Tuesday, August 26, 2014

That Time Of Year Again

Guess what time of year it is????? Pumpkin Spice Latte time.

Starbucks had a clue system that you could 'unlock' a secret code on Twitter (@therealpsl) to get the drink early. The twitter led you to a Tumblr account where you put in a code.

Luckily, the barista at my Starbucks just let me have it early since someone earlier in the day has already unlocked it.  Score!

I realize that a #psl is not in my budget, but how can I miss out on enjoying my favorite drink (that I can only get 4 months of the year), on the day it comes out? I am really trying to get stay away and only get it as a special treat. You can't buy the mix like you can the other flavors like cinammom dolce or vanilla.

Friday, August 22, 2014

New Savings Account

I bit the bullet and opened a new online savings account.  I am really bad about having cash in my local savings account through my bank and transferring because I "need" something that is out of my budget.  I have heard of a few different online banks that you can get a higher savings rate than at a local bank, but never looked into them further.

Online banks can offer a higher saving rate because they do not have branches to pay overhead for.  Sure, they have hosting fees and other internet related expenses, but I'm sure (in relation to the # of customers) it doesn't compare to the cost of rent, utilities, etc that a traditional bank has.

I got a Paypal payment for $90 from various mystery shops I did last month and decided that instead of adding it to my regular bank account, I would open an online account.  Fingers crossed this will keep my money in a bank instead of retail stores. :)

I looked online and found two options that would be good for my needs.  Ally Bank and Capital One 360.  Ally Bank has a bit higher interest rate than Capital One 360, but when I tried to open an account, it was a pain in the rear! I  had to fill out an online form, call a number, was put on hold a few times (plus I was online the line for over 16 minutes and they couldn't figure out what was happening), and then I just decided to cancel that account and go with Capital One.  They wanted me to submit my social security card via email (totally unsecure, never do that!) and I was not about to do that!

Capital One was super easy to set up and I was able to complete the process quickly with no annoying phone calls or uploads.  It does take a few days for the opening deposit to be put in to my account, but it will be there soon.  Plus, it has a .75% savings rate vs my local bank is .10%, that is a .65% difference!

Oh, and if you sign up with them, we both get $20 (if your account is opened with $250 or more)!!!!  Go here and sign up!  Save that $$ and start budgeting! :)

For me, out of sight is out of mind.  I don't want to look at the balance or anything unless I am verifying that a deposit is made.  Is it just me, or do other people do that too?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Kali's First Birthday

My niece, Kali, turned one a few weeks ago.  My sister lives in Wyoming, but came down for the birthday party that my parents threw for Kali.  Here are some cute pics of the birthday girl! :)

The party was princess themed (of course), and they went all out in the decorations.

Cole decided that he wanted to forego using a fork and just bite into the cake.  Weird (but super cute) kid!

Kali is very prim and proper.  She keeps her right hand in a fist and uses her left hand to do everything.  Maybe she will be left handed!!

Presents!  She was very excited to get presents.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Weekend Recap and Saturday's Texans Game

Last week, I won free tickets to the Houston Texans game against the Atlanta Falcons.  I was originally going to take my sister and nephews, but they decided they didn't want to go since it was pre-season.  Kids don’t usually care, but since their dad said that, they decided they didn't want to go.  Silly!

So, a girl’s night it was!  I told my sister that I would bring a friend and she could bring a friend and we both could enjoy the night.  I had posted on FB that I won the tickets and my friend Natalie said she wanted to go, so I texted her and asked if she was available. She was really excited and it was the first time she had been to a Texans game or even inside NRG (formerly Reliant) Stadium.  Laura brought her friend Desiree that she knew from when they were on the PTA together at my nephew’s elementary school.

My Saturday was packed!  I woke up at 5:11 am to my alarm and got dressed to travel to Nacogdoches for the morning.  Driving Jacks officer retreat was that weekend and they asked if any alumni were free that weekend if they could come and speak.  There were about five of us that drove up for the day/weekend and we spoke about our time with Driving Jacks.  I meant to leave at 11 am, but I was talking with some of the officers and I couldn't leave on time. 

I left around 11:50 (so late!!!) and headed to Tarkington for a funeral.  My ex-stepmom, Tammy, had been battling cancer for a few months and succumbed last Tuesday.  Her funeral was held at her former church in Tarkington.  The funeral started at 1 pm, but I didn't get there until around 2 pm since I was running late.  I got there right as everyone was viewing the casket and saying their condolences to her family.  I was able to attend the graveside service and the lunch afterwards.  My dad had three kids with her; Bridgette, Joshua, and Shaun.  Shaun was here on emergency leave from the Navy and was dressed in his uniform. 

After the funeral I headed to my sister’s house to carpool to the game.  I thought I would have plenty of time to get there and hang out with the boys, but I got there and had just enough time to change before we had to leave.  Luckily, both Natalie and Desiree both live in the same neighborhood (my Mom’s neighborhood) so we were able to get on the road quickly.  We had a free parking pass to the game along with 4 awesome seats!! 

The seats were in the Verizon suite of NRG Stadium.  You had to have a special ticket to get in to that section and they had a special alcohol and food section with super short lines.  You still had to pay for all of it, but it was still nicer than the other sections of the stadium.

The Texans won by a lot of points (32-7) and we stayed until the very end.  A lot of people were leaving since it was clear that the Texans would win the game, but we stayed.  On the way out to the parking lot, there were two guys who were fighting, one with a knife!  The traffic cops stopped everyone so that cars could pass through, but none of us wanted to get stabbed with a knife from drunk people!  We were all pushing and trying to get away from the knife guy and the lady was yelling at us.  How in the heck did they get in the stadium with a knife?  Someone with a wand did not do their job!  Finally when she heard that there was a fight with a knife she called security and let us all through.  We made it back to our car and swiftly locked the doors. LOL. 

Anyway, it was a fun game and the Texans won!!  Whooo hoo!!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Side Hustle: Surveys

In the past few weeks, I have been reading personal finance blogs and you might have noticed some increase on financial type posts.  They have inspired me to write a few on my blog and do a bit more savings/budgeting than I used to.

I realized that while I make a lot of money (*a lot is a relative term), I don't know where it all goes!  I know I (try) send about $600 a month to student loans, the rest seems to leave without me noticing.  I do spend a lot on going out to eat though. :/  I am working on that.

In order to increase my savings and have a way to save for birthdays/holidays, I started to do surveys online.  I signed up for a few companies and have made about $40 in a few weeks!  It isn't too much, but my budget for gifts is about $30/month or $360 per year.  I figure if I make about $30 every two weeks, that pays for holidays and birthdays for the year.  The companies either pay you in gift cards (to places like Amazon or Visa gift cards) or they can send the $$ to your PayPal account.

Here are a few if you want to try it yourself.
Inbox Dollars-you can make money off of searches (like google), paid emails (click on the link), surveys, referells, watch short videos, spin and win, purchases (I got $5 for purchasing through them a Groupon), etc.  Super easy! I have made the most $$ off of this one.  Sign up and get $5 automatically in your account.  They also have monthly sweepstakes you can enter.

Swag Bucks-pretty much the same as Inbox Dollars, but you get points instead of cash.  The points equal a certain $ amount that you redeem for points.  I haven't used this one too much, but I already have enough points for about $5.

Let me know how it works out for you!  If you have any other ideas how to make easy money online (not scams! LOL), post below. I have another post soon about mystery shopping.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Aramco Half Marathon Kickoff Party

Back in June, I got selected to be in the 2015 Aramco Half Marathon.  Just like with the full marathon, it was a lottery system. I really didn't want to be accepted, but I thought it would be good for me to apply anyway.  Let that be a lesson learned...do not apply for the 2016 lottery because you will probably get picked! LOL.

Anyway, last night was the kick-off party for the event that had been postponed due to weather a few times.  Luckily, it was a clear afternoon and rain free (it did rain later that night though).  I left right after work and went down Memorial Dr. to look for parking.  Let me tell you, Rush Hour Traffic + Kick-off party = nightmare for parking and traffic!  They had sections of the road blocked off and you couldn't park where they were having the party (a section of Memorial Park).

Well, lucky for me there was a small parking area a little ways down from the party that I thought I could just park easily.  No, it was hard getting in there since it was so packed.  I parked on the side of the lane and decided just to get my shirt and go, since it was so busy and I know a lot of other people were looking for parking as well.

I got to the site and found the shirt section easily.  I wanted to look around the different booths, but I knew the parking was bad and I didn't want to get towed or anything.

I got back to my car and found out that I as blocked in by 3 cars.  Three whole separate people decided to just leave their cars double parked.  They took their sweet time getting back too.  We were stuck for about 20 minutes waiting for the people to get back. So honestly, I could have just looked around more at the party and it wouldn't have mattered.  They had lots of tents set up for different charities (Run for a Reason) and various vendors giving out free food. I was this close to snagging a bagel or fruit, but I *thought* I needed to get back to my car asap.

I do like the shirt though.  The material has a vintage look to it,I'm not sure if you can tell by the picture. I can't wait to wear it, even if I CAN wait to train for the race. LOL. I didn't go to the party when I was training for my marathon, but I decided that since I was already in that area, I might as well go.