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Income and Food

September 26th, 2016 at 10:03 am

I want to thank everyone for their input on my tentative budget. We definitely have some thinking and refining to do over the next few months.

Just to reiterate, those numbers were just our combined budget. We each have our own accounts through which we pay car gas, auto maintenance and taxes, any gift or individual spending, etc.

Combined, our income averages 5-6k/month. I bring home a consistent amount whereas DH's income is variable. Since he doesn't carry nearly as much debt as I do, he tends to contribute more to our combined account, but I anticipate that that will change if he snags one of the new jobs. He'll still contribute about 90% of his income, but I'll be contributing more money to the account simply because my income will be higher.

Out of my own income, I usually have 300-400 extra per paycheck to throw at debt, so while I think we'll have to be mindful, I think we'll weather the adjustment to being homeowners just fine.

To prepare for the move, I have a little over a grand in our savings currently. The plan is to get that to 2000 to cover our move out if we can't fill the place. I think we'll be able to do it with DH's commission check mid-October.

I'm also trying to avoid groceries as much as possible. I do know that we need milk and bread, but otherwise, I'm going to focus on eating down our pantry. Tonight is hamburgers and homemade french fries using the remaining potatoes I have.

Yesterday, I went on a cooking spree and made banana chocolate chip muffins for breakfast (half topped with some almond slices I've had in my pantry for awhile). I also made chocolate chip cookies for something sweet in our lunches and a few hard boiled eggs. I've have one of those big bags of chocolate chips for about a year. They're good until next February, but I'm trying to get rid of it before the move. Once I get bread, we should be good on lunches (pbj or turkey/cheese sandwiches, a babybel, a hard-boiled egg, cookie, and fruit snacks).

Tentative Numbers

September 23rd, 2016 at 07:46 am

Below is our tentative joint budget. For now, I will still keep my debts paid out of my own bank account, but that may change. We'd agree that once we were married, I'd close my individual account and pay everything out of our joint account, and DH would keep only his fun money in his individual bank account. We've both sort of changed thoughts on this. He's leaning towards closing his individual account and doing everything out of the joint account, and I'm leaning towards keeping my own account to still pay my debts out of. We'll have more conversations on this coming to figure out what the best plan is. For now, the below numbers only cover our joint expenses.

Our income is up in the air at the moment. My second October paycheck will be the amount I will make until July of next year. Until then, I can just guess. My last paycheck was 1770, but our 401k loan hadn't started hitting yet ($90/pay period). Between that and our insurance changes taking effect in October (I'm moving medical to DH's military plan, but we're keeping dental and vision with my company), I'm not sure exactly what my paycheck will be, but I'm guessing around 1650. The plan is to put 950 into our joint account for a total of 1900/mo from me. DH's paycheck will make up the rest. Based on my math, he'd need to make at least 34k/yr to cover our bare bones budget. He was contacted for a interview at a different company yesterday, so if he ends up getting either of those new jobs, we'd just have to make sure the numbers are right. It seems salary for those positions run between 35 and 40k, not counting overtime, so we should be good. In his current position, DH's income is variable but ran around 60k last year and should be about the same (if not more) this year. While it makes more financial sense for DH to stay in this job, I'm really concerned for the toll it takes on our relationship and his sanity, so I'm hoping he is able to transition into this other industry. It's less money for now, but he'd be home by 4 pm every weekday, have weekends off, and would only have a 10-15 min. commute as opposed to the hour-plus he'd have if he kept his current job after the move.

Anything missing from the list below that I haven't considered? I know we do want to start a home maintenance fund, but I don't how much we'll be able to allocate to that yet.

Rent (PITI) 2370.79
Gas 100
Electric 150
Verizon 90
Groceries 200
Entertainment 50
Miscellaneous 100
Pets 100
Marriott Card 50
Cap One Card 50
Ring 101
Geico 114.76
Med. Insurance 210.83
Total Expenses 3376.55

Other Happenings/Thoughts

September 22nd, 2016 at 09:18 am

Just some random thoughts jumbling around in my head/recent happenings.

We got our wedding video back yesterday on our 4 month mark. It was incredible. We love it so much! Absolutely, positively worth the money. I've already watched it 4 times and it was just the 10 minute highlight video.

The hot tub looks like it's a go. We got the all clear to take it if we wish, and his dad said it looks like it's in good shape. We just need to ensure that it'll fit into his truck, find 6 people to help move it, and then we'll be good. His parents are going to let us store it at their place until our move. Yay for saving!

I've tentatively laid out plans for improvements for the first year. As I mentioned before, the house is move-in ready. There's some minor fixes like sagging gutters, but DH's dad has agreed to help us with those, and DH can actually do some of it himself. The only big splurges that we're planning for the first year were painting, fencing in the backyard, and the hot tub. The fencing we're going to hold off on until we get our tax returns. In the meantime, I am picking up a freecycled dog stake for our younger dog as I'm afraid she would run off and chase something whereas my oldest dog can run freely and listens. The painting will actually happen while we're in the house, but the plan is to live in the basement (it's finished with a living area, bedroom, and bathroom) while we paint all the upstairs, and then move upstairs and paint the basement rooms.

The sellers will be out October 31st. I spoke with our current landlord last night to give him notice, and explain that we'd be out sooner than late November if he wanted to try and turn it around quickly and get someone in there before the holidays. He offered us a different solution which we will be doing. Our current lease states that we can get out of our lease with a $2000 break-lease payment, and 60 days notice. He said that if we wanted to take on the responsibility of trying to fill the place (putting up the craigslist ad, showing the place, etc.) and we found someone, then he'd draw up a new lease removing the fee. If we couldn't fill it, then we'd just still owe the $2000 and rent up until November 20th-ish. DH and I are going to get the place organized this weekend, and place up a Craigslist ad next week. That's not too early, is it? I'd rather give us plenty of time to try and fill it.

I've also been scouring freecycle. I found several desks, so I sent them to DH to see if he liked any of them for the new office. He did like one, and it's still available, so we're picking that up this weekend.

I've been thinking through our budget. I want to get back into tracking through YNAB, but right now, I'm undecided as to whether to get the paid version or continue with the free version. Any thoughts either way?

I also have some ideas about how to cut our spending. I want to try once-a-month cooking with repeated meals - the goal will be to cut our groceries to $50/week or $200 month. Considering we were having trouble staying under $300, this is a big goal, but I already explained to DH that we'd just be doing a lot of simple repetition. Two other big things we're going to do are give up DH's soccer membership and cable. I'm not entirely sure no cable will be all that much cheaper than just Fios internet, but we'll price it out and then make a decision.

I've been reading my old blog entries, and I was so gung ho and good until that Vegas trip derailed my progress. I'm hoping to renew that intensity and really make some progress over the next year. It may not be debt-free by thir-ty, but I'd really like to knock out everything but the mortgage over the next 2-3 years.

The whole house story...and a potential hot tub

September 21st, 2016 at 11:07 am

Since we've officially closed and are now (temporary) landlords, I feel like I can finally tell the house story. I've been keeping quiet because I've been waiting for the other shoe to drop, but everything worked out.

Let me preface the story with this fact: a month and a half ago, we had no plans to buy a home. In fact, I discussed here about our plans to spend a year in a place to give us time to save up money and really look for a home we loved. About a week after we moved, one of the lenders we'd spoken with told us that the 2 year employment period of commission-based employees was flexible. It was a military-focused lending institution, and since DH had 1.5 yrs under his belt and was in school the remaining time, they could get a waiver for the 2 yr. requirement. We went ahead and applied for kicks and ended up with a $400k approval in our hands.

For anyone familiar with the DMV area, it's REALLY difficult to find single family homes in a decent location under half a million. So even with the approval, we figured we'd start looking, but likely would have to do some additional mortgage lender shopping once we hit the 2 yr. mark at DH's company.

We started by looking at Zillow and reaching out to DH's family friend who is trusted realtor (she helped us in looking for the place we're currently in). She told us that of the 6 homes we'd wanted to take a look at from Zillow, only 2 were actually available. We went on a Thursday to look at the one we really liked. It was even better in person. For a 30 year old home, the house had only been through 2 owners, and these people had really taken care of it. All appliances were under 5 yrs. old. And there was storage/shelving everywhere. They'd also done some neat quirky things like turning the area under the stairs into a storage closet and installing a laundry chute from the master bedroom to the utility room in the basement. It had a sunroom and a deck and a patio (perfect for a hot tub) and (our only requirement) a HUGE backyard. I loved the house, but was really hesitant to admit it because 1) it was the first house we saw and 2) it was bumping right up against our $400k limit.

After that first house decided to look at a house we'd seen around the corner that was for sale. It had been on our Zillow list, but hadn't made the short list of homes we wanted to see. We were not impressed. The first turnoff was the 4 or 5 huge hornets hovering around the tree in the backyard. From there, it just got worse. The floor plan felt much more stifling, it wasn't kept up as well, and to top it all off, it was more expensive than the first place.

At the end of the day, we couldn't stop thinking about the house, so we decided to ask his parents to look at it. DH's dad is a contractor, so he'd be able to tell us if it was in as good a shape as it seemed. I was also hoping his mom would talk us away from the ledge. She even told us at dinner the evening before they saw it that they'd look at 30-something homes before committing (although they knew instantly that the one was it). The next morning, they made it through the living room and kitchen before they turned around and told us we'd be crazy not to take the house (so much for that...).

I spoke with the realtor to get a quick idea of the numbers. I knew I could pull from my 401k, but even with that, we might be short. DH's parents graciously agreed to help us, and by Monday morning, we were under contract.

Yesterday, we closed. However, the sellers have asked to rent back from us until the end of October. So now, we wait to move in.

The good news is that with the 60-day notice needed to vacate our current contract, we should have little (if any) overlap in rents/mortgages.

DH and I are super excited to get into our home. We already have some basic ideas, but the house is essentially live-in ready. We do know that one of our first big improvements will be to fence in the backyard. This will allow us to let the puppies run freely and give us some privacy once we get the hot tub (can you tell I really, really want a hot tub?).

Speaking of hot tubs...I joked about it at the end of our closing just to keep it fresh in DH's mind. Well, our realtor chimes in and says 'I actually just did a quote for a hot tub removal. In fact, your dad (DH's contractor dad) is doing some work on the place and will probably be the one to remove it. I think it's in good shape if you guys want it.' Uhhh....of course we do!! DH's dad saw it today, and said it definitely looks like it's in good shape, so the plan is to see if it'll fit in his truck and then his parents would keep it at their place until we move in. Score!!!

Obviously this will mean some very different things for our finances, so updates on that coming soon.

Everything but the kitchen sink...

September 20th, 2016 at 07:42 am

Well, actually, it's everything but the whole house. I'm going to save the crazy house story for tomorrow.

Today, I'll fill in everything else that's been happening. DH (still makes me incredibly happy to say!) and I have been experiencing a ton of life changes.

My Work: My job has been giving me increased responsibilities. I was selected to be a part of a team for a proposal challenge which we did last week. It was a whirlwind to prep for, and a blast to be a part of, but I was so exhausted at the end of it. They've also set me as the interviewer for several new testing positions that are available. It's nice to feel recognized for my value to the company.

DH's Work: DH has recently become very jaded with his company. He's started looking at transitioning into a different industry and interviewed last week with a company. He's got a pretty good shot, so I'm hoping he hears some good news in the next week or two. While it would be considerably less money, it'd be stable hours and income, and would make for a much happier home life, so fingers crossed!

Recent Move: We've been in our current place for about 2 months. I still don't feel settled and probably won't given that we're not unpacking anything.

Finances: These have been on a major downslide. We've been great about not eating out or spending on silly things, but just given the circumstances, we've added on some temporary extra debt Frown I'm hoping these will stabilize in a few weeks, and we'll be able to see some progress.

Cooking: I've been on a cooking roll recently. I've never been very comfortable in the kitchen, but I'm certainly improving. I'd like to get into preparing healthier meals, but delicious, home-cooked comfort food is about all I got going right now.

Fitness: I seem to be maintaining which is good. I tend to eat or drink my stress and given everything that's been going on lately, I'm glad that I'm at least not adding weight.

My List

September 16th, 2016 at 08:55 am

I haven't been around much lately because it seems like my world is spinning much faster than I'd like. To quickly summarize, we are dealing with increased responsibilities at my job, a recent move, a potential new job for DH, and my biggest reason for keeping quiet...a house! I'll elaborate later, but for now, here's my list:

1. I turn 30 this year and started this blog with the intent of being fully debt free by that age.
2. Since starting the blog, I've been through 3 moves, a new relationship that turned into a marriage, and this coming Monday will be closing on our first home. Needless to say, that whole debt-free thing is not going to happen.
3. I live in the DMV area and traffic here is an absolute nightmare.
4. I got married this past May and will celebrate 4 incredible months on 9/21.
5. DH and I have 2 dogs and a cat (Bouncer, Riley, and Katniss). I'm so in love with our little family.
6. I coach kids' cheerleading. It is one of the most rewarding, and frustrating, things I've ever done.
7. DH and I really can't wait to expand our family and have children, but with all of our recent life changes, I've recently become super committed to putting that off until our financial situation is more stable.
8. I've never been outside the U.S.
9. I'm an interesting blend of cultures: Filipino, Spanish, French, and German. No one can ever really tell what I am. Our future kids will be that + Navajo and Guatemalan.
10. I've always been afraid of cooking, but I've really blossomed in the past few years. While I still mostly follow recipes, I am getting more comfortable with experimenting and making my own choices/substitutions.
11. About a month ago, I discovered that you can bake hard-boiled eggs, and I will never cook them on the stove top again.
12. I've never met any SA bloggers in person, but I do think it would be fun to do!

Just keep swimming

July 18th, 2016 at 12:14 pm

That phrase is even cuter now that I've seen Finding Dory.

I'm finding it really difficult to keep up with everything going on. We're in the middle of packing for our move this upcoming weekend. So far, costs for that are about $60 for the truck (with the total for miles coming to about $30). Plus, we'll have food cost since we'll be ordering pizza as a thank you to our helpers (my brothers plus DH's best friend and dad). We have upcoming vet costs for shots, plus our younger dog has a problem controlling her bowels when she's sleeping, so we want to check on that. We also want to get the dogs groomed before moving, so that is another $100 or so.

My rabbit died last week. I'd had him nearly a decade. We bought him in our junior year and kept him in our dorm, breaking pet rules. He was always a grumpy old thing, but I was so sad when he passed. We were going to bring him to the vet to be put down, since his behavior changed so quickly. Fortunately, I was with him and he passed away comfortably in the comfort of his home.

DH is shaping up to have a great month, so hopefully next month, we'll be able to get back on track and pay off some things. First up, is $1400 to an outstanding personal loan. That pain is leftover from my pre-savingadvice days, and I'll be glad when it's gone.

Pokemon Go

July 11th, 2016 at 08:02 am

Not much on the financial front, but I found my new favorite pastime which gives me more quality time with my DH, dogs, and provides some exercise. It's always been a hassle to get DH to walk with me because he's so tired in the evenings. I don't like taking both pups on long walks by myself because the younger one is still learning her big girl manners, so it's difficult to control them both. With pokemon go, DH is suddenly much more motivated to walk even if it's just a mile around the neighborhood. We've been getting out a lot more, plus it's silly fun. Have you noticed more people out and about in your neighborhood? Are you trying to catch em all?

2 Steps Forward, 4 Steps Back

June 29th, 2016 at 10:15 am

I received an offer for Chase for a 0% APR balance transfer. Since my NFL Points card (the one with a large $4k+ balance) just passed the 0% APR period, I transferred that balance to Chase. I'm hoping once we settle into the new townhouse, things will calm down, and I'll be able to knock this down quickly. I have about $700/month extra money to throw at debt.

We signed the lease on the townhouse a week or so ago. It's only $50 more than we currently pay, and we're upgrading from a 1-bedroom apartment to a 2-bed/2-bath townhouse with a tiny fenced backyard and 2 designated parking spaces. It's a very dated home, but it'll do nicely for a year while we save/look for a permanent home. The really nice thing is that the landlord is very laidback, and if there are improvements we want to make, he'll reimburse us the cost of materials and deduct the cost of labor from our rent. Upfront costs totaled just under $2100 for the deposit, pet fee, and half of the first month's rent. Fortunately, we'd had that $3k put aside from wedding gifts. The remainder of the rent is due when we move in which will be the last part of that 3k. We still have another $900 in that account for wedding gifts that we haven't bought yet. The biggest is the Roomba, but since we have a perfectly good pet vacuum, I may hold off on it for now and just keep that money as savings.

I really need to start budgeting again. I'd fallen off the YNAB bandwagon and need to fresh start and do it right.

Otherwise, things are great with DH and I. We got a bunch of free boxes yesterday from a FB group, so over the next few weeks, I plan to start packing/decluttering.

Moving forward and other things (including more wedding pics)

June 22nd, 2016 at 01:33 pm

Lots going on over here. Outside of our new family unit, we've had to deal with my mom's potential foreclosure and family issues on his side. With us, everything is great.

We signed a 1-year lease on a townhouse that will take all 3 animals. We've also initiated the process of getting pre-approved for a home loan.

My potential promotion has been postponed, but I did get a 3.5% raise, so that's something.

We also got our pro wedding pics back.

Moving, Medical Issues, and Couple Goals

June 9th, 2016 at 07:23 am

Now that the wedding is behind us, we're looking forward to a few things. The most pressing is that our lease ends 8/5, and we have decided not to renew. The issue is that we have 3 animals. We'd love to find a townhouse or SFH to rent for a year until DH has the required 2 years commission income needed to buy a home, but it's very difficult to find someone willing to rent with one animal...let alone 3. We've only looked at 2 places so far. One told us it wasn't likely given the amount of interest he has from non-pet owners. The other place was run down and far too much of a fixer upper for us to commit to for a year. We're going to look at another next week. This one is slightly out of our ideal price range, but we could afford it. It has a huge backyard and a hot tub which would make for an amazing summer both for us and the animals. However, it would hinder our ability to save and pay down debt over the next year. Our backup plan is to upgrade to a 2 bedroom in our current apartment building. We've agreed that if we don't have anything by 7/10, then we'd sign a lease for a 2 bedroom where we are. More space and we'd be able to keep all 3 animals. The huge drawback is that we were really hoping to move to a place with a yard.

Another thing affecting our goals of saving/paying down debt is medical issues. I've been having chest pains for about 3 weeks. After finally going to the doctor, I find out that I have a chest fracture. We think it may have been the corset, but I'm still waiting for the doctor to speak with the radiologist before she determines how to proceed. In the meantime, they gave me some pain medicine which really helps alleviate the pain.

Now that we're getting back into our normal routines, DH and I are trying to get back to our previous fitness levels. DH has committed to no alcohol, no junk food, only water, and regular workouts until he drops 22 lbs. I said I'd join him, but I'm not doing only water (I don't drink soda or anything regularly, but I'm not limiting myself to just water). I can't really work out until I have a better idea of the medical diagnosis, but for now, I can certainly commit to eating better and helping hold DH accountable. We'd gotten a gym membership before the wedding. I'm going to drop mine as we have a perfectly adequate facility in our apartment complex, plus I prefer working out at home. He wants to keep his which I said is fine, but he must attend at least 3x/week. If he doesn't go 3 times every week, then he has to drop it. I'm debating whether we should join a few dietbets to really help motivate us.

Wedding Budget Breakdown

June 9th, 2016 at 07:06 am

I know some people were curious as to how I managed to spend 32000 on one day. To be honest, I'm not sure how I managed to blow that much considering I thought I was extremely frugal in some areas. The good news is we paid almost this entire sum on our own. The bad news is...that money's all gone now, and I don't have anything physical to show for it. This isn't a completely accurate picture because I found that especially towards the end, I did a terrible job of tracking things. It was easier to throw money at an issue than stress over it, so I padded the budget I did track by a grand to account for all of those miscellaneous costs.

Venue 9264.29
Caterer 6889.04
DJ 1020
Photographer 1632.62
Videographer 1100
Florals Included in venue package
Officiant Included in venue package
Tips 490
Alcohol 1667.27
Dress 826.87
Shoes 76.29
Accessories 16.5
Other Events Clothing 160.45
Reception Dress 120
Groom's Suit 198.73
Rehearsal Dinner 1151.60
Hair/Make-up 240
Nails 404.60
Invitations 60
Rentals 1100
Bridal Party Gifts 890.33
Wedding Rings 120
Wedding Night Room 425.48
Centerpieces 133.9
Placecards 25
Cake Topper 27
Wine Box 82
Guestbook 65
Save The Dates 125.08
Bridal Party Proposals 118.61
Dress Steaming 140
Flight 560
Car Rental 706.12
Day Of Food 311.76
Honeymoon Activities 930.80

Total 31079.34

Miscellaneous 1000**

Estimated Total 32079.34**

**This is a rough guess and includes all the other small things that I didn't categorize. Examples include an orange petticoat, washi tape and other craft supplies, a video cable for the projector, a flower girl book, mini notebooks, markers, DH's flight for our planning trip, etc.

I'm back and married!

May 31st, 2016 at 12:48 pm

Back to work, back to reality, back to being focused on finances. The wedding was wonderful. We actually had tons of little things go wrong, but my bridesmaids were great about keeping things hidden from me. DH (yay!!) was sick all morning, but he also managed to keep that from me. We did a first look which was my favorite part of the day. I was all nerves and emotions and the second I saw him, I was just happy. We got each other gifts too, and it turns out they were perfect complementary gifts (yet another indication that we belong together). For those who are familiar with How I Met Your Mother, I gave him a small blue french horn, and he gave me the yellow umbrella. I didn't get to enjoy any of the delicious food we had, and I had maybe half a drink the whole day. You really do get pulled in so many different directions. One other big highlight was DH's great-uncle gifting us some ceremonial Navajo blankets. They were absolutely beautiful.

Here's some pictures (hopefully it works...I don't do pictures often...):

Groom's cake at the rehearsal dinner:

Opening my gift:

Our ceremony:

Us in front of some of the most beautiful scenery I've ever witnessed:

Us with our ceremonial blankets:

In other financial news, I did pay off my smallest credit card, and we've decided to put most of our wedding gifts to savings. So our current savings is now $3000. As I get back into the swing of things, I plan to track debt and savings here. Our goal is 15000 by next summer to buy a house, and no consumer debt by the end of the year.

Leaving one week from today & big news!

May 10th, 2016 at 06:50 am

In one week, I'll be on a plane to Phoenix to marry the love of my life. It's so crazy to think about. We're very lucky to be where we are and to have managed to pay 90% of the wedding ourselves. I'll try to break it down when we return, but the rough estimate is about $31000. FH has worked his butt off this past year to make this happen for us, and I'm so grateful to have him in my life. (I do contribute to our finances and actually make just as much as him, but my paychecks are steady, so we use his commission checks to knock out large sums of our wedding bills...plus, I'm bringing in much more debt to the marriage which makes me cringe, but luckily, he's understanding.)

In other big, big news...my work won a HUGE contract that they bid on. Since several staff on my project were key personnel, big staffing changes are afoot including...the potential for a promotion for me!! My boss has always said I'd have her job one day, and it did seem likely that it would happen, only years down the road. With this work, I think they're going to try and get me in there now. It's really scary, but exciting to think about. It would make it that much more likely that we could pay off all consumer debt by the end of this year (minus FH's car) in addition to saving up 10-20k for a house down payment next year.

Random Updates - Wedding Brain Edition

April 28th, 2016 at 06:52 am

There's so many things happening right now that I'm finding it hard to keep track. Between my regular job, the second project I'm helping on, the final wedding details, and upping the workouts in a last ditch effort to be semi-toned, I have zero free time. Over the weekend, I'm really going to try and meal prep as we have a ton of food, but haven't been cooking. Last night, we went out to eat. At least, I'm eating healthier when we eat out.

DF and I are doing a choreographed dance. We started learning it awhile back, but started slacking on it this past month. With only 3 weeks from this Saturday, we've really got to pick it up. The problem we're having is with rehearsal space. Last night, we practiced in a basketball court, but it's definitely not the same with shoe grip and surface. I'm looking into community spaces, but those are $60/hr. Granted, we didn't do dance lessons, but we're really trying to minimize extra costs at this point. I'm also looking into a gym. I guess worse case, we could sign up for 3 different one week free passes (there's lots of gyms in our area) and use their studio space.

My boss (who is attending the wedding) very generously offered to decorate for us the day of the wedding, so I was able to apply the $150 we were going to pay the venue to do it to the kitchen fees instead. We'll stay have another $500 or so to pay for kitchen fees, but I won't know that until we have our final catering bill.

My venue coordinator has gotten a lot more friendly the closer the wedding gets. She's been very helpful as of late. I've started booking our appointments for when we get out to AZ. It's looking like Wednesday will be Phoenix area vendor meetings while Thursday will be Sedona area vendor meetings. Friday, I'll review everything once more with my venue coordinator and then let go and hope everything goes smoothly on Saturday.

Debt-wise, I got one credit card under 300. The Chase Freedom I'm going to try and decrease by 50. The Marriott card is paid in full each month. They also just increased my limit, so while I think we're fine money-wise, it is nice to know that we could potentially put last-minute expenses on the card and have one more month to come up with the money. My score is creeping slowly back up to 700 and I'm hoping to be above 720 when we look to buy next year.

1 month out

April 21st, 2016 at 06:26 am

One month from today (and a few hours...), I'll be married! If there was one thing I could do over again, I'd do more research on the venue. We fell in love quickly and it seemed like a great deal (and for Sedona, it actually is), but that alone is 1/3 of our total ridiculous cost. We finished paying the balance yesterday, but still have the kitchen fees. The money is in my account for the DJ, so we should be sending that check off soon. The photographer and caterer will be paid off in the next two weeks.

In the midst of all this, I found out that my mom is having deeper financial issues than I thought and will likely have to pursue bankruptcy. It's unfortunate, but maybe being forced to face her issues head on will help her.

I bought 12 gold pictures frames from Dollar Tree yesterday for decor signs. I'll just print them out and put them in the frames. I started on the votive holders, but have only done 12 so far. I should be able to make some decent progress over the weekend. Also, I found out the post office stinks. We've been reaching out to the non-RSVPers and it turns out that at least 2 did RSVP yes like a month ago and we just never got them. Glad I reached out because I actually had thought these two would be declines.

Why is time passing so quickly?

April 18th, 2016 at 06:30 am

I feel like I blinked and the weeekend was over. We're practically down to 30 days!

FH had his bachelor party this weekend. He had a great time paintballing and going out with his buddies. Sunday, we had a photo shoot. It's way too late to call them engagement photos, so it was more just for fun. We brought our dogs to a local park. After we did a bunch of photos with them, my brother took them home and we did some more shots with just FH and I. I'm so excited to get them back. Some of my favorite moments were playing with bubbles on a big green hill, making heart shadows, and sitting out on the pier while our photographer shot from the other side.

RSVPs were due Friday and we still have about 30 outstanding. I'm going to assume most of those are declines since it's a destination wedding, and I'd hope that if they were planning to come, they'd have made arrangements by now. However, we still have to track everyone down, so our numbers are accurate. I'm giving it until Tuesday evening in case people sent theirs out Friday or even Saturday.

I brought my dress in to an independent seamstress for the bustle. I also bought my reception dress and orange petticoat since the dress needs to be let out, and the petticoat needs to be taken in. Total for all 3 was $91. I really wish I had just taken my dress to her from the get-go. She was so sweet, and there was another wedding dress hanging in her shop the first time I visited, but I was just really hesitant to trust the structural alterations to someone who wasn't specifically a bridal gown tailor.

My goal for the next few weeks is to get everything as ready as possible, so I can relax and enjoy my wedding week. Only 5 more Saturdays to go!!

Bachelorette Party, Wedding Payments, and Stress

April 4th, 2016 at 08:14 am

My bachelorette party was amazing. I was wrong about the house-selling party, but it was more than a chill night in. They had a lingerie shower planned. Saturday was indeed a winery tour and a night out in the city, but they actually booked a hotel room downtown so we didn't have to worry about travel. They also surprised me with yoga pants with all of our titles. It was an absolutely amazing weekend, and I'm so grateful for those women.

DF should have between 3 and 4k this month which should cover the majority of our remaining payments. This is a huge sigh of relief since it puts us ahead of our remaining wedding payments schedule.

Someone pointed out that I get married next month, and now I'm trying not to freak out. I still have several little small details to figure out as well as 72 votive holders to decorate. Guys should all have their orders in in the next week or two. I got my dress back yesterday, but I need to take it to someone else for the cups and bustle. We need to write vows and finalize ceremony details. I hope everything turns out okay.

On Pins and Needles...

March 31st, 2016 at 08:24 am

I'm getting jittery about several things...

1) My second dress fitting is Saturday morning. I believe this will be my last with this seamstress. She was ridiculously expensive (more than twice what my dress cost), and that didn't include the bustle or cups. Since I'm not as concerned about those elements messing up the dress, I'm taking it to an independent seamstress for those items. My mom and future mother-in-law will be coming with me. They are the only ones who've seen me in the dress.

2) My bachelorette party is this weekend. My bridesmaids are spread out all over the country, but 3 of them worked to put together this amazing weekend. I have no clue what we'll be doing, but I'm so excited! It's supposed to be chillier than I anticipated, so I'm not sure my outfits will work, but we'll see.

3) Our lease is up in August. We just went through a very brief phase of considering buying before we found out that we can't count DF's income until he has two years average since he's commission-based. Our current plan is to lease for one more year and start house hunting in February/March. Given the amount we've managed to come up with for the wedding in about 9 months, I'm guessing we'll have about 30k for a down payment. Not stellar, but should be enough to qualify us for an FHA mortgage.

4) DF's had an amazing month. He's got a few potentials lined up today, so we'll see how the month finishes out. I'm really anxious for him to get his pay sheet as it'll help me figure out these last wedding payments. We made a $4k payment towards the venue, but owe $1500 more. We also still have the DJ ($920), photographer ($1370), videographer ($450), and caterer ($3k). I can't believe how ridiculously expensive the wedding industry is.

Sidenote: one of DF's great-uncles asked if he could bring 8 guests...Are you kidding me????

Non-Wedding Updates

March 7th, 2016 at 08:42 am

I've been so consumed with all things wedding-related that I thought I'd focus on some non-wedding things.

Weight: Given all the changes, my weight has ballooned to the highest it's ever been. I look in the mirror and cringe. None of my clothes really fit, but I refuse to buy a bigger size because then I will be admitting defeat. I've started doing the 30-day shred and focusing on healthier, smaller-portion meals. I'm only 4 lbs. down, but it's a start. I'm hoping with the weather warming up and cheerleading over that I can get back down into the 130s by the time May rolls around.

Credit Cards: I've long struggled with credit cards. I put a bunch away, but I still have 2 that I actively use and 3 more with lingering balances (most 0%, one accruing interest). Here's where they stand:
Card: Current Balance (Original Balance)
Chase Freedom: $2500 ($3500) *This is the one card accruing interest and is my main focus besides wedding things.
Chase Slate: $500 ($1000) *This card is only 0% for another couple of months, but I will have it to 0 before interest starts.
Chase Marriott: $1000 (N/A) *This card is our wedding card and gets paid in full every month. We are building the points to use towards a car rental.
Barclay Card: $5000 ($6000) *This is 0% for at least another year. I only pay $60/month to this until the rest of the cards are gone, but it's on track to be paid off by the end of 2016.
Capital One Venture: $500 ($1200) *This is 0% until September. It will be paid off before then.

I know some people cringe at the fact that I have all of this debt and am instead focusing our discretionary income elsewhere. However, I am trying to remain semi-focused. I never thought I would actually be getting married anytime soon, and I let the excitement carry me away. However, I do still plan to be consumer debt-free by the time I'm thirty. **Edited: I forgot to mention that my credit score has jumped about 20 points with the card payoffs. My score is terrible compared to some people's standards, but given the financial instability I was raised in, I think it's pretty good.

Savings: DF and I live off last month's income. It's not ideal, but that's the extent of our savings for now. We've been putting any wedding gifts received into a separate savings account with the thought that we'd each get two things (one personal and one shared) with that money post-wedding and the rest would be savings. We'll add to that monthly with the goal of $5000 by the end of the year.

Housing: Our lease is up in August. We are 95% sure we will remain renters for the time being. We will not actively be looking until mid-June, but we do have some thoughts on things we'd like in our new place.

Sickness, Grocery Score, and Wedding Updates

March 1st, 2016 at 08:14 am

I've been ridiculously sick these past two weeks. Here's hoping it goes away soon. I went grocery shopping Sunday with the money set aside for March's groceries. I spent $143 out of the $300 set aside for the month, but I think we may actually be pretty close to $300 because of an amazing deal. DF and I are carnivores. We're well aware that cutting meat out will make our grocery budget more manageable, but neither of us feels full without a meat in the meal. One of my local grocery stores occasionally runs a deal with 4 family meals for $20. This time, it was two huge chicken breasts, beef tips for stew, 5 burgers, and lemon pepper wings/drumsticks. I bought two multi-packs for $40 and repackaged it into smaller Ziploc meals for the two of us. All told, we'll get 18 meals out of it. The chicken breasts were also half off, so I got another pack of those for 5 more meals. That with the tuna and emergency pizzas should more than get us through March.

Looking at the wedding budget, I'm feeling more and more confident that we can handle it. All told, we'll have spent way more than I ever would have thought on a wedding (pushing 30k), but I'm at peace with it for two reasons: 1) I only get one of these suckers, so I'm going to make it super memorable and 2) it's a great feeling to know that DF and I made it happen almost entirely on our own. We did receive one very generous cash gift from DF's parents and they gifted us our accommodations for the week saving another several hundred. I know that whether it's a big to-do or a more intimate ceremony, we'll still be married, but I'm very pleased with the way it's shaping up, even if it is expensive.

Less than 3 months!

February 22nd, 2016 at 06:13 am

It's been busy over here. DF and I are both sick right now. He's staying home to rest today, but I unfortunately had meetings to be in for. I'm hoping to go home early though after my 1 pm meeting.

Things are moving along on the wedding front. Invites went out Saturday. I have a few to-dos including booking our getting ready hotel room, ordering the air puppets, and ordering travel shirts/groomsmen's ties. I also need our guest book, but I'm holding out for a 20% off coupon from Peachwik (I have a 10% as backup). Other than that, it's just finalizing details and paying off vendors. I've actually been semi-proud at how well we're doing. Considering how overbudget we are, we're still on track to have everything paid off in time for the wedding. Additionally, I've still been working on reducing the credit cards. We've paid no interest on the Marriott card (the one we put all wedding and most daily expenses on), and we're slowly paying down the other two cards that are 0%. Chase Slate has less than $500 (originally $900) and Capital One Venture has about $600 (originally $1100). I've started working on an order of payoffs for after the wedding. I'm hoping by the end of the year, we'll be down to just student loans and DF's car loan. It's lofty because that'll mean about $13k in debt payoff for the remainder of the year. Our wedding savings rate has been about 2k/month, so it is possible.

The end is in sight!

February 8th, 2016 at 06:49 am

I finished up purchasing the last of our gifts last week. We still have the ties, but since those are more attire, I don't really count them.

All that's last money-wise is paying off our vendors, the car rental (I'm hoping to cover most, if not all, with points), and wedding week spending (wedding alcohol, RD food, mani/pedis, tips, and food/gas while in AZ). I feel like it's coming together, but I'm still super nervous. And our invites still haven't gone out (hopefully working on them tonight).

DF lost his phone at his friend's bachelor party the other night, so we'll have that expense as well if we need to get him a new one. He thinks he left it in the Uber car, so hopefully it turns up.

We also added DF to my car insurance and got him Tricare insurance since he turned 26 last month. Our car insurance will now be paid out of our joint account, so that's one more bill moved over. I increased my contribution to our account by 200 to account for it.

Back from Denver

February 1st, 2016 at 10:02 am

This past weekend, my mom and I went to Denver for my hair and makeup trial with my cousin. We had found a great deal on flights ($100 each), used points for the hotel (plus, got an upgrade to a 2 bedroom suite!), and had my aunt bring us some groceries, so we only had to eat out once. My cousin is phenomenal, and I'm so lucky he's agreed to style me and my bridesmaids for the wedding. We're paying him as he's social media famous, and I want to make sure he's fairly compensated. I'm giving him $200 plus $100 to either his room or straight to him for all of our hair and my makeup. If the girls want makeup, he's only charging $25 which is crazy cheap for professional makeup.

Next up is invites. I did pretty well on those. My mom picked some kits up for $6 each, and while they don't really match my wedding at all, I managed to incorporate some small elements to tie it in. Printing them at home means I only have postage to cover. Yay for super cheap invites. About 80 for less than $100 with postage.

I can't believe it's getting so close! It's also encouraging that if everything works out, DF and I will have financed about 90% of it ourselves with the remaining bit coming from our parents. With our wedding coming pretty close to the average amount spent (about 30k), I feel confident about really getting back to hammering my debts once it's done. I certainly won't be debt free by thirty, but I'm going to seriously push for consumer debt-free!

Tough Decisions, Wedding Productivity, and More Spending

January 19th, 2016 at 06:36 am

This weekend, we booked the videographer. I also bought two veils and two jewelry sets totaling $52 off Amazon. I will be keeping one of each, and returning the one I don't choose. I also test printed the invites. They look pretty nice. Clearly done at home, but I couldn't justify $300 on something that will eventually go in the trash. The kits were $12, the printer ink was $40ish, the orange envelopes (so I can at least pretend they match my color scheme) were $12, and then whatever postage cost. I also plan to deliver as many as I can myself (about 10 locally and 4 to my family in Denver when I visit this weekend).

All of the spending has lead to some hard discussions with DF. I'm a few years older than he is and have been wanting children for a long time. We had originally planned to start trying right after the wedding, but DF brought up his concerns the other day that we have very little saved. It kind of caught me off guard, but once I processed, I realized he's right. As much as I want children, if I want to raise them in a situation that is different than how my mom raised us, then I need to wait until we're more stable. We agreed to split tackling my debts and savings with what we're currently putting towards the wedding (about $1500-2k/month) and reassess where we are at the end of the year (around my 30th birthday). I was so upset that I cried, but ultimately I think it will make our lives (and our future kids' lives) easier.

Looking forward to the 3-day weekend

January 15th, 2016 at 07:54 am

I am really excited to have these 3 days off, but hope they can be productive. I have some wedding DIY stuff to take care of - test printing invites and fiddling with escort card designs. I also want to try to get in some work for the other project I'm helping with to get a few extra hours.

I got two snowflakes in the mail, so I want to cash those and put them to the credit card. DF and I have decided to curb my extra debt payments in favor of saving for the wedding, but I do still like to pay a little extra here and there.

We've had a lot of money flow out to wedding stuff. Flights and lodging are officially booked. We ended up using airbnb for lodging, so I managed to save a good amount as we got a discounted rate for staying the whole week. We also have a kitchen, so I will do some groceries when we get there which will cut our eating out. I can't believe we're almost to 4 months. Crazy!!

Trying not to disappear

January 12th, 2016 at 07:57 am

I haven't been checking in as much. Things are a little chaotic right now with work, side work (the second tester position I'm temporarily filling part-time), babysitting, cheerleading, and wedding planning. On top of that, DD1 was sick for about 2 weeks with digestive issues resulting in about $400 in vet bills. I am still budgeting with YNAB. I find the new one easier since it links directly to the banks. It's less secure, but since I monitor my credit report closely, I'm hoping that mitigates the risk of identity theft a bit. One of these days, I hope to update my sidebar and set some new goals for this year, but I have no clue when that will actually happen.

It's my wedding year!

January 4th, 2016 at 07:29 am

I know, I know...that's probably obnoxious, but I'm really excited about it.

New Year's was pretty calm. We went to a friend's house and had a nice, relaxing evening. We also celebrated DF's birthday this past weekend. Since we went out with his parents on Saturday, I decided to do what I had planned on Sunday - I cleaned the entire apartment and made his favorite meal (pizza bake).

This week, we begin a clean eating regimen. It's mostly crockpot dinners. DF and I have both already discovered that foods we were previously afraid of (greek yogurt and cottage cheese) aren't actually that bad. I plan to do the slow cooker meals in the evenings because I'm scared to run it during the day with the animals. The chicken tacos for tonight were really yummy when I tried it this morning.

2016 Planning and other stuff

December 30th, 2015 at 10:10 am

I've been thinking about 2016 goals,but before I outline them here, I want to get my thoughts down on paper, so those will probably come this weekend. We have a lot coming up in 2016 that will change my debt payoff plan.

I've also had some unexpected medical bills come at me out of nowhere, so I'll have to factor in a plan for those.

I didn't manage to save much for the wedding this month, but that's because we diverted that money ($2k) to DF's car deposit. I did buy a lot of wedding things though, and we paid cash for those. We also should be able to sock away about $300 to the wedding savings, so that's a start.

I just bought a plane ticket to visit my cousins and aunts in Denver. On Frontier, it was $50 each way after I joined the Den Deals ($50). Since we're hoping to get super cheap Frontier deals to Vegas for the wedding, I figured the Den Deals membership was worth it for one year. I'll cancel prior to the end of next year to avoid the renewal fee. My cousin is doing my hair and makeup, so we'll do a trial run then. Family time and a wedding task checked off - done and done.

Seriously Slacking

December 22nd, 2015 at 07:36 am

...on the updates. I think I've been doing okay money-wise, although there was definitely some unbudgeted spending. Now that DF's car is figured out and Christmas gifts are all bought, I'm going to do a fresh start on YNAB and go from there. I'm going to make a weekly IFTTT recipe (if possible) to remind me to update it. I really think it would be useful if I could just get it updated consistently.

My birthday was yesterday and it was really special. DF took last Sunday off to spend with me since he basically has no more days off until January 8th (except Christmas). On top of that, he managed to get out of work early and surprised me at home with flowers and a bottle of wine. He took me out to dinner too. That guy is truly something special Big Grin

For my birthday gift, DF got me a phone. They were B1G1 and we also got a tablet, so I managed to snag some nice Xmas gifts for my mom and brother with little out of pocket.

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