Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Money in the Bank

The other day I posted about the wedding expenses so far (and how we're saving money so far). I thought I'd also post an update about how much I've put in my savings for the big day.

My grandma gave me a check for a thousand dollars toward the wedding, which was super nice of her. I deposited that, along with $515 from the weight loss contest I did. My grandma also gave me a bag of coins as a "stocking stuffer" (even though we didn't do stockings this year). That was another $51.11. And then I took in our jar of coins. We started it when we moved in together a year and a half ago. We have occasionally raided it for laundry money, but we've obviously been pretty good about leaving it alone. The total in there was $119.55!
So, for those of you playing at home, the grand total in the wedding budget is $1,685.66. Holla! This is good news, since I need to pay off my dress, the taco guy deposit, and will be paying another $200 deposit this week. Luckily I am still ahead of the game in saving, and will continue to add more from my tax returns, and my regular paycheck as time goes by.

I put the money in with my E-fund for now. As I use it I will transfer it to checking, but I want to keep it somewhere I won't just spend it. I have added another thousand to my E-fund since I stopped blogging, so I am at three and a half months of expenses, plus the wedding budget in there. If it gets too difficult to keep track of, I can start a new account...but I'd rather not since I have money in five accounts already.

Now, I am just chomping at the bit waiting for my W-2's to come so I can do taxes and see what my return will be. Anyone else excited to do taxes? How did you save for your wedding?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Saving & Spending on the Wedding

So, here's how we have saved and spent on our wedding plans thus far...

*We are having our ceremony and reception in a friend's backyard. This saves in obvious ways, since we aren't paying for a venue. It also limits the size of our wedding to about 60 people, which is great. I want a small(ish) wedding, but I know if I had a large venue I'd keep inviting people. By keeping it intimate, we are able to save on table and chair rentals, food, drinks, cake, etc. It also gives us flexibility in what vendors we use. Speaking of...

*The food will be from a "Taco Guy." (Sort of like a Taco Truck, but no truck just a metal grill he brings in to cook three different kinds of meat for tacos, quesadillas, beans, rice, and salsa. We are feeding 60 people a great meal for $390! I had this same guy for my birthday and have attended other parties where he has catered and people always RAVE about the food. During the cocktail hour we are going to set up a nacho bar, which I estimate will cost us another fifty bucks or so.

*We are serving beer and wine (and my friend's Sangria!) but not hard liquor. This will save us money, and since we are in a friend's yard, we can just buy the booze ourselves. I plan on hitting up BevMo during their five cent sale to get the wine. Still need to figure out if a keg or bottles would be cheaper for the beer.

*We booked a photo booth (a splurge that we really wanted) and our DJ together. I saved $200 right off the bat by booking the services from the same company. He was also running a $100 off special for the photo booth, and I saw a $50 off coupon on Yelp. I asked if I could combine offers. He said usually he doesn't, but since I asked he would do it. (ALWAYS ask!) The photo booth will serve as our favor for guests, and our guest book. The attendant will put in a photo of each group and have them write a message next to it. We thought about not hiring a DJ, but we think the night will run a LOT more smoothly if we have one. Also, we would have spent some dough renting the equipment and getting all the music, so I feel good about hiring the DJ. We are spending a total of $900 for both services.


*I bought my dress last week. It's lovely. :) It's a Vera Wang, on sale from David's Bridal (I saved $200). The total was $675, which was a little more than I wanted to spend. However, I love it and I don't think it's too unreasonable. With tax and alterations, I will end up spending about $1,000 total for my dress (ugh). But I am reminding myself of all the other places we've saved.

*This week I mailed deposits for the Taco Guy as well as the DJ/Photo Booth totaling $250.

Tune in tomorrow for an update on how much I have saved/collected for the wedding. And later this week I hope to have an exciting update on how we're saving on our honeymoon...

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Where is My Wedding Budget Coming From?

I mentioned in the last post that I wanted to keep our wedding under $5,000. That's still a large chunk of change, and I wanted to share how I will be paying for it. Because I like to share all of my personal information on the internet.

So far, here's what I have:
$1,000: coming from generous gift from Grandma :)
$500: winnings from last weight loss contest at the gym (I won first place! Boo-ya!)
$50: Christmas money
$100: Change jar (we've had this going for a year and a half, so I plan on cashing it in for some wedding related expense).

Future plans:
$2,000: Tax return. I don't know exactly how much this will be, but based on previous years I am assuming I'll have about this much to put towards wedding expenses.
$??: Change from Grandma. She gives it to me or my sister as a stocking stuffer each year, but she forgot to bring it on Christmas. It's all her change in a jar and she empties it once a year. No clue the total, but it should be a large chunk of change (literally).
$??: Ideally I will place in the weight loss competition I just joined, although I can't depend on this, of course.

Other than that, I will be pulling money from my regular paycheck to cover the balance. This should be no more than $1500 more dollars over the next seven months, so I that is definitely manageable. I am putting extra money in E-fund each month, but if I have to use some of it that's fine by me. I definitely won't dip below the three month mark at any point, but I already have several savings accounts, so I am not opening a new one for the wedding.

And there you have it. In the coming months, I'll be sharing how we are having a wedding for no more than $5,000. I truly believe it is possible, and that it can be a nice event without busting the bank.

Monday, January 7, 2013

2013 Goals

Some people hate New Year's Resolutions. I LOVE them. Because I like having goals, and I like to think that the month of January makes me suddenly more disciplined. :) Without further ado...

Financial Goals
1. Keep wedding under $5,000.
2. Get at least $10,000 in house fund.
3. Get E-fund up to six months of my part of expenses (four months of total household expenses).

Health Goals
1. Maintain weight/current clothing size until/unless I get pregnant. (Yes, I'm going there).
2. Continue working out at least three days per week.
3. Eliminate soda completely.
4. Only have desserts for wedding related things (cake tasting, wedding cake, cupcakes at shower, etc.) I am trying to conquer my addiction to sugar (the white Satan).

Work Goals
1. Teach Summer School if it is available.
2. Find out if my LACOE salary points from old district can convert into real units for this district.
3. Take three classes to earn units towards a raise.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

More Discipline (But Not Too Much)

So, yesterday I posted about how I am not tracking my spending, using a credit card, and how it's working out famously. Boo-ya!

However, with wedding stuff looming and some savings goals that I still want to make happen, I do want to find ways to save more money.

So, here are some goals for January in order to save more throughout the month:
1. Have 10 No Spend Days. This helps to save on those little mindless purchases, which adds up to more saving throughout the month. It also helps me to plan what I want to spend and run those errands all at once with lists to make sure I don't forget anything. The list also helps me stick to the plan and not buy extra stuff.
2. Cook From the Pantry. My cupboard seems to be overflowing, but I am always buying stuff to make meals. My goal is to sort through what I have and try to make meals without shopping. Tonight I am making Korean beef and Asian salad using all ingredients I have here.
3. Stick to Weight Watchers without Subscribing. I have lost about 10 pounds in the last few months (it was about 13, but then Christmas happened). I didn't renew my subscription, but found some online calculators and would like to follow the plan without the services. This saves about $20 per month, and the fiancé is doing the same thing, so hopefully we can work together on that.
4. Lose Five Pounds. No, not because I'm getting married. But because I joined a second weight loss contest at my boot camp, and the prize money would be AWESOME. :) So, I want to lose at least five pounds this month, and five more before the contest ends in February.

My end-goal is to have at least $200 left over at the end of the month to put into my E-fund ($50 more than I had last month).

What are your goals for January?

Next Up: 2013 Goals

Saturday, January 5, 2013

You'd Better Sit Down For This One...

Okay, hold onto your hats...I'm about to shock you.

1. I got a credit card and am using it ALL THE TIME.

2. I'm not tracking my spending anymore.

3. It's all going really, really well.

So, I decided to get a rewards credit card a few months back. After doing a lot of research, I went with the Capital One Venture Card (the one's with Alec Baldwin on the commercials). I figured I might as well earn points and save money on some of my travels, and this one seemed the most flexible.

My plan was to use the credit card for everything, but keep tracking all my spending as I had been for the last few years.

But then I didn't. I just used the card for my usual expenses, including my cell phone bill, groceries, etc. Basically anywhere that lets me pay with credit card, I use this card to rack up points. I keep an eye on the balance throughout the month, making sure nothing crazy is happening. At the end of the month, I looked at my checking account (which has only a few bills auto-paying out of it), paid the credit card bill in full, and had about $150 extra bucks to put in my emergency fund.

Hmm. That all worked out okay. So I went ahead and did the same thing in December. Lo and behold, the same thing happened. I had about the same amount left over in my checking (even after Christmas spending!), so I transferred it to my emergency fund.

I am still doing several automatic transfers to savings right after payday:
*Summer Saver: this district doesn't pay in August, so I am saving for that)
*Travel Fund: I throw $100 into this every month.
*Roth IRA: I have this set up to max out my $5,000 contribution over the course of the year
*House Fund: Right now I have $500 per month going into this account

Since my E-fund is funded for over three months right now, I am not putting too much in it, just whatever is left over at the end of the month. I wouldn't have thought I could be comfortable not tracking my spending obsessively, but things are working really, really well.

Are you shocked? Want to shame me? Want to punch me for pulling this off? Let me know your thoughts (and that I still have a reader or two out there).

Next post: How I plan to be more disciplined in spending, without tracking every penny.

Friday, January 4, 2013

I'm Back, Baby!

Why, Hello.

Happy New Year! I haven't posted in many, many moons. And my "new blog" didn't really happen either. I make no promises that I will keep up blogging daily again, but I do miss writing, so I have decided to pop my head in and write some posts over here.

The biggest news in the last month is that Freddie and I got engaged! Whoo-hoo! He asked me on December 4th, a random Tuesday while we were sitting in the car. The element of surprise was definitely there, as were many nice things, a lot of happy tears (from me of course), and a gorgeous ring. I said yes!

We are planning a simple, backyard wedding in July. My goal is to keep it under $5,000. My grandma has said she will give me $1,000, which is super generous of her. I have enough in my savings to cover the whole event, but my goal is to keep my E-fund at at least the three month level AND keep adding to my house fund. I think this is do-able, but it is making my hard-core PF side perk up.

So, over the next days/weeks/months I want to start updating what's been going on in the PF world of Jessica. I'll also talk wedding on a budget (which will bore some of you, but may be useful for others). I also made goals for 2013, so I'll share those as well.

In other words, I'm back, baby! Anyone still reading?