New York, priceless

Making good on one of my goals for the year, to take my oldest niece, G, to New York City. B and I have been wanting to take a long weekend to either New York or Las Vegas, and since she’s just graduating high school and not college, I think we should stay with tamer New York! centralpark

We booked our flights and hotel last night. We will be staying near Times Square at this swanky place, The Paramount Hotel. We got a sweet price through Travelzoo (one of my favorite steal sites), even though B and I get points through IHG or Marriott, this was a better deal, and much higher on the hip scale of a teenager.

paramount

Doesn’t that just ooze, sleek and cool?!? Are we going to be the best Aunt and Uncle ever? We try, we try. She’s such a special young lady. I know we need to cherish the times she still wants to spend with us, because pretty soon she’ll be in college, spreading her wings and becoming more independent.

This is one of the reasons I am so happy we are frugal in our everyday life. We have the available savings that we can treat ourselves and G to a fun and memorable weekend.

Now we are setting a precedent, so our younger niece D is planning on having her graduation trip to California. She’s a sparkly girl, I’m thinking Hollywood and LA are calling her name.

We have a few things on our To Do In NYC list:

1. Stroll Times Square, look for celebrities

2. Bicycle through Central Park (if it’s warm enough)

3. Take a cheesy sightseeing bus

4. Visit Grand Central Station

5. Have breakfast outside Tiffany’s

6. Go to the top of the Empire State Building

7. Have pizza at Serafina’s (my favorite, yummy)

8. Ride the Subway

Even though B and I have been to NYC before, this will be G’s first time. We want to hit the highlights and make it a memorable time for her. Any ideas for visiting NYC with a teenager?

January One Week In

I’m one week into my running challenge and I’m proud to report, I am on track!

I was looking over my goals for last year, and although we managed to save a huge pile of money, this was mostly due to B (his super status saver genes rub off on me, I think twice before every purchase often putting off the purchase entirely) and the stock market. When it came to my health and fitness goals for the year, I fell short miserably. Although I didn’t gain weight, I didn’t lose either. Well I did managed to lose about 5# before our last vacation, then they quickly returned. So this year, I am quite serious about losing this extra weight. I am making it my #2 goal. #1 is always saving and staying on track, that is the title of this blog, I have to keep it the focus.

A little update on the rest of my goals.

1. Living in the moment, not dwelling on the past, doing very well.  Feeling in the present and at peace. A win and worthwhile goal.

2. Taking more pictures, not good at all, I pulled out my camera and it has sat in my purse or in my car during several events that I had planned on taking pictures, total Fail!

3. Workout more- doing well, getting back in the routine of am workouts. Had three morning workouts this week.

4. Savings on track!

5. Home Reno- gathering ideas, bought paint, but need to paint the bedroom. Maybe next week! No more putting this off.

6. Niece to NYC, have talked about this, maybe over her spring break, which is the first week of March. Also talked to B about hotels and things to do.

7. Tidy House- work in process, doing more laundry.

8. Sending packages- mailed a little package to a friend, had some makeup, a spice scented candle and some candy with a cute little card. Who will I chose for February? I’m thinking a friend who moved to Wyoming, I miss her, we used to be pen pals when we were younger.

Will You?

YOU CAN Now that I’ve been getting back to running and participating in the #100byVDay challenge from the Tone It Up girls, so far I’m pretty much on track for the 6 week challenge. I decided I need a more concrete and measurable goal, other than just mileage.

I am going to combine my need to cut back on clothing purchases with dropping some pounds. I am not going to buy any new clothes/shoes/accessories until I reach my goal weight of 139#, this is approximately 13#. My date goal is by the end of March. When I accomplish this, I will reward myself with a little rose gold diamond half eternity band ( I found one on ebay for around $200- ), I’m really all about the rewards. This will add some sparkle to my wedding ring set, remind me of my healthy lifestyle and hopefully keep me on track so I don’t get back to this predicament again.

This spending freeze will not include second hand stuff.  I know I have to get a shopping fix somewhere and I can’t spend more than $50-/month on thrift/ebay/goodwill. Also I can use gift cards from my credit rewards which is like free money and doesn’t count right?

Since we are stuck in this polar vortex in the Midwest, running outside will not happen until we thaw out in spring.  I’m stuck on the treadmill. The treadmill is about as boring as you can imagine, thankfully I have Netflix and I can watch movies/shows while running and it’s a great distraction. I make little deals with myself, like I am only allowed to watch the shows or movies if I am on the treadmill. I can always churn out an extra mile or two if I’m in the middle of a good show or movie, even if the run turns into a walk, it’s still exercise right? I am so looking forward to Season 2 of House of Cards, but that doesn’t come out until the challenge is over in Mid-February. I need something NOW! I had heard that Orange is the New Black was quite an entertaining show, and I gave it a shot. Even though I didn’t think I was going to like it, as I’ve never really enjoyed prison movies at all, I was hooked after about 10 minutes. I found this series is based on a book, a true story, wow, crazy! What rock have I been living under?

What are you watching now? Do you make deals with yourself to accomplish goals? Have you ever given a show or movie a try that you didn’t think you would like, but then ended up totally addicted?

Hello 2014

dontletyesterdayThis is one of my goals for 2014, to live in the present and not be concerned with the past. I am so happy and grateful for where I am in my life! I have a fantastic husband. I have great relationships with my parents and family. I have a core group of 3am friends, you know the ones that even if you don’t get together regularly because of the business of life, they would be there when you needed them, even if they were asleep in the middle of the night.

I am working on a wrap up of 2013, because I was such a bad blogger and didn’t post much this year. 2014, I plan to write more, even if no one reads it, I will write for myself and keep this online journal to recap and recount my goals and thoughts. I hope to keep myself in line with my savings goals, and figure out where we want/need to be to at least have the option of early retirement.

2013, we stayed on track with savings, even though we weren’t totally frugal and splurged with a fun sports car. We are planning for the future but living in the moment and taking vacations and going out to dinners and enjoying life in the way we decide works best for us.

This these are the main goals.

1. Live in the moment, don’t worry about the past or people from the past, I have a great life, I need to enjoy it fully.

2. Take more pictures, I really like pictures but don’t take them nearly enough.

3. Workout more, this isn’t just to lose weight but to tone up and feel great. I am following the Tone It Up Girls Love Your Body Challenge, which involves running 100 miles by Valentines Day, 6 weeks averages to about 2.2 miles/day. Also plan on doing some of their toning routines. Really want to get weight back in the 130s, this involves losing almost 15#, yikes~ I have let myself slack! Work on portion control and eating cleaner, much cleaner. I also want to run a 5K under 30 minutes and a 10K under 60 minutes. No long races for me, I want to work on getting a little faster.

4. Continue to plan for early retirement, stick with savings goals, increase net worth by $100K, through savings and 401(k)s. Right now our net worth is approximately $702K, and I will be happy if we hit $800K by the end of the year. This translates to basically maxing out our 401(k)s and living off one salary.

5. Home renovations. We want to re-do our bedroom and laundry room. We also might need a new roof and furnace, totally not fun purchases, but pretty practical.

6. Take my niece on a graduation trip, maybe New York City?

7. Get on a better schedule to keep our house clean and tidy and organized, instead of that feeling of dread when unexpected company comes by, is the sink full of dirty dishes?!?

8. Send more letters and packages to friends and relatives. It’s so cheery to get something in the mail, I want to spread this feeling to others, my goal is at least one letter or package of goodies a month.

 

 

Beautiful or Useful and April Goals

There are just too many “things” in my house. When B and I got married (almost 2 years ago come May) we didn’t do a bridal registry, why would we? We each had a house full of things and would be combining all of that to just one marital home. Recently I read a quote that was to the effect of “Keep Nothing Unless it is Beautiful or Useful” and now I feel the need to purge my many non-useful or non-beautiful possessions.

My Goals are for April include this sentiment by selling items on ebay as part of the decluttering process.

Without further ado.

1. Declutter and list at least 10 items on ebay. May be more ambitious and list more, but this is a start.

2. Run 50 miles (I have really slacked on motivation since I found out I’m probably not running the Chicago Marathon)

3. Lose weight! Be realistic 145 is my new goal for the end of April.

4. Get back on track with expense tracking. Need to make this a habit.

March Lookback

1. Run/Walk 60 miles (originally this was 90, but I know that’s just not doable, given I only ran about 20 last month) – This was a fail, I probably set my goal too high as I ran about 30 miles so far, might be able to update this after a long run this weekend.
2. Read the Bible every week (daily is still a goal, but doesn’t always happen, I have a set schedule, and as long as I keep to the weekly schedule, I should finish the Bible in 3 years, kind of a snail’s pace) Yes! read a little each week, so on track here.
3. Lose weight! Get back in the 140s, how did I get so off track! (Running should really help, also trying the 5:2 diet) – Lost a little gained it back, ugh!
4. Organize portfolio and figure when to sell a couple stocks that just haven’t been performing for me (they lowered their dividends, but I just didn’t pull the trigger and sell them, now I regret it. Regret to the tune of about 6K in loss, ouch, that’s a big oops!) – Just don’t have the timing right, still not sure when to sell.
5. Research some new more stable dividend stocks (don’t get greedy, that is my downfall, steady, long term 3-4%, nothing too crazy) – didn’t have a chance to research anything yet.

Losing the Lottery and Updated March Goals

This morning after I awoke to my alarm, as my ritual, I checked my email as my blurry eyes adjusted to the new day, and there it was much earlier than expected. The official results to my lottery entry from The Chicago Marathon. My heart jumped as I opened the file, but alas, it was bad news, I did not make it in to the event. Now my only chance is through my good friend M. M works for a non-profit and when I told her that I was trying to get an entry to the Chicago Marathon through the Lottery, she said her non-profit has a few entries available. I am waiting to hear what that involves.

It seems kind of funny that I am just now listing Updated March Goals, because I never posted initial March Goals. I guess they were just in my head. So here we are almost ½ way through the month and I’m getting around to posting them, oops! Better late than never, right?

1. Run/Walk 60 miles (originally this was 90, but I know that’s just not doable, given I only ran about 20 last month)
2. Read the Bible every week (daily is still a goal, but doesn’t always happen, I have a set schedule, and as long as I keep to the weekly schedule, I should finish the Bible in 3 years, kind of a snail’s pace)
3. Lose weight! Get back in the 140s, how did I get so off track! (Running should really help, also trying the 5:2 diet)
4. Organize portfolio and figure when to sell a couple stocks that just haven’t been performing for me (they lowered their dividends, but I just didn’t pull the trigger and sell them, now I regret it. Regret to the tune of about 6K in loss, ouch, that’s a big oops!)
5. Research some new more stable dividend stocks (don’t get greedy, that is my downfall, steady, long term 3-4%, nothing too crazy)

B is traveling a lot this month, so I will have quite a bit of time to myself. I should be able to eat pretty light and have plenty of time to exercise. Right now he is gone until 3-22, so my mini goal is to lose 5# by the time he comes home.

Entering the Lottery

The Chicago Marathon Lottery

The Chicago Marathon, held in October, is one of the most popular marathons in the United States. The course is flat and there is plenty of good scenery. I am looking forward to Lake Michigan views, skyscrapers, many cheering fans and several elite athletes that will complete their race in less than half the time that I hope to achieve.

Registration opened February 19 at noon. However B and I were traveling and I didn’t try to register on my iphone. Rumors were that the race would sell out in days, but I figured I would have time later that evening to sign up. For anyone who was attempting to register for the Chicago Marathon I’m sure you know there were several glitches with the registration process and now we are offered a Lottery Format for the remaining 15,000 entries.

I entered the Lottery this week, and will be notified on March 12 if I have received one of the coveted entries. Of course I was a little on the fence about doing a Marathon this year. I didn’t run much last year, just one 1/2 Marathon in February. My right knee has been bothering me (too much darn stairmaster in college!), and I imagine with age it will only get worse. But completing a marathon has been on my *bucket list* since I started running in my early 20s. I am so nervous because if I get in via the Lottery, this year will be full of training and no excuses. If I don’t get in, I fear I will never be able to do the Chicago marathon, because they will probably start to have qualifying times. I will never have a qualifying time because I really only want to do one marathon, I think my body handles 1/2 marathons pretty well, they are a challenge and something I want to do at least once a year.

My nerves are up and I have to wait a few more days to see what happens. One a side note, I do have a friend who works for a non-profit and if I don’t get to register via the Lottery, she may be able to get me an entry through her organization. However I’m sure I’ll have to commit to raising money for her charity, though that would be a good incentive and make the one marathon that I run in my life even more memorable and worthwhile. Here’s to marking off an accomplishment on my bucket list that has been there for about 10 years :)