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Jan 5

January 5th, 2017 at 08:49 am

It's been a rather busy week already, and next week is shaping up to be a big photography week. I think I'm going to have 4 shoots on Thursday now (!) Which of course is awesome! One of those came from a referral from my BNI group this morning. Which is nice. My client from last week also purchased and extra photo - so that was another $50. Always very affirming when people love the photos so much that they purchase more than the originally paid for.

***

Following BNI I had another dentist's appointment. It had been (embarrassingly) several years since going, and I finally broke down a couple of months ago. Had to have a "deep clean" and today was a follow-up and light cleaning. I'll go one more time in April for a maintenance cleaning, and then hopefully my gum disease will be under control. But we're talking now about orthodontics. Turns out I have a cross-bite, which can lead to some nasty stuff down the road. They gave me a bunch of information and pricing on Invisiline today. I need to talk to DH about it. Even with insurance it's a hefty bill. And the man who had gone even longer than I had without seeing the dentist may have a hard time digesting something like that. He just doesn't value healthcare quite as much. That being said, I think he's got quite a bit in the HSA that hasn't been used and with him leaving his job within the next six months, it may be an option. We'll just have to see. Because he may need some additional work done as well. We really need to schedule some additional medical appointments before our insurance situation changes.

***

Techs from the cable company came out yesterday and it turns out they shouldn't have in the first place. It was really quite silly. They just had us hook into ethernet and see if the connection speed was where it needed to be. When it was, the diagnosis was pretty simple. Our modem is fine, the router just isn't working properly. Why they didn't suggest us doing that over the phone is beyond me. I feel a bit silly that we hadn't thought of that ourselves. But you know... I'm thinking about calling Comcast and asking them to refund the cost of the tech visit. They did nothing we couldn't have done ourselves, after all. Either way, we'll need a new router. DH priced a couple on Amazon, and they're not terribly expensive. We're going to try the cheaper option, and see if it solves the problem. It'll come out of our discretionary budget for the month.

***

Paid my remaining bills yesterday, but no spending outside of that. Will be the same today. I'll eat lunch before heading to work, then I'll cook tonight. And for the next few nights as well. I don't have any actual plans for the weekend outside of working, so the Uber Frugal Challenge should go pretty smoothly still. And give me some time to tackle some of the items on my January goal list.

***

That's it for me! I hope you're all having a great start to the new year!

April 22

April 22nd, 2016 at 08:57 am

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!

The joys of being a business owner

April 7th, 2016 at 07:49 am

I absolutely love running my own business, but of course there are some hiccups. Today I'm feeling one of them. I had an acquaintance I used to work with contact me about taking headshots for her office, which was great! Until I sent an estimate and she realized I charge a bit more than she expected. There's nothing wrong with that, of course - I'm not in everyone's price range. That being said, my rates are far from astronomical, and the group rate that I offered originally is more than reasonable.

She asked for a discount because they are a small business, and I reluctantly agreed to it - mostly because she referred me to another client that has generated quite a bit of income for me, and I wanted to make sure that relationship stays strong. She owns a PR firm with a handful of employees, and the job seemed straightforward. But then she seemed to pile additional expectations on and has been the highest maintenance client I've ever had...

Needless to say, I of course am appreciative of the income, but I'm really regretting taking the job because it's going to be far more work than it's worth. I've been trying to reign in her expectations as nicely as I can, but I just want to ask her how she would feel if someone approached her to do work, immediately asked her for a discount, and then piled on additional work outside of the purview of the original scope of the project. It feels really disrespectful and insulting to me, particularly because I'm also a small business owner. A much smaller business at that.

Sigh. Rant over now.

In positive news, though, another client (a member of my BNI chapter) posted the photos from his shoot last week (that he paid full price for) and got a lot of attention on his social media channels - to the point where a few people even asked him for my contact information Smile It's nice to feel like my work is valued and appreciated.

***

In other interesting news, I applied for a part time job in Nashville. I know we're still a few of months out from the move, but some places take a while to hire and I figured there was nothing to lose. May as well start poking around and seeing what's out there. I'm feeling good about changing things up in my professional world, and part-time will still give me the space to get out and grow my business in that market as well.

***

Re: the budget, things are looking fairly okay... This week we've been doing fabulously with cooking every night. Last week pretty much entirely killed our restaurant and bar budgets for the entire month. DH went out for the home opening game and it would seem went a bit crazy. lol. My student loan payments went up this month - one fell out of forebearance, and another is finally caught up with payments I made ahead, so it's kicking in monthly again.

I did break down and buy a couple of pieces of clothing the other day, too. That still keeps me well within budget - they were preowned, and one was fairly planned anyway. I've been looking out for a dressier tank top for months. The dress I bought was a great deal and difficult to pass up. But again, well within budget. So I can't beat myself up *too* badly.

Other than that, all things are normal. Made my car payment today. Went to Aldi to get a couple of things I had forgotten the other day (k-cups, olive oil, toilet paper).

Tonight I'm cooking white chicken chili and bringing some over to our friends that just had their baby. We'll probably spend a little time hanging out over there. This weekend is going to be action-packed, it being DH's birthday. All of his gifts are purchased for the most part, save a few photo frames for the posters I had printed. I'm also going to make a cake to bring to the party. I do need to collect money from the other guests to pay for the remaining costs of the party, and should get on that soon...

That's about it for now. Hope you're all having a lovely day!

Getting Ready for our Trip

February 17th, 2016 at 09:02 am

So we finally booked our flights to NYC, which were necessary to get us to Peru (our Groupon deal flew out of NY). And we booked our hotel room for the additional 3 nights we'll be staying in the city at the tail end of our trip.

Our honeymoon is going to be quite amazing, but we're definitely racking it up. So far:

$3,998 - Groupon Deal to Peru (including flights + hotel)
$280 - Optional Tours that we added
$528 - Our flights to NYC
$746 - Hotel stay for 3 nights in NYC
$216 - Hiking shoes for both of us, daypack, mosquito repellant, rain jacket (used $125 Amazon GC for part of this)

Total: $5,768

That's for two people, 11 nights, international and domestic flights, and an amazing experience. All things considered, I think we did pretty well - and our honeymoon donations (wedding gifts) cover above and beyond that. Also, we're getting quite a bit of swagbucks out of it - the $125 in GCs I mentioned happened because we went through Swagbucks to purchase the Groupon deal. When DH and I went to Micronesia back in 2010 to visit his sister, we spent about $4k in flight tickets alone.

We will obviously do a bit more spending once we're on the trip. Thankfully, it seems all transportation has been arranged to/from the airport and any tours included in our itinerary. Breakfast is provided the whole time we're in Peru, as well as a few other meals. We'll want to pick up some souvenirs.

In NYC we'll obviously be on our own. We have a handful of tourist stops we want to make - though several of them will be free: Statue of Liberty (just see it, not go up in it), the Highline, Times Square, etc. I've already done the Empire State Building, so we're opting out of that. I'm sure we'll do one nice dinner while we're there, and we also want to catch the NY Red Bulls match going on that weekend (DH is crazy about soccer, and we've tried to attend a match almost every trip we've taken. haha).

I think we've purchased most everything we want/need for the trip. We may both grab one other outfit for hiking, but we'll see. I'm just making sure everything we're purchasing can/will actually be used after the trip. I also need to get a feel for how NYC's weather is going to be at the time. It's hard to tell right now.

All I know is that I'm absolutely pumped for it to be here!! We drug our feet quite a bit planning the honeymoon, but now that everything is booked it's not so stressful... just something really exciting to look forward to!

***

In other news, because we just dropped so much money, we're definitely looking to spend a bit less. I'm heading to Aldi today to do a bit of grocery shopping - made my stop at Target last night to get a few other things they don't offer. A friend wanted to go out to dinner tonight, but I convinced her to come over for dinner instead, so that was a good financial choice.

Spent some time in Quickbooks today documenting payments and depositing checks. Had a shoot last night that went really well, so that was great. I've also been doing a lot of soul searching these past few weeks re: my business, and I'm starting to feel really good about turning it around, rather than giving up on it (which was where it was headed not too long ago). It's just not been terribly fulfilling for me lately. A really heavy wedding season burnt me out entirely, and to be honest... I don't love shooting them to begin with. There's a reason we charge the big bucks for them. Weddings are an exhausting line of work, and it's not for everyone. I think I'm one of those people. I can do it well, but it pretty much sucks the life out of me. So if I have to get a part time job to boost my income while I focus my business on portraiture and actually be happy with it, that's something I'm more than happy to do. Then, maybe, I'll get to a point where I CAN support the family on my photography. Who knows.

So that's that. All of my updates, for the most part. I hope you all are having a great week!

Feb 10

February 10th, 2016 at 05:34 am

It's been 5 days since my last update. Whew! Thankfully, my absence was not accompanied by a ridiculous spending binge (5 days may not seem like a lot, but you would be surprised at how much I gain from this platform in accountability!).

Not sure I have much exciting news to report. Replaced my elliptical for $82 - it arrived yesterday, and I'm thoroughly looking forward to breaking it in today Smile Since my Dietbets ended, I've slipped up on my workouts/eating well. I'm telling you, with me it's all about accountability. ha.

Still waiting for my Swagbucks giftcards to hit so I can make my purchases for the trip. Today I'll be heading out to return the swimsuit I bought (and hopefully find a replacement), as well as taking a look at a couple of stores to find a couple of warm weather articles.

Also hitting Trader Joe's and Aldi for a few items. The last couple of days we've been working through leftovers from our superbowl get together, and had dinner at a friend's last night.

We did get some groceries Sunday in preparation for said party, and made a trip to Walgreens for a couple of things DH needed. I armed myself with a couple coupons - I had been meaning to stop there to pick up a few things as well. DH was impressed with my couponing. Saved an additional $7 on items that were already on sale. And I stocked up on a few of my essentials: Dove soap, our St. Ives face wash (that DH loves an insists on), as well as dry shampoo for me.

I kept our meals light this week, so I only had to purchase a few items at the store:

- BBQ Chicken w/ mac & cheese (chicken I bought last week and the mac is leftover from Sunday)
- Hot Dogs (also leftover)
- Thai Chicken Soup
- Poached Eggs w/ asparagus, toast & bacon
- Meatloaf w/ mashed sweet potatoes

Only need some veggies for the soup, and the meatloaf will be our "fancy" dinner for V-day. Can't say it's really that fancy... but nothing says romance like loaves of meat. haha. We wont be exchanging gifts. I'll prob make him a silly card like I always do, but beyond that we'll just spend some quality time, probably watching movies or something.

I'm going to bake bread, probably tomorrow or Friday - for the toast. DH was insistent on bacon this week. I've been trying not to buy it because it's expensive and not good for us (albeit delicious). But he'll probably make breakfast this weekend, and it's a holiday. Guess bacon says romance, too...

Tonight I'm meeting another member of my BNI group for happy hour. Drinks are $3, so I'm not expecting to spend more than $8 all together, with tip. So definitely not a no-spend day, but all planned spending.

In terms of goals, I'm not doing terribly great. My writing challenge has been kept up with, but I still need to get on updating my quickbooks so I can get all that info to my accountant and get our taxes in order. And then open and close all the accounts I need to have everything in order. Talking to my friend at Huntington about opening a business savings - that way I can transfer a percentage for taxes and not end up like I am now, scrambling to save up for them. Still need to close my old checking and savings accounts and deposit that money in my business account for that tax payment.

And, of course, I need to get back on track with my weight loss goal. Or at least just back on track with my workouts.

So that's that. I hope you are all having a lovely week!

Happy New Year!

January 2nd, 2016 at 09:35 am

Our NYE party was a hit - only about 10 people all together, but I still made a nice spread: hot sandwich roll, honey glazed smokies, and caprese skewers. As well as some hummus, salsa, chips, etc. DH handled the bartending for the night. We had made up homemade sour mix the day before and if how I felt yesterday was any indication of how much I enjoyed them, well...

Thankfully, we do have quite a bit of food left. A lot of lunchmeat and some ciabatta rolls, so we'll do sandwiches a couple of times this week. Tons of leftover drink fixins as well, but I think I'm going to take a break there. haha. I've been sick for the last week or so. Drinking as much as I did NYE was probably a mistake, but it's a holiday... Now I'm focused on getting better ASAP. It's starting to get rather miserable.

I don't have much to report on the financial front. Yesterday was a NSD. Today will be much of the same. I do need to go through and pay bills, but I decided that January will be a no-spend month. At least outside of the essentials. So far so good! Yesterday DH and I literally laid around all day, hungover. We watched a couple movies - Interstellar and the Lego Movie. Both were incredibly good. Then the rest of the day I finished the book I was working on, "The Good Earth" by Pearl S. Buck. Another good find. Not terribly exciting in the plot department, but a nice calming read that speaks to how peoples' attitudes change as they encounter abundance. Interesting stuff.

After finishing, I made myself some tea and started another in bed. Decided to tackle "Walden." It's one I've never read, but you hear a lot about. And I think it's perfectly tied into my theme of Making Space. I opted out of sitting on social media for hours this morning and got a good chunk of pages this morning read as well Smile

***

I sat down and thought through some of my goals for the year, and usually I write out a list of 10-20 things I want to accomplish. And usually they sit in that list all year without much accomplishment. I decided to do things differently this time around. I'm going to set basic monthly goals, but other than that I'll just stick to making good daily decisions (a la "Making Space") and record my accomplishments as I meet them. I'd rather celebrate the things I'm proud of than be perpetually reminded of the things that have no longer become priorities.

Not to say that I don't still have goals Smile It's just hard to tell at the beginning of the year if something like NaNoWriMo will still be a priority in November. Things change, and I like to stay flexible. So instead, I'll tuck things like that away in my mind, and re-evaluate when the time comes.

For January, my goals are:

- No spend month, outside of essentials (no clothes, home items, beauty products, entertainment, etc)
- Cut grocery budget to under $200
- Win Dietbets (lose 6.7 lbs by Jan 25)
- Finish 28 Days with Sue Bryce Program (I purchased this last year and never went through it)
- Go through pricing course with photog friend

As for overarching financial/budget goals with DH, I've decided to not even have that conversation. haha. We went over our basic goals when we had the original (stressful) conversation, so until we really know what this is going to look like, I'm holding off. Instead, my goals will be to get things actually set up! In January, I would like to:

- Set up Mint for Joint Account
- Switch DH's direct deposit to Joint Account
- Switch all autopay bills to Joint Account
- Figure out account structure and open/close necessary accounts (personal and business)
- Enter all of my backlogged income and expenses into Quickbooks so I have an accurate look at what I'll owe in taxes

So I will add these January Goals to my sidebar, and hopefully we'll see some progress!

Wishing you all a lovely New Year!

Christmas Shopping Progress

December 8th, 2015 at 06:16 am

Things are moving along - yesterday was a bit spendy. $6 for lunch at Panera (I had to meet with my second shooter to pay her and get her files). $200 for her payment (which is honestly too little, but unfortunately I can't afford to pay her more, and she seems to be okay with it).

Talked with DH and got a couple of ideas for the last of his gifts - which I ordered last night. So he is completely done. There wont be a whole lot of surprise, except for the one gift. He asked for a Brown's t-shirt, and rather than purchasing one, I designed a custom shirt for him and had it printed. I'm hoping he loves it. The couple of his friends I got opinions from said they thought it was great.

I freaked out a bit the other day talking to a friend. I usually get him and the other person in our "trifecta" a gift for the holiday - but the last couple of years neither of them have given me anything, so I felt comfortable forgoing it this year. Of course, he made mention that he had a few more things he needed to get together for our gifts so.... apparently we are exchanging. lol. But I figured out a no-cost solution.

We have SO much alcohol left over from the wedding. A bottle of gin each and a fun print (that I can create at home) in a frame (of which we have several from the wedding) and I'm going to call it a day. Also gets some more liquor out of our house. Not that we don't like it, but it'll take us years to get through it all, and I don't want to move it all out of state in April.

All of the rest of the gifts I'm doing are for the most part DIY or something I'm designing, so I need to get that stuff taken care of. It's coming up quick.

But at least we're making progress!

***

In other news, I booked the yearly Republican dinner again (this Friday), so I have another shoot this month. I'm not a republican (I'm independent), but it's always so interesting to meet and hear what their speakers have to say. Last year, it was Ben Carson (at the time I had no idea I would see him all over the news). This year, it'll be Karl Rove. It's always such a funny, "How did I end up here?" moment when I'm walking around. But always so fascinating.

Hope you all have a wonderful Tuesday!

BNI Presentation

November 5th, 2015 at 07:28 am

Last night I stayed up getting prepared for my 10-minute BNI presentation, which was this morning. I talked about my business and brought in a bunch of samples. I had really hoped to have new samples printed by it, but I used my Canon home printer to at least get some more recent shots included. I'll replace them with quality printed shots soon - as well as the new photo books.

Always something else to do! Thankfully, I noticed that the site I generally use to print books has this incredible deal on samples. So that should save me some money in the long run.

But the presentation went really well. Everyone in my group responded well to it, and one member handed me a referral right then and there to have his family photos taken Smile Definitely a good sign.

I started chatting with another member right after the meeting, who complimented my work and talked about the photographer he's used in the past. He said her prices were double mine, and my work was just as good as hers. Comments like that are always so discouraging and encouraging at the same time. haha. I do plan on revamping my pricing and process come this winter, when I have time to really sort through it logically. It's just terrifying at the same time. You always fear people wont be willing to pay your prices. In the end, though, they have Smile

***

Went to Target yesterday. Had to pick up some items I can't get at Aldi - bathroom cleaner, cat litter and litter deodorizer. Grabbed some other grocery items while I was at it. Including my favorite hot chocolate