How to Get a Driver’s License in Puerto Rico, 4 Easy and Quick Steps

Getting a driver’s license is pretty easy, right? (Many years ago) In Phoenix, Arizona I read the driver’s booklet, passed my written test, then demonstrated basic driving skills for the practical exam.  I have been a licensed driver ever since.

2016_PR Drivers LicenseSo, why would I be nervous or hesitant to become a licensed driver in Puerto Rico?  All the paperwork and instructions are in Spanish (which I barely read, and am learning to speak).  Driving in Puerto Rico can be a challenge.  And multiple trusted people and websites told me how difficult it is to get a driver’s license in Puerto Rico.

THEY WERE WRONG!

It was easy and quick to get a Puerto Rican Driver’s License (for licensed US Citizen). Continue reading “How to Get a Driver’s License in Puerto Rico, 4 Easy and Quick Steps”

Tale of Mommy Hibernation

You’re Pregnant?  Congratulations!  I’ll call you in 15 years.

Many of my friends went into Mommy Hibernation when the first Baby was born.  This is the reality that your entire life is now focused on feeding schedules, naptime, and poop.  This phase can last a few years, or in rare cases it can be permanent going from helicopter Mommy to helicopter Granny.Baby feet

2015-12-24 16.49.42At first, it was really emotionally hard to lose my friends.  I did not realize it was a hibernation, I thought it was permanent!  I tried to stay connected, making the effort.  I endured horrific Baby showers, Smash cake for 1 year olds, and overall lack of topics for conversation.  I tried to look interested in the latest diaper genie and poop disposal systems, but it was obviously not a topic that I could contribute to.  I enjoyed shopping for pretty dresses and cute tee shirts, but it is hard to feel engaged over a few outfits.  Every time I was shown Baby pictures, I eagerly whipped out cute photos of my Dog, apparently it is not the same. Continue reading “Tale of Mommy Hibernation”

Choosing a Gym Membership that is a Good Fit for You

 

9-tips-and-strategies-for-choosing-the-right-gym-membership-for-you

Cost, commitment, location, and options that fit within your budget are just some of the factors that should be considered when choosing the right Gym Membership for you.  Here are 9 criteria for you to consider.

  1. Let’s start with the Monthly Price – Unlimited or pay by session? Many gyms do not advertise their rates deliberately, so this may be the LAST piece of information provided about a specific gym.  They want you to come in and speak to them, and many go into high pressure sales.  Look for free day pass offers and do not feel pressure to sign-up that day.  Negotiate to reduce or eliminate one-time sign-up fees (I have never paid for the privilege to join a gym, above the monthly fees).
  2. Location– Close by, or on the way to/from work or home will encourage you to go.  Take distance out as an excuse not to go.
  3. Childcare options– Many gyms offer childcare while you workout.  Getting that hour break to workout away from your child may help your mental and physical state.  What, if any, is the additional price for childcare?  Do you need to make a childcare appointment, or are there set drop off times?
  4. Operating Hours–  Do you need a gym open 24 hours a day or just during certain times?  It is nice to know the gym is always open, and may be worth the extra price.
  5. Is an Appointment required? Certain fitness studios require appointments for each session.  There are hefty fees for late cancellation or missed appointments.  This may be the extra motivation that you need to workout, or it may cost you dearly. Know your workout style and schedule, and be honest if this is good or bad for you.
  6. What is included in the membership price? Is this just access to the cardio equipment and free weights?  Are group fitness classes included?  Is there an additional fee or rental gear for the rock wall?
  7. Compare amenities between multiple facilities, and really consider if you currently use or realistically will use a feature, and how much is that worth to you? Whatever facility you choose, it should be clean, well-maintained, and a safe environment.  
  8. Before you sign any contract, make sure you understand the duration and cancellation policy. Some shady places sign you up for a very difficult to cancel multi-year gym membership.  The contract duration locks in the monthly fee for that entire time (or it is a really bad contract).  Month to month membership allows you to leave at any time, including as a response to a rate increase.
  9. After addressing all the important points above, you may decide the best gym is your home. There are some great at home workout programs, pop in a DVD anywhere, anytime you want a workout.  Or stream your workout on demand from any internet connected device, there are plenty of options inexpensive and FREE options.

Compare everything above to find a workout facility or Fitness program that is a good fit for you!   Fitness options are not one size fits all.

5 Easy Steps for Income Taxes DIY or Hire a Professional

5 easy steps for doing your own taxes, plus advice on when to hire professionals.

Doing TaxesWhen I started filing taxes decades ago, it was a tedious process of convoluted tax tables and writing the information on the correct tax forms by hand.  There were separate instructions on exactly how to staple the W-2 income statements correctly to the exact page.  Annual returns were manually entered into the IRS system, introducing another person to make a mistake.  I remember double checking everything I had written before sealing the envelope, mailing my return, then waiting weeks and weeks for my refund check or correction letter.  While attending University for my Finance degree, I took many accounting classes, and worked for several accountants over the years, including an independent tax firm.  Admittedly, I have a complex tax return, and I pay a professional (after I have completed a preliminary return on my own) to file my taxes. Continue reading “5 Easy Steps for Income Taxes DIY or Hire a Professional”

What is a Frugal Lifestyle

What does frugal living mean to you?

Recently, we downsized to a smaller home and made other frugal lifestyle changes.  I like the The Dollar Stretcher statement, “Frugal is Using Money Thoughtfully”.  Spending money (or not) should be a well thought out decision, rather than merely a reaction or just picking the cheapest option.coins

First, the difference between being frugal versus cheap.  While attending University, I was broke and the cheapest options were the only way to keep food in my tummy and a roof over my head, in order to not incur massive student loan debt.  I lived in the least expensive (and terrible) neighborhood close to campus and made every sacrifice in comfort.   When you are broke, often the only choice is whatever is the lowest price option or do without when that is even too much money.  After graduation, my career took off and I left cheap behind!  To me, being frugal is all about priorities and choices, cheap is settling for what is left.  Like most people, my lifestyle was cheap due to my own decisions and priorities.  I could have lived in a beautiful apartment for the same price as my tuition!

Being frugal is searching for the best value option, while cheap is the sacrifice of quality and value.

IMG_1308 - CopyMy current frugal lifestyle is extravagant luxury compared to those years in school.  I eat very well, travel, buy nice cars, and can afford activities like scuba diving.  I still consider myself frugal, and consider how and why I spend money.  Paying off all (interest bearing) debt was a priority for me, and here is how I paid off all of my debt.  I do not owe creditors, and I certainly do not pay interest to borrow money.

  • I look at frequency of my spend (weekly habits really add up) and reoccurring expenses.  Monthly cable bill is a luxury that I do not need and more savings ideas here.
  • I do not clip coupons or worry about a few pennies here or there, the payoff is not worth my time.
  • I stock up on my regular items during a sale, and I buy non-perishable (toilet paper and consumables) items in bulk for cost savings.
  • I join rewards programs for grocery stores, food, clothing, hotel and travel, and “regular” purchases, even if only once a year.
  • Then I stay informed on perks and promotions from those loyalty programs to score my airline upgrades, free hotel stays, bulk sales, clothing discounts, and other money saving offers.
  • I compare prices.  When out shopping I will double check prices on Amazon and eBay compared to in store.  Sometimes Target really does have the best price, and I can take it home immediately!  Whatever the item, I buy with confidence that I got a good deal.