Budget Update

I'm expecting this will not be a regular post, but I figure until we get our budget figured out, I will share.

First thing to know (or at least acknowledge) is that we started our budget in the middle of the month already behind.

In December with Christmas cards, trees, gifts, and lots of food, we ended the month with much less money than we would have liked in Justin's account (which is our main spending account). Justin got his paycheck early (on Dec. 27) rather than getting it on the 3rd like we expected. So on the one hand it was nice to have the money early, but on the other hand it probably didn't help us stay on budget.

Then on top of the early paycheck, Justin neglected to tell me about a lot of January yearly expenses, which I have already discussed. All of that came from emergency savings. *sigh* It was okay, because we got quite a chunk of cash to put back into our emergency savings for Christmas. I still don't really like taking money out of that account, so that is when I decided to get on top of our budget.

I hate to provide another THEN statement, but that is exactly what happened. THEN Justin's boss neglected to pay him on time. He got his second monthly paycheck nearly a month after the last one. (In other words, Justin and I are accustomed to him getting two paychecks a month, one on the third and one on the eighteenth. He didn't get his second paycheck until the twenty-fifth.)

Just to make things even more confusing, I started playing around with Mint.com. I added my checking and savings accounts to the website, so that Justin could see how our emergency accounts were affecting our finances. The end result was confusion. (I also fixed one of Justin's loan accounts that was showing up twice indicating that we were in twice as much debt as we are.) Apparently, when you add accounts, Mint shows it as an increase or decrease in money for that one month rather than showing how all of the previous months of using that account have had an affect on your finances.

Justin and I knew we were going to be over budget this month since we had not saved up for over $500 in yearly expenses, but the confusion caused by Mint meant we weren't entirely certain how far over we were until... yesterday.

Unfortunately I'm still not entirely certain as to how far over budget we are, but the things I do know are:

- If Justin has money in his account, he spends it. (I do too; he's not alone in this problem.)
- Food is a real problem area for us. It's really shocking when you break down your food budget and realize you could have eaten one meal out every day during the month and still been at the same amount spent on food.
- Justin had a cut in pay this month due to the fiscal cliff or whatever that was. I won't talk about it like I know what I'm saying; I don't. All I am saying is that $150 less a month is a lot.
- Then I learned this morning that I was off in calculating our student loan pay off budget; apparently we needed to include $50 more than what I was told.

In other words, I learned a lot about our budget this month. I guess the one thing I am most uncertain about is the "over budget" portion on our mint account. I'm not sure if this is just how much extra we have spent out of Justin's paycheck or if this number includes my paycheck as well. (My paycheck is not included under the term "income", but my income is considered as extra money earned for the month.) On a positive note, Mint says we've spent less than we did in December. Yay! It also says our net worth is improving! Woo! The last positive is that we will be able to more accurately budget with my account information included on Mint's website.

Hopefully next month I will report that our budget has improved significantly. I'm wanting to drop our food budget by a few hundred dollars. (There is no reason we need to be spending as much as we are every month.) On the other side of the coin, that is our hobby since we can't really afford to spend our money elsewhere. (Plus, we have to put all of the kitchen supplies we got from the wedding to use!)

A few other things our budget does not show about our food budget: we spent more time entertaining friends this month than we have in previous months, more money was spent on medicine due to being sick, and a few meals were bought that will be paid for by Justin's work when Justin gets his next paycheck. (Yay for work compensated meals! And friends!)

Next month our income will increase quite a bit as I have at least one high paying side job and Justin is getting our tax return back plus the money he earned this year on his Amex credit card. All of this money is already accounted for, but it will still be nice having it! :)

So yes, now that you all know what our budget looks like, you can help me stay on track, especially if I have to update you all next month! Eek!

Wishing you all a happy and financially wonderful Thursday!

January 2013 Instagram


I can hardly believe this month is almost over! It seems like it has gone by soooo very fast! When I was going through my Instagram pictures, I realized that I have been really slacking this month in picture-taking and Instagram-editing! I almost think I like the look of the 9 images over the 16 though, so I may continue to only do 9 images a month. I think that is a completely reasonable number. (Plus, it doesn't fill up my phone as fast!!)

I've also been having a lot of fun with the Blux camera app. If you check out the Hershey's Kiss image and the strawberry image, I was using Blux to capture those. I love that it will allow you to focus on one particular point blurring out the rest of the image. It definitely makes the images more interesting.

That is my prop for Blux! Go check it out!

*I am not affiliated with Blux or Instagram, and I am not being paid or compensated for my opinion. My opinion is my own.

Sue Bryce - Photographer

Sue Bryce Photography

Yesterday I came across a wonderful story imaged by an amazing photographer and her client Jill Bzreznski-Conley. According to the story, Jill is only 32 years old, but she has already had to deal with both breast cancer and bone cancer. 

The thing I absolutely love about Sue Bryce is that her photography focuses on women and telling their story... making them feel beautiful and somehow getting them to enjoy the experience of being photographed.

Think about it... If you are a woman, certainly you can understand the appeal of putting on a huge fluffy dress, feeling beautiful and feminine... then going to what is deemed to be the most beautiful place on earth (Paris) to have your picture taken in front of the Eiffel Tower.

However, with Sue Bryce, it doesn't matter if you are putting on a big, fluffy dress or just some lingerie. Her goal, like I said, is to make you feel beautiful.

I guess all I can really say is... check out her website and images. I really don't think you will regret it. :)

A Successful Weekend


You know your weekend was successful when you can say you made chocolate covered strawberries (and chips and cashews) with the cutest 9 year old ever! (And Justin!)

Justin had to work on Sunday, so we had to get all of our errands done on Saturday. These errands included changing the oil in his truck, getting a price match from Anthropologie, returning an item to AutoZone, grocery shopping, and Justin even completed our taxes!

We are so excited! Justin is getting a pretty big return on his taxes which means we get to pay off a good chunk of debt! Yay! I have to say it definitely feels good to accomplish something like that... all the while not losing money in any of our other bank accounts! :)

Surprisingly, we also found out some friends from Slovakia are in town until March, so we have made plans to have dinner with them. :)

Did you do anything exciting over the weekend?

Vacation Time! (for a photographer)

1. Adaptor Plug • 2. Passports • 3. Jeans • 4. Ipad • 5. lens

As mentioned before, Justin and I are planning a trip to NYC this year and a trip to Germany in 2014. The planner that I am, I already have a list of things that I want to remember to take. My list includes things Justin and I need to buy as well as things I simply don't want to forget.

Being a photographer (or at least amateur), I have specific camera needs I want to be sure I do not forget. Obviously, I will want to bring my camera. (It is maybe 7 or 8 years old, but it still works!) My favorite lenses are my 50mm and telephoto lenses. Since I can't take a bunch of lenses, we are looking at purchasing this lens. I especially love that this lens is much better in low light situations than any lenses I currently have. (I might try to get some lenses for my cell phone too!)

I'm also going to need new memory cards and camera batteries. After I bought a battery adaptor for my camera, I quit using regular Canon batteries with my camera and succumbed to using double A's.  (The camera batteries were slowly wearing down and not lasting as long as they should.) While replacing the batteries will be expensive up front, I know it will end up being cheaper in the long run and much better for the environment.

Then Justin and I started thinking about backing up my images. I can easily take over 1000 images a day (or in 6 hours), so we knew we needed to be able to back my images up without risking the loss of my $3000 nearly 3-year old laptop. (It's still a baby!) Instead, Justin and I are looking into buying an ipad to solve this problem which would allow us to save images to the cloud (as well as a second source beyond the camera card).

I will also probably find myself purchasing a camera bag/purse. I don't know what airport security is like, but if at all possible, I want to keep my camera as close to me as possible. I wouldn't know what to do without my (not) baby!

Starting in February, Justin and I will be applying for our passports. In the past I have heard horror stories about this process, so I am wanting to apply for them as soon as possible. It will be exciting for us to travel overseas for our first time ever! (If it didn't cost so much to travel, it would be very tempting to go ahead and go this year!)

It's nice to be on top of things; I just hope I can continue to stay on top of travel expenses and saving.

ASOS Customer Service Review & Commentary for Ladies

First of all, if you are male, you may want to stay as far away from this post as possible. (I'm not too certain men are interested in fashion to begin with.)

I'm sure you've seen where I recommended ASOS before. At the time, I had never purchased from them, but I since have and I was VERY PLEASED with the service. However, with this post I wanted to make 2 points. (Ok, maybe 3.)

Living On A Prayer

Just to share a random tidbit of information that makes me happy: Did you know Bon Jovi's "Living On A Prayer" was originally written about a couple that was doing bad financially, became pregnant, and decided to give up?

We've got to hold on to what we've got.
It doesn't make a difference if we make it or not.
We've got each other, and that's a lot.
For love - we'll give it a shot!


Oh...we're halfway there.
Oh... living on a prayer.
Take my hand and we'll make it, I swear.

He didn't like the story, so he changed it. :)

*I have no idea if this story is accurate. It was seen during a google search.
**I also have no rights to this song.

A New Day

I've been very negative recently. Then Justin got more bad news today. Instead of focusing on the negative, can I share something positive?

As you may know if you follow my personal twitter feed, Justin and I are trying to plan a trip/budget to go to Germany in 2014. We already had crazy financial goals for 2013, so this was really stressing me out.

Then I had the crazy idea of contacting Justin's and my German teacher from high school. Justin took it a step further and suggested meeting her for a beer. I'm hoping she will agree. She may say no since Justin always did math during her class. *glares at Justin* She would always come to class and apologize for being mean to me in her dreams though, so maybe we have a chance? ;)

Really, truly though, I am excited about Justin's suggestion.

I've also heard from a friend I haven't spoken to in a while that said she'd like to meet up and discuss my budgeting concerns.

So all in all, planning this trip (that I don't have a date or a budget for) has been overall a very positive experience by putting me in touch with people I haven't spoken with in a while. :)

As an aside, I'm not quite sure where to direct this blog. Would any of my readers like to comment about what you want to hear about? I'm thinking food, store reviews, occasional wedding randoms, house development, and now travel information? I hope you stay with me as I continue to develop my blog this year. :)

Miroslav Sasek (a children's author)

So, I had never heard M. Sasek, a 1960's author of children's books titled This is _____ until today.


I had to share, because the books look exciting.

If you click on the "look inside" for the This is Paris book on Amazon, it shows how Miroslav Sasek incorporated words from the French language into the book. Plus, the illustrations are gorgeous! At the end of each of his books, the author has side notes about how the area in question has changed since he wrote the book originally!

I may be tempted to purchase a few of his books. :)

Random Sunday Update: Clothing Blogs

Ok. I will admit it. I have a problem. I truly enjoy reading blogs featuring Anthropologie fashion. I love seeing what other people are buying and how they are styling their new clothing. Occasionally reading these blogs inspires me to check out other clothing brands that often have the same high quality as what my favorite store offers.

1. One of my absolute FAVORITES is Effortless Anthropologie. Every week Roxy updates with sales, reader outfits, other places to buy similar clothing (like J. Crew), providing a place for people to sell their used Anthropologie clothing, and occasionally insightful commentary on the Anthropologie brand (how free shipping could improve the brand sales, how well the store is doing financially, and other customer concerns). If I don't look at any other website during the week, I always check hers out. :)

2. I'm also a big fan of Shannon Hearts. I love seeing the styled photo shoots and the different ways she puts together outfit ensembles. Shannon also frequently offers giveaways for the clothing brands that sponsor her website.

3. I also discovered SHEfinds, which coincidentally offers BRIDEfinds (aka SHEfinds Weddings) and MOMfinds for all the other women in the world that are less concerned about personal fashion and more concerned with either their wedding day or cute things for their kids! :) This website does not offer information specifically about Anthropologie, but they do occasionally mention my favorite store. I love that they share celebrity fashion, giveaways, department store sale information, and how to obtain your favorite styles for less.

Is there anyone that you follow that has gorgeous style and fun clothing advice? Feel free to share with me! I love checking out new and different blogs!

The Little Things In Life

I have to admit that sometimes the little things in life make me the happiest.

- falling asleep to rain
- a hug
- my husband making what I want for dinner
- a great song coming on the radio
- finding out a dear friend is engaged!

Yes, I said it. I just found out, a month after the proposal, that a dear friend (or 2?) of mine is engaged! You have absolutely no idea how excited this makes me!

Three years ago, at Christmas time, I found out an online friend of mine was pregnant... at like 3AM. She and her husband had had a rough time becoming pregnant. I was so excited for her, and I was so excited that she had confided in me. I couldn't sleep that night; she couldn't either. It was an amazing moment.

Then, last night I couldn't sleep... so I found out this other online friend is engaged! Ahhh... *sigh* I may never want to sleep again!! lol.

Anyway, I hope this post finds my readers doing well and enjoying their Friday. Am I the only one that gets amazing news late at night?

BuyTrends?

A few days ago, I was going through google reader and checking out the blogs I follow when I stumbled across one bloggers recommendation of BuyTrends. I went to check it out and the next thing I knew Justin had confiscated my computer and was looking at the website for himself!

The truth of the matter was that BuyTrends has cute Korean style clothing at very good prices (assuming of course that the clothing is in good quality condition and made well). I fell in love with Korean style clothing when I came across Liz Lisa clothing, which is very expensive and hard to obtain in the US (even on ebay!).

Justin said I could order a few things using paypal from the BuyTrends website just to check them out and share with my readers what I thought about the experience. While the clothes I have ordered have not come in yet, let me share my experience so far.

First of all, if you are looking for cute clothes at good prices, BuyTrends seems to be a great place to shop! Here are a few things that caught my eye:

Ladylike Two Pieces Set Short Cardigan jacket Coat
with Sleeveless Chiffon Floral Dress Purple


Elegant Stylish Long Sleeve Chiffon Dress


Bohemian Chiffon Lace Flower Maxi Skirt with Belt


As you can see, the clothing looks nice and very feminine. If you check out the prices, you will quickly realize that the prices are very similar to other cheaper US stores like Forever 21 or Wet Seal. However, in my experience, the clothing quality is not amazing, and I often either wear out the items I buy from those stores faster than I would like... or the style of clothing comes out of fashion and I decide the clothing item looks awful on me within a year. I'm hoping this will not be the case with BuyTrends, however, past experience indicates that you get what you pay for. Low price often equates to low quality.

I'm also a little bit concerned with the "free size" that almost all of the clothes at BuyTrends comes in. I'm use to, at the minimum, small, medium, and large sizing. I'm afraid the clothing will be too stretchy or not stretchy enough. The Korean models, whether photoshopped or not, all look very small in stature, and, while I'm not a large person, I'm wondering exactly how "free" the sizing really is.

I also don't like that the colors for the items are not mentioned on the website. For example, the elegant, stylish, long chiffon dress comes in apricot and white. With the white balance for the image being slightly off (I'm assuming), the dress looks more pink than white, so I had no idea if the dress shown was the white version or maybe if, when the site says apricot, they mean a slight apricot hue. The only indication of color mentioned is that 'color may not be as it appears due to discrepancies on computer monitors'. Helpful, yes?

Finally, the last concern for me was the misspellings on the website and lack of blogger reviews. I understand if this is a new site (which I think it is),  they may have a few kinks to work out. This is why I was grateful for the opportunity to order using paypal. I like the guarantee that I can get my money back if the items do not arrive as mentioned or if customer service gives me a hard time.

The shipping was a bit expensive costing $13 for 3 items taking my total above what I originally wanted to spend. (Also, the coupon they offer for you to sign up only works if you spend $99 or more which is not exactly what a new customer wants to do!)

At the moment, I can only recommend checking out BuyTrends if you like cute, Korean-style, feminine-looking clothing. I will definitely come back and let you know how the actual purchasing experience went and tell you more about the quality of clothing once I receive my items in the mail. :)

See Follow-Up here. This is where I finally received one of the items I bought.

That Something Exciting

Remember how I said my weekend got more exciting?

I had asked Justin if we could have steak on Saturday night. When we went to look at meat prices, we were shocked at the cost for a steak. Justin ended up getting a hanger steak not knowing what it was. Apparently, in the Joy Of Cooking, the authors claim that a hanger steak is only really good if it is cooked well, but very little was said about how to cook it. They did, however, recommend that it would be a good steak for boeuf bourguignon -- Julia Child's boeuf bourguignon. (Ok, maybe the book did not say that specifically, but the dish was recommended... just not Julia Child's in particular. Apparently Julia Child became popular after the Joy of Cooking was published.)

While dinner at midnight may appease some, Justin and I decided to wait a day to make the stew enjoying instead some guacamole and chips. Come Sunday, Justin began preparation of some meringues and helped me to get some cleaning done around the house not once realizing that the stew really should have been cooking the whole time. Around five o'clock, Justin decided that he was going to make Julia Child's boeuf bourguignon anyway even though we wouldn't get to eat it until Monday. I'll have you know that Justin got so distracted creating this meal that, once again, we had a late night dinner with the boeuf bourguignon not finishing until nearly midnight and smelling delicious the entire time!

As a surprise, Justin's parents came down to have dinner with us on Monday night. Between the boeuf bourguignon, broccoli, french bread, steamed potatoes, and a delicious salad, no one went hungry. The boeuf bourguignon was sooooo tender... like pot roast. It still had the taste of steak and little bit of a fruity taste... most likely due to the wine it was cooked in. It was absolutely delicious. Having been my first French meal, I would definitely eat something like this again.

So that was my something exciting. It probably is not everyone's 'cup of tea', but I definitely had quite an experience trying this new (to me) recipe. Plus, I always love watching Justin cook. I'm not good with food myself and I can never tell what will go together, but I love that he can alter recipes and it usually tastes pretty good. If you have ever had the desire to try this recipe, I definitely recommend that you do.

The apple pie with cheddar cheese and ice cream that we had for dessert that night was just the 'icing on the cake'! :)

New Items at BHLDN

I'm sure I've shared this before and I am sure I will share this again...

I LOVE BHLDN and the majority of the stores in the Urban Outfitters line. This morning, BHLDN posted a bunch of new things on their website. This is pretty exciting since it is only the second year they have been open. It seems, to me, that the BHLDN line just keeps getting better! While I don't check out the website enough to tell you what is currently new, I can share with you a few things I have not seen before on the website that I LOVE!


Up until recently the Tea Rose Dress only came in a light rose pink color. When I saw this dress in this turquoise color, it didn't matter how much the original went on sale... I wanted to wait for this one to become available. Although I cannot currently afford or justify the $380 price tag for this dress, which also now comes in gold, I am absolutely in love with this dress! Maybe it will go on sale at some point, so that I can purchase it! (Or maybe my husband will be awesome and let me at some point... We shall see.)


While I have no desire to ever get married again, I am absolutely in love with the Onyx gown now available at BHLDN. The front of the dress is gorgeous, but I love the back of the dress with the elegant lace, the flowing skirt, and the beautiful bow detail. Plus, what are your thoughts on the model's hair? :)


Finally, I stumbled across these bits of gorgeous. They are the Parlour Cake Stands and look very similar to some cake stands I had wanted to use in my wedding. The pink is a gorgeous color, but I am not entirely sure the husband would agree to put one of his cakes on these beautiful stands, so, for now, I will have to admire from a distance!

Are you currently loving anything at BHLDN? :)

What a Weekend!

So my weekend started off pretty awesomely when I got a text from some friends in Germany saying they finally got their Christmas gift in the mail! (We sent it pretty late, because I was sick, and crazy-busy crafting bunches of Christmas gifts! Eek! I am a terrible friend/person, I know!) I loved the response of having given "something warm and something to drink hot chocolate with" since when I sent it I avoided using words that would indicate what exactly was in the box. (I hate how the postal service slaps on a sticker saying what is in the box voiding the whole point of mail being a surprise. Why no! You have to open the box to know what exactly is in there!)

Anyway, from that point on my weekend just got better.

I had a whole crazy long list of things that needed to get done on Saturday and appointment times to go with it. We weren't sure if we would make all of our appointments, but we did! It began with a trip to the bank Saturday morning, dropping off things to be stored with my parents, having a quick brunch while out and about before breakfast hours ended, followed by a hair appointment and an Apple appointment for my computer.

In between all of these appointments, we also needed to return something I had bought from Anthropologie. Justin probably should have said no, but he agreed to let me look through the sale section. I tried on 4 different things.


One of the first things I tried on was the Fan Folds Tunic. It was really cute on... except that the chest fits a little tight. I tried the shirt on in my usual size of 0, but while it fit everywhere else, I would have needed to go up a size or so for it to fit in the chest area. Considering I have a fairly small chest, I decided it wasn't worth it.


Next up was the Striated Lace Dress. Justin and I agreed -- the dress tried REALLY HARD, but it was a no. Turns out the waist was really weird on me. Instead of looking natural, it kind of stuck out. On top of that, the top of the dress was too big! I was wondering what was going on with my chest at this point! Too big for one dress and too small for another! There was really a lot of room in the top of the dress, and I would probably have had to spend a lot of money getting it taken in... which is not something you want to do when you purchase Anthropologie. Yuck. I'm also not usually a fan of stripes, so it was interesting that I was willing to try this dress on. I inevitably decided that the way the dress fit made it not quite as awesome as the Sunshades Dress which is one striped dress I absolutely love!


So then I tried on the Noisette Lace Dress. I had seen it in Anthropologie about the same time I saw my Stitched Looma Coat. I loved the style of this dress, but I was terribly afraid it wouldn't work for me. I assumed (as did my husband) that the dress was meant for someone much taller than a 5'2" female. I was terribly wrong. Do you see the model in the picture above and how her dress swooshes? That was my very first impression of this dress! It swooshes!! I know it sounds hilarious, but it's the part of the dress that makes you feel like a princess when you are wearing it. The fabric is nice and heavy... The dress does not feel (or look) cheaply made at all. On top of it all, this dress hit me right above the ankles which actually looked pretty great. I think with this dress you could easily add a belt or a bolero (shrug?) and jazz up (or down) this dress. I tried it on with a grey shrug, and Justin said it looked phenomenal.


The very last dress I tried on was the Chrysanthemum Tea Dress, another Tracy Reese design.* I had tried this dress on initially around Thanksgiving on a day when I was short-tempered and not feeling good. I guess my mood had an impact on what Justin thought of this dress. While we were at Anthropologie on Saturday, he pointed out this dress and asked if I wanted to try it on. Remembering that I thought it was lovely on, I agreed. I figured if he didn't remember my first time trying this dress on, it was his loss (or gain). So I tried on the 2 and the 4 remembering that this dress fit crazy tight in the waist and that the 0 was too small. When I tried on both the 2 and the 4, I could not get the zipper up. My initial thought was that the 2 didn't fit, but I felt insane thinking that the 4 didn't fit. Finally, I just got help. It's quite possible that the 2 could have fit me if I had asked for help with the zipper, but considering the 4 fit pretty well, with Justin's help zipping, I didn't bother going back to the smaller size.

Justin bought me both the Noisette Dress and the Chrysanthemum Tea Dress on sale. When I asked him why he would agree to buy both, he said that 1) it gave me more dresses to wear and 2) Anthropologie dresses give me confidence and make me feel pretty. I was not going to argue that!

So, at the end of the day, with my hair cut and styled and two new dresses, I definitely felt like I had emerged from the movie Pretty Woman.

My weekend did get better, but for that you will have to wait until my next post!


*(See Stitched Looma Coat and Noisette Dress.)

Financial Struggles When Getting Married

If you are getting married, you've probably already thought about your budget. More than likely you've had one of two thoughts:

1. I'll win a bunch of contests for awesome wedding things and our wedding will be super cheap!

2. I'll have a small wedding and thus our wedding will be really cheap!

Can I blow your wedding budget bubble? Weddings cost more than you think they do!

Unless you are a wedding planner, you probably aren't aware of the actual cost of weddings or the time that goes into them. So I suggest you research the general cost of the vendors that will be necessary for your wedding before coming up with a budget. Despite having worked as a second photographer for weddings before, even I was surprised at the actual cost of a wedding!

To give you an idea of wedding costs, let's look at the costs of my wedding:

1. The photographer was the most important part of our wedding. The first photographer we planned on using cost roughly $2000. When we found out the main photographer was pregnant, we went on a last minute search for a replacement photographer... who cost us approximately $1000. Dove Photography, our first photographer, had had their images published in magazines, had attended the same college as me(!!), was going to give us all of their images, but they were only going to shoot for approximately 6 hours with 2 shooters and their company was located out of state. The second photographer we hired, Darwin Young, actually lived in the area, was giving us all of our images, and was going to shoot the whole day of wedding excitement.

2. The florist we booked cost us approximately $2000. Amy Osaba, it turns out, was charging for name only. The florals were pretty until they fell apart and turned brown before the ceremony. Other florists we talked with were only going to charge approximately $600 for what Justin and I asked for.

3. Venue, one of the last things booked, cost us $3000! We were originally looking to spend $200 on our venue, but the building was being remodeled. Every other location we looked at, we were going to have to bring in rentals and crazy decorate the location. Having free rentals, s'mores, tents, heaters, and an extra wedding planner helped us to seal the deal.

4. Food was one of the cheapest things we paid for! Yay!! At $12/head with appetizers and three different entrees, bread, salad, coffee, and fruit we thought we got a good deal! Most caterers were asking a minimum of $15/head with only 2 entrees, salad, and bread. Some were asking as much as $30/head!!! We had considered buying Costco lasagnas and getting some of the men Justin's dad knew to heat them up and serve them, but even Justin's dad, who knew a lot about catering, decided we were getting a good deal with the food!

5. Music was also cheap. We had my laptop plugged in... Not ideal, but it worked. Justin was even able to go change the music during the reception without anyone noticing! In total, music cost us about $100. Obviously, you could just use music you already have. We were looking at a DJ for around $700 for 3 hours... or a band for a few thousand. 

6. I'm embarrassed to admit that the invitations and paper products cost quite a bit coming in at about $1000. I wasn't even all that happy with my invitations! I was just so indecisive at making my own invitations, and I was trying to be a perfectionist with my save-the-dates and programs. I was in love with my programs, by the way! However, if you don't know what you are doing, you could probably get away with spending $500 or less on invitations, $1000 for fancy invites, or less than $100 if you just print them off of your own printer.

All in all, our wedding cost us more than we expected including clothing, decoration, and dance lesson costs that I have not mentioned here. We did not go into more debt than we already owed, we were able to pay in cash, as I suggest you do as well.

While vendor costs are all over the place, I hope you get the general idea. There are a lot of variables that make up the cost of an item from awards, to the name, not having a clue what you are doing, bargaining, rental costs, etc... The best you can do is be aware that weddings are expensive, know what to expect given a vendors particular price range, and look for the absolute best deal you can find.

Weekend Recap

In my last post, I told you all that Justin and I are taking hold of our financial future in a very strong way this year. (Not that I would ever not be interested in my financial future. It was inevitable.)

Justin approached me over the weekend and said "We have a problem." He informed me that his checking account was lower than he liked and he didn't know why. He gets really angry dealing with finances whereas I can sit there and work things out unemotional. Turns out we had a lot of yearly expenses that came due this month. *sigh* Ok, change that. HE had a lot of yearly expenses I didn't know about.

Up until this year, I have really tried to stay out of his finances. They were none of my business because we weren't married. (I know! It's insane that a girl could keep her opinions to herself! Don't worry though. My opinions were clear on every other subject under the sun before we married... and still are.)

So anyway, my whole day Sunday was devoted to coming up with a financial plan. I first needed to know where our money was going, so that I could then split it up over the course of the month according to Justin's paychecks and determine exactly how much out of savings we would need to cover those yearly expenses.

Justin and I clearly aren't on the same page. I ask if we can split expenses with his family, so that more people can get the services for half the cost. He doesn't understand. He says "But it's only $25, and that won't save us much." I'm of the opinion that any money saved is beneficial.

Unfortunately, considering all of the yearly expenses have been paid (both with and without my consent), I find it not worth arguing until next year. On top of that, we have Justin now set up to save the money over the course of the year, so that we don't get a surprise depletion of our savings against our/my will next January.

In other news, my husband worked very hard replacing some part on my car with my dad's help this weekend. He kind of looked like a creature from the deep when he was done... black hands and a black face. :) I didn't say that though. I am very thankful for a husband that can do almost anything and a father that can help Justin figure out my car. Yay for $40 parts and no other repair costs!

Do you agree with Justin that sharing expenses isn't worth the money saved? Do you have a financial plan worked out for this year?

New Year Resolutions (i.e. Financial Goals)

Justin and I didn't make any explicit new years resolutions, but we do have some general goals that we would like to meet.

Having dated for so long before getting married, Justin and I have very different ways of handling our finances.

It took me so long to get a legitimate job that my biggest goal has always been to save as much as possible and get amazing deals. (Did you see my latest Anthropologie splurge?) I've never been great at couponing, so I do my best to keep an eye on prices. I wait for things to go on sale. When things do go on sale, I try to only buy what I need. Finally, if the price does drop again, I love doing price adjustments!

Over the past year, every cent I make goes into savings. That number includes any gifts from my family to us or to me. (Justin's family doesn't usually give us gifts in the form of cash, so we really haven't had to deal with that before.) Before I began work in August, I came up with a financial goal that I thought would be achievable. It was honestly a lot harder to reach that goal as a married individual than it would have been as a single individual, but thanks to a generous gift from my family for Christmas, Justin and I were able to reach that goal. (YAY!!!) Back in August, I also came up with a savings goal to be at by the month of May. I'm currently striving for it, but... I don't know that we will reach it by May.

Basically our savings goal is more than enough to pay for a new car if my car decides to die next week... We also have enough to pay a FEW months of living expenses if Justin's company goes under. (Being a start-up company, you never know what can happen!)

Justin's money, on the other hand, goes to pay for living expenses as well as paying down debt. Between Justin and I, both, we owe enough in student loans to pay for a house! (A small house, but a house is still a house!)

So between paying down debt and building an emergency savings account, we have some really crazy financial goals... without adding on the fact that we are planning a trip to New York/Massachusetts this summer! I'm not entirely certain we can afford the trip, but I do think it is important for me to meet some of Justin's family I have never met in the entire 8+ years we've been together.

Those are our somewhat lofty financial goals for the year of 2013. We have to meet them though, because we owe a trip to Germany and may have a wedding in Chicago to attend at some point in the near future. We won't even mention my desires of visiting Italy, France, London, or you know... owning an actual house at some point.

So what are your financial goals for 2013?

Holiday Break

Here's hoping that all of my followers had a lovely holiday break!

Justin and I had a nice holiday break... though not quite as long as I would have liked. (Are breaks ever as long as you would like?!) I found myself sick just prior to the break... then got better just in time for us to go visit my dad's extended family. I came home that night exhausted... and sick AGAIN! Two weeks later, I am still fighting it! The lesson learned in all of this? Being sick on holidays is not fun.

To celebrate the new year, yesterday, Justin and I went to the theatre and saw Skyfall! We went all out and got popcorn and soda. It was really fun! :) I don't think we've been to see a movie together since before we got married! Plus, it only helped that the movie was awesome! I definitely recommend seeing it! :)

Also, over the holidays, I decided to spend my Anthropologie giftcard money that I won at Sarcire's blog!

At first I bought the Plenty by Tracy Reese Stitched Looma Coat on sale with the Fritillary Ruffle Loop. The two were absolutely gorgeous together, and I got soooo many compliments! At least 10 the first day I wore the pair! :)

 

So anyway, one week later, Anthropologie has another sale. My coveted coat can now be obtained for even cheaper than what I originally paid for it! So what did I do? I called Anthropologie back and I got a price adjustment! A price adjustment in the form of a $60 giftcard and $15 back on my debit card. I was stoked!

What's a girl to do but to go back and find even more loves?

I ended up ordering the Fritillary Ruffle Loop in a cream color from the Anthropologie in Chicago. (They were the only store that still had one.) Justin and I also went to explore the biggest Anthropologie in Atlanta, the one at Lenox mall. There we discovered At My French Table by Jane Webster and Meringue by Linda Jackson.


Coincidentally, Justin had just finished baking a German chocolate cake that used a lot of egg yolks but left him with a large number of egg whites. We had so much fun getting and looking through these cookbooks. At My French Table was more a story than a cookbook, but it contained a variety of French recipes scattered throughout. I had that book read in one night! :) It turns out Jane Webster has a sequel that I may have to check out! Meringue had far less text and far more recipes with gorgeous pictures of delicious desserts and icings!

Needless to say, I was (and am) pretty excited that my giftcard to Anthropologie went so far!

I would say Justin and I had a pretty exciting holiday vacation despite being sick and all that came with it! What do you think? :)