For those of you who don't know me personally, me and finances haven't had such a great relationship in the past. I got my first job when I was 15, at Ben and Jerry's. I had a lot of fun scooping ice cream and it was the perfect place for friends to come and visit. Unfortunately, I wasn't too smart about my paychecks and that led me down a road of being not so financially responsible over the following years. Fast-forward almost 7 years and 6 jobs, I finally decided it was time to get my act together and clean up my finances.
Personal Capital is an online company geared towards empowering individuals and their money by providing a better money management experience for consumers. They sent over their 30 Day Money Cleanse for me to check out, and I was so impressed that I thought I'd share it with all of you! I think that for those of us who don't have much experience being on top of things, this is an easy way to start figuring finances out, one step at a time.
The first thing I did at the beginning of the quarter was write down all of my predicted expenses. From there, I was able to understand how much money I would be able to spend on miscellaneous expenses (i.e. eating out, shopping, traveling, etc.) and how much I should be able to save. My next step was writing down every single thing I spent money on. I know this might sound a bit excessive, but it helped me see what I could afford to keep doing (bi-weekly coffee dates with friends) and what I should probably cut out (tri-weekly bagel runs to bagel cafe). Recently I've been trying to incorporate a few money-saving habits into my everyday routine. I try not to eat out unless it's a special occasion. Cooking at home can be really fun if you do it with friends and loved ones.My roommates and I have tried out a few new recipes and so far it's been a success (Kasia I'm thinking about your minestrone soup now). We've also made an effort to find deals in our own community. We really like to rock climb, but a day pass is $15 at our local gym and that can add up if you're going often. Luckily, our gym offers half-off nights twice a week, so we've been heading over there on Tuesdays and Fridays.There's also so many things you can do in your community that don't involve spending a ton of money, like going for a hike or taking lunch to picnic in the park.
Though we're only in the second month of 2017, my life has been so much easier since cleaning up my finances. I no longer hold my breath when I swipe my card at the grocery store and wonder if I transferred over enough money from my savings to my checking. I highly suggest starting off 2017 on a high note by getting your own finances in order. If you're in a different boat then me, Personal Capital can still definitely help you out! They have resources for everything from investing your money to planning for retirement. They also have a lot of really great articles that cover a multitude of money topics. Even for someone like me who doesn't have a lot of financial planning background, I really enjoyed how easy the pieces were to read and understand.
Well there you have it folks, my little shpeal about finances. I know that financial planning doesn't exactly sound fun and exciting, but it is important to think about if you want to do things later in life like pay off your student loans, buy a house, or travel around. Just take my advice and give it a try, and visit Personal Capital if you're unsure of where to start.
Lets make 2017 our most productive year yet!
(cheesy I know)
Jeez almost three months since I've put up a blog post!? You must be wondering where I've been huh? Unfortunately there's no crazy story about being stuck on an island somewhere tropical with no access to the internet like last year, BUT there are some fun stories about how I spent my winter break with the people I love most. Take a peak :)
My younger sister moved to Colorado last fall to attend college. She and her boyfriend live in Denver and I was so excited to go visit them and explore a new state. Coming from sunny California, I was definitely not prepared for the weather
The first day there we headed to Estes Park, which is a small town in northern Colorado. It was incredibly cold(!!) but definitely a lot of fun to walk around and check out all the kitschy shops. There were also so many freaking candy shops. Honestly I don't know how we didn't leave with 10 pounds of taffy in our pockets.
After lunch we headed to check out the Stanley Hotel, which is famous for it's inspirational role in Stephen King's novel "The Shining." Talk about spooky. Usually I'm a big baby about stuff like that but it was the middle of the day so we were all good.
Special shoutout to my sister and her boyfriend for being such great hosts, it was so fun to get out and run around with them!
From Colorado, I headed to see some more family in southern Washington. The airports were horrible at the time and I got turned around a bit but eventually made it there a few days before Christmas.
My aunt and uncle live right on the Columbia River and their place looks out onto one of my absolute favorite views. I can't get enough of it, even though I visit multiple times a year.
Last Christmas I was in Myanmar, really sick with a stomach bug, so I was really happy to be around a lot of family in a warm house with my favorite pups. Christmas eve was spent playing card games, eating crab legs, and drinking hot toddies.
Christmas morning of course was pretty splendid. We slept in the appropriate amount of time and congregated around the tree by 8:30. We did something different this year and tried a secret santa type thing. I broached the idea back around Thanksgiving thinking it would be easier with a larger number of people. We drew names and then all emailed 'wish lists' out.
I cleaned up nice in the present category with some awesome Spanish olives, my favorite card game, and some excellent books.
I was jonesing for some fresh air after a heavy breakfast of all the wonderful things in life (i.e. maple-sugared bacon) and my uncle had graciously offered to show me a hike near by. It was still a bit cold but sunny as could be so we headed out and my sister's boyfriend joined us. To get to the hike, we literally walked down their driveway and down the road a bit, past their neighbor's houses and up a hill 20 yards. I kid you not it was that close.
Can you believe that view? I know, I almost can't either and I was there. The hike itself was pretty easy going and I had just been gifted a new pair of hiking shoes the day before so I was a happy camper.
My friend Alex who I know from the middle school days lives about an hour away from my Uncle and Aunt's house. He was able to come up one of the days I was there and I took him on the exact same hike because I could not get over the views. It was pretty gloomy but still amazing.
Friendship is such a gift and I feel so blessed to have such strong and admirable friends in my life like Alex. We caught up and reminisced about the good ol' days and agreed that we couldn't believe how fast life was going. You know, the normal stuff. The next day was spent with a purpose. My sister had been talking about wanting to go sledding. I personally wanted to sit on the couch under multiple blankets and read, but she convinced me to get up off my butt, and it turned out to be a pretty fun day.
We drove over the border to a ski place near Hood River, Oregon in hopes of finding some decent hills. There was a copious amount of snowballs thrown by my brother as we waited for the lift up the hill. There was a lot of people in line so we decided to duck into the lodge for a hot drink while waiting for the next lift. Perfect timing too because I was already starting to freeze my fingers off.
The sledding hill turned out to be a small bunny slope, but we managed to make it pretty fun anyways. The last few days after that I spent sitting adjacent to the fire place, enjoying the good company of everyone. I left feeling so incredibly thankful for the gift of family. I know not everyone gets to spend the holidays with theirs, so if you are able to, make sure to not take it for granted. I'm currently back at school, midway through my winter quarter. I have plans for some really fun blog posts coming up, so keep an eye out! Hope everyone's 2017 is going well so far!
I must admit that with the holidays fast approaching, I'm experiencing that creeping pressure to get all of my gift shopping done that many of you are also probably feeling right about now. There's a couple of strategies that are good for getting all your holiday shopping done and many people take advantage of Black Friday. I gotta say, I've never been a huge fan of the whole "staying up late, crowded lines, fighting over deals" thing. For one, I'm usually in bed by 11 o'clock, and two, I'd rather shop at a leisurely pace. What is the point of me telling you all of this you may ask? I've happily decided to take the pledge alongside Fundera, a company that helps small businesses get the funding they need to be successful, to support my favorite local spots on Small Business Saturday this November 26th!
Now I knew that supporting local, small businesses was important, but I had never seen the cold, hard facts laid out in front of me. Did you know that small businesses make up 99.7% of U.S. employer firms? Or that they make up 54% of all sales in the U.S. as well as 33% of the U.S.'s export value? Safe to say that small businesses are incredibly important to our economy. In thinking more about this upcoming national shopping holiday, I took a moment to think about my favorite local small business that I would be happy to support. Being college students, my roommates and I tend to favor small coffee shops and eateries.
First up? A place I've definitely mentioned a number of times. Caje is a little coffee shop with some of the best lattes and bagels around. I routinely spend 10-15 hours a week here working on anything from homework to blogging, or just catching up with friends. The environment is so laid back and all the baristas are college students as well, so it's a very welcoming atmosphere.
#2? Savoy is a family-run restaurant downtown that serves up delicious (seriously delicious) breakfast and lunch. I'm not exaggerating when I say they have everything. You can choose between homemade soups and deli favorites, or opt for their insanely fresh salad bar. If you're feeling like taking a sweeter route, they have pancakes (gluten-free and regular), oatmeals, and daily baked goods. Guy Fieri even visited once and gave the place a thumbs up! When my roommates and I were first years, we would catch the bus from campus and treat ourselves to brunch every once in a while. Since then it has become a favorite that we've taken family and friends to.
And last but not least: one of my all-time favorites, the Isla Vista Co-op. Usually, since we're living on a college student budget, we tend to shop at Trader Joe's. However, when we're in need of a few quick groceries near home, or a really yummy sandwich, my roommates and I hit up the co-op. It is a wonderful little place that is really invested in stocking local products, hosting social health and balance events, and giving back to the community. Everyone who works there is so friendly and welcoming. My favorite is the monthly brunch+yoga that they put on. Good for your body and tastebuds.
Curious about the background of Small Business Saturday? According to Fundera ---->
Safe to say, I will be making a point to keep to small businesses in order to support my community, especially over the next few weeks. If you're up for taking the pledge and doing the same, let other people know about the importance of November 26th! Hope to see you all hoping on the bandwagon of Small Business Saturday!
Last fall I took off for a year abroad. Now I'm back in the states, trying to figure out this crazy thing we call life!