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Home > Archive: January, 2015

Archive for January, 2015

Monday Update

January 26th, 2015 at 07:43 am

It's been almost a week since my last update. Usually that's slight cause for alarm - when I'm not paying attention and checking in, I'm usually bad about spending. But I've been relatively intentional about each purchase. Rather than just throwing money about willy-nilly, I think about where that purchase fits into my priorities. So I did pretty well!

Some purchases this week:

- $11 on beer for a board game night. For me, that's much better than heading to a bar and spending $20+.
- $26 at Staples. This was a business expense.
- $11 parking. I was running late, and probably could have found a metered spot downtown, but just had to swallow it.
- $3 for a piece of plywood. Also a business expense. I made a laser-engraved sign for my clients to use during a shoot.
- $45 for a dress. This very well may be my wedding dress! I'm waiting for it to be delivered, but if it works out I'd say that's a good purchase Smile
- $53 on groceries at Aldi. The fiance came shopping with me, so he bought everything at Giant Eagle.
- $99 for Amazon Prime hit my account this week as well. Unplanned, but honestly I use it so much that it pays for itself without a doubt.

This coming week should be pretty okay as well. I'm meeting a friend at Panera on Wednesday, but I may just eat lunch before I go and grab a coffee. We're doing dinner and games with friends tonight, board games tomorrow. I have a shoot on Wednesday evening. No plans the rest of the week.


I did forget to add to my 52 week challenge last week, so I'm going to go ahead and do both last and this week today.

$20 Previous total
+ $21 Last Week
+ $9 This Week

$50 New Total

That puts the total for my travel savings account at $796.73. Not too shabby!


I've gotten a few inquiries about shooting recently, so hopefully I'll be pulling in a bit more income soon. It would certainly be nice... I was really planning to book at least 1-2 weddings this month, and I've got nothing. It's been a bit discouraging to say the least, but I think things will look up soon (at least I hope)!

Update + Travel + Wedding Planning

January 18th, 2015 at 09:09 am

So yesterday was a NSD - first for a while, I believe. Today, not so much. I finally transferred money over to the BF's account for rent (he pays it, and I thankfully have some flexibility if need be to pay it late). After receiving a few checks from clients, I decided to sit down today and round out my January payments.

- Transferred $500 to my savings account for taxes
- Paid the internet bill
- Transferred $200 to my Ally account for travel
- Transferred money from Paypal (book sales) to my checking account
- Transferred money from Amazon Seller Account (camera lenses) to my checking account

I'll be heading to the grocery store today, and I'm making a list to keep things on track. I've been really good this last week about not spending when I don't have to, and saying no to purchases that aren't priorities. I keep trying to put things in perspective: Would I rather buy ______ or take a trip somewhere awesome? Usually the traveling wins out.


Speaking of travel, BF and I sat down today to plan out when we're going where. We are planning to move May 2016 to another city here in the states, and are going to take trips throughout this year to visit our potential cities and see which one we might like to live in. On the list: Nashville, Charleston, Kansas City, and Raleigh-Durham. On top of that, we both are planning on going out of town for our bachelor/bachelorette parties, and are taking a honeymoon likely to South America. So travel spending is going to be pretty intense this year. Hopefully our honeymoon will be funded through wedding gifts (we're asking people to donate to our honeymoon fund instead of buying us anything. We don't need any more stuff).


In terms of wedding planning, we're going to visit what we think will be our venue tomorrow morning. Assuming everything looks great, we'll be signing the paperwork after seeing it. I'm really excited to have that task crossed off my list. Everything is really going to fall into place after that, I know. It'll be our biggest expense for the wedding for sure, but it gives me a frame for budgeting the rest of the wedding. We're shooting to fund the entire wedding for under $10k. I think we'll hit that mark because we're having a smaller wedding (around 75 people).

We're also allowed to bring in our own alcohol - which is huge. A friend of mine gave us the idea of having a "stock the bar" party instead of a traditional bridal shower. Every guest is asked to bring a bottle of liquor to the party, which stocks the bar and ensures everyone brings something they like. For 75 people, I'm sure that will more than cover what we need to purchase. We're hoping to only have to spend a max of $500 on booze. All of the other venues we looked at had alcohol packages closer to $2k. So that's a huge savings.

Oh weddings...

But seriously, I'm so excited! The cost is a bit of an ouch for any wedding, but thankfully I'm a serious DIY-er. Everything outside of the venue/food should be relatively inexpensive to pull off. I just have to find a photographer now. haha. 3 of my clients have now offered - including the ones who got married last night. They're hilarious Wink


Okay, that's enough for now. Apologies for the novel! Hope you all have a fantastic Sunday!

Random Update + 52 Week Challenge

January 15th, 2015 at 09:03 am

So my post yesterday got cut really short somehow. You guys will have to live without my vivd descriptions of financial news Wink

Yesterday didn't turn out to be super spendy after all. I spent about $12 on lunch, and then another $4 on coffee and a cookie at Panera.

Had dinner at mom's - I thankfully convinced her to cook at home. I know she feels like she has to do something "special" for me when I come over, but she always talks about how little money she has... so when we go out to eat I usually end up paying. And really we don't have to do anything special. I just wanted to spend time with her. So after she talked about splitting checks and rebate cards and such, I started rustling around the cupboards. Neither of us had to spend money then (she was clearly relieved) and I got to eat delicious casserole rather than TGI Fridays. Which is fine and all, but not something I would generally spend money on. Silly mom.


Dropped off a couple of payments I had been putting off making until I got a couple of payments from clients. So I'm starting to get up to date on things. This time of year is a bit rough, and I really need to book some weddings here soon.

No word yet from the girls from the bridal show. I emailed them a couple of days ago, and haven't received a single response :/ Still hopeful, but it's certainly a bit discouraging.

Had a meeting last night with a prospective client. Hoping I'll get a response from them. It seemed to go pretty well.

I'm feeling a little anxious about my business right now - it's generally pretty slow for us photographers this time of year, but last January I had two other jobs to keep my mind off my lack of bookings. I'm trying my best to just focus on planning and education - trying new ways to market, etc. I start a photo class next week, and I'm sure that will inspire me.


Today I'll be working at home, then going downtown to meet old coworkers for drinks. I'm very excited to see them, and check out the new Hofbrau House that just opened. I'll be thinking back fondly on August, when I was sitting at the original in Munich Smile


I started the 52 week challenge yesterday as well - starting with the $20 deposit. I'll be adding my challenge money to my Ally Bank account, which is my travel savings account. I love the game-like feel of the challenge, and I'm always up for anything that motivates me to do more savings!

Added this week: $20
52 Week Challenge Total: $20


That's about it, I think. Hope you all have a fantastic day!

Spendy Day Ahead

January 14th, 2015 at 05:18 am

Most days, I work from home, eat food that I bought at the grocery store, and cook dinner for us. It keeps my food budget pretty low (unless I go crazy at the grocery store, which is often).

But today will be a little different. I'm going downtown to meet a client (she's giving me a check. woo!), and then meeting a friend for lunch at my favorite Japanese noodle spot

Selling Stuff and Recapping the Bridal Show

January 13th, 2015 at 05:06 am

I recently went through my books to see if there were any I could sell off. We have SO many, and I have a ton from grad school that at one point I rationalized I would read again. ha! It's very clear they are just going to accumulate dust. And because I know we'll be moving again next year, I'm going to start trying to cut back on stuff. I hate moving. So the less stuff, the better. Great for saving money, too!

I found this website called Bookscouter.com - it compares what you would get selling your books to different websites. Pretty nifty! I made $127.70 selling a handful of books and my old iPhone (I had 2 extras). Not a ton of cash, but that's less stuff in my house and more money in my pocket.

I also sold a couple of my camera lenses on Amazon. The return on those was of course not as high as I would have wanted it to be, but I got rid of them quickly, which is good I suppose. For the two of them, I made $232.59 after Amazon fees and shipping costs.

That's $360.29 I can put towards the new lens I want to buy. Now I just have to sell my old camera. That still wont get me enough to pay for it completely, but any offset to the cost is obviously welcome!


The bridal show this weekend was a bit of a bust, I must say. I worked it two times before this one. The show last January was packed, and I got a good amount of leads from. I think I booked about 5 weddings from that show. In September, it was a bit quieter - but I still booked two from that show. So it paid for itself.

This time I only walked away with 11 email addresses of people who said they might be interested. The show even closed down 2 hours early yesterday because it was so dead :/

I'm still hoping I at least book 2 weddings. One girl seemed VERY enthusiastic about booking. So I'm hoping I can count on her at least. haha. I also met another photographer who said she wants to branch into weddings, and I've been needing to put together a few people to hire as second shooters for the upcoming season. So that's good.

I just need to start more aggressively marketing now. I was kind of counting on a number of bookings, and to make my goal it's going to be a bit tough now. That's the nature of running your own business, though! Can't be slacking Smile

On that note, it's time to get to work! Hope you all have a wonderful week!

Hey hey, it's Friday!

January 9th, 2015 at 09:48 am

It's been a pretty low-key week. I've been at home every day attempting the best I can to get some work done. The cold weather really drains my motivation, and being self employed that's certainly not helpful...



$57.63 spent at Trader Joe's the other day. Some of that was goodies (do I really NEED cookie butter?!), but honestly that was wheeling it in for me. I just love that place. Sigh.

In news of self control, however, I did decline going to Aldi and Target with a friend for fear of spending. Little victories, I guess?

$65.96 spent on prints to take with me to the bridal show. I needed some of my newer weddings/shoots to add. I generally use a more expensive printer, but for the volume I needed, I went with the mid-price.


Tonight the fiance and I are heading out to a friend's house an hour away. I'm going to ask her to be my maid of honor, so I'm pretty pumped about that Smile

Her and her hubby are cooking dinner, so we don't have to worry about that. Which is nice, because we've been eating the tortellinni soup I cooked for three nights now. It made a lot, and was really good, but I'm getting burnt out on it. haha.


Got a letter in the mail about withdrawing my TSP (military retirement contributions) now that my Army contract is up. I'm not sure if it works like a standard retirement fund. I can't imagine it has a ton in it from my one weekend a month, but if there's no penalty in withdrawing now, I'll likely just do so now - because I wont be able to contribute any more going forward.


I'm working a bridal show this weekend, so I'll have a bit of extra spending (snacks, parking). But I'm hoping to book at least 5 weddings. So wish me luck!


Last thing - I read this article the other day, and it really resonated with me. I figured this would be a good forum to share it. I'll definitely be reading it every time I go to IKEA, for a little bit of needed perspective Wink

Give me Gratitude or Give me Debt

Text is http://momastery.com/blog/2014/08/11/give-liberty-give-debt/ and Link is

Everyone have a fantastic weekend!

Mid-Week Update

January 7th, 2015 at 10:12 am

I can't say I have any breaking news in the last few days. Monday night we went to our friends' for dinner and played "The Game of Thrones." A GoT BOARD GAME. It took a long time to set up and learn it, but I'm really pumped to give it another go and get into it a bit deeper. Really fun.

I've been lucky enough to not have to leave the house for the last couple of days, and with the nasty weather that's been such a blessing. Yesterday I made some soup for dinner, and we stayed in. New Girl and Mindy are back, and I thoroughly enjoyed both shows last night with a nice glass of wine

Low-Spend Weekend

January 4th, 2015 at 01:25 pm

It was a good weekend, with minimal spending. Yay!

Friday night I went out and met up with an old friend. Ended up only spending about $15 for drinks. The fiancé and I cooked at home so I didn't spend out at the restaurant/bar we were meeting at.

Yesterday I went downtown with a friend. I'm helping him out with a project, and so he bought me lunch (at one of my favorite spots, no less!) and then we headed to the main branch of the library. Ours has a Makerspace, which includes a laser cutter/engraver, a 3D printer, and a vinyl cutting machine (among other things). The best part is that you can use them for FREE. All you have to pay for is materials. Which are dirt cheap ($3 for a large sheet of plywood or a large strip of vinyl). I'm so thankful I'm familiar with graphic design programs - it really opens up a lot of possibility in using those resources. And it was a really nice afternoon.

The weather was really nasty, though, so once I got home I was in for the night. Took care of some stuff around the house - dishes, laundry. Then we ordered delivery Chinese takeout and watched a movie on Netflix.

Today the temperature was freakishly warm for January (46 degrees), so I decided to take a morning stroll at the park with my camera to take care of my 365 Project post for the day. Went grocery shopping in the afternoon, managing only to spend $53, which is pretty good for me. I (for the most part) stuck to my list. Aldi really is *the best*.

Tonight I have the house to myself, which is really nice. The fiancé took two weeks off for the holiday. He really needed it, and he's really not looking forward to going back. But I'm looking forward to having the house empty again. It's been difficult to really be productive at home with him hanging out. I've enjoyed the little break, but I can't let my work fall behind too much. So this week is going to be a heavy editing week.

I'm taking advantage of the quiet around here to do some yoga, a bit of reading, and eating leftovers for dinner. It'll be relaxing, lovely, and entirely free. So I'm going to get to it Smile

Hope you all had a fantastic weekend!

First update of the year!

January 2nd, 2015 at 08:39 am

So the craziness of the holiday season has passed. Let's all have a well-deserved collective sigh.


That feels much better.

Went through and took a look at how bad the holiday craziness got me off track from my budget. Unsurprisingly, it was quite a bit. It doesn't help that I'm still expecting about $1,500 from clients from December. Right now the bank account is a little tight. Hopefully, though, I'll get those payments soon. And do some booking after the bridal show next weekend.


In other financial news, I got the $300 rebate AmEx gift card I've been expecting from buying my camera. That'll help offset costs this month a bit. I tried to use it to pay for the photo class I'm taking online, and it didn't work. So I'll have to look into that and make sure it works in general.

Cancelled Hulu (again). My two free months ran out, so it's gone now.


Started my financial spreadsheets for 2015. It feels good to start fresh Smile The New Year always brings me a renewed sense of energy about life and pursuing my goals. So hopefully the momentum will push me forward vigorously.

Most of my resolutions revolve around being intentional - about my business, about my practice, and about life in general. I feel like the last few years have been great, but I've lost touch with the world around me a bit, merely floating along. Thankfully things have worked out for the better, but putting more effort into the things that make me happy has only to improve upon the way I experience them.

In terms of my financial goals, I think that really translates into being mindful when it comes to spending. I know that's something many of the SA community understand (and excel at!). But for me, thoughtlessly spending left and right is the norm. There are things that I find worth spending money on (travel, photography education and equipment, etc). But really *thinking* about the purchases as I make them, and putting things into perspective in terms of priorities is really necessary.

Making smarter decisions, too. There are so many free resources out there - entertainment options, loads of things available at the library, etc. There are many cases where I just pay without thinking of how I could accomplish a task more cheaply. And it's not a good practice.

So that's that. What are your goals for 2015? How do you plan to accomplish them effectively?