The Rosy Wanderer

Wandering with a Purpose

Category: Lifestyle (page 2 of 4)

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

Reward Points – the start of a new adventure

I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, but today I finally jumped and took the plunge! I’m going to figure out how to maximize using reward points to help me travel. Since I make less money than I used to, but my desire to travel is as big as ever, I need to find a way to make it happen. When I bought my first house, I used my credit card points to buy towels, pots/pans, and other decor. It worked out nicely!

First off, this world is pretty complicated. I mean, there are probably thousands of credit cards out there. It’s not like you can sample cards and figure out which one works best. You can’t continue to open and close cards either because it can affect your credit score. Two big sites helped push me over the edge – Mint.com and The Points Guy. I’ll have a separate blog post about Mint.com, but I’ve been a fan of The Points Guy for a while. He has a beginner’s guide that I found very interesting and helpful. Stay tuned as I start to learn more, but so far I decided to take the following steps…

  1. Applied for Chase Sapphire Preferred card (crazy how fast you can get approved!) which is supposed to be great for travel. Plus, it doesn’t have foreign transaction fees which I need for my trip to Zurich in February.
  2. Made an account and started linking my reward programs to AwardWallet. It’s a free site (there is a Plus version), but essentially it tracks all reward programs (airlines, food, hotel, etc). I had tried TripIt Pro‘s program in the past, but I didn’t like it. One day in, and so far I like AwardWallet. More to come!
  3. Researching other ways to save or grow money. Currently looking at Acorns, Wallaby, Mint.com, and general budgeting techniques.

Once I start to figure things out, I’ll keep you posted. Any tips or experiences would be appreciated! I have some big goals…I can’t wait to turn these clip art pictures into my real pictures! Switzerland, Paris, and Machu Pichu – here I come! Until next time, happy wanderings!
42818p    eiffel-tower-gray-bwmachupicchubnw

Foster Pup – Luigi

“Oh, Luigi.” I’ve been saying this several times a day for the last month. Exactly a month today, actually. I thought he would have found his fur-ever home well before this point. I mean, he’s cute as a button (I call him Buttons sometimes).

img_1862They say Luigi is 2-3 years old, but I really think he is younger. He is all puppy. Everything about him is puppy, and if I had that expectation and more patience, it would be adorable. There is a big difference between a puppy and a mature dog, and through this experience with Luigi, it frustrates me that people don’t know the difference. People, if you plan on adopting a puppy please know they want to play and their energy is boundless! Even the cute ones can be crazy!

When Luigi got to our house, his skin was irritated and he had kennel cough (actually passed it on to Schatzi and Amie). It turns out he had a flea allergy, so we had to doctor him up and get him healthy.

Finding a Home

Luigi needs an active home. He loves to be involved in everything in your life. Whether it is going on walks, riding in the car, sitting with you on the couch, I mean, he even swam in the laimg_2022ke to be with me. He didn’t love it, but he didn’t hate it either. The boat on the other hand…he loved the boat. I’ve never had a dog who wants to be a sidekick. It’s the only word I can think of to describe him. Even when he rides in the car, he perches next to you (see picture!) I mean, he is just so darn sweet!

Since he has so much energy, and his previous family didn’t do any training (besides house training), we are working on commands. He is doing well with them. He lays down and stands up now. He’s catching on quickly.

If you or anyone you know is looking for an adorable, sweet-tempered puppy, Luigi is on PetFinder.

But let’s be real, he’s too adorable to not post a bunch of pictures. How can someone not love him?!

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He loves, loves to play with toys. He can’t get enough of them!

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What a boat dog! He loved the wind blowing in his face

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Even puppies need their sleep! It’s tough boating all day. He was too sweet looking…but I woke him up because you should sleep at night.

 

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Just a funny guy

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Luigi loves the furniture! This is one of is favorite places to sit…he even taught Schatzi how to sit like this. Oh dear…

 

 

It’s Here! The Apple Watch 2

So, I am not a technologist, but I wish I was. I appreciate technology. To think about the creativity and logic that goes into creating a new application or piece of hardware blows me away. I don’t understand the hardware side as much, but I love the user experience side. This likely explains why I am a huge Apple fan – but who knows, maybe my interest in Apple lead to my appreciation. I’ve been an Apple fan since high school yearbook in the early 2000s when I worked closely with the color iMac.

Yes, it’s early…

So I am posting this because I woke up early to pre-order the Apple Watch 2. I know it’s crazy, but that hype always gets me going. I woke up to pre-order my rose gold iPhone 6s, Kate and Will’s wedding, and I prefer early morning flights. Oh well. I don’t think they will sell out of the Watch 2, but I’ve been waiting for the second edition since the first one was released a year and a half ago.  Even though I’ve been waiting for a long time, I don’t make them lightly. I made my (probably) fifth visit to the Apple store this evening to confirm the color and size watch I wanted. My iPad purchase was equally bad; at least I had 1.5 years to think about it. I don’t take decisions likely.

Why I’m Excited

In 2013, I bought an UP Band and loved its. Unfortunately, it disappeared after a night of drinking in Tampa. As a less expensive alternative, I bought a Fitbit. Fitbit was okay. I liked

My final decision. Such a hard decision, but I decided the silver 38 mm sport version with a white band will be the most versatile.

My final decision. Such a hard decision, but I decided the silver 38 mm sport version with a white band will be the most versatile.

how many people had it to share information, but it wasn’t as reliable as the UP Band. A year ago, my Fitbit stopped charging, and I couldn’t fix it. My cheap, stubborn self decided to wait for the Apple Watch – and viola! Here we are! These are my main reasons I can’t wait!

  • I want a running watch. I feel the Apple Watch 2 (with GPS) is even better than a running watch because you can wear it all the time and do lots of things.
  • I miss tracking my steps/activity level
  • I’m not good at texting and paying attention to my phone (only millennial with this problem), but I hope I’ll be more alert to messages and action items.
  • Time travel – basically, I can see my schedule on my wrist. Since I live for my calendar, this would make things a lot easier
  • Geeking out my house – one of my big projects I’m researching is figuring out how to make my house “smarter.” I’ll share my findings in my blog, but the watch is another option for controlling the house.

Get ready! I’ll let you know how I like it starting next Friday (September 16). In the meantime, all Apple users, mark your calendar for Tuesday, September 13, to download the free upgrade to iOS 10. If you enjoy texting, you’ll love its enhancements.

Back to School – Back to Blogging

So I took an unfortunate hiatus during the end of the summer, but today is the first day back to school, so this is the first day back to the blog! Expect some fun information for trips, new products, and much more! With school back in session, it’s time for learning, cooler weather, and most importantly – football!!

Go, Team, Go!

In the spirit of fall and back to school (my favorite season, I might add), here are some pictures of my favorites supporting our favorite teams!

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We’re excited to cheer for our teams this fall! Each weekend we’ll be cheering for the Elon Phoenix, Ohio State Buckeyes, and Carolina Panthers. It’s going to be a great season!

Plated – another box of meals!

Another meal box down, and funny enough, this was the first box I had ever heard about. I love the TV show Shark Tank. If you don’t know what it is, please research it and watch a few episodes. The show has been on for several years, and I think has done a lot to promote entrepreneurialism and the American dream. I love this show and what is represents. Anyway, the first time I heard about meal subscription boxes was when Plated was pitched on Season 5 (early 2014). I thought it sounded really cool, but sure enough, a lot of competitors have come up since their invention.

ORDERING AND PACKAGING

IMG_1448Since Plated is what got me interested in these boxes, I couldn’t wait to try it. Unfortunately, this is also a very expensive box, so I prioritized other brands who also had a bigger, first box discount. Plated meals cost $12/person. A box for two people with three meals costs $72/week, which I think is a bit pricey. Their initial offer is two free meals per week.

The website is very easy to use and meals are posted 5 weeks in advance, which is very friendly if you plan on using this service regularly. The overall brand and pictures are also the more “trendy” compared to competitors. It makes the company look cool and friendly.

I ended up buying two weeks of boxes since the recipes seemed interesting. The first box I received was a bit damaged, but all of the food was included. It made me nervous since it’s hot here in NC and the food needs to stay cold. Luckily, it was okay.

THE MEALS

I made 6 meals in total. Some were really good, some I wasn’t a fan of. This is probably the first box I ordered that there were recipes I truly didn’t enjoy, but there were some I liked a lot. The ingredients were also very fresh and seemed of high quality.

  • Barbecue Salmon Burgers with Fingerling Potato Salad
  • Moo Shu Chicken with Pancakes
  • Grilled Vodka Sauce Pizza with Goat Cheese and Grilled Vegetables
  • Charred Eggplant with Quinoa Tabbouleh and Creamy Tahini
  • Chicken Shawarma
  • Garlic Shrimp Spaghetti

The Barbecue Salmon Burgers were one of the best dishes I made as part of this experiment. They were easy to make and very delicious. I am also not a fan of potato salad, but this was made with Chobani yogurt, mustard, lemon, and olive oil. It was so good, and I IMG_1546hope to make this again soon.

IMG_1560My other two favorites were the pizza and charred eggplant. The pizza was easy enough to make on your own. I never thought to use those ingredients on a pizza, but it was really good. This was the first time I ever made eggplant. I think eggplant is the funniest looking vegetable; there is no way you can look at it and not laugh. This was also my first time eating and making quinoa. Overall, I really enjoyed this dish. I liked it even more as leftovers. It was also incredibly simple to make after you cut up everything.

This was the first time I ever made eggplant. I think eggplant is the funniest looking vegetable; there is no way you can look at it and not laugh. This was also my first time eating and making quinoa. Overall, I really enjoyed this dish. I liked it even more as leftovers. It was also incredibly simple to make after you cut up everything. All you have to do is make the quinoa, cut the eggplant and put it in the oven with salt and cayenne pepper (I used too much for me). Then you make the tahini dressing and viola! dinner.

The other dishes weren’t my favorites. I was sad about the Garlic Shrimp Spaghetti because I’ve made similar dishes in the past, but this one lacked flavor.  Something about the sauce wasn’t rich enough for such a basic dish.

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OVERALL RECOMMENDATION

Overall, Plated was fun. I love Plated’s brand. I think it does a lot to sell the company and make it cool. However, if I was to choose a meal subscription box to use regularly, I wouldn’t choose Plated. The price point is out of my budget, and many of the meals weren’t my favorite. If I ate pork/beef, it may be better since the salmon burgers were delicious.

I also like how they engaged on social media. They would like and comment on my Instagram posts about their meals. I think that goes into the brand and being “cool.” Nice touch!

Wanna Get Away?

Have you ever just wanted to get away? I know it’s #tbt, but this Thursday I am going to dream forward. Maybe it’s because I haven’t traveled recently, I had to cancel my trip to Chicago this weekend, or I am simply in the mood to relax and take in life, but I am itching to go somewhere. Unfortunately, because of prior commitments and work, I am unable to get to a beach and just be. That doesn’t help sooth the soul.

What to do instead? Looks like I will need to recreate a vacation experience at home. I feel pretty confident I have the recipe for what makes a good beach weekend…

  1. Sunshine. Get outside. It may be close to 100 degrees this weekend, but that doesn’t mean you should stay inside. I have a few runs planned to help soak up vitamin D; I also plan on dining al fresco. It’s summer so live like it is – no matter where you are!
  2. Music. I love Kenny Chesney. Something about his music helps me to relax, so blast the speakers! Everyone has their thing and Kenny is mine!
  3. Read a book. When I go to the beach, I read. Even when you’re on vacation, reading can take you to another place. A chance to experience someone else’s life, so it’s the ultimate vacation on a vacation. Well, I will continue “reading” my audiobooks while I run, but I am going to find some type of fiction to read. Any suggestions, let me know! I need something light and funny.
  4. Break a sweat. Nothing releases stress like exercise. I just started back up at Pure Barre, so I’ll be there a few times this weekend, in addition to running. Wearing your body out is good for your mind.
  5. A good drink. My friend and I are going to Le Meridien’s rooftop bar on Saturday to try their popular popsicle drinks and watch the sunset. #winning

Well, that’s my plan this weekend. Hopefully, I’ll fool myself into thinking I’m away. Maybe I’ll purchase a baby pool for the patio while I’m at it…Happy Wanderings!

PS – In the spirit on #tbt, I’ll post some of my favorite beach pictures from my previous travels. Dreaming this is where I was today!

The Bahamas

The Bahamas

Emerald Isle, NC

Grand Cayman

Grand Cayman

Mexico

Mexico

Ocean Sunset

Cruise Stop

Grand Cayman again

Badin Lake

Badin Lake – Home Sweet Home

 

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