Almost There: My Goals For The Rest of 2014!

4450623309_5a01157463_zThe BF and I are back from our trip. It was SO much fun but boy am I jet lagged. This was the most time zones I’ve ever traveled across and let me tell you…the aftermath is not fun. It’s been 3 days back now and and my brain still feels like a big pile of mush.

Once I get over this bad case of jet lag, I plan on really hitting the ground running. I can’t believe that October is practically over and there are only 2 full months left to the year. I know I say this every year but I can’t believe how fast 2014 has gone by.

2014 has been one of the one of the best and most memorable years for me. Too much to talk about now but one notable milestone is quitting my full time job just last month. We also finally got to traveled to Asia.

Since my life (particularly my work life) has changed drastically over these past few weeks, I thought it’d be a good idea to reset my goals a little for the rest of 2014. There’s only two months left to the year and I really want to finish 2014 strong!

Work / Freelancing / Solopreneur-ship

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I quit my full-time job. I’m not really worried about income or finances since I have a sizable emergency fund in place. But I don’t want to get too comfortable. My main goal for the next couple of months will be to build my up my freelancing gigs, while diversifying my income streams at the same time. I’m currently making enough to cover expenses and save a little afterward but it’s nowhere near what I use to make. I don’t think I’ll get to that point by the end of the year but I’d like to be at least 75% of the way there.

Blogging / Savvy With Saving / Connecting With Others

One of the things I always wished I could do more of while I was working a full-time job was spend more time on this blog, along with connecting with other bloggers. Well now I can! This blog is a big part of what led me to freelancing and it’s also a big part of my plans the rest of the year and next. I’m working on some ideas for new content and a new design…stay tuned!

I’ve also come to realize that the personal finance community is such an awesome one to be apart of. When I first started blogging, I heard so many awful stories of bloggers being mean and rude to each other, which scared me a little. But from what I’ve encountered, everyone has been so supportive. Unfortunately, I missed FinCon last month but I’ll still be working on connecting more with fellow bloggers going forward.

Health / Fitness

Staying healthy is ALWAYS a struggle for me. I’m what you call skinny-fat. In other words, I’m skinny but not necessarily healthy. There are some months when I go to the gym 3-4 times a week and other months when it’s hard to motivate myself to go even once. But on a positive note, I’ve been eating much healthier now that I am working from home. I was scared that I would be compelled to binge eat all day but it’s actually the opposite. I cook all my meals and only snack on occasion. I’ve also found more time to go the gym. When I worked in a office, I was so beat when I got home that the last thing I wanted to do was go to the gym.

My goal for the next couple of months is to go for 1 hour workouts, 3 times a week. Totally attainable, I think.

Home-life / Home-stuff / Misc.

In the past year, I mentioned a few times that the BF and I have been looking to purchase a home. After losing a couple bids, the outlook isn’t really looking good for us. It’s really a seller’s market where we are and prices just keep climbing. Plus now that I’m self-employed, I’m practically unemployed in the eyes of a lender so its harder for us to get a loan. We’re not completely throwing the idea of purchasing out the window but we’re also considering downsizing (if that’s even possible) or moving further out. Our lease doesn’t end til May 2015 so we still have plenty of time to think it through.

In other news, we’re thinking seriously about getting a kitten! I’ve never had a pet before and I certainly never thought I was a cat person but we’ve been absolutely obsessed with cats lately! I think we’re pretty much set on getting one so I might be a pet parent by next month, ahhh!

All in all, I think my goals are pretty achievable. But I only have 2 months left so I better get cracking.

What are your goals for the rest of 2014?

Week In Review – I’m In Tokyo!

Sorry I’ve been a little MIA this past week. I had the best intentions to write a post while on vacation but well, I’m just having too much fun. :)

I’m currently in Tokyo, Japan. The BF and I spent about a week here and previously, a week in Taipei. We are loving every minute of it… especially the food! Today is actually our last day in Tokyo and we fly back to New York tonight. While we’re sad our adventures are over, we’re really excited to get back home. I’ll keep this short and sweet but I will be back next week and I’ll tell you all about my trip!

P.S. Here are a few snaps!

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GlamBot Review: Sell Your Used Makeup Online

glambotI have ALOT of makeup. My excuse is that I use to work in the beauty industry so I buy a lot of products to test and I would also get things for free. But I’ll admit, that’s just an excuse. I have more than enough products for a lifetime and most of it just sits in a drawer, never touched. Now that I no longer work in the beauty industry, I thought it was time for me to try to get rid of some of it.

I’ve been going through my stash and picked out a pile to give away to friends. After that, I was still left with a pretty big pile that I didn’t know what to do with. I didn’t know if selling used makeup was actually a thing for sanitary reasons but I did some Googling and stumbled upon GlamBot. GlamBot is basically an online consignment store…for makeup. You ship your used products to them, they give you a price, and you can choose whether or not to accept it. On the flip side, you can also shop for used luxury beauty products at a discounted price.

Since all my unwanted makeup was basically going to be tossed out, I decided to give GlamBot a try. I went on their website and requested them to email me a shipping label so that I could ship my makeup to them (shipping is on them). One note – they will only accept high-end, luxury brands. That means no drugstore products. You also must ship them at least 10 items per shipment.

IMG_1635I have more than 10 products I don’t want but I decided to start with shipping them 10. I sent them a mix of high-end brands, all used (pic to the left). The price of each vary but I would estimate, on the low end, about $30 each. Of course, since they are all the used, the value of it is drastically lower.

It took me about 2 weeks to get a quote back. They offered me $78 in cash (payable by Paypal), $95 in Glambucks (credit to their store), or a 50/50 distribution. I opted for the cash and received it in my Paypal account a couple hours later.

All in all, I would definitely sell to Glambot again. You don’t get much back but when you use a makeup product once, it’s not worth much anyways. Also, it’s a lot easier than trying to sell it one by one on eBay.

Also, on the other hand, this might sound strange or contradictory, but while I would sell to them, I’m not sure I would purchase anything on GlamBot. I take good care of my makeup but I’m not sure if everyone else does too. I don’t know if they hold their sellers to any type of standards or if they sanitize everything before selling it. There’s something about using someone else’s makeup that I’m not totally comfortable with!

Would you consider buying or selling on Glambot?

I Quit My Job!

It’s time for me to fess up. Maybe you’ve noticed that I’ve been much more active on this blog, on your blog, and on social media. No, I didn’t stop sleeping. I actually did something kind of crazy.

I quit my job.

Well, it’s actually not that crazy. In all honesty, it’s something I’ve been thinking seriously about since the beginning of the year. While my job had wonderful perks and a nice salary, the grind of the 9-to-5 (or 6 or 7) was starting to take it’s toll on me. If I loved my job, of course I would’ve stayed. But I can’t help but think that there’s more I need to explore. The more and more I thought about my future there, I just couldn’t picture me doing it forever or even for another year. So I did it. I quit my job. I gave my notice in June and originally planned to stay until the end of July. July came around and they couldn’t find anyone to replace me….so I offered to stay until the beginning of September. Luckily, they were able to find my replacement just in time and I trained her my last week there. I think I should win some award for most notice given.

I’ve been fun-employed for about 3 weeks now and let me tell you, it’s awesome. I wake up without an alarm, work out a little bit each day, and catch up on my morning shows…the possibilities are endless. But still, even though I’ve built up a sizable amount of savings and have my freelancing income to cover my expenses, it’s still very scary. I’m not use to not having a stable income and it’ll probably take me some time to get use to it. I worry about something catastrophic happening and not having a steady income stream to protect myself. But I’m also very paranoid. It’s going to be OK. Actually, it’s going to be more than OK. For sure I’m nervous about this next chapter but really excited as well.

So what’s next for me?

I’m open to anything really. For one, I’m going to continue freelancing (anyone need some help? :) ). The dream would be for me to turn that into a career because I really love writing and all things digital. But I also want to take all this new found time to do things I’ve never had the time to do before. For instance, no joke, I’ve cooked more in these 3 weeks than I have in all my life. And I found out I’m not actually that bad at it, who would’ve thought?

I’ll also be taking some time out to travel, starting with our trip to Taiwan and Japan in a couple days. I’m also trying to hit up a few cities in Europe at the end of year so definitely need to start planning (and credit card hacking).

So that’s my leap of faith. Maybe things will work out, maybe it won’t. But I’m just glad I tried.

And with that, we will be back to regularly scheduled programming next week.

Have a great weekend! :)

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How To Exchange Money When Traveling

8463683689_baa33ca431_zYou’ve probably already heard (cause I’ve said it a bazillion times!) but I’m going to be traveling to Asia at the end of the week. Yay! Unfortunately, I’ve come down with a small cold but it’s OK. Nothing I can’t handle. I’m still super pumped!

I haven’t traveled internationally a whole lot so I’ve been doing my research about every single thing, from whether I need outlet converters to what the weather will be like. One thing that I didn’t think too much about in the past was exchanging money but the more I did research about it, the more I realized I’ve always been doing it all wrong!

I always exchanged my money at the airport.

Anytime I traveled internationally, I always got off the plane and exchanged my US dollars for the local currency at the Travelex at the airport. I never thought twice about it, until I did my research and found out that’s the last thing you should do. Duh, Connie! Exchanging your money at locations in airports and hotels can cost you anywhere from 10-14% more. The transactions fees or service charges are a little ridiculous and the way they bake it into the exchange rate, you don’t really notice it. You definitely pay for the convenience. If you use an international ATM or your credit cared internationally (depending on your bank or credit care), you’ll still encounter fees….just typically not as much.

Hence, never exchange your money at the airport, if you can help it.

So how do you exchange your money internationally and avoid foreign exchange fees? Here are a few tips:

  1. Use a no foreign transaction fee credit card – Most credit cards will charge you a 3% foreign transaction fee anytime you use your card internationally. There are some though that have no foreign transaction fees. They are typically the travel rewards cards and carry a higher annual fee. Here is a very comprehensive list from Nerd Wallet of those no-fee cards, along with what the fees are for all other cards.
  2. Use a no foreign transaction fee debit card – Similarly, when it comes to ATMs, using your debit card abroad will also incur fees. Typically, you will see a flat fee of about $3 – $5, plus 3% of your transaction. So yes, it can add up. Most banks charge a fee if you use a international ATM but the one I know of that doesn’t is CapitalOne 360. Also, I bank with Chase and have the Premier Plus Checking account – they  will wave the first 4 transaction fees each statement period for non-Chase ATMs, including international ATMs (the 3% isn’t waive but hey, I’ll still save $5)
  3. Find out if your bank has international branches – If your bank has international branches, you should definitely try to use those ATMs to avoid fees. My boyfriend banks with HSBC and luckily for him, they have some international locations
  4. Try to exchange money at a local bank – If your bank does not have any international branches and you are bringing cash with you, you could always try to exchange it at a local bank. This is a little tricky though because many banks won’t do it if you are not a customer. Ask around, especially at the larger banks.
  5. Otherwise, just use any credit card! – If none of the above work, your best bet is just use your credit card. While you will incur a fee, it’s typically the smallest fee you will encounter.

Always do your homework before you go and know what the current exchange rate is. Also, don’t carry large amounts of cash with you. As a tourist, you’re a bigger target for theft.

Do you have any good tips for traveling?