Saturday, June 28, 2014

Week 4 : Happy Summer!

Happy Summer everyone! I hope you had a blast starting it off this past weekend.

We were able to spend last weekend with good friends and family. I started learning more and more about my retirement by calling Fidelity - my current 401k is there. I'll post more about that later on....

Current Debts:
Its payday! Below are the amounts I paid this pay period. The personal loan doesn't get taken out until the end of the month - but I am still calculating it this week.

Starting Debt $23,144 || Paid $566 || Ending Debt* $22,578

Weekly Spending:
I spent so much under the Transportation category alone. The gas usually will last me a while, but I already know I have a lot of driving to do this upcoming week. I would just take a certain amount to spend on gas, but I just hate having to go to the gas station often.
Sat - $5 Target | $11 Drinks
Sun - $18 Car wash
Mon - $24 Transportation | $3.50 Coffee
Tue - $60 gas
Wed - No Spend Day!
Thurs - No Spend Day! *
Fri - $7 Dessert
Weekly Spending Start $150 || End $128.50 || Roll over $21.50

*Bought some stuff for the trip, but I am not including this on the weekly budget since I will be deducting it on the category below.

Pending Expenses:
I am starting to by things for the trip now. I am not sure if I should take it out from this budget or add it into the weekly spending. We finally decided which resort we are staying in... however, I still do not feel like I am prepared for this trip.
  • July 2014 - $1000 Vacation/Destination Wedding
  • December 2014 - $300 Christmas Gifts 

What are your big plans this summer?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Great Maple

I love me a good meal. My favorite would probably be breakfast/brunch – I can eat breakfast the whole day if I can. Jay doesnt care much for brunching - he's more of the Dinner portion kind of guy, but he takes me out to brunch most of the time. We checked out this place close to his condo since it had great reviews on Yelp and was brought up by his roommate.

Lets start with these lovely babies - these are the best Maple Donuts I have tried. Dessert before brunch.... don't mind if I dig in!

Their drink menu looked awesome, but I didn't order any since we were up for a hike later that day. However, I will be back for their cute Mules. Its served on a Bear mug/glass – so Hillcrest. Love it!

I ordered --- tea =)

and Jay ordered a latte, which came in this glass – weird! but it was good when he let me try some.

Its best to come hungry when you go here..... Their portions were huge! I got the chillaquiles

This is such a cute and good place for Brunch nerds like me. I would love to come back for their Dinner.

 If you're ever in the area check it out...

Great Maple 
1451 Washington St,
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 255-2282

This was not included in the weekly budget because Jay paid for the tab. Thanks Jay!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Shopping while paying debt

I love bargain hunting. I am so much more delighted getting compliments from my $4 Payless shoes than my Tory Burch flats. I remember finding this lovely dress from a discount store for $25 compared to the $50-70 that Banana Republic goes for (This is with their current 50% off sale). Since, I cant really go out and just shop - I listed here a couple of different ways to shop on a budget.

  • Discount Stores/Outlet Stores – I used to work for a discount store. That was probably the start of my obsession for getting bargains on anything. I could not bring myself to buy something in full price when I can get the same item for a much cheaper price. Most of these stores have upped their game by selling a lot more name brands. Also, a lot of higher end retailers also have their version of discount stores like Nordstrom Rack or Last Call by Neiman Marcus.
  • Thrift Stores – Once you get an idea of what type of clothing or look you are going for, hunting in a thrift store makes it so much more fun. I have been eyeing a pleated skirt since last year and found it at Buffalo Exchange for under $10 - SCORE!
  • Phone Apps – I love these downloadable apps for your phone like Groupon, Retail Me Not, Redbox makes it so much easier to find discounted things on the go and its so much easier and much organized than ME collecting coupons – which I have tried, but end up getting frustrated of all the disorganized pieces of paper that I just end up throwing them away. One day though I will have a $0 purchase on a register… One day!
  • Email Lists – I try to keep a separate junk email for stores - I used to sign up for most of them to take advantage of a 10% discount. If you time it correctly and wait until they have a BIG sale, you can totally get the best bargain online. I was able to get this Kate Spade Little Minka Hobo purse for under $150 (retail price is $378.00) from their surprise sale (which I feel like it happens every other month!). Jay gets into these random shopping modes and knows which websites to get the best bargain… I get these random texts like, “What’s your size?” and end up with a really pretty Banana Republic scarf and skirt (Thanks hun!). I think he has better fashion sense than I do – sometimes lol.
  • Price Match/Online – This is for the BF… Jay always looks for the best prices for his knick knacks. It varies from his computer parts, Nike shoes, work clothes etc. He was the one who told me about retail stores and price matching. Most electronics store like Best Buy or Frys will price match any items that you can find from competitor stores and for the ladies just an fyi, Nordstrom also does this. 

It’s also good to know what the “price” you are willing to spend on an item. Now that I am on a journey to get my debt paid off – I just closely watch the items that I want and compare prices from different outlet. I am currently on a search for a good/reliable luggage set that I will be using for the trip (my old one is falling apart). I will definitely check out TJ Maxx, Ross, Marshalls for a base price then maybe check online to see the reviews.

With debt repayment – its good to know and do your research to get the best possible price

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Week 3 : Financial GOOOOOOLLLs

World Cup week! 

I wish soccer/futbol was as big in the US as the other countries. I just don't get how almost every kid has played soccer yet there's such a smaller fan base here. In other news, did you hear about Starbucks offering to pay tuition to their employees? Most corporate companies have a reimbursement program in place already and I actually have taken advantage of this when I worked for a big financial institution while in college.

Current Debts:
No paycheck this week - so no difference in the balances well slight with the interest amounts racking up. I am hoping to pay off CC#2 by August! I wont be putting any extra payments for July, so I can use the extra cash for the trip.

* Still trying to find out why the personal loan balance was weird. I get these ending balances from my account
Starting Debt $23,722 || Paid $0 || Ending Debt* $23,140

Weekly Spending:
Ahhhhhh I overspent. It was fathers day weekend and I took my mom, siblings out for dinner last Sunday. BUT do you see whats highlighted below? Three, THREE NO SPEND DAYS*! Awesome blossom... now I just need to keep it under a budgeted amount
Sat - $15 Drinks
Sun - $47 Dinner | $60 Gas
Mon - $8 Food
Tue - No Spend Day!
Wed - No Spend Day!
Thu - No Spend Day! *
Fri - $27 Dinner *
* Technically I bought something for the 'party' this weekend, but that's already budgeted below... so at least it wasn't an impulse spend =)

Weekly Spending Start $150 || End $157 || Roll over $7

Pending Expenses:
The trip is coming up and there will be a couple of expenses that might come out of this budget or the weekly spending budget. I am not quite sure yet.
  • June 2014 - $100 Party Favor
  • July 2014 - $1000 International Trip
  • December 2014 - $300 Christmas Gifts 

Pending Expenses Total : $1400 || Card balance $100 || Need $1300

Were you able to complete any GOOOOLs you have listed for this week?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Long Distance on the Cheap

Now how about a little background about my personal relationship...

We have been doing the 'Long Distance' for almost a year now since I moved for a job to OC. Prior to that we lived together - imagine the CHANGE in that. But, I must say, its freaking hard we have been managing this quite well. Between our work schedules, classes, homework etc. we have tried to be in constant communication (thank you technology!) and make the most of the short weekends or days off that we can spend time together.

Now that I am on a quest to be debt free - he's slowly learning to change his spending lifestyle as well - we have been trying to look for options to still enjoy an active life while together but on a budget.

Here are some of the things we enjoy that are budget friendly

  • Walk/Bike around the beach/pier - The perks of living along the coast
  • Walk/Bike around the park - There are so many gorgeous parks out here... Jay is lucky enough to live close to Balboa Park
  • Gym Dates - We usually try to go to the gym first before breakfast/brunch on the weekends. This helps keep us motivated, plus, I we tend to eat healthier after a gym session
  • Grocery Shopping - Its a prelude to staying in and also spend some time in the kitchen
  • Movies - We found a really cheap theater by our parents house. Last movie we saw was Adam Sandler's Blended and it was only $12 total for the both of us. It was a matinee weekend ticket. Score! 
  • Redbox night - I usually just want to stay in after dealing with traffic to see each other on weekends. We usually pick up a movie after going grocery shopping. Oh... you should try to Text to 727272 to get some free/discounted deals lol not really an ad, but that's what we use to get some free movies

How do you budget spending time with your significant other?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Father’s Day Weekend

Jays dad is retiring next month and we got into talking about pensions, 401k, Roth IRA etc. Which honestly, I don't have a clue on even though I work in the banking industry. I have always contributed the minimum percentage to get the employer match, but I feel like I am not saving enough

 I currently have the following savings/retirement accounts

  • Emergency Fund 
    • Current Rate .01% ---- ugh!
    • Current Contribution $100/bi-weekly. 
    • This is currently sitting on my regular savings account and is not really accruing any interest 
  • Roth IRA 
    • Current Rate .75% 
    • Current Contribution $50/bi-weekly. 
    • I just started contributing to this one and haven't really maxed out my contributions
  • Online Savings 
    • Current Rate .75% 
    • Current Contribution $50/bi-weekly. 
    • I am planning to transfer my Efund to the Capital One 360 Savings account, but I am still trying to research if this is the best thing. My regular savings account where the Emergency Fund is in isn't really accruing any interest. 
  • Current Employer 401k
    • I am currently putting 5% to my 401k to take advantage of our employer match
    • This is also set up where it will automatically add 1% every year - which hopefully I will not notice 
  • Previous Employer 401k 
    • I left two years ago and left this as is. However, I am still regularly checking this and it seems like its been compounding. 

I think I will be keeping them as is and not change anything for now since I want to pay off my debt completely - but I need to start reading and learning about the best options for savings/retirement.

 Do you think this is a good idea?

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Week 2 : Spending Budget Re-evaluated

I am feeling more confident this week with my weekly spending. After re-evaluating my goals - I felt so much better adjusting the amount rather than failing another week. I realized that I have a long way to go on changing my spending lifestyle. I might need to tackle them one by one instead of taking them on all together. The main focus/priority is to pay off my debt - but I wouldn't mind picking up a tip or two on how to better curb my spending.

Current Debts:
Its payday week so I was able to get a huge chunk out of the debt. I will only be able to cover the minimum for my debts next payday since I will be traveling.

Week 2 Starting Debt $23,722 || Paid $600 || Ending Debt* $23,122

Weekly Spending:
I wasn't being too realistic with the goal of $100 (see post) - so this week was adjusted to $150
Sat - $15 Gas | $17.50 Drinks
Sun - $20 Groceries  | $3.50 Food
Mon - $24 Transportation | $12 Food | $5.50 Drinks
Tue - No Spend Day!
Wed - $12 Food |  $20 Gas
Thu - No Spend Day!
Fri - $5 Drinks
Weekly Spending Start $150 || End $134.50 || Roll over $15.50

Pending Expenses:
Another $50 was put into my Google Wallet account. I will be spending this amount next weekend. Good thing its already covered! I also revised the amount for the trip - this is going to be a wedding, so I am pretty sure there will be some things that needs to be covered.
  • June 2014 - $100 Party Favor
  • July 2014 - $1000 International Trip
  • December 2014 - $300 Christmas Gifts - Its never too early to think about this*

Pending Expenses Total : $1400 || Card balance $100 || Need $1300

Enjoy your weekend and Happy FATHERS day to all the great dads out there!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


I had dinner with a friend last week and I wanted to get more information on what I can do to curb my spending. She has paid off ALL her consumer debt in less than two years. She did not say how much her balance was, but she told me that she pretty much “didn’t have a life”, and that she wouldn’t recommend that approach to anyone else. I told her about my weekly challenge and she said that maybe to just ease into it than completely making a drastic change – because first you’ll need to change your lifestyle.

I thought about it and rather than giving up on this challenge – I am going to revise a couple of things.

  • Make it into $150/week – this will only include variable expenses (ie. Food, gas, entertainment etc.), but not the fixed monthly expenses (ie. Storage, debt payments)
  • Track my variable spending (every penny) – I can use my cash or debit card
  • Do not use credit cards - Completely off limits
  • Have a monthly debt payment target amount – I want to target to put least $1k into my debt this month.
  • Have a monthly savings target amount – I want to hit $1k of my emergency fund … $100 more to go. I haven’t posted about this yet!
  • Have at least ONE day of no spending

So watch out for my weekly update on Saturday and see if I was able to hit my target goals this week.

How many times do you revise your debt payment, spending and saving goals?

Monday, June 9, 2014

I hate Traffic!

What the heck is the Orange Crush?

Unfortunately I am one of the few people who drive down THIS FUN ROUTE every morning for work. I now check Google Maps on my phone before leaving the house to give me an idea how long I will be stuck on the road. If it’s raining/drizzling, forget about it – its going to be an hour minimum drive tops for a 15 mile trek. But why does this have to directly alter my mood when I start my day... Although, I still do not enjoy driving this route – here are a couple of things that I do to SHIFT my mood in the morning.

Always carry a fully loaded I-pod with NEW SONGS
I never know what mood I will be in driving in the morning. So I keep my i-pod stocked with classical music to hip hop music. Music never fails me.
Listen to an audio book
I cant listen to an actual novel. My imagination isn't really at its peak in the morning - especially when there is a jerkoff pissing me off  rude person on the road. I TRY to supress my road rage by listening to self-help/motivational books. I feel so much more accomplished in the morning listening to them.
A couple of my favorites are:
TIP: You can also check out your local library and burn it into your ipod and borrow an audio book.
Try different routes
There's probably three different freeways (lol California) I can take to head to work and I try to change my daily route whenever traffic allows. I feel like it gives me another side of the city/area I live in. I am not as stressed as just concentrating on the traffic ahead, but focused more on discovering a new cafe or restaurant that I pass by...
Get your workouts out of the way
This will help if there's a gym close by to your work. If not, I buy groupons for Barre classes, Yoga or Bootcamp thats close by my work. I feel like this keeps my energy level at peak during work hours. Plus, I dont have any excuse not working out just because I was tired or stressed out from driving.
If work is flexible, try to come in a little earlier (or a little later)
There's a certain time frame when the traffic congestion builds up. If you have lived in the area or have done this commute multiple times – you would’ve figured out this time already. I can leave my house at 6:50 and be ok - not hit as much traffic, but once I leave after 7am traffic gets congested by then.

How is traffic around your area? What do you do daily to beat the stress driving?

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Week 1 : How did I do?

That was harder than I thought - I wasn't going to list some misc expenses that "popped up" over the weekend since technically they weren't part of the daily expenses and more of a variable expense on my part, but I want to be as open as I can be with my debt payoff. I also want to be more accountable - I mean seriously, I didn't add this (storage) into my budget when I knew we had to pay that monthly?!?

Yes Elle - so freaking hard. I need to get my spending and going out under control.

Current Debts:
No Paycheck this week

I usually don't add any additional payments to my debt, but I just want to get rid of that balance on CC#3. I decided to grab money from my savings to apply to the payment. So now at least there's an update this week :) Whooo for little wins!

  Current    Paid    Remaining*  
  Personal Loan   $ 9,040.00  $ 9,040.00
  Student Loan   $ 7,146.00  $ 7,146.00
  CC#1   $ 6,611.00  $ 20.00  $ 6,591.00
  CC#2   $ 830.00  $ 830.00
  CC#3   $ 167.00  $ 167.00  $-  
  Total   $ 23,794.00  $ 187.00  $ 23,607.00

Week 1 Starting Debt $23,794 || Paid $187 || Ending Debt* $23,607

Weekly Spending:

This week I withdrew $100 for all my expenses and I FAILED :(. I completely forgot it was the end of the month and the storage was due. Jay has been paying this for almost a year now and I feel bad. I paid last months bill, but I am so thankful that he didn't even want me to pay for this month. I just gave him half of the expense (which was not budgeted)

I am still waaay over my $100 budget - even without the storage expense. I know you see a trend based on my WEEK 0 update - but i'll talk more about that later. I will probably need to adjust the amount - or just stop eating/going out.
  • Saturday - $45 storage, $12 lunch, $3.50 coffee
  • Sunday - $8.38 Jamba Juice, $22.95 Dinner
  • Monday - $2.10 Breakfast
  • Tuesday - No Spend Day!
  • Wednesday - $40 gas | $3.50 coffee
  • Thursday - $2.10 Breakfast | $5 Lunch
  • Friday - $9.18 Lunch| $25 Gas | $31 Dinner | $12.95 Movie
Weekly Spending Start $100 || End $-226.99 || Roll over $0

Pending Expenses:

I decided to put the pending expenses into a prepaid Google card account.

June 2014 - $100 Party Favor
July 2014 - $600 International Trip
December 2014 - $300 Christmas Gifts

Pending Expenses Total : $1000 || Google Card balance $50 || Need $950

How do you guys stay within budget? 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Ignore Responsibilities

I am sure I am not the only one who goes to Target with the intention of buying toothpaste and end up with a cart full of stuff. Or even if you have a list to buy - you still end up sneaking in a pair of flip flops, a dress and a book because they were on sale. Even up til now, Jay would always ask me... "Do we need anything at Target?" because either - a) we need to kill time, or b) were bored! You will always end up with something when you leave Target - my budget hates it!

Whatever happened to this cutie? 

Speaking of budgets - remember that drama over data breach last Christmas 2013 at our beloved store? Well I was one of those people on Black Friday that swiped my debit and credit card for unnecessary Christmas purchases.

... and fast forward a couple of months later - I well in the midst of my budgeting and being a responsible adult. My cards were cancelled and replaced by my trusted banks where I had bills that were automatically withdrawn. I called back some to give them my updated card information because I actually needed the service - and some... well I "ignored" the calls because I was thinking that, “Well I don’t really need that service (Netflix, Experian, dog insurance etc.), so maybe they can eventually CANCEL them”. WRONG! I don’t know how they haunted me down, but they did. I had to pay a huge chunk of my dogs insurance the DAY that a bill was supposed to come out – well there goes a transfer fee from my credit card to my debit card. *sigh*

This was definitely one of the behaviors I need to change when it comes to money. This was negligence on my part. I am going to try to keep the bank fees at the minimum while on this debt free journey. Also, ...... NEVER ASSUME ANYTHING!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Dark horse coffee

My friend and I found this after having lunch around Normal Heights. There were a couple of coffee places a block or two off Adams St., but since we always frequent Starbucks and we have been to Lestat's -We wanted to check out something new. 

Something new and different actually - They do Pour Over (which I've only had once - super good), Cold Brew (see below) or French press. They also have a selection of fresh vegan donuts - we SHARED the Chocolate. It wasnt as bad as I thought knowing that they were vegan.

The word Latte has quotation marks around it because they do not have espresso machines. I never thought I would enjoy a Cold Brew, but I would totally go back to this place.

I made a huge OOOOOPS and spilled the coffee though. What a klutz... but before I managed to spill my coffee, at least I was able to capture it and had at least half - before the pavement got a taste of it.

Dark Horse Coffee Roasters
3260 Adams Ave
San Diego, CA 92116