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Jan 24

January 24th, 2017 at 08:27 pm

So - heard back from my banker friend, and it turns out that his company can't really get me a better interest rate on my loan. My credit score is fantastic (770!) and he said my debt-to-income is great too. But apparently being self-employed hurts my chances, at least with his company. However, he did give me contact info for a former coworker at another (bigger) bank, and said that I'll probably be able to get 6-7% through them. So there's hope yet for pulling things down. Though I might just wait until I secure a full-time job. I'm going to talk to her and see what she thinks. If it wont make a difference, then it makes sense to just do it now. But if it will, waiting might be worth it.

***

Went ahead and booked the AirBnB in Kentucky for the weekend after next. Requested the day off of work, which my boss said was fine. She hadn't actually finished the schedule, so it may not make a big difference in terms of my income regardless. One night in the AirBnB is only $50 after taxes, and we're splitting it. So it's the matter of gas, $25 for the room, and whatever I spend on food/drinks for 24 hours. For a much-needed getaway with the bestie I would say that's a steal. I'm super excited about it Smile

***

Had lunch meetings yesterday and today - though today I just had a cup of soup at Panera. All came out of my business expense account, so there's that. Brought enough leftovers home yesterday so that DH could enjoy them today.

Will possibly get a drink at the bar after class tonight. We'll see how everyone is feeling. DH and I have had a rough go of the last few days, but thankfully last night we came to a resolution and things feel good again. Other than just being exhausted (emotionally and physically). So I may not feel up for socializing. We shall see.

Making enchilada casserole for dinner tonight before I head out, which should last us a couple of days at least. Tomorrow I have a shoot, so I hope the weather holds out. The rest of the week will be a balance of work and friends coming in from out of town. Not sure what the plan is there, but I'm sure we'll find something enjoyable to do.

That's about it for today. Hope you're all enjoying your week!

Good and Bad News

January 19th, 2017 at 04:41 pm

At work yesterday our boss let us know that the store is no longer going to be open on Sundays - we extended our hours about 3 months ago, but the sales that day are so horribly low it doesn't even cover the cost of our being there. So it makes sense. I work for a non-profit, and it's no use burning up money that could be funding programs to employ us when there are no customers in the store. I'm obviously a bit sad to lose the hours - but at the same time I'm thankful to have a bit more time now that my photography is starting to pick up. It's a matter of losing about 5 hours a week. If I can use those hours productively, it'll balance out for the better in the end.

Also, I'm excited to have my Sundays back. As things have picked up, I'm finding myself needing to adjust again. When I was just running my business I had my flow. But cutting 15-20 hours out of my work-week, working on my feet on concrete has not only messed with my flow, but also my energy levels. Turns out I'm not as young as I used to be Wink

***

Filled up my tank yesterday. Shouldn't be doing any spending today. Had my BNI presentation this morning, and it went pretty well. Finished up a proposal for a fellow member who wants me to build her a website. Would be a great project. Have two shoots in the works for the next couple of weeks and 3 one-on-one meetings scheduled. So networking is going well.

Had a meeting with another member earlier this week - a banker. He's planning to schedule a shoot as well, and I started talking with him about my student loan situation. After sending over some information, it looks like I might have some options! I have about $40k in student loans, with interests rates sitting around 9%. He said we should be able to refinance somewhere in the range of 5-7%, so that's exceptionally encouraging. Fixed rate, a balance that actually goes down every month? Pretty exciting to think about. So I'm having him run some numbers and we'll see what happens. The only thing I'm a bit worried about is the fact that when I do refinance, my "student loans" I assume turn into mere "bank loans." I'm not sure how lenders look at that, and I'm curious if that affects anything moving forward. Either way, however, it feels like cutting my interest in almost half, if possible, is the only logical decision to make there.

The conversation about my debt with DH is always a strained one, for obvious reasons. I know he's willing to cosign, etc. But he has no debt outside of an auto loan, and I don't think either of us is naive enough to dismiss the (minute) possibility of the "D-word" at some point. Obviously, neither of us wants that - but we're also realistic and understand that we just don't know what the future holds. It's really strange managing money as a married couple. I feel like it's getting better, but it's just so emotional and complicated. I have faith, though, that we'll arrive at a place that makes sense and allows us both to feel comfortable in the decision.

***

No other news except that DH did finally transfer the money from his HSA to cover his dental appointment last month. So that's taken care of. Just need to start attacking some of the other items on my to-do list! Time to get to work!

Jan 13

January 13th, 2017 at 03:38 pm

It's been a busy week. Had a shoot on Tuesday and THREE yesterday. Which is fabulous. I'll definitely be hitting higher than my target income from my business this month! Woo!

Which is good, because we had a couple of unexpected things pop up this month. The router has been taken care of and is still going well. But I got an email from our fantasy football commissioner... and I forgot that I had to pay everyone (I'm the treasurer, and they all paid me at the beginning. Now is time for pay outs). At first I was really dismayed because I hadn't really tucked any of that money away. But it turns out I had tucked at least half of it unintentionally in my Paypal account. So not too much out of the bank account. Neither of us won. Not sure I'll be playing next year. It made more sense when we were in town and actually watching games with our friends in the league (and by watching, I mean they watched and I ate food and socialized). Away from Ohio, I just kind of look at it once a week and stress when things aren't going well. So...

***

Our budget is still going well. Took a look at it this morning - and the only place we're over is in DH's discretionary budget. We each had $50 this month. The router was split between. He ordered a book and bought a ticket to a soccer game next month, so he's over by about $25. I'm sitting at $5 under. I paid $10 for parking downtown last night - we had a date night and went to see the symphony Smile

That being said, our Uber Frugal Challenge has been a bit of a challenge. We did budget for the date night, and we're still within our spending limits. The Frugalwoods don't actually budget - at this point, we need to babystep it. I work well with structure. Though, I was talking with DH last night at dinner about how I really enjoy the fact that we decided to do just one restaurant night - and did it up, so we really enjoyed it. Rather spending twice what we did on several smaller takeout trips or random nights out. I guess I'm approaching it as more of an "Intentional Frugal Challenge" than an Uber one, but we're still on course to hit our net gain. Even with the unexpected expenses popping up, we got an unexpected $250 this month (DH's trivia earnings that I hadn't accounted for and a check from dad for xmas) AND it looks like our income across the board will be more than expected, so I'm still hopeful.

***

Date night last night was fantastic. Things with DH and I have been really great since the start of the new year. We've been communicating so much more effectively, and the few little kerfluffles and disagreements that we have encountered were handled so much better than they have in the past. That first year of marriage was tough. But it's nice to see that we've learned a trick or two and that things are improving.

***

Not getting through my sidebar list nearly fast enough. Need to light a fire under myself. The time is flying by so much quicker than it used to...

That being said, off to get some things done! Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

2017 Outlook

December 30th, 2016 at 06:00 pm

This year was a pricey one. Moving from the glorious land of low-property values to Nashville (a booming market with a constant influx of people) meant doubling our rent payments halfway through the year. Our utilities were pretty consistent with Ohio, but moving to a new city means getting out and exploring our new home... and spending a whole lot of money eating at new restaurants, visiting new bars, etc. Combined with the fact that we just weren't really watching our spending and I was unemployed for my first 3 months here (with no network to build my business on), it was a bit rough for sure.

But we're starting to right ourselves and plan for the future, now that our lives have a clear trajectory, as DH was accepted into his PhD program.

So. Many new changes on the horizon. And many big questions: When will DH officially quit his job? When will I find one? What will our expenses be like once we do move? How much money will I be making? What will our benefits look like?

The move will happen the last week in May, which really only gives us 5 months to answer those questions, plan our strategy, and execute. That's not a whole lot of time at all. I feel like the last 3 years have included big events we've had to plan for - the wedding, the move to Nashville, and now the move to Louisville. Thankfully, his program is 3 years. So we'll get two that should be "business as usual." Unless a baby sneaks its way in. But as of right now, that's not in the game plan.

All that being said, the focus right now is on saving money to account for some of those question marks. What we DO know is that we will definitely be moving when our lease is up, by the end of May. DH wont start classes in the fall, and thus he likely wont be getting a stipend until then (and we're still waiting to hear back that he's getting one for sure). We expect the stipend to be between $18-20k/year. I also know that DH doesn't want to continue on with his job past our move. So we'll be losing a big chunk of income then. All that basically means that it's imperative for me to find a full-time job as soon as possible - and we need to plan for the just-in-case it takes longer.

We do have some money saved up, but I'd rather not touch it if possible, of course. And there are some things that I think we'd like to do prior to the move - just in case it's harder to do after. Things like funding our IRAs for 2017 (if possible), making any doctor's appointments that need to be made, etc. We've talked about making one last big trip, too. But after a conversation this morning, it just seems like putting it off to the winter makes more sense. I think we're going to do a trip for xmas next year instead of trying to fit one in the middle of such a big transition. We may be taking a trip out to California for his cousin's wedding, but even that is a bit up in the air right now. We priced tickets, and it'll run us up like $1,000. They came to our wedding, but their parents paid for the tickets. It's also about a week before we move, and not great timing. We're not actually close to them, either (I met his two cousins at our wedding last year). So we're going to wait that out a bit and see what the best course of action is.

The nice thing is, once we move we'll be cutting our rent in half. We've started looking at apartments in Louisville, and it seems that we'll be able to find something great within our price range. And I think we're both ready to make some sacrifices there, given that we'll both be working out of the house. Having a lot of room was important to us here - but we both work from home.

I worked out what expected monthly expenses will be in Louisville, and it comes out to be roughly $3,500/month. If I can get a job making at least $40k/year, that should allow us to cover our expenses and put away a bit along with DH's stipend. And I'll be doing photography as a side gig, so potentially we could put away even more. But we'll see. I'm *hoping* I can find a job making at least that much. At this point there are no guarantees.

So we've got some goals in mind for 2017:

[ ] Adhere to monthly budget, continuously
[ ] File taxes by March 1
[ ] Ideally, save an additional $5,000 prior to June 1
[ ] Find an apartment in Louisville for $1,000 or under
[ ] Find a full-time job at $40k +
[ ] Take a trip for xmas (probably Thailand)
[ ] Fully fund IRAs for the year
[ ] Consolidate student loans

And some goals for January:

[ ] Uber Frugal Challenge
[ ] Change phone plan
[ ] Consolidate/put into forbearance gov't loans
[ ] Get HSA stuff figured out
[ ] Start GIS training (for resume building)
[ ] Research networking opportunities in Louisville
[ ] Start putting together planning portfolio

DH and I went through and set up our budget for January. I cancelled Hulu and we'll be doing the same for Netflix. We have Prime and HBO already, so it seems like opting out of these two for a month will be an easy way to save about $20. We're also going to shoot for eating at a restaurant only one time this month. We're going to see the symphony play on the 12th, so that'll be our fancy date night. Otherwise, we're cooking at home. Nobody is visiting this month, and we're not taking any trips - so it should be pretty simple.

I also set our grocery budget to $300. Our "grocery" budget includes toiletries, cat food, and cleaning supplies, etc. So it'll be tight for sure. We just need to get creative. My mom was the master of inexpensive meals growing up. I've learned from the best. And I love a challenge.

***

As for personal goals, they're the same as they are pretty much every year. Live healthier, embrace my passions, work on myself and my marriage. This past year I didn't do a list of resolutions and instead decided to keep track of the things that I did during the year that I particularly loved or was proud of. It's a pretty amazing list for 2016. I have a feeling it will be the same next year. Photography will take a smaller space in my life, but I see it as an opportunity to focus more on what I love about it. My acting and writing are just getting started, and I'm excited to see where they take me moving forward.

There's a lot to look forward to - and so much to do!

That time flies

December 1st, 2016 at 06:25 pm

So it's been a whirlwind. The last time I wrote here was in April, and how things have changed. Financially, of course, for the negative... because that's what happens when I stay away from SA for too long! Wink

Not to say that we're in a dire situation. There's just so much to be said for the power of tracking things.

SO. Turned 30 in May (woo!). We moved to Nashville in June. Things have been going well for the most part. The transition was difficult, at least more difficult than I expected it to be. We've learned a lot and made a few mistakes, but overall our life here is pleasant and we like the people we've met. It's been an interesting change.

Running my business here has been challenging. Starting from square 1 is never easy, but I realized that I needed to get a part-time job to supplement my income - so I did that. I'm working 15-20 hours a week, and business is finally starting to pick up a bit. That being said, our living expenses are MUCH higher than they were in Ohio, and things are a bit stressed. Particularly because we've just kind of been willy-nilly with the spending. That has to stop because...

DH is planning to go back to school next year. All of his application materials are in, we're just waiting to hear back. I'm very confident it's all going to work out, but we're not counting chickens quite yet.

That being said, he also desperately wants to quit his (well-paying) job. In fact, he's desperately wanted to quit for a couple of years now. It's getting to the point where it's more of a need than a want, though. We have a decent chunk in savings, but we're looking at ways to make that possible for him - so it will stop having the negative effect it's having on both his own well-being and our marriage... Some creative thinking is in progress.

Him going back to school means another move in 6 months, so I'm trying to wrap my head around that and figure out what my next move is, professionally. Using that master's degree seems the logical way to go - so I'm doing some research and investigation while we're waiting to hear back on his (hopefully) acceptance.

Also, we've been doing a lot of traveling back to Ohio, out to Denver, and a few other places. Things are finally going to start leveling out after the first of the year, and we'll for the most part stay put. Which will do wonders for both our sanity and budget.

So yeah! Lots of change, and more to come. It's been super challenging trying to wrap my head around it, but we're getting to a place where the vision is at least somewhat formulated. Which makes me far less anxious.

While we're in this waiting period, though, we need to get really focused on putting away as much as we can. Last night we sat down and went over our budget (nonexistent for a few months). We're scheduling doctor's visits in the event that he does leave his job. And he'll start applying for jobs as soon as we get the green light on his schooling.

So that's that. We did manage to start me a Roth IRA, so we've both got retirement accounts now. I'm talking with the financial planner in my networking group about some student loan consolidation. So things are at least in progress. It feels good to have a clear picture and set of goals. We just need to get focused on meeting them!

More to come, then. Excited to get things under control! And consistently under control...

Missed y'all! (I can say that now, I think?) Smile

April 22

April 22nd, 2016 at 03:57 pm

Got my invoice from the accountant - $650. That's $300 for filing our taxes, $100 for paying sales tax for my business throughout the year, and another $250 for my Quickbooks and consultations throughout the year (I met with them 3 times). All in all, I would say it was money well-spent. Not the cheapest, I'm sure - but at least it's also an expense I can write off. And I know it's getting done right.

Now that all that is done and the checks are all written, I have an accurate view of what's going on. Today I'll be going to the bank to close my personal checking account (moving the last little bit of money to our joint account). Then going to the other bank to deposit that money + some cash that I've been meaning to put in... namely, xmas $ (it's just been sitting in a drawer) and the $ I collected from friends to put towards DH's bday party, a total $423 deposit.

Also slipping the check in the mail for my accountant and making our local tax payment. We have returns coming to the tune of $609 total.

Deposited a couple of payments from clients today and moved 35% of each amount to the savings account where I hold tax payments for 2016.

***

Now that I have an accurate view of where we are at, it's time to have that conversation with DH about our goals. When we first sat down to take a look at the budget, we made some rough savings goals: vacation, kids, kids education, emergency fund, retirement, house. We even put general numbers to them, but I'd like to be a little more organized and intentional about actually doing that. I'd like to open a joint savings account so we can see the progress there rather than just having a number raising in the checking (which is how DH tends to do things, but doesn't really work for me).

Lately, money has been a rough subject to talk about, so I want to explore some different ways to approach the discussion. I've got some ideas up my sleeve, and I'm excited to give them a go.

***

Scheduled a shoot for the weekend, which was unexpected but nice. Have a couple of sessions to finish editing and wrap up. Still job hunting, and am starting to get really excited about the possibilities Smile

***

Dietbet is going well - did great with my eating yesterday, though I was way hungrier than usual. Went on a 3.5 mile run Wednesday night and that drained me. Didn't workout yesterday as a result. We were both pretty exhausted. Today will definitely be working out, and so far my eating has been great.

Breakfast: Oatmeal with flax, berries, and peanut butter
Lunch: Veggie burger with leftover ratatouille, avocado
Dinner: Roasted Carrot Salad
Snacks: (none yet! that oatmeal was filling) Almonds, string cheese

No plans tonight other than working out. Think DH wants to do some Kenpo after work. We'll see after that! Tomorrow I have a double feature movie date with my SIL. We'll also be grabbing dinner while we're out, but I'm going to do my best to keep it inexpensive and healthy. No movie popcorn Frown

Sunday I've got that shoot at noon and an empty slate otherwise. Weather should be nice, so I'm hoping to get outside!

Hope you all enjoy your weekend!

DH's Birthday Weekend

April 11th, 2016 at 02:31 pm

Everything was a huge success. A lot of eating at restaurants - but a few where friends paid, which was really nice of them. On Saturday (his actual birthday), I made peanut butter chocolate chip pancakes drizzled in peanut butter and topped with whipped cream from scratch. That was the first time I had ever made it, and I'll say... I'm never buying whipped cream from a can again. So good!

We got lunch with a friend, and then that evening we went to an entertainment complex where I had reserved a birthday party for 12 people. We were definitely the only group of adults there without children, but we had so much fun! We each got 10 arcade tokens, but the real fun was in the laser tag, skating rink, bumper cars, rock climbing wall, euro bungy, and this crazy laser maze you had to climb through. Everything was unlimited for 4 hours and the party package came with pizza and pop. All for about $300! I broke it down and each of our friends that came also pitched in, so it probably only ran me about $75 total. So very worth it.

I also baked a cake that we brought with us to the party. My first go at a 2-layered cake, and what I would consider a real Pinterest win:



By far the fanciest cake I've ever made, but DH loves Reese's and it was a blast to make (albeit a loooong process).

Yesterday we went to DH's hometown to spend the day with his family, which was really nice. We were so sore from the previous night's festivities (our older bodies handle all of those physical games so much harder than those kids running around). So it was really relaxing to hang out and just talk. Got Mexican for dinner and I think I fell asleep all but 20 minutes after we got home.

This week I've got a couple of shoots, which I'm fairly excited about. Also want to catch up on some tasks I've been procrastinating for a while. I'm feeling really motivated today, which is a good sign.

Tonight I'm making a pork loin in the crock pot, and trying my best not to stuff myself with leftover cake :/ We left with about half of it, but I'm sure we'll give a decent amount away. We do have one more dinner that we do every year for his birthday, which we'll go out for either tomorrow or Wednesday night. After that, the celebrating will come to a much needed close. I've gained so much weight in the last week. heh.

Speaking of which, DH agreed to do a Dietbet with me starting next week! A great 28 day challenge to shed those extra pounds before our Mexico vacation next month. He's never done one with me, and I'm excited to be in it together. We can definitely both benefit from some healthier decisions... And I am adamant to be in great shape before my 30th Birthday (which will happen while we're on said trip).

Shouldn't have too much spending this week aside from that last dinner. We've got 2 meals left over from last week's groceries, and shouldn't have to spend too much more to round out a few other random things I bought at the store. Tonight I'm making a pork loin in the crock pot, and we are determined to not leave the house tonight. All the festivities have worn us out, I'm afraid.

Hope you all had a lovely weekend!

Gotta Pull Myself Together

January 22nd, 2016 at 02:37 pm

It's been one of those weeks. Nothing horrible or tragic has happened, and I still have much to be thankful for. But it seems like almost every aspect of my life is in conflict or flux. Things with DH have been tense since we started talking about him going back to school - mostly communication problems. We seem to have worked through them for the most part, but I was in an awful funk most of yesterday after our 3rd tear-filled discussion on the subject the night before. There's just a lot to be worked out, and I think the uncertainty makes me anxious, and then he's been getting on the defensive when I bring up those concerns. We've addressed that. And I think we're finally at a point where we feel like we're playing for the same team. But it didn't come until after a bit of a breakdown yesterday.

That, however, stemmed from my mother - the usual point of stress in my life. My relationship with mom consists of 2 things: her talking (mostly complaining) and then her asking me for things - either directly, or more frequently "woe is me-ing" until I offer to fix it. I hate to sound so callous when it comes to talking about her. But it's an awful, one-sided relationship that she's never addressed (why would she?) and I haven't either. Mostly because I'm terrified of hurting her feelings.

To avoid the risk of rambling and sounding like a spoiled brat, I wont go into the specifics - but at her passive-agressive non-request, I'm driving 1.5 hours away next week and staying over at my mom's (new, way out in the boonies) house for 3 nights so I can cart my sister to and from class (40 min away!) while she's on vacation in Mexico. She called last night to ask for a few more things, and that's when the breakdown happened.

I've been trying hard to practice empathy with her, and see things from her side - but it may be time to have a serious chat with her. All I can think is thank goodness I'm moving. It feels sad to want to get far away from my mom. I truly want a healthy, enjoyable relationship with her. It's just been challenging to say the least.

So on top of tension with the husband and the family, my business plans have been up in the air (given DH's desire to go back to school), and taxes are stressing me out. At least my weight loss is still going well. And yesterday the kitties were extra snuggly.

All that complaining now finished... I really do need to pull myself together. The show must go on.

***

Dropped my local tax payment for 2015Q4 in the mail. Sent off my sales figures to the accountant for the second half of 2015 to get my sales tax filed and paid.

My Swagbucks from our honeymoon purchase credited to my account yesterday, so I bought two $25 gift cards to American Eagle to purchase the new swimsuit I picked as my reward for losing the weight. The rest will be stored until we need it - or I'll just buy Target or Amazon Giftcards to use toward groceries.

On my Chase Slate card it says that the balance transfer has been complete, but it's not showing in either account yet. So more waiting there. Just got an email saying that my interest rate just went up to 19.24%, so hopefully that'll go through before I get charged again.

Still under budget about everywhere - including gas. Actually, I haven't spent a single dollar on gas this entire month. I guess that's good given I'll have to fill up probably a couple of times with this whole taxiing my sister around nonsense.

Tonight I'm supposed to go to dinner with a couple of friends. I reluctantly agreed. We have so much food at home. We just haven't gotten together in so long. It's looking like I would spend $12 + tip. Not horrible, but also not money I really want to spend. Maybe I'll just eat a light dinner at home and get soup or something. We aren't going until 8pm, so that's probably not a bad idea.

Saturday night I'm going to a work holiday party with a friend, and then we're going out in my hometown - something I haven't done in years, and will be interesting to say the least. I won't be drinking too heavily, so I'm expecting not to spend more than $20, and hopefully half that.

Today I need to finish up editing a set I shot last week, and do some administrative work. I also might stop by the store either today or tomorrow. I'm almost out of coffee, and Giant Eagle is running a couple of really great sales that I'd like to take advantage of (including a couple of things that are straight up free if you're part of their program).

On track for only spending $200 on groceries this month. I'll take the victories where I can!

Hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Jan 13

January 13th, 2016 at 06:44 pm

The last few days have been busy with work, so I haven't had much time to update - not much movement on my goals, though, either. I'm hoping that once this photo set gets done that I'll have some time to set aside and knock out much of the stuff in my sidebar list.

Not much to report in terms of financial news, except Amazon was late delivering another package, so I contacted them and they extended my Prime membership for free another month. So that was nice. Need to drop off my car payment today - just hadn't gotten around to it quite yet, but it's due tomorrow.

Feeling a little down today after a conversation with DH last night. It seems things are going to be a bit up in the air over the next couple of years. He wants to go back to school (which is good - he should), but that puts a lot of things into question in terms of what I'm going to do - particularly with my business. If we're moving (possibly twice) in the next two years, that doesn't give my business much time to get established. And definitely not enough to be able to support both of us, as well as the additional cost of having a baby in a few years. Just makes me wonder if I should start thinking about getting a "real" job now, or when he does go back to school. The original idea was to push ahead with my business so that when babies do come I have the flexibility of working less. That's probably not going to be possible if he's not pulling in more than a stipend.

Not impossible, but definitely much to think about. It's got me a little stressed to say the least. I don't deal well with uncertainty and things shaking up my plans. I want to be supportive, it's just difficult when I've got anxiety about the whole thing. Either way, I know we'll figure it out, whatever "it" is. Until then, just focusing on saving. And working through options so I feel like I have some semblance of control or direction. If we weren't planning on having kids in a few years, I wouldn't be sweating it at all - things are just so much more complicated when I throw that in. Funny how that happens.

***

In some good news, I'm doing great with the budget. I will have to go to the grocery store this weekend, but I've still only spent $52/$200 for the month, and it's almost half over. I can't believe how quickly this month is flying by!

Alright. Back to work! Hope you are all enjoying your week!

Honeymoon Progress! And Swagbucks.

December 20th, 2015 at 01:37 pm

So though DH and I got married in September, we still haven't gone on (or planned) our honeymoon. I think all of the planning for the wedding burnt us out, and we didn't want to deal with it. Our plan has been to go to Argentina.

Months ago, we found a Groupon deal that hit both Argentina and Brazil, but DH wanted to wait it out for a trip that hit exactly what he wanted to see (including Patagonia), and they stopped offering it after a while.

So yesterday I started poking around, and found a few vacation packages that sounded fantastic. None of them were in Argentina, unfortunately. When I looked for trips there it was either incredibly expensive, or just flights/hotels, and we didn't really want to have to plan much - so we focused on the pre-planned packages with tours and such.

It was up in the air between going to Peru or Japan, and Peru won out - they were both around $2k/person (including flights), and Peru was 2 days longer. Also, I get to cross Machu Picchu off my bucket list! I purchased the Groupon yesterday, and we'll be booking the trip first thing Monday when I can get a hold of the travel agency. If everything goes according to plan, we'll be taking our honeymoon for 10 days in March!

I'm so excited Smile

Even better - I have the Swagbucks button on my browser, so when I went to purchase I clicked the thing to enable my Groupon purchase to add up the points and add it to my account. At 7 SB per dollar spent, I'm earning 27,986 SB. Which seems so hilarious to me for whatever reason. I'll be able to redeem that for at least two $100 gift cards. So even better!

So good news. $2k/person seems so insanely cheap to me - we paid almost that for just our flights to Europe last year. It'll end up being slightly more, because we have to get to JFK to fly out first, but still... for everything included, it seems like a fantastic way to travel.

At any rate, on my way to mom's to bake cookies! Hope you all have a great day Smile

Saving on Weddings (and photos!)

December 16th, 2015 at 03:03 pm

Alright, since I don't have anything terribly exciting to update and the photos are working again, I figured I would upload some wedding photos and talk about some ways we saved some $$$ while planning this year! Also how we saved some headache on the day of.


DH and I - isn't he handsome?!


1. We kept the guest list low.



Both DH and I are a bit lucky that we don't have huge families, and I don't really talk to most of my family - so we were able to keep it reigned in pretty easily. I know that's not the case for most people, but having a guest list under 100 people eases the budget significantly. We also found it important to only invite people that we are truly friends with. Our parents didn't invite their friends, there were no third cousins we've only met twice. We paid for it all, and we called the shots. It was really nice, though, because we were able to actually spend quality time with the people we truly care about.

2. I bought a pre-owned dress.


This photo makes me look like a Disney princess Smile


The dress thing was a bit of an evolution - I had planned to go very casual, and bought a dress that was very pretty, for $30 online. After a few months, I started second guessing myself and shopping around a little more. I found the dress I ended up wearing (an Adrianna Papell) on a site called Tradesy.com - and bought it for $160. I spent another $80 to have it altered last minute (I bought it about 2 weeks before the wedding! haha). But I loooooooved it. I understand that the dress is such a huge part of a girl's wedding day, but I couldn't bring myself to spend an arm and a leg for something I would only wear once in my life. There are so many great options out there, and pre-owned is a great one.

Similarly, my bridesmaids dresses came from Modcloth - and were about $40 each.



3. We had a stock the bar party.

This was a friend's idea, and was GENIUS. Instead of having a traditional bridal shower, DH and I threw a stock the bar party. We got very few traditional gifts, and instead everyone brought a bottle of liquor. We didn't have to purchase any for the wedding, and the mixer package we purchased from our bartenders was incredibly affordable. We still have so much left over, too. haha. It definitely cut out a great bit of the expense - but we also had a venue where we brought in all of the vendors.

4. We DIY-ed most of the decorations.

We rented table cloths, but everything else was brought in. I purchased bulk lace and cut the runners myself. My MIL brought the jars with the simple white carnations. The photo frames are filled with vintage maps or illustrations of places DH and I have traveled to - or are special to us. I bought the frames over time from Pat Catan's and TJ Maxx. The prints of the maps came from my printer at home. We borrowed many of the other jars from friends who got married a few months before us, and the pie stands were borrowed as well.




Our guest book was an old Atlas - we asked people to sign a message near a place that was important to them.


I hand-lettered this chalkboard I got from Pat Catan's. Very proud of that one Smile


5. We kept it casual.

Our wedding took place at a barn, so the rustic atmosphere definitely justified using disposable plates, silverware, and napkins. The rental place was going to charge us $0.25/fork - and I don't have the stomach for that, even with under 100 guests. haha. We also did BBQ for dinner, which ended up being about $16/plate. The very few bites I had were delicious. haha.

As far as flowers - I think we spent just over $300 at the florist - for my bouquet, 3 bridesmaids bouquets, the boutonnieres (6 all together), and 2 corsages for the moms. My florist was AMAZING, and though the bouquets are filled mostly with what they would consider "filler," they did them so tastefully. When she asked if I was "okay with hydrangeas," I thought of course I am! I requested some freesia be put in - but the rest was up to them. Natural and lovely. All of the flowers at the actual reception were just white carnations purchased in bulk by my MIL.





6. We spent where it was important to us.

Because we saved quite a bit elsewhere, we were able to spend a bit more where it was important. We didn't really do favors (MIL brought mints in little boxes, so that was that) - but we did spend an extra $100 for the venue to have a bonfire. We only spent $70 on desserts (pie is my fave!), but we made sure we had a great DJ (still very economical) so that our guests would enjoy the night. Our rings weren't expensive at all - mine was around $700 and DH's was under $200. But we were able to get a venue that was gorgeous all around, and rent extra time to prep the barn and take photos, so we had a piece of mind.







7. We had everything all in once place. On a Friday.

As a wedding photographer, I can tell you that there's nothing better than having the whole shebang in one beautiful place. We were able to get photos done quickly - and only hired our photographer for 6 hours, to catch the important parts (getting ready, formals, ceremony, highlights of the reception), our DJ covered our ceremony and reception, and cost the same as it would for a traditional reception. That, and our buffet opened right after the ceremony ended at 5pm - so we could forego appetizers during cocktail hour and get the party started quicker! We also swung by our local burger place and picked up 50 hamburgers on the way to the hotel so there was an afterparty meal as well. That is when I actually ended up eating. haha.


Right after the ceremony. We're both so happy Smile


Having the wedding on a Friday wasn't what we intended to do originally, but ended up being the only day we could find a venue we liked. But it was fantastic. The ceremony started at 4:30pm, and it was a lovely, relaxed day. Our venue didn't give us a discount for a Friday event, but I know many do.

All in all, we spent under $15k. Still a big chunk of change, but it was exactly what we wanted. And an absolute blast. Our goal with the wedding was to make it personal and throw an amazing party that people really enjoyed. And if I say so myself, we absolutely killed it.



Hope you guys enjoyed the photos Smile

Big Conversations

December 7th, 2015 at 02:38 pm

So DH and I had the "big talk" as far as money goes. It was exhausting and upsetting, but I think ended just as it needed to. I think we both had a much better understanding of how the other feels, and there was a bit of soul searching that needed to happen on both of our parts.

Money is awkward. And tied up in so many emotions. My primary thought is that I want to handle our finances (such a large part of our life) as a team and not compartmentalize and treat things as "his" money and "my" money - an easier position to take given I make drastically less money than he does. So his aversion to paying everything out of our joint account came off to me like he's not in it, or doesn't trust me, or several other hurtful messages (not that I think he intended any of that). What I hadn't really realized is that he felt very unappreciated for the amount of support that he's given me up to this point. There's no doubt whatsoever that my being able to run my business rather than working a more traditional job (and enjoy a rather amazing quality of life) is because he is willing to cover a greater share.

What I didn't realize is that I do a pretty poor job of voicing my appreciation of that fact - so in the end, I'm not really recognizing his contribution to the "team" as well as I should. So no wonder he's entirely comfortable. There's work to be done on both sides. But, of course, that's marriage.

It's going to take a LOT of transition and getting used to. But we did agree to put all of our money into the one account and use that to funnel it out toward expenses. I'm not sure if we'll end up keeping our separate accounts open or not - I suppose I'd like to in case we want to buy gifts or a surprise or something, but I guess we can do that on our credit cards as well.

So that conversation also came with a breakdown of our total expenses and I'm going to end up setting up some sort of a budgeting system. I don't think he really "believes" in budgeting, but after taking a look at what we'll have going out and what our savings goals are, I think he could do with being convinced Wink That exercise is also going to bring to light what I need to make to hit our goals - and will motivate me to do what it takes, even if I have to start a part time job or find some other way to generate income. Particularly now that my business is slowing down. This isn't just me anymore. And I told him that if he feels that I'm not making enough and thinks I should pursue a more traditional job, that's an opinion he's allowed to have and something that we'll decide on together.

He also doesn't really "believe" in savings accounts. He just lets the money sit in his checking account - which is fine, I suppose. He doesn't spend it. But for tracking purposes I tend to like having a way to see the progress a bit more clearly. I guess in that way, I do like a bit of compartmentalization. heh.

So - that's that. I think in the beginning, there's going to need to be a lot of trust built for him to be comfortable. But I know we can do it and get to a point where we are both comfortable and happy with the direction things are moving in.

***

In other news, I've booked two shoots for this week (both proposals), and invoiced a couple of clients that still have outstanding payments. Also went to Trader Joe's and Aldi yesterday to pick up a few things, and made fresh baked bread - which I've been craving for the last week or so. That was really nice

Speculative Future Planning

November 6th, 2015 at 01:42 pm

So DH and I had a nice chat last night about our tentative 5-year plan. He's been working for the same employer for about 4 years now and isn't really interested in staying in the industry. He decided back in the spring to take a new job within the bank for the next 2 years - because they're going to allow him to work remotely from Nashville once we move and because he didn't really know what he wanted to do otherwise.

In the end, it didn't make sense to give up a rather sizable income with nothing on the horizon.

At that point, we talked about him going back to school and getting his PhD. We revisited that possibility last night, but now that we've got kids in the plan in 2-3 years, figuring out the timing makes it a little tricky. I definitely don't want him to be wholeheartedly distracted by an intense program in the first couple of years of our baby's life. And raising a kid on just my income is not plausible (at least with my business).

In the end, I told him I supported him returning to school, and we'd make it work no matter what - but in the mean time we should probably be saving as much as we can so that when we move to a greatly diminished income that we can get by. He's not the reckless type, and he mentioned feeling selfish for even wanting to go through with more school. Which is silly. Our family may face a rough patch in the beginning, but in the long term I'd like my kids to grow up with a father who is happy and passionate about what he does.

That being said, our tentative future plan of coming back here and buying a house after a year or two is probably going to face a bit of uncertainty and change. Which is difficult for me to sit with (I'm a control freak who likes her plans), but something I'm willing to work through.

All in all, though, it's really exciting and comforting to be talking with him about what's best for "our family" in such real ways. That's a newer concept for us, having just gotten married. It's definitely weird and a bit scary, but also something that brings so much joy and warmth to my heart. I could get used to it Wink

A bit of Progress

November 3rd, 2015 at 01:13 pm

Yesterday was a productive day - with some annoying setbacks. I finally made it down to the library to use the laser engraving machine. Turns out that they no longer (as of 2 weeks ago) carry the plywood that I generally use. So I wasted a trip down there, had to go purchase it elsewhere (more expensively) and now have to return today to finish that up. I think I'm going to remove that service from what I offer. In the end, I'll be taking 2 trips downtown and I spent $15 total on materials (though I have more than enough for one sign). It's not worth the $30 minus sales tax I will make on it. Particularly when I paid $5 for a train pass to go downtown.

Thankfully I was able to knock a couple of other tasks off my list while I was down there - namely, going to the probate court to pick up certified copies of my marriage license ($4) and change my name at the social security administration. After voting today I'm planning to head to the DMV and get my driver's license taken care of. Then we'll (finally) be able to set up that joint bank account.

So progress is being made.

Also paid my bills yesterday and dropped off my car payment. Had dinner at our friend's last night. Tonight, I'll be throwing a ham in the crock pot. Honestly, I don't know what I would do without my slow cooker. It keeps me sane Smile

Everyone have an awesome day!! Happy saving!!!

Simplifying

November 2nd, 2015 at 04:52 pm

It's bill pay day! Realized that I had budgeted $30 more than what I actually spent on my phone bill. Last month I had some extra charges from my trip to Canada, and now it's back to normal. Hurrah!

Also moved some money around and deposited some checks. Things are not much different than yesterday. ha.

***

Last night DH and I went through all of our books - we have a LOT. As it was, we filled up 5 book shelves. I'm happy to report that we've gotten our collection to a little over 1 shelf. We're both avid readers, and have amassed many through book sales at the library, and tons just over the years. While we love having them, most are volumes we'll never read (or read again), they take up so much room, and will be such a pain to move when we relocate.

Looking at the shelf, too, it's all books that we *actually* plan on reading, or really love. DH also suggested we work by the rule that if we buy another book we need to get rid of one in our possession, which I think is a fabulous idea.

I'd like to go through and sell some of them, but I'm afraid that the majority will go for peanuts. I've worked through most of our old textbooks to see if we could get any money out of them already. I wish there was a place to sell them by the pound. haha. I feel like we'd make a mint...

In other simplification news, I've decided to go on a Social Media cleanse for the next week. Partially because I have a lot to do and need to get rid of the distraction, and partially because I feel like I just need a break from it. I live on Facebook and Pinterest - and while I find that Pinterest is a great resource for inspiration, I'm a bit overwhelmed by the inspiration. If I'm going to take a break, I'd rather it be mindful and something I enjoy a bit more. Like reading.

Should be a no-spend. Heading to the library to use their laser engraver to make a sign for clients, and stopping by the probate court to try and snag a copy of our marriage license so I can finally get the whole name change process underway. All this administrative stuff is a pain. But once it's done I'll be much happier for it Smile

So that's that. Back to work now - hope you all have a great day! Happy saving!!