Active Lifestyle Battle

The constant battle with staying healthy and living an active lifestyle. This concept is in direct contradiction to work lifestyle which encompasses me sitting down in front of a monitor and rarely getting up. I do believe exercise is truly necessary for your daily life. I feel better, more energized, and happier when I am active throughout the day. Squeezing in time for exercise must be part of a daily routine and ever since I moved to a new city and state, my routine has bene nonexistent. The pounds have followed, not a lot but just enough. When you notice you are having trouble zipping up your jeans, it’s time to get up and move. The concept is of course a lot easier in my mind than in practice. My goal is to work out five times a week. These workouts initially are going to be easy. Light jogging combined with walking. But it will start the progression to harder workouts, which I know I physically can do, but have no motivation.

So far this week, I went running/walking on Monday and Tuesday. I want to go running/walking (probably mostly walking) on Wednesday. But as I write this, I already want to just go lay down after work and take a nap.

I’m writing this to remind myself I need to go. At least go walking and get some steps. I will feel better in the long run. It takes a month to establish a habit. I’m at day 2, again. I have tried to start the 30 days for the past two months. I can do it. I must go walking. I must.

Update – I walked and achieved 16K steps for the day.

Tomorrow a 4 mile run!

Sept 2016 Update

I’m sitting down to write a post after a very long break. I feel like my writing hobby took a backseat as I took care of other items in my list. My job role expanded with more responsibilities, the house DIY endeavors, Toastmaster officer’s responsibilities, and a couple other volunteer endeavors diverted time from my writing hobby. Nevertheless, I did keep up with my favorite blogs.

Then, out of nowhere I got a job offer and I relocated to the mid west (this probably requires a more in-depth post). Let’s just say this past summer has been the ultimate adventure. Our finances have been tested and we are settling into a new phase in our life. I’m hoping October will be our first month with regular bills. Well, before the holidays hit!

I’m learning so much at my new company, so definitely more to come on this phase.

I honestly can’t believe it’s halfway through September. The end of the year will be here before I know it. I want to get on the wagon with the hobbies that bring me happiness including working out on a daily basis and writing on my blog.

I didn’t disappear. I was just taking a break. Living life.

Corporate Fog

Well, hello again. I can’t believe it’s April. Where does time go?

I’m stuck in the corporate fog. Day in and day out. Weeks pass. Weekends come and go. So time is flying. I’m not really sure how to stop it. It is what it is.

I joined a new team in January. Well, my team merged with another team, which in turn got gobbled up by another organization. “Corporate restructuring to improve efficiencies.” My new manager is wonderful and remote. Actually our entire team is all over the world. A few of us sit in the USA and others, sit elsewhere. It’s interesting being part of a true, global team. Our manager sits in his own location and rarely sees any one of us face to face.

There is a lot of pressure to increase profit margins. Every day, the work piles on, and it seems like not enough gets accomplished. But I suppose it’s better than not having a job. The company has been laying off left and right. But it’s all part of corporate strategy now. If margins are not high enough according to Wall Street, heads will fly.

All fun! Tis’ the life of a corporate slave!

 

 

New Couch Purchase

I have been wanting a new couch for a really long time. But as usual I have champagne taste with a beer budget. After buying a couple of couches that I ended up not liking because they were “more affordable,” I decided I was going to save up my pennies to buy something I really liked.

We spend much of our free time on the couch. We relax while watching tv, I love reading a book on the couch, etc. A couple of years ago I decided I was going to allocate all of our credit card rewards to the purchase of a couch. I saved every single penny. Many people say they don’t have the patience to save the money and they usually spend it, but I had a goal.

I really loved sectionals with down feather wrapped cushions. Looked at Pottery Barn, Mitchell Gold, Room and Board. Did I already say I have champagne tastes?

Well, then I found out about Interior Define. Interior Define has a unique business model. Custom sofas at the right price. Their process bypasses unnecessary middlemen and markups. they pride themselves in offering well-crafter, highly custom pieces at an uncommon value.

It’s important to realize:

  • They only have one showroom in Chicago. To keep costs down, they cut their retail supply chain. If you don’t live in Chicago, you don’t sit on the sofas.
  • Order online or with the help of a rep.
  • Custom choices
  • 365 day return
  • Delivery is “free.” It’s basically included in the price of the couch.

I started looking at the sofas in the fall and tried to read as many reviews as possible. I ordered fabric swatches and started talking to a designer specialist. Over the course of a few weeks, we emailed back and forth and discussed fabric, dimensions, sofa, and leg options. It was a really, easy experience. The rep was really responsive. The experience was very personal. No corporate responses with them!

Finally, I pulled the trigger. I had enough money saved up from credit card rewards and decided to purchase the Ainsley sectional. It takes 8-10 weeks for the couch to arrive because the couches are build to order and custom. It won’t arrive until the end of February or early March. I am super excited! I will share more once I get the couch.

Check out Interior Define. This is not a sponsored post by the way. Interior Define doesn’t even know I blog. The post is based on my personal opinion.

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EOY 2015 Kitchen Reveal

Almost 1.5 years later, I think I have made some great progress renovating my kitchen.

I wrote my kitchen update plan in April 2015. Check out my Kitchen Update Plan.

This is the before picture of the kitchen.

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This is a picture of the kitchen after I finished the kitchen backsplash.

Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 11.01.59 PMCan you say complete makeover?

Here is a list of the items that were changed:

  • Changed the lighting to recessed lighting – Cost not sure – Didn’t keep track of it.
  • Added Under Cabinet Lighting – Cost about $250?
  • Added Pendant Lights Above Sink – Cost about $150 from Amazon.
  • Painted Cabinets White – Cost about $100? Rollers, paint, and tons of sweat equity.
  • Added Cabinet Hardware – Cost about $110? Home Depot hardware. Chose the most affordable ones, but we have tons of cabinets, so it added up.
  • Painted the Wall 2x – I painted the wall twice. After two gallons of paint, tons of paint samples because I didn’t want to paint 3x, this came to about $100? Now it’s a light grey. I love it!
  • Added cabinet trim – If you notice from the before picture, the trim was black. I added white wood trim. Cost about $15?
  • New Window Shade – $85? Bamboo shade from Lowe’s.
  • New Dishwasher – Upgraded to a Bosch dishwasher. We thought our old one was broken, when in reality, the reason it was not draining was because we never took out the plug in the new garbage disposal. We bought a new one and had the same drainage problem, and that’s when I figured it out. Oops! Well, I got a super, fancy new dishwasher. Our old one was just a drying rack. Now I use the new one all the time. No more fights over who gets to do the dishes. Total Cost – About $600
  • Kitchen Backsplash – I finally decided on a kitchen backsplash. At first I was going to go for a glass mosaic but it was just too expensive. I decided to do a simple white subway tile. I love it! it makes the space so much brighter. I borrowed a lot of tools. Cost – less than $200. It took a couple days to finish the project. I tiled 55 square feet. It’s not perfect. Some lines are not super straight, the grout lines are not the best, but I did it! Just don’t look too closely. I laid in pain for 2 days straight because my body hurt so much.

I love my new kitchen look. I keep going in the kitchen and just staring at it.

It’s not even the same kitchen!

 

What happened to 2015?

2015

I can’t believe it’s the end of the year. Shortly, the majority of everyone around the world will be celebrating the start of a new year. I feel like 2015 was a blink in time.

I didn’t write a lot in 2015. I had a rough start dealing with some personal issues, and work became even more demanding than usual. There were a lot of days when I came home and passed out. This pattern continued through the weekend. Repeating itself over and over again. It definitely felt like groundhog day. The exhaustion left little room for any kind of creative activity. It felt that if I were to write a post, it would just be depressing. I would want rant about how exhausted I was, how miserable I was, yada, yada, yada.

I turned 25. Golly I’m 25, closer to 26 actually. I can’t believe that I’m getting older. But I don’t mind it. I feel with every year that passes by I become more confident and I begin to understand what makes me happy.

Even though I work a lot, life is easy. I like work, I like keeping my mind occupied, and well it doesn’t hurt to make some money too, right? Plus, I am in a good relationship. My husband and I, despite those days where we annoy the heck out of each other, are partners in life.

Writing this post, reminds me so much about why I enjoy writing. It is just nice to get words on paper (hah in this case, it’s online paper).

I didn’t accomplish all the financial goals I expected to in 2015, but then again, I always set goals that are bit hard to reach. You can check out my 2015 goals if you’re interested in seeing my progress. I did set some good financial habits like automating finances. Every month, contributions get transferred from our checking account to savings account. And now, there is an automatic monthly contribution to a taxable brokerage account. I am putting investment contributions on automatic. I don’t have time to keep track of when stocks go down. I just don’t have time to time the market. So I’m just going to average it out. Just like my 401K.

I’m just trying to be more patient and nicer. Being positive is better for my life, so I need to embrace positivity 200%.

Bye 2015, it’s time to embrace 2016 :)

Shopping For Insurance

Our insurance costs for auto and home have been killing our budget. It is one of the categories in our budget I have identified as HOT. The goal is to save money!

Well this became even more important when I received our homeowner’s insurance rate for next year. Our current policies for auto and home are with Safeco, A Liberty Mutual Company.  Our policy renews in December. Our rate increased from $1560 to $1700. This is the second year of an increase. Last year it went up from  $1400 to $1560. I was so appalled by the new figure, I decided it was time to shop around and find the best rate.

I spend Sunday afternoon filling out online quote forms. Today, it seems like every single insurer called me. I have received quotes from Geico, Nationwide, Progressive, and Allstate. Allstate has been the best quote so far. Below is the situation.

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Allstate’s homeowner’s insurance beat Safeco’s policy. It is $908. The deductible is 1% of the home value. I have requested a second quote with a higher deductible to see the savings. At $908, switching to Allstate is a no brainer.

Allstate’s car insurance is also lower. Right now our annual premium with Safeco includes comprehensive/collision coverage for a whopping $2060 with a $500 deductible. Yes! Crazy amount. My husband turned 26 and I turned 25 in the past couple months, so I believe our new rates reflect our aging age! :) Allstate’s rates are lower. As you can see the same coverage with $500 deductible is $1538. Savings, but it’s not high enough savings for it to make a real difference in the budget. So, I requested a second quote for a higher deductible. The $1000 deductible equates to a $1344 premium. $192 difference. I would make that savings up by not having any claims in 2 years.

So HERE IS THE DILEMMA. If I drop comprehensive/collision coverage, my premium goes down to $716. That is a $1344 difference from current policy and a $628 difference from 1000 deductible.

Our KBB book values are at the top. The money we would save, would establish the new car fund. In just 3 years, the fund would be $1884 from the savings. The risk is if something happens and it’s our fault, the damage to our car would not be covered.

Year 1 $628.00
Year 2 $1,256.00
Year 3 $1,884.00

Any advice for a fellow blogger considering this move?

Balancing Wants

It’s great reading posts form personal finance bloggers who are almost at financial independence or are already there in life. It’s so inspiring and motivating. BUT….then I remember my husband and I are only 25. We are just starting out in our careers and really life. Being in your mid 20s means you can’t always do everything at once. It’s all about slow and steady.

Despite all the frustrations in day to day life, I am extremely grateful for where I’m at in life. I’m with an amazing partner. We are happy and healthy. Heck, what can I say, I’m a dreamer!

I’m the planner in our relationship. I scheme, crunch the numbers, plan, and somehow make it happen. It’s a constant battle balancing goals, needs, and wants. There’s the short term (next five years) and there’s the long term (10 years from now), and super long term (20 years +). The dream is for us to be financially independent; so we’re establishing short term habits that will help us in the long term. There’s a reason I established automatic saving buckets. Yet I have a lot of wants for our house, and sometimes I wish I could do it all at once. So here are all MY wants.

– Finish Kitchen – Kitchen backsplash, extra recessed lighting, and new paint color.

– Master bathroom Renovation – Lately I really, really want a to redo our master bathroom. I imagine myself demoing the outdated vanity, gross shower tiles, and redoing it all. I know it’s not going to happen this year. But it doesn’t make me want it any less.

– Start/Finish out our backyard patio – I really wanted to make it happen this year, but we ran out of time during the spring. It was really rainy which limited our work outside, and we started working/ripping out the flower beds, which is a lot more work that anticipated. Texas summers are hot, so you can’t do much without melting. I did install a drip irrigation system around the house to help maintain the foundation. The backyard patio is probably going to be a project for next year. Over the winter, I will plan it all out the design with my mother-in-law. And figure out the budget. It’s all about the budget with me!!!

– New couch -We want a new couch. We got our couch when we first got married. It’s an awesome couch, but we love watching movies together, relaxing, and cuddling. And the couch does not make it comfortable. I’m saving up all our credit card rewards towards the couch purchase. I even created a savings fund bucket for our new couch. It’s going to happen in the next year. It might be next summer, but it’s going to happen because I have wanted a new couch since forever.

It’s a slow progress because we save up for all our purchases and projects and then, move forward with them. Maybe this post should be called postponing all my wants until next year and beyond!!!

The truth is we don’t need all my wants, that’s why they are wants. Our house is in livable condition, but it would be so awesome to have it more finished. Of course, this is all with balancing daily expenses, and life. So save, save, and save.

Well I’m getting sleepy so logging off now. Have a great weekend!

3 Years in Corporate America

In June, I had my 3 year work anniversary. I can’t believe I lasted 3 years at my company. I have had many challenges, tribulations, and frustrations. But here I am, somehow surviving. I was looking through my posts about my career, and realize a lot and not a lot has changed.

We finally set it out on our own. We have our own house, we support ourselves, and don’t depend on anyone. It’s amazing! I would never go back. Even though work is not the ideal life, it beats not being independent.

In the past 3 years, I’ve learned corporate america is not for me long term. I’m already planning our financial independence from the man. I don’t know if I’ll join a small organization. Frankly, because I want us to be financially independent, I have to suck up and be where the money which right now is corporate america.

I’ve also learned politics suck. I’m being more political but I am a sucky brown noser. I can’t help it, I wear my emotions on my sleeve, and when I think someone is stupid, it’s hard to hide it.

Corporate america sucks the life out of me. I am at work from 730 to almost 530. Sometimes I leave at 5. Depends on the day. I hit the gym at work, then head home. So I end up arriving between 630-7 PM depending on traffic and when I left my desk. That is 12 hours away from home. Ouch…So much time dedicated to getting to, being at, and leaving work.

I do miss living so close to work, now I’m 30 minutes away. I don’t miss living in an apartment.

I’m living in the grind. Every week, I countdown to the weekend. I look at my calendar to check when our next paycheck is in the month. My life is starting to resemble Office Space.

Beware students getting into tons of debt. It’s not worth it. You salary won’t match it. Go to a school that has the best return of investment. Many kids don’t look at college this way, but it is the smartest way. Thankfully, I have no school debt, neither does hubby. Just don’t do it. You have been warned.

 

Year 2 of Home Ownership

Owning my first home was a dream come true. We are in year 2 of home ownership and have learned a lot.

–          An older home is exactly that, older. Everything seems to break or I seem to break it somehow. Expect for an item to break every month or so. I started budgeting an extra $100 for home improvements, but in reality this $100 is being used for maintenance. So when you are budgeting for your house, think holistically. Mortgage + property taxes + home insurance + maintenance + renovation budget.

–          15 Year Mortgage vs 30 Year Mortgage – I think one of the best decisions we made was choosing a 15 year mortgage over a 30 year mortgage. Yes, it means our budget is tighter every month because our payment is higher, but it also means we will have our house paid off way faster. Actually as of right now we have 13.5 years left in our mortgage. Sounds way better than 28.5!

–          Less House – Since we chose to go with a 15 YR mortgage, it meant our home budget price was lower than most. If you are going to choose a 30 YR mortgage, you can usually “afford” to buy a more expensive house because your payment for a 30 YR mortgage will be similar to a 15 YR payment, except you will pay an extra 15 years of interest on the house. By buying a more affordable house, our loan was smaller, even though I wish it had even been smaller. I definitely get jealous when I see my coworkers’ new build homes with upgraded finishes, but I take in stride, and figure out how can I implement at my house DIY. If I lose my job, we can keep up with most of the bills with hubby’s paycheck for a couple of months at least.

–          Endless Projects – I guess the fun part is I have an endless list of projects I want to work on around the house. Time and money are always limiters. Well, money is what usually slows me down. I’m still renovating my kitchen one year later because I’m doing it myself on a budget. Additional projects we need to tackle: Redoing flower beds in front yard; laying down pavers in backyard, master bathroom renovation, etc. All of these projects are pricey and I need to save up money as well as figure out how I’ll tackle the projects myself.I, also, have to consider there’s only so much my house is worth. So I can’t invest $20,000 when our house is only worth $150,000. Not that I have $20,000 to invest in the kitchen. I have champagne taste on a beer budget.

–          Home Price Experience – I also learned we most likely over paid slightly for our house. I think we should have negotiated an additional $5000, at least, off purchase price to cover all the work the house needs done. But the market in Dallas was starting to go crazy when bought our house, so we did not feel like we had a lot of leverage. Looking back we should have bought the year before, we would have paid less and our interest rate would have been even lower by half or a full point. But hindsight is 20/20.  The market continues to go up in Dallas, home prices are increasing every day.

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