25 things I’d love to do

1. Learn to play violin.

I have always loved the violin but my parents did not encourage us to be musical, so it was a faraway love. I’d love to be able to rock a violin like Sharon Corr or the girls of Bond or Lindsey Stirling.

2. Be out of debt!

This is something that I am working on. I really wish it would happen sooner rather than later though.

3. Spend a year reading the classics.

I love literature and I love reading – but I never seem to have enough time to read. I’d love to be able to focus on reading some of the classics. So far, my favorite of the classics that I’ve read so far is The Three Musketeers.

4. Live a minimalist lifestyle

I would love to be more of a minimalist. I really hate clutter and stuff but when I try to get rid of stuff it never works. I think living in a tiny house would be cool.

5. Learn how to sew my own clothes

My mom can sew like nobody’s business. She made my prom dress my junior year because I couldn’t find anything that I liked in the stores. It was so awesome and it ended up costing only around $60!

6. Learn to fly a plane

My dad had a small plane when I was growing up. It was pretty cool to go on vacation by hopping in your own plane. Plus I have control issues so I would be better flying myself than getting on a 747.

7. Be able to read a book in a foreign language.

I’d like to be able to read books that are written in another language in their native language. I’m certain there are things lost in the English translation.

8. Be my own boss.

I would love to have my own business. It would be great to be that much in control of my own money potential. Plus I have issues with authority sometimes 😉

9. Be fluent in Spanish, French, Italian and German.

I know a fair amount of Spanish and some Italian. I would really like to be able to visit places where these are the languages spoken and have no problem communicating. I’m learning on Duolingo now.

10. Be able to make shortbread cookies that taste like Walker’s Shortbread.

I’ve been working on this for a few months. Just when I think I have found the right recipe…I am wrong.

11. Learn some kind of karate.

I don’t want to be a ninja or anything, but it would be nice to know some of those moves.

12. Be able to not care about what people think.

For the most part, I don’t care what people think. However, I don’t do things like sing or dance in front of people because I care what people think. I’d like to be able to get past that at some point in my life.

13. Learn to salsa and some other Latin dances.

Of course, first I would have to conquer #12…

14. Live in Europe.

Where exactly – I’m not sure. How long – as long as possible.

15. Feel successful.

It is hard to feel successful when life does not turn out the way that you have planned.

16. Go on an archeology dig.

I used to want to “grow up” and be an archaeologist. It is still something that I find insanely interesting.

17. Retire early.

Of course, I need to pay off the debt first. Maybe I can find a place in Europe to move to with a low cost of living, then I can retire early!

18. Do stand up paddle boarding at Waikiki Beach.

I definitely don’t have the money for hawaii right now, but I’ve seen photos of people on paddleboards like this at the beach and it looks like a lot of fun (though I’d probably fall in!).

19. Grow my own veggies.

Once #18 is done, I’d like to have a pretty decent garden with my own veggies and herbs. It will be a long process though cause I keep killing my house plants! lol 🙂

20. Have a foosball table in my house.

I love to play foosball. So, I’d love to have a room with one in it so that I could play some games whenever I want like back when I was in college and they had one in the common room at the dorms. I’ve looked and some of the foosball tables are cheap.

21. Be more laid back and less stressed.

I get stressed pretty easily. So, I would like to get to a point where I can be more laid back and easy going.

22. Go to a Christmas market in Switzerland

I’ve been reading about these in travel magazines for a while. I would so love to go to one. Especially the one in Basel.

23. Learn some graphic design skills

I tinker with website stuff here and there but I would really like to have some actually skills.

24. Learn to drive a stick shift car.

I kinda know how, but I get really nervous on hills!

25. Get back into art.

I used to be very into painting and sketching. Now there just doesn’t seem to be time for it. Well, that is my list – what are the 25 things you’d like to do?

Getting on the road to financial success

Not too long ago I was working a decent paying job with lots of overtime pay and spending every dime that I was making. I would get paychecks around $1500 and by the time the next paycheck was due in two weeks time I was out of cash. Thinking about that now kind of makes me sick.

Fortunately, I have gotten way better at money management but it was not an overnight task.

About two years ago I had to sell a paid off car that I absolutely loved just so that I could pay my American Express bill. I had charged it up on an impromptu trip to Los Angeles that I thought I both deserved and could afford. Turns out neither assumption was correct.

That was my only car, so before selling it I had to get another one. Funny logic, I know. So, I went to a lot and got myself a brand spanking new car and only put $500 down because, let’s face it, I couldn’t even afford to put that much down. That got me a $350 car payment on a 72 month loan. *sigh*

I sold the car, paid off the credit card and immediately booked a trip to London.

I know, I was really an idiot. I get that now.

Luckily for me I did not book the London trip on the AMEX, which has to be paid off in full each month, but on another card. I quickly realized though that I could not afford the trip to London because I did not have another car to sell to finance it. Man how I missed that car too. Oh the agony of realizing stupid financial decisions.

That was when I started realizing that I need to be better with money. Up until that point I was living life in the now and thinking that I would worry about retirement if I lived that long.

One of the first things I did was sign up for the 401K program at work. They matched 5% so I put 5% as my contribution.

Other than not taking the trip to London and signing up for 401K that was pretty much all I did for about a year in terms of being financially responsible. I kept going to restaurants with regularity. I bought books and cds I didn’t need. I liked new clothes that I didn’t need. So, I wasn’t dropping a lot of cash at once (say on a trip) but I was spending that equivalent slowly.

Then about a year later I wanted to book another trip overseas. My other half would not let me. We will call that a blessing. I was mad about it for a little while but looking back it was the best thing ever as a lot of medical bills were about to start happening due to some unforeseen health issues.

That happened at about the same time as our apartment lease was up. We had been planning on moving back to NYC and getting an apartment with a max rent cost of $2500. Instead we moved into the spare room at my parents for 3 months.

It was horrible. They lived an hour from our jobs. We had to get up at 4:30 am to be at work by 8:30 am, since everyone had to shower and get ready. We didn’t have a lot of space and they only had dial up internet! Eek. But we had no rent payment. There were no restaurant nearby as it was a rural area, so we didn’t spend a lot eating out. We didn’t spend a lot on food cause the ‘rents shared. We were able to save up about $7,000 before we got a new place of our own – and not in NYC. Our rent now is only $767, but I have decided that is still too much. When our lease is up in January we are looking for as close to $500 as we can get. But first we’re going to stay with family again for a couple of months.

After moving out of the parents we read Your Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence which totally changed our way of thinking. If you have not read this book then you are seriously cheating yourself out of some great information.

We started tracking our spending and created our very own wall chart, as suggested in the book. We have stopped buying things like books and DVDs and have instead been enjoying the local public library. If we cannot find something that we want at the library then we use MyPoints to get a gift card for Barnes and Noble and buy it that way.

We have started creating menus for the month and doing our grocery shopping once every 3 weeks. This has greatly reduced the amount that we spend at the grocery store! I have also just started my own price book, which should help save us even more. We have reduced our dining out to only once a month, and usually that is only because we are out somewhere and have no way of eating our own food. But when we do dine out we either use a free gift card from MyPoints or we use a coupon! We do not do fast food, even though it is cheaper, because we have also gotten health conscious while on our debt diet.

One of the important things that I have learned is that it is more important to pay for experiences that it is for stuff. For instance, we are going to a local festival with family this weekend and there is a fee to go. I would rather pay that fee than pay for something I do not need at Best Buy or Target. The memories will always outlast the stuff.

While I have found my way to the path of financial success, I am afraid that I have not gotten very far down the path. I still have some debt that is pretty major, but I am focused on paying it down. Once that is taken care of though I plan on working on retirement saving. And I have done my best to educate my youngest brother on financial success and the costly detours that I took. Hopefully my lessons are enough to keep him from having to learn them on his own.

Tips on special gifts for mothers this Christmas

Only a few days before Christmas is no time to be trying to think up something to buy Mom. She didn’t wait until the weekend before a holiday to buy your gifts, and then just grab a gift card on the way over. If you care enough to give the very best, these four tips are sure to help bring a smile to Mom’s face every time.

Tip #1 – Put your time into it.

Don’t have two hours to spare for Mom? Well, then don’t bother, but you are missing out on an inexpensive way to greatly increase the value of your gift. One year, my girlfriend and I bought my mom a breadbox. It was white and simple, nothing exciting. Then, we took it out of the box, got out some paints and stencils, and went to work all over it in purples and blues. My Mom was genuinely delighted. She has done some moving and reducing since then, throwing away things that she didn’t need. Through all of her moves, this several-year-old breadbox has survived each downsizing.

More than anything else, mothers notice the time you put into something. Maybe it is because time is what they gave to you all throughout your childhood.

You don’t have to have any great skill. Make her a CD of songs you think she’ll like, paint her an already made pottery piece, make a book of coupons to do things like cleaning her garage or painting the porch, and when she calls to cash them in, show up!

Tip #2 – Put your talents into it. 

It’s possible that your mother has fifteen children. She might forget your birth order, and call you by the wrong name when you frustrate her to the point of confusion, but more than likely she can instantly call your face to mind when she picks up a picture you drew for her back in the third grade. There is just something about the old talent-infused gift that really gets mom’s attention.

Tip #3 – Think small. 

Bigger isn’t necessarily better. This isn’t her last holiday. It’s also no time for buying something that she needs, like a new pan or pillowcases. It’s one of those special holidays, meant to remind your mom that you love her, and why you love her. It doesn’t hurt to show her you were paying attention either. Does your mom overbuy your daughter Barbie accessories, because she always wanted a Barbie and never got one as a child? It’s not too late. She doesn’t need it, but who cares? It means you were listening.

Tip #4 – Don’t give her something you would buy your boss.

Moms like flowers. That’s what you wanted to hear, so there it is. And, honestly, most probably do, but here is something that they also like, to know they are special. We all do, and most of us realize that the easiest thing to give someone is flowers. Everyone likes flowers. So unless your Mom loves her garden more than anything else in this world, and you are buying them because you know there is nothing she loves more, don’t send her the most common gift known to the human race. It ranks up there right below gift cards as the most thoughtless gift you could possibly give her.

Remember, chances are you only have one Mother, so get her something this year that lets her know how unique and special she is to you.

Why use a price book?

I had a email from a reader on my post on creating a price book where the reader wants to know:

“What’s the purpose behind a price book? To compare prices of the same items at different stores? I get that I guess, but I just can’t see creating a grocery list for 1/3 of my groceries at Safeway, 1/3 of them at Save-on-Foods, 1/4 of them at Costco and little bits and pieces here and there at random places around town. My time is worth more than having to drive all around town to save a few cents on a box of Kleenex, for example… so what purpose does it serve in a really practical way?”

I am new to creating a price book, so some you may have better answers than me! I posted my response to that post before realizing that this might be best as a separate post so that it does not get buried in the comments section of that old post.

My response to the above question is:

I’m not an expert, but here is what I plan to use it for..
1. To see what store really has the best prices on the things that I buy
2. So that when I see a sale ad I will know if it is really a good deal or not
3. If I see something on sale in the store I can check if it is really a good deal.
4. To help set a realistic grocery budget.

I don’t plan on driving all around town to save a few cents cause gas is too expensive for that! But say if I happen to be by a Target and I am low on mustard and they have the cheapest mustard then I know that and can run in for it.

So,  now I am calling out to those of you that use price books or have thoughts on them that you would like to share. You can leave your comments on this post instead of the one on price books.