Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Weekly Money Check-Up

Image via MPP

This week, I decided to participate in My Pretty Pennies Weekly Money Check-Up because after being a bit neglectful of my finances for the last few weeks, it's time to get back on track!

  1. The most I’ve spent this last week was $45 on ingredients for my contribution to Thanksgiving dinner, Spice Cupcakes with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting. I was a little shocked that the ingredients cost so much, but they turned out delicious so I guess the money was worth it.
  2. Today I feel excited about money because it’s a pay week and that's always something to be excited about :- )
  3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was spend time with my family during the Thanksgiving holiday. I didn't get to see some of my hometown friends, but look foward seeing them later in the holiday season.
  4. I will consider this week a success if I complete the first draft of a paper that is due in two weeks and start my Christmas shopping!
  5. My favorite holiday song is 'Carol of the Bells' I haven't yet heard a version of the song I didn't like. I have fond memories of singing the song in my high school choir.

Monday, November 29, 2010

What Did I Purchase on Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

Nothing! I did have some discretionary spending on food and transportation, but I didn't spend any money shopping for myself or anyone else on Black Friday or today, Cyber Monday. I'm sure there are still deals that can be found, but they won't be found by me. My holiday gift list this year is not extensive and I plan to purchase most of my gifts locally and make an effort to buy handmade items (not by me though!) over the next few weeks. If I had to replace technology products that are 'necessities' like my phone or laptop, I may have been tempted to shop, but to be honest, I just wasn't inspired to fight the crowds for a 'deal' this year. I'm embracing the things I love most about the holiday season; spending time with loved ones, reflecting on all of the things I have to be thankful for, helping others in some way (large or small), but I think my wallet will thank me if I don't sucked into the consumerism that the holidays can also bring this year. I've certainly done my fair share of stimulating the economy in 2010 anyway :- )

Did you take advantage of the deals and shop on Black Friday or Cyber Monday?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My Favorite Books of 2010

I am the type of person that always has a book in my bag for my daily public transportation commute and I also make good use of my local library. Here are my thoughts on my favorite books of 2010 in no particular order:

  • If You Have to Cry, Go Outside by Kelly Cutrone. I loved the no-nonsense attitude of Kelly Cutrone. I didn't know much about her until I watched her reality show (is it coming back?) on Bravo. This is a great book for a recent college graduate interested in working in the fashion industry or any teen/young female professional that needs inspiration on 'making it'.
  • My Life in France by Julia Child. I was inspired to read this book after seeing the film Julie & Julia earlier this year. I have to say, reading about Julia Child's interesting years living in France with her husband was much better than the film. I admired her tenacity to keep plugging away toward her goal of completing her timeless cookbook despite setbacks. She seems like someone I would have enjoyed sitting down and having a cup of tea with if she were still alive.
  • B*tch is the New Black by Helena Andrews. I loved Helena Andrews sarcastic humor and the way she described her interesting childhood and experiences dating as a young professional black woman in her essays.
  • Cane River by Lalita Tademy. This historical novel based on the real-life occurrences of a woman's family during slavery in Louisiana was a compelling read. The author spent years researching her family to write this fictional version of her family's story.
  • Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin. If you need a jump start to get your creative initiative going, this is the book to read. I have read a few of Godin's books and this one is my favorite so far. There are so many gems in this book, I think I might actually purchase it so I can reference it later.
  • Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. This fast-paced and slightly disturbing thriller/mystery captivated me from the first page and I couldn't put it down until I finished it. I've already read the Girl Who Played with Fire and just picked up the final book in the trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. I'm already sad that there will be no more books from Larsson because he died shortly after completing the first three books in what was planned to be an ongoing series according to Wikipedia.
  • Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. I didn't expect to like this book because (a) I don't really enjoy the circus, seeing animals in captivity makes me sad, (b) I didn't think I'd be able to relate to the protagonist, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book and read it pretty quickly. It was surprising that one of the most compelling characters in the novel was not human, and that's all I'll say in case you haven't yet read it.
  • The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley and William Danko. I'm a little late to the game in reading this book because I have seen so many bloggers reference it over the last few years. Though I personally think the scope of the research of this book is limited, I really liked the major premise of the book; that you don't have to be born with a silver spoon in your mouth to accumulate wealth and that high consumers are not necessarily the rich folks in American society. The data presented in the book did present interesting stories and really made me rethink about how I perceive wealth.
  • I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi. If you love the tone and content of Ramit Sethi's highly popular blog, than you'll like this book. The advice in the book was presented in a fresh way and I liked the slightly irreverent tone of his writing. I would purchase this book for anyone I know that is a recent college grad just learning to manage their money.
  • The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins. After seeing a few bloggers reference these books, I decided to pick up The Hunger Games from the library. I didn't expect to like them because of the somber and disturbing premise of the books and the fact that they were written for an adolescent audience but I found the books very interesting and found myself rooting for the protagonist. I'm currently reading the final book in the series and am curious to see how the series will end.
As you can see, I read across the board from memoirs, to novels, to mysteries to self-help, but I have a penchant for memoirs. In 2011, I plan to read more books on investing and entrepreneurship, but I've gotten through a lot of 'must reads' on my book list in 2010. I recently heard a statistic that I can't exactly recall about the dismal reading rates of Americans which amazes me because I see so many people in D.C. toting around books and e-readers on public transportation. But I personally find that reading for fun (and information) makes me feel more well-rounded and makes for great conversation with friends, associates and colleagues. So, read up!

What were your favorite books of 2010?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Being Thankful

Thanksgiving is only a couple days away (where did this year go…)! In an effort to bring the year to a close on a positive note, I’d like to outline the things I’m grateful for this Thanksgiving:

  • My health.
  • My loving family and supportive friends.
  • Being gainfully employed with great benefits.
  • Slowly building my savings and retirement funds.
  • Being weeks from completing my Master’s degree (whoop!).
  • Living in a part of the city that I love in an awesome apartment.
  • Being relatively young and having fun milestones to look forward to personally and professionally.
  • Having been able to afford to travel for pleasure this year.
  • I could go on, but I'll stop here.
I don’t often take the time to think about how many things I really have to be thankful for, so I plan to do this more often in the future. In general, I think it’s so easy to get caught up with focusing on what we don’t have and goals that haven't met instead of focusing on the considerable abundance many of us have in our lives. Life isn't perfect and things don't always work out as planned, but that's what makes it interesting!

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?