Thursday, November 20, 2014

Credit Card Debt Updates

Remember my credit card debt? I swear I had the credit card numbers under control and always close to zero but when you charge close to $5,000 per month, the debt will slowly come back. Going to New Orleans the first week of November didn't help much but did have a great time. There we managed to charge close to $700 on food and drinks which looking back now is no fun. I had the balance on our Citi card as high as $6,000 but have managed to get that amount down close to $4,600. Here's the latest balance as of this morning:


The issue, as usual is we charge way too much money... as you can see I'm really good at making payments but we charged over $4,300 already with stuff pending and November is not even over yet!


I'm still waiting on my variable pay at work so hopefully that will bring down this balance but I also have Best Buy ($1,400) and I need to pay my HOA fees which are $920. I do have close to $500 in gift cards at Amazon through Citi Thank You points so that should offset some of the upcoming holiday expenses.

“Some debts are fun when you are acquiring them, but none are fun when you set about retiring them.”
-Ogden Nash

HS


Monday, November 17, 2014

Apple Stock Will Hit $115!

Have you seen Apple stock lately? it is currently trading around $114.45. I knew it was going to do this and I bought it at $92 knowing it would go up but as usual I sold too early. Of course I did make a little bit of money by selling around $100 but if I had kept the money in there I would made over $2,000 right now! Ugh!


I know it will hit $115! I wish I had kept Apple!

HS

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Gas Prices, How Long Can They Go?

Have you seen gas prices lately? I took the picture below last week and drove by the same gas station yesterday and gas was down to $2.50 for regular! I wonder how much more can prices drop? It sure would be nice to see $2.00 per gallon again...Price below was at the new HEB in Cypress Texas.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Trip To New Orleans, LA

This past weekend we did New Orleans! It was a great trip and everything went as planned. We left Friday morning in our new Nissan Armada from Houston and it took around 6 hours to get there. We spent $132 in gas and the hotel cost was $635 for two nights with tax and valet included. We got in to the city around 3:30 PM and after checking in we went straight to the bar! After a few drinks we met up with friends and had dinner at ACME oyster house. After dinner we hit up a couple of clubs and around 2 AM we retreated back to our room. Saturday morning we walked around the city and hit up all the touristy spots like Cafe Du Monde and Jackson Square. Wife and I went back to lunch at ACME since they had the best oysters, both raw and grilled were amazing. After lunch we did some shopping and got ready for the night. At night we went to dinner at Gordon Biersch and then we went to Frenchman street and finally ended the night at Bourbon Street. I don't remember going back to the room but they told me we got back in around 4 AM. We left Sunday morning around 10 AM and got back into Houston around 3 PM. We had so much fun and it was great to take a break from the little ones but as usual we missed them like crazy. The next trip we take will include the little ones.

As is tradition on my blog, here are some pictures:

Oysters at ACME!



I turned $5 in to $40 at Harrah's NO Casino:


Love the streets and architecture in NO:



Like a good tourist we had Beignets at Cafe Du Monde:


I love the Astor Hotel on Canal, also had a drink there:


Back at ACME for lunch, more oysters:


Our bill for lunch at ACME:


Beer flight at Gordon Biersch


I had some kind of rum drink at Port of Call it was huge, took an hour to drink:


Around Frenchman street, they had a Star Wars parade, with bands everyone was dressed up:


We did live music at The Maison around Frenchman:



Back at Bourbon Street, we spent most of our time at Cat's Meow. We thought it would be fun to 'make it rain' $2 dollar bills from a balcony to bar patrons below, one girl was very happy:



We spend a lot of time at the balcony of Cat's overlooking Bourbon:


And this is all the stuff that was charged to our Citi credit card, more debt!?


Wife did some shopping at Nine West on Canal, she found some boots she liked and another pair of shoes, you can see how much that was. Other than that it was mostly food and drinks that we spent money on. I had around $150 in cash and a lot of that money went for tips and a little bit of gambling. In total I think we spent $1,200 on this trip but luckily my brother in law paid for half the room and he also picked up a tank of gas.

This trip was great and a good way to close 2014. I wanted to do Vegas for a couple of nights on the week of Thanksgiving but I don't think we can afford it with Christmas and HOA coming up.

Now comes the time to bring down the debt!

HS

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Debt, New Orleans and Best Buy

Howdy! Did you vote yesterday?! If you voted in Texas, thanks for keeping us RED! Now for some updates, our family debt is completely out of control! I think Citi is around $4,500 and a small balance on the other credit card. Not much I can do at this time but as soon as I get my variable pay at work I will more than likely send the entire amount to Citi to get this debt down. Money will more than likely be the cause of a divorce in our household, we spend money like there's no tomorrow. I have been telling you this for seven years and I can't get me or wife to change. Wife spends, I spend, we like nice stuff and we both agreed we are completely materialistic people who are simply enjoying their lives a little too much at the moment with 'stuff'. Can this couple ever grow up and live in a budget? After seven years of this blog I highly doubt it but if I have learned something over the past seven years is that I can totally control the situation. Sure, the debt may be up today but it will probably go back down next month. I do have plenty of cash reserves at this time so if things get really bad I can always dip in to that cash.

Speaking of more debt, tomorrow we are heading out to New Orleans to celebrate... I don't know what! We planned a trip with my wife's brother and girlfriend and we are meeting up with some people there. We plan to just party- eat good food, have fancy drinks and act stupid. We even had shirts made for this trip! I think we wanted a break from the little ones and some time to charge our adult batteries. This trip will probably add another $1,000 to the debt but it is needed! For some reason most of New Orleans (French Quarter) was sold out this weekend but I managed to find us a boutique hotel called Royal St.Charles Hotel which is about 2 blocks from Bourbon Street. This is what it looks like:


The hotel was $249 per night and we are sharing a room with the other couple. I didn't say anything about the cost but I'm hoping they give me some money, otherwise I will make them pay for drinks everywhere we go :) We are spending 2 nights so with taxes and valet I'm thinking this will cost $700. Another $300 will probably be bars and eating out and maybe $200 for gas and souvenirs? I'll do a post when I get back with all the damage and of course lots of pictures.

Now some Best Buy updates. I don't know what got in to me at home but I decided to give my house a tech make over recently. I purchased a couple of Mac Mini's, the older models which I can upgrade. In my head I was thinking I could use one as a server and one as a desktop and so far that's working out great. What I love about Mac is they can run Windows perfectly when needed but also Mac OS which is usually more popular. I'm also re-doing our wireless network and dismantling my old home server which had been running non-stop for 7 years! Now all of this stuff was not cheap so I added some new Best Buy debt (which you've seen on this blog many times). Here are the Mac Minis I purchased:


Yes, the Best Buy credit card is well over $1,000 right now! As soon as I'm done with the tech makeover I'll focus on getting rid of this balance. The last computer purchase I made was the Chromebook in 2012 which I don't use much anymore, will probably sell on eBay soon. My other computers had not been updated since 2007! so it was about time to mix things up a bit. My WiFi router at home was still running the old G standard which I think came out in 2005? So yes, I'm loving my new AirPort Extreme, my wireless network is fast now! I'll continue updating little things here and there but I wanted to get the big things out of the way first.

Anyone else doing tech make overs lately or I'm I the only dork around?!

HS

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

eBay Seller Totals

You know I hate eBay but like a drug I just can't stop using it LOL. This month I passed the $20,000 mark for total sales. That means that over $20,000 have come in to my PayPal account. I would love to tell you that I have $20,000 sitting in my PayPal account but right now it's more like $300. I keep buying and selling stuff all the time but need to think more long term and set aside some of that money to savings. I made close to $150 last month in profit so I can't really quit. I'm dealing mostly in currency now so my wife's not wondering why we have packages arriving all the time, most currency fits perfectly in the mailbox so she never really notices it. On average I can make $20 to $25 per transaction but currency does sit a bit longer, sometime it takes me 6 to 8 weeks to sell an item. I also need more time, I have way too much inventory at home now but I don't want to turn this in to a business, this is more of a hobby. The problem I have lately is I keep buying too much stuff which I know I can sell higher but just can't find the time to post it. Here are my latest totals:


As you can see, I can't please everyone since 4 of transactions had defects?? I swear I take the best pictures and try to provide a lot of details on my listings but people still find issues. I didn't get any negative feedback so at least my eBay rating won't go down. Below are the kinds of things I sell, I bought these older $2 bills for $25 locally and the sold them on eBay as a lot for $55, I know it's not a lot of profit but if I make $100 to $200 per month I'm happy and it keeps me busy. Here are the old style bills:


If you have any old currency around please let me know I will gladly buy it off you :)

HS

Monday, October 27, 2014

I Paid $949 For an iPhone 6

This is crazy, this is crazy I kept telling myself as I went ahead and paid $949 dollars for an iPhone 6 Plus with 128 GB of storage. I know what you're thinking and so was I but here's the but. I've been wanting to upgrade my wife's phone for a while so that I could get rid of my 4S so yesterday I took my daughter to the mall for some ice cream and decided to stop by the Apple store to see what they had. The only iPhone models available were the 128 GB versions so it felt more like a want than a need. Paying that much for a phone didn't feel right but after they went over all the pricing for upgrades and with my bill going up no matter what I purchase plan I chose, I decided to just pay full price and keep things the same. Here are the options I had:



Let's see, $47.50 X 12 = $570 but you have to return the device after 12 months. $39.58 X 18 = $712 and you still have to return the phone after 18 months. The only other choice was to sign up for a 2 year contract and pay $749.99 which was probably fine but read the fine print: May impact data plan savings which meant my bill would still go up! I'm dumb but I'm not stupid so in the end I went ahead just paid the $949, it may seem like a a lot but I can always re-sell the device later on and get some of my money back. So yesterday over $1,000 was charged to the Citi Card:


The phone is so nice, too bad it is for my wife and not me:


So how are we going to quickly pay this off... well I already took over her iPhone 5 so I went ahead and sold my 4S on eBay for $125 (sold in 10 minutes). I will be sending most most of that money back along with $500 in cash I have sitting around at home. We also had a yard sale this weekend and we got rid of crap stuff we didn't need so there's another $100, that should leave me with a balance of $300 for this phone which I can pay later on.

Smart? Stupid? Would you have done the same?! Would you ever spend over $1,000 on a phone? I could have gone for a 64GB model but they didn't have any- this was totally a impulse purchase :)

HS

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Toughest 10K Galveston

This past weekend I ran in the The Toughest 10K in Galveston, Texas. This run is part of The Texas Bridge Series which consist of three races, over three iconic Texas bridges in the Gulf Coast area. The race goes over the Galveston Causeway which gradually goes uphill over 1.5 miles (if my GPS was correct) and then you have to come back so it is close to 3 miles going up. The race was so much fun and after that we did a pub crawl called Galveston Walkabout with friends. My timing for the race was 1 hour and 9 minutes for 6.2 miles which means I need to work on my timing, it should not be taking me more than one hour to do a 10K. They had close to 1,800 runners come out and everything was well organized, they even had beer at the finish line! As usual, here are some pics:

Pre-race, everyone getting ready:


At the Start Line:


Picture going up after the first mile:


Picture coming back, this is mile 4 I think...


I stopped right in the middle of the Causeway and took this pic:


Map of the Pub crawl, you have to stop at 29 different places! Try having a drink at the first 10 :)


Every bar had so much beer, I was in heaven:


One of my favorite local beers, Saint Arnold Elissa IPA:


We really did try to have a drink at 10 different bars but by time we got to Irish pub number 9, the bartender pretty much cut us out (we were a bit obnoxious) so our last drink was at pub number 10 but keep in mind that we had more than 1 drink at some of these places! Great times with friends but not a good idea to try to re-hydrate with beer LOL

Next race is probably a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day.

HS

Thursday, October 16, 2014

$15,000 in Savings and Cash Updates

I finally got our Discover savings account back up to $15,000 but I think that may be it for this year. 2014 will go down as a very expensive year for us and with the wife not working I'm surprised I still have this amount left. I mentioned yesterday our credit card balance is back up to $3,400 so I don't think I will be able to save any more money until 2015. October is not over yet but hopefully I can pay down the credit card without charging too much. November does not look any better since we are going back to New Orleans the first week of the month and that's also when our HOA fees are due. I wish we could skip December and go straight to 2015 since the holidays are always very expensive but as usual, not much I can do but try to survive. For what it's worth, here's the latest balance as of this morning:


I still have some cash at home in my usual $100 bills. Not sure what to do with that money, I've had it since June? I now have $1,000 that I may use in New Orleans or I may use it to buy the new iPhone for the wife. There's also around $1,100 in my vintage $100 collection that I'm slowly putting back on eBay. I think i can get $2,000 for them after their fees so some of that money will probably go to the credit card. Speaking of those bills, I just sold one yesterday for $150! Our regular emergency fund with Bank of America is back up to $1,000 and hopefully I don't have to touch that money again for years.

Posting the pic of my $100's since they took me forever to save!! and they won't last long...



HS

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Mexico Vacation and Wedding

The first week of October we traveled to Mexico for my brother's wedding which I wrote about back in March. The wedding was a lot of fun and 75 guests come to the resort. We traveled to Cancun, Mexico and then rode to Secrets resort in Maroma beach. The resort was beautiful and worth the cost. The wife and I got along great and my drinking didn't lead to a disaster like it did for the last wedding we attended. We left Houston on Thursday morning and came back Sunday. I probably spent an extra $300 for drinks at the airports, tips and gifts for the little ones. The whole trip was probably over $3,000 so it was more like a vacation for us. The resort was all inclusive and they had all my favorite spirits so for 3 days I enjoyed Don Julio Tequila, Grey Goose Vodka and Johnny Walker black label Scotch Whisky- I was in heaven :). As usual, a few pictures:

Bloody Mary before departure:


View of the beach and where the wedding ceremony was held:


This is where I had breakfast every morning with view of the resort pools:


View of the pool taken from the bar in the back where I spent most of my time:


Rehearsal dinner was also at the beach at night:


Of course we had music on the beach:


Appetizers during cocktail hour, can't remember if this was before wedding or rehearsal:


The groomsmen waiting:


Post wedding ceremony held by the pool, all tables had Don Julio Tequila:


This is the private pool for our room, it was nice to come out and swim:


Another view of the private pool:


That's some of the pictures I took, I still have way too may to sort through. The wedding was great and it was nice to take a break from the little ones. I have a 10K coming up this weekend and then we are going back to New Orleans the first week of November. I need to bring the focus back on our finances since our credit card is back up to $3,000!!!

HS