The Rosy Wanderer

Wandering with a purpose

Giving Up TV for 6 Weeks!?

Even though the churches I go to don’t really give up things for lent, I do for the challenge. I’ve done it most years. I always pressure myself to do something meaningful, but because I don’t plan, I usually end up giving up food. Lately, I have been trying to clear my mind and improve my focus, so what a better thing than to force myself to give up TV! I don’t watch a ton of it, but when I do, I watch trash TV – The Bachelor/Bachelorette, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, or Vanderpump Rules. Nothing that improves your mind. I do watch Shark Tank and The Profit, but the others had been creeping in too much.

So, now, 6 week laters, how do I feel?

Yeah, I wish I could say “GREAT! I was so productive and accomplished a ton of projects on my plate,” but I can’t. I didn’t finish posts for my blog, do any crafts, and did little “studying” for web development. I did, however read a lot. Even though I read a few fictions, I spent most of my time reading about personal finance and listening to podcasts. For anyone who hasn’t read Rich Dad Poor Dad, add it to the top of your reading list.

Even though I wasn’t productive, I feel really motivated. I think detaching myself from crappy shows

 

(sorry to all of those people who make those shows), allowed me to put more positive thoughts and ideas in my mind. I realize 6 weeks is extreme for a lot of people, but why not try 1 week. It makes you find other things to entertain yourself. The real question is, will I go back to watching TV? I’m actually leaning to not doing it for the next week or so. Time to find a healthy balance…

Now Schatzi on the other hand thought this was a terrible decision never to be repeated. Even though she is a dog, she loves to watch TV and gets bored without it.

Happy Easter! Here is to new beginnings and improvements – for me and Schatzi!

 

Equifax Hack – Protect Yourself!

Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian are the three credit agencies that gather information and report a “credit score.” They have a lot of sensitive information and, recently, Equifax was hacked. I thought I would share an email I wrote to my family for tips to protect your identity. It’s a really big deal, and I’m not sure how worried people are about it. I am in no way an expert, but they are a few simple steps to take to try to stop identity left.

Hi All,
Not sure if you’ve heard but last week Equifax was hacked for the 3rd time, and it is pretty major. I think we should all be secure and watch out for things. After researching, I recommend you take the below steps:
1. Check to see if your information may be compromised
143 million people were…I am one of them
2. Freeze your credit bureau reports
This makes it so you have to lift the freeze if someone needs to check your credit. You need to keep that in mind, but I don’t see myself applying for anything in the near future. It took me a few tries to get it to go through since they are really busy.
3. Sign up for ID Theft insurance
I registered for it, and it was very easy. Individuals are $75/year; family is $145. This is one that Dave Ramsey promotes, and you know I’m a fan. If your identity is compromised, they assign an agent who will handle everything. I can’t attest to how easy that is (hopefully, I don’t!), but I think Dave Ramsey’s endorsement is strong.
4. Monitor your credit reports annually
You can do this for free at http://www.annualcreditreport.com. I have a reminder on my calendar every 4 months to review one agency’s report so I can monitor it all year long.  You can view 1 report/year for free. It does not give a credit score, but you should make sure the information is correct. It’s very easy.
Let me know if you have questions.
Thank you,
Kristin

Ready? Set? Disney Marathon!

It takes me a lot of time to make a decision. This particular decision has been in the works for 2 days short of 8 months. I’ve gone back and forth on it, but this weekend, I committed and it is done. I am going to train for and run the Walt Disney World Full Marathon in January 2018. I had resisted because I didn’t think I would be in good enough shape for a full, but I gave into peer pressure.

Seven Reasons for Running Disney 2018
  1. Of any marathon, this is one of two I would consider (the other is NYC). I’m not a good runner and don’t particularly enjoy it, but I love pushing myself to accomplish something. Disney provides entertainment and the opportunity to take pictures with characters.
  2. A unique way to see the parks! I mean, after I complete this I can say I ran through all four parks. My seven-year-old self cannot understand how this can be possible – Disney World is a huge space.
  3. It’s the 25th Anniversary.
  4. Time to check off another bucket list item. It hasn’t been on there for long, but now that I enjoy doing halfs, the next step is to go for a marathon. I am going to train for it and push myself to improve my overall health. You can’t slack on training for a marathon.
  5. “Experiencing” Run Disney last year provided an energy and excitement that convinced me that last year and this year won’t be my only Run Disney experiences.
  6. It’s a fun race, and it isn’t just for serious runners. Last year, it looked like some people hadn’t ever run a half and were doing a full. I know I’ll be able to finish it (even if I have to walk), but I still won’t finish. To run New York – you have to be a good runner. There is pressure. Disney – it’s just magical.
  7. A large group of friends who are doing it. Peer pressure.

Well here’s to my next 6 months of training! It’s not going to be easy, but I’m motivated and ready to run for the Mouse! Who knows, maybe Tinkerbelle will give me a little pixie dust…talk about a happy wandering!

Summer Reading List – 2017 Edition

Summer is a time for things to slow down. Every year since I was a kid (probably 9 years old), I’ve had a summer reading list. Whether it was a challenge at the local library or one assigned for school, I love to read through a list of books at the pool or on the boat. Many of these books are books I’ve wanted to read for awhile but now I’m making it happen! It may be heavy reading for some weekend getaways, but this is what I’ve been focusing on this first quarter and need some inspiration for new ideas. I’ve already finished two and liked them so much I bought them (I usually check out books at the library). The rest will help me research and prepare for future wanderings.

1. The 4-Hour Workweek

Author Tim Ferriss updated this book in 2009, and the only reason I had to put it down is to have time to process his ideas. I don’t agree with everything he says but love the concept. My main disagreement is believing one can be an effective and inspirational leader at their company without being present, but other than that, he has great suggestions for improving efficiencies so you can spend time doing other things. I originally rented this book from the library but bought it because it actually makes for a good guide. If you want to do more by having more time – make sure to check out this book!

2. Never Eat Alone

I’m an introvert and do not feel comfortable in large social situations. This book has been recommended to me at a dozen of training sessions, and after reading it, I understand why! Keith Ferrazzi is a master networker and has documented many of his practices he has used to help leverage his career forward. I also bought this one since it is a good guide with actionable steps. I would recommend this book to anyone – regardless of whether you’re an introvert or extrovert.

3. The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People

This is my third time reading Steven Covey’s classic, and I believe there is a reason why it has been reprinted so many times. If you haven’t read this book, you must do so. I get new ideas each time I read it and find it very motivational.

4. The Millionaire Next Door

This is on my list since it is recommended in many money blogs and from financial experts. Essentially, Thomas Stanley studied the behaviors of millionaires to determine what these individuals have in common – and the traits are more common than what would be expected! Since I am working to financial independence so I can travel more, this is on the top of my list.

5. Finishing Eisenhower in War and Peace

I love history and have been reading biographies of US presidents. I started with George Washington at the end of 2013, and am about to finish my audiobook on Eisenhower. Jean Edward Smith has carefully documented Eisenhower’s career through the army, WWII, and his presidency. I believe Eisenhower is one of the best leaders our country has had and learning the details of his life bring it to color. I visited his birthplace in Abilene, KS, and it is a great example of the American dream. A farm boy from a relatively poor family can work hard and become the leader of the Allied forces and President of the United States.

6. Born to Run

One of my running friends recommended this as motivation. Christopher McDougall researches a tribe in Africa and inspires anyone who wants to run. Don’t know much of the details, but I am looking forward to the motivation.

7. Turn Right at Machu Picchu

My next big travel adventure is to hike to Machu Picchu. I enjoy reading and researching so before big adventures, I need to research. Mark Adams, the author, was interviewed on one of my favorite podcasts, Travel with Rick Steves. This is his adventure in re-creating the original discovery of Machu Picchu.

Well, that makes for my summer! What about you? I love cheesy beach reads if anyone has suggestions.

Austin: Tips for Visiting during SXSW

My brother lived in Austin for a number of years. I asked him to share advice with my best friend for her trip to Austin during South by Southwest (SXSW), the large music/technology conference that is hosted annually downtown. I thought his advice was so good, I wanted to share it.

_________________

First off, have fun! The city will be crazy busy so expect lines everywhere.  I also typically left the city for SXSW so I am not too familiar with it so some of what I say may be wrong.
*Important Note: Uber and Lyft are not in Austin.  They have ride-sharing apps, but I do not know anything about them.
 
Lady Bird Trail is very nice.  I used to run it every weekend and it was very enjoyable.  Zilker Park is the start of it and it just goes east for 5 miles.  Very enjoyable.  I’m not sure if Zilker has events going on for SXSW though.
Food
  • Tacos: Torchy’s Top notch tacos and local chain. Pretty close to where you are staying
  • Barbecue: Franklins is the most well known and will be extremely busy.  My personal favorite is La Barbecue.  These are lunch spots you have to show up early too for food.  The lines will be long but I highly recommend going.
  • Brunch: Taverna is my favorite.  $2 mimosas and really good Eggs Benedict
  • Others: Those the pretty much the two staples of Texas but if you want something else SoCo (South Congress) has a lot of really good places.  Hopdoddy is gourmet burgers and Home Slice has great pizza.  Gourdoughs also has amazing donuts and food.Food will be talked about in the Bar/Going Out Section too.
Bar/Going Out
  • With it being SXSW you can go anywhere to see a show but below are some of the main areas of Austin.
  • Dirty 6th: This is the place most people think about with Austin.  It has a large college crowd and a large older crowd.  Tons of bars will have bands here and will get pretty trashy pretty quick.  I do recommend going here at least for an hour.  My favorite bars are Midnight Cowboy (reservation required) and Firsehouse Lounge.  These are both speakeasies so they will be tough to find.
  • West 6th: This is more of a young professional crowd and fancier.  I really went out here so I don’t know a lot but I have had some good food here.  Not sure where though.
  • East 6th: This is on the other side of 35.  I haven’t been in this area a lot but this is more of a hipster area and like every where else will have live music.
  • Rainey: A lot of outside bars with a lot of live music.  Bangers and Craft Pride are my favorite stops.  Bangers is a German sausage house with good food and beer.  They do have a huge outside stage too.  Craft Pride is only local Texas beers and I am a big fan.  There is also a pizza food track called Via 313 with really good pizza.
  • South Congress: As mentioned above this place has a lot of good food and interesting shopping.  There are some bars but I haven’t been to them.
  • Domain/Rock Rose: This is the only place of interest not downtown.  It is an upscale shopping area like Easton and Rock Rose is a street with a bunch of bars.  It is brand new and this should be its first SXSW.  You will have a wealthy older crowd here  There is a train station stop (more below) pretty close to here if you want to venture this way.  Top Golf is also located in this area.
Transportation
In my opinion transportation in Austin is terrible and SXSW just makes it 10x worse.  With staying by 2nd and Congress you shouldn’t really have to deal with it too much but here are some things to note. Leaving the city the train could have long lines.  I had to wait over an hour to get on the last one one year and not everyone was able to get on.  If you are planning on using it plan accordingly.  Taxis are terrible.  I wouldn’t bother.

Top 6 US Travel Runs

Running is a great way to see a city. Traveling also makes running more fun because you get to see new things. Below are my top favorite travel runs here in the States:

1. Central Park, New York, NY

I ran a little bit before moving to NYC, but I didn’t get into running until I lived here and ran in Central Park. I would argue this is one of the best running locations in the world. Everyone from beginners to world-class runners run here. You have a variety of terrains, scenery, and can run any distance. I love running Central Park and cannot wait for my next opportunity to do it again!

Central Park LakeRunning Views in Central Park

2. National Mall, Washington, DC 

Running on the Mall never gets old. In the morning it is quiet; vendors are setting up their goods or carts. By the end of the run, tourists from across the country and around the world are coming out to see our National Capitol. I find this the most motivational city – there is something about the energy of where our government (tries) to do work and the history that has happened here.

Washington Monument DC travel run Arlington over the bridge

3. Lady Bird Park, Colorado River, Austin, TX

I ran here with my brother. The path was full and the other runners and walkers provided great motivation. We were able to run 7 miles and could have gone further. Afterward, we rented paddleboards and hung out on the river – made for a great Saturday!

4. Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

You have a chance to run through one of the birthplaces of our country and be surrounded by where some of our country’s best minds were educated. The Charles River provides views of Boston and crew teams. Lots to see and to watch.

5. The Battery, Charleston, SC

Southern Charm, large trees, views of Fort Sumter – Charleston is my favorite city for a reason and a great one for running! Not only are the views fantastic, but after a good run, you can eat all of the delicious food in the city without feeling guilty.

6. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL (haven’t actually run this one, but I REALLY want to)

Having lived in the Chicago suburbs, there is something special about Chicago and the beauty of Lakeshore Dr. I love going down here to see the skyline and the blue of Lake Michigan. Now that I’m into running, running here and through Grant and Millennium Parks will be a MUST.

Rosy Wanderings! (and happy running!)

Budget Motivation: 7 Tips for Getting on Track

My new budget process for Q1 is finished. I thought I was budgeting for the last nine years and just not sticking with it, but I was wrong. Everything I did was backward – I was more tracking my spending than actively budgeting. It took me three months, but in March I finally did it the way you’re supposed to! I went over in just a few of my categories, but overall, I was under. I was in control of where I spent money. On top of that, I made some additional money (sold Disney tickets I had and had an AirBnB guest), so I could have some additional money. I’m quite proud of myself and can’t wait to see how I do in April without any large expenses! Now the game is on!

My tips for budgeting:

  1. Sit down and do it!
  2. Give it time. My first month was awful, but you have to learn and stay committed
  3. Visit it often. You can’t measure your progress if you start at the beginning of the month and don’t look again until the end. I’m obsessive and look every day, but I think every 2-3 days is good.
  4. Find a tool you like
    • As I already mentioned, I’ve used Mint.com for the last 9 years.
    • Part of my new motivation and how I was able to plan in advance (obvious, I know), was using EveryDollar. This resets your budget each month since each month will be different than the previous month. Before I kept the same “budget” and tried to squeeze into this frame without accounting for different activities. Resetting each month forced me to look ahead.
  5. Goals
    • Why are you trying to save money? Is it to have money to pay off debt? To stop taking on new debt? Are you saving for an awesome trip or a new car? If you don’t know why you’re making a budget, then it is going to be hard to stick with it.
    • In addition to your big, why goal – you have to understand each of your categories and your spend goal for each of those. My biggest challenge is eating out. I used to eat out all the time, and now I am saving hundreds of dollars each month by eating at home. I didn’t think it was possible for me to save hundreds each month until I started doing that. Now I have hundreds of dollars to put at my bigger financial goals.
  6. Find ways to stay motivated. My personal way is to visit my budget often and then look at my financial goals I wrote down just as often. By reminding myself that I want to eliminate my car payment and have an emergency fund, I am more motivated to eat at home. Once I complete these two goals, I will have additional money to make some bigger purchases I want.
  7. Be intentional. Watch the little purchases – they add up quickly and it’s unbelievable. Going out for drinks is innocent enough, but soon your tab is $25. You do that a few times and all the sudden you’ve spent $100 just on drinks. I didn’t put a lot of thought into my spending before because I didn’t have a good guide. My budget is a reminder to not spend in certain areas. It’s not easy, but I have a greater awareness now, which is how I can move the ball forward.

PHOTO CRED: Pexels

Mint.com: Insight into Your Finances

Most people have heard about Mint.com, but I don’t know many people who actually use it. I started using Mint.com before I bought my first house in 2009. It took many, many months for me to figure it out, but once I did, I loved it! I recently fell into a rabbit hole (a phrase I use often) in exploring new apps and technology; therefore, I decided it may be fun to write about some of my favorite or new apps on my blog. The power of technology amazes me! As a history lover, I can’t imagine what Teddy Roosevelt’s life would be like if he had a smartphone. Some of the romance would disappear, but wow, could he have accomplished so much more!

The Overview

Mint.com is a site for people to manage their personal finances. I almost always pay with a credit card, so this is a very easy system that automatically imports your transactions and categorizes them into spending types. I use mint.com to get an understanding of how much money I am spending and where. Sound financial management is very important to me.

Tips for Using

  • Be patient and spend time with it. It takes time to understand the categories and label your spending habits. The system is decent matching expenses to categories, but it needs time to learn. It’s a good activity to do when waiting for a doctor’s appointment or a meeting to start.
  • Be consistent with labels and updates. For whatever reason, I started categorizing all of my work expenses as “Business Services.” It really doesn’t make sense to an outsider, but it does to me. When I get reimbursed from work, then I flag my reimbursement as a “Business Service” so it nets to 0. You can make up your own categories, but I wasn’t planning ahead back then.
  • Set goals. A major purpose of mint.com is to set financial goals and link accounts to show how close you are to achieving them. I did this for trips and a rainy day fund. It was so rewarding when I achieved them! There is another one for retirement to show I am still on track for my goal – too bad I’m not there yet! I wish they had a goal to pay off your house early, but maybe that will come later.
  • Free basic credit score. Each quarter, mint.com will run your credit score. Hey, it’s a good thing to make sure it’s where you think it is! (You can also visit freecreditscore.com for a free report each year from the 3 agencies.)
  • Research their recommendations. Please note that mint.com is a free service, but they get paid for advertising credit cards and other financial tools on the website. I have researched some of these things over the years, and last week (after a year of researching), I decided to get another credit card. More to come on this, but it’s part of my plan to maximize rewards points. It’s also where I found another app Acorns, which I am excited to use more!

The Final Say

So with that, take a go! I truly enjoy this app and use it daily. Understanding where you’re spending money is the first step to being able to manage it. If you haven’t started yet, do!

Personal Finance

Personal Finance is one of my favorite topics to learn about. Whether it’s reading articles or listening to podcasts, I find the topic fascinating. Since it affects a large part of my life, I’m taking it as a good thing. In no way am I a trained professional; I just like to learn and talk about it.

For the past month, I have made a bigger effort in budgeting and controlling my spending. I have a healthy income, but it’s significantly less than I use to make. I’ve been blessed in that I’ve always tracked my spending, but I didn’t have to worry a lot. I set some new financial goals, so for me to achieve these, I need to save more money. My current motivation is listening to Dave Ramsey podcasts.

Most people know his name, but I’m not sure how much people know about him. I personally didn’t know his principles, but once I started listening to people’s stories about how they turned their life around, I was intrigued. Even though I don’t agree with all of the details, I love the philosophy. An example is that I wouldn’t get rid of my credit card. I am too worried about online security to use a debit card online, and I enjoy benefiting from travel / cash back perks. I pay my credit card off every month and would never consider carrying a balance. However, if you have credit card debt, and that is a weakness for you, eliminate the problem and cut up the card.

Budgeting Takeaways

I didn’t do a perfect job budgeting this month, but it opened my eyes to how much unnecessary money I spend. Food is the biggest area of change for me. Whether it’s buying a lot of food at the grocery store (unnecessary), snacks on the go, or eating out, I can change my behavior to buy less. This month was an additional challenge because I planned two trips. I packed food before I left and watched what I spent at restaurants. Even doing this, it was hard. There were so many times when I thought, “I think I’ll go buy this” until I reminded myself of my goals. This is a huge paradigm shift for me.

February will be another tough month because of my trip to Switzerland. I’m preparing my budget now. Until next time, happy wanderings!

Have a Magical Day

Yesterday I ran 13.1 miles to finally earn my Donald Duck medal. I couldn’t write about my “magical” trip to Disney World until I could say I finished the race. A group of friends and I made the decision LAST February to run the half marathon. Then, Friday night, Disney made the difficult decision to cancel the half marathon because of possible lightning.

We drove down from Charlotte on Thursday doing a midway stop in Savannah. Disney was just 4 short hours away from there. I went to Disney World as a kid and once in college, but going back as an adult was quite different.

  1. You can drink in the parks – who knew? (not that we did this, but having the option is cool)
  2. The Park Hopper pass lets you travel around the parks. Much easier to do in small groups
  3. It is still a magical experience even though you’re no longer a kid

 

Our Itinerary

  • Thursday: drive to Orlando with a stop in Savannah. Dinner at Disney Springs (you don’t need a ticket) and checking into the hotel – All Star Music.
  • Friday: breakfast in Orlando, picked up a friend at the airport, lunch at the Yacht Club with friends, wandered around The Art of Animation. This is a great hotel and wonderful for taking pictures. Once we all arrived, we checked in at the race expo. We were going to have an early bedtime for the race but…
  • Saturday: should have been race day (2:30 am wake up), but we slept in instead! After walking around Music and Movies for coffee, we left for Hollywood Studios. It would have been a great day, but we had to go to World of Sports to trade in our half marathon bibs. It took FOREVER! Afterwards, we had dinner with friends at Trail’s End, which was an area of Disney I never knew existed. It’s a buffet and on a lake – you have to take a boat to the Magic Kingdom. That’s where we ended the day and saw the most magical fireworks show over the castle.
  • Sunday: Marathon Day! My friend ran the marathon instead, so we went out to cheer him on around mile 16. After seeing him, the rest of us went to Animal Kingdom. That was my first time there, and it was awesome! Because our schedule got off on Saturday, we had a lot to fit in. We did the highlights of Animal Kingdom but then rushed to the Magic Kingdom. We tried to fit in as much as we could, but we could have spent hours more. Around sunset, we took the monorail to Epcot. We watched the fireworks show there after doing rides, walking around the world, and eating dinner.

My overall takeaways are everyone should go to Disney, no matter your age. It’s very expensive, but there a ways to watch what you spend. Run Disney puts on a great event, but I hope/think this is the LAST time they don’t have a rain plan. They canceled the race for close to 30,000. I am going to go again next year because this is a race I really, really want to do!

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