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

Thursday, October 9, 2014

OneDrive Free 30 GB!

Hey everyone, I'm back from Mexico and as I was uploading my pictures to OneDrive (cloud storage) I noticed that OneDrive is now offering 30 GB of storage for free if you download their app to your phone and enable backup of  your pictures. I think this is a good cloud drive and that's where I keep most of my pics. I only had the 15GB free option but adding another 15 is not bad so I thought I would share with you:


OneDrive is part of Microsoft and it is their online storage that competes with Google Drive and Dropox. Nice place to backup all your camera pictures, who doesn't like taking selfies all day long?? LOL

Enjoy!

HS

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

We Are The Worst Parents!

Are we the world's worst parents? I think we are or at least I know I am. Truth is I am not good at this parenting thing. Trying to take care of a toddler and a baby at the same time drives me crazy. Lately I find myself drinking a little too much when I get frustrated with my children. Not sure where this post is going but here are some of the things that qualify us for worst parents ever!
  • Fed my daughter a bowl of cereal for dinner because I was too lazy to make her something!
  • Daughter started screaming for M&M's when we were checking out at the supermarket and I gave in, I gave her the whole bag!
  • We didn't bathe our children on Saturday because we had friends over and we were too busy drinking...
  • Daughter is well over 24 months old and still on diapers, really don't know how to tackle this one, we've tried a lot of things, nothing seems to work.
  • Baby is 100% on formula, had little breast milk. In perfect parent world this is a huge NO NO, all kids should be on breast milk. Add to that we never sterilize any of the baby bottles!
  • I lost my cool with the baby and said the F word out loud and of course daughter repeats it perfectly now... 
  • I still feed my daughter in her baby chair because I worry about the mess she could make in our regular table.
  • I let my daughter watch too much TV but seriously how can a toddler watch Frozen over and over.??
OK there's probably more but let's stop there. I need to do better but it's hard with both of us working and trying to keep the house running. We get up at 5 AM and it seems like things don't wind down until 11 PM only to have baby wake up around 3 to 4 wanting a bottle. I miss sleep and having free time! If you ever have free time, never ever take it for granted! Yes I'm a bad parent but at least I'm not doing stuff like this:


I am heading out to Mexico tomorrow for my brother's wedding. I promise to take lots of pictures. Have a good weekend and don't do stuff I would do...

HS

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Movin' Right Along!

Things are going so good right now, life is great! I have the perfect momentum going and it feels like nothing can slow me down. Usually when things are this good disaster is right around the corner but for now I'm going to enjoy this moment. Here are some quick updates:

  • Our credit card debt as of this morning is only $1,700 dollars! nothing to worry about I can manage that. I need to bring the amount closer to zero but it's nowhere near 5 figures we had when I started this blog.
  • Daughter is doing great! We need to work on getting off diapers and I need to schedule her flu shot (free through work). I love her so much... there's no better feeling in the world than hearing her still call me 'dada', her first word.
  • Baby boy is doing awesome as well but still waking up at odd times during the night. I need to have more patience with him when he's hungry at 3 AM. Nothing makes me happier than when he smiles at me, he's now four and a half months.
  • Wife and I are doing great, we are both looking forward to some down time in Mexico for my brother's wedding which is coming up soon. We really just want to sleep and take a break from the kids but I know we will miss the little ones as soon as we get there.
  • I have a 10K coming up in October in Galveston TX. I am doing the The Toughest 10K which means 2-3 miles going up hill. Should be fun but I need to train more. After that we are bar hopping in the Galveston Strand district with friends.
  • We are going back to New Orleans with friends the first week of November. We are booked and staying in the French Quarter. Last time we went we had a lot of fun but it ended in disaster so the plan is to go back and make things right. This trip will probably cost $1,000 but I have some cash at home I can use. Only bad thing this time around is we are sharing a room with my brother in law and his girlfriend... 
  • The week of Thanksgiving we are planning on taking baby girl to Sea World in San Antonio so we will probably spend a couple of nights downtown at the River Walk. Huge tourist trap but still a lot of fun and there's also a mall there so we can do a little shopping.
Now some picture updates:

  • Couple of weeks ago my checking account had over $11,000 in there:

  • I had to join Costco this week since Sam's Club stopped carrying our baby formula. As you can see they had tons there:

  • They also carry Corona Light in a case! That's my wife's favorite beer so if I need formula I can always pick up some beer for her:

  • Speaking of beer I'm really enjoying Weisse Versa Wheat from Karbach Brewing Co. based here in Houston, TX. Amazing beer, reminds me of a summer beer but it is available year round:

I also noticed our old Toyota 4Runner still on sale at the local dealership where I sold it to. As you can see they want $14,980:




That's all the updates I have for now. I hope things keep going smoothly and nothing bad happens. I'm still looking for work and new projects and also waiting to hear about my raise and bonus at work. Wish me luck, hopefully I get a $10,000 raise and a $5,000 bonus... one can dream LOL

HS

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Time To Look For a New Job

It feels like it is finally time to start looking for a new job. I love my company, the people and the projects but I am not making any money! This past weekend we had a wedding shower for my brother and as usual we end up talking about what people are doing and what they do for a living. My siblings both have gotten new job offers to live in different cities with tons more pay. They both make six figure salaries while I'm stuck making five. It drives me crazy! I'd like to think I'm good at what I do and I have a lot of great experience but I am not making a lot of income. I would be happy making $25,000 more per year so my goal is to finally update my resume, reset my LinkedIn password and seriously start looking.

Decision Making...

  • Vacation: I currently get 5 weeks paid per year. I've already taken 4.2 weeks this year and I still have 6 weeks left. I would love to find a company that has similar time off options. On a positive note, if I leave all that vacation would be paid out.
  •  Health Insurance: Our insurance is great and very cheap. The fact that they covered 90% of our infertility issues and IVF should give you a hint of how good it is. That's one of the reasons I've been reluctant to look for work.
  • 401K Retirement Savings: Current company matches 6% dollar per dollar. I'm already fully vested but would have to find a company that has a similar retirement plan.
I really can't think of anything else at the moment but it is time to leave... I like my company but they are not paying me what I'm worth so the time has come, wish me luck!

HS

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

iPhone 6

The new iPhone 6 is out and of course the wife and I both really want one. I'm excited about the larger screen which is one the reason I tried out the Nexus 5. Wife's more excited about upgrading from her iPhone 5 and she would also like a gold color. The new phones come in two different sizes so we may wait and go to the Apple Store and try them out and see which ones we like better. She may go with the smaller size and I may go with the larger one. I'm sure you've see the pictures but if you haven't, this is what they look like:


I need to check with AT&T and see if we still have a contract from our iPhone 5 purchase. If we do it should end sometime in November so we can wait until then. Wife said she also wants more storage, her current 16 GB phone is always telling her she's low on storage so it we're looking at spending $299 on hers and possibly $299 on mine, I think I want the Plus but could go for the smaller size. At this time I'm looking at spending $700 with taxes and fees to replace both our phones but I'm also confident we can get at least $300 for our current phones.

HS

Monday, September 8, 2014

Hoarding Money

Greetings! Hope everyone had great weekend. This morning my mind is on money and from here on this is where I'll start hoarding it. You may recall our savings account was up to $21,000 in June but then summer happened along with all kinds of crazy bills and even crazier spending with no paycheck from wife. This morning after moving money back in to the account and paying down more debt this is the balance we are left with:


That's right, $7,000 is gone! At least we're not $7,000 in debt so from here on my goal is to try and get this balance higher. The first goal is to get this account to $15,000. I'm going to try and send at least $100 this week and hopefully later on I can transfer some eBay money if a couple of items sell. I should be at $14,300 by September 20 which is when we get paid again. I know it's not much, but that's exactly how I got up to $21,000 in the past. 20's became 100's, 100's then turned 500's. Small steps will get me back to $15,000.

At home my stash of 100 bills just reached 9 so I need to come up with another 100 and that will put me at $1,000. Not sure what I will do with that money but I like the feeling of just having cash at home. Hopefully nothing crazy happens but if something breaks at least I have $1,000 to fix it. I also still have a lot of vintage 100 bills but the plan is to list them on eBay soon, I have around 11 of them and I think I can get $2,000 for them if I list them correctly and have the patience to wait.

My ultimate goal is to be at $20,000 by the end of the year but as usual we have stuff coming up that will require spending. I still have to get my brother a shower gift, wedding gift and will probably give him some cash at the reception. We also have our yearly HOA fees coming up and that will set me back around $920 and then of course after that is the holiday season which I'm soo not looking forward to when it comes to spending- bleh!

HS

Friday, September 5, 2014

Love My Credit Union

This morning I am very happy with our credit union. I must say I'm more a fan of the big banks but I still keep an account with the credit union that my father opened for me when I was around 18. I've always maintained a small balance with them to keep my membership open. I believe the account is a Money Market and with the tiny balance I make around 25 cents per year. When I needed the auto loan, I applied online and had a pre-approval letter ready in less than an hour. I had never take a letter like that to purchase a vehicle but it was the easiest way to buy a car. I gave the finance manager the letter and I was out of there after 30 minutes. All they do is fax over all the information to the loan office at the CU and they take care of everything. Here are the rates the they were offering:


The 1.74 rate is only available with direct debit from a checking or savings account. You can use the accounts at the credit union but that would mean I would have to deposit money with them every month. You can also use any checking or savings account at other banks, all they need is the routing information. I turned down that 1.74 rate because I don't like direct debit. I like to have control over my accounts so they offered me a rate of 1.99% without direct debit. They also offered me 60, 72 or 78 months to pay the loan so I went with 72 months to keep the payment under $600. The loan officer also said no payment is due until November 28 but I'm still going to save the money and make a lump sum payment on that date. I'm hoping that saves on interest a bit but I'm sure interest will accrue until then since the loan origination was September 1.

We still have my auto loan which is around $430 per month so now we are well over $1,000 per month in car payments but I think we can manage. If anything crazy happens I still have $15,000 in savings and I can pay off my car at any time. I'm hoping to keep sending money to our Discover Savings account and try to get that balance back up to $20,000. Hopefully by then I can take half of that amount and pay off my car, I'm thinking that will happen in 6 months or so...

Now, please don't let Dave Ramsey read this post! He would not be happy with us. Believe me, I know his teachings but we're hoping to keep the new car for several years and hopefully when we sell it we can also get some money back like we did with our 4Runner. It was nice to drive that car for 8 years and then we got $11,250 out of it.

HS