Airline Miles – What I’m currently doing

As I’ve already posted about, I mainly fund my plane travel through airline miles. I took about a year off of actively trying to get miles, and was just basking in the glow of having accumulated 350,000+. Then the year passed and I continued to be in a long distance relationship, and suddenly my 350,000+ points were down to about 80,000. That’s only enough for one, MAYBE two if I’m really lucky, trips to see G. Or do anything else with my life, like maybe check off more of the countries on my list.

So I dove back in. It also helped that my coworker has gotten obsessed and is using me as a personal mileage guru. So here is what I’m currently doing to boost my miles back up. This should leave me with 155,000 miles by the time I’m done.

First, I signed up for the Citi Gold checking account. 50,000 miles for 1,000 spend over three months? Yes please! We sadly found out I’m targeted for this one, meaning not everyone can sign up just yet. BUT my coworker went in and it sounds like it’ll be open for everyone in April. It’s a great deal and I highly recommend (minus the fact that the checking account website is really ugly and I hate using it).

Then I did the Alaska Airlines card*, which I already wrote about. This was super easy, I closed it as soon as the miles posted to avoid the annual fee, and now I have 25,000 Alaska Airlines miles, which can be used on tons of different airlines, American included. (AND Alaska Air allows stop overs!!)

I just signed up for this, which is 35,000 after 3,000 of spend in three months. Unfortunately this offer has since ended and it’s back down to 25,000, which is still a pretty good deal. I’m using Plastiq to pay my rent, so that will be taken care of pretty quickly, thank you super expensive LA rental market! These points transfer to over 30 airlines, American and Alaska included. And for every 20,000 you transfer to Alaska, you get a 5,000 mile bonus! So I’m going to use the card until I have 40,000 miles, transfer to Alaska, and wind up with 50,000 miles!

Once I finish that off, I’m going to do the citi business, for that uh…. Etsy shop I’m going to open one day (that’s as solid as your business plans have to be to open a business card. Just don’t lie about it and you’re fine!). This is pretty straight forward and worth 30,000 for 1,000 in 90 days.

So, that’s that. The only card where I have to spend more than $1,000 in 90 days is the Starwood Preferred, and I’m using that to pay my rent. 155,000 miles, easy peasy.

*I just found out this card is churnable, meaning about 61 days after I canceled it, I was able to apply again. The deal has since changed and now it’s $1,000 of spend in 3 months, which I’m working on doing now.

New year, new goals

I think by now it’s well documented how much I love to do lists and the setting of goals, and while I’m not really one for new years resolutions, any excuse to indulge, I’ll take.

  1. Focus more on my health. Over Christmas I was constantly sick. First I got a cold, then a UTI (my THIRD this year, kill me), and then was told there was a serious chance I had cervical cancer. Luckily, I went in for a biopsy and everything came back normal (though it went on just long enough to SERIOUSLY freak me out), but my first goal of 2016 is to try to take better care of myself and my terrible, terrible immune system. I’ve always hated taking a lot of pills, but I’ve forced myself to let go of that dislike and jump on the vitamin/probiotic train. So I’m now taking a women’s multivitamin, fish oil, cranberry capsules (which are meant to help with the UTIs), Align, and the prescription for an ulcer I’ve been ignoring because I hate prescription medication. In addition I haven’t smoked since September 2nd, and feel literally no desire to do so ever again. I’ve lasted through two visits with my boyfriend, who is pretty much the person I want to smoke with the most, but the true test will be when I go back to London. That’s where I started and where I’ve never been able to quit. Without really realizing it, I’ve been doing sober January–my interest in alcohol has plummeted since I turned 25–hangovers are just not worth it. The only days I really foresee myself drinking this month are the Patriots playoff game and the weekend of my birthday. I’m trying to drink around 96 ounces of water a day, eat cleanly, and exercise 3-4 times a week. I’m also going to bed REALLY early (like 9:30pm), so I can be up around 5:30 to Skype Gareth before I have to leave for work (yeah, 5:30 AM). Last May I had been eating really well and going to pilates and running about 5-6 times a week, and I was in the best shape/strongest I’ve ever been. I’d love to get back to that–I had the beginnings of a six pack!
  2. Repair my finances. By living like I was completely broke, I managed to somehow avoid SERIOUS damage to my bank account. I was about a week away from taking all the money out of my investments though, and have definitely had to tap into my savings way more than I’d like. I’ve also racked up some hefty credit card debt. So my goals are to first pay off all my credit cards. I’m thinking this can be done by mid-February, as long as I can spend the next few weeks on the same budget I’ve been on for the past few months. This should’t be too hard, as it’s really hard to remember I don’t have to be constantly panicked about money. Once the debt is paid off, I want to immediately replenish all the money I took out of my savings. I hated having to spend any of it, even though I know the reason I had savings in the first place was for times like these. But I’d like to undo that damage as soon as possible. Then I’d like to get my checking account back to a healthy number, and start a separate savings account for the planned RTW trip G and I want to take.
  3. Continue crafting. December was Gareth’s birthday, our anniversary, and Christmas. Considering I was extremely broke, I had to get really creative with my presents, and it led me to discover a creative side I never knew I had! I’ve started cross stitching, which I am LOVING. I’ll post some of the stuff I’ve done recently sometime soon. I also am thinking of joining this knit along. I haven’t knitted since I was in elementary school, but I practiced a bit and think I have the basics down. Lastly, I want to start this project. It looks so cool, and I think I’d have SUCH a good time figuring out all the fabrics and such.
  4. Writing. I’m halfway through so many things, and done with none. I need to get back in the habit, and I’m hoping I can make it part of my weekly schedule in a way where it just becomes natural.

Those are my immediate goals. We’ll see how well I do keeping them, but as of now I feel excited to take on the challenge!

I GOT A JOB!

A good one, at that. I was pretty sure once the holidays were over and Hollywood was focused once more, some openings would pop up. The hardest part about being unemployed was not knowing how long it would last. If I had a date I would DEFINITELY have a job by, I could have budgeted, I could have planned, I could have maybe even traveled. But instead, I had to be ready to work at a moment’s notice, but also budget like I would be unemployed indefinitely. It was pretty depressing.

I’m also someone who really needs a reason to get up early and face the day. Otherwise I sit around alone all day, going down a rabbit hole of worry and anxiety. I was able to avoid that for a while this time, but right around Christmas my anxiety was getting pretty bad. Then I made myself a deal–I would pretend I was just on Christmas break. I would completely enjoy the holidays, pretend I was coming back to a job (though keep the budget just as tight), and just RELAX. Which I mostly was able to do. (Honestly, I did drop the ball on relaxing completely, but that was after a health scare that came out of nowhere and really threw me/my anxiety).

And right before Gareth arrived, I got a call from my friend who works on Switched at Birth about temping there for a few weeks straight after the break. I was SUPER excited because I LOVE that show (Bay is SUCH a strong female character), and also because I had a (temporary) job to go back to! I was there last week and it was really amazing. The people I was working for were really nice and inclusive, and the entire staff, cast, and crew were all extremely friendly and welcoming, which can be really rare. I got to go to the table read for the first episode back, and meet all the writers/producers/actors I’ve been a fan of for so long. I’m even in this picture!

I was supposed to be there for the next two/three weeks, but over the weekend was asked to interview and hired on the spot to be the writers PA on The Leftovers! This is SO exciting for a few reasons. One: DAMON LINDELOF. Enough said, no? I’ve been watching interviews with him since I was in high school and completely obsessed with LOST. He and Joss Whedon are basically the two people responsible for me realizing TV writing was a job, and a job I very much want to do. So the high schooler in me is kind of freaking out. Two: It’s a GREAT, well written show on HBO. Kind of the dream. Three: It runs for most of the year, meaning I don’t have to deal with being unemployed until next year, hopefully. Four: I am getting paid again! I can’t remember what it’s like to not wake up at night stressing out about money. It still hasn’t really sunk in–I am not completely, 100% broke anymore! I can maybe spend the next few months getting my finances back on track! The only downside is I might only get to see Gareth for a few weeks over the next ten months, which is pretty devastating. But last year was really lucky, and just what we needed to be strong enough to do long term long distance.

So overall, the start of 2016 has been AMAZING. I heard another show I love that was on the bubble is getting picked up for another season, so basically the fan in me has had QUITE the start to the new year. As has the financier. I start the new gig Wednesday and am so beyond happy, it’s hard to put into words!

And just like that…

Summer ended in Los Angeles.

I’m not going to lie, Autumn is my favorite season, and being without it for the past few years has been tough. But Los Angeles does this great thing where out of nowhere it gets cold and a bit crisp. Today, I’m wearing leggings, a sweater dress (!), and tall brown boots. And it’s the best feeling in the world. It has also rained the past two days which I always view as a bit of a treat (compared to living in London when I was desperate for sun warm enough to sit outside in), and Monday there was an awesome rainbow.

Quick update on No Spend Novem (I’ve shortened it because that way it almost rhymes): All my friends planned  a road trip to Vegas. None of us have been, as it’s not the highest on any of our lists. But it’s right there and our friend Maggie is going to support her father in a race. The plan was to road trip, get a cheap hotel for Friday and Saturday, and drive back Sunday. Originally I agreed, because I want to go everywhere and if I’m ever going to do Vegas, I want it to be with my best friends. But then I thought about the cost total, and No Spend Novem, and realized it was just not a real option. Vegas will be right there for the foreseeable future, but I only have one No Spend Novem and I want to kick its butt.

The (selfishly) happy news is that a day after I bowed out, the trip fell apart for unrelated reasons, and now we’re going to try to go in February. So I get the double happiness of making the financially correct decision while not actually missing out on Vegas with my friends.

No Spend November

For whatever reason, November seems to be the month for challenges, like Movember, National Novel Writing Month, etc. I’m not sure why November–maybe as the year winds down, people feel a last urge to accomplish something big before ringing in the new year. I get that, and I’m going to try my own version.

While this year has been full of adventure and amazing personal, professional, and romantic experiences, I’m not leaving it in the best financial shape. And while I had been content to put off digging out of the proverbial hole until I got a job, it’s taking too long and there’s something big I want to start saving for (more on this later). I realize I just did a post about how I had 10+ credit cards and such a great credit score because I paid them off every month, but I willingly went into debt on a few things this year (LASIK, plane tickets I didn’t want to use miles on, living abroad), and now have a small amount of debt to pay off before I start building my savings back up.

This month, instead of using money I would generally spend on unnecessary food, drinks, or activities, I’m going to pay my rent, utilities, any other essential items, and the rest of my budget will go towards the debt. I need to feel proactive and it’ll be nice to completely buckle down.

I’m going to track my spending and post updates–today wasn’t the best start as I had to take my cat to the vet for the first time ever (he has worms and it’s all so gross I want to vomit and die at the same time). I did find a well respected vet that offered free first visits, but the medications were about $90. Not ideal, but taking care of my cat is definitely something I’d list as essential.

Wish me luck!