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Archive for November, 2015

No Tree This Year :( and Shopping

November 30th, 2015 at 02:41 pm

DF and I decided not to do a tree this year. Our apartment is pretty small and with the three animals, we decided we'd spend more time fixing it than enjoying it. (We are still decorating a little.) Not to mention, we're cutting back on the gift-giving. In fact, DF already got his big gift - a Samsung Gear S2. He's used it non-stop in his job and it's also helped him get back on track with his fitness. I suggested that my big gift be Uggs since my pair is over 5 years old and has no treads left. It's a bit dangerous walking the dogs but they're the easiest things to pull on so I keep using them...I may cave and get a small decorative tree for the kitchen table, but we'll see.

Other than that, we agreed on 3 household gifts and one each for the animals. That is all covered. I did some Black Friday shopping, but am pretty proud of my control. It probably won't seem like I reigned it in, but this year is certainly better than previous years. I did splurge on one outfit for myself and one sweater for DF, but otherwise, I was good. I spent $70 at Bed, Bath, and Beyond for household stuff and a magic laser toy for DC. It turns out my mom had some coupons in addition to the ones I used, so I'll have to see if they'll credit me for those. I spent $170 at PetSmart getting large bags of food for each of the dogs (they're not out of their current bags, but since the deals were so great, I got them which will come out of the pet budget for December), cat food and litter, treats, and several toys. The rest of my spending was wedding-related. I got wedding and reception shoes at DSW - $35 total (well under my $100 shoe budget!). I also got dresses for the rehearsal dinner, reception, and bachelorette party from Ross totaling $90 which included a dress for my mom. My total dress budget was $150, so I'm pretty proud to come in well under with 3 beautiful new dresses - my reception dress is an XL juniors dress for just $13!! I also spent $25 at Ulta on their 5 for $5 deals getting 3 items for the bridesmaids gifts, stocking stuffers for my mom, and co-worker gifts. Today, I do plan on doing some Cyber Monday shopping - all wedding-related. I'll be getting our wine box ($80...originally budgeted $400), bridesmaids gifts (robes - 20/each and phone chargers - 12/each) and a cake-cutting set ($17).

Focusing on the positive

November 20th, 2015 at 02:23 pm

I realized my last post was a little whiny and I have so much to be thankful for. Here's some of the positives lately:

Loan paid off: I had taken a small ($2000) 401K loan late last year. Today marks the last payment. Since I was paying it back in addition to my normal contribution, I should see a $250 increase (minus taxes) in pay per month.

Credit Cards: We'll have both of our joint cards just under 30% utilization by the time the statements close. Hopefully, this helps DF get the lowest rate when he gets his car next month.

Frugal eating: We've been doing a good job of eating at home. We've also been incorporating more veggies (health win!).

Supportive fiance: This really should be the first one. I can't even express how grateful I am for the man who keeps me sane, holds me when I'm stressed, and tells me I'm beautiful each and every day.

Getting creative: I decided to look into more frugal alternatives to some of my wedding budget. One of the more creative options we're considering is AirBNB for travel. We'll be there about a week. If we could find a nice place with plenty of room and open owners, we could use that for us and even have one of us get ready there which would save a ton on lodging costs, save one of the hotel rooms we booked as a getting ready place, and help cut meal costs as we could buy some groceries and cook. Plus, it'd feel like our own little home during the week.

Getting creative 2: DF and I have a splurgy date booked next month - we're seeing the new Star Wars in 3d at a movie theater that serves dinner and such. We want to watch all the other movies beforehand. This would normally mean me buying them or the whole set. But this time...I went to freecycle to ask. No offers yet, but someone was kind enough to suggest the library. My county does not have very many DVDs, but the adjacent one has them and I can get a membership with a library card from my county! So yay Smile

I feel a lot less stressed and happier going into the weekend.

Wedding Blues

November 18th, 2015 at 08:17 pm

I recently did a detailed budget of the remaining wedding costs and it's a little painful. It doesn't even include the honeymoon which is several grand more. I'm hoping some of the travel costs will be alleviated by using rewards points. Everything is already booked, so the only areas I can save are smaller things like the Out of Town bags, centerpieces, placecards, and my accessories and shoes. Even then, the savings is hundreds which won't make that much of a difference. Planning to pay for it completely in cash would require us to save $3300 each month from December to May. That number does not account for any help from my or DF's parents. Both have agreed to help, but since we did not get a set number, we're trying to minimize the impact to them. I plan to sit down with DF tonight and go over this with him. As much as I want to do our original honeymoon plan, we may have to settle for coming back and doing a staycation or BnB getaway in our area.

Various Updates

November 16th, 2015 at 02:25 pm

Still owe an October debt update...

I've been really spacey lately and need to get focused. While I really want to get moving on my credit cards, I realized that I need to start with our joint credit cards. One has a 3k balance and the other has a 1500 balance. We have about 2k to throw at the 3k card before the statement even hits. The rest will be paid before the due date to avoid interest. That will get it at 20% utilization. The 1500 card has a 3k limit, so I want to throw at least $500 (preferably 700-800) at it prior to the statement closing. Next month, DF is getting his car. It's currently in production and scheduled for delivery around the 20th (right before my birthday on the 21st). This is DF's 'family' car for the next decade or so. He's getting a great deal with about 3k being contributed to his down payment from Honda incentives, plus whatever he gets left over from his trade-in. His credit is pretty good. He carries no debt, and his only problem was a lack of history until we started authorizing him on my cards. I want to get the utilization under 30%, so he has the best chance possible at their lowest financing (1.9%).

I've already told my brothers that I could not help with Christmas this year. In the past, I've stepped up and contributed the vast majority of the Christmas budget to ensure we have gifts to open, but I made it clear that I have to get my life in order and contribute to our wedding.

DF and I will get a total of 5 things (most of which are for the apartment).

I need to be more proactive with YNAB. Right now, I'm using it reactively. More just logging than following. I think even with that it's helped (I am doing my best to avoid grocery shopping since I'm already in the red). However, I think it could be much more useful.

I have one more anticipated wedding expense prior to the end of the year - our rentals. This includes the dance floor, linens, cocktail glasses, and napkins. The deposit is 50% or ~500. We will likely pay this in December. After that, everything goes into savings until invites and final payments (a month to a week before the wedding). I do also need the rest of my attire things - shoes, possibly a veil, alterations on my dress, but I plan to keep these costs to $300.

Veteran's Day Date Night and Groceries

November 12th, 2015 at 03:14 pm

Last night, we went to our favorite local restaurant (owned by a good friend of DF's) for Veteran's Day. We had a coupon for a free appetizer and DF got a free entree for his service which we just split. As it was, it was way too much food for the two of us. All we paid for was drinks which came out to $32. We really enjoy those nights out and have no problem supporting that restaurant since the owner is so generous and kind.

I also did a ton of grocery shopping yesterday with the intent that it would last us through the month. Well, my oh-so-lovely pups decided they didn't want to wait while I made four trips to the car, and they ate the roast beef. 1 lb. and $10 bucks worth gone in about 5 minutes. I was livid. They spent the rest of the evening in timeout and didn't get dinner. On the plus side, I rediscovered that I have a ton of peanut butter and jelly, so I'm going to do my best to get by off of that. I did go $25 over my grocery budget for the month, but considering it's normally more like $100 over, this is a good start.

Bridesmaids' dresses, wine, and cut-up faces

November 9th, 2015 at 04:39 pm

Had a great weekend. We found two solid candidates for dresses and selected 3 wines for the wedding. unfortunately, DD2 also pulled me clear off my friend's back steps resulting in my landing headfirst on the ground. My neck is really stiff. X-rays turned up clear, so that's good, I guess.

Boston Trip and other things

November 5th, 2015 at 02:29 pm

This weekend, I'm driving up to Boston for a girls' weekend with 4 of my bridesmaids. They'll be trying on dresses and we'll be sampling the Sedona wines I brought back to see if any will work for the wedding. My maid of honor also convinced (though really it took very little prompting) me to try on a few dresses for fun. In order to ensure there is zero temptation (I genuinely love my $200 pre-owned dress), I'm leaving all credit cards at home. The dogs will be coming with me since DF is away this weekend. We'll leave DC at home, but I may reach out to my brother and see if he can check in on her because she loves people and gets lonely.

My friends are amazing. One is hosting all 4 of us plus the dogs for the weekend. I asked her if we could potentially chip in for groceries and just eat all of our meals in in order to save money. She not only responded positively, but proceeded to send me a detailed meal plan for the two days. Cheap meals, check!

After that, things will slow down (thank goodness!). We're still thinking through Thanksgiving plans, but we may actually try to bring both of our families together so that we don't have to worry about driving between his parents' place and my mom's to see both families.

Christmas will be really scaled back this year. Each of the animals will get one thing. I'm not sure about the pups, but DC is getting a laser machine. Any recommendations for one? DD2 also loves the laser, so we rarely play with the pointer anymore because she's too big and gets in the way (although it is really cute to see a 60 lb. german shepherd pouncing on a tiny dot...). We figure with the machine, we can shut DC in the bedroom and run it and she can play without interruption. I'm limiting our gifts to 5 items, and it will mostly be things we need around the house that we just haven't taken the time to replace.

Random Updates

November 3rd, 2015 at 02:42 pm

I apologize in advance for this being all over the place.

My new laptop charger came in yesterday. DD2 is entering her 'challenging' phase and has been chewing up things in the apartment. Recent casualties include the living room blanket (which I sewed myself rather than tossing - yay frugality!), one of DC's toys (too far gone to save), and my computer charger (never did find the little end of it...).

I sat down and updated YNAB from the trip. Now, that our joint account is last month's income. I'm hoping we'll really be able to use YNAB to ramp up our savings.

DF and I have also committed to losing weight and cutting back on the junk. We went to the gym last night. He's taking a harsher approach than me by not having any sweets, drinking only water, and limiting alcohol consumption to two 'events' a month. For November, it's Thanksgiving and the day Fallout 4 comes out (can't come between a man and his video game love...). I may join him on the alcohol consumption and I already mostly just drink water.

Babysitting is going well. It's hard being up so early, but it gives me a more regimented schedule, and it's an easy $100/wk. Now that most of the traveling is over, that $400/mo will go straight into our wedding savings while I continue paying off some of my own cards with my full-time paychecks.

Cheerleading is wrapping up which means I have a few weeks of less gas cost. Competition season starts in December though, so it will be short-lived.

This weekend is my quick trip to Boston. I don't anticipate spending very much. I'm really hoping to get away with just the cost of gas and maybe two fast food meals. I shipped wines back from Sedona for us to try and we have 3 dress shop appointments.

I have lots of little wedding tasks to take care of, but I'm giving myself some leeway since I got so much done on our trip last week. We did have to pay half of our catering balance because we ended up setting the menu last week. Our vendor had mentioned awhile ago that half was due when we set the menu, but I'd forgotten and made our final substitutions after I got back from the trip while it was all still fresh in my mind. Luckily, we're able to cover it. And if anything, that $3k less that's due right at the end with everything else. For my own personal tracking, a couple of other things I need to do include: sending out the DJ check, updating the wedding website to fix a few grammar errors and add the hotel blocks, book the ramada for our rehearsal get-together, book the two XL King rooms for getting ready suites, book the wedding night room, follow up with all vendors re: details (songs for the DJ, pictures wanted for the photographer, centerpiece ideas for the florist, cake design), order a dance floor.

Which reminds me...has anyone ever attended a wedding where the dance floor was carpet? It was very strongly suggested that I rent a dance floor for the space. Just wondering, if that's a choice or requirement...