Being Kinder Than Necessary (and Happy New Year!)

Hello party people – I hope for those that celebrate, that Christmas and/or Boxing Day was a great one for you!  During my few days off, I started the little details of the wedding, hung out with friends, and got my read on.  I finally finished Serena which I really liked (and can’t wait to see the movie in early 2014), and Sharp Objects which was an intriguing read but the end was as head scratching as Gone Girl (though yes, I’m seeing the movie).  I also started reading Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls since I’m a big fan of David Sedaris (and his live readings are awesome), The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year Old Boy with Autism, as well as The Millionaire Next Door, all of which I have no problem counting with my 24 book quota for 2014 despite beginning in 2013. 😉  They’ve been great reads so far, and there’s been a few a-ha moments with the latter which I’ll probably write about once I finish.

I also took advantage of all this free time to book all my annual physicals, got a much needed dental procedure completed, returned/bought presents with others (like their shopping wingwoman – I convinced a couple of them to forgo purchases, go PF Me ;)), and got my driver’s license renewal at the DMV.  At the DMV, despite having an appointment at 8 in the morning, as soon as they opened, the systems were down and didn’t start working until around 9.  It was a bit frustrating to say the least, but what was more frustrating was how the customers would treat the DMV employees.  One brash guy came up to the counter demanding what was going on, and as the DMV employee was explaining it to him, halfway through he waved his hand as if to demand that person to stop and grumpily said he was waiting in a section to sit down.

Another time, a young woman came up to the counter and when the DMV employee let her know that the system was down, she stated, “Well, let me explain to you my situation…” and proceeded to explain her dilemma.  Afterward, the employee said, “I understand, but the system is still down,” and the girl then proceeded to walk away and (kind of tantrum-like in my perspective) stated, “well when it’s back up, do I have to wait in line after all these people?!”  WTPoo?!

Finally, when the DMV employee was handing out Post-Its with numbers so that the crowd wouldn’t bum-rush the counter since the system was going to be up and running soon, as she handed me my number, the lady next to me stated “I think I was here before her,” meaning me.  The lady seemed contentious, and though I was slightly peeved at her saying this because I was obviously before her, I decided to play it cool because 1) it wasn’t a big deal since maybe she’s late for work and I have the day off, 2) she had a cane and neck brace so maybe she was ahead of me like in the parking lot but I just happened to walk faster?, 3) maybe she’s on meds from her neck brace and just not thinking straight, and 4)  it was literally the difference between having #2 and #3.

So, I just smiled politely, gave her the #2 post-it, and said, “Here you go.”  The lady looked like she felt embarrassed, and though that was kind of a motive, I mostly did it because I try to live by the “be kinder than necessary” quote.  For her, I can see that she’s fighting some physical battle, so perhaps this tiny bit of action helped her.

And, I know that the probability of the irate customers reading this is slim to none, but it is my hope that there’s moments when it dawns on them that it pays more to be kinder than not, and that, most importantly – that the employees are people.  I’m 100% confident that they didn’t go into the office in the middle of the night, checked out the appointment roster, and said “Oh, F this guy, I’m shutting the system down so he’ll have to wait and suffer, muhahahaha.”  So whether it’s the DMV, mall employees, waiters/waitresses, or any service-oriented employees – be kind, people.  Some jobs are already pretty suck-ass as it is, so have some compassion and patience, and realize that some things are beyond their control.  As it is yours, so relax!  And be happy!  Life is good. 🙂

Anyway, I hope everyone has a wonderful and safe Happy New Year!  I’ll most likely sleep by 9 to do a long run on the 1st since that’s my version of greeting the new year, so enjoy the midnight festivities for me. 🙂

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2014 Goals/Plans

Hi everyone!  I hope y’all had a great weekend – I had my annual bake day on Sunday, which somehow always goes from “Yay, bake time!” to “Omg, why do I subject myself to this every year?!” approximately 4 hours and/or a couple of singed fingers later (note to self: the cookie sheet you just took out of the oven is hot. Hot.).  They’re all shipped off, though, and now I have one whole year to forget about it until my next “Yay, bake time!” moment. 😉

Beautiful sunrise taken today after my a.m. workout!

Random pic that has nothing to do with the post of the beautiful sunrise taken today after my workout!

Anyway, now that I’m an old pro at being debt-free (ha!) and completed my primary 2013 goal, I thought I would share some of my 2014 goals:

1) Stay debt-free.  Experience has taught me that as challenging as it can be to take something off, it can be just as challenging, if not more, to keep it off and manage it correctly.  It’s like a diet – you might make some changes that could lead you to lose a ton of weight, but if you don’t learn the correct lifestyle skills to keep the weight off, then you might be more susceptible to slip ups or regressions.  This becomes more important as the wedding nears, since I’ve heard from friends that towards the end, some became carried away and spent quite a bit, so hopefully I won’t fall into that.

2) Have a ‘savings’ rate of 40-45% – I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s somewhat misleading since it’s going towards a down payment for our ‘forever’ house (assumes we keep our current place/rent it out) and hopefully future little ones funds, but this will also include investing and regular ol’ savings.  We’re also transitioning in combining our finances early next year, as we’ve agreed upon keeping our personal accounts and siphoning off a flat rate for our discretionary funds (I proposed % rate since he makes more, but he was okay with flat), and then funneling the rest to joint accounts.  Combining will make our projected savings rate even greater, but I still want to make sure I’m doing my part in not only keeping costs down, but exploring how to increase my current intake level, as well.

3) Read 24 books.  Did you know Mackenzie and Mochimac are reading machines?  They inspired me to read more often, especially since I’ve noticed I’ve been watching TV frequently which is no good.  I won’t count books for work, but rather ones for pure leisure or that revolves around personal finance/investing.  I’m probably setting the bar low with this goal compared to avid readers, but what can I say, I’m easily distracted (I’m looking at you, Buzzfeed!).

4) Continue with Spanish.  This is particularly important as we’re paying a visit to a couple of South American countries in 2014 (more on this soon!), and I’m the only one that can somewhat hablo.

5) Learn one new Filipino dish, and one new German dish, each month (alternate each month as to keep it less lofty).  Consider this my nesting period, but once we have kids, I want them to not only know about their cultural heritage, but also grow up on the same comfort foods that I grew up with (sinigang or arroz caldo on cold rainy days?  Yes please!).  It sounded like B also grew up with some German dishes, so I’d like to learn this since I predominantly cook ‘American’ dishes and a ton of stir fry at home.

I’m not adding any fitness goals since I’m pretty consistent with doing something active 4-6 times a week, plus I’m running a half with Tonya (woo hoo!) – so long as I stay healthy and able, it’s all good.

What are your 2014 goals?

K.i.s.s.’ed my debt good-bye

Hi everyone!  So after some waffling with whether to just transfer my savings to pay off the remaining debt and start anew in 2014, I decided to go for it and truffle shuffled all my debts away.

Dun-dun-dun – Another one bites the dust!

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And another one gone, and another one gone, another ones bite the dust

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Hey, I’m gonna get you, too

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my biggest balance, paid off yesterday so updated today with $0

Another one bites the dust! (clap clap)

It was a no brainer in terms of number crunching and risk assessment, but to be honest, I kept delaying because it was more emotional versus logical.  However, after quite a few motivating comments (thank you!!) and a lot of dealing with my ghosts of worries past since I’m the Chicken Little of worst case scenarios, I let go, thought of K.I.S.S., and Kept It Simple, Shorty (and I know that’s supposed to be Stupid, but why would I call myself stupid?  That’s not very kind!).

It also aligns quite well with my 2014 goals to save 40-45% of my total income next year, though I suppose it’s misleading considering 1) I’m just replenishing what I took out for my debts in the beginning and 2) some are going towards our ‘forever’ house and hopefully little rugrats funds, but I do plan on further cultivating my investing skills.  I got my big toe in this year and saw modest gains, so I’m looking forward to exploring more, as well as looking at side income.  And, not going to lie, I still need to control my Spendy of Spenderville ways, since I’ll own that I like to spend and it’s something I have to work on.

Anyway, that’s my news as of late.  I’m motivated to ramp up in 2014 and beyond, so I’m excited to see what these next few years will bring us.  I might not become Financially Independent Rock Stars like The 1500’s, Johnny Moneyseed, Done By Forty, The PoP’s, or Cash Rebel who will accomplish F.I. in their 30’s 0r 40’s, but I do believe that B and I could have quite a promising outlook in our 50’s, which is really like the new 40, anyway, dontchathink? 😉

I hope everyone’s been doing well and I honestly can’t wait to see what the year ahead brings for those paying down debts, reaching financial independence, and/or overall just taking care of their business like a beast!  There was so much progressive movement and positive energy in 2013, so it’ll be amazing to see what happens in 2014. 🙂

My Holiday Traditions

There’s a few bloggers writing about their favorite holiday traditions, so I thought I’d join the bandwagon and add some of my annual traditions!

1) I watch “A Christmas Story” and “Love Actually” without fail.  I used to watch the former a few times though now I’m good with once a year, and I grow fonder of the latter every time I watch it.  Because honestly, who can’t relate to Sarah in at least one point in their life around 2:33:

2) I celebrate Chrismukkah!  Since my (step)dad is Jewish, we’ve been celebrating Chrismukkah for the past few years.  Sometimes we celebrate together at my parents’ place, though other times we just greet each other with cards and phone calls depending on everyone’s travel schedules (especially my globe-trotting parents, I think they went to France and Israel last holidays – beasts!).  We light the menorah, trim a mini-tree, play Secret Santa/Yenta Claus, and of course, stuff our faces.

3) We go to church.  Confession time (ha, no pun intended but I caught that when proofreading): I actually didn’t start going back until B entered my life.  I turned my back on religion after my dad passed away, and I would have never guessed ten or even five years ago that I would soon be marrying in a church.  B’s helped me rebuild that religion relationship back, and it all started with Christmas Mass.  The ‘new’ Pope has also been more motivating to go back, I really like his actions so far (or at least what the media portrays).

Wrap them up in pretty cellophane and curling ribbon and they look more edible, I swear! ;)

Wrap them up in pretty cellophane and curling ribbon and they look more edible, I swear! 😉

4) I bake goods.  In lieu of gifts, I bake goods and ship them off to loved ones (though it might drop down to immediate family this year since we’re hosting a few friends at various intervals this season).  I always make mini loaves of chocolate zucchini bread (so moist), and think I’m going to give mini pecan pies (thank you, kind clients, who gave me a bagful from their backyard!), Oreos dipped in white chocolate and peppermint sprinkles (cheating with this one, but they’re so yummy), and my other client’s no sugar, fudgy, decadent dark chocolate chip cookies (let me know if anyone wants the recipe).  If anyone has a great recipe, I’d love to see it!

5) I check out the lights!  This has always been a favorite when I was little, and there’s so many cool places that have them like Balboa Park (a strip of museums), the boats at the bay, and of course, the beautiful houses by the beach.  I’m *loving* going with my friends and their little ones, since the kids get so excited and it’s like experiencing Christmas for the first time all over again with their expressions and ooh’s and aah’s.  It’s pretty golden.

I hope everyone is doing well with their holiday preparations and/or shopping!  I’d love to hear what your traditions are so I can copy be inspired from them. 🙂

November Updates – Debt Repayment, Fitness/Running, and Wedding

Hi everyone – holy canoli, only 30 more days until we ring in the new year!  I’m starting to formulate some 2014 goals, so I think for December my goals are to “finish strong” financially and mostly fine tune some of those 2014 details (and realistically throw out some lofty or out-of-my-control ones).  Here’s what went down in November with things that I usually update about:

1) Debt repayment – I cannot tell a lie, I didn’t complete Michelle’s Black Friday Challenge and pay off my credit card debt, though she managed to pay off *two* so be sure to go over and congratulate her!  I did manage to pay off $300 which brings my total to $3789.  I’ll for sure pay off credit card by 2013, and thinking about just taking the remaining balance from my EF/savings and have all debts ($3789) completely paid off.  I figured why not start 2014 anew, I’d rather pay back myself than those darn companies, and the remaining is a balance that I feel somewhat comfortable parting with.  I always worry about poo hitting the fan, but know that if it came to that, B’s got my back.  Should I just do it?

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Why hello there, seasonal BFF!

2) Fitness – I’ve been somewhat following Jamie Eason’s workouts, and starting to see results strength-wise with frequenting heavier dumbbells more, as well as making gains in squats (though this is attributed to B, since I join him during “Leg Day” and he definitely pushes me past my comfort zone despite him being the most awful testosterone-driven meanie who tells me to suck it up when I whine about how heavy something is).  Physically, I’ve only lost a couple of pounds, but my clothes fit better at least.

3) Half-marathon training – I’m getting in 3-4 runs a week and my longest has been a 7 miler.  It’s been nice, but so chilly con carne outside!

4) Nutrition – this area could for sure use more work, especially with Trader Joe’s bringing back my seasonal BFF, dark chocolate covered shortbread cookies.  Nom to the nom!  Besides, isn’t it good for carb-loading for my runs?

And now, onto my favorite updates – the wedding!

1) DJ picked!  She’s given awesome ideas, such as introducing us to the Vitamin String Quartet of which I am *loving* their rendition of Viva La Vida.  We’re toying with the idea of playing them throughout the dinner and making it a game where our guests will guess which songs they are (like Bohemian Rhapsody, Thrift Shop, Don’t Stop Believin’).  It’s kinda cheesy, but also kinda us. 🙂

2) Florist picked!  Flowers aren’t really high on my priority list so I was having a mild heart attack at the cost of really simple flowers, but we found a really cool guy at practically half the price.  Not only that, but he took the time to leaf through pages and examples with me, explaining different flowers, and has beautiful ideas for my bouquet (a round and neat mix of anemones and lisianthus in deep purple, with specks of mini red roses).

3) Honeymoon taking shape.  I told B I really want to go to one area of South America, he agreed it would be awesome and wants to add on another area, and he’s starting to work on this aspect thanks to some oh-so-very-subtle hints I’ve given like “um, so you got this, right?” 😉  But in all seriousness, we both started working on this during the long weekend (him prior), so it’s been exciting.

IMG_20130927_164556_3304) Wedding dress fitting – I went for my first fitting and I absolutely can’t wait to wear it, and campaigning for Wedding Dress Fridays in lieu of Casual Fridays at work, so hopefully it’ll pan out. 😉 I heard that tailoring costs a pretty penny and this is accurate, but I was at least prepared for it.  I’m wondering how the the re-sell prospect will work out with how it’s being tailored since I’m tailoring the hem, as well as the hips/tush part so it’s less A-line and more form-fitting.  I think I’d have to sell locally so people can try it on to see if it works out for them.  I’ve also decided on these shoes, though will probably drop down to flats once we start dancing.

5) Hairstyle picked – I’m going for this hairstyle and I’m going with my usual hairstylist whom I love and trust.  I need to figure out make-up still.

I hope everyone has a wonderful week – so crazy that there’s only a few weeks left in 2013!  Make it some great ones. 🙂