HAPPY NEW YEAR!

…Nine days later 🙂

2013, in general terms, was a good year. I was reading through my posts from last year and what’s funny is I apparently had some crazy, stressful months in 2013, but now those seem so insignificant (and I can’t totally remember why they felt so stressful). Also, back in mid-June, I predicted I would pay off my credit card debt in 7 to 8 months.We are pretty close to that 7 month mark, and I was apparently correct.

CC1 is paid off. CC2 will hopefully be paid off in the next two to three weeks. At this point, I’m probably boring you all with the continued setbacks since I’m apparently all talk and no show. Buying furniture, painting, etc. for the new house adds up so no complete credit card payoff. But, more so than any other time I’ve said it, I actually believe it. It’s time to take myself seriously, and finally get it done.

Resolutions Monthly Challenges

We all have heard the stats regarding New Year’s Resolutions and how most ultimately fail. Instead of making resolutions regarding paying off debt and failing (like I usually do), I’m going to give myself monthly challenges.

So, for January, I’m starting simple. I’m going to go cash only on my spending for January. I’ll withdraw $100 a week, and when it’s gone at the end of that week, that’s it! No more spending until my next withdrawal. And if I underspend, extra goes to savings and reevaluate my monthly spending.

Did anyone make any money resolutions?

Quick Update!

It’s been a hectic past couple of weeks- we were packing, moving, and unpacking our new home!! Super excited, larger than our last home, the pets are enjoying it (for the most part), and we will have more space for our future family (no, not pregnant yet).

John ask for a quick update on CC2. The simple answer, John, is no, CC2 is not at zero yet. Because I get cash back, I used the credit card to pay for the movers. But, I get paycheck from both my old job and new job this week (get paid weekly with the new job, woot woot!), and I’ve barely spent any of the last paycheck, so I hope to have an affirmative answer to this by Friday! Also have a check from Ebates (just going to drop that referral link right here again) and have to deposit that. Only $20, but in this game every little bit counts.

After I get settled in, I’ll let you all know more about the move and how this changes the financial landscape and ability to pay my debts down going forward.

Hope you all have a happy week!

Ace in the Hole

My ace in the hole came through! I didn’t get as much cash as I expected, but I did get enough to pay off all but $300 of CC2!

That brings me to:

CC1: $1104

CC2: $300

And CC2 will probably be zero by the end of the week, after I’ve had a chance to balance the budget.

If I don’t have the entirety of my credit card debt paid off by December, then I’m doing something majorly wrong. I’ve barely spent money, I just pay, pay, pay as money rolls in to the credit cards, and soon I will be commanding a higher salary. I’ve also taken on some private lessons and I will be shortly leaving for a babysitting gig. These credit cards do not stand a chance! I just need to keep my focus, especially with the prospect of furnishing a house coming just around the corner. We are trying to come up with a plan on furnishing our home that won’t break the bank but still get nice, sturdy pieces that will last us a long time.

Another Website

Salt put me on to another website in the debt pay down realm- SaveUp. It easily linked to ALL of my accounts, no problem, within minutes. It also gives you credits for saving and paying down debt which you can use towards entering in for prizes (certificates of deposit, cash, jackpots, loan payments, vacations, etc.). I love the concept, it is already high on my list since it was so easy to link my accounts and if I actually do win some prizes, even better!

Why do I keep on endorsing these sites? Because as much as I like the idea of making a personal budget and forcing myself to spend in a certain way, it just doesn’t happen. These sites allow me to see EVERYTHING in one picture, so if you’re like me, you always need new tools to discover and help you in fighting your debt. Someday I’ll develop a true sense of self-discipline and create a beautiful spreadsheet of expenditures, but it hasn’t happened yet and until I do, I like these websites that help out!

 

And, by the way, HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Wedding Planning Update

I was specifically asked to talk about my wedding, and though I did talk about it once, I’ll give you guys an update and information about the small details.

The General Details

We will be having an outdoor ceremony at what is a nice time of year in our area. It starts to get a little humid around the beginning of June, but it isn’t too bad. No bridesmaids or groomsmen- it’ll just be me, him and the officiant up at the alter. My nieces and nephews will act as the flower girls and ring bearers. Hot pink and black are the wedding colors, the reception will be in the main manor home on the same property as the garden and it has a lot of vintage character, just how I like it. (Part of the reason I decided it was the right place was because they have an old-Hollywood glamour vanity in the bridal dressing room, soooo me.)

Dollars and Cents

I’m not being stupid about how I spend my money on this wedding. I found my photog and DJ via Craigslist. Actually, the photog is a funny story….

A couple of years ago, I posted a request on Craigslist for a photographer to come out and do some holiday shots of my fiance (then just a boyfriend), myself, and our pets. This guy replied and said he would do it Trade for CD (TFCD) which basically means he’ll take the pictures, edit how he likes and we get the CD, but they can do whatever they wish with the pictures, including using them for promotional purposes. The pictures he took were great, and we were very pleased with the product- he’s a phenomenal photographer. Well, when we got engaged, I really wanted to hire him to do our photos. One catch- his base package is $2500!!

So, over time, I had posted ads on Craigslist, hoping to find gold again. We had one guy, but I sat on my hands too long and lost him. So, I kept on posting. Fast forward to two weeks ago, when I post one last ditch ad before I went for a photographer that was more than what I wanted to pay, but still was within my allowable budget. I start getting replies to my CL ad when low and behold, my photog from a couple of years ago replies. Not just replies, but is willing to do our wedding for approximately 75-80% off his normal price! I punched my fiance I soon as I saw the email, and when he turned and gave me a puzzled look, I told him about the ad and who replied. His face immediately turned to relief and said “SOLD!” We talked to him the next night, and now I just have to send off the deposit. I was so relieved, that my immune system tanked the next day and I was sick for a week.

The DJ was also found via CL. No fun story there, but we met him today, him and my fiance got on beautifully and we were sold. He will cost less than half of what most wedding DJ’s normally charge.

A friendly acquaintance has offered to do the boutonnieres, corsages and my bouquet for free, I just have to provide the flowers (I can get 100 roses from Costco for $80). I’ll make sure the photographer gets her some nice photographs to “pay” for her help, she’ll also probably be my best friend’s “date” since my best friend’s husband won’t be able to make it. The centerpieces are just going to be vases filled with [fake] rose petals, filled with water and a floating candle. I bought 5 bags of the petals for $10, I can get the vases from Michael’s for $5, but I’ll use their coupons to save more money. And to give it a little more depth, I’ll get plain mirrors from the dollar store. My plan after is to sell the stuff to recoup some of the cost (and in general, I don’t need 10 vases and mirrors!).

A friend, who’s a chef, convinced his boss to shave over $4K off their price tag for catering. Always helps to have friends in high places. We will also buy our own alcohol to save moolah. The cake and cupcakes will probably total $400-$500, standard price, I actually don’t know how we could possibly save on that outside of myself or a friend making them (which I honestly don’t want to do, we live near a famous cupcakery so we want to treat ourselves on this).

I bought the save-the-dates and invitations on Vistaprint, which again is waaaaaaaaaaay less than your standard stationary shop. The save-the-dates and invitations are beautiful. I will jazz up the invites though with some cardstock and ribbon to make them look like those expensive stationary store invites.

The Bottom Line

Apparently, weddings cost on average over $27,000. When all is said and done, ours will probably come out to about $12-13,000 (not including honeymoon costs). We wanted a traditional wedding, and let’s face it, that costs money. But, utilizing what resources are available to you and doing your research you can save a lot of cash.

Paycheck Peeves

I debated writing this post, it really is just a rant, but it’s my blog and I can do what I want!

How would you react if not one, not two, but THREE jobs messed up your paycheck(s)???

Well, it’s happened to me!

I have been checking my bank account since last Friday to see if my part-time job had paid me yet. Friday, no paycheck. Monday, no paycheck. Figuring the holidays were screwing everything up, I checked again today and still NO paycheck had been direct deposited. I’m just thinking to myself, WTF? I went in today, and sure enough, my boss hadn’t submitted my time sheet before the holidays. Those hours won’t be paid until the 15th of this month.

😡

Then, this coming Friday I’m supposed to get paid at my full-time job. I was checking my time sheet (it’s all virtual) and sure damn enough, the office manager did not use any of my vacation hours to pay for the extra day off I took last week.

😡 x2!

AND, finally, I subbed for my friend’s pole studio at the beginning of December, and I have yet to receive a confirmation email that she had processed payment for me, like she normally does.

😡 x3!!!

I understand the holidays are stressful, and things get overlooked, BUT DUDE, ALL THREE JOBS?!? It’s mainly aggravating not because I *need* the money, but I *want* the money so that I can plan appropriately for my debt payoff. I like planning… I like it a lot. If I don’t know how much my paycheck will be or when I’m getting it, it completely throws off my ability to plan.

I also got a new medical bill today. Only $131.55, but still just the cherry to top off my annoying day!

I hope your 2013’s are off to a better, smoother financial start!

Websites for Your Visiting Pleasure

I apparently have a lot of things to say today! I have been thinking about doing this post for a while, so time is ripe!

Great Websites to Visit and/or Sign up for (all free)!

Finaid.org: I can’t start this list without the big kid on campus when it comes to learning about student loans. Educate yourself before you educate yourself.

Debt Payoff Calculator: Visit this site to calculate what you need to do to pay off your debts

Credit Karma: Great website to track your credit score. This is a great motivator to get yourself to payoff debts.

Credit.org: This will direct you to their Educational Guides. Now, this company’s main product is a Debt Management Program, but I just want you to read the educational guides. They provide great advice.

Annual Credit Report: Get your annual credit report to make sure that everything is accurate and that you haven’t been the victim of identity theft over the past year. Don’t sign up for the sites that require you to “try” their credit monitoring and that crap- those are scams to take your money.

Envelope Budgeting Technique: Interesting way to do the envelope system. Her blog in general has a lot of frugal tips.

Pinterest: If you haven’t used Pinterest yet, you don’t know what you’re missing. Why include it on this list? There are a lot of great ideas on there that will help you learn how to make your own stuff that will help you save money. For example: I normally pay $6 for eye makeup remover that lasts a month, trying a recipe that cost $6 to make that should last me WELL over a year. That’s just one thing in hundreds that I’ve pinned that has saved me money. It’s also how I found the previous link.

One from a reader: Bill Shrink: Helps you find ways to save money on common expenditures and utilities.

I hope you find these websites helpful. If you have anymore that you like to frequent that has helped you with personal finance, please say so in the comments!

**Disclaimer: I was not nor have I ever been paid by any of those websites. Those websites are my own finds and are only as good as I think they are. Use at your own risk as using any site that collects data is a risk!**

Strategic Spending

I noticed over the weekend I have developed a habit of strategic spending. Stuff comes along that can fall into one of my budget categories, but because I just don’t want to spend the money, I tend to forgo the opportunity. One example would be my friends coordinated effort to go to wineries monthly. A tasting itself isn’t that expensive, but then you have to buy a glass of wine after and some snacks (if you weren’t foresighted enough to bring your own, which I will next time) and those costs are the ones that add up. I was trying to get out of it when a deal came up for a local winery that could be bought for four which included the tasting, bread and cheese pairings, souvenir glasses (which none of us ever buy anyway, but are fun to have) and a gift shop credit which can be used toward buying snacks. Divided four ways, it will cost around a third of the price of a regular outing. I propositioned the other ladies about buying it, they all agreed it was a good deal and I went ahead and bought it. Even better- I got an additional $3 off because I waited to buy it until the site put up a coupon code for the weekend. 🙂 Another thing I have been putting off because it costs so much money is trying Krav Maga classes. Again, I waited and no sooner than I was ready to cave than a coupon site came out with a deal for the local Krav Maga gym! My fiance and I are buying one each so that we can try the classes together.

I also need new work shoes. I’ve completely worn out the lateral right heel to the point where I’m getting no support from it. I was on my way to the shoe store after work today when I remembered I had a $10 off coupon for the store, so I decided to wait until tomorrow. Then, when I was almost home, I heard on the radio that it was tax-free weekend starting this Friday in my state, which means I can buy clothes, shoes and school supplies tax-free! So, while the tax would only be a few cents, I would rather wait until Friday to buy the shoes and save all those extra pennies.

Finally, I’m waiting to buy certain things until online coupons are available. I need a few personal care items, but the companies aren’t putting up any new coupons until the beginning of the month. So, again, I’m waiting for the coupons so that I can save a few extra dollars.

Saving money I think is sometimes a matter of patience.  If you’re smart about waiting until the good discounts are available and seeing if deal sites come out with anything within your desired time frame, you will reap the rewards!