<< Back to all Blogs
Login or Create your own free blog
Layout:
Home > Category: Travel
 

Viewing the 'Travel' Category

Dec 20

December 20th, 2016 at 09:35 am

So for the very first time in a long time I have no editing to be done! Just finished up my last wedding of the year and a portrait session from last week, so there are no outstanding tasks for my business. Feels good to zero out Smile

So right now all tasks now are mostly related to getting ready for the holiday - baking cookies, getting cards written, presents wrapped, etc. Need to have all of it done by tomorrow afternoon. Then I go to work, and Thursday morning we leave for Ohio. It's going to be a very busy week, but I'm looking forward to seeing family and friends. And I'll be getting a lot of time with my SIL, who also happens to be my bestie. So I'm thrilled.

***

Had a busy but productive day yesterday, also with a little break to go see Rogue One Big Grin I thought that by going at 10:45am that we would get some sort of matinee pricing, but it still ended up being over $10/ticket. And we did splurge on a medium popcorn and drink. For me, the popcorn is half the reason I go, and I absolutely adore going to the movies. I just wish it were cheaper. Friends ended up inviting me to see La La Land in the evening, but I had to pass. The sting was enough the first time around. DH wanted to go do bar trivia last night, but I suggested we just play our Xbox Jeopardy game and have a couple of beers at home. So that's what we did.

Hit Target yesterday to grab a few things for treat bags and printer ink. Had to send out a gift card to a client in time for xmas. Shot out all of my mailed xmas cards today along with that.

***

Moved some $ around today, because I got two client checks in the mail. I'm all paid up for the year now as well. Things are falling into place Smile My income this month is going to exceed my goal by quite a bit, and I'm pretty excited about that. Not all of it was generated from new business, but still.

***

Took a look at the budget this morning, and we're actually looking really good. There are a few areas that have went over - but also several that are leaving us with excess, so I'm interested to see what the final totals for the month will look like. With the trip back home coming up, our spending will definitely see a spike. But we're at least keeping an eye on it.

That's it for now! Hope you all have a great holiday!

Back from the Honeymoon!

March 28th, 2016 at 12:08 pm

I can't believe how long it's been since I've updated, but leaving the country meant wrapping things up and lots of prep before the trip, and we've been back for about a week now. So there was quite a bit of catching up as well Smile

When we were on vacation we definitely were a bit liberal with the spending. Thankfully, Peru is rather inexpensive to begin with and we really didn't do much going out in NYC at all. All of the touristy things we did were free, and I think we ate at Shake Shack twice. haha.

All that being said, we had an AMAZING honeymoon. It was by no means a relaxing vacation - it was constant go and a lot of really early wakeups, but we saw so much and it was such a great experience. I can't wait to finish editing the photos so we can post them. For now, here's one Smile



Machu Picchu has been on my bucket list for a long time, and it's one I'm now able to say I've done.

Happy to get back into the swing of things. More financially-oriented updates to come!

Getting Ready for our Trip

February 17th, 2016 at 09:02 am

So we finally booked our flights to NYC, which were necessary to get us to Peru (our Groupon deal flew out of NY). And we booked our hotel room for the additional 3 nights we'll be staying in the city at the tail end of our trip.

Our honeymoon is going to be quite amazing, but we're definitely racking it up. So far:

$3,998 - Groupon Deal to Peru (including flights + hotel)
$280 - Optional Tours that we added
$528 - Our flights to NYC
$746 - Hotel stay for 3 nights in NYC
$216 - Hiking shoes for both of us, daypack, mosquito repellant, rain jacket (used $125 Amazon GC for part of this)

Total: $5,768

That's for two people, 11 nights, international and domestic flights, and an amazing experience. All things considered, I think we did pretty well - and our honeymoon donations (wedding gifts) cover above and beyond that. Also, we're getting quite a bit of swagbucks out of it - the $125 in GCs I mentioned happened because we went through Swagbucks to purchase the Groupon deal. When DH and I went to Micronesia back in 2010 to visit his sister, we spent about $4k in flight tickets alone.

We will obviously do a bit more spending once we're on the trip. Thankfully, it seems all transportation has been arranged to/from the airport and any tours included in our itinerary. Breakfast is provided the whole time we're in Peru, as well as a few other meals. We'll want to pick up some souvenirs.

In NYC we'll obviously be on our own. We have a handful of tourist stops we want to make - though several of them will be free: Statue of Liberty (just see it, not go up in it), the Highline, Times Square, etc. I've already done the Empire State Building, so we're opting out of that. I'm sure we'll do one nice dinner while we're there, and we also want to catch the NY Red Bulls match going on that weekend (DH is crazy about soccer, and we've tried to attend a match almost every trip we've taken. haha).

I think we've purchased most everything we want/need for the trip. We may both grab one other outfit for hiking, but we'll see. I'm just making sure everything we're purchasing can/will actually be used after the trip. I also need to get a feel for how NYC's weather is going to be at the time. It's hard to tell right now.

All I know is that I'm absolutely pumped for it to be here!! We drug our feet quite a bit planning the honeymoon, but now that everything is booked it's not so stressful... just something really exciting to look forward to!

***

In other news, because we just dropped so much money, we're definitely looking to spend a bit less. I'm heading to Aldi today to do a bit of grocery shopping - made my stop at Target last night to get a few other things they don't offer. A friend wanted to go out to dinner tonight, but I convinced her to come over for dinner instead, so that was a good financial choice.

Spent some time in Quickbooks today documenting payments and depositing checks. Had a shoot last night that went really well, so that was great. I've also been doing a lot of soul searching these past few weeks re: my business, and I'm starting to feel really good about turning it around, rather than giving up on it (which was where it was headed not too long ago). It's just not been terribly fulfilling for me lately. A really heavy wedding season burnt me out entirely, and to be honest... I don't love shooting them to begin with. There's a reason we charge the big bucks for them. Weddings are an exhausting line of work, and it's not for everyone. I think I'm one of those people. I can do it well, but it pretty much sucks the life out of me. So if I have to get a part time job to boost my income while I focus my business on portraiture and actually be happy with it, that's something I'm more than happy to do. Then, maybe, I'll get to a point where I CAN support the family on my photography. Who knows.

So that's that. All of my updates, for the most part. I hope you all are having a great week!

Feb 12

February 12th, 2016 at 08:12 am

So I finally went and did my shopping yesterday. I was able to return my stuff to AE, and they put the total value of the reimbursement on my card, which was nice - given that I had paid for $50 in gift cards. Still waiting for that to hit the account. They had very little in swim in the store, so I ended up going to Victoria's Secret and found a suit I loved. A bit more expensive, but it'll last for a few years. So that saga is over.

Also did a little shopping for warm weather wear. I found two tops at a good price. I don't usually shop at Banana Republic because it's so expensive, but I got a skirt and a top for under $30. Great date night or work outfit, and now I finally own a skirt. That's been on my radar for some time now. The other top is a comfy solid black shirt that can be dressed up or down. Everything followed my palette, and I'll be getting rid of another top that I never wear, so I'm keeping things pared down.

Looked at the budget and I'm still going to be under once that reimbursement hits - so we're doing alright. One of my Amazon gift cards from Swagbucks hit, waiting for the bigger one so I can snag my hiking shoes for vacation.

Today I need to get in touch with our travel agent to get flight details for Peru. We need to book our flights to and from NYC still, and decide if we want to do 1 or 2 nights in the city on our way back. As well as where we want to stay. Neither of us have really spent any time in NYC, so it's fun that we get to add that on to the end of the honeymoon - it'll be quite the contrast coming from Cusco!

Ended up going out with a friend last night. Spent $20 between the cover and drinks, but it was a hilarious comedy show and a really good time. Money well spent, I'd say.

DH also worked from home yesterday, so we hit the Indian lunch buffet (delicious). Had leftovers for dinner. Tonight I'll be making the poached eggs with asparagus and toast, which means I'm baking bread today as well. Don't have any plans for tonight, which hopefully means we'll be staying in - I've went out the last two nights, and I'm craving some quiet time in. I'm sure my budget will appreciate that as well!

Hope you all enjoy your Friday and have a fantastic weekend!

Feb 5

February 5th, 2016 at 05:24 am

It's been a relatively low-spend week, though I feel like that is going to change soon :/

I'm at about $90 of my grocery budget. I'll need to reign that in, but we did a good amount of cooking this week. We did go out to dinner last night, and we'll likely eat leftovers tonight. Tomorrow is my mom's birthday party, so dinner will be taken care of, I believe (or at least some food will be there). We've got one meal left to cook. I'll probably go to the store on Sunday. Still trying to keep my grocery budget under $200.

In terms of upcoming spending...

My little elliptical machine broke Frown Had my engineer friend over the other day and we busted it open to try and fix it. It's a lost cause, unfortunately. It'll be about $80 to replace it. Which isn't terrible, all things considered (less than a gym membership for a year for sure), but it's annoying. I am, however, looking forward to having it back. My workouts have been suffering a bit.

We leave for Peru in about a month, and we're starting to look at what we will want/need to bring. I think we're both going to buy a pair of good hiking shoes. March is the tail end of rainy season there, and we're going to be doing a lot of hiking. Waterproof and sturdy is going to be key. Also, getting the hardcore mosquito repellent will be a necessity with all that Zika virus hullabaloo going on. We're not planning to get pregnant for a few years, and at this point it looks like Peru isn't seeing too much of the virus, thankfully - but my mother in law is freaking out a bit, and I'd of course rather be safe than sorry. Also might snag a lightweight hiking daypack with a waterproof cover. I'll have my camera with me, and I don't want it getting damaged. Lastly, I may pick up some odds and ends in the way of clothes. May want one more pair of good workout leggings for the trip, and maybe a lightweight long-sleeved shirt. Again, thinking of the mosquitoes. As far as "Nice" clothes go, I think I'm covered. I just want to make sure I'm comfortable and safe while we're out and about. Also, we're planning to do a lot of hiking once we move down south - so we'll get a lot of use out of anything we purchase. I may redeem some of my Swagbucks for giftcards to cover those purchases.

In savings:

Mom's birthday party is, as I mentioned, this weekend. We're going to regift a restaurant gift card we got at the wedding. We don't spend much time at Darden restaurants, but she loves Olive Garden. I'll write a nice card, and that will be that.

We don't do anything for Valentine's Day, thank goodness. Might make a nice dinner, but no gifts. No restaurants.

***

I can't believe how soon we'll be moving - and we're starting to think about how we're going to arrange all of it. We need to schedule a weekend to go down to Nashville and see apartments (and hopefully that weekend put in applications), as well as figure the logistics. DH wants to price movers, but in the end I think it's going to be MUCH cheaper if we just rent a U-HAUL and do it ourselves, probably even if we have a friend drive down with us and then fly them back... but we'll see.

Admittedly, I'm starting to get *really* antsy for moving time to be here. Makes me feel a bit guilty, because we should be focused on enjoying our time with our friends here - and we are, for sure. But I think I'm ready for a change. Big time.

I think that's it for me today! I hope you are all having a great week! Enjoy your weekend! a

NYE is Here!

December 31st, 2015 at 08:14 am

I know I've mentioned it before, but I LOVE New Years. Not so much for the partying (though I don't hate that part. haha). It's just exciting to take a look back, learn from my experiences, and look ahead to the possibilities of the future.

2015 was a big year. My look back:

- I shot 16 weddings this year, which is 6 more than the previous. I learned that this volume is a bit too much for me, as I got incredibly burnt out. In 2016 I'll be limiting that number to 10 and focusing my work more on portraiture.
- This is the first year that I didn't work a part time job at all, and focused my time entirely on my business. Which is a huge (and wonderful) change. I'm hoping that I can maintain that in 2016, but we shall see.
- DH turned 30. This was kind of a fun milestone, and we had a really nice celebration.
- DH and I took a trip to Cincinnati to visit with friends and a trip to Nashville to scout out neighborhoods to move to.
- I alone took a trip to Denver to see my dad and visit friends, and then a trip to Montreal and Lake Placid to shoot a wedding, just a week before...
- We got married!

Financially, I can't say I ended the year *much* better than I started it. Because I worked solely at my business and because I wasn't great about putting aside money for taxes, I'm in saving mode to make sure I can cover them without having to dip into our joint account.

We're also now in my slow season, so my income levels wont quite be as high as usual. A lot of my focus in 2016 (after hitting my tax savings goal) will be on organizing my business finances better, so I don't run into this struggle at the end of the year.

One big victory that I made this year, though, is getting into the habit of regularly posting on this blog. I can't describe how much help it is. I keep myself in check much better that way. I’ve added to my morning routine checking my bank accounts (and mint) to see where I am on the budget.

Looking ahead…

2016 will also bring with it some big items:

- In March, we are taking our 10-day honeymoon to Peru
- In April, we are moving to Nashville!
- In May, we are very possibly taking a weekend, all-inclusive trip to Mexico for my 30TH BIRTHDAY!
- DH also wants to take a trip to Denver at some point to visit my dad
- I anticipate quite a few weekend trips after we move, given that we’ll be close to a lot of new cities
- This will also be the first full year that we are married, and handling our finances together (though we still haven’t really jumped in all the way. We need to do that.)

As I mentioned in my previous post, my theme for the year is “Making Space.” I wont have concrete financial goals put together until DH and I sit down and work through them, but I think every month I’m going to have mini goals/challenges of sorts to help me save/earn more. Some examples:

- No Spend Month (outside of essentials)
- Grocery Challenges (cook all dinners under $3/meal)
- Snowflakes (more surveys, Swagbucks, etc.) and being more creative with them (using my Amazon GCs for grocery products, etc.)
- Restaurant Challenge (don’t eat at restaurants at all, only x number of times)
- Make all beauty/cleaning products myself

In January for sure I am going to attempt the no-spend month. This is the time of year that I NEED to be saving as much as possible, and honestly, I just want to learn to make do with what I have. I live in complete abundance. There’s really no reason I need more clothes, books, house stuff, beauty products, etc. The only thing I’m going to rush to pay for before midnight is the acting class that I really want to take in February. It’s only $120, and isn’t “stuff.” I’ve been trying hard to reconnect with my creativity, and DH is entirely supportive. So it’s coming out of our joint account. I’m incredibly excited!!

I was thinking of adding an unlimited Zumba package to that (I went with my SIL last night, and loved it), but for a month I can either just do them online or drive over to where my SIL lives… her classes are free ☺ That is a want, not a need. And I save $30 for the month.

So that’s the idea for January!

***

Tonight we’ll be hosting a NYE party – of like 10 people, so nothing crazy. But I am cooking, and DH is making some fancy cocktails. We spent a little more than I would have liked on stuff for the party, but I still thought it was better than going out and spending a ton on a big dinner or party, and I don’t enjoy crowds. All in all, it was still less than I thought it would be. We’ll have a really great time tonight, our last NYE in town for a while! I’m going to enjoy the not so healthy food today. After midnight, I need to focus on my dietbet and ridding myself of those 7 lbs.

Speaking of unhealthy food – I also gave up fast food in 2015! Today I’ll be heading to McDonald’s for a Big Mac and fries, and then it’s no fast food again until the end of 2016. I’ve gotta say, I’m more than a little excited for that burger.

Hope you all have a lovely NYE!!!

Honeymoon Progress! And Swagbucks.

December 20th, 2015 at 05:37 am

So though DH and I got married in September, we still haven't gone on (or planned) our honeymoon. I think all of the planning for the wedding burnt us out, and we didn't want to deal with it. Our plan has been to go to Argentina.

Months ago, we found a Groupon deal that hit both Argentina and Brazil, but DH wanted to wait it out for a trip that hit exactly what he wanted to see (including Patagonia), and they stopped offering it after a while.

So yesterday I started poking around, and found a few vacation packages that sounded fantastic. None of them were in Argentina, unfortunately. When I looked for trips there it was either incredibly expensive, or just flights/hotels, and we didn't really want to have to plan much - so we focused on the pre-planned packages with tours and such.

It was up in the air between going to Peru or Japan, and Peru won out - they were both around $2k/person (including flights), and Peru was 2 days longer. Also, I get to cross Machu Picchu off my bucket list! I purchased the Groupon yesterday, and we'll be booking the trip first thing Monday when I can get a hold of the travel agency. If everything goes according to plan, we'll be taking our honeymoon for 10 days in March!

I'm so excited Smile

Even better - I have the Swagbucks button on my browser, so when I went to purchase I clicked the thing to enable my Groupon purchase to add up the points and add it to my account. At 7 SB per dollar spent, I'm earning 27,986 SB. Which seems so hilarious to me for whatever reason. I'll be able to redeem that for at least two $100 gift cards. So even better!

So good news. $2k/person seems so insanely cheap to me - we paid almost that for just our flights to Europe last year. It'll end up being slightly more, because we have to get to JFK to fly out first, but still... for everything included, it seems like a fantastic way to travel.

At any rate, on my way to mom's to bake cookies! Hope you all have a great day Smile

Groceries and Sweet Potato Recipe Link

November 17th, 2015 at 05:43 am

Went to Aldi and Target yesterday to finish up my grocery shopping for the week. My grand total was $65.60 - and included a $10 sweater for one of the cats. We're going to be doing a very silly Christmas card this year, given it'll be our first year we send them out. We still have to send out thank you cards from the wedding... is it rude to just stuff the both of them together? lol. Also, is it rude to wait 3 months to send them? haha. Tomorrow will be our 2-month anniversary, so we need to get those out soon for sure. Also, plan our honeymoon, which is supposed to be next month.

We LOVE traveling, and I'm really excited to go to South America, but for whatever reason neither of us has been motivated to actually do the planning or booking. I think we're just worn out on planning in general. I honestly wish we could just wait until February, but DH doesn't want to use up all of his PTO days for 2016 with the move coming up in April.

***

Some of you asked for the sweet potato casserole recipe I'm using for our Friendsgiving Celebrations. I've used this one in the past and it's delicious:

http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/sweet-potato-praline-swirl

This is the one my mother loves and I'll be bringing it to her house, but it's a bit on the sweet side for me. So I'm going to try this one for this weekend:

http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/praline-sweet-potato-bake

It's got a crunchier top. We'll see which one turns out best!

***

Should be a no-spend over here. Have a shoot this afternoon at a law firm - headshots for the whole office, so that should be fun. I'll be eating leftovers for lunch and we're making perogies (frozen, from the last time I made them) and roasting carrots from the garden.

I transferred money from my business account, so I'll be moving some of that around. I'll transfer $500 to our joint account (I had to deposit one of our wedding checks to my personal account for name reasons), and I'll be transferring $1,500 to my savings account to add to my tax savings.

Hope you all have a fantastic Tuesday!!