Thursday, November 30, 2006

Money Lessons Learned

I have a confession to make.

I love shopping.

Yes that is me. A confessed shopaholic. I love nice clothes and I love nice shoes. I spend 20 dollars on a pair of panties that have enough fabric to cover most men’s pinky. I would gladly spend a few hundred on a handbag and eat protein shakes for a week. I buy expensive skincare. My jeans I buy based upon how they make my ass look rather than the price tag. I buy high thread count sheets. Not even the thread count you can buy at most stores – they have to be ordered. When I feel down I don’t go on a drinking binge or an eating binge – I run straight to the mall. It is my vice.

I am a retail stores best client. I am a sucker. I walk into the store and stupidly get the retail credit card because I get 20% off that day and fail to even think about the 22% APR.

Well – this got me into a lot of trouble.

Lately I have been learning a lot about effective money management and what being a credit card person actually does to ones net worth.

What it comes down to is this.

Credit cards are the demise of America (not my words.) But I believe part of this is true. With credit card debt you will always pay back way too much. So imagine you are buying a 100 dollar shirt – after you pay that off the card it ends up being like 150. And if you are only paying minimum payments or slightly more – well you are barely paying any principal.

Now – to give myself credit I have never had a late payment in almost 7 years.

I have been really good about no longer spending. I am sort of in a “time to get responsible about money” phase – hence the no shopping policy. But getting out of debt is a whole other story.

I sat down with a couple “money savvy” people. One is my uncle who has no debt – only one credit card and is very well off because he knows money. The other is my banker. Who, because he is a banker, obviously knows money said the same thing – debt can’t ruin someone.

So with a little help from my friends I have, with my newfound knowledge, come up with a repayment plan.

The first thing I did was transfer every balance to a low rate card. This I find out will cut my repayment time by half and reduce my interest by thousands of dollars.

I then canceled every single one of my cards. GONE. OUT THE WINDOW.

I will now be completely out of debt in 8 months.

However, my love for nice things will likely never go away. What can I say – it is just who I am.

I Rachel Heather am indulgent. And, I have come to find out this is not a fault – materialism is not a bad word – it just has to be managed.

So how am I going to do that?

First of all I am forcing myself to not buy anything not needed until I am out of debt. After that I was thinking maybe of some sort of budget but it has to be paid in cash.

Any ideas?

This is the dawn of a new age – the age of Rachel being financially responsible.

So to sum it all up – what I have learned.

Bad marks on your credit WILL come back to haunt you (I had two late payments when I was 18 that bring down my score  )

If you can’t pay cash for something – don’t buy it – unless it is a solid investment (car, home, etc.)

Keep only one low APR credit card and only put on there what you can pay off at the end of the month.

So what kinds of money management and money “rules” do you all follow?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Random Musings From Yours Truly

This past month has been a whirlwind of dreams coming true, happy synchronicities and new things happening so fast I sometimes forget to stop and eat or breathe. At this moment, I have a moment and I am kind of in awe of all that has happened. In just three short weeks my life has completely changed. Things that I finally realized I deserved are coming into fruition and

I have met the male version of me - monkey butt and all. Now that is scary.

I have stock options now - like a reel lif adault.

I have two new pairs of panties - One says "Who needs mistletoe" on the butt. Don't make fun of me.

My brother has got a new dog - bringing the pug count through the roof in my family. I am not going to get a pug.

My new boss has nicknamed me, "Thread Count."

People walk around the office here with beer in their hands.

I have my own private banker.

First freelance writing job coming up :)

A certain someone has also nicknamed me "PHD in Manipulation." - whatEVER.

Rock n Republic Jeans are my new favorite jeans

I did something so crazy - everyone that knows me is going to gasp, freak out, and might collapse. I donated two giant containers of clothing to charity. It was tough. I cried at some items - but so worth it.

My body is looking better than ever. I have started taking some new sports just to mix it up a bit. Kickboxing is one of them. I am also going to be taking Pilates and of course my running. (Told you I was busy!)

I have a brand new luxury apartment.

I actually make money now!

I am pretty much on the go from 5:00 AM till bedtime - hence my lack of updates. Things are going to settle down soon, or at least come to a more even keel schedule.

People are starting to see things in me that I never saw before - like actual talent and brains and the x-factor that is needed to actually bring in something unique. In some ways it is almost weird but in others I feel as though - ok finally! I am slowly but surley starting to believe that I really do have that X-Factor - not just when it comes to charm but with brains as well.

After Thanksgiving = CHRISTMAS MUSIC TIME@!!!!!

Woooooo Hoooooo!!!

We pick up our tree in a week - it is a real one :) And you have no idea how good my pies are. I am going to make pumpkin, apple, chocolate rum, plus gingerbread, sugar cookies...oh you name it I am making it!

I love giving presents this time of year. I put a lot of thought into it as well, I am now in the planning stages but I have gotten a lot done.

I did not go to a single store on black Friday. For that alone - I deserve a medal. It was so freaking hard but thankfully I had good support for those moments of weakness where I was tempted to just drive to the store and buying something I don't need just because it is half off.

Remember my boat/new York/ slash weird dream. It is sort of coming true. Well starting to.

How's that for a busy month!!!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

These Are The Days...

That Rachel gets no sleep.

That Rachel hasn't parked her monkey butt down to write :(

That good new things have happened.

Don't worry, I will have some time to update tomorrow.

Then I should be back on a more regular schedule. :)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Lesson Number Two

Philosophy, and therefore psychology, has two theories. We have all heard the nature vs. nurture argument. From a philosophers point of view some would say we are born Tabula Rasa and then learn our traits as products of our environment. Tabula Rasa means clean slate for those of you that have not read Aristotle or Aquinas. Go read it if you haven’t!

If someone told you right now that you could have Tabula Rasa and wipe your entire slate clean and then create the life of your choosing – what would you choose?

Now really think about this one. Most of us are programmed to choose based upon what we “should” want or what we “think we can get.”

The ego is a tricky thing. I like to call the ego a well-meaning but idiotic child. It is always there, in and each and every one of us designed to make life a learning experience.

If we had no ego we would all be in a state of Nirvana – everlasting joy and peace. However, we have this ego and it is designed to give us a purpose.

Imagine playing a baseball game in which someone told you before each game that you were going to win. You would start to lose the joy for the game right? Isn’t the triumph in winning, knowing that it is a risk and you might lose?

Triumph over ego and you win everything.

So here we have this idea that if you can get to nothing, Tabula Rasa, then you can have everything. But your ego wants to stop you.

The ego is what makes us never change and grow because where we are, even if painful, is comfortable. It is safe. Safety is the ego’s friend where risk makes the ego nervous because it can lose.

The ego makes us settle for less. It is easier.

The ego makes us give up on what we want.

The ego makes us hurt others.

The ego makes us lose hope.

The ego makes us insecure.

The ego makes us arrogant.

The ego makes us stay in a state of denial, lying to others and ourselves.

In short – the ego protects us from pain..but keeps us from true happiness.

But what if someone came to you and told you that there is a way to get to “nothing,” triumph over your ego, create the life you want to live and have a freaking fantabulous time while you are here…

If someone told you that – then how would you choose your life? Picture it in your head. Picture exactly what you want. Don’t hold back because you think you can’t have it, or can see no plausible way to get it.

So…the only question you need to ask yourselves is this:

If you take away your ego and knew for sure you could get it – what do you really really realty want?

I am curious to know but in an effort to make us all as honest as possible, please comment anonymously.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

And The Award for BEST GIFT EVER Goes To....

The Best Sheets Ever!!!

"Honey, what would you like to do tonight"?

"Well, geee...I dunno - Row B, Column 3 sounds fun."

If you please turn your attention to - the instruction manual in my hand. Look closer. Closer. Yeah - thats what you think it is.

This gift was given to me by my Aunt who threw me a really fun party with my friends.

Here are some highlights taken with my brand new digital camera : )

Me and Sammy - he actually came to the bars with us

Me and my uncle - by the way, the hat was not my idea

Me and my fantabulous birthday cake - it was handmade by a friend of mine :)

Me and Blair - the fantabulous cakemaker :)

my mom is one of those weird moms that does this

more pictures to come - and more festivities

P.S - I am going to get into a series of articles on here as kind of an experiment/instruction series that delves into a few things that blend some universal laws, physics and metaphysics, and such. The problem is I have so much information and so many different views on the subject matter that I am not yet sure how to articulate it to where it would make sense to the "average Joe." So if you have any advice on how to explain things in that way I would love any my readers could give.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

They Say It's Your Birthday :)

It's my birthday too YEAH!!

So 25 years ago today - two parents gave birth to a freaking awesome girl that had big eyes and baby face cheeks.

As you can see not much has changed since then, I pretty much look the same - same cheeks, same eyes...

Except - maybe I am a little taller, a little wiser, and..well I grew a butt and boobs and such.

Birthday festivities pretty much last the entire month of November in Rachel Land.

We kicked it off with a BBQ today...I raked it in :)

Good times Good times :)

Will be back in a couple of days...

Thursday, November 02, 2006

I Am Becoming a Butterfly

It would take me hours upon hours to explain where I have been and what I have been doing the past month.

I wish I could tell you all that I went on an African Safari, or that I won the lotto and have been using my time wisely making sure Nordstrom’s and Bloomies stay in business for a thousand years.

While, that is not the case, I can’t divulge too many details here.

I have been to hell and back. I have seen darkness and things have happened that have shattered my belief system , respect, and the standards I had set.

Standing in nothing, I was forced to evaluate everything. Who I am. Where I am. Who I want to be and where I want to go.

A good good friend, and someone who I hold high with utmost respect and admiration told me this (to paraphrase)

“Rachel, what the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls the butterfly. I see you and I see that you are turning into the most beautiful amazing butterfly I have ever seen.”

Besides being one of the best compliments I have ever gotten (and thank you for that, you know who you are) it opened my eyes to realize that standing in nothing is actually a good sign.

As with any change in our life, or self-transformation, or even taking the first step to get help, it is painful. It is as painful as that caterpillar breaking through his cocoon. Many people say it is the most painful thing anyone goes through. Many people give up during that time. They get familiar with that boxed in feeling. It is comfortable and safe. Breaking out is dangerous. It is scary. No one knows what is outside the cocoon.

But I broke out anyway.

Here is what I found:

- It takes courage to do the hard thing which many times are the right and just thing.

- It takes courage to see the truth about who we are but only we can change and grow. This is why many people never change (how many times have you heard that one)

- I am stronger than I give myself credit for.

- I am a good, loving person.

- I understand.

- I know how to love.

- Not one single person in this world is evil.

- I am totally freaking sexy. (I had to add that one) : )

I am now standing on the cusp of a new life. The world is spread out before me and, mark my words, I will take it on.

I won’t settle for anything less than spectacular. I won’t remain in a boxed in place of where I “should” be. If I want to do something I am going to go balls in and do it. Coward no more.

I can be anything I want. I can do anything I want. I can have anything I want. That is what the universe was designed for. Are you in a job you don’t like? Quit. Follow your bliss. That is what takes real courage and conviction. How about your town? Your heart? Your mind? Why is it you have the job you have? Is it what your parents did and you thought you should do the same? What kind of life do you really want to live? Picture what you want in your head.

I am told I am now a butterfly. My life did a 180 the past month. But now, everything seems possible.

And this sick feeling in my stomach, over my past…that will fade with time.

So many people thought of me as someone that would not go anywhere. A pretty face – nothing more.

Mark my words….my standards are set, I will not lower them, and anything less is an insult to the universe and myself.

Anyone care to join me? All you have to do is be authentic.

And maybe a little bit sexy ;)