The Rosy Wanderer

Wandering with a purpose

Category: Lifestyle (page 1 of 3)

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.

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!

Welcome 2017!

The New Year is exciting because it’s a chance to look forward and see what is going to happen in life. I plan a list of goals, look at my calendar, and try to make a plan to accomplish it all. It’s also a chance to reflect to see what went well in 2016 and where you can improve.

One of my main focus areas this year is personal finance. I do a relatively good job, but I could be doing much more. The last several months, I’ve been reading about how people saved a million dollars in their 30s, retired early, and achieved strong financial independence. I want and can be one of those people.

Get Motivated

Hopefully, these will inspire those of you with a financial resolution this year. I’m also addicted to the Dave Ramsey podcast. I’ve listened to hours of it over the last week. It’s what I needed to kick myself into gear. I agree with a lot of what he says, but I can’t imagine eliminating my credit card. I always pay mine off, so in my world it’s okay. Security for online shopping and rewards points are too important for me.

This is a hard change to make – it will significantly affect two areas I enjoy – eating out and traveling. If I make the sacrifices now, I think it will have a large payback later on. I do have three major trips and events this month and February, but I’ll do what I can to get started before then. This will be a wandering all on its own.

So, cheers! Bring it on 2017! Until then, happy wandering!

Thanksgiving

It’s Thanksgiving! Besides delicious food, this day is a great reminder of what we have to be thankful for. No matter how busy things are or how stressed you can be, Thanksgiving is a chance to slow down and reflect on what is really important in life. Of course, family and friends are at the top of the list, but the other things that I am blessed with this year are…

Puppies

The loves of my life. I love them to pieces. I am also thankful that all of my foster pups found good, loving homes.

Best Friends

The Cubbies

Go Cubs GoFinally, after 108 years, the Cubs broke the curse and are World Series CHAMPIONS!! I mean, no more needs to be said. #gocubsgo

America

Even though there is a lot of divisiveness in our country now, I hope everyone remembers what a wonderful place we call home. Our freedoms are unmatched anywhere else in the world. If we work together and do our parts, we can continue to make America the best place in the world. I am incredibly proud of my country and thankful to all of the men and women who serve to protect us.

North Carolina

My home and favorite state. I love our mild fall days. I love that the color on the trees is peaking for Thanksgiving day. Whether spending time in the city or the country, NC has so much to offer. Blue skies to make you smile for days.

Nice view for a run
Running

Can’t believe I’m saying that, but last year I was recovering from a stress fracture. This year, I completed a half marathon and just finished running a Turkey Trot. I don’t necessarily love running, but I am so grateful to be able to do it. Some people don’t have the ability to do this, so I am appreciative of being able to walk and run.

 

Happy Thanksgiving to you! Enjoy the day with your friends, family, and delicious food. Also, did I forget to mention how thankful I am for pumpkin pie?! I must go get some now!

 

2016 Charlotte Marathon

I wouldn’t consider myself a runner, but I do love how it feels after I run. I used to think running a half marathon would be impossible for me, but today I proved myself wrong – I finished running the 2016 Charlotte Half Marathon!

In 2010, I had my first chance to see a half/full marathon. It was my last day in Las Vegas, and my friend and I were drinking on a patio outside of Paris watching the runners. By the time we were on our way out that evening, the marathon was still finishing. My second time watching one was the NYC marathon in 2013 – talk about good runners. Something I liked about watching these events was anyone (who trained) could do it. It’s not like watching a basketball game; we can’t all play basketball. I am lucky to have a lot of friends who run, and their advice and experience persuaded me to try it out. I had gotten out of shape and was looking for something to motivate me – that’s when I signed up for my first half.

The first chance…

img_0181Savannah was my pick because it was flat. I was nervous to run it, so I wanted to make sure I didn’t have added obstacles to block me from finishing. When training for this race, I made sure to do all of my long runs, but I didn’t always do my short runs. Long story short, I did a long run in NYC one weekend (one of my dreams was a long run in Central Park) where I pushed myself harder than expected AND then continued to walk around. Turns out, I developed a stress fracture in my foot. I wasn’t supposed to run the half, but I decided to walk it because my brother was running. It was a great experience.

…and the next!

But Charlotte 2016 was my chance. Unfortunately, I didn’t stick to my training plan. I ran short runs, but I just couldn’t get motivated for the long runs. As is the motivation for all procrastinators, the deadline started approaching, and I had to get serious!! Two weeks ago, I did a 10-mile long run and then again last week. I did well to mile 8, then it got tough.

half marathon bibThere were no words to describe my nervousness for the actual race. An additional 3 miles is a lot, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I woke up this morning at 5 am to each breakfast and have a little coffee. Before I run, I have a waffle with peanut butter and cinnamon. I usually put a banana on it, but I forgot to buy some. I walked my dogs and hung out before driving Uptown. Charlotte isn’t as big of a race as Savannah is, but it sure is cool being in your home city. Soon enough, the race started. It’s hard at the beginning –

Soon enough, the race started. It’s hard at the beginning – everyone is excited and full of energy. Since I’m not a strong runner, I have to watch myself because I can’t go too fast. It’s literally a marathon, not a sprint! It’s tough to have people pass you, but I just zone into my podcasts and worry about myself. I did a great job running to mile 8, that’s when things got tough. I had to run/walk the remainder of the race. My legs were like Jello!

As I went up Mint St. and could see the Panther’s stadium, I got excited. I had a pick up in my run. Then – there it was! The finish line! “Keep going, keep going,” I told myself. As I did, I started to increase my stride and sprint! Then VICTORY! I was over the finish line. 13.1 miles were conquered, and I could say I ran a half marathon. My goal was to finish in less than 2:45 – I finished in 2:35. A MAJOR accomplishment for me.

half marathon finisher medal

2016 Charlotte Half Marathon Finisher Medal

Takeaways

half marathon victoryI do enjoy these races. Disney is my next event, which will be fun because I am doing it with a group of friends. And it really isn’t impossible. If you want to run a half, you can! If I can do it, I truly believe anyone can; you just have to want to do it. Halfs are nice because you have to commit to training, but you don’t have to modify all of the details in your life.

I have a lot of respect for full marathoners, but I don’t have a desire to run one. If my finish line was the halfway point, I don’t know if I would have made it. A marathon is also different because you have to watch your diet and long runs are more than a half marathon. It’s a great goal, but I don’t think it’s something I’ll do. More halfs, on the other hand, yes, I will definitely do this!

Schatzi Resting

Such a cute face to look at when recovering

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