Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Keeping up with the Joneses.

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They say that the new rich isn’t the person who has a lot of money but the person who spends less to have more. People are redefining what successful means and are actually spending less time working and more time living.

For example: If a person is making $100K per year but has $70K in expenses they have $30K left of disposable income; but if a person is making $50K per year but only has $15K in expenses that person has $35K of disposable income. So the person making $50K per year essentially has more money. This is just a simple way to get the gist of it.

I’ve been getting asked a lot by friends and have even gotten emails from readers asking how I seem to be able to dine out and travel as much as it appears. I always respond first by saying I don’t have kids but truthfully I know that is not the only reason. So I figured that I write this post for those who have been asking because if one is asking maybe more are wondering.

We’re really smart with the way we spend our money. I definitely got this trait from my parents and in turn I had to teach Sean because Lord knows he had a spend, spend attitude when I first met him.

In order to be able to save and have disposable income we budget. We budget to the penny! One of the things we did is to make sure we didn’t buy a house for the amount we were approved for. We bought for a lot less. Why? To ensure that we are not house poor. For us, why have the biggest, most updated house on the block if it means that we would have no extra money to do other things that we love? Not worth it to us in the long run.

We put aside money every paycheck towards savings. If you feel that you don’t make enough to save, start very small. Start putting away $5 - $10 every paycheck and tell yourself that this is untouchable money! You won’t feel $5/$10 poorer and in the end it is going towards a great purpose. Just think of what you spend on silly purchases during the week and don’t spend it. Put it away. Before you know it you’ll see the small amount start to add up and soon realize you can save a little more. It only goes up from there.

We have a Christmas fund that we put money into every paycheck. This is to ensure that we’re able to buy Christmas gifts at any time in the year, especially during sales which happen year round. Doing it this way we don’t feel the pinch at all during the holiday season.

We also have a vacation/travel fund and that makes booking airfare and hotels very easy. Make a fund for things you enjoy or want that way you’re not pulling from your savings but from a fund specifically for that reason. You really want that expensive purse. Make a fund and start putting money towards it. When you reach your goal decide if that is what you really want to spend that money on. You’ll be surprised how this helps you determine what you really want to spend your hard earned money on. I found many times that once I reached my goal I no longer wanted whatever it was I was saving for. It’s important not to make spontaneous purchases if you can help it.

If your job offers a 401K take advantage of it! It is so important in the long run to have some money for retirement. Also, if your company matches you it’s basically free money! Take it from them since they take up 40+ hours a week of your life anyway.

What’s important to you? What’s important to me will differ from what’s important to you. I know that I don’t need the most expensive clothes but this does not mean that I cannot get quality pieces for lower prices. I’m all about sales! Buy clothes during the wrong season if that helps you get the best bang for your buck. I love to do this and often get a steal. I have finally pinpointed my style so I tend not to be too into the trendier items anymore but realizing this took a lot of time, trial and error. Do not spend a lot of money on trendy pieces. If this piece will only be trendy for a season, why spend a lot on it?

Narrow down what your style is and only buy pieces that fit it. I notice that when I buy something with only my style in mind, I reach for that item over and over again. I’ve narrowed down my style to bohemian, edgy and classic. If I go shopping and it does not fit one of those three things I do not buy it anymore. For instance, if I pick up an item that is “too girly” it will sit in my closet until I give it away or donate. Know your style as it will save you a lot of money in the long run. Of course there are trends you will be curious to try because let’s be real, trying new things is fun, just don’t spend a lot.

If you know me, you know that I love bell bottoms. If that was the only jean to wear, I would wear it happily. So when the 70s became a trend you best believe I took advantage of it! The thing is that even when the trend is gone, I’ll still be wearing them. I’m a firm believer in wearing what you like/love.

We like to travel so I would rather spend our money on airfare and hotels. That does not mean that we go crazy with spending. We are not extravagant or over the top people and our traveling is the same way. Everything is done with a budget in mind to always, always keep us in check. Just because you have the money doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be wise on how you spend it.

Invest if you can. We have two rental properties now (our first house we bought in 2010 and a second purchased in 2012) and any extra money that we get from them goes straight into a savings account. This ensures that if anything goes wrong in either of the properties we’re able to pay for fixes without any headaches. We are planning on buying our third rental this year and it really has been a great investment and we feel pretty confident in our decision to get into real estate.

Simply, spend your money wisely. Live below your means. Invest when you can and save, save, save! But most of all, don’t forget to live. Don’t spend all your life saving that you forget to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Life is truly all about balance but remember that keeping up with the Joneses is a motto from the past.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Vegas 2017

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When I think that we started going to Vegas in 2008 it surprises me because that’s nine years, y’all. It is also interesting to see how differently we do Vegas now. We use to do club crawls every single time and it was funny to see how not interested we were this time around. I guess we are getting older and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

We did what we normally do when we go to Vegas, minus the club crawl. We stay up late, sleep in later, eat excessively, walk the strip, shop and visit our favorite casinos to try our hands at Roulette or Craps. It’s a simple formula that always works for us. We do know one thing; we much prefer Vegas in August vs. January so there will be no more winter trips to Vegas from now on.

OK, here's a ton of pictures because I clearly have no control.

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One of the days we were in Vegas we had lunch at Mon Ami Gabi. I've always loved the outside of the restaurant but we had never eaten here. I love the French-esque décor and our food was tasty too.

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Taking a moment and pausing to gush about this incredible store (LoLo Exotic Home Goods and Jewelry) that sells home goods from Turkey on the strip. Don't be alarmed about the fact that they are on the strip as the customer service is amazing. They have an amazing selection of chandeliers, rugs, soaps and jewelry. Serious candy for the eyeballs.

I spent so much time browsing that we ended up purchasing a chandelier (he gave us the "local discount"!) that I just cannot wait to get installed. It is so much more gorgeous in person. I will share pictures once it is installed, hopefully very soon! We purchased the chandelier below on the left to go in our entryway.

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Always look up at the ceilings while in Vegas.

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Sean was craving PF Chang's lettuce wraps so we had dinner there one night.
Their lettuce wraps are so, so good.

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And of course, I can never not go into The Cosmopolitan. I just can't resist the sparkle.

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I hope you're all having a great week! ♥