100 Happy Days (51-75)

100

I can’t believe I’ve committed to this challenge for over 75 days. I have never been consistent with anything on social media for this long (Happy Days 1-25 and Happy Days 26-50). It’s having such a positive impact on the way I view life so I’ll keep the party going…

I took a water aerobics class today and my knees feel great. #NoPain #100HappyDays #Day51

Easing back into fitness, trying not to aggravate the injury. Water exercises 2x/wk + weights 2x/wk. So far so good. #100HappyDays #Day52

I just had the best pedicure in life. #100HappyDays #Day53

Because pink makes me happy. #TeamNatural #PrettyInPink #100HappyDays #Day54 http://t.co/0NFhrJAWZN

Lazy Sunday stroll through DC farmers markets. #localgrown #freshproduce #100HappyDays #Day55 http://t.co/fwdlV3LUHA

Prayer + bible study = #100HappyDays #Day56

That euphoric feeling you get after a great strength training workout. >>>> #100HappyDays #Day57

I love my aqua aerobics class & instructor. My knees feel so good after I’m done. The best hour I’ve spent all day. #100HappyDays #Day58

Early direct deposits! #100HappyDays #Day59

Spending holidays with family. #100HappyDays #Day60

Mini reunions with old friends. #noplacelikehome #everybodyknowsyourname #100HappyDays #Day61

I drove 5 hrs in start/stop traffic. My knees are angry right now, but I made it home safe and sound. #GodsGrace #100HappyDays #Day62

Just left the “On the Run” concert with @thefitlounge. Bey & Jay did that! Had a great time! #100HappyDays #Day63

An epic weekend followed by an extra day off work to relax and recover. #holidays #concerts #family #friends #100HappyDays #Day64

Neo soul music, laughing out loud at a text message, and balanced accounts >> #100HappyDays #Day65

These 2 things are a guaranteed cure for whatever ails me. #100HappyDays #Day66 http://t.co/9igcivjhE0

I didn’t feel like working out today, but I got in 40 minutes on weights. I feel good. So glad I went. #100HappyDays #Day67

Midday naps on lazy Saturdays. #100HappyDays #Day68

I went to Lowes and bought supplies to grow little watermelons on my balcony. I’m late in the season but excited! #100HappyDays #Day69

Being able to put my problems in perspective. Things are not always as bad as they seem. #100HappyDays #Day70

When an experimental dinner turns out well. #YummyToMyTummy #100HappyDays #Day71

That relaxing feeling after spending over an hour in the pool. #GoodSleep #100HappyDays #Day72

Today was my Friday, which means I can sleep in tomorrow morning. #100HappyDays #Day73

Yummy to my tummy! #frozenyogurt #watermelon #100HappyDays #Day74 http://t.co/AVPIQupXvM

All kids are sleeping, drank is flowing, and cards have been slapped on the table. Yaaaas! It’s about to go down-T! #Spades #100HappyDays #Day75 << (side note: that was another family event – kid party by day turned grown folk party by night – so much fun! lol)

75 days of living in the moment, being aware of my surroundings, and recognizing God’s hands in all the little things that make me happy. Some days are easier than others, but I’m blessed. Only 25 more to go… :-)

Weekend Randoms

  1. I finally reconciled my accounts for June. For the 1st time this year, I spent more on groceries ($255) than dining out ($86). That tells me I’m on the right track.
  2. I miss being a kid. Adults are overrated. I wanna nap, snack, and play…in that order.
  3. I can’t believe I’m going skydiving. Eeeeeeek!
  4. My car was due for its annual safety and emissions inspection. I took it in, assuming everything was good to go as usual. But it didn’t pass. Dang! I had a few lights out and my power steering belt was dry rotted with missing grooves. O_O $150 later…
  5. I went shopping in June and lost my ever-loving mind! In addition to CG’s birthday gifts, I also bought: 1 blazer, 6 dresses, 2 rompers, 5 tops, 2 shorts, 6 sandals, 2 bracelets, 4 necklaces, and 3 phone cases. Out. of. control. And loved it! Ok, I’m back to normal now.
  6. I saw Beyoncé and JayZ in concert. It was phenomenal!
  7. The air conditioner stopped working in my rental property. I’m praying it doesn’t cost an arm, leg, and butt cheek to fix it.
  8. I only buy extended warranties for things I can’t afford to replace. Electronics? No. My house and major home units. Heck yes!
  9. My friends and I cancelled our Girl’s Day Out to the spa. We stumbled upon a news article that said the spa was under criminal investigation for human trafficking, slave labor, and prostitution. *blink* What in da whirl? I called Groupon – refund please!
  10. I heard the phrase “Happy Ending” for the first time in reference to spa treatments and had no idea what it meant. The more you know… O_O
  11. I love months with extra paychecks because I save the entire amount. After the next paycheck, I will stop saving and only invest. My non-retirement investments are about $20k from where I want them to be. That’s my goal now.
  12. I completed my quarterly net worth update and hit a milestone. Woot!
  13. I missed one of my aqua aerobics classes this week. I was actually sad about it.
  14. I didn’t wanna work out yesterday, but I’m glad I did. Whenever I finish a strength workout (weights or resistance in the pool), I feel great! Wish I learned this sooner.
  15. I have a love/hate relationship with my hair. We’ve been on the outs for most of this year and I’ve considered cutting ties, but lately, something changed. I don’t know if it’s weather, products, or routine but I’m in love again. She’s been so full and bouncy!
  16. I love eating watermelon. Wait…you already knew that. Moving on…
  17. I bought a cute little pink container and try to drink the recommended 64 oz of water everyday. I’ve been at it for months now and haven’t been successful yet. Womp.
  18. I rarely watch TV, but I’m a regular viewer of several YouTube channels. Some of them are better than reality TV. Hee-larry-us!
  19. I don’t have a green thumb, but I’m starting a tiny little garden on my balcony. Guess what I’m growing? Watermelons! HAHAHA I know it’s late in the season, but I wanted to try. I’ll see what happens and do it again early next spring.
  20. I’m experiencing a scary health issue. I pray that God blesses my doctor and medical team with wisdom and guide their hands. I also pray for peace while I undergo tests, procedures, and wait. Ultimately, I pray for His will to be done. Please pray with me too.

Hope you all are having a fantabulous weekend! :-)

Money Milestones

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I remember the first time I began tracking my net worth (assets minus liabilities). I started blogging in December 2004, so it had to be some time around mid-2005. I had quite a bit of debt back then – credit cards, student loans, and a fairly new auto loan. My credit scores were average and my net worth was a big goose egg. Wait…even worse. It was NEGATIVE! I was a card carrying member of team red. LOL!

Once I learned there was an entire community of people who shared my interest of money management, personal finance (PF) blogging became my daily hobby, then a source of income. Through blogging, I was inspired to pay off all debt, advance my career to increase income, and learn to invest. Little by little, I chipped at the $12k credit card debt and improved my credit score, parted ways with the $20k car loan, and finally, chucked the deuces to Sallie Mae and her $14k student loans. I shared everything I learned on the blog and every financial decision from beginning to end. When I started blogging, I didn’t realize the PF blogosphere would have such a positive impact on my life, but I’m so glad it did.

I became completely debt free in 2008, but continued blogging to give back to the community that gave so much to me. A few days ago, I was tagged in this comment on twitter and it reminded me why I enjoyed PF blogging and sharing my experiences.

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You’re welcome, Jennifer!

Around 2010, I quit PF blogging and started this blog because my lifestyle and interests changed (i.e. empty nest/daughter graduated high school, fitness/weight loss and running, etc.) . Also, my debt was gone, investments were growing, and overall finances didn’t require daily maintenance anymore. Since then, my finances have been on semi-auto pilot.

Lately, my financial focus has been on learning to grow and preserve wealth. I am still debt free and save a little, but I mostly invest and try to increase passive income. I don’t watch financial news everyday or get emotional about market fluctuations. I prefer to maintain a consistent investment strategy based on my risk tolerance. So imagine my surprise when I calculated my quarterly net worth update and saw this at the bottom of my spreadsheet.

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Wow! I have come a LONG way baby. LOL!

For those who don’t know, I was a teenage single mom on welfare for 7 years. From Section 8 and daycare subsidies to cash assistance and food stamps…you name it, I had it, and used it all as a stepping stone without shame. After earning my degree(s) and starting my career, I no longer qualified for assistance but still struggled financially. Once I began paying attention to my finances, it took 3 years to dig myself out of the financial hole (thanks PF blogosphere!) and another 6 years to grow my net worth to over a half million dollars.

I don’t blog about my personal finance details anymore, but I give back to my community by teaching women who are where I used to be and have a desire to improve. I also continue to read and apply what I learn about investing and wealth preservation. Based on my recurring investments and average rate of return, I may become a millionaire by age 45. That would be cool. But the point of sharing my progress is to encourage other women/single moms. If your financial goals seem far-fetched, hang in there because they ARE possible with time, consistency, and God’s grace. :-)

So…About Those 2014 Goals

2014 is already half over. Wow! When I reflect on the first half of this year, it doesn’t feel like I’ve done much, but that’s why I’ve been writing these “look back then forward” monthly posts. They remind me that my life is full and I have many reasons to be thankful. I can also see how much I’ve accomplished when I review my annual goals. In January, I said I would…

1. Go to a concert, preferably Beyonce. #thatchicbad

Next Monday, I’ll be “On the Run” with Bey AND Jay! Heeeeeey!

2. Climb the Great Wall of China

This won’t happen in 2014, but delayed doesn’t mean denied! My China excursion has been locked, loaded and fully funded. I will conquer the Great Wall in early 2015!

3. Go wine tasting in Napa Valley

Thanks to my buddies in San Francisco, I had so much fun!

4. Change my hair dramatically (cut and color)

This will happen very soon. I’ve found a pic of the exact cut and color I want, just need to make the appointment and DO it.

5. Complete a 5 day juice fast

I did it, and it was the longest 5 days of my life. I will never do that again. No way.

6. Invest $50k+

My financial management is a continuous work in progress. So far, I’ve invested over 52% of my annual investment goal and 78% of my annual savings goal (not listed). I’m on track to exceed all financial goals by year end. Woot woot!

7. Swim with dolphins

Hmm…I have 3 international vacations and 2 stateside excursions on the calendar, but none of them are dolphin swimming destinations. I’ll chalk this one up to poor planning. Unless an awesome deal surfaces within the next 6 months, I’ll make this happen in 2015. Promise!

8. Study the Book of Acts, Matthew, and Psalms

My walk with Christ is a continuous work in progress. Instead of just those 3 books, I’ve been working on a reading plan of the entire bible. This is my #1 priority everyday.

9. Walk (or ride) on the Golden Gate Bridge

Close but not quite. I went to San Francisco and had a great time but only viewed the bridge from a distance. That’s ok, just another reason to go back.

10. Take underwater pictures

This WILL happen during one of the excursions mentioned in #7. Can’t wait!

11. Visit Alcatraz

I did. It was an awesome and educational experience.

12. Hire a personal trainer for 4 wks, learn to work ‘around’ the injury

Attempted twice, setback thrice. *cries* But I think I’ve figured out what works for me on my own. For the past few weeks, I’ve been walking (15 minute warm up), weight training (45 minutes), and taking aqua aerobics or swimming (1 hour). I rotate them all 2x/week, and so far, I feel great! *happy dance*

13. Celebrate my 40th Born Day

My vision to celebrate my “season” is beginning to form. I have a few ideas that are confirmed (vacation to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, full body scrub and massage, professional photo session) and one that is pending further development (celebration with friends).

14. Write a letter to my 50 year old self

I’ve started writing my letter and it’s turning out pretty good. I’m writing in present and future tense, telling my future self about my life today, then painting a picture of my life the way I see it in 10 years. When I read this at 50, I will either think I was super confident at 40 or laugh at my delusions of grandeur. LOL! I didn’t realize how much I would enjoy this task. I plan to have it finished and locked away by December 31st.

Overall

I’m pretty happy with my 2014 so far. It looks like all plans have been attempted, in progress, scheduled, or completed – except #7. But I will fix that…post haste! ;-)

Have you reviewed your 2014 goals? Are you satisfied with your progress so far?