Empire State Building

Beautiful NYC day on my way out of town!

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Ragtag Daily Prompt Sunday: Surprise

Surprise! I love surprises! Do you? I’m curious! Just this weekend I received a wonderful gift from a very special love in my life! You see, I’m an artist living in NYC and loving it, but I miss my roots, too! I grew up in the mountains of Colorado, so I’m an outdoors girl, too! It’s so beautiful there…and here, too, in different ways. Well…recently it was my birthday…and he surprised me with the BEST gift of all…a trail ride in the Shenandoah Valley!!!!!!!!! I haven’t been on a horse in over a decade. I’m not even a regular rider, or anything, but I LOVE them. I LOVED IT! IT WAS MAGICAL! HE WON MAJOR POINTS FOR THAT ONE! The horse was amazing, so gentle and responsive to my commands. The guides were incredible (seriously, River’s Bend Ranch, they’re awesome), and the experience was excellent! We took a ride by the river, through the forest, and loved every minute of it! He won major boyfriend points with that one. The sweetest thing: he’s not an outdoorsy guy himself, but he knows how much I love the air, the mountains, the animals, etc., so he planned this whole day trip (zipcar, lunch) and everything and then surprised me with the bday gift! Such a lovely guy, and I feel so blessed to have him. Plus…this isn’t the first time he’s surprised me with something I wanted so badly…he surprised me with Hamilton tickets for our anniversary…so he’s definitely amazing!

 

RDP Monday: Dazzle

“Give em’ the old razzle dazzle, razzle dazzle em”. Any “Chicago” fans out there? That lyric was literally the first thing that came to mind when I thought about the word dazzle. Dazzle sounds sparkly, doesn’t it? It sounds glitzy, like the 20’s, at least in my opinion. It reminds me of themed 20’s parties, songs, dances, movies, singing, and general stuff of that era. It also makes me think about how I can dazzle people…or at least “dazzle” my own life. You see, I’m an entrepreneur, so I’m always thinking of ways to dazzle my customers at all of my jobs (yes, you read that correctly, I have several jobs). I’m a waitress, dog walker, house sitter, e-commerce store owner, and aspiring actress/singer. There’s a lot of room to dazzle there!

Thinking about the e-commerce store, though (millennialpets.org), I’m always learning and growing. I’m not particularly technically inclined, and that is an uphill climb for me…but I’m always learning and achieving and acquiring new skills. I’ve learned more about how the internet/tech works in the last few months than I have in a lifetime, and it really is a whole other world. All in all, I hope to dazzle my clients every day with awesome customer service, speed, accuracy, and products that provide tons of incredible memories! I also hope to have the skills of Broadway stars so that I can literally dazzle entire audiences every night one day. It will happen. In the meantime, keep on being you, you fabulous ragtagdailyprompt’ers! Have a wonderful Monday!

RDP Wednesday: Wanderlust

Wanderlust isn’t a word that I hear very often. In fact, I think I only started hearing it used after the movie “Wanderlust” with Alan Alda, Jennifer Aniston, and Paul Rudd (to name a few) came out in 2012. It’s a weird-sounding word to me. Wander and lust combined together. It makes sense, though. I guess you could say that I have wanderlust. I want to travel the world, with the exception of a few places. I want to eat new foods, observe new rituals/ceremonies, experience new beaches at sunset, swim in different oceans, and just generally be able to say “I’ve been there. I saw that in person.” Who wouldn’t want to say that? Who wouldn’t want to know what it feels like to be elsewhere instead of just the safe confines of home? Home is wonderful (in some cases), but I feel like it’s when you leave that you can truly appreciate what being home feels like. If you never leave home, I don’t think that you can ever entirely know exactly who you could be if you experienced things outside of your scope and culture in life. I think traveling the world would be life-changing. My bank account would agree. My bank account wouldn’t be changing for the better, though. My point of view might. Getting to know people in other countries takes away the level of fear that some experience while thinking about how big the world is out there. It becomes smaller and easier to handle when you know you’ve got friends, when you know that you can connect with those around you in other countries. Sometimes I think that in the US we forget that many countries live surrounded by neighboring countries, so they’re more knowledgeable on a firsthand basis about the people and cultures around them. Here in the US we are relatively isolated (other than to the South and North) from the other countries. Being able to communicate with others in their native tongue is something that I’ve found exciting and fun. You see, I’ve taken Spanish since I was a little kid, and I will continue to practice it every day. I love getting to speak to people that I would otherwise not be able to communicate with. There’s something so special about making a connection with people who come from an entirely different place than I do and sharing a laugh with them simply because language is not as much of a barrier. It’s liberating! I truly hope that someday more students in the US are required to take years of foreign language lessons. We could then be able to communicate more effectively and kindly with all parts of the world because so much of culture is represented by how the people of that culture formulate their communication with each other. If we can understand how to communicate, we can better understand how to work together. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Talk About Finances…

I can hear the collective groan now…do we, as artists really have to think about finances? Well, first of all, we’re still people, too, so the answer is: yup (unfortunately). I know that money and art don’t necessarily go hand in hand (I’m there with ya). I would like to share some information and tips that I have learned in the last year or more to help my fellow artists (and anyone who’d like assistance) to better their lives by improving their financial portfolio. Now, I am not a financial advisor or a guru of some sort, so please get professional help if need be and look at your finances with an advisor. These are simply the musings of an artist trying to get by!

About two years ago I was financially flailing. My credit score was about 1-200 points lower than it is now, and I came to the realization that a low credit score was really harming my ability to pay off a credit card that I’d gotten when I was young (and how that debt got there: that’s another story filled with me having no idea about the repercussions, aka interest, of my actions when I was younger). This debt has followed me around for years. Since I had such a high interest rate that was forcing me to throw money down the toilet every month, I decided that I needed to start working on improving my credit so that I could better my situation gradually. I also knew that I’d be moving out on my own at some point and that my credit would need to be elevated. Ah, being an adult. IT WAS DAUNTING. So…I started researching ways to slowly incorporate better financial strategy in my life.

The first step…is the hardest one: grabbing the bull by the horns and combing through your statements to see where you can begin to curb your spending. For me it’s been my Starbucks habit (I now only go once a week and I’ve cut my spending down from about $200+ to $50-$60 per month, at most). So yay! I get a special date with myself once a week and I get to keep more money, too! I know, it’s painful, but you can do it, as well! Think about it this way: for me that’s about $1,680 in savings per year…that could definitely pay a few monthly bills! What do you do that slowly demolishes your pay? The second step: still pretty daunting, but very liberating once you face it.

The 2nd step is to find out if you’re eligible for a credit card. I recommend applying for a secured credit card if you’re ready because they are designed to help those of us who are re-building our credit health. The way they accomplish this is by only having a very small credit limit (mine with Capital One was $200) so you don’t go overboard with your spending. It’s a great way to practice changing your habits while having a safer system than a regular credit card. There are lots of offers out there, but I recommend using Capital One because it comes with an easy to use set of tracking tools. The app allows you to see exactly how much credit you have and have used. It also informs you about your financial health by consistently showing you your credit score, providing information about the factors effecting your credit, and giving you tips on how to improve your score. By following the steps suggested, you can start to build your confidence in your financial setup. I have come to find out through my own experience how important and beneficial this is. In the last two years I have grown financially and I’ve realized many things, but one of the most important things I came to realize is that it is very expensive to not have money. Having a great credit score means that you will be offered better deals on financial products, especially interest rates. Interest rates are where the bank gets your money. With high interest rates you end up paying the bank more money in the long run because you have a low credit score. With a higher credit score the bank gives you a lower interest rate, and you end up paying less money in the long run than you would have otherwise. Weird, right? It seems backwards, but I hope to inspire you to think outside the box and turn the cycle back in your favor as I am trying to do on my end as well.

These ideas are just scratching the surface and there is more to come. Stay tuned and have a great day!

 

Disclaimer: please do what is best for you financially. My tips and ideas have worked well for me, but each situation is different. For personal advice please go to a financial advisor and find out your options.

Good Financial Cents…Get It?

Hello! Welcome back to the blog. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Well, I’ve been off on my own financial and life adventures, and I hope you have, too! Now, where were we? Yes, collective groaning about finances and talking about improving credit scores…and continuing on with some info about the current state of Balance Transfers. Well, ready to dive in? Okay!

APR financing stands for annual percentage rate of charge, and although that sounds like a very odd concept to many, it’s one that is really important to understand. I’m sure many of you get emails and snail mail that advertise 0%APR financing for 12 months, 15 months, and so on and so forth…well…that’s great! What that means is that when you sign up with said credit card company you will pay 0% interest on your total balance each month for that many months. No fees!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wahoo!!!!! It’s fabulous…and it feels that way, but don’t get caught not paying attention to where you are in the cycle. It’s easy to forget when your introductory period is going to be over…and then watch out…the interest is going to accumulate. You will need to make sure that you are keeping a low balance or no balance when the time is up, because you will certainly notice a big difference in the fees that you owe at the end of the month…and they add up fast. So…I’m here to tell you that with a  little bit of self-discipline (not spending money you don’t actually already have…I’m right there with you on that one, trust me) and knowledge of how the system works…you can create better financial health. Here are several of the top offers on the market for the moment…happy researching!

Although there are currently a range of options when it comes to how long each companies introductory offer, creditkarma.com states that the top 3 credit offers OVERALL (including rate of cash back and other benefits), are as follows:

  1. Chase Freedom Unlimited (heck yes 15mos. 0% APR and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases+$150 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases during the first 3 months of your offer). Yay! Oh, I forgot to tell you…some cards even offer sign-up bonuses. Yep, you get money (if you’re approved and you follow the rules, of course).
  2. Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card                                                               This is a great offer, and I can say that from personal experience. This is actually one of the cards that I currently have. I have been very impressed with Capital Ones’ customer service and their quality. I love the fact that I can choose a variety of ways that I want to cash out my rewards…even by buying gift cards! I can also rack up my cash rewards without them EVER expiring! The technical deets are: 0%APR for 15 months, unlimited 1.5% cash back, and no annual fee either…YEESSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!
  3. Wells Fargo Platinum Card                                                                                                           This one offers something unique on top of the introductory 0% APR for 18 months offer (wow)! You are eligible for a maximum amount of $600 protection…on your phone…when you follow all of their requirements (always…ALWAYS…follow the requirements, otherwise you will be denied the offers and lose out on money you could have benefited from). That’s worth looking into! They also offer zero liability protection for charges that are reported within a certain amount of time…also seriously worth looking into…Even I might have to look into this…There are a myriad of other benefits as well…                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Well…wow that was informational for me as well! As you can see, offers are constantly changing, so keep an eye out for the next best thing, and the next best tip…I know I will be! Keep tuned here for more information, always, and tips to think about on your journey. As always, this information has worked for me, but it doesn’t mean it will work for you and your finances. Although I have found successes, each financial story is different and it really is best to speak to a professional adviser when it comes to the big money choices in life. Please leave comments and questions below, and I will answer asap!  Until we chat again, ciao, and enjoy your next big adventures!