Looking back on 2016

I know we are almost two months into the New Year but I thought this would be a great way to reflect and remember the highlights of the past year.

It started with our engagement at Waterkloof Wines
I have a whole blog post dedicated to this which you can read here.
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We bought a house
While we both already own property, there is something about buying the house you will live in and share your life together that is very grown up and exciting.
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I had my favourite food experience ever at The Greenhouse
I absolutely love eating out, the proof of this being the 120 different restaurants I ate at last year which doesn’t include repeat visits. The Greenhouse was by far the most amazing meal of my life.
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Rediscovered my love for Cape Town
I remembered why I loved the city whilst working there for five weeks.
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My first ever holiday with a friend
Together with two of my best friends Michelle & Baveshan, I had an awesome balling week in Cape Town.
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Completed 7 years of work with this view as a consolation
I can’t believe how the years have been flying by. Seven down and many more to go. 
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Watched five theatre shows
I was lucky enough to watch Swan Lake on Ice, Singing in the Rain, Annie, I love you, you perfect now change & Sherlock Holmes and The Case of The Queen’s diamond.
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Strawberry picking for the first time
We did a day trip to Harties where we went strawberry picking, lunched, went up with the cable car, visited the windmill & Eiffel Tower replica. 
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I read 29 books
This wasn’t nearly as many as I would have liked to have read but I still thought it was good going.
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A weekend away at Tshwene Lodge
We saw elephants, zebra, cheetahs, lions, rhino, giraffes & plenty of buck. A weekend in the bush where there is nothing to do but eat and enjoy game drives can be a welcome break.
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Painted for the first time since school
I absolutely loved our work function hosted by Paint Nite. It was my idea after all 🙂 
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Received ten bouquets of flowers
I love beautiful flowers which brighten up my day & put a smile on my face.
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Discovered escape rooms
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Team building at Gold Reef City
Was such a fun day out running around even though our team came last.
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Snapped close to 20 000 photos including way too many selfies of myself
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And occasionally ones with others
Like my gorgeous little sister.
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Spent Sundays at the Fourways Farmers market
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Consumed exorbitant amounts of ice cream both at work
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And at Ice Cream Sunday
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A four year dating anniversary for us at The Winehouse
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And a 29 year anniversary for my parents
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Celebrated the beautiful festival of Diwali.
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Reconnected with friends.
I was so grateful to spend time with my friends Lisa, Michelle & Baveshan who live overseas. As well as reconnect with Navina, Lebo & Ruby who I don’t see as often as I would like to.
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Discovered new parts of Jozi
St Johns College was the beautiful setting for Kamersvol.
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Two celeb sightings
Janez filiming at Urbanologi.
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Locnville lunching at Bellagio.
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Saw the sun rise
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And set in Jozi
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And Cape Town
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Saw the super moon
I must confess I didn’t notice anything different except it being too bright to stare at.
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We found any excuse to bake a cake
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Celebrated many birthdays
A lovely dinner with family spent devouring my favourite pasta and the most delicious cake at Tashas to celebrate 28 years of my awesomeness.
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A night out with friends at Cornuti & Union Bar.
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With plenty of presents.
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Tshwene Lodge for a weekend getaway to celebrate Romi’s 30th.
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My mum’s birthday at Bellagio.
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A little pig’s birthday at Jb’s.
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Fiance’s birthday at Escondido.
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And a special little one who turned eight.
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The most special celebration of the year being Mother’s Day
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The year ended with a kick ass year end function party
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And a family trip to Dubai
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With a day trip to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi
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This was our second family overseas trip together but first where we all travelled together. I love this picture we took in the Dubai Miracle Garden.
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And to round it off I wrote 36 blog posts.

Here is to many more great memories in 2017 🙂
CG

The good, the bad & the ugly of social buying

I first discovered social/group buying two years ago and my debit card has not been the same ever since! The concept is simple. A deal on a restaurant/spa/hotel/lifestyle experience is offered at a discount if there are enough buyers that purchase the deal (there generally is always enough buyers and some websites don’t require a minimum amount of buyers for the deal to go through). The idea is that the savings are as a result of collective buying power if enough people buy the deal. The purchase is done online via credit/debit card or EFT and you are emailed a copy of a voucher to use. You usually need to make a booking beforehand and print your voucher to hand over to the store.

I have bought ALOT from these sites. There are a wide range of goods and services on offer. Food, massages, spa days, accommodation, beauty treatments, furniture, electronics, kitchenware and lifestyle shows just to name a few. You can easily spend a lot of money, though that is a general problem with online shopping if you don’t keep track of your spending.

My personal overall experience is that it while you get to purchase a product or service for cheaper it often involves a lot of admin and stress that is not worth the trouble.

THE GOOD:
– Allows you to experience something new.

– Purchase an experience that you would have purchased at full price at a cheaper rate.

– Draw your attention to a new company.

– Buy vouchers in locations where you are going on holiday – this doesn’t need to be limited to South Africa as there are international social buying sites as well. A friend’s sister planned her entire American trip using overseas social buying websites!

THE BAD:
* Sometimes the deal price is not really discounted by the percentage advertised and is quite close to the normal price. I have learnt to always do my research before buying to determine if a deal is really worth it and is truly a discounted offer. With the exception of relatively new businesses trying to get exposure, it’s not a good sign that an established business is on a group buying site.

* I have found that with spa packages, you get shortened treatments to what is offered and at a sub-standard experience. Rather purchase an individual spa massages which is good value for money. For deals where hundreds of customers buy in you have to book early (as in immediately!) otherwise you will not get a convenient time especially over the weekend.

* Often when phoning to make a booking and you mention you have a voucher then suddenly there is no space available over the weekend or all the voucher slots on weekends are booked up. I get extremely irate over this especially if the fine print says redeemable over the weekend. I don’t have time to use vouchers over the weekday and have had to change many vouchers into credit due to this.

* The admin of printing vouchers, making a booking and using them before they expire.

THE UGLY:
– Some businesses ask you to give them the security code when doing a booking, don’t ever do this! You have no recourse should you wish to cancel. I have learnt this lesson the hard way.

– Getting credit back for unredeemed/expired coupons – this can be an arduous process with some social buying sites.

– Photo shoots/spas at converted houses are so not ideal. Again, always do research before buying. Use Google street view and check out the company’s website before purchasing.

– Buying goods is never a good idea especially if it’s for a special occasion- it could take 5 months to get delivered despite the delivery time mentioned.

– Some social buying sites have been accused of falsely indicating the number of buyers to tip the scales on the deal/make a deal seem popular and encourage other buyers.

From a company point of view:
I don’t see the merit in offering services via social buying. Firstly the social buying site takes a chunk of the already discounted price. Sometimes if the deal is oversold due to limits not placed the company can make a loss and have to still honour the deal. This generally leads to bad service when you do show up as the owners simply cannot wait to be done with all the vouchers sold. When customers cannot get bookings or experience bad service it does more harm to the brand. People who buy on social buying sites are always looking for a deal and most of the times do not return to purchase at full price.

While I have had some good experiences I definitely think the bad outweigh the good. If you visit the Facebook pages of some of these sites they are filled with complaints. The admin of keeping track of vouchers, using them before they expire, substandard experience has made it not worth the time or money for me. I for one cannot wait to use all my credit and vouchers and be done with social buying.

Let me know your thoughts on social buying. Is it worth the effort?

Shopping and vouchers,
CG

Digital vs Print magazines

Reading magazines have been a big part of my lifestyle since high school. Browsing the aisles at the supermarket, picking up my favourite copy and then paging through it at home. I had not considered buying a digital copy of a magazine over the recent years as I did not have an iPad or private computer. When Marie Claire South Africa ran a promotion recently for free copies of their digital magazine I thought I would check out if digital really is better than print.

The process was fairly quick as I just needed to create a user profile on the subscription website. No payment details were required this time due to it being a free offer. The downloading of the magazine was a very confusing process for me. The magazine downloaded to the internet browser on my iPad. This annoyed me because if you close the browser the magazine must be redownloaded again. At one point I accidently escaped the magazine and had to redownload it. I feel this is unneccesary and the magazine should be stored as pdf copy so that are you able to access it without downloading it each time. I am hoping that there is a way to do this and I just am unaware of it. The help sections online did not help with reference to this.

Super pretty magazine cover on the iPad mini!

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Reading a magazine on the iPad was a breeze. It is so convenient to read in bed compared to a bulky printed copy. I read the magazine from digital cover to cover in one night because it was so easy to do so. The pages did not fit the entire screen due to the iPad mini screen being smaller than an iPad but this was not a major issue. The smaller print was also difficult to see in some of the caption shots even after zooming in.

Overall I was very impressed reading a digital copy of a magazine. I love that you can order and read from the comfort of your house, the price is cheaper, a green environmentally friendly way to read, you can easily get a backdated copy and you will never receive a damaged magazine (I am OCD I know!). The downsides are you need data to download (very little), you miss out on freebies that are sometimes with the printed versions, and having to redownload the magazine.

My print subscription has run it course so I am definitely going to be ordering digital copies in the future. Digital is certainly worth giving a try!

Happy reading,
CG

Drowning in debt

We live in a society where most people live beyond their means. My statement refers mainly referring to the middle class. The poorest of the poor generally have no choice in the matter but to borrow in order to have enough money for the basic necessities such as food and paraffin for the month. Middle class society is another scenario where citizens are drowning in unnecessary debt (generalisation).

People who think they are the only ones to desire expensive things piss me off. Everyone wants material goods. Everyone has expensive taste so to speak. If money was not an option we could all have designer clothes, cars and houses. It irritates me to no end when people refer to having expensive taste regarding items that they don’t have and can’t afford. The homeless man on the street then has expensive taste too! Just because you want it doesn’t mean you have a taste for it.

I think that there are many problems that lead to a cycle of debt, the ones that stand out for me are:

Problem 1: People cannot distinguish between a want and a need. Do you need a new tv/ipad/phone/car? You probably do not need it, but you certainly want it and you confuse this wanting with needing. Buying just the one small luxury item will not necessarily pose a problem but buying several and letting debt accumulate will. Advertising brainwashes us by leading us to believe that we need something. A belief that our lives would be better with it. Sometimes this is the case, but if you have a perfectly functioning item that serves the purpose that it is made for, do you need a newer shinier one? And more importantly can you afford a new one?

Problem 2: The façade of a dream lifestyle. People want to portray a certain image. This is a problem with young people that start working and spend more than what they earn to keep up an image. It is not sustainable, your parents might not always be able to bail you out and you could get blacklisted. Family units also tend to want to show off. They want to be better than everyone else. If people only want to associate with you if you have a certain image they are not the kind that is worth associating with.

Problem 3: Spending uncertain money you will get at some future time. So many people rely on bonuses and spend it before they actually know what it will be. If you have a guaranteed 13th cheque you know what you getting, if this is not the case you are then counting your chickens before they hatch.

They say the rule is that one should have 6 months of your salary saved up. I don’t think I know too many people that actually have this nest egg. If they have any sort of savings that is a miracle in itself. Retrenchment or unexpected expenses should be a concern. Income might dry up and bills still have to be paid. We have all heard the saying that you need money for that rainy day. Life is so unpredictable and you never know when you might be stuck in a serious financial situation.

Some people have the perspective that you only live once (ugh YOLO), rephrase: you have one life and you should live it and not care. I think that while this statement has some merit you should strive for a balance between the two. One should certainly enjoy your money but living in debt is enjoying money that isn’t strictly yours.

Debt is stressful especially if you let it spiral out of control. People get married and don’t have money for the wedding and the idea is that you will pay it off. What a horrible way to start a life together with the burden of debt. Paying said wedding off over a number of years means no deposit for a house or no honeymoon. Another scenario is renovations on your house that isn’t quite paid off yet and you are reaching retirement. These are just two exammples demonstrating the ugly cycle of unpurposeful debt.

I am not perfect nor am I judging the way you choose to live your life. Just merely trying to initiate some thinking on the topic from your part. I am by no means saying that people should purchase everything cash. Most of us have to take loans for cars and houses. What I refer to is the mountains of credit card debt and store debt that people accumulate. I am no stranger to wasting money on items I don’t need/don’t like/made an impulse purchase but it was always with money that I had available. Now when I buy something I consider whether I actually need it or not. Do I have a purpose for it?

One of the key lessons my mother taught me is when you have a bond always pay more than the bond repayment. Even if it’s an extra R100 it makes a difference. I certainly don’t live my life by counting pennies but I do think it’s important to consider the value of items in the grand scheme of things and relative to what you earn. Do you need a 5k pair of jeans that costs huge chunk of your salary when a R500 pair will suffice just as well?

If you are struggling with debt consider the ways you can get yourself out of it. Speak to a debt counsellor, pay extra money towards your debt, stay at home instead of going out, make a budget and stick to it. There are options available to you, don’t lose hope, you can still take control of your life.

I wish you long happy debt free years of living within your means.

Over and out,

CG

Who is that girl?

Old time bloggers have recently been doing “About me” posts. Seeing that I am just starting out this is the perfect opportunity for this post.

* I am a girly girl. Until recently if you asked me about my favourite colour I would have said pink! I love pretty, beautiful and feminine things. Do not however mistake me for the type that dresses up. I am more the jeans, tshirt and sneakers dresser.

* My poor mind is only logical and not artistic. Oh how I wish I was more creative. We can’t have it all!

* Due to above mentioned fact I am generally not very good in anything that involves me actually doing said action vs thinking. I can’t cook or play a sport at all.

* The only sport I am super passionate about is tennis. I flew to Paris to watch the Roland Garros finals and it was magic.

* I work as an actuarial analyst consultant and currently completing my exams.

* Reading books make me happy. There is nothing I love better than spending time in a book store picking out a new story to delve into.

* I was diagnosed with Lupus at the age of 21 and I am trying to learn to cope with it. It is always scary and mostly painful. Some days are good and some days are a real battle for me.

* I have travelled to Rome, Paris, Venice and Amsterdam. I can’t wait to see whats next in store for my travel adventure.

* Heights terrify me. I will still brave the rollercoasters but bungee jumping and skydiving is not happening ever.

* I love cheesy horror movies. Yes, they are predictable but they are truly funny if you don’t get scared.

* My OCD nature extends to germs and damaged items. I obsess over dents and scratches on my possessions. When I have read a book it still looks brand new. Cracked book spines and dog ears drive me insane!

* I am abit of a competition whore. I love the thrill of winning.

* My hoarding tendencies extend to my perfume collection, old magazines and beauty products.

* I am directionally challenged. I get lost even with a GPS and do not ever ask me to read a map.  I blame not having done geography at school. That is my story and I am sticking to it.

xoxo

CG

In the beginning

The beginning of my journey starts now and here. I thought the best way to start is a teaser post about me, myself and I.

Books were my first love. I was the nerdy little girl buried in books at library and in many ways I still am. Writing a book is a dream of mine and I see blogging as a stepping stone to get there. I am a firm believer that people who read live richer lives. Expand your mind, enrich you life, feed your soul and you will be better for it.

My life as I currently know it is consultant by day. By night and weekends I function as student, friend, sister, girlfriend, shopaholic and now blogger.

My curious nature is the inspiration for my blog name. My thirst for knowledge is insatiable. The concept of the unknown is not my thing. I want to know and I want to find out.

I am extremely opinionated and make no apologies for it. All opinions on this blog are my own. I aim to blog honestly. I would love to hear from my readers. Criticism is always welcome and helps one grow and improve.

I hope you enjoy this journey with me.

Much love,

CG