Category Archives: Money Talk

eggs-diversify

Diversify Your Money

Recently I was a victim of debit card fraud and it reminded me of the importance of diversification. I am always saying, “Don’t put all of your eggs into one basket” and that is so true even when it comes to your bank account. Some jerk decided to copy my debit card and went shopping at a Walmart in Texas. I have never even been to Texas and I live in Pennsylvania. I have no idea how this even happened, but I am glad it was my credit union account and not my account with my other bank where all of my bills come out of.

My credit union was amazing at getting things resolved, but it took 3 days to have the funds returned back to me and I had to wait about 7 days to get a new card in the mail. If I would have only had one banking institution, I would have been so out of luck. Do they even still take checks in the store anymore? I can’t even tell you the last time I saw someone write out a check in the grocery store.

The point of me writing this short blog post is to encourage you to diversify your money. When I say this I mean all aspects of your money because you will never know when something bad will happen. You need to have multiple income streams, multiple bank accounts for checking and savings, a diversified investment portfolio, etc. I am working on that diversified investment portfolio so don’t you worry. I am building my empire one brick at a time to create lasting wealth for my family. The goal is to build generational wealth.

How do you diversity?

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When Your Budget Doesn’t Work Out

Things are not always going to work out according to plan, so you are just going to have to put your big girl or big boy panties on and problem solve. Sometimes you will have to really sacrifice until you are able to pull yourself afloat. I know this to be true because I struggled with this the past few months. No matter how much you budget things are going to happen and that is why I stress the importance of having an emergency fund. We all have to start somewhere so it doesn’t matter how much you start putting into it at first. Pennies will eventually add up to dollars so don’t be afraid to pick up that penny that is lying on the ground.

Since becoming a homeowner at the end of 2015, there are tons of things I never thought of before so I am constantly adjusting and incurring costs. I was doing pretty well for a while, but the past few months it seems like all of my unplanned bills are hitting all at once. Medical expenses, annual trash bill, I owe money on my taxes, things I need for the house, etc. I am just a middle class citizen trying to get myself to the next tier in the social economical structure. Like I say, money doesn’t buy happiness but it does buy choices.

My struggle the past few months was a lesson that I desperately needed so not all is lost. I was trying to figure out ways to force myself to save more and the universe sure did give me the answers. I was reminded that I needed to start spending less money so I can save more money towards my goals. Getting that wakeup call because I was forced to was very eye opening and proved to me that I can indeed spend less money. So when my budget didn’t work out, here are the things I did to get myself out of the hole.

Packed my lunch EVERYDAY!!!

Of course this is a no brainer for many people, but sometimes I would go on spurts of not feeling like packing my lunch. This adds up so fast because I would spend anywhere from $6-$12 on lunch per day. That is $1560-$3120 a year just on lunch. WTH was I thinking?!? I could use that money to buy stocks or something that will help my money grow or go on a nice vacation.

I planned my meals out.

Planning my meals worked because I didn’t just start throwing stuff in my cart when I went grocery shopping. I literally took inventory and only bought what I knew I needed for the next 2 weeks or longer. I normally do one big shop per month and one mini shop to pick up random items I need and anything that is a really good sale. Oh and I prefer to buy fresh fruit and veggies so you can’t buy that in bulk. Of course I stuck to frozen veggies for the most part while pulling myself ahead of my financial struggle. I also picked up things to put in my work freezer for any days I forgot my lunch.

Forced myself to make do!!!

I was determined not to touch my emergency fund on food because I am still trying to build it back up. I was getting very creative with my meals and working with what I had in my kitchen. Allrecipes.com is my favorite meal resource so check it out for yourself. You can plug in your ingredients and it will give you recipe ideas.

Stayed local

I tried to limit my driving and only traveled when I needed to. Ugh gas is so expensive!!!

Took advantage of free fun.

If you live in or near a major city there is always free fun for you to enjoy. Check out your local libraries or community centers and you will be so surprised what you find. I live in the Philadelphia, PA area and I search for free events all the time. I made sure we would eat at home before going out.

So no I am not perfect by any means and sometimes I need a reminder to focus on my big picture goals. I am working on building wealth and creating memories so buying random stuff that I know I do not need doesn’t help me meet those goals. So now back to sticking to my budget and saving for when my budget doesn’t work out. You have to plan for your successes.

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Credit Cards Are Not the Devil

If you recall I wrote a post way back when on how I was able to live life without using credit cards. It was actually pretty simple if I lived within my means and made sure I saved money for emergencies. I had gotten myself in big trouble by not being responsible with my credit card usage and I promised I would never do that again.

For a few years I swore off credit cards completely until I ran into one little problem. I’m lying because it wasn’t a little problem; it was a big problem because I wanted to buy a house.  The problem was I didn’t have any credit. When I stopped using credit cards, I closed the accounts when I paid off the balance so it was hurting my payment history. It was a safety net that I had put in place that hurt me in the long run. I had no car loan and nothing in my name, but my student loans. 15% of your credit score is the length of your credit history and 35% is your payment history. I would have done better by living the accounts open so I had some credit under my belt.

Fast forward I needed a new car and was able to get the loan in my name at a higher interest rate of course and with the on time payments, I was able to boost my credit score a little. Soon I started getting pre-approved offers for credit cards. Yeah how did they get my information anyway to know I might be able to qualify?

My mortgage counselor suggested I open up a credit card to help establish myself more so I did. I first opened up a Firestone card because I needed to have car repairs done and it was like a blessing since I couldn’t cover all the cost at the time, but I quickly paid that off. Trust me my past credit card experience still has my scared to death. I soon followed up with getting an American Express with a $1000 limit to use for gas and a Visa for any random purchases so I could collect reward points. The Visa card came in handy because I put my son’s school tuition on each month and paid the credit card. The cool part is I almost have enough points to get a tablet that I desperately need for my business.

So no credit cards are not the devil….my uncontrollable spending habits were the devil. I am not perfect, but I have learned so much from my mistakes throughout this financial journey of mine and I hope my experiences can help you as well. Although I now have credit cards, the cool part is I don’t actually need them. It is a choice of whether or not I use them. I can still hold true to what I said before and live my life without them if I prefer.

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What is Residual Income?

Residual or should I say recurring income is something you want to have in your life. It is money that keeps coming with little to no effort on your part. Don’t get it twisted though; you have to put in the work in the beginning stages to set yourself up for residual success. Essentially you are putting in the work now so you can continue reaping the benefits for years to come.

So how do you get this wonderful residual income? It isn’t going to magically appear in your bank account so yeah you are going to have to invest. You will have to invest your time, money or both. Here are some ways to accumulate residual wealth:

Royalties: Have you written a book or song? Or maybe you have an invention that you want to share with the world and can sell it to a company that will run with it for you. Put your creative genius to work and collect those checks.

Investments: Stocks, Bonds, Retirement Plans!!! Invest your money in something that has the potential to collect interest and grow your money. I have to get my stocks and bonds game up and running sooner rather than later.

Networking Marketing: This is one of my favorites and I can help you be successful in this area if you have an interest in getting healthy and earning. Join me and be my business partner with Total Life Changes. You can visit my site directly www.totallifechanges.com/5819311 and contact me for more information.

Real Estate: Not there yet, but this will be part of my income streams in the very near future. You can very easily hire a property management company to run things for if you would rather just sit back and collect your checks.

So again you would be crazy to not want to have residual income in your life. I am working towards that goal every day to have my residual income be enough to sustain me if I decide I want to become a hermit. I would probably never become a hermit, but you get the point. Making a minimum of a six figure income in my sleep is on my list of financial goals within the next few years.

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money and happiness

Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness, But It Does Buy Choices

I believe in living a life that you are happy with and that is exactly what I am doing. Money is not going to buy me happiness, but it does buy me choices. I work hard at my 9-5 while I build my multiple sources of income. I do this because I know one day all of my entities and investments will allow me to replace my 9-5. Again money is not going to buy me happiness, but it will give me the opportunity to have more choices. No one wants to live a life struggling to figure out how to pay bills or give their children the things that they deserve and some of what they want. Yeah my little one doesn’t get everything that he wants just because I said he can’t and not because I can’t afford it. He has to learn how to work for the things that he wants. I may not be able to buy everything that I want at that exact moment that I want it, but with planning and over time I can have everything that I desire.

Not all wealthy people are happy just like not all poor people are miserable. The difference is the choices that each group can make and the opportunities that come along with the wealth. I can afford to send my son to a private school that is close to my job so I don’t have to kill myself rushing thru traffic to pick him up from the afterschool program by 6:00pm. Yeah most places will charge you extra if you are late. I can afford to buy healthier and better quality foods for myself and child because of the investments I have made for myself. When I go on vacation I am diffentantly not staying at the Ritz Carlton, but I’m sure as hell not staying at the Motel 6 either. Yeah money doesn’t buy you happiness, but it does buy you choices; choices that will make your life easier and help you enjoy it just a little bit better. I would rather buy a good quality $300 purse over a $10 purse that won’t last, but if I am shelling out $300 on a purse I’m making sure my bills are all paid and I have more than $300 that I can put into my new purchase. I am not a believer in living beyond my means because it is like a domino effect.

Yeah I know some of you are reading this post and saying it is better said than done and you are exactly right. At a certain point you have to stop blaming all of the outside forces as to why you can’t get ahead and start taking control of your life. If you can’t find a job than make your own; plenty of people do it every day so there is no excuse and the world owes you nothing. If you want something you have to make it happen; create your own opportunities. My 9-5 doesn’t pay me as much as I would like, but it gives me the flexibility that I need as a single mother so I had to be creative since I like it there. I have my own business www.happilynaturalyme.com and I am an independent business owner for Total Life Changes. Happily Naturally Me is growing and TLC brings me instant and residual income thru network marketing. I love what I do and so does my son. He is like my little business partner because he comes with me the majority of the time when I am conducting business. He is learning the art of selling at a very young age because he is always talking about selling the toys he doesn’t want any more at the Flea Market. That was my first stomping grounds when I was trying out how my Happily Naturally Me products would do and I would sell his old baby clothes. We would play games in between customers, watch a movie or he would ride his bike around the tent I had setup. Yeah no excuses because if I can do it, so can you.

If you want a life you love, you will have to create it yourself so stop waiting and start taking some action. If you are interested in joining a network marketing company to make extra income just contact me or signup by visiting my site directly www.totallifechanges.com/5819311. Make sure you use rep ID 5819311 and contact me so I can help you get started.

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Two Checking Account System

Keeping your spending money and bill money all in the same account can sometimes be dangerous. Can you count how many times you have over spent and ended up with a negative amount? Overdraft fees are not fun because that is money you could have used for something else. Now you have negative funds for over spending and a negative $30.00 if not more in overdraft charges. Let’s hope you didn’t have multiple transactions that put you in the hole or you will really be in trouble. Remember most banks will charge you an overdraft charge for each transaction processed that accumulates while you are in the negative.

The best thing you can do for yourself to keep your money organized is to have different accounts: 1 for bills and 1 for spending. Any monthly bills you have should be coming out of one account and all of your spending money whether for groceries, entertainment, etc. should be in the account associated with your debit card. Trust me; it will make your life so much better if you separate your money. Utilize the Two Checking Account System in conjunction with your budget and you should reduce the stress of over spending. Keep in mind you can’t spend what you don’t have so you will still have to keep a ledger of any checks you write and not go crazy swiping your debit card buying stuff that you want and don’t really need. Yeah I know that was a long sentence, but you get the point.

Stay organized mommies with your MONEY!!! I am paid twice a month from my 9-5 so I dedicate sitting down twice a month to pay bills and check my funds. I don’t spend unless I have it and I do not rob Peter to pay Paul as they say. It is really not that hard to keep track of your money if you discipline yourself because after a few months of doing this, it will become a habit. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions about the Two Checking Account System.

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2016

2016 Goals: Year of Focus

I absolutely love sharing my goals with you guys!!! It is like I have a whole bunch of accountability partners and I don’t want to let you down. So before I get into my 2016 goals lets recap 2015:

  1. Buy that three bedroom house with the backyard- Accomplished except it has a nice sized front yard with the back of my house facing a golf course. 3 bedrooms, 1 and ½ bathrooms and a finished basement that will basically be a playroom/office. I think I did a pretty good job how about you?
  2. Pay off one of my student loans- I sure did settle my loan that was in collections for a huge $7,000 lump sum. I almost cried when I saw it leave my account, but it was worth it because my credit score jumped drastically and I was able to get approved for my mortgage.
  3. Go on vacation- I said I wanted to take the little one to Disney/LegoLand, but instead I gave him a cool birthday party at the Philadelphia Zoo and continued saving for our house. This vacation has now been moved to the 2016 goals. Hopefully I will be able to give you that review soon.
  4. Have an awesome 30th birthday- I did say 2015 was the year of me so I treated myself to a trip to Dubai for my 30th birthday. Including spending money, I didn’t even spend $2,000 for the entire trip. You can reach out to me if you want to know how I pulled this off.
  5. Continue working on past goals I have yet to accomplish- This would have been me clearing up my credit which I did and any other random goals. Check out my Mommy Fix Your Credit post.

So as you can see from my recap, I did a kick ass job. So 2016 is going to be the Year of Focus for me. I have a lot of things I want to accomplish that require me to stay on task. Here are my goals and an extra bonus for you:

  1. Double my income- So throughout 2016 I am going to try out various ways of making extra money and share my experience with you. Hopefully it will give you some options to generate more money also. I am still building on my natural and organic skincare line so check out www.happilynaturallyme.com and I have added being a Total Life Changes Rep to my resume. You can check out www.totallifechanges.com/5819311 if you are looking to lose weight naturally or for wellness products. Lose 5lbs in 5 days with the detox tea.
  2. Divorce Sallie Mae- I will use my extra income to continue my journey in getting rid of that annoying bitch that takes a huge chunk of my money each month. The faster I can pay this off the faster I can purchase my next home and rent out my first home.
  3. LEGOLAND/Disney- This is something I truly want to accomplish for the little one this year. I told him after we bought a house we can go so let the saving and deal searching begin.
  4. Host financial literacy workshops- www.JustHisMommy.com will start to have more of a financial focus. I have not worked out the details yet, but I will be holding financial literacy workshops throughout the Philadelphia area to help educate those that want it. Sometimes you need help figuring out how to make it work financially in your household.

So there you have my focus areas. Help me help you by leaving comments on past and future posts. I want to provide you with the knowledge that you are seeking. Also, you can check me out under the parenting section of www.facephillymag.com.

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minimum wage

Minimum Wage Mommy

STOP!!! WATCH THE VIDEO BEFORE READING!!!!

Recently I came across this video and it was very heart breaking. I do not sympathize because she is making $7.50 an hour working at McDonalds, however, I do sympathize because she hasn’t realized it is up her to make things better. By no means am I writing this to bash this woman. She gave us a brief synopsis of what it is like for her being a single mother making $7.50 an hour. Many of the comments associated with this video were very nasty and just plain disrespectful.

Some people may or may not like what I have to say, but I am going to say it anyway. Before I do, let me give you a little run down on what my life was like growing up. I am the product of TEENAGE PARENTS! I am a FATHERLESS CHILD! I spent the early part of my childhood in POVERTY! So with that being said, I have every right to say what I am going to say because I know what it is like to be that child and I am a mother. The bottom line is this, no one owes you anything. You made the choice to work at McDonalds knowing the pay. Yes it is rough, but you have to take action to put yourself ahead. You will continue to have less if you accept less.

I have the best mother in the entire world or at least I would like to think so. She made a lot of sacrifices to make sure my brother and I had a better life than the one she started out with. It’s not about where you start; it’s about where you finish. I did not understand her sacrifices back then, but as an adult with a child of my own, I completely understand them now. By the time my mother graduated high school, she had two children and no intentions to further her education. Luckily she had people in her corner to encourage her to attend college. As a result, my mother went away to college to make a better life for us. We stayed under the care of my great grandmother until she became too sick to care for us, which than my grandmother took over. It really wasn’t that big of a difference location wise because she lived right next door to my great grandmother. It was like we lived in one big house, but living with my grandmother really taught me how to take care of myself LOL.

My mother worked while in college and came home almost every other weekend. I remember waking up on Saturday mornings and she would be sleep on the couch. She always made sure we had everything we needed before she would head back to school and I would always cry because I wanted her to stay. This was the spot where all of the cousins came while the parents were off doing whatever it was that they did. Now looking back I realize everyone around me was considered poor or low income, but back then I didn’t really know what poor was because that is how everyone I knew lived. I knew what food stamps were, mostly everyone rode the bus because they didn’t have a car and there were a whole lot of daddies not being around. I barely knew anyone that lived with both parents and my childhood is the main reason why I do not eat microwavable food. Yea my brother and I learned very early how to use the microwave since my grandmother didn’t like to cook. She is also the reason why I don’t really like pizza.

I never experienced anything tragic growing up, but I know what gun shots sound like and how to be observant of my surroundings. I know how to read people and not be so trusting, which is probably what saved me from being kidnapped as I walked home from school by myself that one day. So yes I am so thankful that my mother made the necessary sacrifices while I was young to give me a better chance as I got older. I couldn’t ask for a better mother. Although it took her a little longer to graduate, I can proudly say I was able to watch my mother walk across the stage to get her college degree. It took her 10 years to get us out of the hood, but where there is a will there is a way. She has a great paying job, made sure we had an awesome education, and we had more than enough of what we wanted.

So with that being said, once again I am not here to bash this woman in this CNN Money video. I am here to tell anyone reading this post that your current situation is the result of your past choices. If you don’t like your present circumstances than change it, but only you can do that. At a certain point you have to stop playing the woe is me card and decide to make a change. We live in a dog eat dog world and no one is going to fix your life for you. If you are at rock bottom the only place you can go are left, right, or up. Digging left or right will keep you at the same level so make the choice to rise up.

When I became pregnant with my son, I was in a sales job not really making much money and drowning in student loan debt. My boyfriend and I decided to move back up north with each of us moving with our parents to try and save money. We both had to find jobs and I took a job at a marketing company making $10.00 an hour because I had a mouth I needed to start feeding soon. I quickly picked up a second job and worked until I was forced to go on bed rest. Working 2 jobs allowed me to pay off the majority of my credit card debt, pay off smaller debts that I had and put about $1,000 into my baby fund. Unfortunately, I had to use my baby fund money to pick up the responsibilities of someone else or face something else negative going on my credit. I shall not mention any names. I absolutely hated my $10.00 an hour job, but didn’t want to start looking for something else until I got the whole baby thing under control. It was a very small company and everyone was so miserable. It was either you were young and needed a job or you were older and didn’t think you could go anywhere else. Sometimes I would cry before I went to work and it took me about a year once I started my search to find something.

During this new life change, I found myself covering a lot of the cost of raising my son. I made excuses for the name I shall not mention which again left me crying trying to figure out how to pay for daycare that week because he was being financially irresponsible. I will never go back down that road again of letting someone else’s actions put me in a situation that causes me to struggle. I should have known than, but I was being stupid and trying to make our little family work.

So yes I have been on both sides of the spectrum, a child of a struggling mother and a struggling mother myself. I know the reason for my struggle and I am choosing not to struggle anymore. Right now I am at a peaceful place in my life because of the changes I decided to make. I am constantly doing things in my present to setup my future. There are no excuses!!! The knowledge to better yourself is out there. Where there is a will there is a way, but you have to decide if you have the will to find your way. You owe it not only to yourself, but to your child(ren) to stop making excuses. I encourage anyone reading this post and want some advice to reach out to me for help. I want to inspire as many women as possible to get on the right track financially. Stay tuned as I will be providing more posts on what I have learned throughout my financial journey. Subscribe so you don’t miss a post.

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Mommy Fix Your Credit

Mommy Fix Your Credit

Being pregnant with my little one opened my eyes to a lot of things. At 24 I was young, but not that young, and still figuring things out for myself. I had credit card debt from college, mounds of student loans and my credit score was embarrassing. At the time I’m pretty sure it was like 505 which is horrible. I knew it was going to be a long journey so I needed to start immediately getting my shit together, not just for me, but more importantly for him. His little voice was screaming, “Mommy fix your credit.”

Credit Score Ratings

Cash is king, but if you don’t have cash than you better have a good credit score. A poor credit score can make buying a house and other “adult purchases” so much harder. It has been a long journey, mainly because I needed to clear up a student loan that was in collections, but my dedication and stubbornness has finally paid off. My credit score has made a drastic improvement and continues to rise. At my recent mortgage appointment, my credit score was 697 which is considered good. I was shocked because for the longest time I was stuck at the 620-630 range. Settling that Sallie Mae loan really helped boost my credit score. Here are 5 tips to help you fix your credit:

1) Education is Key- Before you can fix your credit it’s important to know how it is calculated. See the chart below

What-Is-A-Credit-Score

2) Getting to the root of the evil- Pull your credit reports so you know what is on them. Everyone is entitled to one free report every 12 months by each credit bureau. Use these as your guideline to fix your credit. Sometimes there are false items on your report and you will want to work with the credit bureau to get these things removed. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com to pull your reports for free.

3) Stop ignoring your debt- Debt makes up 30% of your credit score. You cannot ignore this if you want to fix your credit. Gather all of your debt and devise a plan to eliminate it.

4) On time payments- Make a pledge to pay your bills on time. Scheduling online payments will help with this so you won’t forget. Create a budget to stay organized with your money if you need to.

5) Low Credit Card Balances- If you have been following me, you may recall my “Life Without Credit Cards” post so it is do able. If you have them, I highly suggest you not use your credit cards until you get the debt under control. Keeping your credit card balances 30% or less is best if you have to have them in your life. A lesson that I learned is to keep the accounts open and just avoid using the cards. The length of your credit history is about 15% of your credit score so the longer you have the account the better it looks.

So there you have it. Mommy fix your credit so you can stop making things hard for yourself. By no means will this be easy so you are going to have to be disciplined and remember why you are doing this. Feel free to reach out to me if you have questions.

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2015: The Year of Me

Going into 2015 I feel absolutely happy, accomplished, beautiful and worthy of all the things I want out of life.  So yes, I am going to be selfish and declare 2015 as the year of ME.  I will stop neglecting myself.  I will stop making excuses as to why I can’t do something.  I will start living my life.  I will continue to work hard because I am finally starting to see goals I set years ago become reality.

As mothers we get so caught up in taking care of others we often forget to take care of ourselves.  You cannot take care of others if you do not first take care of yourself.  You cannot give what you do not have.  It’s like being on an airplane and they tell you in case of an emergency you must put your face mask on first before trying to help others.  You can’t help your child breathe if you can’t breathe yourself.

I am Just His Mommy so every goal I set, even if it seems selfish, has a greater purpose.  So let’s recap the goals I set in 2014 and how far I got:

  1. Build my emergency fund back up to $3,000- This was achieved successfully with some ups and downs of course.  Not bad for starting off with $700.
  2. Buy a car in straight cash without taking out a loan- I did get a new car but not in straight cash.  The Iron Pimp kept taking all of my money so I had no other choice but to break down and get a new one.  I was able to have a $2,000 down payment since I was already saving.
  3. Start teaching the little one the value of money- We cashed in all of the change I had been collecting since his birth and opened up a kids account at a local credit union.  They gave him a red piggy bank for him to start saving and this is where he “saves” his money for when we take our trip to Lego Land.  He normally comes with me when I do events for Happily Naturally Me and I pay him a dollar.  I always give him the option to spend or save his dollar; only once so far has he decided to spend it.
  4. Last but not least  my big financial goal of 2014 was to save $10,000 for a down payment on a home- Long story short, I still have a long way to go.

With that being said, here is what I plan on accomplishing in 2015:

  1. Buy that three bedroom house with the backyard- This will be my starter home with space for a home office. In 2014 I launched my own startup called Happily Naturally Me. It is a natural skincare line that specializes in all natural handmade products.
  2. Pay off one of my student loans- I call it my journey to divorcing Sallie Mae.
  3. Go on vacation- The little one and I have been talking about going to Lego Land in Orlando, FL so I intend on making that happen.  I just found out that the Lego Land hotel doesn’t open till mid-year so hopefully in the fall. Stay tuned for my review.
  4. Have an awesome birthday- I may not look it, but I will be the big 30 in 2015 so I plan on celebrating.
  5. Continue working on past goals I have yet to accomplish.

What are your goals for 2015?

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