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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Money, I made you!



Only 11 days left in the May focus on money, and boy, have I changed some things!!! My only problem is that while I've found some really great ideas on how to save money, I don't have many on making more money (at the present moment and in the near future). Although in my fantasy I'd love to make tons more today, I really do want to think realistically about how over the next 3-5 years I can build my asset base, increase my value (and salary) as a professional, and work towards lucrative entrepreneurship. I've done garage sales, babysitting, and consigning, and now, I'm really ready for a BIG jump forward.
So, here's some brainstorming...walk with me, and send me your ideas!

  • Consulting - I set up a sole proprietorship 6 years ago, and while I can't generate income in Canada (work visa issues), I'd love to chat with interested folks based in the US. I know I don't advertise this nearly enough (I don't at all actually). So, I'll get started here :) AHEM.....If you need a hand in arts administration, nonprofit management, grantwriting, or fundraising, check me out at http://www.arcinternationalconsultants.com/. Whew! That wasn't so bad. Now I just have to take it out of the Wonderland and into the real world!
  • Investing - I'm scared to death of this, especially with the economic unpleasantess that's been going on over the past few years. If you've got any insight, would love to hear about your experiences!
  • Working. BETTER! - I mean this in the most encouraging way. I've taken on tons of new projects at work, intending for it to add to my overall wealth of experience (and value) so that I can negotiate a higher salary in my next big gig. In the past, I've done research papers, conference presentations, publishing, etc. all on my own dime and time, and it's really helped. I've just wrapped up a new project at the office that I totally volunteered for (and took home to work on, in some cases!), and it adds a very substantial bullet item on the resume. Just got to find more opportunities to work like this so that I can substantially negotiate more....hmmmmmm......
  • Blogging - For now, I use my Wonderland as a parking lot for ideas, dreams, opinions, and if I'm lucky, conversations:) I've seen on tons of other blogs opportunities for sponsorship, and in many cases, sponsor banners. It seems that the subject matter for these blogs is either fashion, product design, or something related to the two. Unfortunately, those are pots that I can't stew, so I'm thinking creatively on how this blog could possibly become an income generator (without sacrificing its original focus and purpose:) Would love to hear more ideas on this......

Will continue this conversation...for sure!

ciao for now!

a

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Headed over the Atlantic for the summer? Some ideas for your European gallivanting.....


Plans for Europe this summer? Congratulations! My roomate is heading to France, Turkey, and Poland (lucky girl!) and I was putting together some ideas that might help her plan her trip....thought I'd share - I found them really helpful!

Here are a few websites to keep in your back pocket:

  • Kayak.com - This is a great website that gives you the pricing for several discount travel providers and regular airlines. It doesn't give you the pricing for Expedia.com, which I'd also check out.
  • Venere.com – For booking hotels - With this, you pay in person when you check out of the hotel. They take your credit card number online to reserve the room , and you pay when you check out. This was always easier, especially if my plans weren't confirmed.
  • Tripadvisor.com - Once I find a hotel on venere.com that I like, I like to look here for comments, travelers' ratings and more photos. They tell the truth!\
  • Studentuniverse.com – GREAT for university/college students who are travelling

Also, check craigslist.com in case you’ll be in a place for more than 3 or 4 days – it might be worth exploring to see if there’s an open apartment that someone is renting out. I did this twice in Italy , and it was SO much cheaper.

And I’d really encourage you to build a profile on http://www.couchsurfing.com/. Even if you don’t need a couch to surf, check it out, as there are always postings of what is going on in a city; plus, you can do searches and find someone in the city to show you around. That was ALWAYS such a great experience. When I went to Munich, I made arrangements to meet with 4-5 people a day!!! First, I’d have breakfast with someone, visit a museum with someone else, take a walking tour, go to a beer garden, do lunch, enjoy a soccer match – all with friendly European couch surfers – it was great!!!

You probably already know, but just a few pointers to really drive home:

  1. BUY TRAVEL INSURANCE!!!! Remeber the ash? It's still there. Also, for your transatlantic flight, check out the airline's policy for covering flights that the airline has to cancel.
  2. Pack light, light, light!!!! European airlines have lesser weight standards for baggage, and they charge way more if your bags are over the limit.
  3. Everything’s more expensive – just be prepared for sticker shock.
  4. Look around for some concerts now – all the best artists are on tour during the summer! I was close to getting tix for an Erykah Badu concert in Paris . It was a soldout show, so we caught the International Jazz Festival there instead :)
  5. No need for heels – Paris was ok, but other European cities with their historic cobblestone and fancy stonescapes can (and will) kill your shoes.
  6. Don’t buy the Eurorail Pass. It’s a rip off. You’ll do SOOOOOOO much better with just getting a regular train ticket like the rest of the European population.
  7. Take the train instead of flying if you can. It always puts you in the center of the city.
  8. If you take Ryanair, just know that most of the airports that they use are way outside of the city (and you can’t pack ANYTHING bigger than a backpack).

That’s all I can think of for now - be sure that you take great pics! Will look forward to your traveling posts soon!

ciao for now!
a

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Money, you'd look good on my arm!


Since May is my month of money (saving more, making more, investing more, banking more), thought I might continue the financial focus with more tips that I've discovered and adopted in my quest to make my money work better for me.

Check it out!
  1. I've started (GASP) shopping in the suburbs. I went, last night, for the first time, deliberately, to do my shopping in grocery store in the suburbs. The Polar Bear lives about 20 minutes outside of the city, and so I accompanied him to the nearest shop and stock up. I was shocked at how us urbanites allow grocers to literally take the food off our plate with their extra exhorbitant prices. My essentials (frozen fruit, milk, eggs, etc.) cost half as much in the suburbs than in downtown. Shocker to some, invitation to me!
  2. My grandmother always taught me to buy the best. "You only want to buy it once, so buy the best that money can buy," she'd say. In my elder years, I've learned that this need not apply to foil, plastic bags, and other daily disposables. I'm used to buying the name brand version of everything - from meds to chips to makeup. It's taking time, but replacing name brand versions with less expensive product lines really adds to my cash reserve :)
  3. I've started recording every impulse buy. All (at least most) of my expenses can be planned: rent, bills, food, travel, etc. So....for those days when I crave a smoothie (that I lazily don't want to make myself), bottled juice (that I didn't get on sale during my trip to the suburban grocery store), or beauty must have (the day after Ballet Tropical, I HAD to get a pedicure. Feeling my rough heels almost tear through my sheets was TOO much!), I make sure I record it - often, it helps me think through whether the purchase is really essential or not. Puts money in the bank!

Ciao for now!

a

New to Me Music - Nickodemus


One of my daily goals in the "Abundant Life Checklist" is to listen to new music and learn more about the artist. Living in Ottawa doesn't give me the chance to see concerts very often from international performers, but the internet sure does! Each day, I visit a new Myspace page to hear music from new and emerging artists. Although I've graduated to Facebook for the social stuff, the audio feature on Myspace keeps me coming back (BTW, you don't even have to log in. Just google the artist + Myspace, and it'll take you right there).

Usually at work while I'm typing away, I listed to Garth Trinidad's radio broadcast from the evening before. Last night, an artist by the name of Nickodemus was featured, and I was blown away. I'm not a fan of dance music, but this guy layers so many culturally rich music forms over each other - he creates masterpieces.
Just a blurb from the website:

With over 30 original songs & 40 or more remixes in the past 10 years, Nickodemus has carved a niche for himself in World Music & Dance Music by intersecting World & Urban sounds to make a unique dancefloor fusion of his own. Remixes for artists such as: Billy Holiday, Nina Simone, Thievery Corporation, Sultan Khan, Astor Piazzolla, Gilfeme, Dublex Inc, Boozoo Bajou, Karuan, Madrid de los Austrias, Truby Trio & more... Along with songs selected for Sex & the City & various feature films, the first song, "Mi Swing es Tropical," on his debut album, "ENDANGERED SPECIES," has been used for the recent itunes+ipod advert. See full discography nickodemus.com/discog.html

Check him out!

Ciao for now,
a

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