Tag Archives: saving

Working On Money (or A Prosperous Heart Update)

I wrote before about how the podcast I work for was going to do the 12 week journey in “The Prosperous Heart”. We just got to the end of the 12 weeks and I figured it was time to do an update.

I’ll admit that I did not follow the 12 weeks as strictly as I did with “The Artist’s Way”. The main thing I did do was the morning pages. I struggled with the morning pages when I did “The Artist’s Way” and I really didn’t enjoy them. They became something that annoyed me at the end of that journey and I really was not enjoying having my mornings start off on such a negative note. So I decided that for me, doing the morning pages wasn’t going to benefit me the way that it should so I didn’t do them.

I know that some people will argue that I didn’t really do the 12 week journey this time if I left out doing the morning pages, but that’s ok with me. I have to do what is right for me and I would rather try to do the journey the best that I can instead of not doing it at all. I did do the weekly reading and the questions at the end of the chapters, so I feel like I did a majority of the journey.

The biggest thing about this 12 week journey is to track every single penny that you spend. Since I already do that with YNAB, I figured it would be pretty easy for me to keep doing it. And fortunately it was pretty easy for me. The only annoying this was with credit card spending. I track it in YNAB and it was a bit weird to have to track it in a second location as well (for “The Prosperous Heart”, I tracked everything in a little notebook). I didn’t like having to do everything twice, but it was a minor issue.

But while I track all my credit card spending, tracking cash was a new thing for me. I was looking forward to seeing how being extra aware of my cash spending would help me out. And for the most part, I got much better about being more cautious on what I was buying. There were a few times I forgot to track my cash spending (mainly laundry money or parking meters), but I would say I tracked all but maybe 10 times I used cash. It’s not perfect, but I’m pretty happy with being close to perfect.

I think that many people in our group weren’t as into this 12 week journey as they were with the other one. Some of us felt like the book didn’t speak to us the same way. Some people felt that the chapters were repetitive and a bit disconnected. It was not easy for us to admit that we didn’t enjoy this journey as much as the other one since we all felt so great after finishing “The Artist’s Way”. But it’s important to admit to yourself when you don’t feel like you are getting what you want out of a book/class/lecture.

We tried to encourage each other to stay on top of the weekly chapters and the lessons, but this time the group online wasn’t as active and sometimes it felt like we were each on our own journeys instead of doing it as a group. It’s not bad to do it alone, but it was different. And I don’t know if I preferred the group version or being a bit more on my own. Each journey was so different because of what was in it, so it’s not easy to compare them to each other.

Now that this is done, I’m going to keep some of the lessons and challenges going but I’m not going to keep all of them. I might continue to track cash spending, but I think just having the extra awareness I have now will be helping me so much. And for credit card spending, I already track that and I have noticed that I haven’t been charging as much stuff as I did before. So it’s nice to know that I did learn something and that I’m not spending as much as I did before. I’m not saving as much as I’d like, but it’s baby steps toward that.

Overall, I’m glad that I took this journey. Even if I didn’t do everything that was supposed to be done, I feel like I have made a change and I’ve learned new things about myself. I’m hoping that I can continue to spend less and focus less on things that cost money and look for things that are free that I like to do. I know that I need to get my credit card debt paid off and I really want to get it done soon. I just need to buckle down and work harder toward that. And hopefully the lessons I learned from “The Prosperous Heart” will help me over the next weeks and months to accomplish that.

Looking Forward To Some Big Spending (or Needing New Technology)

I’ve written before about how I really need a new computer soon. This realization hit me hard when the new iPhone came out. I discovered that the new iPhone (at least the most expensive one) has more storage on it than I do on my computer. The fact that a phone could have more room on in than my computer is sad and a sign that I’m getting desperate.

I’m still waiting on the announcement of the new MacBook Pro. I’m not going to buy an old computer which is my only option now. So I have to wait until whenever Apple decides to release a new one and I’m sure that there will be an insanely high demand for it so I will possibly have to wait before I can get my hands on one. I’m still hoping that a new computer will be released in the next few months because there are more and more projects I want to work on that will require a better and faster computer that has more storage than what I have now.

When the new iPhone came out, I thought that maybe I’d look into it since my phone has been acting a bit off lately. Nothing was too bad but I’ve had this phone for 3 years (sadly, that’s pretty long in iPhone life) and it was something I was thinking about. I was hoping the new iPhone would be a smaller size (like my 5s), but the new ones are still pretty big and I don’t really love them. Plus, since next year will be the 10th anniversary of the introduction of the iPhone, everyone is saying that one will be a huge overhaul compared to what we have now.

A few days after the new phone was released, my phone started acting up more. Now, I have an average battery life of 3-6 hours (that’s with only using it for maybe 1 hour total). The standby time on my phone should be much longer than that and it’s pretty bad. My phone battery will show that it is at 70% and a second later it goes down to 1% and shuts down. This isn’t the end of the world, but it is an inconvenience. I have one external battery that gets me a full charge on my phone, but I just bought another external battery that should get me 2 full charges. I’m also looking into battery replacement as a possible fix.

I also have an older iPad that has not been able to upgraded to a new operating system in a while (I think I’m using an iOS that is 2 or 3 versions ago). But I’m totally fine with my iPad for what I use it for right now so I’m not too worried about it.

I’m aware that I probably sound really spoiled and should be happy with the technology I have now since it is more than what many people have. And I am so grateful for everything I have and in no way am upset that I don’t have the latest and greatest. I don’t care for the best, I just want stuff that works.

If my phone was able to hold a charge for more than 6 hours on standby, I’d have no concerns and would probably keep the phone for another year or more. If my computer wasn’t flipping out on me on an almost daily basis, I would keep it because I love my computer. It’s just that technology doesn’t last forever and it seems like all of my stuff has decided to reach the end of its life at the same time. I’ve got the money saved up for a new computer and I’m ready to spend it the second I can on the new one when it is released.

I’m not sure I’m totally ready to spend money on a new phone (nor do I have that money really available to me right now), but I’m realizing that it is time to start saving for that and for possibly a new iPad. I don’t love the idea that I’ll potentially be spending a ton of money on new things when I know that any money I save for them should really be going toward paying down my debt. But I guess this is what I get for working from my phone and computer and needing everything to work in order to be paid.

Budgeting and Spending (or Sharing YNAB With A Cashier)

This week I did a bit of shopping to prepare for my trip next week. I got a couple of things I needed (travel toiletries) and a couple of things I wanted (a new purse and hat). While I did need some of the things I got, I still was very careful with what I was spending. I’m trying to do much better with my budgeting plan and starting over in YNAB so I could start fresh with a better budget idea has really helped me. I’m much more on top of my expenses and income and I’ve been able to make larger payments toward my credit card debt than I have in the past (although I’ve had a small setback in that because I had to put almost $1000 into fixing my car last month).

The current version of YNAB is a very different set-up than what I signed up with. I haven’t wanted to make the change yet (it costs more with the new version and I’m happy with what I have), but I’m still trying to be a very involved user and whenever possible I add my spending in the app as it happens. It’s pretty convenient to have the app on my phone and entering my expenses or income takes so little time. Compared to other budgeting apps I’ve tried to use, this one seems to make the most sense to me and doesn’t intimidate me especially with having income that can vary a lot.

One of my shopping trips to prepare for my trip was to Nordstrom Rack (they’ve always got some amazing things there!) and when it was my turn to pay I handed over my credit card and then asked again what the total was. The cashier told me and I immediately got out my phone to enter what I spent (it was within my budget so it’s all good).

The cashier asked me what I was doing and I mentioned that I was entering my purchase into YNAB so I could make sure I don’t overspend what I’ve budgeted for this month. She mentioned how smart that was and how she should do the same thing. I have a feeling that she probably downloaded the app that night because she seemed really excited about it.

Budgeting may never come easily to me (unless I have an unlimited amount of money and don’t actually have to budget), but I’m working on it. Being open about budgeting has helped because it takes away the shame I’ve felt in the past about the money issues I have. I’ve been told that I’m very irresponsible for having a credit card balance that isn’t paid off in full each month. I felt awful about that and didn’t want to tell anyone else about it. But when I opened up about it, I realized that a lot of people I know have debt of some sort and there’s nothing wrong with it. And a lot of those friends have been using various budgeting apps to help bring down their debt so I want to follow their example.

It actually felt really great for those brief moments I was talking with the Nordstrom Rack cashier about YNAB. I had no feelings of shame sharing that I needed help to track my money and to make sure I’m being responsible. I felt like even if I am not in a perfect financial set-up right now, that doesn’t mean I don’t have advice I can share with others and hopefully help them get into the best financial shape possible. You don’t have to have everything figured out and settled to be able to share with others what may be able to help them.

I know that I’ve got a long way to go with my budgeting and debt payoff, but it’s the small steps that will add up and make a big difference in the end. And hopefully in the not so distant future I will know that my credit card debt will be paid off and then the budgeting will shift from debt payments to savings and I can hopefully do more fun things more often.

A Fresh Budget (or Starting Over With YNAB)

I’ve been budgeting with YNAB for almost a year now. I’ve been pretty good about entering every expense and paycheck into the system (I’ve even had some fun laughs with friends when we are out to dinner and we both pull up our apps to enter our expense when we pay the bill). It’s been good for me to be accountable with every dollar that I spend and to have a more realistic view on how much money I’m making.

But even though I was doing all the work, there was a serious disconnect with me happening in my budgeting. I have no clue why I was so disconnected, but something wasn’t right and I couldn’t shake the feeling. I had been trying to figure out what was wrong, but I just kept feeling like something was wrong and I couldn’t fix it.

I started to download a bunch of other budgeting apps. There are dozens of free budgeting apps and some of them seemed ok, but none of them were fitting what I needed (the biggest issue was finding one that didn’t expect the income to be a steady amount). YNAB has actually changed a bit since I got it and the new version is more of an online system (instead of it connecting via Dropbox) and you pay a monthly or annual fee instead of paying for a 1 time purchase. I don’t want to get the new version yet because I want to feel comfortable with the version I have and I really don’t want to have another expense added to my life right now.

So after a few weeks of feeling lost and frustrated, I finally decided to get rid of my current budget in YNAB, delete everything, and start completely over. When I started over I also re-watched all of the videos online about setting things up and how to use them efficiently. I learned things that I missed the first time and I was setting up my budgeting categories into things that make sense to me.

YNAB Categories

I kept the debt, monthly bills, and everyday expense categories because those are pretty basic and they haven’t changed. I still have monthly bills, everyday expenses, and my debt to pay off. But the rest of my categories have gotten more specific. I’m breaking down my expenses by different aspects of my life and the priorities I have with them. Some of my acting expenses can be sacrificed for my day job expenses (classes aren’t as important as paying my estimated taxes). Splitting the expenses in the categories does help me see where I need to save and spend versus where I want to save and spend.

I know that some people have very limited categories in their budget, but I think for me the specifics are really going to help me. Sometimes, I forget about the annual expenses that I have that add up all the time. I only pay dues for WIF and one of the casting submissions sites once a year, and I don’t want that amount to shock me anymore. This way, I can save a little bit each month for those annual expenses and I will see exactly what I’m saving it for (compared to before where I listed it as annual acting expenses).

So far, this new budget is working out well for me. I’m feeling more connected to my money and I’m more aware of what’s happening. I’m trying to set up my monthly savings for my annual things, but I’m still working on how I want them to be organized. In the past, I probably would have just given up with things got hard for me to figure out. But now I really do want to make this work. I know that budgeting has helped so much this past year and that it can be doing so much more for me. And once I get that figured out, hopefully I can start paying down more debt and start saving so I can take another amazing vacation sometime soon.

Working On Money Priorities (or What’s Worth The Splurge)

I’ve really been working lately on spending less. I know it’s important for me to do this because I need to use that extra money toward my credit card debt (and not creating more debt). And obviously, there are some costs that I can’t avoid (bills and stuff), but I’ve gotten more serious at taking a look at my fun expenses.

I’m sure it sounds like I spend a ton because I go to Disneyland pretty often and now I have a pass to Universal Studios as well. This Disneyland pass was pretty much half paid for by recycling ink. That option won’t work for me in the future (the loophole that let me do that was fixed), but pretty much what I paid out of pocket was the same as 2 days at Disneyland. And my pass has the parking so I’m not paying $18 each time to park. I know I’ll go more than 2 times in a year so it’s easily worth it. And my Universal Studios pass was something I got at Costco for almost the same price as a 1 day ticket. The issue with my pass is that you can’t use it on weekends at all, but since I will probably only go on Mondays that isn’t an issue for me as well.

I am still spending money on other fun things, but I’m really trying to limit them to fun experiences like my season tickets to the Pantages or other shows (I just got tickets to see “The Little Mermaid” live at the Hollywood Bowl soon!). And when I do tickets like those, I’m working hard at finding good deals or making sure what I’m paying is a good value (like the season tickets being about $300 for all 7 shows). Part of why I love going to so many shows is it keeps me busy. And when I’m busy I’m not focusing on food.

And speaking of food, one of the biggest savings I’ve had lately is food related. I set the monthly challenge not to order any delivery food in March, and I’ve been able to keep that up so far this month too! I’m not doing as great about cooking from scratch, but even getting microwave food from the grocery store is cheaper than delivery food. When I’m not cooking, I’m going out to eat and that tends to be with friends so it makes it more of an outing than just eating. My grocery bills have gone up a bit since I’m eating at home more, but the amount they have gone up is significantly less than what I was spending on delivery food so that is a win for me.

But I think the biggest savings for me as been shopping. Mainly buying books, but I’m trying to be better about shopping in general. I used to buy a lot more stuff. Now, if I’m buying things online it tends to be household stuff I need or workout clothes. I’m not buying as much “normal” clothes because honestly I’m not in “normal” clothes that often. And even on non-workout days I usually wear my workout pants because they are more comfortable to work in.

But my book spending was pretty bad in the past. I used to be a huge library person, then there was an ordeal with my library card not working (I don’t know what happened and neither do they). Instead of doing the easy thing and just registering for a new card, I took advantage of how easy it is to get books on my Kindle. My old e-reader was much more difficult to get books on so just being able to press a button and order a book was so fun! But the spending was adding up. And while most of the books I buy I love and read over and over again, there were some that I got because they were on sale for $0.99 that I’ve read once and that’s it.

So recently I finally got a new library card and I’ve been taking advantage of it so much!

Library Card

It is so easy to get books on my Kindle from the library. Yes, I have to use my computer to get them. But then they are sent wirelessly to my Kindle and are on the device for 21 days. So most of the time I can read them more than once if I want to. I actually went a little overboard with putting Kindle books on hold from the library and had to delay a couple of holds (I had gotten 8 library books available at once). But I’m starting to find my groove with the library again and I feel like an idiot that I waited so long and spent so much money. I can’t go back and change it, but I’m glad I’ve changed now.

I know that there are still a few more places I can save money in my monthly spending. I want to get my grocery bills down a bit more as well as my household stuff (cleaning supplies, paper goods, and those things). I’m going to do some price checking between stores near me and Amazon and hopefully I can figure out the best options for me to maximize my money.

I’ve got a lot of fun things coming up this summer and a lot of them will involve money. But hopefully with the cutting back that I’ve been able to do I will not put myself into more debt just to do them.

Another Year Of Disneyland (or No More Ink Money)

I just renewed my Disneyland pass for another year! I’m so happy because I think you all know how much I love Disneyland. And because I have a double grandfathered pass (my pass level is only available if you are a renewal now and I have the parking add-on that doesn’t exist anymore), I have to make sure I renew before the pass expires each year. I don’t mind having to do that each year, but I do make sure to get to Disneyland before the expiration date because of this.

I knew my pass was expiring soon, but I didn’t have a Disneyland day planned before the expiration date. And since paying for my pass is complicated (more on that in a minute), I can’t renew over the phone. So on Monday after my workout, I drove down to Disneyland with the only purpose to renew the pass.

I’m glad that the drive was super easy this time. I was on the tram from the parking lot to the parks in under an hour after leaving my house. It was so empty at Disneyland that I was a bit sad that I really didn’t have time to stay and go on rides (I had errands to do at home that afternoon).

Once I got to the ticket counter, it was time to deal with the complications of paying for my pass. Because I recycle ink for my mom, I was able to get a bunch of Visa gift cards and Disney gift cards from Staples. I also had gotten some gift cards for my birthday from friends. All together, my parking add-on was totally paid for by the cards plus about $50 of my pass. It’s a bit weird to pay this way because the cast member helping me has to set up the payments to be as if it was on a payment plan so they don’t accidentally charge one of the Visa gift cards the full amount of the pass (since they are each only worth about $25). It took a little bit of time, but I got everything taken care of and I was on my way.

I was super tempted to go into the parks because of how ridiculously empty it was, but I figured that if I did that, I would stay there too long. So I just took a photo at the gates and headed back toward the parking lot tram.

Disneyland

I made a stop at the Disney store since I never really go in there and of course I got distracted by all the really awesome Disney stuff. There were some kitchen things I was super tempted to buy, but I didn’t have the money to spend $60 on something. Then, I was intrigued by the dog toys and found the perfect thing to get for Tucker!

Disney Dog Ties

They only had the ties in XS/S, but I saw that all the girl dog things also came in M/L (which was the size Tucker needs), so I grabbed the ties and brought them to the register to have them order the larger size for me (Disney is usually awesome like that). Sadly, they only make the boy dog things in XS/S and there is no way that our 70 pound dog could fit in something that tiny. So I left Disneyland empty-handed (well, I guess I did have my renewed pass to bring home with me).

While I’m super excited for another full year of Disneyland adventures, I’m a bit sad because this looks like it will be the last year I can use my ink recycling money to help pay for my pass. You used to be able to use Staples Rewards for gift cards online (but not in stores), so that’s how I got my gift cards. But sometime recently they changed the rules (or started enforcing rules) and you can no longer get gift cards with Staples Rewards money. I understand the reasoning behind it now that I’ve done some research on how gift cards sold from third-party retailers work, but it still stinks for me.

Having a few hundred dollars in gift cards really helps to make my pass affordable. I have no plan on letting my pass expire in a year. There are other options for me to pay for my pass. I can use the Disneyland payment plan which doesn’t have interest and can be paid off in advance if you have the money. Or I can figure out other ways to save for it (or just ask for only Disney gift cards for my birthday or Hanukkah). I’ve got a year to figure it out.

But I can’t let the end of the ink money bring me down. I’ve got an entire year to make more Disneyland memories and I have a feeling that my park adventures are going to keep getting more and more amazing!

Work Time Family Visit (or Already Preparing To Renew My Disneyland Pass)

My parents have been in San Diego again recently helping my grandma. They drove back yesterday. And since my house is on the way, they stopped by.

They usually don’t stop when they are doing that drive. Their preferred method of driving down goes around LA, so it would be tough for them to make the detour. But this time, there was a reason they drove through LA.

First of all, my mom still had the wine that I bought in Napa. I couldn’t fly it back with me (since I only had a carry on), so the plan was always for my mom to drive it down for me. I was originally going to try to meet them in San Diego while there were down this time, but that didn’t quite work out.

Also, I had gotten my dad his Hanukkah present insanely early this year. I knew exactly what I wanted to get him in January, so I didn’t think I would want to wait until Thanksgiving to give it to him. And I knew that he would want to use it, so their detour to my house was also for my dad to get a gift.

And as always, I had a few things I wanted to fix in my house and my dad is a pretty awesome handyman.

So yesterday during my work shift, my parents (and dog) came over for about 45 minutes. Fortunately, my job was pretty quiet while they were here so I could focus on them.

The projects in my house were pretty simple. There was a drawer that was broken that needed a new screw and my toilet paper holder was falling out of the wall. Both of those things were done within minutes.

Then it was time for me to give my dad his Hanukkah present. I had been giving him hints for a while, but he had no idea that I got him a TRX Strap system! My dad had used TRX straps when he worked out with me at Orangetheory before, but the gym that my parents belong to don’t have straps that can be used without an appointment with a personal trainer. So now he has his own set of straps that he can use at the house (my mom has already said that she wants to use them too).

But one of the coolest things was something my parents brought me.

Recycling Ink

They brought me ink to recycle! As I mentioned before, I use the money I get from recycling ink to help pay for my Disneyland pass! This will definitely help me when I renew my pass next year. And I’m sure I’ll get more ink from my parents over the year as well (my mom just saves them all for me).

While this visit was only 45 minutes, we really did get a lot done. And since I had just seen my parents a few weeks ago, there wasn’t too much to catch up on (plus, I talk to my mom pretty much every day on the phone). I’ll probably see them again in a few weeks when they come back down to San Diego too.

Even though this visit was super quick, I’m so glad that my parents were able to stop by. Any distractions during my work day are appreciated and this was a really nice distraction.

Learning To Coupon (or Trying To Save Since I’m Not Earning Much Now)

First of all, a little update on the job situation. I was not let go from my assistant job yesterday. However my boss said he really only wants to give it another week. If I can’t get the results that he wants, then the job will end. As much as I want to be optimistic about being able to get the right results, what he needs is about 3 times what I’ve ever been able to get. So it’s not looking so good for me. But at least I will have a job through next week.

While I’m not making much money right now, I’m trying to save wherever I can. Since I’m being sponsored by OrangeTheory for workouts right now, I’m not going to SoulCycle. I just can’t afford it. I’ll totally go back eventually, but for the next 2 months, it’s not in the budget (nor could my body probably handle more workouts in a week).

I’ve also been selling back old DVDs that I don’t watch anymore to Amazon. I’m sure I could get more money if I sold each online on EBay or something, but selling back to Amazon has been easy and for the condition that my DVDs are in, I think I’m getting a pretty fair price.

And the biggest change I’ve been trying to make is using coupons. I’ve never really been a coupon person before. I’ve tried to, but it just never works out. Either I forget to bring the coupons with me to the store or I forget to go get the paper on Sundays. And when you are only saving a few pennies here and there, the hassle doesn’t seem worth it.

Plus, I’m pretty much only grocery shopping at Trader Joes if I can. There are still a few items that I have to go to Albertsons for, but pretty much everything I need is at Trader Joes. And I find that I spend less money there than at other stores. But Trader Joes doesn’t take coupons.

So I’ve been focusing my coupon energy on CVS. It seemed like a pretty great idea from the start. Every other week or so I get a coupon either in my email or in the mail that’s good for 20 or 25% off all my items in one trip at CVS. That’s a pretty impressive savings to begin with.

Then, you always get like 100 coupons on your receipt at CVS. I used to be annoyed by that, but I’ve been starting to pay attention. There’s also a machine inside of CVS that gives you bonus coupons.

And finally, I’m going online and printing coupons from the internet instead of buying newspapers. That way I’m not spending money on coupons (which seems like a silly idea to begin with).

I know on those extreme couponing shows they show people making huge plans for shopping trips and seeing what coupons could match with what sale. I really don’t have the energy to do that all the time. Plus, there are times that I just need to buy an item.

So my focus is on what coupons (and Extra Bucks) I get from CVS and what coupons I can find online to match them with. It doesn’t take me that long because I’m not buying a lot of items. It’s mainly paper goods and beauty stuff. And I’m not going to use a different brand because there is a coupon, I’m pretty brand loyal. So if I see a coupon for something I use, I print it and try to wait until I have a 20 or 25% off everything coupon to match it with.

I’ve done pretty well so far with saving a lot of money on things I would have bought anyway.

IMG_3232

52% savings is pretty awesome. As my dad puts it, you can’t get that sort of return on money in the stock market that quickly.

The other day, I had some Extra Bucks that I needed to use and I got an email that there were more Extra Bucks waiting for me at CVS. I needed to buy some toilet paper, so I decided to go and use my Extra Bucks on that. I figured the Extra Bucks would save me over 50%.

I got to the store only to realize that toilet paper was on sale and was actually less than the value of my Extra Bucks! If I was a super organized couponer (which I might try to be), then I would have already known this! I didn’t want to lose the extra Extra Bucks money and the toilet paper was about $2 less than my coupons, so I grabbed 2 individual bags of peanuts that were $1 each. I always try to keep emergency snacks in my car (so I’m not tempted to get fast food) and peanuts are a good snack to have.

I went up to pay for my 3 items and had an epic savings!

IMG_3382

Yup, 100% savings! Technically, I still had to pay a few pennies in tax, but that’s nothing compared to spending almost $15!

I’m totally aware that I probably sound crazy, but this is exciting to me. Any extra money in my bank account is money that can go toward my debt. And sadly, that’s not going down that much due to my lack of income. So $15 is a lot to me!

If you are a couponer and have some advice to a couponing newbie, I’d love to hear it. I’m shocked that I got such a great savings so quickly, but I know that it was dumb luck this time. I want to make sure that I am able to figure out how to do this again.

Can I Cut The Cord? (or Trying To Change How I Research TV)

As I’ve written previously, I have to watch everything on tv in order to be prepared for any auditions I might get. I love having my DVR for this. There is no way that I could watch my shows on the time that they actually air with the work schedule that I keep.

For my birthday this year, my brother got me an Apple TV. I love it. I mainly use it for Netflix streaming, but I did start using it for Hulu Plus recently. I started using Hulu Plus because my DVR can record 2 shows at a time, but on Tuesdays, there are 3 shows that air at the same time that I enjoy watching. So I record 2 and watch 1 later on Hulu Plus. I tried using Hulu on my computer, but I’d really rather watch on my tv where I can relax on my couch.

Between Netflix and Hulu Plus, I spend about $16 a month. And then I still pay for cable. Part of my cable bill is my internet, so I’m not going to give that up completely. But I’ve been toying with the idea of cutting back on what I pay for with the cable company and starting to switch over to watching more on streaming.

I really want to do this, but I’m a little unsure on how it would work. I would have to keep some of tv on cable because there are some shows that I can’t get online. And I don’t know how to watch premium channels (like HBO and Showtime) online without having a paid subscription or waiting for the DVDs to be released.

I’d really appreciate any advice any of you might have for getting rid of cable. Not watching tv isn’t an option, but I’d love to not be spending as much as I do right now. Anything that I could save could go to paying down my credit card debit and helping me meet my goal of paying it off completely soon.

Trying to Budget for Disneyland (or Does Someone Want to Give Me an Annual Pass?)

I love Disneyland. Totally love it.

As a kid, I think I went to Disneyland once a year when my family drove down from the Bay Area to San Diego to visit family. I don’t remember loving Disneyland as much as a kid as I do now.

Since I’ve moved to LA 11 years ago, I’ve had several years of having an annual pass. When my work schedule was different, I would sometimes go 2 to 3 times per month. A bunch of times I would just go and ride a few rides, grab a Dole Whip, and head back to LA.

So much of the iPhoto on my laptop is filled with Disneyland adventure pictures like these:

(you can totally see me at all my different weights in those pictures)

My last annual pass expired last year in April. And I really want to make it to Disneyland now. I haven’t been on many of the new rides, and I just miss it there.

But as almost everyone knows, Disneyland is not cheap. A 1 day park hopper ticket is over $100. And if you are going to go at least twice in a year, the annual pass is the way to go. But the cheap annual passes have so many blackout dates that it’s tough to make sure you go on valid days. And when I get an annual pass, I almost always pay for the parking add-on. The best annual pass is $650 (but that includes parking). So if I can make it to Disneyland 7 times in a year, that pass will totally be worth it. And I’m not taking into account all the food and merchandise discounts you get with the passes.

But $650 is $650 and right now, I don’t have that. Well, I do, but I’d rather put it towards my credit card debit than Disneyland (I never thought I’d ever say that). I’m looking at the 2nd and 3rd cheapest annual passes, but those are both over $300.

I’m not going to get a pass until I know that I’ll be going to the park, and I think I’ll be going sometime next month. So I’m trying to see if I can budget for one of the cheaper passes. It is always an option to upgrade a pass or add-on parking later, so maybe I’ll have an amazing sale at work that will cover the cost of an upgrade or add-on.

This budgeting stuff is hard! 😉