Habits I Want to Form

Exercise is one habit that would make me healthier!

• Eating healthier
• Reading more
• Having a more consistent image editing style
• Sharing more videos of my travels
• And remembering more/taking notes while traveling so that I can provide more information
• Being a better friend :)

What are some habits you want to form?

* Today's post brought to you by #30Lists.

Wordless Wednesday #9

sunset in Portovenere, Italy
Cinque Terre, Italy; May 2014

One night during my first trip to Europe (and Italy), my friends, husband, and I bought snacks to enjoy while we watched the sun set. I think we bought salami, bread, and a bottle of wine. We continued to do that throughout the rest of our vacation leading to some of the most relaxing and best nights of my entire life.

While there are very few places in the US to enjoy a bottle of wine while the sun sets, I have continued the tradition with my husband of making sure that we see the sun go down at least once each and every time we travel. If travel, for us, were a science experiment, that would be our constant. :)

What is one thing you make sure to do when you travel? Do you have a constant? If you aren't a traveler, do you ever make a point of just stopping whatever you are doing and watching the sun set (or rise)?

* Today's #30List prompt was: If you put me in charge of snacks you can expect… a sunset. Duh. ;)

What is the best season to travel in?

When I think back, I'm pretty sure my love for travel began the moment I stepped off of my Delta flight in 2014 in Paris, France. I had known about this trip and saved for this trip for just over a year. In fact, planning for this trip brought up almost every possible emotion a person could feel. I was anxious about leaving my home country, I was worried about not being able to speak the language, I was concerned about making a fool of myself for not knowing or understanding the customs (and attending a wedding!). Some days I would cry myself to sleep while other days I was beyond elated to be planning this trip.

Planning was everything … and nothing.

During that first trip to Europe, we flew into Paris (because of cost), spent a night in the city of love then drove on to Stuttgart and Munich, Germany; Venice, and Cinque Terre, Italy; Marseille, Provence, and ended up back in Paris, France for a couple of days. Basically, we had a good overview of Europe.

As emotional as the first trip was, I was eager to return a second time … and then a third time!

But one thing I've found is that every time we go, every season we go, we get to explore Europe in a whole new way. There is nothing quite like seeing snow on the ground in Germany and Paris and comparing that to the beautiful florals of spring! Then in France, you've got gorgeous Christmas displays in shop windows during the holiday season followed up with stunning fireworks over the Eiffel Tower on July 14th. I mean – is there really a best time of year to travel to these places?

You tell me. 







Whether your love for travel began in Europe or your own back yard (or maybe you don't have a love of travel at all?), what is your favorite season to explore somewhere new?

* I'm participating in #30Lists. Today's prompt is: You know the seasons are changing when… Unfortunately, none of these images are mine. :( My images are currently going through a two-day backup process onto a new hard drive. All of these images came from various websites at The Stocks and were provided free for commercial use with no attribution required.

Are you ready for April A-Z?


Is anyone else still exhausted from the time change? Why do we even have to live through that anymore?

Anyway, I'm currently blogging and editing my life away preparing for April A-Z where I will detail in depth my travels to Montréal and Québec City. So far I have five posts written, and I'm in the middle of editing images for a sixth. Slow going, but at least it's going…

Next month you can expect to see:
+ Hotel reviews for all of the places my husband and I stayed at during our trip including LOTS of pictures! (I think first-hand accounts on blogs with lots of pictures are some of the best resources for picking hotels when I'm planning trips.)
+ Images from the only ice hotel in North America, Hotel de Glace. (Preview above.)
+ Ideas for fun activities to do and places to eat within Montréal and Québec City. (There will be a little bit of NYC fun thrown in there too!)
+ My thoughts on Amtrak and Via Canada Rail, plus the intricacies involved with US/Canada border crossing (which may have changed in the time since we last did it…).
+ And more! (If I told you everything now, you wouldn't return in April to check it out, would you?)

Excited yet?

Maybe I will be once I recover from the time change… Time for bed, I think. :)

* This post is brought to you by #30Lists. Keeping blogging life simple so that the rest of us can blog ahead for April A-Z.

Wordless Wednesday #8

Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre, Italy; May 2014
I will always fight for…

+ my right to travel anywhere I wish.
+ the rights of those less fortunate or different than myself.
+ children and animals.
+ the environment.
+ education and the arts.
+ equality.

What is in your heart? What will you consistently fight for?

*Today's post was a response to the #30Lists prompt: I will fight for…

When Travel Leads to A Spring Closet Cleanout


Today's post is less of a 'how to' and more of an 'I should'. Remember this post from last October? I've been working on checking off 101 things in 1001 days. I thought the hardest bit would be cataloguing each item. But no. The hardest part has actually been sticking to my list and checking off things one by one. As it turns out, months down the road after creating a 101 in 1001 list, you change your mind. Maybe you would rather check off making delicious ice cream over homemade cheese? Maybe your Jawbone can't be replaced because you accidentally ordered it from a seller on Amazon rather than Amazon proper? Maybe you just don't like the things you have on your list.

One category I am not scrapping no matter how much I would rather do something else is that of 'home' where I have decided to 1) sell my unused clothing 2) sell unused household items (which is suppose to encourage me to find a use for the ones I want) 3) sell or donate books and 4) trash/sell/read my unread pile of (photography) magazines. My ultimate goal being: the prospect of living more simply with less 'stuff' and hopefully using any money we get from selling for paying down debt and traveling.

So far Justin and I have been dragging our feet with regards to going through our things, though. We've been busy traveling, staying involved in politics, and being social, which I can't really fault us for. I mean what would you rather do? 

But the time is now. Spring has arrived.

Argh. Anyone want to do it for us?

Do you struggle with cleaning up your home like we do? Do you have priceless keepsakes from years of collecting? Or do you have years of junk packed away, when really it just needs to go in the trash? … Do you have any spring cleaning tips for me?

* Today's post is brought to you by #30Lists. Nothing like a good kick in the butt that has me realizing I need to work on my 101 in 1001 list.

I'm Saving for…

What paying bills is like for me…
And you'll notice that these aren't even American coins!

The last time I did a budget update (aside from the big new year's budget update) was May 2016.

MAY.

Do you know how much has happened since May of 2016?

+ We went on a road trip from Charleston, SC to Asheville, NC.
+ Then, we celebrated July 4th in New York City!
+ I loved exploring Brittany, France for my birthday and being in Paris for July 14th!
+ August was filled with beaches: first at Myrtle Beach in South Carolina with family, then at Clearwater Beach in Florida with friends.
+ We loved the road trip concept so much that we decided to check out the small towns near Callaway Gardens before heading east toward Savannah for our nephew's birthday.
+ There were a few trips to Asheville, NC thrown in where we went to see the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway when it was at its peak in colorful leaves.
+ Finally, we went to Canada following Christmas and Hawai'i for Valentine's Day.

Busy 10 months, right?

Anyway, here's looking at how all of that affected us…

SPENDING:



So, five out of six months we've done absolutely horrendous at sticking to a budget AND spending less than we did the year before (green = this year; yellow = last). I am a bit surprised to see that December spending wasn't quite as bad as I expected, but all of the other months we went on big trips, specifically July and February look awful. And with regards to February, that was WITH me trying to balance out the spending for Hawai'i in the months before.

With the categories, you can see where our money is going. The big one being food. This includes groceries, restaurants, food eaten while traveling, drinks from bars, etc, etc… The next big category being travel. Because travel. #I'mAddicted

Over the next year, we expect to see auto and transport expenses go down since we are no longer paying for insurance on one of our three cars … or any expenses brought on by that third car, which kept breaking down on us … (We sold it!)

…and we are expecting to see our 'bills and utilities' expenses go up since we have one new bill. Argh. (Donations will probably go up in expense as well.)

Maybe I can continue to keep shopping to a minimum? I don't wear half of what is in my closet anyway and given our current circumstances, it's not like we need anything extra for the home.…

Let me break down a few additional categories for you:
+ Financial = life insurance for Justin (mine is separate).
+ Personal care = hair cuts, nail salons, etc…
+ Fees and Charges = charges for owning a credit card, nothing additional (like interest being charged or fees for bounced checks)
+ Uncategorized = money we've taken out of ATMs; usually spent on things like food, tips, or other various small expenses

MONTHLY NET INCOME (Are we spending more than we are making?):


Compared to last year's net income monthly average, we are saving approximately $541 now than we did then. In fact, last year we were barely staying above "water" compared to this year. So yay for that! :) I'll take any little bit of financial improvement.

NUMBERS:

• Net worth: -$55,000 (So don't sue us.)
• Nov. 2017 credit card payoff date
• May 2021 student loan payoff date
• Jun 2019 car loan payoff date
• Emergency Fund: $9,342 of $12,000 goal
• Retirement: $20,000

IN CONCLUSION:

While I know that absolutely none of my readers are interested in my finances, I appreciate you reading to the end (or skipping to the end). Seriously, it helps me to write posts like this so that I can stay accountable. (Because, you guys, I suck at finances. I think there is a reason I'm not a banker, an investor, or anything of that nature. I just spend and spend and spend…)

So, tips and tricks anyone? I know there is Dave Ramsey and the envelope method, but are there any apps out there to help conquer budgeting? Any mind tricks that encourage you to save more and spend less? Please share! Don't leave me in the dark! I really do need to get better at this! :)

* the reason for this post? #30lists. I mean dang it! I thought I had given up on being financially accountable. I was living the good life for a few months! Oh yeah, and in case it wasn't clear: we are saving for retirement, saving in an emergency fund, attempting to pay down debt, and … traveling when I see fit. :) Because #addiction.