Monday, January 31, 2011

Weekly Money Check-Up

Weekly Money Check-Up is a weekly fill in post over at My Pretty Pennies. Head on over to check it out!


1. The most I've spent this last week was at Target for some me stuff.

2. Today I feel great about money. I'm doing well on my budget and my paycheck this week will include a bonus!

3. Money can't buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did this week was cross-stitch a wall hanging for my cousin who had a baby last month. (I think the whole project cost me less than $5).

4. I will consider this week a success if I catch up on laundry. I was pretty lazy this weekend.

5. Right now I am reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. It's pretty heavy, so I think a romance novel may be in order next.

Money Monday


So after going over in two categories on my last paycheck, I spent barely any money this week. Yay! Ok, well I spent a bit yesterday doing some shopping. I bought some new workout clothes. :)  But as for the other categories, I haven't really needed to spend any money. I've stretched my gas tank to it's limit and Manny did a grocery run this week! And payday is this week so I'm hoping to contribute some money to my meager Emergency Fund. 

Budget:
Rent and Utilities: not paid yet but the money is set aside :)
Gasoline: 62.84% left
Grocery: 88% left
Other: less than 1% over

The only thing I didn't do was split up my "Other" category. Although, I'm not sure I want to do that. Things are going pretty well right now so I'm not sure I want to change it since it's clearly working.

How is your budget going?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Bibliophile Bookmark

A while ago I made this bookmark for a friend's birthday but held off posting it because she hadn't received it yet. But then I forgot to post it! It's one of my favorite projects so I wanted to make sure to share!

design from Hold That Thought Bookmarks (Bibliophile)
stitched on Oatmeal 14 count Aida
with my own color choices

To finish, I fused it to dark brown felt using Stitch Witchery (or something similar). It's a little thick but still a lovely bookmark. :)

January Goal Review

I haven't been doing these goal posts for very long but one thing I have quickly learned is that unless the goals are specific, there is very little chance that I will actually complete them. And honestly, if they're random subjective goals, how do you even measure whether or not you completed them? This is the problem I found with January Goals #4 and #5. Maybe this is just my excuse for not completing them. Nevertheless, from now on, I'm going to make a point to make goals more specific. But now to review January's goals!

January Goal Review:
1. Mail Christmas Thank You cards Check!
2. Join a gym. Check!
3. Go to the gym 2x per week FAIL
4. Keep my house organized FAIL
5. Take more pictures and continue to play with our editing software FAIL


At first glance it looks like I didn't do too well. But I'm psyched that even two of those goals are checked off! And I still did better than with my December Goals.

Another little tip for completing goals, you might want to take a look at them from time to time. One of my biggest problems with my December Goals was that I kind of forgot about them. Oops. My January ones I just plain screwed up on, but it's still good to have them in your mind.

How did you do on your January Goals?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

lack of motivation...

This week I have been suffering from a complete lack of motivation. I have gone to work and been fairly productive there, but that's about it. I haven't blogged, haven't worked on my current cross stitching project, haven't done any laundry, and yeah, haven't done anything else productive either. Sigh.

However, I feel much more like my normal self today and am ready to go get some stuff done! Sorry for the absence this week, but with being lazy and just laying around I really didn't have a lot to write about! ;)

I hope everyone's week has been great!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Weekly Money Check-Up


Every week over at My Pretty Pennies, she posts a Weekly Money Check-Up fill in post. Click here to join in the fun!

1. The most I've spent this last week was on bills. Ick. :)

2. Today I feel blah towards money. I'm hitting a budgeting groove, and ready to set some new goals. But this is a tight paycheck so I'll have to wait until the next one.

3. Money can't buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did this last week was read a great book!

4. I will consider this week a success if I finish my guest post and come up with my February goals!

5. My favorite way to relax is with a book, a blanket, my fiance, and my puppy all piled on to the sofa. :)

Money Monday


It's Money Monday and I have some good news...I finally kept track of every single little purchase right down to the last day of my budget! A lot of times before, once I would go over budget, I would just kind of give up until the next pay period. Not this time my friends! I did go over budget in a couple categories but not enough to blow my entire budget. Not to mention that this pay period I made a hefty contribution to my wedding fund and bought a plane ticket. How's that for bleeding money? I did, though, for the first time in while, spend some money on myself just for the heck of it. Anyway, here's the rundown...

TOTAL BUDGET: under by a whole .79%
Gasoline: over by 9.58% these gas prices are really cramping my style
Grocery: over by 10% we switched up the grocery rotation a little, so should be way under next time
Other: under by 12.5% woo! this one has been the biggest struggle in the past!

And that's it for this week. All my non-fixed expenses. I'm really happy about the under in the "Other" category because that's where I used to go over by a lot. I feel like I've been able to cut down on non-necessary spending (like fast food and Starbucks). And although my total budget was only under by a smidgeon, it's much better than being over and having to take money out of savings. So, :D.

My next quest is to divide my "Other" category down even further. I haven't yet decided what categories to incorporate, but I'll be sure to share when I figure it out.

How is your budget doing? Do you have lots of little categories, or do you just lump it into one big "Other" category?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Wedding Budget

This is one of those times that you must remember that I am not a financial professional and any advice/opinions I may give here should be taken at your own risk. In addition, I have no affiliation what-so-ever to TheKnot.com, I just happen to love it. 

A few days ago, a friend asked me how much I thought she should set aside for her wedding. I thought about it and almost immediately came to the conclusion that that's not a question that can be answered without further information. Sure, I could throw an arbitrary number out there, but that wouldn't do any of us any good. The problem is that no two weddings are alike, and therefore, no two wedding budgets are alike. A wedding can cost as little as the price of a marriage license or as much as it costs to fly your 300 closest friends to Tahiti for a week.

First you need to figure out what exactly needs to be paid for. TheKnot is a great resource. There are things on their list that you may not be using/doing, but it's a great starting point. I had no idea when I began planning my wedding that I would be expected to pay something called a "cake cutting fee"...wtf? Apparently there is much more to a wedding budget than my dress and a cake. Who knew? My point is that you need to make a list of everything that will need to be paid for.

Next, in case you're not quite overwhelmed enough, you need to figure out who is paying for what. I know this is a rather awkward conversation to have but it must happen. And it needs to happen sooner rather than later. You need to know how much of your wedding you will be responsible for so you can save enough. If you are the bride, is your family planning on handling all the traditional "bride's family" expenses? Is your groom's family planning on doing the same? How much of the wedding will you and your betrothed be personally responsible for? These are all sticky subjects, but don't expect to get too far in your wedding planning without these details ironed out. It is only then that you can begin to figure out your actual budget.

Once you've figured out what needs to be paid for and who is paying for it, your budget needs to be tailored to you and your wedding specifically. One of the most helpful hints I've read is to pick your "splurge items" first. Pick those couple of items that you will pay a premium for (or as close as you can get) because they are the most important to you. (For us, our photographer was a splurge item. We were determined to have a top notch photographer to document our special day.) Remember, even if you designate a "splurge item" or two, be careful not to splurge so much that you are unable to afford the rest of your wedding. And remember that if you are picking splurge items, you will have to cut some corners on other things.

Now, how to allocate the rest of your funds? Websites and magazines alike have lots of tips on how to dedicate your wedding budget. (TheKnot even has a special budget calculator thing.) There are lots of suggestions on what percent of your budget to allocate to which item. Once you figure out how much you can spend on your wedding (I would strongly advise against going into debt just so you can have a Cinderella wedding) use one of these formulas to figure out about how much you should spend on each item. Even with these helpful hints, you still need to take your individual situation into account. For example, our reception venue includes venue, food, DJ, table/chairs, place settings, and table arrangements (though I could bring in extra if I wanted to). I spent more then the suggested percentage on my reception venue because of the fact that it includes all these other things which I will now not have to spend money on.

While considering all of the above, you must also remember that your budget must be realistic. How much can you and your fiance/e really contribute while still being able to meet other financial obligations (rent, food, etc)? I would suggest a hard look at your finances and developing a strict savings plan. Additionally, make sure all other parties will realistically be able to contribute what they promised. The budget is one of the most stressful parts of wedding planning (right up there with the guest list), but both of these things have to happen or there will be no wedding. And, once they're done, you can get started on the really fun stuff, like dress shopping! :)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

13.1

For a while now, I've been repeating over and over my goal of going to join a gym. I've had every excuse in the world as to why I haven't done it yet...I'm tired, I don't have time, I'll get to it next week. And I finally realized what my problem was. I didn't see the point in going to work out. I still fit in my clothes, I feel pretty ok with my size, so what's the point? (Yeah, I know, being healthy should be the point but for some reason my brain won't take that as my sole motivation.) So I decided I needed a goal, something to work towards, something tangible with a definite end point.

I have decided to run a half-marathon.

Yes, me, who has not consistently worked out in years. I'll be running it in September. As of yet have no idea how to go about training for this thing, but first on my list is to build up a cardio-fitness base (in a nice warm gym) while it's still ass-cold here in Ohio. I still have 8 months before the race so in a couple months when things start to thaw a little I'll start the "real" training.

So as I write this I realize I have commited myself to running 13.1 miles, all at once. Now, to some of you, this is peanuts, but to me, it is quite a challenge.

So, anyone have any good training references?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Weekly Money Check-Up

Every week over at My Pretty Pennies, she posts a fill-in the blank post. Click here if you want to participate.


1. The most I've spent this last week was on gas. It wasn't a really big spending week.

2. Today I feel ok towards money. I've made a bunch of little purchases I've yet to put in my spreadsheet. Once that's done, I'll feel much more organized. :)

3. Money can't buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was play with my puppy. That always makes me happy. :)

4. I will consider this week a success if I finally get that stinkin' gym membership. This has been on my list for weeks but life keeps getting in the way!

5. My signature outfit is...I'm not sure I have one... :)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Money Monday

Hello again! It's Monday and it's time to talk about money! For some reason, I feel really great about money right now. It is because our Wedding Fund is growing like a weed? Maybe. Is it because I'm also contributing to my personal savings? Maybe. Or could it be because I'm four days from payday and I'm still under budget in all budget categories?! Definitely maybe! I even shuffled some funds and managed to buy a plane ticket to go home in February to go wedding dress shopping! Anyway, here's the rundown...

Gasoline: 47% left
Grocery: 34% left
Other: 51% left
WF Contribution: 0% left (it's already in the wedding fund!)

If you've been here a while, you may notice way fewer categories that I previously had. I realized somewhere along the way that maybe I was making things way too complicated for myself considering I still didn't quite have the hang of this whole budgeting thing. Maybe later I can break down my budget further, but I'm going to wait and see how this works for the next couple of months. It seems to be working pretty well for now! :)

How are your budgets doing? Have you found your budgeting groove?


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Alarm Clocks Are for Losers

I nearly always experience some sort of Insanity when traveling.
Today has continued with that theme. I'm flying home due to a death in the family so it's more important than ever that I make my flight and it would really make my life a little easier if things went smoothly. Of course it would. So my flight was set to leave Ohio at 7:20. I wanted to leave the house by about 5:15. Apparently I set my alarm for 5:45. Not so condusive to leaving at 5:15. After waking and dressing in approximately 4 minutes (thank the Lord I had already laid my clothes out) my wonderful fiancé and I stumble out of the house to the car. (And I specify wonderful fiancé because I was planning on driving myself to the airport but because of my idiocy I no longer have time to park and walk so he had to drive me). Anyway, he's rather stumbly, I am actually looking a little like a squirrel on crack because I'm so panicked about getting to the airport on time.

Thankfully, I'm not checking any bags and had the forethought to print my boarding pass last night. So, really, all I have to do is get through security and get to my gate. The last time I went through security at this airport I had to go through one of those freakin' body scanner things but not today. (In all seriousness, I'm quite thankful they're taking such measures to protect us, but I did feel really awkward standing there, legs splayed, hands on my head like I'm trying to imitate a moose while they are looking at all my secrets making sure I'm not hiding explosives in my lady parts. Again, I digress.)

So anyway, I get through security and to my gate without incident. Now I just have a four hour layover to get through. :)


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, January 14, 2011

2011 Goals and Reading List

Near the beginning of this month, I wrote up some goals. Besides the fact that I've been failing miserably at these goals thus far, I feel the need to try and make some goals for the whole of 2011. I'm not sure why the idea of goals appeals to me so much. Maybe it's because I love lists and checking things off them. Maybe it's because I feel like if I don't have something to work towards, I'm just treading water. So, if you'll look slightly above this post, you'll see a tab entitled 2011 goals, which will be my official list of things I hope to accomplish this year.

In addition, I've also published my "Reading List". It will be next to the goals tab so check it out. Soon I'll be posting my personal review of the book and hope to continue that with each book I read. Here's to reading and accomplishing things in 2011. :)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Calamity Christine and the $10 super-fancy-driveway-heat-ice-melter-stuff

Sometimes, I create small disasters. If you're new, feel free to click here for a recap of some of my other calamities. Some are not really a big deal, but others involve me unintentionally driving over a snowy mountain, nearly setting my house on fire, and accidentally throwing away a digital camera. Oops. These have prompted a nickname that came very close to being the name of this blog, Calamity Christine.

So I've been trudging along lately, frankly waiting for disaster to strike what with all the snow we've had lately. The other day I went to Kroger to pick up a few things and Manny had asked me to pick up some salt for the sidewalk. We've been using it like it's going out of style.

So I get to Kroger and right on one of the front displays are two things...a 10 lb. bag of rock salt for $2 and a jug of super-fancy-driveway-heat-ice-melter-stuff for $10. I ponder this for a moment and try to think of what we've bought in the past. To be honest, I hadn't paid that much attention to it because I'm not the one usually shoveling and salting. Knowing that we had a jug looking thing at home, and declaring myself a cheapskate if I got the rock salt, I begrudgingly bought the $10 super-fancy-driveway-heat-ice-melter-stuff.

When I get home I decide to do my honey a favor and shovel and salt the sidewalk. We had a snow day at school anyway, so I was going to be home all day, might as well be productive. So there I am, shoveling away and lay down my super-fancy-driveway-heat-ice-melter-stuff. Not an hour later, I look out the window to see that the little bit I put down has been completely devoured by the snow that has been steadily falling. Damn you snow! So out I go again, determined to have the sidewalks nice and clear for when Manny returns from work. So out I go, shovel, shovel, shovel and the I really lay it down this time and use more than half of the super-fancy-driveway-heat-ice-melter-stuff. Shit, how do people afford this?!

Manny eventually comes home and I regale him with my tales of shoveling and salting and working my little self to the bone so he didn't fall on his ass on the way in. Yay, me. As I'm telling him my story, I start complaining about the ridiculously expensive super-fancy-driveway-heat-ice-melter-stuff and how it doesn't even work that great anyway. This is when Manny kindly explains that I should have bought the $2 rock salt. That's all we needed and the super-fancy-driveway-heat-ice-melter-stuff sucks and should never be purchased. Oops.

So later on, back to Kroger we went and bought 40 lbs. of rock salt for $2 less than I spent on that one effin jug earlier in the day. Damn you super-fancy-driveway-heat-ice-melter-stuff!!! You suck and I shall sneer at you every time I pass you walking into Kroger!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I can't wait...

to go home in February and shop for my wedding dress!!! I am so excited and have really been looking forward to this part of the whole wedding planning thing. So in a month-ish, my mom, step-mom, and sister (i.e. Maid of Honor) and myself, of course, will spend a Saturday in search of the dress. Yay!

According to all wedding resources, I should be doing lots of research prior to these appointments. I should research styles, textures, colors, prices, etc. The list goes on. And I have been, somewhat. I've looked at websites, made lists and lists of "favorites" and have come to this conclusion....I love all wedding dresses!

Haha. Not really, but I'm not nearly as picky as I thought I'd be. The only things I really don't want are a mermaid style gown or a sheath type dress. But between strapless, sweetheart, and halter...they're all beautiful. White, ivory, or cream...no idea, I'll have to see what it looks like on. And as far as the cut, I really like dresses with a fitted bodice but have no idea whether a drop-waist will make me look taller or like an oompa-loompa. There's so many styles and varieties to choose from! And one dress seems more beautiful than the next! The good thing about all this is that I'm quite sure I'll be able to find a gorgeous dress within my price range. This is very encouraging.

In the next few weeks I'd like to start printing out some pictures and general guidelines to give to the person helping us, just so we have a direction to go in. I'm planning on hitting three bridal stores that day so it will be quite a day. It will be a day of coffee and coffee and more coffee. But even with all the stress and worry, I'm so excited I could burst!!!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Engagement Pictures. Yay or Nay?

When we first got engaged, I immediately started thinking of when and where I wanted to have engagement pictures done. I had visions of myself and Manny frolicking in the snow, wearing adorable boots and hats while a photographer captured us at our winter best.  Manny had shown some slight resistance to this idea but I just brushed it off as "being a boy." And he of course assured me that if I really wanted them, then we'd do it.

When we began discussing it more in earnest, Manny posed this very relevant question...what exactly is the purpose of engagement pictures? Good question. So I began to ponder, determined to come up with some brilliant answer. I didn't come up with much.

When I asked myself why I wanted engagement pictures, the only answer I came up with was "because all my friends have them."
So then I asked myself, well what would I do with the pictures, and when the first thought that came to my head was "put them on Facebook," I began to rethink the idea of formal engagement pictures.

Spending several hundred dollars "because all my friends have them" and "so I can put them on Facebook" hardly seems rational. So what's the deal with engagement pictures? Is there some greater purpose that I'm totally missing here? If not, I mean, I would actually love to create an album of pictures taken by family, friends, and ourselves to document our engagement. Then it would really be a documentation of that time, rather than a snapshot (hehe) of one day.

Thoughts? Comments?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Money Monday/Weekly Money Check-Up


I'm actually pretty excited about money today. I feel like even though I've got a lot of spending planned for 2011, I've got it pretty well under control. My budgets are doing great! I did get paid this past Friday but they look to continue to do well for the rest of this period...check back next week to be sure. :) But for now, I leave you with the Weekly Money Check-Up, courtesy of My Pretty Pennies.

1. The most I spent this last week was on putting money in the Wedding Fund! Woo!

2. Today I feel in control towards money.


3. Money can't buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was having late night coffee with some girlfriends.

4. I will consider this week a success if I join that dang gym! For serious this time! ;)

5. I am bipolar towards snow. When I watch it fall beautifully out of my living room window I love it. When I have to spend 10 minutes brushing it off my car in the morning, I despise it.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Brrr....cold!

So it's my first January in Ohio. It. is. freakin. cold. It's been snowing all day and I have only left the house to take the dog out and take the trash to the dumpster. Ventures for which I bundled up as though I were going on some sort of arctic excursion. In my defense, I do have to tromp through a couple inches of snow for both of these adventures and coming in with cold, wet feet would just be stupid. And I shoveled my first sidewalk and spread my first batch (better word, anyone?) of salt. I know this seems silly but up until now Manny has always done it. But I figured while I was out there and bundled up like an Eskimo, I may as well be productive. It took 5 minutes to get all my clothes on, for heavens sake.

So did I use this day inside to be productive? Nah. I've played online, been lazy, and played Donkey Kong Returns on the Wii. Yep, I know you're jealous.

Actually, I have done some more playing on mint.com and I must admit that the more I play with it the more I like it. I think I mentioned this on a recent post but I thought I'd share it again. It definitely is a little overwhelming when you first start using it, but it gets better and better. Just my opinion.

But back to the cold, brrrrr. That's all I really have to say. I'm really glad my family game me some sweaters and scarves and hats for Christmas!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Take that, January goals!

I've completed one of my January Goals: Mail Christmas Thank You cards!

The last of them are in the mail today. Yay, me!

Now if I can just complete the rest of the goals.....

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Wedding, Wedding, Wedding

It's probably not a surprise that my wedding is the focus of my life right now. I look at theknot.com constantly, read wedding magazines obsessively, and even have a special notebook in which to take wedding notes. Actually, that's pretty much all I do in the evenings. But one thing I really need to try and be cognisant of is the fact that everyone else's life does not revolve around my wedding. Yes, my fiance and I talk about the wedding almost constantly, but that's ok because it's our wedding. But one of my pre-wedding goals is to try and remember that other people have things going on in their lives that are just as important as my wedding.

What spurred this outburst? Well, the other day I emailed my best friend early in the morning about something really inconsequential considering my wedding is almost a year away(something about bridesmaid dresses or wedding colors). Why was this a problem? Um, I had forgotten that she was closing on her house that day and really didn't have time for my way too into the future bridal dilemma. Oops. Bad friend award.

Even before that, in a frenzy to call everyone before the Facebook outbursts began, I called another best friend and completely forgot it was her birthday in my rush to share my engagement news. :/

Hence my declaration to remember that other people have important things going on in their lives too. No one is sitting around just dying because I haven't picked a wedding color or bridesmaids dresses or invitations yet. Heck, several of my friends are busy planning their own weddings! And while I know my girlfriends can't wait to hear all about the wedding, it does not need to be the focus of every conversation.

Disclaimer: I make no such promises about the blog because if you don't want to read about the wedding you are free to close the browser window. ;)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

December Goal Review/January Goals

December goals = fail. You can find the original post here, but I'll list them in short form here anyway.

1. Play nicely with mint.com. I have been doing better with this, but I am by no means proficient in mint.com use.
2. Send out Christmas cards. FAIL
3. Develop a workout plan for January. FAIL. I decided to join a gym, but that's about as far as I've gotten.
4. Unpack my last 3 boxes. minor fail. I'm down to one.

Ok, I guess they weren't as bad as I thought, but still. But now it's January, and it's time for new goals.

1. Mail Christmas Thank You cards. I've finished writing them. I just need to address them and send them out. I would like this to happen within the next week.

2. Join a gym.


3. Go to the gym 2x per week.


4. Keep my house organized.


5. Take more pictures and continue to play with our editing software.

I think that's enough goals for now. :) I'd like to come up with some goals for the whole of 2011 but in an effort to make them realistic I'm going to think about them for a while first.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Money Monday....erm, Tuesday...and (kind of) a Weekly Money Check-Up

So as Christmas came and went I completely forgot about my budget. I didn't go over, I just completely failed at inputting all the numbers. Then Christmas Eve I got paid again, and was totally unprepared and didn't even have a budget ready. Oops. However, I get paid again this Friday so I will once again try valiantly to keep up with my budget. I guess my issue is that I'm doing pretty well money-wise so it's easy to forget about keeping track of things. But it's a new week and even a new year so here's to keeping better track of my money!

And now for the Weekly Money Check-Up
courtesy of My Pretty Pennies


1. The most I've spent this last week was on stuff at Target to organize our bedroom. We are trying desperately to have a lovely, clean, organized house in 2011.

2. Today I feel optimistic towards money. We have a lot of saving to do in 2011 and I think we've got a good start on it.


3. Money can't buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was have homemade beignets with my finace (heehee. I love saying fiance)

4. I will consider this week a success if I...join a gym.