Sunday, August 24, 2014

Pinterest Challenge - #1

Taco Cupcakes!

The first thing I decided to make off of Pinterest for my self-imposed challenge is taco cupcakes! I decided to try a new recipe for dinner and they turned out quite well. The hubby agreed! He even asked me to make them again so I'll be sure to put them in the dinner rotation. They'd even be cute for a get together appetizer since they are so compact. 

Here's the recipe if anyone wants to give them a try. The only thing that I did differently was that I only made one layer of each ingredient. I'm not sure if my cupcake pans are smaller than normal or if my layers were a bit thick, but there was definitely not enough room to be able to put another layer of all the ingredients. They still turned out great though and I'm sure I'll make them again :)

Next item in the challenge will be a home craft project! Until then, enjoy the rest of your weekend. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

My Pinterest Challenge!

Just an update that I started my new job this past week and it's going great so far! I feel I made the right decision and I'm in a good place. On to new things!

So, lately I've started reading personal finance blogs again in an effort to motivate myself. I was over on Budgets are Sexy, reading some older posts and I found this one called, Want to Stop Spending Money? Get Busy. It got me thinking about that old saying, "Idle time is the devil's playground." That can be true sometimes. In an effort to fill up my spare time, I have decided to try some of the pins I saved on Pinterest.

I think many of us are in the same boat, where we go online to Pinterest to kill some time and we pin projects and things to do for another day but that day rarely ever comes. Well, I'm going to make that time now. I'm not going to push myself like crazy to get them done, but I'm going to enjoy my down time and try some new things. I'd love to try one new thing per week, if my schedule and finances allow. It's very important to me that I don't spend a lot trying these new things. I'm thinking several of them will be food related, so I'm hopeful that I will be able to use my current food budget for those items. Some of my other pin ideas are house related projects. Since we moved into our place in March, we haven't done much to personalize it. I'm hopeful this challenge will help me start to do that!

Feel free to join in on the challenge or if you have done something similar and would like to share how it worked for you and any pins you'd recommend, I'd be open to hearing about them. Here's something funny to get me started -

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

New Job!

I got a new job and I start next week!

As I shared in a previous post, I had been contacted about a new employment opportunity. I was on the fence about whether I should even consider a new job offer since I'd be leaving my current 401K match on the table. After much consideration and the new company coming in with a 10% salary increase, in addition to several thousand stock options, I decided that I'd take a chance and make the move. I accepted the new job offer and I start next week.

It was a stressful few weeks as my current employer counter-offered in both salary and position. While this was a bit tempting, I went with my gut and I'm going to go back to a small company where I can make more of a difference and report directly to the CEO. This is exciting to me and I look forward to new beginnings.

As many of you who also balance the budget can understand, I'm dying to know what my new take home pay will be so I can figure out our debt repayment plan! I've been toying with a few options (aggressive versus more relaxed payment plan) and I'm dying to see what we can do. I'll likely get one check in August, but that won't be my true new take home pay amount, as the insurance money won't be taken out until September.

So, expect to hear about the new debt repayment plan sometime in September! I'm leaning towards the aggressive plan which will hopefully allow us to pay off all debt by December 2015.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Zero Interest Balance Transfer

I use the Mint app on my phone for my finances. 

I think it's a helpful tool to get a quick snapshot as to where our finances stand. Occasionally Mint alerts you about suggestions as to how you can save money and they show you offers for credit cards and stuff. A recent offer was for the Chase Slate card. Chase was offering not only a zero interest balance transfer but there was no balance transfer fee (which can typically run 3-5%)! So I applied and was approved. I quickly transferred some of the balance from my highest interest card to this new one. I'm really looking forward to paying less interest on that card going forward!

It may be a baby step, but it's a step in the right direction... one day at a time! Hope you all have a cheap weekend planned ahead ;-)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

24,000 Reasons to Stay at a Job You Don't Love!

I don't LOVE my job. 

Phhhhewww, it felt good to say that! Sure, when I took this job, it seemed like the right "next step" in my career and it made sense at the time. It pays well and I've learned a few new things, but I'm just not able to contribute at the level I want to. In this role, I'm one of many instead of the "go-to" one. I've realized that I want to be able to make more of a contribution.

I feel like Goldilocks, but I'm trying different sized companies to see what's the best fit for me, instead of trying different sized chairs. At this point, I believe a smaller company is my next step.

I've been contacted about another opportunity and I'm pretty far in the interview process. It would be a similar role to one that I had before. It would be at a start up company and I'd be the go-to person running the show. This is interesting to me. In this new role, I would also likely get a $6,000 pay increase, but they only offer a very small 401K match.

The thing that is mentally weighing me down is that if I stay at my current job, which has a nice 401K match, I'd be potentially leaving $24,000+ behind if I leave before I'm vested. Ouch! This is a large amount of money to walk away from. Given that our retirement accounts aren't where we'd like them to be, I kind of feel like I need to suck it up and stick it out with my current company.

What would you do in this situation?

I'm open to your thoughts on staying until after I've vested versus getting out now and going to the other job where I can contribute more and get a pay increase. Thanks!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Blog Makeover!

As I restart this journey to climb back out of debt, I felt that I needed to freshen up my blog and give it a makeover. I wanted to give it a clean, fresh look. During this process, I debated switching from Blogger to WordPress, as it offers way more creative options, but I figured that this has worked for me so far, so I'm going to stick with it for now. So, I hope you like the changes and if you can't find where something went, just let me know :)

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Free San Diego Harbor Cruise!

This week my hubby and I were selected by a local radio station to be able to attend a free listener concert. Neither of us were too interested in the band playing, but I love live music and even more than that...

I love free stuff

so we decided to go! It also happened to be on a cruise that goes around the beautiful San Diego harbor at sunset. You can't beat that! Parking was free, so we only had to worry about dinner. We picked up some sushi and had that on the way there. It was great! I even brought my camera (something I'm trying to do more often) so I could share some pics from the night. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Radio Winnings - Update!

On Sunday, I posted that I had won a $125 gift certificate to a local nursery. The hubby and I went to check out the nursery but we didn't see anything we loved. I debated just holding on to the gift card and maybe getting a nice Christmas tree later this year but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I should just sell it and use the cash to pay down debt. 

This nursery tends to overprice their items so I'm sure a tree would cost us a bundle! I'm just as happy going to pick out a cheap one. Here's a picture of our cheap tree last year. I thought it looked pretty good :)

So, I'm off to post that the gift card is for sale. I'm hoping to get $100 out of it, but I'll let you guys know!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Radio Winnings!

I've been lucky over the years to win free stuff from time to time on the radio. The items have varied from CD's to concert tickets to amusement park tickets, but normally it's nothing too expensive. It's always a treat though to win something and hear myself on the radio.

Last week I won a $125.00 gift card to a local nursery!

We just moved into our condo and our place could use some plants or something but I wasn't about to spend money on that. Now that we have the free gift card, it feels like this may be a good way to spruce things up a bit without us having to pay for it ourselves.

On the other hand... I've been considering selling the gift card online for a discounted price ($100?) and using those funds to pay down our debt. I'm still on the fence about it. I think the hubby and I will go check out the nursery later today and if nothing jumps out at us, we'll do just that. No sense in buying something we don't really like just to spend the money.

So, there it is, if we don't fall in love with anything, we're going to sell the gift card and use the cash for debt repayment. I'll let you all know what we end up doing! Enjoy the rest of this sunny Sunday afternoon. It's a beautiful one :)

Monday, May 26, 2014

It's Time for an Update...

Hi again! Why does it seem like time goes so fast as you get older? It seems like just
yesterday that I posted "Happy 2014." That was two months ago, in March. I was so excited to get on here to share my news. Then I blinked and two months went by. Crazy!

Anyway, it's been an interesting ride since I last updated you guys. Here's what we've been up to - 

  • May 2013 - My hubby went back to school to finish his bachelor's degree! It's an online program that takes up most of his free time, but by this time next year, I know we'll think it was all worth it.
  • September 2013 - We added a new member to our family and rescued our first dog, Daisy! She's a beautiful black and white cockapoo. She is a very social dog with an old soul and a mean jealous streak. She loves to stare into our eyes until we acknowledge her presence and then she wants nothing to do with us. She's a lazy dog at heart and would lay for hours if she wasn't constantly interrupted (see below).
  • December 2013 - We adopted a companion for Daisy, our second dog, Rosie. (Can you tell I love flowers?) She's a pretty cream colored maltipoo. She has an endless amount of energy, is obsessed with chasing her ball, and is extremely protective of her family. At the end of a long day of ball chasing and barking at strangers, she knows just how to come up and sit on your lap for cuddle time. 
  • December 2013 - We put an offer in on our first home! It was a beautiful single family home with a large backyard for the dogs to run around until they collapse of exhaustion. It seemed like it would fit our needs and give us plenty of space.
  • January 2014 - We rescinded our offer on that home after the inspection scared us off. Turns out it was a good decision. Although the house seemed great and was priced right, we were a bit concerned about committing to an hour commute each way for both of us.
  • February 2014 - We found a great condo which was close to both of our jobs and put an offer in on it. It was quickly accepted! We needed to put all of our savings into it as the down payment (5%).
  • March 2014 - We closed on our condo and moved in. Ahhhh, homeowners, finally! 
  • May 2014 - I wake up and realize we've gotten ourselves back in the same mess were were in in 2010 when things first started. I finally sit down and write down our status so the recovery can begin. 

I try to always be the kind of gal that sees the glass half full. I'm pretty optimistic most of the time. But I must be an idiot to have gotten us back in this mess again. I'll be honest, it's hard to see the glass as half full right now. We took a major step backwards instead of forward. The only thing that's helping me stay positive is knowing that we now have the skills we need to fix this. The last time we were here, we didn't know where to start. 

I know some of you are curious about how we could end up here again. It's a combination of the cost of schooling, a trip back East to see family, and a bunch of other stupid decisions! At the end of the day it doesn't really matter "how" I guess, just that we're here.

Here's a breakdown of our current numbers. I included our investments, even though we're not fully vested yet in the 401k balances. 

Original Debt $60,555.72

Original Debt Paid Off $49,748.55

Current Debt as of 4/19/14 = $54,096

CC # 1 : $13,875 (Average 15% Interest Rate)
CC # 2 : $19,978 (4.99% Interest Rate)
CC # 3 : $1,020 (0% Interest Rate until 3/2015)

Car # 1 : $5,792
Car # 2 : $13,431

Investments = $33,919 (Not fully vested yet)
401K #1 : $6,000
401K #2 : $22,205
401K #3 : $5,073

Lending Club : $641

So, that's our update. I know some of you may have some choice words for us and our current situation. I'm fully expecting to hear them. This is the first step to our recovery and I'm happy to be taking it. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Happy 2014!

Hey all!

I have soooo many things to update you on. I plan to provide an update in the next few days. I hope everyone who is still checking this site out is doing fine! I'm excited about 2014 and I look forward to sharing my news with you in the very near future.

Until then,
Take care!