Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Resolution

I've been seriously slacking on this blog. I know.
For the longest time, I just didn't have the passion to write here but I didn't know what was going on. Well, I figured it out about a week ago.
This blog has been sucking because I was focusing too much on myself and not enough on helping other people. I'm ready to change that.
I've finished my book and I've got a HUGE list of topics that I want to write about for this blog.
I'll probably go through sometime today and delete all the posts that are completely irrelevant.
And from next year, I'm going to be posting relevant, helpful content.
Happy New Year!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Some Thoughts on The Secret

I just re-watched The Secret the other night because I felt like a needed a reminder. In general, I believe in the Law of Attraction and have worked it successfully throughout my life--even before I had a name for it.
It always makes me think about this time when my friend said...and I can't remember why she said it..."It's just...I mean...WHY DOES SHANNON GET EVERYTHING SHE WANTS?!?!" And this was post-college, not a 6 year old throwing a temper tantrum. I giggled. I always did get what I wanted. And it's cuz of The Secret.
But anyway, this time watching The Secret, I was struck by something they said which I think could be taken in very wrong ways. In the sections where they were talking about money and material things, then mentioned how you need to act like you already have it. Then it (whatever "it" is that you want) will come to you.
Now, to me, that seems like an excuse to go out and buy a bunch of fancy toys just so that you can "feel rich" and in turn money will come to you. That's what it *seems* like they are telling you. But I think that the truth is that you will start worrying about your debt which will bring about more debt. I don't know.
The whole money aspect of The Secret might be a bit off. Maybe tomorrow I can be more organized in my thoughts about it.
But on a side note, I started repeating the mantra mentioned in the movie..."Money comes easily and frequently" and it has. Haha.

Monday, October 1, 2007

8 Hour Days--What I Learned About Myself

So it's been two weeks of my "work 8 hour days" goal and so far it's been going pretty good. I'm going to continue it this week, which should mean that it becomes a habit. We'll see. I do like being productive, but somehow eight hours does seem a bit much.
I mean...OK when I was a teacher, I would put in a good 8 hours of work. It was hard. But there was a bit of down-time. A bit of playing with the kids, a bit of after school chatting with teachers and so on. That makes actual work time a bit less...maybe 6-7 hours (and on Wednesdays I got to go home at 2.). Before that, I worked in technical support and my actual working time was almost zero. I'm not even joking when I say that I might have worked about one hour out of the nine hours that I was there (Alas, this company was acquired and eventually everyone was laid off, so don't ask for a job there...). Somehow, despite this, I was able to pull off the image that I was one of their best employees. Those were the days...
So it's actually quite hard for me to literally work a full 8 hours. Anyway, here are a few things I've learned about myself:

  • I work better by using time limits blocked out for different activities than I do by setting activity goals.
  • I can get a lot of work done in just an hour if I actually put my mind to it.
  • Brainstorming is quite effective. A few times, I've set aside some time for brainstorming and it makes the rest of the task much easier.
  • If I don't get an early start, it won't get done. It's funny how eight hours is eight hours whether you're talking 9-5 or 1-9. But there's just something about getting half the day's work done before noon that makes ya feel good. Two days I woke up unexpectedly late and by the time I had my breakfast and checked email and so on, it was past noon. These days were horribly unproductive for me.
  • Exercise at home is a great solution. I've had problems in the past where I can either focus on a serious exercise program and then the rest of my life falls out of whack and I become seriously unproductive. Or I can kick ass in the productivity department, and not at all feel like exercising. This past week I was able to balance by doing exercising at home. My husband and I are doing Power 90x. It's strange because the actual time spent working out is sometimes longer than if I went out for a jog and came home. But the feeling is somehow much different.

Well, those are the things I can think of so far. I'm going to try to keep it up because I do like feeling productive....

Friday, September 28, 2007

Being in Love -- Frugal or Expensive?

I believe that being in love is one of the most frugal things that you can do.
I'm sure that there's a fair amount of guys grumbling right now about the costs of dating and flowers and gifts and all the extras that they end up footing the bill for. But those things are generally a part of the process of wooing--not the actual act of being in love.
Of course, back in my single days I was pretty easy and could have been had for the price of a 6 pack and a large pizza. But I understand other girls might cost a bit more money. Which could be frustrating for guys.
But once you actually are in love, you'll start spending a lot less money:
1. You want nothing more than to gaze into each other's eyes, so you don't need to spend any money on entertainment.
2. You won't leave the bed unless you are absolutely starving, which means food costs start coming down.
3. Since you're in love, you don't need to go to bars to meet someone, which saves a whole lot of money.
4. Also "having somebody" means that you can cancel your membership to
5. Finally, "staying at home with each other" becomes a date, and is significantly less expensive than a "real date".
So go out an fall in love!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Japanese Work Ethic

Occasionally my husband and I clash over the Japanese work ethic.
For example, I personally believe that life's goal should really be to work hard to get enough money so that your money starts working for you. I don't care if that means getting a lot of actual money and investing it (though investing kind of scares me), or writing a book that ears residual income, or creating a website that earns money on its own. Eventually, you don't want to "work" to get your money.
Hubby can't seem to comprehend this. To him, one must actually be physically doing something to get paid. But often, his "working" isn't quite productive. I don't want to be really down on him or anything like that, but it was incredibly frustrating for me to see how long it was taking for him to make our website when I knew damn well that the "work" he was doing on it wasn't really necessary (e.g. changing all of the pictures so that the file size is slightly lower). I really feel that it's more important for him to "look busy" than to actually be doing work.
He tends to think that my working on my websites is "just playing" and he'll give me disparaging looks over his computer. And then I roll my eyes at him when he asks me some nit-picky unimportant question about "the business".
I've tried to get him interested in internet marketing or affiliate marketing or website building or *something*, but it just doesn't work. Or if he doesn't see immediate results, then he thinks it's a failure. I think that if he could just get interested in it, he could make a huge killing because the market in Japan just isn't as saturated as it is in the US.
Sometimes it's just so frustrating.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

another 8 hours a day goal

Last week my goal was to actually work 8 hour days. It only went so-so. I would try to work on checking things off of my to-do list, but then I'd get distracted by solitaire or something like that. HAHA.
Anyway, I realized my main problem was the way I was writing things on my to-do list. For example, last week's to-do list might have looked like this:

  • Write 2 articles.
  • Make 3 new pages for the site.
  • New blog post.
  • Email Debby.

And so on.
But the thing is for me...I'd know that all of that together would take less than 8 hours, so I'd write one article, play solitaire, write another article, go for a walk. Knowing that I could accomplish all of my day's goals in less than 8 hours allowed me to slack a bit.
So this week I'm taking a different approach. Instead of listing specific goals, I'm making timed, general goals.
For example, yesterdays looked like this:

  • Go to Coast Guard (1 hr)
  • 1 hour administrative duties/cleaning/tidying.
  • 1 hour brainstorming different things.
  • 2 hours article writing.
  • 1 hour site page designs.
  • 1 hour directory submissions.
  • 1 hour uploading everything.

It went over a lot better than last week. So we'll see how it goes as the week continues.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Week's Goal--Work 8 Hours

I know that not officially working is a luxury that few people have. Recently though, I've been disappointed with the way I've been making use of my time.
So this week I decided to make a goal of "working for 8 hours" every day. This is a bit harder than you might think. I mean sure, most people are at work for 8 hours a day, but you don't really spend all of that time working.
I did quite well on Monday and Tuesday. I'm not sure how I feel about today though. I mean, I got stuff done. But I didn't feel as productive. But I also wasn't so careful about timing the work time.
I think I need to make a better effort tomorrow.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

But then, I like to get stuff for free...

Occasionally, my husband and I will go treasure hunting down by the beach at night. Tourists leave all kinds of things there. Mostly, it's this kinda cheap stuff like beach mats and water floatie things...but it's better to get them for free than it is to pay for them, even if they are kinda cheap.
Last night we scored two boogie boards ($20+ each) and a swimming shirt ($30+)
Very good treasure hunt!

I Hate Wasting Money

Seriously. Very occasionally, I'll buy a fruit or veggie that I'm really excited about and then I forget that I bought it until I see it rotting away in the crisper drawer in the fridge. And then I get so angry at myself for wasting that money.
Well, you can imagine how I was feeling about wasting $200.
You see, last year, I bought these websites as a buy 1 get 1 for $100 deal. $400 total. Immediately, I began creating my site about teaching ESL to kids ( It's been doing pretty well and I've had a moderate amount of success with it.
Originally, my husband was going to use the extra site, but then was overwhelmed since it had to be written in English.
So, in January, I was on Christmas holiday and had some free time on my hands. I decided that I was going to use the second site myself and that a good theme for it would be cheap things to do in Hawaii. I knew that we'd be moving to Hawaii soon, so I'd have awesome access to information about all of the good things to do in Hawaii. I had a particular style in mind for it, but i didn't really know how to do it myself. So even though I activated the site, I never really did anything about it.
I kept beating myself up over it, especially after we got to Hawaii and I still wasn't doing anything.
Well, I entertained the idea of trading it for something. Then, suddenly I had the idea to change the theme. I know a lot about diet and exercise and so on. I've lost 70lbs. But I always thought that I shouldn't write about that because I'm not a doctor. Then a friend pointed out that people would probably rather hear from me, who's "been there, done that" than some doctor who's never been fat a day in his life. I realized that I did have a perspective to add to the discussion. So I spent another $50 and switched the name.
Check me out:
Are You Better Off Fat?

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Festival of Frugality

I was in my first Festival of Frugality!
Check out Frugal Babe.

Monday, July 30, 2007

I can't believe how honest I am...

I was just at the store buying a few things. The total was $3.11, I handed the guy a $5 bill.
Well, he started to hand me back .89 cents and the $5 bill!
There was a part of me that wanted to take it. But the rest of me was screaming "This is a test!" I mean, his mistake was so obvious, that I thought I was on a hidden camera show or something. So I fessed up. And he was clearly confused about it, so I realized that it wasn't a real test.
Maybe it was just a test from the universe...

Friday, July 27, 2007

For Richer or Poorer--When to Spend and When to Save

Ah weddings. Many sources quote the average wedding in the US costing well over $20,000, which is, of course, ridiculous. A wedding is just one day, and despite what people say, it's probably not going to be "the most important day of your life".
My husband and I were trying to plan our wedding for $5000 or less. As mentioned before, suddenly his parents were expecting us to pay for all their travel costs (from Japan) which would have more than doubled our expenses, so we gave up and had a good ol Elvis wedding.
However, in the time before we decided to cancel the "big wedding", I did do quite a bit of planning on how to go about saving on costs. I also felt that there were some things that you just shouldn't scrimp on. I decided to share these ideas with you...

For Richer
1. One of the first things that I did was buy the ebook Fire Your Wedding Planner. This book describes the ways that the author, Stephi Stewart, saved over $10,000 on her own wedding. It had a ton of great ideas and was well worth the money (well, if I had actually had a wedding...), but even if you don't have the money to spend on the book, there's a free newsletter that gives out some great tips!
2. I think just about everyone always mentions paring down your guest list as a way to save money on your wedding. Now, if your initial guest list includes some guy from work whose name you don't know, then can cut down a bit on your guest list. However, I think that it's important to be surrounded by all of the people that you love. I know that I didn't want to limit the number of friends that I could invite. So I say keep everyone that you really want to invite. You can save money in other places. (e.g. It's better to spend $50/person on food with 100 guests than $100/person and only be able to invite 50 guests.
3. Don't forget to give gifts to the important people in your life. This means that bridesmaids, groomsmen, parents, siblings, and anyone else who's doing something special for you should receive a gift. It doesn't have to be expensive. It's the thought that counts. A nice picture in a frame is a great gift.
4. Pay for drinks. I don't know why, but cash bars just make me uncomfortable. It's like saying "OK, I invited you here for this party. You're giving me a present. But you have to pay for your own drinks." I just think it's rude (Though I know some people feel different...). If you need to save money on drinks, you could try serving only beer and wine, serving only a "signiture drink", serving punch, or (*gasp*) not serving alcohol at all.
5. YOU MUST SEND REAL THANK YOU NOTES! *whew* That needed to be yelled. Whatever you do, you must send thank you notes, on real paper, handwritten individually, preferably with a mention of the gift received. I've heard horror stories of people sending out emails, sending out photocopied thank yous, or just thinking that saying thank you at the wedding is enough. I even heard of one bridezilla who, after inviting 200 people to her wedding, wouldn't send thank you notes because "the postage would cost too much"!!! This is simply unacceptable. Every guest who comes to your wedding deserves a thank you note.

For Poorer
1. Consider your food choices. It's not necessary to have a 7 course sit-down meal. You can easily save money by having your wedding during lunch time instead of dinner, by offering a buffet instead of a sit-down meal, or simply choosing to serve chicken instead of filet mignon. More creative options might be having a "tea and cakes" or "champagne and chocolates" reception.
2. Get creative with your centerpieces. Fresh flowers are expensive. Instead of using fresh flowers as a centerpiece, think about what else you could use. We were going to have cupcake trees as our centerpieces (These cupcakes would be instead of a big wedding cake). You can also use candles, meaningful framed pictures, or fake flowers.
3. Hire a "new" photographer. You can often find photographers on Craigslist who are looking to build their portfolios. These photographers will offer photography at a fraction of the cost of a "wedding photographer".
4. Consider alternate dates. We were going to get married at Belhurst Castle, which is near my hometown. During the spring and summer dates, there is a minimum charge of $10,000. Yet on March 31, when we were planning our wedding, there was no minimum charge. Many other places offer similar deals.
5. Choose cheaper rings. Don't even get me started on how stupid the "3 months salary" rule for engagement rings is. And platinum isn't really that much better than the other metals. Few people can tell the difference. The only reason I have a diamond engagement ring is because it was passed down to be from my grandmother. And I got a white gold wedding band to match. My husband, on the other hand, was easily influenced by the ring sales ladies who told him that platinum is the best. I mentioned to him that titanium is even more strong, and much cheaper and that's what we got...about a $1000 price difference. Lucky that, too, because he lost his ring...Go for something cheaper and look around online for the best deals.

Well, I hope that you've enjoyed reading my tips on when to spend and when to save for your wedding day!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

July Mid-Month Money Pickup

(In case you don't know...the mid-month money pickup is where I let everyone know how much money I've picked up off the ground over the past month.)
This month's total was 99 cents. Not too shabby. Not great either.
The interesting thing is that 3 times I picked up 11 cents, a dime and a penny, from the same general area. It's almost as though someone was intentionally leaving that money there.
Hopefully next month will be better!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Sometimes I Wish We Weren't Frugal

I hate printed toilet paper, but that's what was on sale the other day. I didn't complain too much when my husband put it in the cart. I thought "Well, it's just 24 rolls..."
But the next time we went to the store he threw another set in the cart. He wants to start stocking up on things. Grrrrrr.
Again, I don't complain, because I know that it's cheaper....
But if I had lots of money, I certainly wouldn't scrimp on the toilet paper.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Carnival of Personal Finance #106 is up

The Carnival of Personal Finance #106 is up.
Usually, I like to mention a few of my favorite articles. However, there were just so many articles that I liked this week that I couldn't pick just a few. So check them all out.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Template Change

I decided to change my template since I've been looking at other blogs and it seems that many others were using the same template as me. I guess since money is green, green makes a good color for a money blog....
Anyway, I think I like this one better.

How Safe Is Your Safety Net?

Awhile ago, I posted that I don't have a 401k or any sort of "retirement fund". I know that this is far from the norm considering that I'm writing a personal finance blog. Everybody knows that the key to financial independence is to lower your debt and increase your retirement fund. Right? (Well, everybody who's interested in this type of thing at least. I suspect that many "normal" people are not too far from where I am.)
I further state, for those of you who didn't read that post, that the reason that this doesn't bother me is because I believe that the world (as we know it) is going to end in five years and money will cease to exist.
Naturally, someone (Frank, but I can't go to his website...) asked..."Don't you want a safety net? Suppose you're wrong and the world DOESN'T end in 5, 10, 50 years? You're putting a lot at stake."
A very fair question indeed. One which requires a two part answer:

1. Yes, I do want a safety net. But my idea of a safety net is much different than other people's ideas. Most people think that it's best to save a lot of money that you'll have on hand when it's time for your retirement. But the majority of people put their money in the stock market. How safe is that really? What's going to happen when the gazillion baby boomers collectively start withdrawing even a modest $1000 a month to cover their expenses in retirement? Will there be enough people putting money into the system to keep that up? Is the stock market just as much of a ponzi scheme as Social Security? I'm not an economist, but I do have common sense. And the stock market just doesn't hold up to my common sense.
My idea of a safety net is working towards living sustainably. I need a place to live and food to eat. If I were to own a house outright and be able to grow the majority of my food, then I wouldn't really need much money. To be honest, I haven't really thought that much about the cost of things, but I would estimate needing $50/month for internet and maybe another $50 for food that I cannot grow myself. Then maybe another $100/year for clothes. Of course, potential big expenses could come from medical needs and taxes and I'm not even going to try to estimate those on the fly. But I don't have a lot of needs or wants. Electricity could come from solar panels. Books can come from the library. And I have a whole big beautiful world to entertain me. That's all I need. It's more important to me to reduce the amount of money that I need rather than increase the amount of money that I have.
2. What if I am right? What if money did suddenly cease to exist? How much of your life did you waste acquiring and saving for something that you didn't need? Would you wish that you had spent more time with family? With yourself?

I realize that everyone has different priorities. But to me it's more important to spend my time living now than it is to save money so I can live life later.

June Mid-Month Money Pick-Up

I've been a bit frazzled by our recent legal issues but fortunately, we met with a lawyer and there seems to be no real problem. Score one for us.
This has prevented me from posting about the results of my mid-month money pick-up. Last month, I announced that I was going to start tracking all the money that I picked up off the street. The results this month have been wholly unremarkable.
Before I started tracking, I had picked up at least $5 and was expecting similar results.
The biggest score of the month came on the 15th of May, the first day of the money pick-up. I found 45 cents in the used car that I had bought. Technically, I'm not sure if this should count as we had bought the car 2 weeks prior to that. But since it was just on that day that I found the money, I decided that it could be counted.
I then had a very very long dry spell of not finding any money at all!
Just when I thought that I would never find any money again, I did find one penny, and a few days later found a quarter and a nickle.
I did find another penny once when I was jogging that I did not pick up. I ran back to get it, but realized that i had no place to put it, so left it for someone else.
All this brings the grand total from May 15-June 14 to a whopping .81 cents.
Still better than nothing, I suppose.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Yesterday, we hit a bit of a snag with the business planning. We're planning on primarily focusing selling NCL cruises since that's the only cruise line that is allowed to only sail in Hawaii (others have to include at least one foreign port).
Well, my husband called up "NCL Japan" and the guy that he spoke with was very condescending and basically said "You can't do that." or, if we were going to go ahead with it, we would have to associate with another travel agency which was associated with NCL Japan, presumably giving commissions to two different companies. He generally made my husband feel like a sham or something.
I was dumbfounded. I mean, first...who's side is he on? My husband called to introduce himself and say that we are going to sell cruises for HIS COMPANY and the guy shot him down. Second, could there possibly be some kind of Japanese law that says that American companies cannot market directly to Japanese clients? And if so, what would prevent a Japanese person from seeking out an American company to do business with?
The iffy thing here is that Japanese travel companies advertise significantly higher prices than the ones that we can get in America. A cruise is an additional $1000. One night in a hotel is an additional $100. That type of thing. I don't know why. I don't know if this is a legal arrangement or merely a "gentlemen's agreement" between Japanese travel companies to fleece the Japanese people.
But in any case...our position is looking good. I talked to a lawyer who does business law, and while he doesn't specifically know about Japanese laws, his initial response was "Well, *everybody* does it!" (He was actually a pretty funny guy and spent about 30 minutes on the phone with me, pretty much "shooting the s*it". I have some calls in to other lawyers who know more international law. Then I had my husband call the Japan Association of Travel Agents, who also said that there was no problem with what we wanted to do.
So what is up with this guy?? I 50/50 think he might not actually be a legitimate representative of NCL. One CS rep at NCL told me that he was legit...but this same CS rep also told me about shorter cruises that I could buy through NCL's website which don't exist. The rep that I talked to today said that she didn't know about a Japanese office, that it wasn't listed in her book of contacts, that there was no "main office in California" (as the Japanese guy had told us), and that the website in question "looks dated".
Tomorrow I am calling the main NCL office to try to get some more facts, but we'll see.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Some of My Secrets

Let's face it. Most PF Bloggers are coming from a similar space. They're working hard to get rid of their debt and build a nice, safe retirement fund. They're trying to increase their net worth. They've read all the same books about personal finance, which, as far as I can tell, all say the same down your debt and increase your savings and investments.

I'm not knocking this at all. I read a lot of the PF blogs and I really appreciate hearing everyone's different stories about their struggles or accomplishments. I think it's infinitely more interesting to hear about Joe Schmo's "journey to riches" than it is to read Suze Ormond's same old same old "story of how I got there and how you can too".

This is a safe space to be in. I know that if I write an(other) article about the best way to attack your debt being to pay off the debt with the highest interest rate and work your way down, I'll get nods of approval from PF bloggers.

But in a lot of ways, this is not who I am. I've hesitated to "come out" with who I really am because in some ways it's a little scary. I know that I'll set myself up for a lot of criticism for not "following the rules", or even for not believing that those are the actual rules to begin with. I worry that without having those "5 Ways to Decrease your Debt" or "Investing 101" types of articles to fall back on, I'll run out of things to say. In presenting a truly alternative perspective, will I alienate myself from the PF Blogging community?

Yet the time has come to really let you know who I am. Following is a list of 10 things that you probably didn't know about me. 10 things that you might not have ever expected a PF Blogger to say. 10 Dirty Little Secrets. I don't pretend that they make a whole lot of sense when you put them all together. I have strong opinions without facts to back them up and I'm not ashamed of this.


1. I'm 30 years old and I don't have a 401k, IRA, or any other sort of retirement account. When I first had a corporate job, they showed us those little comparisons of how much you have if you start saving when you're 25 vs if you start saving when you're 35. I was only 22 at the time, so I thought "Hey! I've got a few years to start!" I never started. Then I moved to Japan, where that wasn't an option. Now, I'm starting a business and have no income.

2. Despite what all the experts say, the fact that I don't have any retirement savings doesn't concern me.

3. I don't believe that the stock market is a worthwhile investment. And yes I also mean index funds and mutual funds. I think it's going to explode and everyone will lose all of their money. I don't have any proof of this or facts to back it up. It's just what I think.

4. I used to work as a psychic friend for the Psychic Readers Network. So you should probably go back and read number 3 again.

5. I did once get burned by the stock market. This may be why I have such animosity towards it.

6. One reason that I don't really care about not having retirement savings is that I think the world (as we know it) is going to end in about 5 years. Part of this "ending" is that money and time will cease to exist. And no, I don't mean that we will switch to using only electronic funds and thus "physical money" will cease to exist. I really mean that the entire concept of money will cease to exist.

7. My freshman high school teacher had us read Ayn Rand's Anthem. I liked it, so I also read many of her other works. My favorite is Atlas Shrugged, except for that whole like 100 page speech at the end. However, every time I would be heavily into reading Ayn Rand, my mom would point out that I was acting like an asshole. I'm pretty sure that's not a coincidence.

8. The only debt that I've ever had is student loans. Student loans are now down by more than half. I could pay them all off right now, but then we wouldn't have money to live off of while starting our business. I have a credit card, but I pay it off in full each month. I'm a hippie and I don't like expensive things.

9. Number 8 was a bit of a lie. I had a $250 limit credit card when I was in college that I didn't pay off. I also had a dentist bill around $750 that I didn't pay until it was in collections because I had been told that insurance was covering it and I didn't realize that I had to pay it. Luckily, those things are not on my credit report anymore. Hence, they don't exist and I can rightfully claim number 8.

10. If you're the type of person who likes to put labels on people, well...I'm an "anti-capitalist anarchist". I'm also starting a business. I'm not sure what I think of that either.

So there you have it...a bit more of a complete picture of who I am. What are your secrets?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

We've Registered our Business!

Good news. We finally officially registered our business yesterday and our application was approved today!
I cannot believe how easy it was. I'd been putting it off because I imagined a long wait in a government office, with a lot of paperwork, getting to the desk and being told that we didn't have all the necessary paperwork and then having to go to the back of the line again.
However, it was super easy. I found out that you could get registered all online. A few clicks later and it was all done. It was so easy that I was worried that we had made some sort of major mistake. But today I got the email saying that we were approved.
It's such a relief!
Our business name?? Best Smile Travel.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Burning Desire to Go Shopping

So, we've moved into a new apartment where we've started with nothing but a few suitcases packed with clothes and our computers. We've slowly been acquiring necessities, but recently I've been burning with desire to buy the things that I just plain want. Some of these things are probably things that others would consider necessities, but their falling to the wayside because of the lack of immediate need.
Here are the things that I've been wanting:

  • cable TV
  • if not cable, then at least an antenna so we get *some* reception
  • if not even that, then a netflix membership
  • an exercise ball
  • a vacuum
  • spice rack (actually a pretty good deal as it comes with many spices which are quite expensive here)
  • dryer sheets
  • food processor
  • extra swimsuits for me and hubby (we only have one each and go swimming frequently)
  • many different cleaning supplies
  • books
  • little decorations to make the place feel more homey
  • plants (despite my "black thumb")
  • potato masher
  • convection oven (we have no oven)
  • an "island" for the kitchen to increase available counter space

That's all I can think of for now. They're little things, but because we don't have an income right now, I hesitate to buy them.
I do, however, think that when we go to the store today I'm going to pick up the antenna and the exercise ball. If hubby complains, I'll point out that his rice cooker cost $45 and I didn't complain about that. Haha.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Eat That Frog!

I just finished reading the book Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy. The subtitle for the book is "21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time".
It was a pretty good book--nothing absolutely mind-blowing if you've ever done any looking into things like planning, being proactive, and/or increasing your effectiveness.
But the idea that caught my attention is the idea that's the premise for the book's strange title. Tracy states (and I'm not sure if this is his own metaphor or not) that if the first thing that you do when you wake up in the morning is eat a big, ugly, live frog...well, that's probably going to be the worst thing that you do all day.
Put in realistic terms, you should tackle your biggest, ugliest project first.
From a personal finance standpoint, that could be many things:

  • simply deciding to take control of your finances
  • tackling your debt
  • paying down the debt that has the highest interest rate
  • learning how to effectively invest the money that you do have

Or perhaps you already have all of those things under control and your "big frog" is more along the lines of getting into an exercise routine, learning a new skill that could advance your career, or taking the time to do things that really matter to *you*.
I'm not going to lecture you on what your big frog should be. Only you can decide that for yourself. However, whatever you think your big frog is, I do hope that you eat it.
Bon appetit!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Hooray for Free Pizza!!

Last night I ordered a pizza. I was very excited to do this because I haven't had delivered pizza in two months, and I haven't had even a frozen pizza in a month (Our apartment does not have an oven). Pizza is my favorite!
I got a pretty good deal on the pizza because we had a coupon, so I was pretty excited. We were getting an extra large pizza for the price of a small, so I knew that we'd have some leftovers.
The pizza came, but I had to meet the guy outside because he couldn't find our address. No big deal, it was his second night.
But then when i went upstairs and opened up the pizza...well, it had been tied too tight on his motorbike or something because the top of the box had been pressed so hard against the middle of the pizza that all of the cheese and stuff came off. then, they also had this little thing of garlic oil that you're supposed to be able to choose to pour over your pizza. Except that ours had opened up and poured all over the box and the pizza was soaking in it.
So I called up and complained. And I said that I was going to eat this pizza anyway because I was hungry, but could they send me a coupon. And they said they would! For a free pizza (I was expecting just a discount)!
I'm so happy because this is the first time that I've complained about something and actually got something out of it.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Carnival of Personal Finance #103 is up

Clever Dude is hosting the Carnival of Personal Finance #103.
He's got a cool 24 theme going on and my article is featured in the 14th hour.
Unfortunately, he makes references to season 6 of 24, which i have not watched. Grrrr. I have to wait until it comes out on Japanese dvd so that my husband can watch too.
Fortunately, I can sometimes will myself to have the brain of a goldfish and immediately forget things that I have read.
Anyway, check it out!

Saturday, June 2, 2007

And You Thought Your In-Laws Were Bad

A bit of background before continuing with this...
My husband is Japanese. From Japan Japanese, not Japanese American. His parents are quite is in her 70s and dad's in his 80s. He has a brother who is 13 years older than him (My husband is 28, brother is 41).
We spent about a year and a half saving up money so that we could move to America and start a business. Yes, we have "a lot of money" relatively speaking. But considering the fact this this is money that we are supposed to be living off of while we get the business going, it's not exactly "disposible".
During the time that we have been together:
1. His family insisted that we pay for them to go to our wedding in upstate NY. In addition to this, my husband wanted to put them up in the castle/hotel where we were going to get married (significantly higher in cost than, say, Econolodge.) and not only that, but they had to have the "best room" (which, to my American mind, should go to the "happy couple"). All of this was going to cost in the neighborhood of $5000 (To put this in perspective, we were trying to do the whole wedding for $5000.)
2. While coming to America for the wedding, they also wanted to see New York City. My family is from Rochester, which is quite far from New York City. This trip would have cost an additional $2000 or so.
(We canceled the "big wedding" because of this and had a small ceremony in Vegas, just us and my brother.)
3. My husband had not been working for 5 months. When he did get a job, the day that he got his first paycheck, his mom called and said that she needed to borrow $1000. This was more than half of his paycheck. His first paycheck in 6 months. This was not the first time she needed to borrow large sums of money.
4. When we had a small wedding celebration/Bon Voyage dinner with his family, his mother repeatedly insisted that her gift to us was that she paid to raise my husband. Um, like my mom didn't pay to raise me? And my mom gave us $4500 as a wedding gift. (To be fair, his parents later gave us about $500 and his brother the same.)
5. Before we left for America, my husband's brother made my husband sign a "brother's agreement" saying that we would never come to the family for financial help. Two months later, my husband's brother helps himself to a $2000 loan from our account. What the &*(^?!?!

To me, and I think to most of my (white) American readers, it seems like I've married into the family from hell. But as it turns out, these types of things are apparently quite common in Asian families. Make Love, Not Debt had an article about this a few weeks ago. Many others from Asian families piped up with similar experiences.

Now, I have to admit that the idea of "taking care of your parents" is something that I particularly valued about Asian cultures. My mom is a single mom and I always worried about what would happen to her when she gets older. I want to be able to take care of her. I appreciated the fact that my husband wouldn't question that this was a responsibility.

However, it seems that this idea is not just "taking care of your parents" but also "treating them to the finer things in life". My husband frequently has ideas that start with, "Hey, I've got a great idea...How about we (do something that involves spending a lot of money on his parents)?" Fortunately for him, he's also started including my mom in these plans. Otherwise he'd get smacked too many times. ;-)

I actually would love to be able to pay for our parents to come to Hawaii. I'd love to be able to buy them nice things. But right now, we've got a limited amount of money to spend and no income (currently) coming in. It's just not the right time. It's very frustrating to me that my husband has so much pressure put on him to do these things now.

I know that this is one of the prices that we have to pay for being in an inter-cultural relationship. If anyone is in a similar relationship, perhaps you can share some experiences of how you deal with this.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Disappointing Coupon Experience

My mother was a big user of coupons. And when I was a cashier at the grocery store (in high school), a good 75% of people would use coupons.
However, since I've left college, I don't think I've seen one person using coupons. I suppose on some level, I've lived in cities where it would perhaps be "uncool" to use coupons (San Francisco, Berkeley, and now Honolulu), but I've never lived in the more upscale areas of these towns. You'd think that people would want to save some money. In fact, I actually recently called a few grocery stores just to make sure that they still accept coupons. I didn't want to be embarassed at the checkout.
It was in Japan that I started to get more frugal, but they don't use coupons in least, not the Sunday newspaper type of coupons. So I was pretty excited to come to America and be able to use coupons.
I've been faithfully cutting them out of the newspaper, and then forgetting to take them with me. But today I finally made it to the store with a big stack of coupons in hand.
I eagerly walked around looking for the great deals I was hoping to find. I've heard all these stories about people using coupons combined with store sales to get things practically for free.
Unfortunately, almost everything that I had a coupon for was still more expensive with the coupon than the alternative brand. Even some things that were on sale were still more expensive with the coupon than a different brand. For example, I had a coupon for $1.00 off 2 bottles of Wish Bone salad dressing. This was on sale at my store--2 for $8.00, making it $7.00 for the 2. But a different brand was also on sale 2 for $5.00. I went for the 2 for $5.00 brand.
I'm feeling very disillusioned. I'm wondering if cutting out coupons is a complete waste of my time. The discount I got from the store card was significantly higher.
Our total bill was $104.50. I saved $31.32 with my store membership card. I saved $1.60 with coupons. I used three coupons and only one of them was for something that I needed.
How do you save money with coupons? I wonder if part of the problem is that I live in Hawaii where food is already very expensive?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Carnival of Personal Finance #102

The 102nd editiion of the The Carnival of Personal Finance is now up over at Money Smart Life. My article on Paying for College has made the cut!
Here are a few other articles that I found particularly interesting:

The $300 Prom Challenge. BPT offered her daughter a deal: Prom budget is $300 and you can have anything that's left over. Very interesting. I wonder how many other students would make sacrifices if they could keep any of the extra money in the budget. I'd bet the number is quite high.

The Falling Dollar and Its Effect on You suggests that with the fall of the dollar there will be an increase in local tourism. Score for us here at Save to Quit!

Rent vs. Own: A Look at Our Expenditures. Gradmoneymatters details how much was spent on various things while they were renting vs. while they were owning. This was interesting to me because I've never owned and am hoping to take that plunge in the near future.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Can now book travel!

I've signed up with a travel company to be an agent and I've passed the test, so I can now book travel. I also now have access to their chatlist which means I can learn a whole lot more.
I really want to try to get a meeting with the SBA because I need some help getting all of me "legal ducks in a row". I also could use some help putting together a prioritized action plan.
But I'm pretty happy where things are right now.
We've shifted the focus of our business a little bit, in what I think is going to be a very positive way. This will eliminate most of the potential problems that we were seeing with the other idea. Unfortunately, as the native English speaker between me and my husband, almost everything is something that I need to do. He's feeling pretty useless right now. In addition to that, he's starting to go through some culture shock issues. There doesn't seem to be much that I can do to help him. I feel so bad for him, but I can understand because I went through it too when I was living in Japan.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Paying for College--4 Secrets You Should Know

With the cost of college tuitions rising, and a college education being practically a necessity in this age, many parents are worried about how they will pay for their child(ren)'s education.
It's a topic that I've seen beaten to death, and yet there's four things that I know that don't seem to be routinely discussed.
I went to Wellesley College. At the time that I went, tuition costs (including food and housing) ranged from $24-26,000 per year. I know that tuition costs have increased since then. Also at the time, my mother was a single mother making less than $20,000 per year. She had no money saved to pay for my college. Although she didn't show it, she probably had heart palpitations every time I showed her the costs of the colleges that I was interested in. Yet the total cost that we paid, for all four years, including my student loans, actually came out to only around $20,000. In my opinion, that's not so bad.
Here are the four things that I learned:
1. Public vs. Private. Public schools often offer tuitions much lower than private schools. However, private schools have more money to spend on financial aid. Aside from Wellesley, I was also admitted to SUNY Geneseo, as well as other private schools. The financial aid package that Wellesley offered was significantly better than the financial aid package I received from SUNY Geneseo. With Wellesley, we would pay less per semester and I would take out less money in student loans. A very large percentage of the financial aid package from Wellesley was in the form of a grant, directly from the school. SUNY Geneseo wasn't able to offer this at all. Wellesley also gave every incoming first year student on financial aid a garbage can and ashtray (required in every room for fire safety) and a gift certificate for the student book store.
2. Ask and you shall receive. I can't remember whether it was my second or third year there, but I suddenly faced every student's nightmare...there was no way we could afford even the small amount that the college wanted us to pay. Full of shame, and expecting to be told to go home until we could get the money, I went to the financial aid office and told them my situation. Their response? "No problem. Sign this paper and we'll give you a loan. You can pay us later." I can't say for certain, since this was a long time ago, but I *think* that this was an interest free loan. I have heard many other stories of people asking for more financial aid help and getting it. Try it and you might be pleasantly surprised.
3. You can play schools off of each other. I heard this often in prospective student meetings. If you want to go to School A, but School B gives you a better financial aid package, call School A and see if they can match it. Almost always, they can. This worked for a friend of mine. She had been accepted into graduate programs at the University of Michigan and Harvard. She preferred Michigan's program, but Harvard was offering her the better deal. When she called the University of Michigan about this, they were able to match Harvard's package and my friend could attend the school of her preferance.
4. Free tuition for lower-income families. Also important, but I don't often see mentioned, is that Harvard offers free tuition to low income families. Their definition of low income is under $60,000 (which is far from "low income" in my book, but hey...). They also offer reduced payments for families in the $60-80,000 income bracket. But it's not just Harvard. A google search for "free tuition low income" brings up several results, including University of Washington and Stanford. Harvard may have been the first to do this, but many others have followed suit.
Well, those are my little secrets. Do you have any other ideas?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Have Trouble Remembering Things?

Maybe it's all the brain cells I killed during my college days, but I always have a hard time remembering all of the things that I read in books, even when I think that those ideas are quite good. For example, when my husband and I first got together, I read the book Smart Couples Finish Rich, and there were a lot of good ideas in there. However, the only thing I now remember is the Latte Effect and the idea that you should talk with your partner about finances.

That's not good.

See, I tend to think of things in "the big picture" or a "sense of the whole". Personal finance books tend to fall into the realm of "the little details". Because of this, things don't generally stick.

Does this sound at all familiar to you?

If so, I believe that the answer lies in mind-mapping the book as you are reading it.

A mind-map looks like the picture above. The basic idea is that you take one main point and put it in the middle, then draw lines out from that with connecting ideas, and more lines out from there with ideas which connect to those.

To illustrate, I'll describe the mind-map that I did for my website about teaching English to kids. I started with the main concept of "teaching ESL to kids". From there, I branched out into "teaching ideas", "classroom management", "craft ideas", "ESL games", "lesson plans" etc. Each one of those ideas branches off into others. "Craft ideas" would branch out with "autumn crafts", "Halloween crafts", etc. Then those are broken down even further with the specific crafts that fall into that category.

Generally, people will use mind-maps as a brainstorming tool. I do this also and I think that it's very effective. But it's also a great tool for remembering things.

If you take the time to mind-map things as you read them, it will be much easier to go back and "remember" what was said from some book you read five months ago.

Books are such a great resource for everyone. They are full of ideas that can really help you out. Something that you read now may not be applicable to your current situation, but it may be important 3 years down the road. Now, you don't have to dig the book out and re-read it. Just consult your mind-map.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Library Trip!

I used to be an avid reader, but books in Japan are prohibitively expensive and the English language selection at the libraries is pretty slim (as in 2 shelves of Dean Koontz books).
Needless to say, I was pretty excited to take my first trip to the library in the states.
I've been seriously out of the loop as to what books are good and/or popular, so if you have any suggestions for must-reads, please post a comment.
As for today's trip, here are the books that I got:

  • The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke by Suze Orman. I've been fascinated by how it seems that people either lovelovelove or hatehatehate Suze Orman. I haven't had a chance to read any of her books, so I picked out this on.
  • Mary Ellen's Clean House! I have to admit that keeping a clean and organized home is one of my Big Bad Weaknesses. I really want to improve on this area and since we're just moving into a new house, it seems like a good place to start.
  • Complete Idiot's Guide to Feng Shui Again, since we're just moving into a new place, it's best to start things off right with the feng shui. I always tell people that a long time ago, I was having a bad time with my finances. Every month, I would overdraw my account by $250. Exactly. I just couldn't get it right. Then I bought a book on feng shui and saw that I had a window in my "money corner" which was uncovered. The suggestion was that my money energy was flying right out the window. I put up a curtain and immediately my money problems ceased. Want to start things out right here.
  • Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution I'm vegetarian, so a strict low-carb diet is practically impossible for me. However, I've lost 75-80lbs slowly over the last 5 years without a huge amount of effort and it's been really frustrating how difficult it's been to lose the last 10-20. I think I should consider going lower-carb and wanted to read this book, which I've never read.
  • Generation Me by Joan Twenge. I was a feminist theory major in college and I'm really interested in cultural studies, especially studies of generational changes.
  • Gossip Girl Only in Your Dreams *blushing* I have a weak spot for young adult fiction.

I'd like to say that I'm going to be a good PF blogger and read the Suze Orman book first. However, I know I'm going to settle in for a couple of hours of trashy teen lit.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Announcing Mid-Month Money Pick-Up

A few weeks ago when we were in the Las Vegas airport, I found $3 on the floor. Talk about luck!
It got me to wondering how much money I could just find on the street. At the time, since we were travelling and moving, I didn't really have the ability to pay attention and track this. But now that I'm semi-settled, I'm going to start tracking it and report my findings once a month, on the 15th.
Even though I wasn't tracking, I know that my husband and I picked up a lot of money in those few weeks. I think that by setting the intention that I was going to pick up money I saw on the street, it became more visible to me.
The 15th of this month is already off to a great start (but I'm keeping it a secret for now). I'm looking forward to report my "earnings" next month.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Sorry for the interruption

I just started and had plannd to be updating every day when suddenly I had to move.
What happened was...
When my husband and I planned to move to Hawaii we had talked to a guy about a house for rent. We went to go look at it right before our honeymoon. There was a lot of junk around, but he assured me that everything would be gone by the time we got back from our honeymoon. It wasn't, making it a very unacceptable place to live. We had already given them first month's rent and deposit, so I was a bit nervous as to how to handle this. I told them that we had changed our mind due to this junk and other problems we had recently noticed with the house. We agreed that we would stay for one month and they would give us our deposit back.
After about a week, they came to get some of their things. My husband blew up at them over this. He wanted them to discount the rent for us. Generally, I prefer to just let things go, but he was really angry. They quickly moved all of the junk that was taking up one of the bedrooms.
The next day, we found a new apartment and signed the lease. This place is a much better deal, $250 a month cheaper, a little bit smaller, but more centrally located. However, I was worried that, after blowing up at the landlords and making them spend about 4 hours cleaning that extra bedroom, we would look like the hugest a**holes. Besides, we didn't have any furniture for the new house or anything and wouldn't have internet there.
As luck would have it, when we got back to the house we were staying at, we had an easy way out. I think because of my husband's anger, they offered us a couple of different options. One was that we could pay for only the time we stayed there on a per-day basis. The rate was reasonable, and I told them we would leave the next morning. Because of this, we will actually get back more money than my husband had originally wanted.
Hence, the hasty departure with no internet access. Even now, I am only on a dial-up, but that is much better than nothing.

100th Carnival of Personal Finance

Man, I feel so bad. This was my first time participating in any blog carnival, but because I didn't have internet, I'm only now just posting a link about it.
But, I WAS AN EDITOR'S CHOICE ARTICLE in the 100th Carnival of Personal Finance. I couldn't be happier!
To see the rest of the carnival, hop on over to My Open Wallet.
I've got two more posts coming up today, so check back soon.

Friday, May 11, 2007

A Quick Note

I have to move unexpectedly and will be without internet connection until Wednesday next week.
I will give details then and from then I can begin to update regularly...

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Little Disappointing...

I mentioned that we are going to have a travel business and I've been doing some research into being a home based travel agent. I found a company that I liked and have heard good things about. But before signing up, I wanted to make sure that I would be able to book travel originating outside of the US. Otherwise, it's no good for us.
I've been trying to get in touch with someone involved with the company to find this out. I've had a pretty tough time getting through on livechat (I'm guessing because I'm in Hawaii, time zones don't match well). Finally I got an answer that it will be OK. I went to sign up and...
I have to print out a form and fax it to them. I don't have a printer. Or a fax machine. What a pain in the butt. I didn't think there was a company out there anymore that didn't do everything online. I was really looking forward to getting started on all the training material, but now I have to wait.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

5 reasons to pay with cash

In case you missed this, my husband and I have recently moved to Hawaii. The day after we got to Hawaii, after our honeymoon, I lost my ATM card. Totally stupid mistake—I left it in the machine. And just to double the misfortune, my current bank is a small local bank in NY, with no branches in Hawaii, so there was no way for me to get cash. I ordered a new ATM card and opened a bank account in Hawaii using a personal check, but that money is not available for a week. Thus, we have had to use the credit card to pay for everything for about a week.
This has got me to thinking about why it’s so much better to use cash than a credit card or debit card.
I used to be like (I think) most Americans, always using my ATM/debit card to pay for even the smallest purchase. It’s just not common to carry a significant amount of cash in America. However, I lived in Japan for three years and it’s changed me.
Japan is a cash society. It’s extremely rare to pay by credit card for anything. debit cards just don’t exist (at least from what I know). And you wouldn’t feel at all strange about carrying $500 cash on you, especially at the start of a long weekend (Bank ATMs are closed on holidays).
It’s been in Japan that I really got my finances in order and I firmly believe that always have to pay cash for things was one of the biggest reasons.
I realize that for big-ticket purchases, it’s probably better to use plastic than carry a huge wad of cash. But how many times have you gone into the grocery store “just to pick up a loaf of bread” and had to pay with your credit or debit card because you “accidentally” also picked up a 2 liter of Coke, a bag of cookies, and the 24 rolls of toilet paper that “just happened to be on sale”?
But here’s some food for thought—5 reasons why it’s better to pay cash:
1. No Finance Charges. Assuming that you occasionally use a credit card for these small, impulse buys (and that you carry a balance every month), if you decide to only use cash, you’ll be able to avoid these finance charges. Cookies suddenly don’t seem so yummy when you think about having to pay interest on them. And how good of a “sale” is it if you are paying an extra 20% down the line…
2. Avoid ATM fees. Before I moved to Japan, I had a horrible habit of taking out money “whenever I needed it” and only taking out the bare minimum. After all, people in America just don’t carry that much cash on them. I would take out maybe $20-40 a day. Unfortunately, the ATM that was convenient to my workplace was not affiliated with my bank, so I was charged $1.50 every time I took that money out. I never realized how much those $1.50 charges were adding up to. In Japan, though, I got into the habit of taking out a lot of money at once and always using my bank’s ATM to avoid the extra fees. Of course, you should always try to use your own bank’s ATM machines. However, if they tend to be inconveniently located, you can save on ATM fees by withdrawing a large sum of money at once rather than smaller amounts throughout the week.
3. Limit your spending. There’s a big psychological difference that goes on when you can actually see the money leaving your wallet. When you use a credit or debit card it’s like using fake money. You don’t see it go away so it doesn’t hurt so much. But after about three times of asking yourself “Wait…didn’t I have $60 in here? What happened to that other $20?” I swear you’ll start being much more conscious about what you’re spending your money on. You might still buy something frivolous, but at least at the end of the day you’ll be able to remember what it was.
4. Prevent the dreaded overdraft fee. Does this sound familiar? You’re happily making your everyday purchases and check every day to make sure that your account is in the black when WHAM! Along comes an automatic bill payment that you forgot about, leaving you with a negative balance. You then watch in horror as the previous two days of debit purchases start coming through, with a $20 overdraft fee each time. Booooooo!!!! If you pay in cash then you’ll never have to worry about this happening again.
5. Stick to your budget. If you want to save to quit, then you need to be working on a budget. You should set aside a specific amount that you can spend in a week, then take only that amount of money out and carry it with you. Create a mindset where using the credit or debit card is simply not an option. If you cannot afford a purchase with this week’s money, then you’ll have to wait until next week (or next month as the case my be). Using only cash forces you to stick within your budget and you’ll be surprised by how fast you can reach your savings goal.

Anyone else a cash-only person? I’m anxiously await the arrival of my ATM card, although by tomorrow I should be able to take money out of the bank from a teller. No more credit card!!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

So what's our business idea?

Our business idea is travel related. The target customer is a Japanese mother with very young children who wants to come to Hawaii partly as a vacation, but also to have her child learn English in an American environment. We’ll offer many different options for them…
For example, they can choose to do a homestay or choose to stay in a hotel. They can choose to send their child(ren) to a “real school” or receive private tutoring. They can choose to book activities through us and have us act as tour guides or just do their own thing.
Right now, we’ve done a lot of planning, but haven’t started any of the major legal steps. We kind of need an address for that and don’t have one yet. I’m looking into becoming a travel agent for doing this. Just researching companies right now.
I was a preschool teacher in Japan and we have many potential customers through that.
I’m hoping that we can pull everything together in time for the major Japanese holiday in August and offer a cruise program for that week. If that goes well, I think we can make quite a bit of money.
But we’ll see. Just wanted to give you an idea of what our business idea is.
I also have a website about teaching ESL to kids which is making a bit of money and one of my eventual dreams with that is to make storybooks geared towards ESL learners. I’m embarrassed to say that I haven’t updated that site at all with the stress of moving and trying to get settled.

Sunday, May 6, 2007


Welcome to my blog!
Almost two years ago, my husband and I decided that we wanted to quit our jobs, move overseas, and start a business. In order to do that, we needed to save up (a year's worth of) money so that we would have something to live off of while the business was getting up off the ground.
The money has been saved and I feel so grateful for the opportunity to really give starting a business a full shot, without all the pesky distractions that come with a "real job".
I'm starting this blog because I want to help other people to have this same opportunity.
We've saved our money and moved overseas, but haven't quite started the business yet (though we have done a lot of thinking about it...). So you'll get to join me on that journey as well.
I sincerely hope that you will find what I have to say useful.