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Archive for February, 2015

Last Minute Addition

February 28th, 2015 at 07:11 am

So I had another booking! Right in under the wire Smile So I can add that $500 deposit to my monthly earnings, getting me just under $2k for the month. Still a far cry from what I was expecting, but I'll certainly take it.

If the woman I met with last night ends up booking, then I've met my 2015 readjusted goal. So that's encouraging. Now I just need to really focus on 2016 and booking portrait sessions. My goal is only 7 for the year, so I feel like that will be entirely doable. Nonetheless, time to start now!

Emailed a client that's had an outstanding invoice since December. ha. They've got me in the queue now - so funds will start rolling in. Just in time to pay all my bills. phew. I can't wait for the payments for my big project to start rolling in. I've still got to repay my savings account for money I pulled out, and really start in on my CCs. They're both pretty much at their limits.

I also need to start the process of filing my taxes. I've been avoiding it mostly because I need that repaid savings money to pay them, and I'm afraid of what the total is going to look like. I haven't been paying them along the course of the year - which I of course should be doing. Instead, I've been adding money to my savings every month, so I have to pay the entirety of my taxes for the year.

That being said, my expenses were pretty substantial, and I get deductions for paying the interest on my student loans. So I'm hoping that they're not as high as I expect them to be. But we'll see. This is really the only time of year I working solely as a business owner/contractor. But I'll get through it, just like I do every year. And make my system a bit more manageable for 2015.

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend!

February Recap

February 27th, 2015 at 05:50 am

What. A. Week.

Things started out rough, but they've increasingly gotten better the closer to the weekend we've gotten. Go figure Smile

I hopped on Mint and took a look at my monthly budget and spending to see the damage, as February will be coming to a close in a measly 2 days. Seriously, how fast is time moving this year. Amirite?

Income *---

Income this month was pretty much alarming. I budgeted for $3,250. I actually only made $1,422. Part of the difference is about $1k in outstanding invoices that my clients haven't paid. But still my budget was supposed to be a conservative number - in reality I expected to book another wedding or two (particularly because my bookings were so poor in January).

In good news, though, I did have a contract signed this week, ending my painful dry spell. And I've met and/or talked with a handful of prospective clients this week - and feel confident that at least two of them will be booking with me for 2015.

Still no 2016 dates on my calendar. I'm not sure if people are just procrastinating more this year, but ah well. We're planning on moving out of state in May 2016 - so it's probably not terrible that my calendar isn't full of weddings in Ohio.

Spending *---

I've got to say I'm a bit proud of myself. Most months my budget is awash with red come the end of the month. This month? I only went over in two categories: Business Expenses and Credit Card Payments. Clearly I'm not upset to be paying more on my CC.

I have a really hard time staying within my budget for my business. Most of the time, they are necessary purchases - printer ink cartridges, parking downtown so I can work my big project, prints for clients, etc.

I was $150 over my budget. The only "extra" I purchased this month was an online class for $50 that was worth every penny. The $50 in printer cartridges was unexpected as well. I also spent $190 in client prints - which are included in their packages, so they're non-optional. I guess I kind of forget how much it all adds up.

Nonetheless, I'm very proud of myself for not going over in any other category. I did have some purchases that I'm sure were non-essential - clothing purchases (all work clothes), some nail polish that was definitely more "my day has been crap so I'm going to treat myself" than a necessity. I did buy lunch a couple of days, and I'm going to keep that to a minimum going forward. We didn't really go out much this month, though. So our entertainment spending was record-breaking low.

I didn't use even half my budget for restaurants, and I used zero of it for bars/alcohol. I also managed to only spend $16 on gas this entire month. I'm not sure how that happened, but I'll take it!

Rest of the Year Outlook *---

Looking at my bookings for the year, I've got $30k total income so far. My goal for the year was to hit $42k - so I've got $12k to book still.

I looked over my model to readjust my goals:

- 2 more weddings in 2015
- 7 portrait sessions
- 5 event/commercial
- 10 weddings for 2016

If I can make those targets, I'll meet my goal. I think that's entirely doable, and I hope I'm right. Well, I hope I go above and beyond my goal really - because my expenses are going to be way above my predictions (particularly in the case of my business), and I want to make sure I'm not struggling. Running a business is just frickin' expensive. But honestly, it's everything to me.

Anyhoo, I hope you all had a great February, and will have a successful March! Bring on the nice(r) weather!

Shopping + Wedding + Moving

February 22nd, 2015 at 01:28 pm

It was a busy week. And I'm still adjusting to having to go into the office a couple of days a week. It's obviously no big deal... I just need to get into my groove. I was also out of town on Wednesday, and that kind of threw off the balance in my life.

I did stop at this consignment shop called the Clothes Mentor on Wednesday to look for things I can wear to the office and/or client meetings. I found two dresses that I really loved and payed $35 all together for both.

I made food to bring in for lunch on Thursday. Friday I went to lunch with a friend, but I only ended up spending about $5. There's this El Salvadorian restaurant in the area that I absolutely love. The food is delicious, and it's dirt cheap. So it worked out well Smile

One of my clients finally paid their invoice, so that relieved a bit of pressure. Things are going well on my big project for the most part - my clients are of course dragging on their end of things, so it's going to get behind schedule really quick. The rest of it will involve trying to do everything myself. haha.

I also had 3 client calls/meetings this week for weddings - and I'm 99% certain that at least one of them is going to book. I'll be doing a bit of networking this coming week, so hopefully things will continue to progress there.

***

We hit Sam's Club yesterday and picked up a bunch of stuff. Paper products, chicken broth, some snacks, toothpaste. The fiance footed the bill for that trip, which was nice. I generally pay for our groceries every week (he pays for a disproportionate amount of the rent + utilities, so it works out). But when he picks up some of the items it's always nice on my budget.

I did hit Target and Aldi today, and spent about $40 total. That'll last us for probably the next 2 weeks. We'll see.

Beyond groceries and lunch the other day, the only thing I've spent money on was a breakout class from the photography community I'm a part of. I still need to go through and take in all of the material. I'm excited to get started on it, though.

I also broke down and subscribed to Hulu. I can't watch Mindy any other way because we don't pay for any kind of cable package - I can't even watch it on the Fox channel. The fiance pays for Netflix, so I can't really complain about dropping $8/month for Hulu. I use it enough for it to be worth the cost. I'm also catching up on my Parks & Rec. Good stuff.

***

On the wedding front, I've got the quote for my photographer. She's a friend of mine, and giving us a free engagement shoot (which is so nice of her). Even though I'm a photographer, I'm still only hiring someone for the "big" parts of the day. So I'm only paying for 3 hours of coverage. She's charging me $600 for everything.

It's a steal. I budgeted $1,500 for the photos, and so we're going to have a LOT of wiggle room. We also decided on a caterer and are expecting to only have to spend about $1,500 - $500 less than I budgeted. Needless to say, things are going very well in terms of planning. My bridesmaids all ordered their dresses this week - Modcloth had a 25% off sale on dresses, so they were only $40. Very exciting Smile

***

So we're planning on moving in spring 2016 - and had narrowed our choices down to 4 cities. I did some research this weekend, and put together a matrix with some basic cost of living, income, and amenity information to see how they all compared. We've since thrown out Charleston (too expensive) and Asheville (not quite the feel we're looking for). So it's between Nashville and Kansas City now. That gives us a bit more structure, and knocks off two of the trips we were going to take this year. Which is going to save us time and money, of course.

It was fun to start looking into neighborhoods and stuff to do in each of the cities, too. It's got me excited to get out and experience a new place. It's starting to feel much more real.

***

That's about it. I spent a bit of time going through my emails and doing some admin stuff for my business this afternoon. The rest of the day I'm going to try and force myself to do some work. But I'll more likely go through some of this photography class.

I hope you all enjoy the rest of your Sunday!

Hump Day.

February 18th, 2015 at 05:54 am

It's been a busy week thus far - and very productive. The fiance is out of town for work, so I had the house to myself Monday night. That being said, dinner was very low-key.

I love cooking, and I love cooking for the both of us. But some days I just miss living alone... eating a bowl of cereal in my underwear instead of having to consider anyone else's dinner preferences Smile Simpler times. haha.

But really, we cook very consistently, and I love the food we eat. It's a lot easier to avoid restaurants when you really enjoy the food you make at home.

Yesterday I went into the office. It's my first week on the big website project, and it's nice to get out of the house. Of course, we haven't gone grocery shopping... so I hit the restaurant at the ground floor of our building. $7 for a hummus platter. I need to start bringing lunch. So today I'm going to swing by the store and pick up some random items and lunch stuff.

We still have 2 meals from last week we didn't get around to making (our leftovers held us over quite a bit). So we don't have too much in the way of meal items to get. Nonetheless, I'll go through and do my meal planning before heading to Aldi.

I also spent $6 on parking yesterday. I need to start taking the train in. Or just getting to the parking garage early. It's only $4/day with the early bird rate. And a trip 2 ways on the train is $4.40. I'm already starting to miss working from home every day :/ Thankfully, it's only 2 days a week for a couple of months. A small investment for how much I'm making on the project. But there's really no reason for me to blow a bunch of money on lunch. Even though I loooove the restaurants downtown. Just need to maintain focus Smile

***

I drove down to my hometown last night to hang out with friends, and today I'm working from my mom's house. She's on vacation, and my sister needed a ride to campus. So here I am. I'll hang out with my sister for a little bit when she gets out of class and then head back home - we have our weekly dinner night with friends and the fiance gets back from his little business trip, so it'll be nice to see him.

***

Had to move some money around again yesterday - I can't wait to get a payment from this project. And some of my outstanding invoices paid. I owe my savings account $1,500 now. And I haven't really been spending on anything outside of bills and business expenses (had to order photo books for a couple of clients). I'm really happy I had the money in the account to begin with, and thank goodness I did, but I haven't even started to look at my taxes yet, and that money was earmarked for paying them. So it'll be important to have that on hand come April. Ah, the joy of owning a business that's slow in the colder months...

Hope everyone is doing well and staying warm!

End of Week Update

February 15th, 2015 at 07:15 am

I hope you all had a great Valentine's Day - and stayed warm! There was an incredibly crazy snow storm here in Ohio yesterday. Thankfully, we didn't have to leave the house - but I really feel for anyone that had to brave the roads.

Our low-key celebration was enjoyable as ever. It mostly consisted of watching movies and eating a TON of food. The fiance brought me breakfast in bed (

Meal Planning and Valentine's Day

February 11th, 2015 at 05:22 am

Wednesdays are usually grocery shopping days for me - a friend of mine has it off every week, and we like to run errands together. I thought our dinners this week would be entirely pork-centric, with all the meat in our freezer. But then the fiance and I decided to cook a nice dinner for Valentine's day. We absolutely hate dealing with crowded restaurants on holidays. We also have some fish that's been in our freezer for a while, and he's wanting to make fish tacos.

He'll also be out of town the beginning of next week, so I'll be keeping things simple.

So our meal plan for this week:

Tonight: Leftover meatballs + pork pie that a friend brought over
Thursday: Pork Roast with Carrots
Friday: Tilapia Tacos with Coleslaw
Saturday: Bacon wrapped scallops with a veggie of some sort
Sunday: Pork Quesedillas
Monday: Sausage with rice, veggies
Tuesday: Leftovers

***

Like I said, we're doing a fancy dinner, and I'm pretty sure that's just going to be my "present." I told him I didn't want to do gifts - I bought him a card, and I'm sure I'll do some kind of dessert as well. But I feel spending a lot on v-day is just so much after celebrating Christmas a couple of months ago.

In other fun news, I read this article on where Valentine's Day originated. And it makes me feel like celebrating is even more silly.

http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2015/02/bloody-sexy-drunk-origin-valentines-day/

Fascinating stuff! That being said, I'm certainly not a V-day hater. I'm all about opportunities to share and appreciate love. It's just crazy the amount of spending that goes on. It seems so frivolous. I think I'll feel more excited about it when I have kids and can do fun crafts and make cards Smile

***

Spending update:

- Bought gas on Monday: $16
- Bought chocolates for mom's b-day: $20

Took a look at Mint this morning, and I'm still within my budget in all categories. Not too shabby! Now I just need to do some booking...

I have a meeting with a potential wedding client tonight, and spent all day yesterday putting together my welcome packet. So hopefully that will wow them into booking me Smile Let's hope!

Everyone have a fantastic day, and enjoy a productive week!

Brand New Week

February 9th, 2015 at 05:56 am

This past weekend was a success - friends came over Friday night to play Mario Party (we recently inherited a Nintendo 64). Saturday I hung around the house, baked some cookies, talked to friends about taking photos at their wedding, and then we went to another friend's for board games. Made pork chops in the crock pot.

Yesterday I had my brunch for bridesmaids and moms. It went really well, and it was awesome to have everyone together. No spending. We ate leftovers for dinner.

Today is my mom's birthday, so we're going down to have dinner with her tonight. Meals for the rest of the week are going to revolve around all of the pork sitting in our freezer at the moment. We wont have to buy meat for a really long time. I've got two meals already planned, but come Wednesday I'll probably do some meal planning.

Looked over my budget and spending this morning. I'm under in every single category still - but my checking account is looking pretty dire. I made my credit card payments, which put me at around $100 in my account. I owe my savings account $1,000 on top of it. So today I'll be doing some hardcore invoicing. And I'm going to transfer some money from my vacation fund to hold me over until I get some checks coming in. Regardless, I need to do some serious booking here soon. Or find some way to generate income during this slow time. Hopefully the website gig I'm picking up with my previous employer will include at least a partial up front payment.

The rest of the week should be relatively low-key. I have a meeting with potential wedding clients on Wednesday. I'll be prepping for that tomorrow. We're probably going to stay in for V-day. I tend to hate dealing with crowds, and with the holiday actually being on a Saturday, I'd rather stay in and cook.

I am going to start exercising this week. Things are looking pretty scary in terms of my health as well as finances. The fiance and I have been drinking quite a few nights a week. Only a few beers, but we spend a lot on the delicious craft beer we like, and I could do without the calories. Besides, we really like waking up feeling refreshed... and the older we get, the fewer drinks it takes to make us groggy in the morning. Need to remind ourselves we're no longer young pups. haha. He actually turns 30 in April, and I'll be 29 come May. How did that happen?! haha. Getting married in September. We really are growing up. No mistaking it.

Can you believe that when I started this blog, I was only 19 and talking about saving money so I could move out of my parents house? haha. Where did all the time go?

Groceries and Target

February 5th, 2015 at 05:17 am

I don't know about you guys, but I have some serious willpower issues when it comes to the grocery store, and even more so when it concerns that amazing wonderland with the big red bullseye. I can go into Target to buy $5 worth of things I actually need, then come out with $150 worth of stuff I didn't even know I needed! haha.

That being said, I've been really good about not going at all recently - and sticking to a list (for the most part) when I do.

Yesterday's grocery trip was pretty successful, all things considered. Went to the local market and stuck to the list:

- Milk (the non-homogenized delicious stuff where I trade in the big glass jugs to get money off). $2.80 after the jug trade-ins (it's ridiculously expensive, no lie).
- Sundried tomatoes for a recipe I'm making. $1.80
- Yams. 5 for $1.75
- Fresh sliced bacon. $5.50

Last stop was the glorious Target. And you guys, I did pretty good. I only got a few extras: a can of butternut squash soup for lunch, a pack of gum, and a bag of pizza flavored goldifsh crackers. Left only spending $67.66 - and $35 of that was the straightener. And $20 of that was a pack of underwear for the fiance. Since when are mens underwear so expensive?? I say that, but of course I spend like $5 for a pair of mine. haha.

Last stop was Aldi. I am what you would call an Aldi evangelist. I freaking love that place and everything it stands for. When I went to Germany over the summer, my German friends thought I was pathologically unstable because I was so excited to visit an authentic German Aldi. Best part? Things are even better priced there! Can you imagine?! I found brie for a DOLLAR there. And they have this fancy bread machine that the little girls were so excited to play with Smile

I digress.

But really, if you live near one of these places, you have to give it a try. I die a little inside every time I go to Giant Eagle for groceries because I pay twice as much for half as much food.

Yesterday's total was $60.85. $24 of that was champagne for my brunch this weekend.

Grocery Total: $84.89
Generic Shopping Total: $55.47

Still a little higher than I would have liked, but hosting an event comes with a cost as well. I spent about $40 on just the items for brunch. Thankfully, I think we'll have plenty of leftovers Smile

Wednesday Update

February 4th, 2015 at 06:17 am

As I'm sure many of you are experiencing, we're getting a lot of snow here in Ohio. I'm always so thankful to work from home most days during weather like this. It seems everyone and their mom forgets how to drive during the winter, and it makes me nervous being on the roads. Because let's face it, I'm a pretty terrible driver as well Smile

Monday we went to our friends' house for our weekly dinner and board games night. It was delicious, as usual, and we're looking forward to next week - we're taking a page from their Michael Symon cookbook and making some delicious meatballs. My mom and her boyfriend had a pig slaughtered (his family owns a farm), and they gave us a bunch of pork - with more on the way. I tried to give them money, but they refused. It was terribly nice of them. We're going to save a ton on groceries, and I'm having a great time looking for delicious pork recipes.

Cooked some thai coconut soup in the crock pot for dinner last night, and it turned out pretty good. I'm on this crusade to use up all of the food in our cupboards and freezer. So most of my meal planning has revolved around that. We did end up getting Chinese takeout one night last week - but mine fed me for like 3 meals, so I count it a win. We have 3 meals we were supposed to cook last week that never got made, so shopping this week is going to be incredibly light.

Heading to the market today to pick up produce, milk, and maybe some bacon. I'm hosting a brunch for my bridesmaids/mom/future mother in law this weekend, and I'm going to make some sort of frittata or breakfast casserole. I also need to get some mimosa supplies and coffee creamer. But honestly, that's about it for groceries.

Deposited a check into my savings account today, so I only owe $1,000 for the money I transferred to pay for my camera lens. I need to do some invoicing. My checking account is pretty dangerously low at the moment, and I want to pay back my savings ASAP.

Yesterday I spent most of my time doing things around the house. I worked Saturday and Sunday, so I used it as my pseudo-weekend day: shoveled the front porch, stairs, and walkway so the mail man doesn't break his neck at our house. Also dug out my car, though I didn't end up going anywhere. Did the dishes, made dinner, did the laundry, fixed my vacuum cleaner, vacuumed the first floor. Did a bit of reading.

Last night I stayed in and watched my all time favorite show - the Mindy Project, for anyone that's wondering Smile SO happy I can watch it in real time, as I cancelled my Hulu plus account. Now I'm regretting it just a bit because I just found out the new season of Parks + Rec is on it... but ah well. I'm still marathoning through Friends on Netflix.

***

Also reconciled my 52-week challenge. I kind of forgot to do it the last couple of weeks. I went with smaller amounts, because things are looking tight at the moment.

New total: $60

January Recap and Wedding Updates

February 1st, 2015 at 10:15 am

I can't believe it's already February! Goodness, time is flying by this year. I took a look at my spending for the year, and where I did my spending - and where I exceeded my budget.





As usual, the bulk of my spending was on business expenses. This month more so than usual, too. I had to file/pay my sales tax from the entirety of 2014 - and purchase the vendor's license I didn't realize I needed. I also bought a new lens for $1,300 this week. A big ouch, yes. It's one that I planned on purchasing this year regardless, as I've been renting it for weddings. And I decided to get it earlier than expected because it was on sale at my local camera store, I get to deduct the rental expenses on the lens (within 30 days), and there was a $100 rebate at the store that wasn't online. So it's the cheapest I would have gotten it. Nonetheless, it's still an ouch. And I had to draw from my savings account. So I owe $1200 to that account for tax expenses. If I can't make it up before tax time, I'll just pull from the vacation account.

Everything else was pretty usual. I actually ended up spending under my budget for groceries, restaurants, and gas.

I made about as much as I expected to this month - but only because I had about $400 from selling books and camera equipment. The income from my business was about as much short, which was quite the bummer. I really expected to a couple of weddings this month, but with the bridal show being such an epic bust that didn't work out so well.

Thankfully, though, I have a bigger project coming up for the next couple of months - conceptualizing and building out a website for a previous employer. So that'll definitely help cushion things a bit for the winter, when I'm generally pretty slow. Nonetheless, I need to be really picky with what I spend on this month.

***

In good news, the dress I ordered online to hopefully be my wedding dress arrived - and it looks great! I'm proud to say that I found a dress for a whopping $35!!!! The dress I found and Nordstrom Rack (shorter, but still really adorable and dressy) was $26, and will be my rehearsal dinner dress.

For anyone who is interested in seeing what it looks like...

http://us.asos.com/ASOS-Maxi-Dress-With-Crochet-Lace-Yoke/13...

Next weekend I'm having my bridesmaids, mom, and future mother in law over for brunch to discuss wedding plans and sift through some of the ideas I have. Really excited to get everyone together - particularly because our moms haven't met yet. Big stuff coming up.

It's been really fun trying to come up with awesome ways to cut down on the cost of the wedding. I'm a very competitive person, and "beating the system" is oddly satisfying to me Smile I look at these wedding forums where I see girls paying upwards of $3k for flowers, and I'm like NOPE. I'm going with silk flowers - cheaper, and I can keep them forever and use them again. I'm really big on purchasing things for the wedding we can use again. lol. I may be a strangely practical bride, but I can't remember the details of a single bouquet in any wedding I've been to (or shot). Some things just aren't that important.

It also helps that we're getting married in a barn, so we can really milk that "rustic" thing for all it's worth Wink