Monthly Archives: December 2012
Time is relative. In elementary school, a two-week Christmas vacation was a lifetime. At 19, I figured I would never be 21. Now, time is doing laps around me, picking up the pace at an ever-increasing clip and the days, weeks and months can become a blur far too easily. 2012 was the first year that I made public goals, tracked them and actually met some of them. I’ll do a really quick recap just in case we’re keeping score:
Goals and Resolutions for 2012
- Develop my relationships and spend time with the people I love. WORD. As in YES!
- Reduce waste: Energy, water, food, consumer items and paper goods. YES!
- Get to know more people in LA and elsewhere. YES!
- Pay off $20,000 in debt to bring my debt total to under $15,000. NO: Will be around $17,900 by 12/31.
- Wake up 1 hour before I have to get ready for work, Monday through Thursday and write, do errands or work out. NO.
- Exercise 6 days a week. shhhmYES? That’s a kind of. I averaged 4-5 most weeks.
- Successfully complete the Yakezie challenge. YES!
- Develop American Debt Project and my two other online properties into income-generating websites. NO. Only 1/3.
- Buy my first place. NO. Pre-qualified and looking.
- Contribute 10% of everything I make to savings. YES!
- Start an herb garden in the patio! NO.
- Become a better photographer. NO. Can’t afford it!
- Writing goals: Submit to Thought Catalog, brainstorm/start book ideas. NO. Many other non-writing projects going on.
- Make at least $5,000 in writing/freelance income. YES! Technically, not writing income, but my own business income definitely.
- Create monthly goals for each month, which I will announce on my blog. YES!
As you can see, my goals were not fully developed or in line with what I ended up focusing on for most of 2012. I had some really ambitious ones like photography and an herb garden that sounded great but I made zero effort on the entire year and only remembered when I looked back at my resolutions post. But I also had some ones that I didn’t think I would even come close to– and being $2,900 shy of $20,000 in debt payoff was more than I thought was going to happen. I also worked out as part of my regular routine, improved my blog (but not nearly enough) and focused on the monthly goals, which helped a lot in getting things done each month. So for 2013, I propose to keep it simple. Clean. Intuitive. Things that I know matter most, and things that I want to make sure are an absolute focus of the coming year.
American Debt Project’s Goals for 2013
- Life: Be present in my own life and live with integrity, humor, love and fun.
- Family: Be present and giving to my boyfriend, family and friends, including blogging friends.
- Money: Pay off my remaining ~$18,000 in debt by mid-2013 and incur no more consumer debt.
- Investing: Buy my first property-one that is a good value and well below what I can afford.
- Investing: Read The Intelligent Investor. Invest prudently and carefully.
- Business: Sell 1,000 units of something.
- Body: Weigh 120 pounds and get toned.
- Travel: Take one trip out of the country.
That’s it! Eight is even more than I was originally going for. But it helps to add some feel-good ones like Body and Travel because it’s easy to become singularly focused and very unhealthy and also forget to call or see your friends and family. 2013 is not about documenting the minutiae of what I can get done, but whether I can focus on a few key goals while still enjoying life and learning as much as possible and remaining humble and in awe of the possibilities that await. My debt weighed me down for years, and I am ready to say goodbye to it and say hello to a new outlook and approach to life.
I can’t wait to see what the next 12 months will bring. Happy New Year to All!
Sometimes I hate California. California real estate is already overpriced. I know that. In Southern California, it feels like everyone starts doing stuff at the same exact time, making it miserable for everyone involved. Examples:
- Going to Disneyland on a Saturday in July
- Driving on the 5 or the 101 pretty much anytime of day but especially during morning and evening rush “hour” that lasts for 4 hours each
- Wearing leggings with flannel shirts and crossbody brown leather bags
- Deciding now is the time to buy real estate
Less than a year ago, the market in California was still pretty depressed. Every other real estate agent was complaining about how they had second and third jobs just to make ends meet, and the news was still wondering where our “bottom” was. I started talking to realtors about 12 months ago (even though I knew I wasn’t ready) and their tone is very different now that I am ready and pre-qualified* to buy. My goal is to buy in an area that is nice but not too nice and will work as a rental. I don’t want to sound like my real estate agent, but inventory is slim. When did everyone start buying property again and making crazy overpriced offers? The fact is, there are too many damn people in California and too many of them are cash buyers which makes it hard even when you have a 20% down payment ready. Look at this article. I hate these people. Although the sellers are asking you to write into your offer that it will stand “even if the appraisal comes in lower than your offer”, you don’t have to do it. Don’t give in to the crazy! My realtor mentioned one of these and I said, “Nope. Get ’em outta here.” I don’t care, I’m not going to do that! I want to own real estate and be an investor as well, but I will buy out of state if I have to. Texas is not that far and people are happily living and working there. I have a ton of family in Texas (who also happen to be business-savvy and own plenty of real estate) and my good friend’s mom also own rental property there and would be willing to help me research the market.
But all hope is not lost for California. It pays to be in tune with construction and development. There are developments happening in the area (south and central Orange County), along with huge infrastructure projects like freeway and transit projects. So I know that even though there are some areas I really like and can charge rents above my mortgage payment, there are some neighborhoods a notch or two below that will also work out in the long run. The areas I really like have those demanding sellers and units being sold after 4 days on the market. The up-and-coming areas have more inventory and less demand, and lots of rental demand because there are large employers around and people who commute to LA for work. It won’t be as nice or exciting, but I think that’s what being an investor is all about. Can I make the right, rational decision? I hope so.
Just as long as there’s a hot tub at the end of this tunnel.
*I got pre-qualified for a mortgage! But it’s my intent to have all credit card debt (~12k) and most student student loan debt (~5k) paid by the time I make my first offer.
Blogging is fun because you really can do whatever you want. A bunch of bloggers teamed up to bring you 12 Days of Giveaways:
- 12/1 – Everything Finance Blog
- 12/2 – Thirty Six Months
- 12/3 – Serendipity’s Guide to Saving
- 12/4 – L Bee and The Money Tree
- 12/5 – You Have More Than You Think (Slow cooker? This lady wins.)
- 12/6 – The College Investor
- 12/7 – Afford Anything
- 12/8 – Chic Darling
- 12/9 – Young Adult Finances
- 12/10- Yes, I Am Cheap
- 12/11 – American Debt Project Right here, right now.
- 12/12 – Vanessa’s Money (Starts Tomorrow)
So even though I’ve known about this thing for practically a month, as usual, I did very little (technically: nothing) to get this giveaway sponsored. I am a bad blogger. But it’s OK because I have some favorite things that work better for me to just giveaway: T-shirts, baby. Sweet tees are definitely at the top of my list of favorite things. Although I love bikinis even more than I love tees, I figured that giving away bikinis would skew this giveaway towards women and I wanted everyone to participate.
Hurricane Sandy hit a place that is very near and dear to me: South Jersey. The Island was flooded. The Shack is gone. The Seaside Heights pier is swimming in the Atlantic. And since there is a long road to rebuilding, I decided to hit two birds with one stone by giving away not one, not two, but THREE of Jetty’s Hurricane Sandy Relief T-Shirt.
Jetty’s doing a great job of documenting their volunteer efforts and I know they will use the proceeds ($20 a pop) wisely. I’ll also be buying one for myself (it’s Christmas!), so even though $80 isn’t much, it’s something to help, and three lucky winners will also get to wear their snazzy shirts around their hometown, courtesy of American Debt Project (beep beep: that’s the sound of me tooting my own horn). Just enter below via Rafflecopter AND leave me a comment letting me know if you love New Jersey and tees as much as I do. Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukkah and Happy Holidays!!
Even though I’ve never been crazy about Christmas (unlike some people), it’s always fun to shop for gifts for a small group of family and friends each year. I know it sounds like I’m bragging, but I am really good at picking out gifts for other people. It must be my observant nature, but I am pretty awesome at picking out something that means something to my loved ones and serves some purpose, whether it’s just being fun, showing off their style or keeping them motivated. Since I am always in search of the perfect gift, I have found a few good options to keep me from overspending on gifts without sacrificing any of my awesome know-how in gift-picking.
1) Stick to your list
Each year, there are a few non-negotiable people on my list: my boyfriend, my parents and my niece and nephews. Those are really the only ones that I have to (and want to) get gifts for. I usually add a few more to that list before I start shopping, but I definitely know before I start shopping who I am shopping for and how much I am willing to spend in total. It saves me from any guilt or “I should get this for so-and-so” feelings later on, because I have already decided who I most want to get gifts for and also make sure those gifts are meaningful. You won’t catch my buying anyone an anonymous pashmina for Christmas.
2) Search for the best deals online
Hopefully you know by now that you can almost always find it cheaper online. You can buy online with coupon codes, price compare on big sites like Amazon and Wal-Mart and just search for reviews and information on products online. Holiday deals are popping up everywhere, so check to see if you can save money using promo codes for Sears or other stores. They may offer you free shipping or a percentage off from your entire purchase.
3) Choose the homemade option
If you are not ready to whip up a batch of delicious chocolate chip cookies from scratch, many local markets offer hand-crafted goods that make unique holiday gifts. You can find beautiful, hand-made jewelry in farmers markets around the country. You can guarantee your loved ones that they are truly getting a one-of-a-kind gift.
Do you have any tips to help save money on gifts during the holidays?