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Archive for July, 2015

Friday Win!!!

July 31st, 2015 at 04:42 pm

I've been in a mood lately, but today just got better!

I play a game called MyVegas to score freebies for our upcoming trip. While the rewards have certainly deteriorated, there are still a few worth playing for. Most players can redeem 3 for MGM rewards. My mom occasionally buys chips to support the game and has 4 rewards. Awhile back, she'd managed to get ahold of the Beatles Love Cirque show ticket.

I've been trying unsuccessfully to get it as you have to luck out and be there right when they refresh or it goes too quickly. I started following a refresh thread and managed to get it today!

So far, we've redeemed 2 Beatles Love tickets (1 each), 2 Thunder from Down Under tickets (1 each...and certainly not something I'd pay for, but a fun novelty experience for free), 2 buffet passes at Monte Carlo (my mom).

We each have one remaining. My mom currently has a NYNY room voucher, but she's probably returning it as we need two nights and can most likely find a decent deal elsewhere. She wants to get a $50 freeplay. I'm much lower on points. If I earn enough, my options will be 2 more buffet passes, $50 dining credit to MC (where we're staying), or 2 Shark Reef Admission passes (again, not something I'm willing to pay for, but would like to see).

We may also redeem food rewards for House of Blues or Wolfgang Puck (or even both!).

I'm debating an Entertainment book as we will be venturing to Fremont St. this time and they have a bunch of $5 matchplay offers.

Operation Frugal Vegas is coming together!!

Lots Coming Up

July 29th, 2015 at 03:17 pm

Just trying to get some of my thoughts written down:

1) The Car: I'm going to call the body shop and see if they'll take a payment over the phone prior to the repairs to ensure it clears. If possible, I'd also like them to keep the card on file, so if there are additional repairs, it can be covered. I also have to look up rentals. While my area is certainly more expensive, I think it can be kept under $100.

2) The Wedding: My colleague saw the outside of our venue earlier in the week, but couldn't get in. He said he'd call and try to get a quick appointment for today. I truly appreciate the effort he's going through consider he doesn't know me at all. By my rough estimates, he's saved me about a grand in travel costs just to book the venue. Regardless of whether he gets inside the facility, I'm going to have them draw up a contract which we'll review with his parents this weekend, so the venue should be booked by early next week.

3) The Vegas Trip: Still on the lookout for a good hotel deal for two nights and flights. Also, still trying to score one free Beatles Love Cirque show ticket from MyVegas. I'm not terribly worried as there's still time. Other MyVegas freebies we're getting are: tickets to Thunder from Down Under, 2 free buffets, and $50 freeplay. I have to review the list because we'll probably also try to do some rewards that aren't specifically MGM properties.

4) Upcoming Spending: I made a list of several things DD2 will need soon as she's almost as big as DD1 and has mostly outgrown her baby things. She also needs to be spayed in August which is thankfully covered under her CareClub insurance. We also have two camping trips in August. SO had a great end to July, so we're expecting at least 2k next month. I've roughly allocated it to: building up our account buffer (300), paying me back (300), paying off our couch (600), and partially paying back our venue deposit (800/1700).

You'll never believe this...and need advice!

July 28th, 2015 at 06:19 pm

In all my wedding excitement, I completely forgot this...

Two Fridays ago, I got my car back from being repaired after I'd been rear-ended about a month ago. I was fortunate in that even though I did everything wrong, he accepted fault and his insurance covered everything.

Two Saturdays ago, I got rear-ended. Yep, that's right. Hit again!! A day after getting my car back!! At a stoplight, no less!! I was so angry that I originally sped off in anger, but then decided to pull over and check it. Luckily, I did and he'd followed me because there was noticeable damage. This time, I got pictures of the cars, his license, and his contact info. He didn't have his insurance card, but said he'd probably pay out of pocket anyway. I forgot to note where we actually were, but I'm getting closer to getting everything I need when I'm in an accident...

I just did the estimate today because I've been busy. It comes out to just under a grand. If he chooses to pay out of pocket, does anyone have experience with how it works? I assume he gives me the money upfront or calls and gives the company his card info. Also, since it's a 4 day repair, I feel like I should also ask him to cover a rental car since insurance would cover one. Any advice is more than welcome!

Found my dress!!

July 27th, 2015 at 01:58 pm

It's odd because I don't even have my venue secured yet, but my dress is currently hanging in the living room at my mom's place. I went to a Brides Against Breast Cancer charity event where they sell pre-owned/used wedding dresses with .73 cents of every dollar going to breast cancer research. While doubtful that I'd find my dress, I figured I'd go and look just in case. I actually loved almost everything I tried on (about 6 dresses). However, when I tried on a strapless white chiffon gown with beading, I caught my breath! Even better, it was only $200 and fits like a glove Smile The only alterations needed will be to hem it and a strap if I decide to add one. I'd had my heart set on a one-strap princess-type gown. Since it's so long, the extra chiffon and beading they cut off can be repurposed into a single shoulder strap, so I have to decide if I still want it.

All told, I definitely think I will be able to stay under my $500 dress budget. Yay me!

Chase Freedom payments and future focuses

July 22nd, 2015 at 01:17 pm

I just made a $400 payment bringing the balance to 1165. I have another $30 to put to it as soon as I make it to the bank to cash the check. I'm also expecting my little brother to pay $200 of his $1000 deposit this Friday bringing the balance to $935. Depending on how our pet expenses shake out in the remainder of July, I should be able to put another $100-$300 paid back from our joint account. That plus next month's $500 payment and any additional paybacks should wipe out the Chase Freedom card!

At that point, my attention will be split 3 ways - Las Vegas savings, wedding savings, and Chase Slate. The Vegas trip is in October which will only give me 2 months to save as much as I can. The goal is 2k. If it's any less, then we will just have to eat/sightsee with whatever I have saved up. My mom is bringing her own gambling money this time, so that will help considerably. Chase Slate is at $645 which I could easily knock out in 2-3 months if it were my only focus. The goal will be the end of the year since it's at 0%. Wedding savings will be $100-$200 these next few months and will become my main focus starting in November.

Weekend Update

July 20th, 2015 at 12:31 pm

DF got paid more than we thought, so that's a bit of a relief. I don't have to put the pet expenses to the credit card. I have some payments pending to my credit card - 30 for gas, 30 reimbursement from a work purchase, and I'm also going to take $100 out of our joint account. I will also make a $320 payment next paycheck (Wednesday). I'll still end up paying interest which is a huge bummer seeing as I've managed to avoid it the past year, but only on about $920 (the statement balance was originally $1525). For August, I have $543 budgeted to Chase, but I'm going to do my best to knock out more.

This weekend, we had two potlucks. We did bring desserts to both totaling $35.

I'm in a holding place with wedding plans. In an effort to save a trip out there, I desperately reached out to a former class instructor who is currently in my wedding location. He's graciously agreed to swing by the place and check it out for me. If he agrees that it looks like the photos, then I'm going to coordinate with their event planner to draw up the contracts to book the venue. (I had originally asked the event planner to Skype or use technology to conduct a virtual tour, but she claimed to not have the means to do that.) That would mean we only have one planning trip which I'm actually going to try and combine with the Vegas trip to save money on a cross-country flight. We've decided to go without a planner completely. I can be pretty organized when I want to, so I'll just have to make this a focus in the coming months. DF wrote up his list last night - it was over double what I had in mind. We're going to make some cuts, but I think we'll still end up inviting between 100 and 150 people now. Since it's a destination wedding, I'm going to send the invites out between 4 and 6 months and ask for RSVPs to be back by the two month mark for planning. This should give me ample time to plan if all of them suddenly decide to show up.

This and That

July 17th, 2015 at 04:27 pm

Got some random updates:

DF and I grilled some marinated chicken and chorizo last night and used up the last of the potatoes for steak fries. It was by far the best meal we'd had in awhile. Tonight will be mac and cheese with the leftover meats and some leftover veggies from earlier this week. Sat. and Sun. evening we have cookouts. I'm probably just going to get a small cookie or pastry platter for Saturday's cookout and we'll ask DF's family if they'd like us to bring anything for Sunday.

I have some upcoming pet expenses: DD1 is due for his shots and DD2 has a wellness visit (which is covered by her pet care plan) where we will have to pay for her flea & tick/heartworm meds. I think we will have to use one of the 0% cards for this, and pay it off in August when DF's income has (hopefully) stabilized.

My weight has held consistent a little above the 10%. I'm actually perfectly fine with this. It slightly above the normal weight for my height, but given my body structure, I look better with some meat on my bones. Wedding goal will be to maintain this weight, but turn the fat into muscle.

We're moving forward with wedding planning. I think I'm now set on proceeding without a wedding planner. It will be difficult coordinating with long-distance vendors, but I think it's doable. I actually know someone who's in our destination right now. Even though I barely know him, he's agreed to check out our venue. If all looks well, we'll book it saving one trip out there. The only snag is that we are supposed to coordinate the site visit, and I feel like that's asking more of him because now he has to go at a set date/time. Hopefully it all works out as round trip flights run about $400/trip.

Still chipping away slowly at the credit cards. I'm owed about $2200 from various sources, so hopefully if that money starts coming in, I can make some real progress. $2200 is about the combined balance of both Chase cards, so it'd be really nice to knock those out in the next few months.

Awhile back, the dealer had suggested a list of maintenance items for my car. I've been remiss in taking care of them, but given that my inspection ends this month and my brakes are on the list, I figured I should start looking into it. When I got my car detailed last week, I had asked for quotes. I didn't have the list, so I did it from memory, but he quoted me around $500 for several items on the list. He also told me at least one of the items definitely wasn't needed. I think I'm going to make them my new regular mechanic as their prices are much more reasonable and I was pleased with their detailing work.

Wedding planning and other updates

July 15th, 2015 at 09:27 pm

I'll start with the other stuff:

Our budget this month is crazy tight. I'm actually cashing in our piggy bank and putting some extra money I made for helping DF's mom out into our account just to make sure we could cover everything. Our buffer was completely depleted when DF was gone for so much of June and then this first week in July. Needless to say, all extraneous expenses are out and we're eating down the pantry.

I'm super grateful that we made it through the FL vacation without too much extra spending. We mostly used DF's work incentive gift cards to cover the extra stuff.

I will probably get some flack for this, but I did provide a down payment for my little brother's car. The one he was driving was on the verge of destruction - it was like russian roulette on whether the brakes would work or not. Unlike my mom, he actually will pay me back. It will just be over several months.

Now to the wedding - it's definitely not going to be cheap. I only plan to do this once, and I never thought it'd happen so soon. I'm so lucky that he asked, and now I get to plan this day. We've decided on a destination wedding. We're inviting about 100 people, but given the location, anywhere from 40-all 100 of them could show up. I geniunely have no clue of the final count and won't until RSVPs come back, so budgeting for all 100, we're looking at about 15k. My family is pretty much useless. My dad did say he would help a bit, but I'll be lucky if my mom manages to pay her own way. Fortunately, DF's family will help out in any way they can, including my future mother-in-law lending her event planning assistance, so I can forgo a wedding planner. It's going to be a stressful, but exciting next several months!

July Budgets

July 10th, 2015 at 01:47 pm

Below are our July budgets:

My Account
Capital One Savings: 30
Netflix: 9
Insurance: 83
Navient Loans: 45
ACS Loan: 170
Phone: 170
Wells Fargo: 50
Food/Gas: 90
Misc: 50
Mariner: 100
Chase Freedom CC: 653
Chase Slate CC: 25
NFL Points CC: 60
Apartment*: 1400

Our Account:
Rent: 1600
Electric: 140
Gas: 60
Verizon: 95
Groceries: 300
Entertainment: 75
Misc: 450
Couch: 50
Pets: 400

The apartment under my account is my contribution to our account.

The miscellaneous in our budget is for the table. It may be less depending on how our income looks for the month. We are going to do our best to eat down our pantry.

June Numbers - Our Account

July 10th, 2015 at 01:33 pm

Our Account:
Rent: 1532.02(1535)
Electric: 68.89(70)
Gas: 98.64 (60)
Verizon: 93.15 (95)
Groceries: 510.01 (300)
Entertainment 115.48 (75)
Misc: 545 (0)
Couch: 50 (200)
Pets: 375.75 (400)

Meh...I could have done better. The miscellaneous expense was a new living room table. DD2 destroyed our glass one, so we went with a much sturdier, wooden one with drawer storage since DC is so fond of knocking anything and everything off of the entertainment stand, side tables, etc. We plan for things like the couch and this table to last us a very long time, so while it's costly, I'm hoping it lasts close to a decade. Now that we have a wedding to plan for, we'll have to be much more focused on the budget to really put aside as much savings as we can in these coming months.

June Spending - My Account

July 10th, 2015 at 01:19 pm

Thanks so much for the well wishes everyone! I couldn't be more thrilled Smile I definitely think this will end up pushing my goal back considerably, but I think that when life throws you lemonade, sometimes you just have to sit back, sip, and enjoy it!!

Now's time to get back to regularly scheduled programming. Here's how June ended up:

My Account *Budgeted numbers in parentheses
BOA Savings: 0 (25)
Capital One Savings: 25 (30)
Netflix: 8 (9)
Insurance: 83 (83)
BOA CC: 33 (33)
Navient Loans: 45 (45)
ACS Loan: 169.7 (170)
Phone: 182.48 (170)
Wells Fargo: 50 (50)
Target: 83 (83)
Food/Gas: 428.28 (90)
Misc: 40.96 (50)
Mariner: 100 (100)
Chase Freedom CC: 1850 (656)
Chase Slate CC: 25 (25)
NFL Points CC: 57 (60)
Apartment*: 1400 (1400)

My BOA savings and CC will be removed starting next month. I closed both accounts in an effort to simplify things. My numbers will now start including cents as I no longer am enrolled in keep the change.

It pains me to look at the amount I'm paying to the CCs and still not be getting ahead. I'm still trying to find some way to kick them. I am owed over a grand from our joint account as I've put some joint expenses on the cc from time to time. I'm hoping now that the traveling is done for a bit, SO will really be able to focus and make some good money, so we can build our buffer back up and start paying some of that money back.

My raise was about $50/paycheck. Not much, but it's something.

Best Trip Ever!!!!

July 7th, 2015 at 12:32 am

For those who want the abridged version...I'm engaged!

Read on for the full story...There's also some financial stuff at the very end.

SO (who we shall now call DF for Dear Fiance) had led me to believe it wouldn't happen for awhile, so I was completely caught off guard. On the last day, we went to Magic Kingdom. DF led our group up to the castle. I kept asking to take a picture, and he kept saying to wait until we got closer. So, we get up close to it, and he said I should take a picture first. I move forward and pose in front of the castle. DF says 'We should all take pictures of Jasmine.' And his whole family starts taking out their phones. I thought it was really weird, but I was enjoying the park, so much that I just went with it. DF asked me if I wanted to see the pictures and came over to me. When he showed me the phone, there was a picture of a ring!! My mouth just dropped open. He then turned me to the castle, said something really sweet, got down on one knee, and proposed. I was so shocked that I took the phone and just shouted 'Of course!' and hugged him. I forgot to accept the ring. He had to give it to me again, and I was surprised all over again. Everyone was chanting 'She said yes!' And then...music started playing and a show called 'Dreams come true' started right then. It couldn't have been more perfect!! So now we add wedding planning to my crazy amazing life Smile

For the trip spending, we did pretty well. We did cover some of our own meals as well as a characature (sp?) for his parents and souvenirs. All of that spending came from gift cards we had lying around. Financial updates as well as a wedding plan of attack coming soon!!

On the road!

July 1st, 2015 at 10:08 pm

We're on our way to Fl! I just wanted to check in quickly with some good news. The cleanse did its job and I successfully weighed out this morning at just over 10% lost for my dietbet! Hoping to keep it in check while in vacation. Still no real idea of spending but SO got an awesome discount on 4 day hopper passes to Disney at less than 200/each. Our share ended up being 320 but hopefully that will be our most costly expense.