Dec 29, 2010

2010 goal recap!

Hi everyone, I hope you had a great holiday with friends and family! Well it's the end of the year (already?) and I must say it was a great one. I’m not sure about success on the financial front, but I got to live in a new country for a bit, see and do tons of awesome things, improve my teaching, and check lots of things of my life’s “to do” list.

1. Pay student loan down to 14,500
NO. Started at $15,391, Currently at 14,999. GROSS. Don’t really want to talk about this (except for one little thing-- under 15 yay!).
2. Get EF up to $2,000 (and keep it there!)
SORT OF? So in June I had $250 in the EF, now I have $1,800. I guess this goal is half complete—I got it up high enough, but still had the crazy fluctuation that I always do.
3. Put $1,500 more into my Travel Fund
CHECK (ISH). Not really, because I actually emptied the fund to go to Italy, but I did use about $1,500 for that trip in the summer months... does that count?

1. Travel to at least THREE new places
CHECK!!! I traveled to approximately 15 new places, in three countries! Or maybe more!! Probably my most successful goal. :-)
2. Get a new tattoo
NO. I just haven’t had the money for it. I picked a design though, and a place. Now I just need to scrape up some money, though I’m not sure where from.
3. Read 35 books
NO. I got 22. I was busy this year, and also over the summer, which is usually when I read the most and catch up.
4. Keep my relationship with the boy healthy and happy
5. Try out 20 new recipes
CHECK. I tried more than 20, with some great ones and some big failures.
6. Only buy (and wear) clothes that I absolutely love
CHECK. I think I’ve gotten better at this overall. I also discovered the magic of clothes from Express... which gives me a YES in a love department, but not necessarily always in the wallet department.
7. Volunteer this summer.
NO. I went to Italy, so I didn't have the free time that I thought I would.

1. Eat at least one fruit and vegetable per day
CHECK on the fruit part, NO on the veggie part.
2. Start using organic body products
CHECK. I switched over in late February and now use organic everything. My acne is WAY better, but not totally gone yet. But still, I’m thankful that it’s not so bad as it used to be! If any of you guys have bad acne and nothing seems to work, give this a try!

1. Put more effort into teaching
CHECK. I have been trying to think of more creative activities and getting tips from other teachers. I still don’t really like teaching that much though, so it might be time to start thinking of a new career path.
2. Attend my first conference
CHECK! I went to GLAC like I wanted, and got some great feedback on my very first paper.

Looking back on these goals, I accomplished most of them! But it's a little frustrating, because for some reason I'm not pleased with it. I don't feel that nice sense of accomplishment, and I'm having trouble getting excited about 2011. I have some goals in the works though, so maybe making my new list will help me feel better about the upcoming year.

How did you guys do on your goals this year?

Dec 27, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Hi everyone, I hope you had a Merry Christmas and lots of fun with family and friends. For those who don't celebrate, I hope you had a nice long weekend! :-)

My Christmas was nice, we had a little bit of drama and worrying yesterday because of the snow storm, but it turned out alright. We had everyone over our house this year, and though I hate to say it, I'm sort of glad it's over. I haven't had a chance to relax during my break yet because of all the cooking, cleaning, shopping, and wrapping that I had to help my mom with. She worked all week long and didn't have time, so I was the Christmas slave. But now it's all done and I can relax, read, and enjoy my new gifts! I got lots of new stuff for my apartment this year-- I was like little Sally Homemaker or something. The boy and my mom both bought me cookbooks, I got some Pyrex mixing bowls (which I've been wanting for so long!!), a cupcake pan/carrier, a new bookcase, a toolbox and an external hard drive. I actually got a lot of surprises this year, which is not usually the case.

As far as I could tell, everyone in my family liked the presents I gave them too. I don't usually spend too much every year, usually between 25-50 for each person. This year I got my dad a headlamp (he has been asking for it for months), my mom an Underarmor baseball hat she can wear while exercising (another request), my grandma a purse, my sister the complete works of Edgar Allen Poe, and my brother a hand crafted bowl made out of a Simon & Garfunkel record. For the boy I bought NBA Jam for Christmas, and this card game called Munchkin for his birthday present. And I think they were all happy with them. :-)

Dec 23, 2010

Bridesmaid Dress Shopping!

Next summer, I’ll be a bridesmaid in one of my best friend’s weddings, and the wedding is in LA. I've never been in a wedding before, so I'm really excited! We went bridesmaid dress shopping together yesterday, and I found a dress in under a half hour! We were limited by the fabric/color choices, also by the vast amount of ugly dresses. But we had it narrowed down to two good ones:

I LOVED the flower one, and was hoping she’d like it too. It's just so cute, and so me. But it was sort of awkward for a bit there, because I couldn’t tell which she liked better. She didn’t seem so sure about it, and I didn’t want to pressure her. Because, let's face it, her wedding day shouldn't be about me! But it was definitely the most flattering out of the ones I tried on. And thankfully in the car she was like “Oh I’m glad you picked the flower one, I didn’t really like the strapless one.” She apparently thought I liked the plain one better, so was trying not to pressure ME! Haha.

But- you'd better sit down for this one- sucker cost me $190!! I was expecting (for some reason) a dress to be about $125 or something like that. It’s not a huge problem, and I’m definitely glad I got the chance to pick my own dress style and all. I am just surprised once again by how much I underestimated the cost of something big. And I still have to buy shoes, get my hair done, etc. Eek!

Have you guys ever been in a wedding far away? I've never done it before, so how much should I estimate to spend on all of this? I don't want to underestimate again!

Dec 20, 2010

Credit Card Churning Craziness

Ever heard of credit card churning? Well, you can accuse me of living under a rock, but I never did. But man, last night a whole new world opened up in front of me. Credit card churning! Basically it's opening up new credit card accounts to get the bonus offers and then canceling, only to open a new account a few weeks later and get the bonus again. And some people do this with as much as 10-15 cards a year... I love it. I don't know why I do, because as a PF blogger I should be vomiting in my mouth at the sound of it. But it's absolutely fascinating to me the things crazy people will do.

I was inspired (ok, ok, not really, I was already planning this for a few weeks) to try it a bit myself. I applied for a United Airlines Visa from Chase. You get 30,000 miles for signing up, and the annual fee is waived for the first year. That's enough points for one free domestic round trip flight, or two tickets and I'd pay a little on each. I was checking around on the internet to see if there were any restrictions to using the points and canceling it before the year is up to avoid the fee. Looks like it'll be ok, and from what I've read, it seems like my credit score will only take a minimal hit, if any.

I mean, 10-15 new cards and cancellations each year is WAY too much risk for me, but... a *little bit* of risk sounds great if it benefits me. :)

Dec 19, 2010

Ready for Christmas!

Wow! I definitely didn't realize that Christmas was coming up in a week! This is great news! I'm ready-- all presents are bought and all presents are wrapped. I didn't have so many people to buy for this year-- just my grandma, mom, dad, sister, brother, boyfriend and two friends. I spent $173 on presents in total, and sixteen on random stuff like cards, candy, bows, tinsel, and all that other fun stuff. Not too bad, and definitely less than I've spent in other years. I think the sales just keep getting better and better each year.

I didn’t quite reach my savings goal for Christmas, but I did manage to get about $200 out of the proposed $250. And as luck would have it, I didn't need that extra $50. So my EF is still all nice and intact! :)

Now to just sit back, relax and wait for the fun to begin!

What all do you still need to do before the holidays? Are you excited?!

Dec 16, 2010

Potluck Dinner (Fail?)

My roommate hosted a party last night, and man... sh*t's expensive! I think I grossly underestimated the costs involved, and unfortunately didn't budget nearly enough. I spent $50 on food, and L spent $50 on alcohol... for a POTLUCK dinner. As in, the kind where other people are supposed to bring everything. We were so worried about not running out of anything that we ended up WAY overprepared. Some of the food we didn't even put out because we forgot we had it, and didn't need it anyway.

I mean, don't get me wrong, the party was awesome and so much fun! I liked playing hostess, it was really fun to have everyone together and make sure everyone's happy and full and having fun. I don't really regret it at all, but I do regret the bill a little bit. I sorta wish I hadn't spent so much! But I guess, a lesson was definitely learned.

What kind of holiday shenanigans are you guys up to?

Dec 7, 2010

It's nice being Santa

I took your suggestions and went for the Lego's. I agree, Lego's are awesome because you can build, play, and be creative too. I got the boy to go in on it with me, and he picked up a pair of PJ's for the kid too. Camo, because he said if he was a seven year old boy he'd like camo the best. It was too funny though- they only came in Small Medium or Large sizes, not numbers. We were confused so we had to ambush some poor woman and ask her what size she thought would fit a seven year old kid. As luck would have it, she also had a seven year old, so she gave us the right advice. Except then... she wouldn't leave. She followed us around regaling us with tales about how the jeans she buys are always too long, and how her son is growing so fast, and on and on and ON! I mean, really? I don't know you, stop being awkward! Haha.

Anyway though, now the presents are given, and I hope that my kid is happy Christmas morning. :)

Dec 2, 2010

Charitable Christmas Giving :)

When I was a kid, my family always did one of those charity Christmas gifts for kids in need. We always really loved it and we would help my parents pick it out. I haven't ever done one on my own, but this year is my year! I got an "Angel" from the Salvation Army. I picked a 7 year old boy who wants either footed pajamas, Legos, or a Tonka RC car for his gift. I thought this was a good list cuz I can get any of these things, but it's turning into such a production! Some of the stuff is hard to find, and I'm so flipping indecisive that I can't narrow in on a gift. I wanted to get him a basic Lego building set, but what if he already has that set or something? Also what if he really needs PJs? Ack! And so, faithful readers, I turn to you.

If you were a 7 year old boy, what would you like best?