How To – 2016 Goals Part 2 (Intellectual)

I’m really looking forward to this goal, as I have had so many books on my “to read” list for so long. I used to be an avid reader, getting through a book or so each week. Slowly, that cadence got away from me, and I gradually drifted towards more Netflix ‘N Chill.

Getting back to reading takes a little practice, especially when you feel like you are so constricted on time. The truth: I was watching WAY too much TV, and it made me feel like I didn’t have enough time for reading.

I’ve slowed down on my shows, and record them so they are available when I do want to watch, but after about a month of practicing this habit, I’d much rather pick up a good read.

My reading goals do have book that are fiction, but I really want to focus on expanding my knowledge and learning by focusing on nonfiction books.

Just like my last post, let’s break my goal down to successfully achieve it:

  1. Specific: I want to read 1 nonfiction book every 3 weeks
  2. Measurable: One book every 3 weeks
  3. Ownership: I want to expand my life and career knowledge with books that truly inspire and help lead me on my life path, especially with my career and financial paths.
  4. Time Limit: Every 3 weeks, check up!
  5. Written Down: Done!

Since it is now well into (and almost past) January, I’ll do my first check-in.

In January, I read “The Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey.

I also finally finished “All The Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr.

I would highly recommend both. I could not put them down!

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My next completion date is February 12th, and I’m already well into “The FairTax Book” by Neal Boortz and John Linder. It’s election season, and I’d like to know more about various policies that everyone always seems to be buzzing about. Additional titles I’m looking forward to diving into include:

I think I may already be on the fast track to get several of these finished before my 3-week timelines.

One of the secrets to getting through these quickly is by multi-tasking. I’ve been reading these while on the treadmill walking, which was part of my fitness goals, so not only am I getting my workout in for my body, but my mind also gets some time to take in all of this info!

What books have you read and recommend recently? Any ones that you are looking forward to starting?

Christine

 

Big News – Poshmark Wholesale Portal

Poshmark has just announced a big change and I think I’m looking to really ramp up my involvement on this app!

If you haven’t yet heard of Poshmark, it is an app that is a marketplace for selling used women’s clothing. People have been using this platform as a way to get rid of clothing they no longer use for a bit of cash, sell those new with tag items that missed the return date, and even start an online boutique! Well, that third piece, an online boutique, has just gotten easier.

Poshmark announced last month that they are going to offer a portal, all within the app, that allows you to buy wholesale goods, get them shipped to you, and post to your closet for whatever price you deem fitting. This is very exciting news, especially for someone like me who has thought about opening an online store, but hasn’t had time to fully commit to it!

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The wholesale portal will offer a limited number of retailers at first, but I’m sure they will grow quickly! I have to say, I’m not overly excited about the first 4 retailers they presented to top sellers who already have their wholesale / retail certification. The broad categories these retailers offered were graphic tees, purses/accessories, and socks… I’m looking for a little more, but hopeful this portal will amp up quickly!

I’m most excited that Poshmark has taken down some of the barriers to entry that are involved with buying wholesale. I don’t have to go to tradeshows, I don’t have to pay a business license, and Poshmark handles all of the shipping, financial aspect, etc… I just need some overhead cash to purchase, a place to photograph my items, and storage. It is a great way to try it out!

Have you heard of the new wholesale portal? Have you shopped on Poshmark before, or sold? I am also starting to offer spaces in my closet for your clothes if you are wanting to sell, but don’t really want to put the time/effort into it!

Christine

Debt Accountability Check 3 – Capsule Peek

Another debt accountability check, but currently my finances are so up in the air that I can’t report on where I actually stand! So for today’s post, I thought I’d dive into why I am unable to report, and how I am working on my capsule collection I’ll be sharing (hopefully) next week!

Building a capsule when you love shopping online and have little time for actually going to different malls and stores has it’s benefits and downfalls. When I started building my capsule for this spring, I realized I was missing a lot of items. I wrote out a skeleton of items I wanted to include, very general descriptions, such as “black top” and started shopping away!

Well, when I was shopping away I would order 10 different varieties of one item, such as 10 different black tops to choose from. This has proved interesting, as I have really been working out those credit cards, only to take the time to return items later on in stores. I’m building up rewards on my cards and store accounts, and getting a wider variety of items to decide on than if I were just in store. I feel that it has cut out a lot of time that shopping can take up.

However, with all of those purchases, it takes time to return everything and get it posted onto my account, and that my friends is why my cards are out of whack. I have been tracking my final
decisions, and paying them off in full as I make decisions, but there are a lot of boxes still sitting in my apartment to be returned. I’m ready to get them all out of there, and see what I’ve actually spent on this spring collection. I’ve focused on quality, great deals on those quality items, and making sure I absolutely love the pieces I mark as final.

Since I’m not going into finances, I thought I would share a few items I’ve added to my closet for spring!

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Striped Shirt / Wedges / Booties / Floral Kimono

I’ll be sure that my accounts are leveled out next month to provide a better update, and hopefully I’ll positively be out of debt!!

Do you online shop? What are your favorite stores, especially those with great shipping and return policies?

Christine

Poshing

I walked into Plato’s closet, lugging 3 overflowing baskets of clothes that no longer fit me, my style or my closet. After patiently waiting 30 minutes or so for the associates to pick through all of those items, I came out empty-handed in the way I didn’t expect. It was a bust – they hadn’t purchased a single item. Instead of coming out with cash, I came back out with my baskets, cramming them into my trunk in defeat.

I was fed up. How frustrating was it that they wouldn’t purchase these clothes that were so well cared for and had reputable clothing brand names slapped all over? I was determined to never walk into another consignment store again. Thank goodness for that.

A close friend of mine had mentioned she was selling some of her items on an app called Poshmark. I had tried it and didn’t sell anything right away, but came back to it a few months later to see if I could use some of my social media strategy to sell my closet.

I had SO MANY clothes – ones I had been holding on to, ones that had been sitting in my trunk, and others that recently left my closet when I decided to adopt minimalism. There was bound to be something someone would buy, right?

At first, I posted some lower quality photos, didn’t network as much as I should have, and by some miracle I still sold a few items! When you start looking at other closets, you realize the time some people put into them, and those are the closets that a listing goes up and is sold within the day. Those are the shops you want to be!

I’ve been fairly successful with Poshmark – I’ve made a few hundred dollars already on relatively not many pieces of clothing. Much more than I’ve ever made at Plato’s or eBay! I also love the app – it is very well designed for a quick reference, and the desktop/iPad version makes it easy to share my items.

If you have a bunch of clothes sitting around, I would suggest trying out Poshmark! Friends, I’m also willing to sell some items for you as I’ve built up my network – you know how to get in touch with me!

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I’ll be posting a bit of my strategy, do’s and don’t’s, and more features of the app. Do you have any questions or have you used the app before?

Happy Poshing!

Christine

Debt Accountability Check 2

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Another month of no additions to my debt!! I am so so happy about this, and hope to continue this progress. Let’s check it out:

I started tracking end of August of last year, and by the end of 2014, I was down, but had bigger goals. Here are my past numbers:

August 31, 2014 (start): 100%

September 30, 2014: 87.56% (down 12.44%)

October 31, 2014: 91.76% (up 4.6%)

November 30, 2014: 67.02% (down 24.74%)

December 31, 2014: 79.35% (up 12.33%)

January 31, 2015: 58.29% (down 21.06%)

My goal is to reduce my debt by 12% each month. How did this pan out for February?

February 28, 2015: 58.29% (down 21.44%)

Again, down! I have a few more tricks I implemented this month to get down even more than my big January drop:

  • Save/Pay a dollar per day. I had 50 cents go to my credit card and 50 cents go to my savings account each day. This helped when I was in a cash bind, since I had a little more in my joint checking/savings, and also dropped my card balance by a few bucks.
  • I didn’t factor into my budget anticipated (but not guaranteed) payments. These are the extras, such as my part-time job, mystery shopping, ebates, etc… Take it out of your budget and just drop it right on the card when it hits your account!

What goals have you reached this month? Any small ways you would like to share on how you are chopping down that debt?

Christine

Different Ways I’ve Made Money

Guys, this is SO AWESOME! I officially see the light at the end of the tunnel for my debt being eliminated, and I will be getting there BEFORE any interest charges kick in. I just have to scream it from the mountain tops because damn, it is a relief!

A lot of this comes with me trying to figure ways to make more money and taking the opportunities that present themselves, no matter how little or how out of scope they may be.

Overtime

One of the largest streams of income that I have comes from my full time job. My position moved from exempt to non-exempt last year, and having the option to work overtime when I can and when there is work to do is a really nice benefit. This is the most basic odd job I have.

Poshmark

My second favorite “job” is running my Poshmark closet. I feel that I have been doing well on here when it comes to sharing, posting, accurately describing the pieces, and providing great customer service.  Poshmark is a great tool if you are like me and have so many pieces of clothing that you are trying to get rid of that are still in great condition. With my commitment to a minimalist wardrobe, there were a lot of pieces that I wanted to eliminate from my closet, but I knew I could make money off them. I’ll share more about Poshmark in the future! You can check out my closet by following any of the hyperlinks (or using the widget to the right) and discover Poshmark for yourself too!

Part-time Retail

I have been working at the LOFT, a women’s clothing store, for almost a year! At first, I was doing 2-3 shifts per week, which amounted to about $100 of extra income. However, I decided 3 days a week in addition to my full time job, friends, new puppy and everything else was too much. Initially, I was going to quit, but being a beneficial and reliable employee, they said I could work once a month if needed. I’ve since bumped it up to about every 2 weeks, but an extra $30 here and there is a nice boost sometimes when every little bit counts! If you decide to work at a store that you also shop often at, be careful! I learned this the hard way.

Mystery Shopping

I’ll have to post more about this, but I’ve just started mystery shopping and so far have had some of my groceries paid for! Mystery shopping for me is more about getting refunded for an enjoyable experience rather than making cash, but it helps when you want to try a new restaurant and instead of paying for it, you get the shopper companies to!

Babysitting

Kids are interesting – I am definitely a dog person and have not had enough experience with children to understand them or feel absolutely comfortable around them. However, a friend asked if I could step in as a babysitter the other day and I took her offer! I forgot how much cold hard cash babysitters make…

I also might have accidentally said “alien” to describe how big and adorable the baby’s eyes are and said “good boy” a lot like I was talking to my dog. My maternal instincts have not fully flourished!

Those are my current side hustles! What do you all do to boost your income a bit?

Christine

Extra Money: Debt Repayment or Savings?

It is bound to happen. You will have a little extra cash leftover when you budget, maybe a few pennies, maybe a few dollars, and you question what to do with it.

First off, don’t just spend it! Unless you have a plan for that money (such as a necessity), leave it. You’ve worked hard or sacrificed a little something for those extra few dollars, and they will add up over time.

You then want to ask one very helpful question:

Are you ok with the pace you are paying off your debt?

For me, I am trying not to throw extra chunks of money at my debt repayment, as I am happy with the pace I have set, and see the end of it! A great way to avoid getting into debt any further and pushing yourself farther from your debt-free goals is to have savings.

Let’s say that some sort of emergency or unexpected bill comes up. Where would you think of putting this cost first? Do you have enough extra in your current checking account? Probably not. Then I bet the next thought you have is placing it on your credit card. Again, adding to your debt. To avoid this, I highly suggest placing any un-budgeted money into a savings account that you can access quickly.

For example, I have a $130 bill from a doctor sitting in my “to pay” file right now. This cost was unexpected, but, I am not putting it on my credit card. Instead, I am turning to my savings account that has grown little by little over time.

What is a good number to start with in your emergency fund? Many people recommend having anywhere from $500 to $1000 to start. Honestly, I don’t have that much saved up, but I am working towards it. Luckily, I do have enough to cover that doctor’s bill and then some. As you reach that $1000 mark, as I am going to do, it is ok to start putting that extra towards your debt to help you pay it off faster. $1000 may take a bit to get to, but damn you’ll feel less anxious knowing you have all of that money in case of emergency!

Have you run into situations where you know you don’t have enough cash to cover the expense? How do you add to your savings?

Christine

Debt Accountability Check 1

February has brought with it some exciting progress. I’ve started saving a little for upcoming costs, I’ve reduced my debt, and the biggest things – I haven’t added to it!

I started tracking end of August of last year, and by the end of 2014, I was down, but had bigger goals. Here are my past numbers:

August 31, 2014 (start): 100%

September 30, 2014: 87.56% (down 12.44%)

October 31, 2014: 91.76% (up 4.6%)

November 30, 2014: 67.02% (down 24.74%)

December 31, 2014: 79.35% (up 12.33%)

So, I stated that my goal was to reduce my debt by 12%. Did I reach it??

January 31, 2015: 58.29% (down 21.06%)

YES!! I’m very happy that I beat my goal, and one thing you don’t see in this number that I have my balance all on one card now, my Discover card, that carries 0% interest until April.

Other goals that I reached this month financially:

  • I saved fully for the hotel room we are renting for a wedding we are attending in April.
  • I scheduled transfers to my Barclay’s Savings account, which now provides a 1.00% APR, the highest you will find.
  • I did not purchase any unnecessary clothing, or any at all.
  • I paid for the ski trip we went on late January in all cash/debit.

What goals have you reached this month?

Christine

The Week Eats: #1

I am a notorious food prepper. I love to pin all of these great, one to two servings meals to pinterest, but in the end I cook the big healthy casserole or chili pot.

I would love to have the time to cook during the week, but I just don’t. I think many of you are like me as well – strapped for time, wanting to save money, but also eat healthy. Here is what was on my list for this week:

Breakfast:

3 egg whites scrambled with sausage and a cup of spinach

Smoothie with 70g pineapple, 70g mixed berries, and half of a banana

Lunch:

Detox Quinoa Salad

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Dinner:

Budget Friendly Sweet Potato Lasagna

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For the dinner recipe, I did add a lot more cheese, and doubled the egg white/cottage cheese mix. I split this up into 6 servings, and froze the majority of them to make it last longer and easier to grab an individual serving.

Any recipes you all think I should try out? I’ll continue to post to give you all some ideas!

Christine

Lite Holidays

The holidays, without doubt, always turn into an extremely stressful situation for me. I have all of these ideas for fantastic gifts I want to get others, or I scramble at the end to find something that is not a gift card and will possibly impress.

Usually, both situations result in large amounts of money spent. Sometimes, the thought is there, but other times it is just filling up the empty space under the tree. The gifts really have little meaning, and end up either being returned or unused, taking up space.

This year, I offered up to my family an alternative, way before the holiday season started. I asked if we could go very lite for the holidays – few gifts, if any. Dave and I decided we were not even going to exchange items. Louie was our big present this year, and that was fine with me as we both have goals to get out of debt asap.

The following gifts I purchased for my family were inexpensive, thoughtful, and I believe very useful to everyone’s individual goals.

Mom, her recent activities involve career development and continuing to run and evolve her own business

Lara Casey’s Powersheets – these are goal-oriented worksheets that help you define your business and at minimum the next 6 weeks. I love that Lara Casey actually provides you the physical print of them, unlike many who send you a PDF to download. It made them just that much prettier.Going off her website colors, I also purchased the Bigso Bright Stockholm Binder in orange to place the sheets in.

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Daniel, my brother, just returned from Argentina after studying abroad for 5 months. He loves travel!

I decided to scour etsy for a great map that would help him keep track of where he has been and possibly also determine where he wants to go next. He has lived in both Ecuador and Argentina so far. I really hope to travel with him in the next few years as he is also fluent in Spanish.

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Dad, he loves music, and since my brother and I couldn’t afford tickets to a concert at the time, we added to his collection.

Elton John hits and Eric Clapton’s Crossroads collection. My dad has has the Crossroads collection at least 3 times and keeps losing it! My brother and I thought it was time to get it for him again as he loves Clapton. My brother suggestion Elton John as well, which was pretty neat as it is an artist I didn’t know my dad enjoyed. I would love to be able to take my dad to a classics show the end of this year.

Eric Clapton - Crossroads Disc3 - FHow did you manage the holidays? Did you ask loved ones to join in on a lighter gift giving season too?

Christine