Thursday, August 25, 2016

First Day Of My Last Year Of Law School

Wow. I am feeling nostalgic. Monday was my last first day of school. I cannot believe that two years have gone by and I am now in my last year of law school. How did this happen? Is this real life?

Time flies so fast sometimes.

Here is the post I wrote after my first week of law school where I talk about the myths and reality of law school. So much has changed and yet so much is still the same. Most days, I still have a hard time believing that I am a law student. I did it, I'm here and now it's almost over. (Well, minus and entire year and the bar exam. But other than that, almost over. :P)

One of my classes is only comprised of 3L's because it is scheduled at the same time as the only mandatory class for 2L's (Professional Responsibility) and 1L's do not get to pick their classes. Many of my classmates are from my section and it just gives me so many flashbacks to my first year.

So what has changed from my first week of law school ever and my first week as a 3L?

  • The sheer terror of law school has disappeared. We all know what to expect from a typical law school class and it doesn't scare us anymore. The overall feeling of class is much more like a typical undergrad class. When you walk into any 1L classroom, there is a wave of collective terror that washes over you. Boy am I glad that part is over!
  • I volunteer to talk in class much more. I still suck at sounding coherent when I am cold called but nowadays, I often raise my hand in class to discuss something or argue a point. I never expected that when I first started law school. 
  • Getting cold called was much more rare than I expected during my first year and it is even more rare now. I got cold called on one time my entire second year and I imagine it will be the same this year.  Yay on not getting cold called!
  • The pressure of getting great grades is much less. Yeah, a 4.0 semester would be awesome but most people have accepted the fact that it's not gonna happen. Also, you pretty much get the same grades semester after semester and your GPA doesn't change much even if you work harder. You learn to accept it and move on to other things.
  • Related to above, your classmates stop trying as hard. Many people come to class without doing the reading and they aren't nearly as motivated to dominate the class. This means the professors have to try harder to keep people engaged but it also means the curve is lower. The same number of people are getting an A but the knowledge they need to learn to get that A is less. 
  • Law School isn't the only thing you are focused on anymore. In your 1L year, you sign a contract saying you won't work. As a 3L, you probably have a clerking job, an internship or (like me) are in a clinic. You also are probably running an org or two so you have a ton of work to do for those. Class is just another thing you have to do, no more. 

My 1L year was amazing and exciting but it was also terrifying and stressful.  Right now, my terror and stress is coming from my brand new clinic that I start tomorrow but my classes are my comfort toy. I know what to expect in class and I'm at ease now.

I like being a 3L much more than being a 1L.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Getting Ready For Another Semester Of Law School

It's that time again. Books are bought, syllabuses are starting to trickle in and my calendar is filling up with meetings and obligations. Yup, classes start back up next week.

First of all, because of the clinic I am doing for 5 credits, I am only taking three classes this fall. Employment law, Consumer Protection law, and Federal Estate and Gift Tax. In comparison, last semester I took six classes. (Five is more normal.) You would think that taking so few classes would save me a few bucks while buying my books but you would think WRONG. My casebooks came to the grand total of 821.00. Good grief. Usually it is less because I buy my books used or rent them but all four of my books were new editions released this summer. This means I can't buy them used and many weren't rentable either. Sigh.

Second, now that classes are about to start, it's about time for me to start my outlines. Yes, I start my outlines before I start the reading. I hate the process but it keeps me organized and helps me study for finals as I go through the semester instead of all at the end. The short notes version is I type up the table of contents with the chapter, headings and subheadings in outline form. As I go through the semester, I fill in the contents with info from the book and class. It works for me but undoubtedly is not for everyone.

So this week I need to finish up my summer clerk position, type up three outline templates, attend training for the clinic and read for next week.

It is official, my last summer vacation is over. 3L year here I come!!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Birthday Tomatoes and Sadness

Story-time -  Way back when I was just a little tot, my mom got a tomato plant for her birthday in May. Apparently I was less than impressed with this birthday present that wasn't a toy until my mom told me that the plant was magical in that it made food. Food? FOOD? Even toddler me loved food. I was fascinated and woke up every day asking if it had made food yet. So my mom told me that it would make food by my birthday in August and I should go watch it grow. So I'd sit there for hours watching the tomato plant grow while my mom did grown up stuff like shower and cook and take care of my infant sister.

My mom was so grateful for that toddler break that for 28 years, I always got the first tomato of the year, called my birthday tomato. It's probably one of the weirdest family traditions ever but I just grew up knowing that come summer, I'd get a birthday tomato and my mom would take a picture of me eating it like an apple with salt and pepper and that's just the way it was.

Then I moved to Florida. For the first time in my memory, I didn't get a birthday tomato. And just in case you don't understand how sad that moment was, think of some little family thing you guys do. Maybe for Thanksgiving, Aunt Bettie always makes her pumpkin pie, or after dinner you play a card game and the losers have to do dishes. If that suddenly stopped, you could go buy a pie or divvy up chores on your own but . . . it's just not the same.

I was bummed. Eventually I decided that it was time for me to grow my own darn birthday tomato so I'd never have to go another year without. I've been planting and growing tomatoes with my mom since I can remember so I knew how to do it, I just didn't know Florida's climate. So I did some Googling and found that in Florida, I can grow tomatoes twice a year. Whoa.

So I bought a plant and it was doing great. So many flowers that grew into perfect little green tomatoes that slowly started turning red. It was glorious. I even got to eat my first tomato and I had about 14 more tomatoes to go. And it was still flowering too!

Then disaster struck. I noticed an itty bitty hole in one of them and some obvious chew marks. I'd been using an organic spray up to that point but decided to up my game to spraying every day. It did nothing. First one tomato was eaten to the stem, then another.

It was caterpillars and those monsters are unrelenting. I spent ages trying to comb my plant and pull them off to no avail. I even paid the neighbor kids to come over and hunt for them. For every caterpillar they found, I'd give them a dollar. They found one. I knew enough to be afraid of hornworms which are flipping huge but these caterpillars were tiny little things. About the size of a grain of rice and an exact match for the color of the leaves. Basically impossible to see.

By the time I moved on to the big guns of caterpillar pesticides, it was too late. Those suckers ate my plant to death in a little over two weeks.

I'm going to keep trying but I'm not going to lie, it kinda discouraged me from Florida gardening. I've grown basil inside and an onion that started sprouting and that went well but . . . sigh. It was sad.

I guess the good news is, I did get my birthday tomato this year?

What kind of silly family traditions do you have? I know I can't be the only one with a tradition that has to be explained!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Classes as a 3L

I never thought I'd say this but I sometimes miss the ease of my 1L year. I didn't have to pick classes because they were all chosen for me. Furthermore, the timing was all taken care of so that my days didn't have any large gaps and my exams were all evenly spaced out among two weeks.

As a rising 3L, I had the hardest time picking classes for this semester. All of the classes I need to graduate are only offered in the spring (that's going to be a fun semester) and so I could not really find any that interested me for the fall semester. Of the classes that didn't sound awful, most conflicted with each other or had huge gaps. So come this fall, I will have a classes Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:30 am to noon. Then a gap until my 3:10 to 4:35 class and then a smaller gap until my final class from 6 to 8 pm. I also have a random Friday morning tax class from 9 to noon. Ugh. Then my clinic is going to be on Tuesdays and Thursdays 8 to 5pm and Friday afternoons.

I'm trying to get ready but I just have a distinct lack of enthusiasm. Send cookies, classes start in less than two weeks.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Benefits of Getting to Know Your Law Professors

I'm a total loner and in undergrad, I preferred it when my professors didn't know my name. I knew I needed a different approach in law school because for one thing, my entire school has around 900 students. I had classes bigger than that in undergrad! For another, you need your professors as your legal wingmen because that's how you get intern and job opportunities. (Which I talk about HERE)

All in all, coming out of invisibility has worked out pretty well. What I didn't know until today is that getting to know your law professors and by default, letting them get to know you, leads to totally awesome presents.

My elder law professor emailed me yesterday and asked me to stop by her office. She went on vacation recently and brought me back Doctor Who sock yarn. That a very specific gift that is very obviously tailored just for me. To buy this gift, she had to know that I knit and she had to know that my favorite thing to knit is socks. Oh, and she had to know that I love Doctor Who and that two of my cats are named after the show. (Okay, the cat bit she didn't have to know, though she did.) Heck, she knows more about me than most of my classmates!

I feel so touched. Plus, more sock yarn is never wrong. YAY!

Monday, August 1, 2016

A Day In The Life Of a Summer Law Clerk

I haven't written too much about my summer clerk position because it took me awhile to decide what I thought about it. Today I was thinking about how when I first heard that I got the position, I didn't know what to expect. Not that every position is the same but I thought it'd be fun to share what my day as a law clerk looked like.

5:30 am - Wake up and lay in bed for half an hour wondering why I decided to take the one position that was an hour plus drive away.

6:00 - Remember that I really wanted to work with an elder law firm and get out of bed. Shower, dress and all that jazz.

7:00 - Get in my car and start my commute.

8:00 to 8:30 - Arrive at work. This time varies greatly depending on traffic and weather. Generally my morning commute isn't too bad and I usually just jam out to the radio.

8:30 - Head to my desk and start up my computer and try to remember where the heck I left off the day before.

8:45 - Office meeting with free bagels!! Yum! (Only on Mondays.)

9:15 - Head back to my desk and start trying to figure out this massive case I was handed that spans years, numerous lawyers, and many different practice areas. I have been working on it for ages but half of that was simply reading through a case file that was over a foot thick. Today I was trying to figure out the notes of one of the paralegals and find a legal argument for a motion that feels like it is taking me way too long to write.

10:30 - Get pulled off the motion for some legal research for one of the attorneys. Actually, this may be why the motion is taking so long. Other than the fact that the attorney was mistaken on the type of discovery request he had received, so I had to do the research twice, this was the easiest part of my day. Finally, something law school has prepared me for!

12:00 - Finish typing up the research results and go on lunch. Most days I go to Checkers because I can get a burger and medium tea for 3.08. Before hand, one of the paralegals asked if I had ever been to a nearby Amish restaurant. I said no so when I got back, she brought me blueberry pie!! Paralegals are awesome.

1:00 - Come back from lunch and a couple paralegals asked me to go get documents from the Clerks Office. The entire exchange went like this -

  • Paralegal 1 - I need you to get me a deed from 1988, before the records were digitalized.

  • Me - Inside my head, okay. I know I need to go to public records. Then what? Thank God for Google.

  • Paralegal 1 - You'll have to find it on microfilm but it shouldn't cost too much.

  • Me - Wait, what? They still use that? Starts Googling how to use microfilm.

  • Paralegal 2 - Oh, grab me a certified copy of an order while you are there. Don't forget to grab enough petty cash so you don't have to pay for it.

  • Me - Crap, am I supposed to have the cost memorized? 

1:20 - Try to figure out the microfilm machine and fail miserably. Eventually figure it out but then the machine glitches/freezes and won't allow me to print. Fuuuuuun. Even the clerk couldn't figure it out.

1:35 - Finally get the copy of the deed and get the order without a problem. Have a 10 minute conversation with an employee about how the Clerks Office and the local law school should work together to offer field trips. She completely agreed and told me horror stories of new attorneys getting things wrong. At least I eventually figured out the microfilm machine?

2:00 - Back at the office and so I try to get back to that motion.

2:20 - Paralegal asks me to draft a "Zero sum verified initial accounting." I look at her completely blank so her and another paralegal make fun of me (gently) and walk me through it. (Did I mention that I love paralegals? Because I do.) No but seriously, I've heard of initial accountings. I even know when they are due. I've never actually seen one before.

2:30 to 2:45 - Deal with computer issues that won't let me use the software I need to draft the initial accounting.

3:30 - Finish the accounting and go back to the motion of doom. Draft one section of the legal argument but need two more. Research case law until I get pulled aside by the Medicaid planning attorney to discuss a new client he got and his likely game plan.

4:30 - Go back to the motion and start to look up more case law.

5:00 - Suddenly realize everyone is leaving and I feel like I got nothing accomplished. Head out. One thing that surprised me about the firm I work at is that they take a work/life balance seriously. At 5:00 on the dot, everyone starts packing up. Including all the attorneys. Now, they might do a little work at home but for the most part, they're done. I'm sure it helps that a vast majority of the people working there have toddlers.

7:30 pm - Finally get home. The traffic was horrible today so it took me twice as long as usual to drive home. UGH. Tired and my feet hurt.

Every day is a little bit different but this is more or less how it goes. Sometimes I go to court with one of the attorneys or act as a witness for a will signing. As for my actual work product, so far, I have written responses, conflict waivers, proofread documents, summarized transcripts of hearings and done lots and lots of research. I like most of it quite a bit.

The hardest thing for me is facing the fact that there is still so much I don't know. I am still learning the software my firm uses, I don't know how to draft things that I've never heard of before, and things like Clerk fees are completely not taught in law school. However, I am learning many of these things now so that I have less to learn after I graduate!

Plus, I really do find my day fascinating. I get to look in on guardianship law, probate, wills and trust drafting and medicaid planning almost every day. It couldn't have been geared towards my interests any better!


Saturday, July 30, 2016

That Time I Almost Got Arrested Playing Pokemon Go

Can you imagine how embarrassing that would be to try and explain to the bar? Good grief.

Basically, what happened was last night, Fiancé got off work at 11 and wanted to go hang out with some friends for awhile. So we did. While we were there, a bunch of people were talking about heading over to this park where there were about 8 Pokestops in one city block and they always had lures.

We decided to go too. That was our first mistake. The second mistake was that apparently, that specific park closes at ten. We had no idea because the other parks we've gone to don't have that rule. So of course, it never occurred to us to check. We get to the park and there are almost two hundred people running around in the dark, playing Pokemon.

Guys, it was hilarious.

Well, it was hilarious until the cops show up and decide to walk past 50 plus people to focus on our group and tells us he's going to arrest us for trespassing unless we tell him the name of the Pokestop so the city can have it removed. Being relatively polite humans, we try to tell him that there are about eight and here's how you find them. We show him on our phones. Then he tells us, those aren't pokemon things, those are property of the city.

Anyone who has played Pokemon Go understands why this made us laugh. But we tried to explain the way Pokestops works.

Moving on, we tell him that we weren't aware that the park was closed but we would certainly leave immediately. This apparently upset him because he went on a rant about how he'd chased us all out two hours ago and if we came back then, we'd come back now and how it wasn't going to stop until he started arresting people.

Not wanting to get arrested by a man who undoubtedly never thought he'd have to worry about Pokemon hunters in public parks when he joined the police force, I tried to explain that as far as we could tell, all the people in the park right then, including ourselves, had all recently arrived.  Therefore, it might be more effective to find a way to keep people from coming to the park after hours instead of continuously chasing new ones out.

So then he asked us to go on our Pokemon website and tell people to stay away. We tried to explain that we didn't have one but that we would tell all our friends in the hopes that it'd get passed around. He started talking about arresting people again. Sigh

This poor man could not understand how we'd all heard about it if there wasn't one central place telling us the good places to go. Everyone we talked to that night had heard about the park from another player and decided to check it out. It wasn't a massive conspiracy like the police officer thought.

Eventually we did convince him that we lacked the ability to fix his Pokemon problem and he let us go back to our car.

I never thought a silly video game would put me in danger of getting arrested. How embarrassing. You'd think that as a law student, I would know better but it honestly never occurred to me that some parks in our city close while others do not. When I thought about the dangers of Pokemon Go, I thought of stupid people walking into traffic or trying to drive and play a video game at the same time. I also worried about people trespassing on private property to catch the next big pokemon. None of which I do. I didn't think about how hundreds of young people heading outside to play this game would look to people who don't play the game. Though, to be fair, I don't think anyone, including Nintendo, expected the popularity of the game to soar so high.

We live in crazy times my friend, crazy times.


Friday, July 29, 2016

How To Prepare for a Law School Class

As we creep up on fall and get closer and closer to orientation season, I have decided to write a series of posts on law school to help all the soon to be newbie law students out there. As a rising 3L, I finally feel like I have finally gotten this whole law school thing figured out and I want to pay it forward for all the blogs that helped me get ready to start law school. 

I am not going to lie, during undergrad, my preparation for a class was to make sure I got dressed and brought something to take notes with. I rarely found reading the book necessary but in the classes where it was . . . I read. Maybe highlighted a line or two if I felt like it. I didn't do anything else. Unfortunately, that is not enough for a law school class. Especially during the first year.

Here is what I try to do before every class. I was much more dedicated my 1L year but overall, I still do the majority of theses things before class. Most my effort is geared towards the final exam and not towards the fear of being cold called. Sounding intelligent in class gets you exactly zero points towards your grade and besides, I've only been cold called a handful of times in two years of law classes. However, with that said, I've found that by focusing on the exam, I am usually more than prepared to answer questions in class. And, as more and more of my classmates have started to skip the reading, I sound even better. Yay for 2L and 3L apathy.

Read -
Not to state the obvious but ... you really do need to read before a law school class. Not only is there the possibility that you will get called on but the class makes zero sense if you didn't read. The way the class is structured, there is no lecture. You cannot simply show up and take good notes if you didn't already read the material. Class mostly focuses on each case separately and you are responsible for putting it all together to make a cohesive whole. Guess what, the majority of casebooks do that for you! (If you have a crappy, hide the ball casebook, buy supplements. Work smart guys.) If you only listen to each case separately, you will never pick up on the things that connect them together.

Highlight -
Very early on during my first 1L semester, I learned that briefing each case helped if you got called on, but it also helped understand each part of the case and what it actually meant. The only downside is that briefing a case takes forever and when you have 30 cases (between all classes) to read each night . . . well, something had to give. Where I drew the line was with typing up each brief. I started trying the book briefing method and I haven't looked back yet. The way that works is as you read, you assign a different color for what would have been each section of your brief. For example, green is for facts; blue is for issue/question; pink is for reasoning; yellow is for rule/holding; purple is for concurrence; orange is for dissent. This way, you are still training your brain to separate the different parts of the case but you don't need to spend forever typing it all up. If I find something confusing or hard to explain, I rewrite it in the margins and I'm often drawing graphs, arrows etc in the casebook. When I get called on, I can quickly find the information I need to answer the question.

For this to work well, you can't be a highlight everything kind of person. Only highlight the parts you need, not everything that is a fact, etc.

Notes -
As I've discussed before, (HERE and HERE) I write all my notes in outline form pulled from the syllabus and table of contents from the casebook. Before classes start, I type up the empty outline and fill it in as we get to it throughout the semester. The part I fill in from the book tends to be the information in between the cases, especially the intro to each chapter or section. My ultimate goal is that by the last class of the semester, I do not need to look at my book AT ALL in order to study for finals. My outlines are less than 100 pages (usually much much less) and my casebooks can be up to 1304 pages. It's much easier and much more productive to study from my outline than from the casebook. Easier = awesome.

And even though I don't brief each case in my notes anymore, I do type up a short blurb on each case in my outline. It usually ends up being two to three sentences that include the rule of law and a bit of the reasoning. 1L's might need a bit more but as you train your brain, you can write less and less.

Class Preparation Schedule -
During my first 1L semester, I found that for me doing all my casebook reading and pre-class notes for the next week over the weekend gave me the best results. At that time, I had three law based classes and then legal research and writing. So on Friday after class, I would try to get all of the next weeks reading done for class one. Saturday I would finish up class one and get all of class two out of the way. Then on Sunday, I would do a weeks worth of reading for class three. This left Monday through Thursday for my R&W classwork and for some sort of work/life balance. (Haha, I lie, there was no balance my 1L year. If I had free time, I usually ended up catching up on stuff I got behind on.) I found that when I tried to do it day by day, I was wasting time by trying to remember where we left off, fighting the post class exhaustion, and couldn't keep up when something would pop up to screw up my schedule. Because of all this, I often had to stay awake until 2 to 3 am when I had a class at 8:30. Day by day reading simply did not work for me. On the other hand, I did (and still do) have to sacrifice my entire weekend while many of my classmates considered that their slow down time.

For many of my classmates, my method would not have worked for them at all. They needed the mental strength of having at least one full day off from law school a week. Or they had different professors (my R&W professor is famous for her intense workload) and different study needs. My best advice is to try different methods (an not just regarding when to study but also how) and find the way that works for you. I've tried dozens of study methods I've seen online or through friends and the ones that work, I keep. The ones that don't, don't.

However, once you find a method that works for you, and actually do the work, all that is left is to find pants and grab your computer. You are ready for class. Not as easy as undergrad but not all that bad either. Read, highlight (or brief if that works for you) and jot down some notes. And if it seems to take forever and that you must be the slowest reader in the world, it gets better and you WILL get faster at it.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Why was there even a roofing nail on my driveway anyway?

You see that nasty, rusty, dirty roofing nail? Yeah, that totally ended up nailing my shoe to my foot yesterday and royally messing up my day.

I had just got home from my clerking job and was pulling a big and heavy box out of my car. I lost my balance a bit and fell back. BAM. All my weight (plus the boxes weight) on my right foot and that nail went as deep as it could go.

I was screaming, the box was falling and I was wearing heels. I don't know how I managed not to break my ankle. I tried to pull it out but it was flat against my shoe and I couldn't manage to get a grip. I eventually had to call fiancé outside to help me and even he had a hard time pulling it out. It's bad enough stepping on a nail but apparently falling on one is even worse.

And do you know what that man said to me????? His first words were That was on the driveway? I'm glad you didn't run over it with the tire. I'm literally nailed into my shoes and he's worried about a car tire. Men. Pfffft.

Eventually we did manage to pull it out and tried to clean my foot up but it looked like a piece of it had broken off. To make my day even worse, I knew I wasn't covered by a tetanus shot because when I had tried to get one a few months ago, the nurse denied me because there is a latex warning on the DTAP and for liability reasons, they wouldn't give it to me. Boo.

So . . . we went to the ER. And yes, I know how dumb it sounds to say I went to the ER because I stepped on a nail but well, I went to the ER because I stepped on a nail. It was after business hours so I couldn't go to a doctor's office and I didn't want to have to worry about debris in my foot or tetanus or any of that.

The ER staff was really nice and even looked up the latex warning. Apparently the risk is really, really low for people who've never had a respiratory reaction to latex so boom, I got the shot. Got some antibiotics and was on my way.

Like always, the next day is worse. It hurts to put weight on my foot and my arm is extremely sore from the shot. It is making me cranky. I think I'm having a netflix and cuddle night.

Do you blame me?

Common Sense Couponing

We've all seen the videos where someone walks out of the store with a thousand dollars of groceries for $2.22. I'm not that kind of couponer. I don't have the time, the motivation, or the storage room. However, I do try to use a common sense approach to coupons that saves me a ton of money over the long run.

My basic approach is like many others in that I try to focus only on the things I would need to buy anyway and try to combine a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon or a coupon and a store deal.

Extreme Couponer Approach - Only buy items you can get for free or almost free.

My Common Sense Approach - I do try to combine a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon at the same time. If there is a store deal at the same time, even better. However, since I only buy things I would have bought without a coupon, I do not focus on getting it for pennies on the dollar but rather, on how much I can save and still get the things I need and/or want.

Extreme Couponer Approach - When you find a good deal, buy as many as you can at that price and keep a stockpile to store the extra.

My Common Sense Approach - I only buy as much as I think we can use in a reasonable amount of time. I live in a tiny house and I know we'll be moving in the near future. Stockpiling doesn't make sense for us. When shopping, I consider what the item is, how necessary it is and how fast we go through it. For necessities, I have a one year rule. If we won't use it in the next twelve months, I don't buy it. As an example, say I needed soap. Soap is a definite necessity that we will not go without. (We could but no.) We go through a bar in a little under a month.  Most packs of soap include 6 to 8 bars so one package lasts us about six months.  If I can find a good deal on one pack, I'll buy one but if I find a better deal on two packages, say a buy one - get one, I'll buy two and sacrifice some storage room in my house. If the item is something a little less necessary, like lotion, I probably would not buy any to stockpile. Another deal on lotion is probably going to arrive by the time I need it again anyway.

[Note: For some people, keeping a reasonable stockpile might make sense. If it does, go for it. We are currently living in a house half the size of our last one and that doesn't even count our old garage and two storage sheds. We're crammed in here. Common sense says no stockpile.]

Extreme Couponer Approach - Has numerous sources of coupons, such as buying four Sunday newspapers a week or paying a company to send you coupons.

My Common Sense Approach - I do receive one copy of the Sunday paper because I bought it on Groupon for ten dollars for the year and then used a 20% off code to get it down to eight dollars. When my membership expires, I will probably see if I can switch to a different paper for the same kind of deal because I like that the coupons come to me every week. It helps me remember to look for deals. I also occasionally look for a coupon online and print them at home. Usually using but not always. Other than a few coupons that randomly show up in my mailbox, that's pretty much all I do to find coupons.

Extreme Couponer Approach - Spends hours each week cutting coupons, searching online, organizing, and going through store ads.

My Common Sense Approach - My newspaper comes every Sunday morning with the coupons and I spend about an hour cutting them apart and doing my organizing. Some weeks I look online for other coupons but usually I do not. Even if I write my grocery list at the same time, it almost never actually takes me the full hour.

Extreme Couponer Approach - Maintains a coupon binder with all the coupons organized by type and expiration date.

My Common Sense Approach - Ha. No. One way I keep myself motivated is by minimizing the time it takes me to get and keep my coupons. I aim for less than one hour a week. In order to do this, I go with the very classy keep-everything-in-a-sandwich-bag method. Well, actually, I use two sandwich bags. One for food items and one for non-food items. Each week, when I cut out the coupons from the newspaper, I separate them into the two piles and then stuff them in the ziplock bag. Bags work better for me because they seal and they can be bent and folded without ripping. Those two baggies live in my purse 24/7 because I am really bad about remembering to grab them before I go to the store. Coupons don't save you any money if you leave them at home!  When I go to add the new week coupons, I spend a minute or two going through the old coupons to pull out the expired ones and to remind myself what coupons I have. That's all I do. When I'm at the store, I flip through to grab the coupons I want and leave the rest. Easy.

Extreme Couponer Approach - Drives all around town each week to hit numerous stores in order to get the best deals at each store.

My Common Sense Approach - I usually shop at one grocery store and one drugstore, both of which are the nearest to my house. However, after going through the store sales on Sunday, I occasionally will add another store to my list if it's relatively close (to home or a place I will be anyway) and the deal makes it seriously worth the extra time. For example, I rarely shop at this local store about 20 minutes away from me because it takes too much time to get there and back. But one week, I saw that they had hamburger for 1/3 the usual price. I thought ahead to my week and realized I would be nearby on Wednesday so I set an alert on my phone to remind me to stop by. That week I bought enough hamburger for three meat-loafs, 3 batches of spaghetti, and a couple pounds for miscellaneous meals. (I batch cook for my freezer.) It was totally worth it because it was a really good deal and I would be nearby anyway. If I drove to that store every week because say, eggs were 10 cents cheaper, I would be wasting 40 minutes of my time and gas. Nope. Not gonna happen.

Final Thoughts -
While proofreading this, I realized that more than anything, I try to minimize the time coupons can take while still reaping the benefits coupons can give. I'm a law student, I don't always have time to shave my legs much less spend hours and hours on grocery shopping. All the same, I have saved hundreds of dollars this year alone on things I needed or would have bought anyway. Sometimes I get awesome deals and get stuff for free but other times, I let the awesome deal slip out of my fingers because the time needed to get that deal is not worth it to me.

It's all about balance.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

My Favorite Cheap Eats Story

Every once in a while, the stars align and I can feed fiancé and I for pennies. Last month was one of those times. I stopped by Winn Dixie to buy eggs but decided to check out the rest of the store for deals. I walked by the whole chicken section and saw that there were a couple marked down for quick sale. The best by date was still a few days out so I decided to get one. A six pound chicken cost me 3 dollars. That's 50 cents a pound!

Now cooking whole poultry is not my favorite because it's kind of a pain getting the bird prepared and then you have to deal with carving it. However, it is delicious so sometimes it is worth it. I threw it in my largest cast iron skillet with a cut up onion inside the cavity and some butter and garlic under the skin. I baked it for an hour and served it with mashed potatoes and gravy ( made in the skillet with the chicken drippings.) Pretty easy meal right?

[Sorry for the terrible pictures and my messy kitchen. I took these pictures to text to my sister and didn't plan on blogging about it! Forgive me please.]

Then as I carved the chicken, I threw the icky parts, the cooked onion and the carcess straight into my crockpot and made stock. I had never made chicken broth before but it was embarrassingly easy. Throw bones into a crockpot set on low, fill with water and add spices and a bay leaf. Then you leave it for 12 to 24 hours. When you come back, you fish out the bones and bits with a slotted spoon and throw it away. The broth was so much better than the store bought crap I usually get that when I got my Instant Pot, the first thing I made was broth for my freezer. It was that good. My crockpot ended up making about ten cups of broth And it was made with ingredients that I would have thrown away!

However, I planned for this batch to be made into homemade chicken noodle soup. After I scooped out the bones and other solids, I added some frozen carrots, celery, and pearl onions and threw in a couple cups of the leftover chicken.  Then I let that cook on low for awhile and then added a package of uncooked egg noodles and some kale I had in the fridge. Once those were done and I added salt and pepper, I filled up ten pint freezer containers with the soup and put them in my freezer for later.

[No, I don't know why this was the only picture I took of my awesome soup. This was like my third bowl and half eaten at that. Dishonor on me, dishonor on my cow.]

At this point, I STILL had lots of chicken left over so I made a chicken pot pie in my cast iron skillet with a pre-made piecrust, leftover chicken, kale and a frozen mix of carrots and peas and pearl onions. Made a white sauce and baked. Fiancé ate almost the entire thing!!! And he has been begging me to make it again! It was delicious.

Then, if you can even believe it, we still had a cup or so of leftover chicken so Fiancé brought it with him for lunch on the fourth day.

To recap -  I paid:

$3.00 for the chicken
$1.50 for the ready to microwave, mashed potatoes
$3.00 (approximately) for the carrots, celery, bag of peas and carrots and pearl onions
$2.49 for the pie crust
$1.29 for the egg noodles
$1.79 for the kale
and a small amount for flour, spices, and milk.

For under 14 dollars, we had a roast chicken meal with mashed potatoes and gravy, a chicken pot pie and ten servings of chicken noodle soup. Oh and some leftover chicken. Obviously this wouldn't stretch quite as well for a larger family but it works pretty well for two!

I know I write a lot about food and saving money on this blog that is supposed to be about law school but I swear it is connected. Right now, I am trying to save for the Bar exam next summer. Not only do I have to commit to not working or only working minimal hours during the bar study course, the course itself costs $3,000. Taking the bar exam itself costs about $700. Oh, but don't forget you need to pay your state to even apply to take the bar and to convert your student application to a full application. Plus, the school advises to have 5-6 months of expenses saved up because it takes months for the results to come out and who knows how long it will take to find a job after that. The more I can prepare now, the less horrible next year will be. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Update On the Whole FAFSA Saga

So I talked to my school and they say I am fine. WHEW. Can you just imagine the pain if I couldn't start my last year of law school on time because I was stupid and forgot to hit submit on the dang form.

I would never live that down.

Anyway, according to my school, their deadline isn't until August 1st and the FAFSA's deadline  in February really has more to do with undergraduate financial aid. Since undergraduate students may qualify for federal funds like grants and subsidized loans, the deadline matters much more because the funds may run out. Lucky (Unlucky) for me, graduate students only qualify for unsubsidized student loans.

So my heart attack was unnecessary and I feel much better now. Plus, even though I only just submitted my FAFSA, it has already been processed and is on the way to my school. Apparently, it's a much faster process in the summer. Go figure.  

Now I can go back to dreading the start of fall semester in peace. ;)

Just When I Thought I Had This Whole Law School Thing Down

Well, I officially messed up. After all my time in college, what with community college, university and now law school, I really thought I had this whole school thing under control. And then I made a newbie mistake.

Fall semester starts in less than a month ... and I just found out I forgot to submit my FAFSA. I started it, I just never finished it.

Stupid Stupid Stupid.

I have no excuses. I don't know how I managed to forget something so big but I am officially FREAKING OUT.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

How to Succeed in a Class When You Have a Terrible Professor

As we creep up on fall and get closer and closer to orientation season, I have decided to write a series of posts on law school to help all the soon to be newbie law students out there. As a rising 3L, I finally feel like I have finally gotten this whole law school thing figured out and if I can help others figure it out quicker than I did, I'm happy to help. 

There I was, sitting in one of my classes. Buying things on Amazon and messengering people on Facebook. I knew that it was a stupid idea to spend tens of thousands of dollars on tuition and then just play around on the internet but I couldn't seem to help myself.  This class was going to be a struggle no matter what, simply due to the fact that it was scheduled from 6pm to 9pm. You either had to eat dinner early and fight the post dinner yawn-fest or eat a snack and hope you didn't get so hungry later that you wanted to start gnawing on your arm.

It was a stupid time to have a class.

However, it could have been manageable with the right professor. We did not have the right professor. I had heard of his reputation back when I was a 1L but truly didn't grasp how bad it was going to be until after the first class. Half the class dropped the course and the only ones who stayed were the ones in the concentration who needed this class to graduate. (He's the only professor for this course.) He even joked about how he was a terrible professor. And bless his soul, he really was. We would get there at 6pm and he would start reading word for word from the book.  Mind you, it meant you didn't really have to read but really, I can read faster than anyone talks so it just felt like a total waste of time. After an hour and a half, he would apparently get bored of that and so he assigned everyone a day to teach the class on a topic. Only, the topic rarely had anything to do with what we had covered in the reading and didn't really help us on our assignments. We didn't have an exam in the class and so very few of us had any motivation to pay attention. One of my classmates did citation checking for her job and the lady next to me played video slot machines on her tablet. Another guy just slept through half of it.

Eventually I figured out that I was stuck with a crappy professor no matter what and I could totally waste my tuition dollars and coast or I could at least try to get something useful out of it. In the end, this was one of my higher grades for the semester even if I never did completely rein in my out of control internet habits.

Teach Yourself The Material - Sure, we all know that we should be doing the reading, and making flashcards and such but when your professor is an ineffective teacher, it is even more important. One of my 1L professors often contradicted herself in class because she simply did not know the material she was teaching. My classmates who focused on in-class learning did terrible on the exam, my essay was given as the model answer to the rest of the class. Reading the casebook is a good start but using supplements is even better. For most classes, I use 1-2 supplements. For this one, I used seven.

Join a Study Group - Personally, I hate study groups and find that they are usually ineffective for my learning style. However, when the entire class is struggling, it can be useful to find a group that is willing to help you teach yourself the material. You can share supplements, go over class notes to see if anyone actually understood it, and split up the work. Besides, it is always nice to know you aren't the only one struggling.

Use Class Time Wisely - And no, I don't mean pay attention. If the Professor is going to give you wrong information, confuse you, or read out of the same casebook you've already read from, paying attention is counterproductive.  Instead, use that class time to your benefit by working on your assignments, outline or an online supplement. My classmate's idea of bringing her work with her isn't bad either. She got paid per hour, while in class.
The only caveat to this is to not look disrespectful because even with blind grading, you don't want to tick off the professor. In the class with the confused professor, I sat in the front row, right next to the podium.  I always made sure to have my casebook out and would glance up every once in a while. Apparently I looked like I was paying attention because she later commented on how it was appreciated. In reality, after the first month, I rarely paid attention unless she said the words "exam" "important" "remember" or the like. Instead, I was reading ahead in the casebook and I had my outline finished long before the last class. Then I just filled the time with online supplements.

Know the Difference Between Shouldn't Pay Attention and Not Wanting To Pay Attention - We all have off days but if you routinely zone out in most of your classes or in classes you find boring, you are going to regret it. Besides, with most classes, you need to pay attention to the professor or you'll bomb the exam. These tips only work in classes where it's such torture that no one can follow along. Not even the gunners. There is a difference between a boring professor and a bad one. With a boring professor, I've found that my best bet is to take super extensive notes. I'm so busy taking notes, even of things I will later delete, that I don't zone out. Later, I review the notes and get rid of all the pointless fillers. Accidental finals review? If it's an extremely boring class, I've banned my computer all together. I hate taking notes by hand but it's really hard to get distracted by Facebook if you can't access Facebook.

Professor Evaluations - When you're so fed up with the entire class and you just want to throw your casebook at your professor's head, don't. That's battery. Comfort yourself with the knowledge that there is an Assistant Dean out there that will be required to read every word of your professor evaluation. On one of mine, I used up all the available space and attached another sheet so I could continue. That professor no longer teaches at our school. I personally don't go on a rant on evaluations because I don't imagine they get taken as seriously as a well thought out critique but if thinking up an epic rant gets you through the class, you do you.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Random Surge of Popularity

Wow. I'm not sure what happened last week but my traffic was off the charts. If you look at my total number of readers that I've had in the entire two and a half years I've been blogging, a good one-third of them came to my humble little blog in the last week. In one week!

What the heck? And how they got here is all over the place too. It's not like one of my posts went viral or anything. A slightly higher number came from Pinterest but not enough to explain the rest.

I'm so confused but excited too. People are reading my words! YAY!

So for everyone who came upon my little law school blog, thank you. I hope it lives up to your expectations and feel free to contact me with any questions or the like. And maybe tell me how you ended up here because whatever caused this crazy surge in readers, I want to do it again!

Friday, July 22, 2016

How to Gain Legal Experience While in Law School

As we creep up on fall and get closer and closer to orientation season, I have decided to write a series of posts on law school to help all the soon to be newbie law students out there. As a rising 3L, I finally feel like I have finally gotten this whole law school thing figured out and if I can help others figure it out quicker than I did, I'm happy to help. 

When I started law school, I had absolutely zero legal experience. Plenty of experience in the medical field but that no longer seemed relevant. Because of this, one of my main goals going into my 1L year was to gain as much experience as I could. Two years later, I think I have done a pretty decent job. I have interned with a judge, interned with a governmental agency, clerked for a law firm and had both an office job and a RA job on campus. Both of which related to the field I want to practice in after graduation.

I think it helps when you have a strong idea of what field you want to practice in but it's not necessary. If you don't know what you want to do after graduation, try to get a wide variety of experience instead of focusing as narrowly as I did. Heck, it'll probably be even easier to find ways to gain experience.

1L Year -

Many people think that during your first year of law school, it is impossible to gain legal experience because you are forbidden (usually) from working. However, most law schools have a pro bono requirement for graduation and the best time to fulfill those hours is during your 1L year. During later years, you may have an internship or law clerk job and a full class load and you may not have the time to add pro bono to that. Plus, when it comes time to apply for a summer job or internship, you really want something legal already on your resume because many of your classmates will have nothing but part-time retail or restaurant work during college.

By the end of my first year, I had almost 70 pro bono hours completed and half of them were legal. I volunteered for legal research at the clerks office where I researched statutes that defined their duties and requirements. I interviewed a client and wrote a will which you can read about HERE and HERE. Oh and I also volunteered with a program and prepared peoples taxes. All of those programs were offered or publicized through my school but very few 1L's took advantage of them. With the will event, I was the only 1L to participate. And yes, I was asked about it in every interview I have had since then. Every one. I am about to start my 3L year and many of my classmates have just started to think about getting their pro bono hours. At this point, I have almost 300 pro bono hours and all of those hours have paid off by giving me contacts within the legal field. It's even better than networking events except you don't get the free booze.

1L Summer -

Finding a legal job for the summer following my 1L year was one of the things I was most stressed about. All 1L students were advised to get something legal on their resume, no matter what. I knew that I needed to be paid to pay my rent but I really wanted to intern with a judge, which doesn't pay you. So I managed to split those requirements into two part time jobs. Two to three days a week, I worked at my school's elder law office and the other two days, I interned with a guardianship magistrate.  I got two items on my resume in one summer. Score!

I started off my job search by visiting my Career Services department and following the advice they gave me. They looked over my resume and pretty much covered it in red ink but I changed everything they said to change and sent it back. Three times. Then I had to decide whether to pursue a judicial internship through the school or privately. If I went through the school, they found them for me and I just had to apply. However, it also meant I had to pay tuition for the privilege and had specific hour requirements. If I tried to get one privately, I would have to do all the work to find one on my own but had more control on hours. Because my scholarship does not cover the summer semester, it made much more sense to look for one privately. I didn't have to pay tens of thousands of dollars for the privilege of working for free and I could limit it to two days a week so I could work for pay the other days. Of course, the idea of trying to find one by myself, also filled me with terror but I pulled on my girl pants and got to work.

I first researched all the court systems within a comfortable drive and wrote down all the departments I was interested in working in. For me, that was mostly within the probate courts. Then I researched each of those departments/judges for the different counties near me and found the email addresses for their legal assistants. Yes, those email addresses were all found thanks to Google. Yay Google. I then emailed the various legal assistants with a cover letter asking about their policies for applying to be a summer internship (making sure to use the research I did so it was apparent it was not a mass email). Then I waited. Within a week, I had received a request for a resume from one county and from another, I was sent an application. Then I waited again. Eventually, I was given the news that I had been placed with a guardianship magistrate and I was good to go! And just in case you are under the mistaken impression that I am some perfect person that never does dumb things, read THIS. I managed to get a judicial internship after answering the phone with "wuugaaaackkk!" and giving the legal assistant an incorrect email address. How awkward can I be? (Don't answer that.)

Talking to my classmates, many had a similar approach to finding a summer job with a law firm. If they didn't have a local resource to tap, they researched local firms they were interested in and started calling or emailing. Some worked for free while others got paid but most who put in the work, found a place.

I found the paid job at the elder law office at my school on accident but I couldn't have planned it better if I had tried. Since I knew exactly what field I wanted to go into, I made sure to introduce myself to the employees and professors at the beginning of the year. I would often go to the events they put on for students and I made it clear that I was interested in what they do. Shortly after the Will event I volunteered for, the coordinator offered me a job in the office. It was a combination of receptionist work and legal research for the professors and it PAID. I was sold.

2L Year -

The same professors who worked in the elder law office, got me my government agency internship for my 2L year. Because they knew I was interested in elder law, when an opportunity came up for an elder abuse internship, they passed on my name. I was actually contacted by the agency and invited to intern for them. I didn't need to apply or compete with other students for the job because it wasn't even open to the public. Sweet deal.

If you have an interest in a field, even before you can take classes on that subject (thanks mandatory 1L classes) GO TALK TO THOSE PROFESSORS and let them know you are interested in that field of law. Not only do they know enough about a topic to teach it, they know all the people who practice in that area. Seriously, if I had known how beneficial it was, I would have done it on purpose. I know dozens of people who have gotten job interviews thanks to a professor reaching out for them.

Later on, I was contacted by a professor I was taking a class with and asked to be their RA. Since I was dead broke, I accepted so fast it made my head spin. By chance, my professor was literally writing the textbook for our class as we went along so I basically got paid to prep for finals as I researched for and edited her casebook. It was awesome.

2L Summer -

My first approach to my 2L summer was OCR but in the end, that didn't work out for me. Since I'm so focused on elder law, and those are basically all small firms, there were very few OCR firms I wanted to apply for. I did get a few interviews from it but I did not get any offers. You win some and you lose some. In this case, I lost. As we got closer and closer to summer, I started to freak out a bit. I let everyone I knew know that I was looking for a summer job and ideally, I would love something to do with elder law. I ended up getting two leads on elder law attorneys looking for a clerk so I emailed them. One ended up going to a friend but the other was exactly what I was looking for and it paid really well. I interviewed with them and I got hired right before finals and I couldn't be more pleased with it. The only downside is that there is no chance of a permanent offer because they are not planning on expanding anytime soon. The pitfalls of small firms. Sigh

Once summer hit, I started getting emails from people looking for a student interested in elder law. Once again, by making my interests clear, people passed on my name when a job offer was mentioned. Of course, I already had a job lined up but it really made me calm down knowing it wasn't as last minute as I thought it was.

3L Year -

Although my 3L year hasn't technically started yet, I already know what legal experience I am doing for the fall semester. I applied for the local elder law clinic  and thanks to all my previous work, I ended up getting accepted. Since it is during the fall, my scholarship isn't effected and I get credits for doing it. That means I can take less classes. Sweet! The way clinics work in Florida is that the Florida Bar certifies that I have cleared the character and fitness test and I will actually get to legally practice law (under an attorney's supervision). How is that not the best legal experience possible?

Final Thoughts -

If you look over all the various ways I gained legal experience, they all involved putting myself out there. I'm a classic introvert so I know how very un-fun it can be but 90 percent of my experience came from taking opportunities others weren't. By choosing to take part in pro bono activities in a field I was interested in, I not only got legal experience but I was able to interact with the people who work in that field. Those interactions later led to job offers. I got my judicial internship by taking the time to use Google and contacting perfect strangers to ask for a job. None of this is in my normal comfort level but I made it work.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

First Attempt with the Instant Pot

Well, I bit the bullet and used my new Instant Pot today. I made chicken broth because I had all the ingredients on hand and I wanted to compare it to my crockpot recipe.

The Instant Pot wasn't nearly as complicated as I thought it would be. When I first read the instructions, I felt seriously overwhelmed but once I started actually doing it, it was pretty self explanatory. Just go step by step and it works.

Step One - Put all the ingredients and the liquid in the pot.

Step Two - Twist the lid until it latches and you can't lift it up anymore.

Step Three -  Make sure the Steam Valve is set to Sealing.

Step Four - Push the button you need to use and then press Adjust and then the + or - sign to change the timer. Since I was making broth, I pressed Soup and then adjusted the time to two hours.

Step Five - Wait a minute and it'll beep and start all on it's own.

I swear, if the manual was formatted like this, I wouldn't have stressed out about it nearly as much. It's pretty much as easy as a crockpot with just a few extra steps.

Then, when the food was done, the Instant Pot beeps again and the timer switches over to let you know how long to leave it for a Natural Release. The Natural Release basically means you leave it alone for 10 to 15 minutes and the pressure releases (mostly) on it's own. You still flip the valve over to Venting right before you open the lid to prevent suction but that's it.

If you need to open the Instant Pot right away, you use the Quick Release method instead. For that, all you do is flip the valve over to Venting right after the Instant Pot beeps to alert you that it is done cooking. Steam comes shooting out (Be careful) and when enough pressure is released, the valve drops and you can open the lid.

It's not nearly as complicated as the manual makes it seem and that makes it much more likely that I will use this new contraption often. Yay for sisters who buy you cool presents like an Instant Pot.

Also, the broth was just as good as my crockpot version. It was rich and flavorful and all around better than store bought. And made in 22 hours less time. WOW.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Getting Paid to Buy the Things I Need

I love when the coupon gods look out for me and I get to buy the things I need for free or almost free.  A couple weeks ago I saw that I was running out of a few necessities like toothpaste and hand soap. I don't like paying full price for those items so I started clipping coupons and holding on to them to see if I could match them with a store coupon or deal.

Today, everything aligned just right and I was able to earn more money from the CVS extrabucks rewards than I spent.

CVS had Softsoap hand soap on sale for two dollars and you would receive one extrabuck. Not a terrible deal but I happened to have a coupon for two dollars off Softsoap. So I paid ZERO dollars and received one extrabuck to spend next time. WOOT!

Then, when it came to the toothpaste, CVS had a deal where if you bought a tube for 3 dollars, you got two extrabucks, limit two. I happened to have two manufacturer coupons for 50 cents off each and one CVS 2 dollars off if you buy two tubes coupon. So I spent 2.98 and got four extrabucks.

My grand total with tax was $3.26 and I received $5 extrabucks. Assuming I use them (and I will) that is a profit of $1.74 and I have toothpaste and hand soap for free.
Since I already have $7 extrabucks from last week, I now have $12 extrabucks to try and roll over to earn more extrabucks next week. If that doesn't work and they are looking like they might expire, I will just run over and buy eggs or frozen pizzas or something else we can use. It's basically like CVS is paying me to shop!

I might not be the biggest couponer because I don't want a stockpile and I won't spend hours on this hobby, but I LOVE when everything works together to get me free stuff.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Best Sister Ever

Months and months ago, my sister got an Instant Pot for Valentines day and she's been singing the praises ever since. In case you don't know, an Instant Pot is a type of electric pressure cooker with six other functions like a slow cooker, yogurt maker, rice maker, etc.

I was curious about my sister's Instant Pot but I didn't plan on ever buying one. Pressure cookers kind of intimidate me and I couldn't imagine adding another gadget to my kitchen. Plus, they're a little expensive for a student budget.

Then I went to visit my sister this spring. Oh how I stared at this thing! My envy started growing by the day. My sister and I talked numerous times about how I needed to start saving for one.

Then came Prime Day when I saw they were almost 50% off. I quickly double checked my bank account ... and realized I couldn't do it. Waaaaah. So like any normal sister, I texted my sister the link with this message, "I want it, I need it, I can't afford it. BOOOOO."

She boo'd back and I moved on. Two days later, I come outside to a huge box from Amazon and can't figure out what the heck I had bought. Yup, she bought it for me.

Now, just in case you don't understand my surprise, my family doesn't really give gifts. My mom stopped giving us Christmas and birthday presents when I was nine and my sister was seven. My sister and I go years without exchanging gifts. AND THIS WASN'T EVEN MY BIRTHDAY. I was so surprised!

The included note said Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas, and Happy Kwanza! Which really shows how rare it is for us to buy each other gifts.

I'm so excited but I'm also slightly terrified of this thing. I added all the ingredients to make bone broth and then chickened out and put the inner bowl in the fridge. Yesterday. I've read the instruction manual 3 times and I still don't understand how to make it work.


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Look At Me Joining Stuff and Stuff

Before law school, I rarely joined groups or clubs on campus. Sure, I was a member of the International Club (because we went to theme parks) and I might have been on the email list for a couple others but in general, I'm not really a joiner. I found the idea of running a group or club horrific. No. No way. I'll leave that to the extroverts who thrive on chaos.

Then came law school where there are more clubs than students. The first week I joined the Elder Law group and a couple others that were near and dear to my heart and considered it done. But those sneaky orgs offer free lunch and interesting topics and events. So I started going to more and more and once you sign in, they got ya.
[Side note - It's a rare day when I can't get free lunch at school. Pizza, subs, italian etc. Free food is the best food!]

I probably ended up in 20 to 25 groups which is actually less than most law students at my school. Then last year I ran for a position on the Elder Law board and to my surprise, I won. So all last year, I had org meetings to attend, promote, help organize etc.  And it was FUN! To be honest, I probably wouldn't have enjoyed it while in undergrad but law school changes people. Thanks law school. Thanks.

Since I had so much fun last year, I ran for vice president of the Elder Law Society and for treasure of another group I really like. I won both (well, I ran unopposed. Shhhhh) and now I am running around like a chicken trying to plan the events for next year. Tomorrow we have the budget meeting with the treasurer of the student body to try and convince them to give us funds. They have really been cracking down on the smaller orgs and have decided that we must justify any funds not spent last year It's incredibly frustrating how nitpicky they are being with some groups but not others. We had some issues last year where they wanted us to cancel our small firm networking event and join (and give our allotted funds to) another group. We didn't and I think they might be making us pay for that decision.

I swear, sometimes law school reminds me of high school. There is all the drama and we even get a prom.

Even with all this, I cannot regret being a joiner for once. Beyond the resume blurb and such, I have gained so much from being a part of these groups. Plus, I have met so many attorneys that remember me from the orgs I am in. I was at the Pride Parade a few weeks ago and one of the attorney's walked up to me and was like "oh hey! You're in the Elder Law group! How are you? Let me introduce you to my colleagues, they do estate planning."

Maybe being a joiner isn't so bad?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

My Thoughts On Swagbucks

Swagbucks -
A site where you can earn points that you can use to buy online gift cards by doing everyday tasks, some of which you already do every day.

I recently decided to try out Swagbucks to see if it was a reasonable way to make a little bit of money. I've tried other services in the past but most of them are either so glitchy, it is impossible to use or they want way too much time to make it worth it. If it takes me half an hour to finish a survey and you give me 50 cents, I'm not doing it. I've got more important things to do.

Luckily, I first became interested in Swagbucks because I found out that you can get points for searching the web. I do that a hundred times a day. Fast chicken thigh recipe or auto store near me or sore throat headache and fever. It sounded interesting so I tried it out.

I like it enough to keep using it, which is it's own enforcement. The way the website works is you have tons of ways to earn Swagbucks. You can take surveys, watch videos, sign up for various websites, clip coupons etc.

They also have daily goals where if you meet it, you get a few bonus points and streak bonuses for hitting the daily bonus for 7, 14, 21, or 30 days in a row. If you hit the goal everyday, you get over 6 dollars a month in bonuses.

When I first enrolled, I tried out all the various ways to earn the points and quickly earned over five dollars worth of them in only a few days. Each Swagbuck basically equals a penny. As I stated above, I am too busy to spend hours to earn pennies so I after a few days, I focused on the quick or easy ways to earn the points. For me, that was searching the internet, the quick poll, printing coupons, and buying things I would already buy through participating stores (Walmart, Amazon, and a few others).

Easy ways to earn points -
I have two browsers I use on my computer so I decided to set up Google Crome as my Swagbucks browser. All you do is follow the prompts to add their search engine as the default. They use Yahoo so it's not quite as advanced as Google but I still find what I am looking for just as easily. As you search, you randomly earn 5 to 10 points. I do not make a ton of money doing this but it looks like I get about 20 to 30 points each day just searching for things I would have searched for anyway. 25 cents a day adds up to $7.5 in a month. Not a lot but since I don't really try to set aside any time to earn these points, it's free money as far as I am concerned. Plus I can choose the type of gift card (or even paypal) so I can redeem it for a store I know I need something from. Groceries, over the counter meds, cat food, you name it.

The printing coupons and buying through their partnerships are only done as I need them. You can clip coupons and get points for printing them and you can get points for using them. Double whammy. Of course, that's only a deal if you actually use coupons and want the items they have coupons for. Otherwise, it's a waste. Same with buying through their partnership. The way it works is say you decided to buy a coffeepot from Walmart Online. You go to the Swagbuck website and click on the Walmart link. For every dollar you spend, you get a specific number of points. Right now, Walmart is at 7 Swagbucks per dollar. That's basically like earning 7% back on your purchase that you were going to make anyway! And what was the cost? Taking 30 seconds to go to the Swagbucks website before going to Walmart's? Worth it for me.

The quick poll is the only things I specifically set out to do each day and it takes less than a second to do. Each day there is a different question and you just click to answer it. Easy. Of course, with that easiness comes the fact that it's only worth one point so it'd be just as easy to not do.

Time extensive ways to earn points -
I looked at all the options to earn Swagbucks and my least favorite are the surveys. They look like easy pickings because there will be offered for 80 - 300 points for one survey but that is only if you actually get accepted for that survey. In my experience, you spend 20 minutes just to find out you didn't qualify. Worst of all, sometimes they don't even tell you and the survey that would have gotten you the points rolls over to one that doesn't. So you spend all this time on a survey that gets you absolutely nothing. Every once in a while, when I'm close to getting a bonus, I will do a survey or two. If you actually are selected, it's an easy way to meet the daily bonus, I just don't get selected enough to make it worth it.

Another way I won't be earning points is by playing the games. In order to earn points on the games, you must spend money on in game purchases. And they're all normal mobile app games like slots or bingo that you can download for free. If you spend a lot of money on these types of games, it might be worth it for you but it isn't for me.

The video section is kinda a wash. If I had free time, I might watch them but I probably wouldn't. They ask you to watch 6 to 20 short videos for 2 to 5 points. You have to pay at least a bit of attention to them to know when to switch to the next. It's too much trouble for such a small amount of points but if I was close to my daily goal, I might watch them just to get to the bonus.

How to redeem for a gift card -

In this screen shot, I chose to redeem some of my points on a gift code (Side-note on that down below) but regular gift cards work the same. From the homepage, you click on the link to the rewards store and either search or browse until you find one you want. You verify that you want to redeem your points for this gift card and your points are deducted. At that point, you are told that you may have to wait up to two weeks for the gift card to be available for you. In my case, it's only taken a day or two but that may vary.  When it's available, you can see it in your account, like above, and you also receive an email with the redemption link. It's a relatively easy process and you mostly just follow instructions. 

You can also earn points by referring other people to the Swagbucks site. I haven't actually had anyone sign up yet so I can't tell you how that part all works but if you have a lot of friends, it might be something to look into.

And on that note, if you are interested in signing up yourself, here is my referral link.  Referral Link to Swagbucks or you can simply Google Swagbucks and sign up that way.

Overall Thoughts - I like Swagbucks but I don't expect to hit the Jackpot with it. It's a good way to earn an extra 10 to 30 bucks a month without much effort. I think that trying to get more than that is not worth the cost because you would have to spend hours a day for only a few dollars. I like to use my Swagbucks on the things I am going to buy anyway, like groceries but it's also a nice way to earn money for a monthly date night or the like.
The website and apps are pretty easy to use and I haven't had to deal with many bugs or glitches.

As always, it's one of those things that depends on the person. Some people will love Swagbucks while others will hate it. You do you.

{Side-note on - Some people hate this site and wouldn't use it if it was the last coupon deal on the planet. I honestly love it 90 percent of the time. Fiancé and I used to use it for our monthly date night at our favorite restaurant in undergrad and then again when we went to Vegas. For us, we consider it a coupon instead of a gift certificate and I think that mindset helps us enjoy it. Assuming you are paying for it full price, this works by you buying a certificate with a face value of 10 dollars for 4 dollars.You then go to the restaurant and get 10 dollars off the bill of 20 or more. You save 6 dollars. There are different values but it's basically the face value times two. So if you buy a 25 dollar certificate, you need to spend 50 to redeem it. Fiancé and I used to use the 15 and under for the two of us and larger certificates for larger parties. The larger the face value, the more you save. 
Most complaints I have seen or heard, came from people who didn't understand how it worked and didn't read the restrictions before heading to the restaurant. They thought it worked as a gift card where you could order 10 dollars of food and get it free. I've also heard of a few instances where the restaurant refused to honor the certificate but that has never happened to us. I have exchanged certificates for a different restaurant when a restaurant was temporarily closed and it took only a few minutes. 

Anyway, relating this back to Swagbucks, I saw that I could buy a 10 dollar certificate  worth $4 for 200 Swagbucks. Since I like this site, that was not only getting me free stuff, but it was also doubling my return. A 4 dollar gift card to say Walmart or Amazon would cost me 400 points but for the coupon certificate, it only cost me half that. Sweet deal!]