Archive | May, 2009

Viva Las Vegas!

22 May

Lloyd and I are heading to Sin City next week! We can’t wait!  After the stress of moving and studying, I am in dire need of some sun and sin. 😉

This will be my first time to Vegas and mostly I’m just excited to have a week off of work!  We don’t have much of an itinerary, which I how I like my vacations.  We’ll mostly eat, walk, lounge, and relax.  Here’s what we have planned:

  • Walking The Strip (of course).  We’ll be cliché tourists and stare up at the big buildings and take lots of cheesy pictures in front of all the casinos.
  • The Bellagio Fountains.  Ever since I saw Ocean’s Eleven, I’ve dreampt of standing in front of the Bellagio fountains for hours on end.  Of course, Matt Damon probably won’t be there for the real thing.
  • Gambling – Eh.  Maybe.  I’m sure I’ll gamble a little, but not much.  This is Lloyd’s forte, not mine.  You might catch me on some penny slots – or do they even have those in Vegas?
  • Pool.  The girls on E! News are always hanging out at the pools in Vegas and I want to be there.
  • Party.  We might go to a club one night.  I don’t even know how to party anymore, though, so this girl might not make it past 11:00 p.m.
  • Shop?  I don’t know – is there really good shopping in Vegas?
  • Be together.  Cue the “oohs and awws”.  We’re excited just to spend time together and not worry about anyone else.
  • Eat.  We love to eat.  Especially eat out.  We’ve already bought a couple Restaurant.com coupons to:

envy

Envy Steakhouse: Our coupon is for $75 off of $150.  This is going to be our fancy nice out.  Come to think of it, I don’t have anything to wear to Envy!  Better start shopping!

cabo

Cabo Mexican Restaurant: $25 off of $35 – gotta get my Mexican craving fix at least once while I’m there!

kil_wat_logo

Kilawat:  $25  off of $35 – I’m thinking we’ll do breakfast here one morning.

little_budha_logo

Little Buddha:  Sushi!

I haven’t been off of work or on vacation in almost a year! I’m SO excited!

Have any of your ever been to Vegas?  Any recommendations on what to do while we’re there?

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Carnival of Personal Finance #205

18 May

Check out my article – 10 Reasons To Rent – in this week’s Carnival of Personal Finance.

Enjoy!

10 Reasons To Rent

14 May

If I had a cocktail for every time my mother e-mailed me and told me that “Carrie, honey, now is the time to buy”, then I’d be one drunk ‘lil lady.  (Love you, Mom!)

If you’re a 20-something like me, you probably know that renting instead of buying is the biggest financial no-no according to our parent’s generation.  It has been ingrained in them to buy, buy, buy.  Sure, you earn equity in a home and enjoy that warm, fuzzy feeling of “home ownership”, but what’s the rush if you’re not prepared?

Lloyd and I plan to enjoy all the perks that renting has to offer until we are 100% financially able to purchase our dream home.  Check it out:

1. I flushed my deodorant down the toilet.  True story.  I was rushing to get ready for work one morning and somehow simultaneously flushed the toilet while knocking deodorant into it at the same time.  How is this possible?  I still have no idea.  But, damn, that Lady Speed Stick was jammed in there and was not going ANYWHERE.  Lloyd and I don’t know Rule #1 when it comes to fixing a toilet.  Thank God we can just call our apartment fixer guy, er…I mean, Maintenance Man.

2. Snow in April.  It’s Kansas City.  The weather is out of control.  My apartment complex shovels my walk way and my driveway for free.  No further explanation necessary.

3. Lawn Boy.  Although I don’t mind mowing the lawn (hell-oo tanning and leg workout package deal), it’s still not as fun as lounging by the pool on a Saturday afternoon.  Plus, who knows how much a lawn mower is these days?

4. No Interest Payments.  Lloyd and I are planning to buy a house in the $200,000 range and plan to put 20% down as to avoid the dreaded PMI insurance.  I did a quick mortgage calculator online this morning based on an $180,000 loan at a 5% interest rate and the numbers scared me.  For a 30 year loan, we’d pay some $175,000 in interest over 30 years.  Our goal is to be financially stable enough to qualify for a 15 year loan.  Guess how much interest we’d pay on a 15 year loan? Approximately $75,000.   I’m sorry, but home equity or no home equity, if I can rent for a couple extra years to save $100,000 in interest, I’m gonna do it.

5. PMI Insurance.  It always amazes me that people my age rush into buying a home so fast they can’t put down 20% and get hit with the PMI Insurance.  For a $200,000 loan at 5%, PMI Insurance is about $170 per month.  I know some people avoid this by taking out an 80/20 loan, but why not avoid all that hassle but just saving for awhile longer?

6. Amenities.  I mentioned last week how great it is to walk across the street to my apartment gym versus driving 10 minutes across town to my regular gym.  Plus, on top of the gym, there is the pool, the free DVD library, the free mountain bikes, racquetball, free Wifi, and free continental breakfast.  (I swear I don’t live in a hotel…)

7. Cheap Rent. Our monthly rent is way cheaper than what we’d pay on a house even with a 30 year loan.  This is allowing us to save about $3,000 per month in total to put towards our down payment and other savings.  Not to mention the fact that we don’t have to shell out a month of savings if our air conditioner breaks down.

8. Live in Luxury.  You can live in a part of town that you normally wouldn’t be able to if you bought a home.  The homes around our apartment are in the $400,000 to $1 million range.  Umm, that is so out of our price range.  But, as renters, we get to enjoy the neighborhood for less!

9. Referral Bonuses.  I just received received $250 for referring a friend that lives in the complex I moved into.  Can’t beat free money!

10. Renter’s Insurance & Property Taxes.  My renter’s insurance covers WAY more than I even own and I swear it’s like $10 a year.  CNN Money says the average annual amounts for property taxes and homeowners insurance are $3,500 and $481, respectively.  After my calcuations, $10 is less than both of those amounts.

Of course, there are plenty of cons to renting.  I could go on and on about how many times I’ve cursed my neighbors for playing their music late at night or not being able to get a close parking spot.

Lloyd and I don’t want to rent forever and we have lofty dreams for our first home.  But, until then, why not enjoy the little things that renting has to offer while we can?

Trading Frugality For Comfort

13 May

About two months ago when I started studying for my first CPA test, I immediately had problems sleeping.  I’m guessing my brain had not been so stimulated since college!  I thought it would get better after my test, but last night was the worst night yet! I didn’t fall asleep until 3am! Yikes!

I find that I really sleep much better when it’s FREEZING cold in my apartment.  I just can’t sleep when I’m hot and it doesn’t help that Lloyd has the internal body temperature of a freaking firepit (seriously, what is with men?).

I used to be fairly frugal with my thermostat…trying to keep it just a tad below comfortable to save a couple bucks.  Last summer, I probably kept my thermostat around 75 degrees.

Lately, at night, I’ve been switching it down to 67-69 degrees!  However, I really do find that it helps me sleep better.

I was thinking on the way home today about how nervous I am to see my electricity bill next month.

But what’s more important – sleep or saving a couple bucks per month?  This time I choose SLEEP.

Sweet dreams!

CPA: T-2.5 Days

10 May

It’s official – I take the first part of the CPA exam this Tuesday.  Eek!

You may know I rescheduled it from April 24 because I was sooo NOT ready at that point.

I feel MUCH more confident these days.

I took a practice test this morning (basically the test with questions from past years) and got an 89% – woohoo!  You need a score of 75 to pass the CPA.  This shouldn’t be confused with a score of 75% because the questions are weighted (from what I’ve read).  I read somewhere that a score of 75 pretty much equates to 60-65%.  Sounds easy, right? Wrong!  The pass rate is still 35-45%.  Yikes.

At this point, I will be happy with just a score of 75.  That means I can move on with my life and to the next test.  This would also mean I wouldn’t have to shell out another $300+ to re-apply and take the same test over again.

I’ve learned SO much about how I learn over the past 8 weeks.  I’ve been out of the study habit for 4 years and let me tell you – it is HARD to get back into!

I plan to review the things I missed on this morning’s test for the rest of the day.  Tomorrow I have to work all day, so I plan to review during lunch and all night tomorrow night.

Tuesday – the big day – I am off the entire day!  My test is at night but I do NOT want to get stressed at work that day.  I’m going to do some light studying on and off all day.  I plan to sleep in so I’ll be wide awake for the test.  I also plan to get in a good, sweaty cardio workout and go tanning to clear my mind so I’ll be fresh for the test.  Also, I’ll be partaking in lots of healthy, clean eating on Tuesday so I won’t feel fuzzy that night.

But after I walk outta that damn testing center, you better belive I’m having a drink!  Lloyd is bringing me a sixer (or a twelver, depending on how I feel) and we’ll be celebrating with some drinks on our new patio. 😀

Cardio and lifting have kept me sane and focused during these past 8 weeks! I’ve always kept a pretty consistent work out regimen, but I really started kicking my runs into high gear the past couple weeks.  It has helped immensely!

Wish me luck! I’m well on my way to actually knowing what I’m talking about on this darn blog! 😀

My Apartment Gym

8 May

My new apartment has the most wonderful gym ever!  Well, the best I’ve seen at an apartment complex anyway.  There are 3 treadmills and ellipticals and 3 flat screen TVs!  It’s lacking in the weights department, but I’ve got my regular gym for that.

The best part is that it’s FREE!

Gotta love that!

April Top Referrers

4 May

Thanks to the top five blogs that linked to me in April!

  1. Give Me Back My Five Bucks
  2. Money Is My BFF
  3. Flirty 30 Something
  4. Allie In The City
  5. Frugal Dreamer