bisque with Warm Turkey Wrap
  • Spicy Black Bean Soup with Warm Cuban Sandwich
  • Raspberry & White Chocolate Soup with Dark Brownie Bites
Everyone received a stapled packet of all the recipes and most of us took some notes while the chef was cooking. One of the things I liked best about the class was that none of the soups or sandwiches were difficult to make and all the ingredients are readily available in most pantries and grocery stores! (Actually, a lot of the chef's ingredients came from Costco!) All in all, the just-over-2-hour class was really neat. I learned some new tricks (like how to make parmesan crisps! that creme fraiche & basil oil are amazingly simple!) and that I should invest in an immersion blender if I want to make delicious soups. ;)

It was completely worth the $25 I spent via Groupon! :) Maybe I'll find a deal for one of their hands-on cooking classes in the future!

Have you ever taken a cooking class? Did you like it?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

CFA Results

I received my Level 1 results this morning online. Unfortunately, I did not pass. The pass rate was 34%.

However, I feel confident that I can pass on my second try in June! I got a print out of how I did based on the topic areas so I know where I need to focus my efforts. Time to register and get back into study mode!

Thanks for all of support via the blog and Twitter! :)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Patiently Waiting...

My CFA Level 1 results are available tomorrow morning at 6am PST!

I should say I've been anticipating them for the past almost 2 months since the exam - but, to be honest, I haven't! The time flew by since I got back into a normal routine, had a bunch of vacations and a lot of much-needed time to myself. I put all that studying and anxiety behind me, and it basically hasn't crossed my mind since.

But now I'm ready to know my result (pass or fail) and go forward from there!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Spending Before Earning

This past weekend I decided to donate a few old clothes like shirts I haven't worn in a year+ and do some shopping! (Don't worry, only for clothes, not for shoes.) Some of my favorite stores were having sales and I also had a bunch of giftcards to use!

Here's the catch: I technically spent the money before I had it. Thank goodness for credit cards! ;) Last week at work, we were officially notified that we will all be getting a "very small annual bonus." No matter the amount, I plan on allocating $100 to clothing.

So, I spent $85.38 (after sale prices and all my giftcards) of it on one pair of dark khakis, three long-sleeved scoop neck shirts, a dress, grey leggings, a pair of earrings, a super soft hoodie, a tank top and another basic long-sleeved shirt. I'm very happy with all my purchases! In fact, I don't want to take my new hoodie off :)

Do you sometimes spend before you earn?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

It's Almost Tax Time!

Some of my tax forms have started to arrive! I don't know about you, but I actually like tax time! Maybe that's just because my taxes are still so easy, maybe because this is only my 2nd year doing my own taxes, and/or maybe it's because I can do FREE e-file for both federal and state. Plus, I'm expecting a refund this year around $400-$500. :)

So far, I've received one of my 1099-INT interest forms for the piddly amount of interest I earned at my brick & mortar bank. The majority of my interest comes from my ING Direct savings accounts, and those forms are available online starting January 31st. Still waiting on my W-2 from work and then I'll be ready to file my taxes!

Are you expecting to owe taxes or get a refund this year?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Green Monster Smoothie!

Today I got to leave work early due to "expected worsening weather conditions" which means... it's raining and very windy, and Southern California can't handle that! Either way, I'm glad work wants us to all be safe. :)

I bought a few ingredients the other night and vowed to make a green monster smoothie sometime. I've been reading about them on various food blogs that I follow and finally decided to try it out. I eat healthy as often as possible and buy a lot of fresh ingredients, though I am by no means a health nut so this is a VERY healthy drink for me!

So now I'm sitting here drinking my own green monster smoothie (it doesn't quite look like the picture on the left, but close enough, lol) and it's delicious! Here's my recipe:

1 tablespoon flaxseed (ground & organic)
1.5 cups spinach
1 cup vanilla soymilk
1 small mango, diced
1 small jazz apple, diced

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


One of my goals for 2010 is to volunteer.

Well, sooner than expected, I am going to make this goal! I had a meeting with the director of a volunteer organization in my city last week, and I start next weekend! I'm really excited because this volunteer opportunity is fun, high-paced and oriented around customer service at an unexpected location. I'm energetic, outgoing and I truly love to help people, so this is a perfect fit for me. :) I will mostly volunteer on the weekends, which is what I was looking for in my schedule, for 12 hours per month.

I did a lot of volunteering in high school and college. I did everything from volunteering in elementary classrooms and at nursing homes to rebuilding houses and spending time at soup kitchens. Now I'm doing something very different and I'm looking forward to giving my time (in addition to my money) to the community!

Do you volunteer? If so, how often and what type of volunteer work do you do? What type of volunteer work do you enjoy most?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Haiti Earthquake

The earthquake in Haiti unfortunately hit very close to home this week. A young woman I went to high school with, who had been volunteering at an orphanage outside Port-au-Prince since last June, died in the earthquake. She had a huge heart and was the most loving, compassionate and selfless person. Situations like this make one realize how precious life truly is, and how many amazing people give their lives while trying to make the world a better place.

When I heard the news about the earthquake (and a few days later about the girl I knew), I immediately made a donation to my and my family's favorite charity, Direct Relief International. I truly believe in giving... whether it's $5 or $500, every amount helps. (DRI is a 4-star charity on Charity Navigator, by the way.)

My thoughts and prayers are with all those in Haiti, both the citizens and all the volunteers.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Back to Reality...

First off, I have a new header courtesy of the awesome D. Ninja at Punch Debt in the Face. Thank you!

My cruise was amazing! I had such a fantastic time with my best friends. They really spoiled me all weekend. We're already planning to turn the cruise into an annual vacation, hooray! It was also really nice to be completely unplugged from all technology for a few days.

In terms of spending, I ended up going over my original budget of $150. (Really, what was I thinking, lol?) When friendships are involved, money doesn't matter too much to me - especially since I have the money in savings for vacations! Here's the breakdown:

Cruise purchases: $129.74
Other purchases while friends were in town: $88.75
Total: $218.49

I will be taking the amount from my Travel Fund, which still has over $1K in it for future trips! Really, I don't think I did too bad at all with my spending, since that was over the course of 7 days. :) Though ask me what I spent it all on, and I couldn't really tell you!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

New Year, New Age... It's My Birthday!

Today is my birthday! I'm now twenty-four years old... hello, mid-twenties!

I'm really excited to be 24. I know this will be an amazing year! Two girlfriends are arriving tonight from the East Coast, I'm going out with my closest friends tomorrow night for dinner/drinks and on Saturday going on my cruise! It'll definitely be a birthday to remember. :)

My present to myself is a pedicure and appetizers/drinks at my favorite restaurant!

Have a fantastic January 7th! :)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

2010 Budget

On my flight home for Christmas, I entertained myself by creating my 2010 budget. I use Excel because I love spreadsheets! I had some tweaking to do, mostly because my car is now officially mine... which means I'm paying the insurance on it to the tune of $115/month. (I pay it in an annual lump sum in October.) Ouch.

These are my monthly expenses. I also put $200 into my Roth IRA and $250 into other savings each month, which I haven't included here.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

December 2009 Networth

I haven't updated my networth in a few months, so I figured the start of a new year is as good a time as any to check on it!

Since I last updated it in September (!) it's definitely increased by a lot. This was due to largely in part to market increases but also an extra paycheck in October and not too much spending in November/December.

From December 2008 to December 2009, my networth almost tripled! WOW! I received a (teeny tiny) raise in 2009 due to my promotion last January plus I got a bonus, a tax refund, two extra paychecks and it was my first full year of working! In terms of actual numbers, it increased from $11,007 to $30,950, or 2.81x what I started the year at.

I guess you could say I'm a saver! :)

What's the most your networth has ever increased, if you track it?

Sunday, January 3, 2010


I'm a bookworm. :)

I absolutely love to read! It's one of my favorite hobbies. It's relaxing but also a lot of fun to get swept up in a really well-written story. The genres I enjoy range from travel fiction, adventures/thrillers/mystery and historical fiction to the occasional chick-lit. Buying new books all the time is expensive, which is why I am a huge fan of the library. (Or receiving books as gifts.) It makes reading a much more frugal hobby! My city's public library system is fantastic, because if I can find a book through their online database that is available at another branch, I can simply request a hold on it and they will send it to my nearby branch for pickup. Another way I avoid buying books is through family: Mom and I have a very similar taste in books, so she buys a lot of them and then sends them to me to read. I, in turn, pass them along to another bookworm girlfriend or donate them to the library.

Last year, in an effort to read more and meet new people, I joined a book club through Each meeting costs $1 and, depending on the location, about $3 for parking. I went to two meetings last year before my CFA studying got in the way and now I'm excited to go back. The next book club I am going to is at the end of January for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

What am I reading now? Well, I finally finished The Pillars of the Earth over my Christmas vacation which was absolutely amazing! It's now in my top 5 books of all time, because it was a historical fiction novel that had everything you could ever want in a novel: action, adventure, romance, twisting plots, you name it! I definitely recommend it if you love to read. Don't be intimidated by the number of pages, it goes by very quickly. For Christmas, I received Shantaram and Unaccustomed Earth. I've already started reading Shantaram and I can't put it down! :)

If you like to read, what are your recommendations for books? Some of my favorites include Eat Pray Love, The Lovely Bones, Almost French, I Dreamed of Africa, Watership Down, Angela's Ashes, Hitching Rides with Buddha, Water for Elephants, The Namesake... I could go on and on! :) Also, how do you save money if you like to read?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Shoe Shopping Hiatus

For the first six months of 2010, I vow not to buy any shoes... no heels and definitely no boots! (My wardrobe needs some updating, so I will let myself buy clothes. Just no shoes.)

In 2009, I spent close to $600 on shoes! Luckily it did not come out of my normal budget, but rather from extra income, budget leftovers or gift money. Many of them will last me quite a few years and I definitely added some amazing ones to my collection. A great pair of shoes is my vice! Recently, it has been all about boots. Three I purchased myself and one was a Christmas gift. :)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!
Welcome to 2010... a new year and decade! Last year was a great one, and I know this year will be even better! Hope you all had a safe and fun New Year's, wherever you were. :)

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