A lot has been on my mind lately, too much that are not yet refined and thought through to really put here on the blog. Some are involving the tragedy in CT, some are involving the end of the year reflection, some are involving the future… 

One of the things I have been thinking through is how to change this blog. I want to capture various parts of my life here, not just money related items. I want to try to get into a regular schedule so that I am regularly posting, but I am not sure what topics to cover and what the schedule should be. 

I feel like 2012 was very eventful, which has contributed to me feeling like it is ending too quickly. I moved twice — once to a rental apartment and once to my own condo. I got a new job and all the day to day transition that comes with such a big change. I went through a lot of financial changes, largely due to roll over IRA, mortgage, new emergency fund requirement, and new goals reprioritized. 

In the next few days I will sit down and share my 2013 goals. Hopefully by then, my mind will be less of a jumble. 

How are you doing with the year end? If you are posting your 2013 goals, please leave a comment with the link to the post so I can check it out. 



Strategic Spending Thanks to Email Spam

I have been utilizing strategic spending lately to purchase a lot of items that were on my wish list this year, all thanks to spammy emails. I thought I’d share how those were accomplished.

Cuisinart Bread Maker, purchased for $50

Cuisinart Bread Maker, purchased for $50

Ever since I bought a bread machine at a charity shop, I’ve wanted to bake my own bread. Even though the machine I purchased was new, it died after three uses. Since then, I had been eyeing a bread maker from Cuisinart. I never pulled the trigger because they are $100+. Luckily I received an email from a deal a day site that had it at $50. A lot of those are refurbished items but this was brand new. Although it is spendy, I think it is worth it for all the uses we will get out of it.

I never can shop at Gilt because it is difficult for me to justify spending so much on clothes, etc. I had made a purchase once, buying a half of gift cards to It was timely since I was moving and organizing supplies are always needed. I used that gift card to buy items that I needed that were on clearance, getting the most bang for the buck. Last week I received an email from the site. Normally I am quick to delete these emails but I noticed it said something about 50% off. The email had a promo code that could be applied to any items. I found a dress and a sweater I normally could not justify purchasing but at now discounted prices of $25 and $15, they were more than affordable. I needed a holiday dress and more sweaters for work so it was very timely.

Last week I also received an email coupon from Sephora for $15 off $50. I have wanted to try the Living Proof Restore Mask especially as I continue to grow my hair which means increased likelihoods of damage, I had a difficult time coughing up $48.  It probably help that this email coupon arrived just a day after I finally got a haircut because the damage was so out of control and looking unprofessional.  Armed with a $31.xx in store credit, I purchased the mask and a  filler for $7.xx.

Lastly, I also received an email from StyleMint about a 50% off sale on cashmere sweaters. I have recently realized that some of my thicker winter sweaters are somewhat unprofessional due to the big visible logo. I had also just read Mochimac’s post on purchasing cashmere sweaters and I was stuck on her description of 40 puppies snuggled up against your skin.  So I logged on to check out the v neck cashmere sweater and put it in the shopping cart without necessarily plans of purchasing it (I don’t know why, but I put a lot of things in the shopping cart just to see how much it would be at the end with no intentions of making the purchase). I found that somehow I had 2 credits and 1 credit was automatically applied, which took $29.99 off the $89.99 at 50% off, at a total of $14.99! When can you get a 100% cashmere sweater brand new for such a low price?

In all, I have spent $111.99 on items valued at $279.99, at 60% savings! Although I hate receiving spammy emails and usually hit “Delete” without a second thought, taking a closer look at these have resulted in a large saving. If you are generally on the market for specific items, I recommend you look at the emails from retailers more closely — you never know what you will find useful. 🙂



The house remodel is still under way. The $200 cabinets are painted and just curing. Sometime mid next week I will put a varnish on it, then, a week later it is off to decorating it!

Luckily this has kept me busy. Other than Christmas spending and some house stuff because it was on a very steep sale (food processor for less than $20 when originally $100. Bread maker for $50, original price $200) and they had been on my wish list a long time, there have been no spending. Too bad I ended up doing all the Christmas shopping for my family because my sister is crazy busy with school and my mom just didn’t want to shop this year. It is a bit annoying (my mom more than my sister) but I am done and will sign everyone’s names to them.

Other than that, I feel like I am in a sell mode. Maybe it is because I am turning more minimalist, maybe I just realized I have excess of stuff, but things have been leaving the house. I sold my old phone on craigslist and will sell my iPhone too. I have sold a book case on craigslist and will be donating a few other items today to the goodwill. I had submitted my iPad 2 to Amazon trade in but it is being shipped back because I forgot to include a charger. So I will include it and send it back out.

I have also been thinking about 2013 and preparing to follow a new budget and achieve new savings goals. It is the year I will be focusing on reducing my student loans. So far the plan is to live on one check while saving the other. Since I contribute 15% to my 401k, get paid every two weeks, and did not include annual bonuses, this will be a significant savings rate. I also hope to max out my 2012 Roth (I have yet to contribute this year) since this may be my last few years I can qualify for them. My stretch goal will be to pay of the student loan in 2013.

If I can save that much in 2013, I will focus on saving just as much in 2014 to build the investment account.

And all this seems possible partly because of the new medication working to reduce depression. I had started to put done budgets together before but it had given me a kick in the pants to focus and get it set. I am in the process of “cleaning up my bank accounts” if you will so that I can be ready to implement starting January 1. More details to come.

That’s the quick update. I hope everyone has a lovely weekend!

Giving My 100%

I don’t clearly recall when it started, but one day in my adolescence things just started to feel more and more difficult. It wasn’t necessarily that the task at hand was any tougher than before but I felt like something in me had changed. All of a sudden, all tasks would take more energy than it ever should. I could spend a week in bed without ever leaving the house or seeing another soul and that seemed like a better option for me than going out and interacting with my friends and family. The depression only worsened over the years. I would still force myself to leave for work every day but I would slowly let everything I can possible let go go. Doing my hair, wearing make up, keeping my projects organized…  I would do the bare minimum because that is honestly all the energy I had. 

It has been especially difficult over the last few years because my job requires me to constantly interact with folks. I am not just attending meetings but I am leading the meetings. I have been so tired after my 9 to 5 (which is honestly more like 7 to 6), all I really do at home is eat and then go to bed. Whenever I see people my age being able to balance their careers, social life, hobbies, and personal lives, I become envious. Only if I had as much energy! I would imagine what my career would look like, how my finances would be all in order, my house would be already decorated… 

After spinning my wheels for so long, having tried and given up on so many antidepressants, I am on a new medication. Although it is giving me a little too much energy that keeps me up at night, I feel different. I am able to focus, not wince when people come up to my office unannounced, and I am able to feel like I am on top of my tasks. I am hopeful that maybe this medication will allow me to give my 100% to living life, that I will be finally able to live the life I want. 

What does this have to do with personal finance? I guess just that I can see my goals clearer now and I am hoping this new found clarity will help me stay motivated and achieve my goals. 

I am so excited for 2013! 


Buying appliances on craigslist

Before I begin, have you noticed that I post much more frequently now? That is because I received a new phone through work and it gets reception even underground on the el, which accounts for the majority of my commute! Thanks technology!

As I have stated yesterday, I plan on us using the coin laundry for the next few months., checking on Costco website I can buy a new set with delivery and haul away for under$1000. I did troll craigslist and found a few still with warranty but the items that cost less than Costco all had expired warranty. While most item I am okay with no warranty, I am not sure if I feel okay with used appliances.

Have you ever purchased a used appliance with no warranty? If so, what was your experience? would you recommend it?

And hemorrhaging money begins

I received a bad news from my home warranty company on the washer. Although the repair company had noted “gasket broken” on the receipt, it is actually a plastic tub that is not covered by the warranty that is the issue.

This means I have spent $100 and juggled my work schedule for nothing. The plastic tub is apparently very expensive and, with the washer and dryer being older than I am, I think I should just bite the bullet and buy a new set.  Yes, I said “a new set”. This is because my current washer and dryer are those single unit things where the dryer is up at the top. I have taken a quick gander online and to replace with a similar unit it will be around $1299 + tax + installation. Buying two separate front-load units will be around $1600.

I will be behaved, though. Instead of just sinking the money now, we will use the washer and dryer on the floor that takes coins (exact amount, I am not sure). Who knows, maybe we will even decide that we don’t need a washer and dryer in the unit.  But most likely, this will just buy me more time and keep my eye out for a really good sale.

And this is how the money pit hemorrhaging begins…

Money pit?

When we purchased the house, due to the age of appliances, we made sure to include home warranty into our demand to the seller. And boy are we glad. Since August we have called to have our dishwasher, shower, and furnace fixed.

Although the warranty covers bulk of the fees, I have to pay $ 100 per visit.  Last Sunday our washer was leaking into the floor beneath or unit. Luckily there is no real damage other than wet walls. Aside from the $100 out of pocket there is the hassle of coordinating time with the repair co, etc. and, just my luck, the shower is acting up again. I am hoping that it will be fixed for free since this might be due to the last fix.

All of this long venting is to say, I am already tired of things breaking on us. I have been paying $100 each month on these repairs and I am tired of it. I know appliances aren’t designed to last forever but seriously how are things causing issues once a month? And how did the previous owner live with these issues with no warranty?

Did I buy a money pit without realizing it?

Waiting vs instant gratification

One thing I hate about moving is that furnitures never quite work out the same in the new space. With each move I am always forced to say goodbye to some pieces that no longer work and purchase new ones to fill the void. The last move to my condo was no different. I went from a 700sq ft space with balcony to 1150sq ft with no outdoor space. The island in the kitchen I had used as a dining area no longer exists and I have been forced to use the uncomfortable patio furniture as my dining set and toss the bar stools. Along with the true “remodeling” tasks we are also slowly giving the space a peraonality through furniture.

I am a typical Type A personality, which meant I had to hold myself back from going out and spending thousands of dollars to furnish and decorate. I strictly said that I do not want to purchase big items until 2013.

A month shy of that deadline, I purchased two pieces yesterday. I actually had been looking for a month now but finally found the item I want for the right price so i pulled the trigger. I was anle to purchase a 6 drawer dresser and a 3 drawer with a hutch for $200 total. Sure, it needs to be refinished but compared to $600 for a finished 6 drawer dresser only, it is worth the extra work. This purchase was the typical case when waiting was worth the $ saved.

As I continue to work on furnishing my place, I am constantly reminding myself that it is just a waiting game. Being in a large city like chicago, eventually what you are looking for will show up on craigslist for the right price. I can’t redo my house in an instant so take my time and accumulate pieces one by one.

Waiting game < $$$ paid for instant gratification.

Perspective: Does Money Really Matter?

I received a shocking news today. A good friend of mine, who is all of 36 years old, has passed away. He passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. He was extremely healthy, eating well and working out constantly. He wasn’t supposed to die this soon.

Events like this make me ponder, why am I working so hard to save money? I make a great salary, have no debt other than student loans and mortgage, and I have no dependents. There is enough life insurance on me that if something were to happen, my husband will be fine. He will have to continue working at his job but he doesn’t have to worry about medical bills I might have incurred or covering the mortgage on his own. So why am I going “gazelle intense” when I probably don’t need to?

We talk theoretically about how we are preparing for the worst. We are saving up for the rainy day. But what if that rainy day is a sudden death? I also had read another blog where the husband ended up passing away before he was 30 due to an aggressive cancer that killed him in less than a year. He said he didn’t save for retirement, etc. because he lived in the now.

If I were on my death bed now, I think I would be regretful of the trips not taken, the fights we had over things like cleaning the house where we could have just hired someone instead, working so hard instead of doing things that I love, skipping making memories to save a few hundred dollars more in my bank account.

As much as I wish I could tell you that from this moment forth, I will stop trying to save money and just live. I wish I could tell you that this means I will fight with S less and go on more vacations together. But, to be honest, I am not sure what all this means. I am angry that my friend is taken away from the world too early and I am extremely sad. I am full of regret as he was on top of the list of people to call on Thanksgiving. Only had I called him over the weekend instead, I would have gotten a chance to speak with him. I am just days too late. This post is all just emotions talking. I may be silent over the next few days.. please take care of yourself and tell those around you that you love them.

Getting My Investing Education On

In my previous post, I mentioned that S and my timeline for us having kids and wanting to move to Milwaukee is in about three years. I am hoping that between now and then, we can pay off all debt except for mortgage and also for me to come up with an alternate source of income so that I can be a stay at home parent. I also mentioned that I have been interested in stock investing.

I am an average investor when it comes to stocks. My ROTH IRA has some dividend and blue chip stocks, with some mutual funds in international growth funds. I like the level of control you get by owning stocks rather than mutual funds through stop-loss, but that’s as far as I know. I have heard a lot about Options, but I do not understand how it works nor have I tried Options. Based on my very preliminary review, it seems like Options is the most common way a stock trader is able to make money and minimize risks.

With that, I have decided that now is the time to start getting educated on Options. I have signed up for an online course through a local community college for $99 that will be 2x a week for the next 6 weeks. I am hoping to learn the basics of it through this course, then continue on to more complex programs.

Unfortunate thing about investing is that this isn’t something that we were taught in school (at least, I wasn’t) and there’s a lot of companies that seem to exist to just take advantage of folks who want to learn but don’t know where to start. I hope to outline my plan of attack here as well as what I discover of those investing programs that are out there.

If you have any suggestions on options programs, books, etc. please share. I can’t wait to hear from you!