Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Increase My Savings

It's one thing to say I'm going to increase my savings in 2010...it's another thing to have an actual plan of action. Type A me has a plan of action for short term and long term savings growth.

1. Increase my Roth IRA contribution to the maximum (currently $5,000 a year)
As my favorite financial guru, Suze Orman would say, let's do the numbers. Let's say I start investing $5,000 a year in to my Roth IRA, when I am thirty and I make the same $5,000 investment for 30 years. (30 years because at 59 1/2 I can withdraw money from my IRA). That's $5,000 X 30 years for a total of $150,000. But we are not taking in to account compound interest. Let's assume an 8% average annual return on my investment. That will give me about $662,000 after 30 years. If at 59 1/2 or 60 I decide to take all that money out, my tax bill will be zero and I would get all $662,000. Reality Check: I may not be able to invest in a Roth every year for 30 years because there may come a point when my income disqualifies me. That makes it so crucial to sock as much money away as I can in to my Roth IRA.

2. Put more towards my mortgage
You might ask how paying more on my house increases my savings. Do you know that if you were to make one extra payment a year on your mortgage you could shave 5 years off the mortgage? Since it doesn't seem like I'll be able to sell my house any time soon I might as well work towards paying it off sooner.

3. Put side hustle in to savings
I am fortunate to have some additional income from a side hustle. But this is going to be really hard for me to do because I rely on the money I make from my side hustle of teaching to finance my travel plans. I think it is essential to put all the money I make teaching in to my savings account. Where there is a will there is a way and I will ALWAYS find a way to travel.

4. Downgrade to Upgrade
My apartment lease is up for renewal and it's a good time to negotiate for a lower rent. If they won't lower the rent it might be time for me to move. Sometimes you have to downgrade (in this case to a smaller or less expensive apartment) in order to upgrade (and increase my savings).

5. Time for a Raise
The economy has been rough for the last few years but the recession is thawing. I haven't gotten a raise in 2 years...not even a cost of living increase. This might be out of my control. It really depends on if the company decides to do a company-wide salary freeze (no raises in 2010). But I know I have worked my ass off and with the higher cost of insurance in addition to the higher costs of everything it's really time for a raise.

Any other ideas on how to increase my savings? What are you going to do to increase your savings for the short term and long term?

Monday, January 04, 2010

30th Birthday Wish List

This past Christmas was the first year in a long time that I didn't make a X-mas wish list. Usually the kid in me (and the Type A in me) can't resist making a good list. But I was just so happy to have survived 2009 I couldn't think of anything to wish for.

But this year I'm turning the big 3-0...I'm so excited and I just can't hide it...I'm about to lose control and I think I like it...OH YEAH!!! Seriously I am geeked about turning 30 and to prove it I will be throwing myself a birthday party (more details to come). So this year I'm going to make a birthday wish list instead of a Xmas wish list.

1. New Car
I don't seriously expect anyone to buy me a new car. But I always thought for my 30th I would get a new (or new used) car. I love my current car. I have a 1997 Mazda 626 who just hit the 200,000 mile mark in late November 2009. I have so many good memories in that car. BUT she is old, in need of a few repairs, and it's not worth it to keep putting money in to fixing her when I can use that same money to get something newer. I hate to admit it but it's time for us to part ways. I have had the car for 10 years (bought it in December of 1999). My relationship with my car is by far the longest and most stable relationship I have ever had. (An Ode to my Beloved Car blog will be coming). My top 5 choices for a new vehicle are: Chevy Tahoe, Lexus LS 10, Honda Accord, Toyota Camry or Nissan Maxima

2. Macbook Pro Notebook or Mac Pro Computer
I have been longing for a Mac for a few years now. But in comparison to a PC they are just not cost effective. A few weeks ago one of my friends got a brand new Macbook Pro with 15 inch monitor and I was drooling...and I also was really jealous. All I know is I need quality computers that can handle serious web production and Macs are the best machines for that purpose.

3. Bedroom Furniture
Just like my car my furniture has been through a lot. I bought my bedroom furniture in 2003 and got the final piece of the set (the nightstand) in 2004. The furniture has moved as much as I have moved. But it's time for some new furniture. All the drawers are sagging on the inside of my dresser and chest of drawers and I don't have that much in them.

4. Digital Camera
I bought my first digital camera in 2007 (right Tim Haynes...it was the year you came to visit me in NYC). In 3 short years that camera has been through A LOT. Y'all know how much I travel and I carry my camera with me everywhere like I carry a cell phone and wallet. I want the upgrade of my camera so either the Sony Cyber-shot® DSC-W290 or the Sony Cyber-shot® DSC-W220 (in Blue of course).

5. Sex and the City: The Complete Series (Collector's Giftset) and Sex and the City Essentials
It's ashame that I am the black Carrie Bradshaw (or she is the white version of me) and I still don't own all the seasons of the show. I have a few seasons and I own the movie but I don't own the complete series and the essentials.

6. Earrings
I'm a girl with extensions in my hair so I need some bamboo earrings...at least 2 pair...LOL. I buy earrings every year but what I really want are some Harry Mason earrings. I haven't owned a pair since my trip to San Francisco back in February 2006. I loved the earrings and I had them for awhile but when you lose one there is no point in wearing the other.

7. Watch
Like most of the world I rely heavily on my cell phone including to tell time. But I would like a really nice time piece....something simple but classic and sophisticated. Of course I would like to be able to tell the time with it so the face has to have some numbers or some roman numerals. No blank faces where I have to guesstimate the time.

8. Fry Daddy
I have seriously wished for a Fry Daddy for over 3 years and I STILL don't have one.

9. Wine
Y'all know I LOVE a good wine...Rosa Regale, any kind of Moscato...but I'm not picky...oh no, this wino will drink anything and everything.

10. Pearls
I don't know what my fascination with pearls are about. An ex-boyfriend once bought me a earning and necklace set and I have no idea how they got lost in my transition from college to the real world. And they just look so good on Michelle Obama. I want to be the girl with the pearl earrings.

11. Nintendo DS
They had me at the commercial for the Personal Trainer: Cooking game. I don't even want to call it a game because anything that makes cooking easier for me to do is more than child's play.

12. Wii games
I only have the game that comes with the Wii, the game that comes with the Wii Fit, Mario Kart and Yoga for Wii...so I'm seriously lacking on gaming options. I tried American Idol karaoke a couple of weeks ago and was amazed. And I KNOW there are more games out there that I would like. You can reference my Wii wish list for last year.

13. Carolina Snuggie
One of my interns actually tried to buy me this but it's not sold in stores...at least not in NYC. I'm sure it's sold everywhere in North Carolina. I would die and go to Snuggie heaven if I got one. But y'all know my theory on this...you can't buy yourself a Snuggie...someone else has to buy it for you.

14. Gift Card
The easiest gift of all when you don't know what to give. Visa has prepaid cards so it can be used towards whatever I want.

15. Airline Miles
Give the gift of travel. I love to travel and I will gladly accept miles from Delta, American Airlines, Continental, Airtran or US Airways.

16. FOOD
Last but definitely not least on my list is FOOD. Take me out to eat...I love to eat...I promise I will enjoy it...it's the gift I never get tired of receiving.

And there you have it...plenty of options to choose from for anyone feeling generous this year ;)

Friday, January 01, 2010

Goals for 2010

I'm turning the big 3-0 this year. So at first I was going to set 30 goals for myself...but that's a bit much, even for me. My 10 goals for 2010 are:

1. Throw myself a kickass party for my 30th
Consider this advanced notice. I have never thrown myself a big birthday party before and I'm going all out. I'll be having an all white party at a location and date (early March) to be determined. So what that my birthday is in the middle of winter...we'll just have to wear winter white.

2. Pay off another debt
Now that I paid off the debt consolidation loan I want to turn my attention to another major bill and pay that off.

3. Take a new approach on my health
One of my girls goes to a natural health doctor and I want to try it. I'm tired of the asthma medications and allergy shots and weekly chiropractor visits. I've done the standard, traditional medicines. Now I'm ready to try something new.

4. Re-join the gym
I actually enjoyed going to the gym. I miss my anti-gravity yoga classes, urban rebounding classes and my trainer kicking my ass. I remained a member until my company allotment for fitness ran out. New year, new allotment.

5. Go to Vegas as many times as I can
If I could go once a month (12 times this year) I would. But I think 4-6 trips to Vegas will be sufficient and make up for lost time.

6. Increase my savings
After I pay for my birthday party I have to go back to being responsible and putting more in my savings.

7. Try new recipes
I save recipes from magazines all the time and I own several cookbooks. It's time to start trying out some new recipes.

8. Expand professionally
I have been filling in as a project manager at my job and I like the new challenge. So I want to kick ass as a PM and see what it leads too.

9. Go to more Broadway shows
I've been saying for years that I want to see Wicked...it's time I make that happen. There are also a few other shows that I'm interested in seeing.

10. Purge, purge and purge some more
I once read that if you want to have someone in your life you have to make room in your life. For me, I think I need to start by making room in my apartment.

I'm all about setting realistic macro and micro goals for myself. I feel if you aim too high you'll only be disappointed if you don't reach it. So here's to another year of growing personally and professionally.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goals for 2009 Recap

Here's a look back on what were my goals for 2009 and how well I did or didn't do.

1. Read 30 books
I read 31 books. It was a lot harder than I thought. I read newspapers and magazines all the time but the focus and concentration to read books was more than I anticipated. You can watch TV and flip through a magazine. Can't watch TV and read a book.

2. Pay off my debt consolidation loan
My last loan payment was September 28, 2009 and it feels so good to have one less major bill to pay.

3. Get back in shape
I joined a gym for 6 months and had a trainer for 3 months. So that was very good for me.

4. Keep on cooking
I'm proud of my culinary skills.

5. 3 to 6 months of expenses in to my savings
Wasn't able to do this. When I got close to reaching this goal I lost the tenant in my house. My house was vacant for a bit so I had to cover those expenses with my savings. But I was glad that I had that cushion to fall back on.

6. Relax more
This was a very stressful year so I can't say that I really relaxed more.

7. Stay healthy
I had my annual asthma attack. I say annual asthma attack because I'll have one really bad attack, once a year and usually around the same time of year. So I'm happy that despite how stressful 2009 was I was able to stay relatively healthy.

8. Travel some place I have never been to before
The point of me taking a hiatus from Las Vegas was so I could travel to other places and I went to St. Thomas, Asheville, NC and Costa Rica.

9. Purge my apartment
I am constantly throwing stuff out and donating to good will. I've come a long way but I still have more to do.

BONUS: No Vegas in 2009

This by far was the hardest goal to keep. There were so many times that I wanted to go to get away from it all or someone was trying to convince me to go. But I remained strong and stayed away from Vegas for 365 days :)

If I had to give myself a grade for how I progressed on my goals in 2009 I would give myself a "B" I made progress on some things but I know me and I know I can do better and I can do more.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Costco vs Coke

I'm impartial when it comes to which cola to drink. I have friends that are die-hard Coke fans and die-hard Pepsi fans. Personally I'll drink whatever is on sale at the time that I'm at the store. At one time I did have a Coke Rewards addiction, but that's a topic from a previous blog entry.

I shop at Costco and I notice they have more Coke products (Sprite, Dasani, etc) than Pepsi products. So because of that I do tend to drink more Coke than Pepsi...until now. Costco and Coke are in a dispute about the price Coke charges versus the value Costco promises to it's members.

A few questions comes to mind:
- Will Costco now sell Pepsi products only?
- Is Coke really charging more money or just as much as if I bought it at the grocery store?
- Do Costco members care what brand of cola they sell or do they just want whatever is on sale?
- Will the loss of Costco as a retailer really hurt Coke?

All this talk of cola is making me thirsty. I think I'll go and grab me a Pepsi ;)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I Love My FHI

I know a lot of people who rave about the Chi flat iron. Well I'm a fan of the FHI Heat Runway flat iron. Some pronounce it F.H.I. or Fee.

I am fortunate enough to work at InStyle.com and one of the perks is that I get a lot of products for free or cheap. All the products I mentioned in my post yesterday I got for $1 each (including the hot curlers). The FHI Heat Runway flat iron costs $450 but a lot of retailers sell it online for less. Every year it's featured as one of InStyle's Best Beauty Buys. It has multiple heat settings from 170 degrees to 450 degrees (I usually use it at 370 degrees).

As a regular consumer I probably wouldn't buy the FHI because it is such a high price point BUT if I was a stylist or straightened my hair a lot I would absolutly invest in this flat iron. On average I can spend $40-$60 every 2 weeks getting my hair washed, conditioned, flat ironed and styled. That's about $960 to $1440 a year. I hate to sound like an infomercial but the FHI Heat Runway flat iron practically pays for itself after about 10 uses. Who hasn't used their flat iron at least 10 times in the past year?

If you want sleek, smooth, hair that won't snap, crackle, pop as you are straightening it then invest in a FHI Heat Runway.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Secret to My Hair Success

This past week I received a lot of compliments on my hair. It was soft with shine, volume and movement. I have a few good hair days, but I can't remember the last time I had a good hair week. So I'm going to share the secret to my hair success.

1. I washed my hair with Dr. Miracles Tingling 2 in 1 Dandraff Shampoo & Conditioner.
2. I conditioned with Aphogee Balancing Mosturizer. I put it on my hair, put on a shower cap and let it sit for 30 minutes.
3. I washed out the Aphogee and conditioned again with Pantene Relaxed and Natural Conditioner.
4. I rinsed my hair thoroughly, making sure no product was left in it.
5. Towel dried my hair and sprayed it with Dove Heat Defense Therapy.
6. I blow dried my hair straight.
7. I used my FHI Heat flat iron at 370 degrees (it can go as high as 450).
8. While flat ironing my hair I heated up my Conair Hot Rollers.
9. Once my hair was flat ironed I put in the hot rollers for about 20-30 minutes.
10. Took the hot rollers out and pin curled my hair so I could go to bed.

I know that sounds like a lot but the extra steps were due to having to wash and condition my hair. Maintaining my hairstyle for the rest of the week was the easy part.

1. Turn on my Conair Hot Rollers.
2. Roll my hair and let sit for 20-30 minutes.
3. Take out the hot rollers and pin curl my hair.

In the morning all I had to do was take out the pins and use my fingers and a wide tooth comb to style. No sleeping with rollers in my hair. No having to get up early to do my hair. I had the Conair Hot Rollers in my hair while I was watching TV the night before. It was fast and easy and my hair looked great all day long.

I honestly don't know what took me so long to get Hot Rollers cause I think that is the true secret to my hair success. Now that I have them, I want more. I want to see if I can spiral set hot curl my hair.

I know my natural hair friends are probably cringing because of all the heat applied to my hair. But I don't have a relaxer and the hot curlers provide less heat to the hair than if I had used my Gold and Hot curling iron every day.

So what do you think? Anyone willing to give my method a try? Got any hair secrets you want to share?