An emergency vet visit

My puppy ate a chocolate covered raisin and it cost me $698 in emergency vet clinic.

I have a little furry baby. I got her almost a year ago and so far she’s doing very well. Having a pet will definitely cost you some money, so make sure that you have the budget and the time to take care of it.

Let me first to admit that I am not a dog person. Growing up, most dogs are stray dogs and they are everywhere without proper vaccinations. I was thought to stay away. My partner grew up with a dog, and really want one. It took 3 years of convincing for me to agree. We got a house with a yard and it was time to get one.

My furry baby is the sweetest dog. Really, I will not want any other dog, just her. So when I accidentally dropped a chocolate covered raisin on the floor and she got to it before me, I panic. I search on the internet and all of them suggest that a little bit of chocolate is ok, but raisin — a big NO!

I called my vet and they say the same thing and told me to go to emergency clinic. I knew it will be costly, but I still rushed her. 30 minutes later, I was signing a document telling me the cost of the procedure… holy cow, $450!! I knew it will cost a few hundreds but not that much. I hesitated a bit, but I know that I will regret it if something happen to her because of this. So I sign away. During the procedure, they were not able to get the raisin out… damn! So what’s next? The vet injected some charcoal that is supposed to bind the food with it so they can get it out later on. Ok, then, how much will cost me, well another $200. Again, I know I can’t just say no, so I signed the invoice. An hour later, I got her. She seems normal now, but I think she got a kennel cough from the place.

So yes, that is probably the most expensive chocolate covered raisin I’ve ever had! Silly me for that accident.

Pro and Con – Traveling for work

I used to travel a lot and I mean a LOT. Back in the days, there were months when I’m in the airport every Monday and go home every Thursday. I can recognize the voice of the pilot and the flight attendant remembers my drinks. I used to not mind it, after all, I don’t have any obligation at home, living in a cheap room at the time and started earning miles and hotel points that I used for my vacation. It went on for 5 years and then all of a sudden, I do mind it.

Pros —

I had my “yuppy” moments and traveling for work just sort of add on to this feel. All of a sudden, I no longer stay in a hostel, my rental car is upgraded, and I’m taking car service to and from the airport (before Uber became mainstream). My friends even think it’s fun and I’m “lucky” that I get to travel. But really, after a while, it gets tiring.

Con —

People don’t realize that you actually work more hours when you travel for work. A typical 4 weeks project will need to get done in 2. Traveling is expensive for the company so projects better get done quickly. My routine consist of gym, work, hotel and dinner (repeat that 4 times every week).

Again, it was ok in the beginning. I don’t have a lot of responsibilities and I get to eat out on really good restaurants. I still didn’t mind it when I moved up. I get to show the place to a new colleague, and I can see the same excitement that I had when I started.

And here’s the tipping point – a big con

One day, I was visiting my parents and I notice my little sister. I am 12 years older than her and she’s consider our baby. I thought, wow, she got taller, maybe about an inch. And then, I realize that it’s been 6 months since I visited my family.  For some people, this might be normal, but I live 45 minutes from them, so there’s really no excuse. I used to help her with her homework and visit every week. When I asked her, she said that I’m probably tired from work and she doesn’t want me to go all the way to our parents place. My father, mentioned that I lost weight, and said something about my second glass of wine. Don’t get me wrong, they are proud of where I was, but I can see the concern on my father’s voice and I knew that they are on the verge of losing me.

My relationship outside my family are also not established. Most of my friends in college are now living out of state, or out of the country. My 2 best girlfriends (thank goodness) kept up with me. My first relationship ended after 3 years. I’m sacrificing my relationships for my career. My hobby consisted of collecting points (not that bad!) and counting restaurants I’ve eaten. I realized that I’ve never really discovered myself.

It didn’t take long to get a job. I just have to entertain calls from recruiter. A couple of weeks later, I interviewed and got a new gig. It’s a stop on a freeway. I needed that.

I still travel for work, but everything is plan. It’s not every week and I can say no, without feeling guilty or scared that I won’t move up fast enough. I listen to my body and I give priority to my friends and family at all times.

Do you travel for work? Do you like it?

 

 

Spring cleaning – why I will never hire someone to mow my lawn

Spring is upon us. Every door in our neighborhood have fliers on their door step —  you know asking you for your money in exchange to 20 minutes of  them in your yard, pushing a mower. Or maybe more, they might even trim your bushes and pull weeds in exchange for more money. I actually know a lot of people who hire someone to do this and are shock to know that I don’t. I mean c’mon Mr. Flores is so affordable and the value of your house will increase, etc, etc, etc. Well, I don’t think they can ever convince me. Why, you ask? Well, aside from the cost, here’s at least 3 reasons why.

1) Relaxation —  I actually look forward to being outside, getting some sunshine and tending to my small yard. It might be weird, but pulling weeds and doing something with my hands is actually very relaxing.

2) I get to know my neighbors — At this day and age, we rarely know our neighbors. We moved here about a year ago and overtime that I work in the front lawn, our neighbors will actually cheer on us and introduce themselves.

3) My furry baby gets a lot of socialization — My puppy is usually on a long leash tied to our front porch and she gets to watch people of all kinds walk by. Really, she sees them all from strollers, bikes, flag, costumes, etc. Sometimes she will bark if it’s new but she’s very popular in our neighborhood and she gets a lot of petting at this time

I’m pretty sure there’s more here but aside from the above, I also get to save at least $75/week, quote that was given to us by a friend’s gardener.

How about you? Will you hire someone to mow your lawn?

What would you do if you’re not scared

For the most part folks seek financial independence to have the freedom to choose what they want to do. Life is too short to actually spend most of you’re awaking hours on a cube doing something that doesnt’ make you happy. People that realize this are fortunate and for the most part have a choice – there’s a reason that financial independence do exist and you can read thousands of articles about it. These are ordinary people, work their way through life and prioritize what truly makes them happy.

Last night, I thought of my former co-worker way back when I was still working on a food chain. Let’s name her L. L works as a cook in the fast food restaurant for 40 hours a week. In addition, she also work at another fast food chain for another 40 hours a week. L gets a minimum wage and work her ass off. She can barely speaks english but is probably the most hardworking person I’ve ever met. I can’t imagine being on my feet for 16 hours a day, more so working 80 hours a week. She deserves better, the thing is circumstances are not on her side. Fast forward, 13 years, I volunteered to prepare taxes for people with low income. I have clients supporting families on income that I can’t even imagine having. No matter how frugal they become, it will be very difficult for them to retire early. Actually, it will be very difficult for them to retire at all. After finishing their taxes, I tried to sway them to discuss the possibility of opening up a bond, or really any other form of savings account. We try to discuss other benefits that they can qualify for. Here’s what I found out during this process. First, my clients had a really long day. They probably just got out from work, some of them have their kids with them. If you are not the first in line and it’s the week that W2s were sent out, you better be prepared to wait. Worst, we might not even get to you and you will have to try your luck the next day. For the most part, they try to listen, but I can see that they’re exhausted and want to go back to their families, maybe have a couple of hours of sleep before getting another shift. Secondly, most of them really don’t have any concept of personal finance. Having a savings account is probably the most I’ve seen but no one has ever open any other form of financial products, even a bond or a CD. Lastly, most of them can’t see that their are other choices, that financial independence can happen – most of them do not even have access to computers, how would you actually expect them to read articles about so and so retiring by doing so and so. And believe me this folks don’t eat out, probably the most frugal person you’ll meet, supporting more than 1 family.

There are times I will come home after volunteering, crying on my way home. I was lucky that I found a way.  It could have easily been my life. Growing up, I didn’t know anything about personal finance. I actually learn it from watching sex and the city — you know that episode when Carrie almost lose her home and she has thousand of shoes. She went to an ex boyfriend and he said that you need money to make money. That’s when I open my first Certificate of Deposit at age 17. I then told my parents about it but they never really act on anything. My first day in high school includes me walking to a metal detector. It’s probably the worst school in the city (still is), but I finished. I remember my classmates talking about taking on a full time job in a manufacturing company after high school, after all it was paying $14/hour at the time. I mean score, right? To be honest, I almost took it. After all, the sooner I earn money, the sooner I can help out my family. I only applied to one school, but I got accepted. After all, I did get a straight As, took whatever AP classes that the school offered (1 at the time) and for some reason, got a really high score at SATs. We are so poor that the expected family contribution of my parents are 0. I pack 2 suit case and my parents drop me off. My mom looked at all the other rooms —  gosh everyone has laptops, flat screen tv, mini fridge and playstation. I have none. My room is so bare. My comforter was a hand me down from my grandma, the thickest that I could find at home at the time. My mom insisted on buying me a laptop. I did my research and told her that there’s a 24 hour library and I can use the computer then. I still didn’t win and we went to Best Buy. She open, probably her 20th credit card so she can get an interest free financing for a year. I worked 20 – 30 hours a week while in school in order to give her the money every month and finished the payments in 12 months before we get hit by the interest rate. Until now, I still have that computer and it will never get thrown out. I took student loans. I got accepted to study abroad and took it. Financially, my parents offered to take a parent loan for me without any hesitations. They were so excited when I told them that I got accepted to the study abroad program — I didn’t tell them that it was really not that competitive.

My parents did everything that they can from the information that they have. My father worked 2 jobs until I finished college. They never spend, they can’t. Since I live in a household that don’t spend on anything that do not relate to food, housing or education, my spending habit until now is equally the same. I graduated college, got a job that pays more than I ever imagined. I was never afraid to take risk since I know how it’s like to have the bare minimum. I still go back to that neighborhood, I get the cheapest haircut ($15 + $5 tip), my wedding dress was altered there and heck you can get the cheapest produce on that market. Whenever I go, I find myself surrounded with truly happy people. My hairdresser, even though she can barely speak english, will always compliment my hair. Employees are friendly to each other and for the most part are really friends. Life isn’t all that bad.

I’d say if you really want to do something, do it now. After all, the bare minimum at the lowest point of it isn’t really that bad. I’m very grateful to where I’m at right now, but I don’t regret having the bare minimum.

The perfect wedding shoes for less than $30

Being comfortable on your wedding day should always be the top priority for the bride. This means everything that you wear should fit perfectly, including shoes. I’ve been searching for the wedding shoes right after I got my wedding dress. I have flat feet and I’ve been wearing minimalist shoes for the past 3 years. In addition to my flat feet, I also have a bunion. You can only imagine the difficulty I have finding the proper shoes.

I will not compromise comfort, especially my feet. I’ve seen many situations where women complain that their feet hurts, can’t walk a couple of blocks, or took their shoes off in the middle on the night with a sigh of relief. And don’t get me wrong, I am guilty of this myself. That said, I know that I need to be on my feet for the whole day so I searched for that perfect shoes — something that I can wear for more than just a day.

So I scour every shoe store in the mall within my area, looking for something that will fit. Of course, they don’t carry my size. I looked online and discover that Amazon prime has free returns for shoes. I tried 3 different styles and sizes to find that perfect fit —  but alas nothing works. All of them were returned for free.

I then went online, typed DIY wedding shoes on the search bar and all of a sudden I have this idea on my head to paint one of my old comfortable cute brown shoes. I love this shoe and worn it so many times on my previous job, worn it at weddings or any time that skirt is part of my outfit. It’s been re-heeled and will probably need to get new pair of soles. This pair of shoe is at least 7 years old (I didn’t exactly keep the receipt, but know that I got it a couple of years after graduation).

So here’s how I managed to diy my wedding shoes for $26.22. Cost doesn’t include the actual price of the shoe. I honestly can’t remember how much it was 7 years ago.

Supplies:

  1. Rubbing alcohol and cotton balls to prepare the surface
  2. Leather Paint – I used a Jacquard Lumiere leather paint . I got the sample pack so I can play with the color.
  3. Fan Brush – This was recommended from the you tube videos. I got mine here.
  4. Rags
  5. cotton bud
  6. Water
  7. plastic cups
  8. Pledge Floor Finisher. I got this from a local hardware store.

Step 1 – Prepare the shoe. If you have a leather shoe, use cotton balls and rubbing alcohol. You don’t need a lot!

Step 2 – Pick a color and paint. I recommend trying a little of the color you choose to see if it is really the color that you want in the leather. I used a plastic cup (think of jello shot cups) and our a little of the paint there. I dipped the tip of the fan brush and paint it. If you make a mistake, make sure to erase it by dipping the cotton bud to water. You need to do this before the paint dry. You can re-apply as necessary, but from my experience, little paint really goes a long way.

Step 3 – finish the shoe with the pledge floor finisher. Again, you only need very little of this.

Here’s a before and after photo. I love the result!

 

Puppy Puppy Puppy = $$$

We got a corgi last memorial day weekend. Mr. MJ wants a puppy since he turned 30 and that was 3 years ago. We waited until we got a house with a yard to get a puppy. For some reason he was able to convince me to get one. Growing up, I’m scared of dogs. I still get startled when they start barking, so it’s really surprising even for myself to get a dog.

It all started on a long weekend after doing a lot of house work. I’ve been surfing the internet and found a puppy just south of Seattle. We didn’t have any plans so we decided to drove an hour and a half to “shop” for a puppy. Let me tell you, you don’t just “look” at a puppy, chances are you get one. Some of our friends told me that it took them a while to find one, so I’m not expecting to get it at first look. But then we saw her. She’s calm, a bit shy and very sweet. We can’t leave without her. I knew right away that we’re going to get her, it’s just that we didn’t even carry enough cash with us, knowing that we’re really not going get a puppy! Well, we found a convenient store with an ATM and after 4 withdrawals, we went back and got her.

There are certain things that I wish I knew before getting a puppy. I want to share this so readers can prepare and learn from my mistakes.

1) Consider a breed that will complement your lifestyle. We both work and know that we want a puppy that doesn’t need a lot of grooming, calm and a bit active. Well, mistake #1 happened. Corgis are soooo cute but they are also very active. I didn’t know that they are herding dogs. Our puppy needs to run a lot. She gets to this “crazy mode” where she will run around our backyard and weave through my planters. Well, that’s about twice a day. We were surprised in the beginning, but watching her on her “crazy mode” is pretty hilarious. We’re also walking a lot more now with her and seeing our neighborhood.

2) Breeder vs rescue. We knew that we want to go to a breeder right away. I have nothing against rescue, but it’s really hard to get a puppy through there. We don’t want to miss puppyhood, so we got a breeder. Look for a breeder that socialize their animals. Our puppy loves people, but scared of barking dogs. She also has worms when we got her. It’s normal for a puppy, even with deworming, but maybe a better breeder would give you a better one.

3) If you go to a breeder, go to a vet right away. We waited for 4 days before going to the vet and find out she has worms.

4) Get the right vet! This is a very costly mistake for us. I chose the vet really close to our neighborhood despite the reviews. I mean there’s so much dogs on our neighborhood that I thought everyone goes there. WRONG! Our puppy got so sick after going there and we have to go to an emergency visit which caused almost half as her. I then went to a vet recommend by a good friend after confirming all the positive reviews. Our puppy and our wallet liked her.

5) Get insurance. I’ll let you know after a year if it is cost effective. Given that she’s a puppy, I want to be prepare for medical cost. If you do get an insurance, get it right away as most of them will not cover any pre-existing condition.

6) Research a good puppy training class. It cost us more but is definitely worth it. She loves it and we learned a lot training her. In less than week after her class she knows how to seat, stay, down and her bed. She’s learning how to high five now 🙂

7) Don’t go overboard at Petco! This is my mistake! I basically spent a LOT in Petco which I end up returning after researching more for DIY. I visited goodwill to get her “bed” which is really just a baby comforter, her blanket, a bucket, food storage and some towels, all for $10. I also frequented Amazon. for supplies such as pee pads, doggy bell, doggy bag and some kong toys. There’s a lot that is one time expense, but is a lot cheaper at Amazon.  It still cost some, but not as much as Petco!

Our running total for her is just a bit more than $2000. A lot of it is for the purchase of her and medical expenses. Writing about the details of this 2K will warrant another post after about a year.

Do you have a pet? What will you recommend to a new pet owners?

Road less travel

We hit the mid year of 2015. This year had been promising so far. Milestones are attained and I could have never asked for anything more. I’m very grateful and feels very privilege to be where I am right now. This year, we managed to buy a house. I don’t consider this a starter home, but our home, where I can see myself building a family. You can say that this is a lifestyle inflation and I will not disagree. This is something that I thought about for a while and decided that I want to spend on this. This purchase makes me happy.

At the same time, I sold my condo. Selling my first property is very personal, but I did it for peace of mind. I’m lucky that I purchased the condo when the market was down and was able to sell it when everyone else seems to want to buy a place. I also got lucky that my former neighborhood changed so much in the last five years. Overall, I have enough to cover for down payment for the new house with a lot more left. I’m really just moving my investment from one real estate to another without touching any of my other investment.

The move made me very conscious of the stuff I own. We more than double the size of our house but I can’t seem to get myself to buy anything. In contrast, I actually start selling my stuff and my goal is to get rid of more. So why did I buy a new place? First, I actually want a house, a yard, a kitchen that can fit more than one person and a place that I can grow into, while staying in the city that I love. This house is perfect, in a great neighborhood and is just about 5 miles from work. I can honestly say that we got a bargain on this house.

When I first started blogging, I wrote about paying off my mortgage within 5 years. Life changed this past year. I got into an accident and all of a sudden, my focus is on getting better.  Health will always be my number 1 priority. I’ve always been financially conscious. I got my own CD when I was 17 and learned more about savings and investment. I have to do this on my own. I grew up in a very loving family but unfortunately, my parents aren’t financially savvy. For some reason, I always have this fear of being poor. Lack of money has always been an issue with my parents and most of their fights are about that. I told myself that I will always have enough. Not a lot but enough.

And so this blog started. I’ve always been different from my peers financially or just my generation in general. I never carried a credit card debt and mortgage is the only outstanding debt I have. I need to get a student loan but it was paid within 5 years. I used to buy stuff, not a lot but enough for me to go to the mall and found all these trinkets and stuff that I’ve used once or maybe twice but will honestly never use again. To that point, I asked myself, what exactly do I need to survive? How can I purposely live my life that I will never worry about lack of money and actually use my precious time for things that makes me happy?

Cute, but I never used it and is a bit small for me. Sold on ebay

I have everything that I want and more. I don’t mind my job but at some point I want to take some time to travel, write, dance and experience life outside of the 9-5 routine. It might not be popular, but I know that this will make me happy.

European Vacation Cost for 2 weeks

I got back from Europe a month ago and haven’t really had the chance to write post. First of, the trip was awesome. We visited 5 different cities in a span of 14 days. We went to Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Salzburg and Munich. My sister and I called this a castle tour. It was very hectic but fun. I just felt that I needed some rest after that vacation.

Berlin was our first stop. After arriving at Tegel International Airport, we took the bus to our hotel on the West side of Berlin. As I expected, we got lost from the airport to our hotel! My sister and I are not really good with directions. After a few bus trips, we finally found our way. I actually really enjoyed Berlin. We also went to Post Dam and saw the Summer Palace. Of all the places that we visited, Berlin has more history, with the World War II and the Cold War taking place in the city. I enjoyed it.

Replica of a car that was used to transport people from East Berlin to West Berlin

Prague.. oh Prague… the Castles, the bridge, the old buildings, beers and food … there’s really nothing else I could ask for and it is cheap! Prague is a very romantic city, with the most accommodating and open minded people. I have a feeling that the history has something to do with it. But no words can describe what I felt when I was there… just like Paris, I fell in love with this city. Just wishing that I can come back.

The Castle, now used as a government building

Vienna, well, if you like clean, organized, firm and proper type, then Vienna has it. The castles and the gardens are well kept. The old buildings are huge, but for some it didn’t strike me as anything different from other old buildings in Europe. The story of Sissy is quite interesting though.

The Belvedere Palace

Salzburg is probably one of the highlights of our vacation with the Sound of Music Tour! The hills are alive .. 🙂 The food is great and the town is peaceful and quiet.

Doe, a deer a female deer 🙂

The last leg of the trip is Munich. Oh Bavaria, you are amazing with food, music and great jolly atmosphere everywhere! I enjoyed my time there and will visit again. We also manage to visit the first concentration camp. It was a very humbling experience. Life changing and something that we should not forget and learn from it. We ended our trip by visiting the real Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Neuchweinstein Castle

My sister and I planned this trip in advance and the total cost is $1607.66. I don’t think this is bad. I’m a bit over $100/day in Europe which includes our hotels and airfare. I tried to itemize the cost, since we are paying in cash for the most part. But here’s the total cost for hotel, airfare and train:

Hotel: $795.39 in total split with my sister so my total cost is only $398
Airfare: $154.30 taxes and fees since we only used our mileage.
Train and Buses: $288.62 in total split with my sister so my total cost is only $145

The rest are for the things that we actually did, like the tours, museum entrance, bus passes and food. I budgeted about $2000 for the trip and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. Maybe next time, I can budget for less than $100 a day…maybe a trip to Quintana Roo?