August Goals Recap!

 

A tantalizing game of chess!

A tantalizing game of chess!

Happy Labor Day! I’m back from a quick whirlwind trip to the east coast. My boyfriend and I decided to take advantage of my three day weekend to fly me to the east coast and tour the Grounds For Sculpture show in New Jersey this past week. I will be doing a review later this week to showcase some highlights in a new installment in my “Places To Visit” series  so stay tuned! Besides Grounds For Sculpture, we did totally normal couple things, like watch movies and make dinner together. Being in a LDR, it’s easy to always seem like you’re vacationing but I think these everyday things are normal to incorporate as well. He also helped me with my homework, in which during the process we found out my great great grandparents had 17 kids! :O

On ward with the August goals recap, shall we?

  • Have a fun birthday in Las Vegas! PASS! I had the best birthday weekend ever in Vegas. I was sad because three days before my birthday I had found out my grandfather passed away but I still celebrated my birthday in honor of him because that’s what he would have wanted. Also, the boy got to meet my besties in Vegas and my padre!
  • Do not spend any money eating out unless it’s my birthday weekend/ trip! PASS! I’ve been really good about eating in this month so please excuse me while I pat myself on the back! I have packed my lunch everyday and have even figured out how to have a 12-13 hour day without starving to death!
  • Go to the dentist. Ugh. PASS. I did go to the dentist because I ended up needing a root canal but I also have my cleaning done so pass. Good news? I’ll be getting my braces off hopefully by Christmas!
  • Make sure everything is ready to go for school! PASS. Everything was good to go and went smoothly!
  • Have a good first week back at school! PASS. I had an excellent first week back and so far, I’ve been on top of it besides one pesky essay I didn’t notice. However, I suffered from exhaustion last week so I need to be mindful of that. Having chronic asthma, I really need to be conscious of my energy levels and be more proactive with my health. Yes, I said more.
  • Launch my new site off the ground. FAIL. I would really like to do but I have a lot of other things currently in the air so we’ll see.
  • Make an additional $1,000 FAIL I didn’t make this amount BUT I got another staff writing gig which I’ll be announcing soon. And if anyone is looking for a staff writer/ VA/ social media manager, please let me know!
  • Save $500 ( more on this later) PASS. My emergency fund is looking a lot better so I am keeping my fingers crossed that I can continue to save.

Next month will really be about keeping my life on track while maintaining everything that’s going on. I’ll be posting my September goals tomorrow!

How did you do this month?

 

 

How To Get A Cheap Airfare Like A Boss

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This weekend, I’ll be headed to New Jersey to enjoy the long weekend with my boyfriend. We’ll be catching a Marilyn Monroe exhibit, cooking meals from scratch and binge watching on Netflix. Ahh, the good life. Being in a LDR, we’ve had to get creative with spending time with each other, and paying for airfare. While we do take turns visiting each other at home, we also take trips together and crash each other’s professional conferences. Why not? Since I don’t do credit card points for free miles, I’ve had to find other ways to find airline tickets for cheap and to work in my budget. Here are some of my greatest tips to score airfare like a boss!

  • Shop early! Whenever I going decide I’m going somewhere, I  start researching and buy my ticket ASAP. Sure, airline tickets may have a sale later on down the road but chances are even higher they aren’t going to. And the earlier you buy your plane ticket, the cheaper it’s going to be. I’m also a planner though and I can tell you what I’m doing with my life until February of next year. At least what I think I’m doing with my life. :)
  • Buy tickets on Tuesdays. Airlines usually announce sales and deals on Mondays and by Tuesday, other airlines are playing catch up and trying to get your business as well. The prime time to by is Tuesday afternoons through the early morning on Wednesday. Airlines usually crank up the price later on during the week so make sure you purchase on Tuesday!
  • Use Kayak and other search engines. I love Kayak because it does all the hard work for me and I’ll about mainstreaming these days. Kayak, and other search engines, allow you to type in your desired flight information and will find and compare flights for your to ensure you find the best deal and get the most bang for your buck. I’m all about that too. Just make sure you clean out your cookies because search engines can also tell when you’re really looking and will jack the price up to get you to buy out of urgency.
  • Be flexible. Think you can only fly on a Friday or a Sunday? I bet you would change your tune if you could save $50-100 one way if you were more flexible to fly. Southwest offers a flexible date calendar to let you see what surrounding dates may be cheaper than your preferred one. I save $125 one way by looking at this on a whim. It’s also cheaper to fly earlier in the morning or later at night. Sure, you may not get in at the most ideal time, but you’ll probably be tired from traveling anyways. You can save up to $20-50 by doing this too.
  • Sign up for a rewards program. Even though I’m not currently rocking the credit card point system, I am still signed up for a frequent flyer program through Southwest. I get points for every flight I purchase and I can usually get two free flights per year this year. Two free flights is better than no free flights for money I spent anyways. And best of all, no credit card to worry about paying later!

What is your secret to snagging cheap airfare?

 

Why I’m Bumping Up My E-fund

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A lot of people in the blogosphere have an elusive goal of saving $10,000 in an emergency fund. This makes a lot of sense, since the rule of thumb is at least six months of living expenses, if not more. I could live off $10,000 for six months without really effecting my lifestyle too much because my fixed expenses are so low, but I am coming to terms with the feeling that they won’t be low forever so I need to save as much as I actively can…NOW.
Right now, my e-fund is sitting at close to the usual $1,000 that I usually keep on hand. While working full time and going to school full time may make it harder than ever to work on additional projects to increase my income, I am thinking that I can increase my e-fund by $2,000 this  school year, if not $3,000, which would greatly help my sanity in case anything were to happen. What counts, to me, as emergency or would make me cash in my savings?
  • My car. I bought my 2007 Hyundai from a friends grandfather who took remarkable care of it until I bought in 2011 from him. The car had low mileage and had regular maintenance. I’ve been doing my best to upkeep everything but I know myself I am not the best car owner. I’m hoping that I can keep my car for at least three more years while I finish my bachelors in Phoenix. So, while I am hoping it will last forever, I am realistic that things happen and it may need repairs along the way.

 

  • My health. My health, both physical and mental, have taken an extreme importance over the past year to me. Maybe it’s because I am getting older, but I really have started paying attention to things, both physically and mentally. My braces are almost ready to come off so I know I’ll need an eventual retainer and two caps, which are important to maintain my new healthy smile I’ve paid $6,000 for. I also don’t hesitate to go to my chiropractor now for maintenance on my back for scholiasts and talking to a therapist to finally address anxiety and depression issues I have from being orphaned.
  • My living situation. I currently live with a roommate and rent a room from her monthly. My lease will be up in December and while I don’t foresee myself moving out anytime soon, we are grownups and both want to eventually have our own families. She is more in a place to do so than me and if she wanted to have her significant other and his mother move in, I would graciously give them the privacy they needed, even if it happened to be me moving out. Again, I don’t see anything happening in the foreseeable future, and she wouldn’t insist on me moving out since we are close, but I’d still like to have backup money! Fingers crossed!
  •  A sudden illness to someone close to me. Since I don’t have any biological family I am close to anymore, I invest heavily on the family I have made for myself. My family lives all over the country and if anything bad ever happened, I’d want to cash in vacation days and go especially if they needed me. My boyfriend also lives far away and I would run if he called, should something happen. Last minute plane tickets are not cheap, even for grievance, so I’d like to at least be prepared.

 

  • Job loss. I just signed my contract for my job for the school year so I am at least guaranteed another year of employment! But, anyone who’s ever worked in the nonprofit sector knows that funding is never guaranteed, which means your job could be cut one day. As a matter of fact, last year the position I had originally been hired for lost half of the funding and I would have had to go to part time if my current position wasn’t open. Thank goodness! So, backup funds would be crucial until I could figure out my next step.
There are a ton of reasons to have an emergency fund and these are only a few! What is your reason for an emergency fund? Do you have one bigger than six months of living expenses?
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Why I’m Going Back To School

Tonight I’ll be attending class for the first time in four years- EEP! I graduated in 2010 with my AA degree in Criminal Justice and although I was planning to finish my bachelors in the next two years, I got lazy. Yes, I’m mature enough to admit it. I got lazy. I had decided to take a semester off to “relax” since I had just finished working and going to school full-time and I was tired. I had a lot going on personally, mainly trying to save a relationship that was a sinking ship, and I was just exhausted. I ended up receiving a promotion right afterwards and made $13,000 more a year so that probably didn’t help matters. My semester off turned into eight and now here I am, four years later, trying to play catch up again. So, why did I finally decide to go back?

  • I was passed up for a promotion. Over the summer, we had a lot of change in our central office. A few people in our administration went on to do other things and fulfill other opportunities, so we ended up having unexpected openings. The job I had wanted, my bosses, had finally became available and I applied while I was on vacation this summer. My executive director called me personally to explain that although I had wonderful experience and knew what I was doing, the board felt I didn’t qualify since I didn’t have my bachelors and they felt it was necessary for a director’s position. I cried for a few minutes after I had gotten off the phone and felt devastated. A piece of paper can really hold you back. But it’s not just a piece of paper, it’s a lot of other things.
  • A piece of paper says you were dedicated for four years, no matter what. I’m currently enrolled in a women in non-profit leadership program in Phoenix, AZ. As part of our requirements, once a month we have to attend a session for networking as well as hear other non-profit professionals give advice and present a skill. At my last session, the main topic and skill was about networking and how to use your strengths to gain more experience to make you valuable. One woman expressed that she was stumped because all of the jobs knew she would be great for required her to have a bachelors and she knew she didn’t need it to fulfill that job, besides she didn’t even have one. The presenter asked why she didn’t need a bachelors to fulfill the job requirements and as she started to rattle of qualities, the presenter stopped her. “You’re employer knows you have those qualities. They just want to see that you were dedicated to something for four years, no matter what.” It’s hard to go to school as an adult and it’s even harder as an adult to go to school consistently, especially with work and other life priorities. But having that piece of paper with your name on it says your educated, well rounded in certain subjects and dedicated to finishing something you started, no matter what.
  • More, not limited, opportunities. As far as income goes within the non-profit sector, I think I am tapped out without getting my bachelors. I can’t become a director if I don’t have one and without becoming a director, my earning potential is pretty limited. So, in order to move up and to eventually have my dream job of being an executive director, I need to finish my bachelors. Also, I am interested in rehabbing juvenile offenders and would definitely be open to other opportunities such as graduate school that would help me gain more expertise in this field. So, the further I go with my education, the more opportunities I’ll have, professionally, personally and economically.
  • Now’s the time! It’s never too late to go back to school but there is no time like the present. I currently live in a low cost of living are and according to many sources, my local university is a fairly cheap school for a bachelors. I digress since it’s still way too much but whatever. Higher education isn’t cheap but I’ll take what I can get. My job is fairly flexible and my employers are very supportive of school. Also, I don’t have kids or a husband yet. I really want those things but I know that my bachelors, for me anyways, would be 20x harder to do because I am easily distracted. So, I’d like to take the time to finish now since it’s just me to worry about.

Have you recently decided to go back to school?