Sunday, April 7, 2013

Wedding Update

Here are some of our most recent wedding plans/purchases:

1. I reserved our tables, chairs, and linens for the big day. I called a few places, and went with the one that had what we wanted. They'll charge my credit card after they are delivered, so that's not something I have to pay right now. The total for the rentals is $350.

2. We ordered a pdf of our invitation on Etsy for $12. I'll have them printed at the Biola Duplicating Center, which is usually very reasonable. The same seller also does matching thank-you's for $5 and programs for $10. So, I'll spend $27 on all of the designs and then have them printed.

3. I ordered 12 white cloth napkins on Ebay for $12. I'm going to put these down on each table, with a vase of flowers on top for centerpieces (my tablecloths are royal blue). After the wedding I'll be able to use the napkins again, and the cost was close to the same to rent them for the day.

4. I also ordered 100 glow-sticks for the reception. We did this at a friend's reception: during the height of the dancing, we passed out glow-sticks to everyone on the dance floor. It was super fun, and made for some great pictures. I ordered them on Ebay for $15!

5. My last Ebay purchase for the day was a bra/corset from David's Bridal. The original price is $70, and I got mine for $26 with shipping. Yesssss.

Oh, and we're doing cake tasting on Thursday! FREE CAKE!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Do you Fitbit??

I spent $60 on a pedometer a few months ago. It's called a Fitbit Zip, and I think it might be serious. Yes, it might be love.

The Fitbit is a high-tech pedometer that tracks your steps, mileage, and calories burned. The super part is that it syncs to your computer, so you get to see charts and graphs of how many steps you took each day, week, month, etc. You can also break down the day into five minute increments to see when you were the most active. You earn badges on the site for steps in a day and total distance. All of this is compelling, making it much more fun than a regular pedometer. Because I am a giant nerd.

BUT, I haven't even gotten to the super-awesome part yet. The super-awesome part is that you can compete against other friends who are on Fitbit. The leader board is based on a seven day running total, and it updates anytime someone syncs up their info. I have been pretty constantly logged in since I've gotten it. Because, for those of you who don't know me in real life, I am uber-crazy competitive. It can be a curse, but in this instance, it's a blessing. My competitive drive has made me work to get in way more steps than I normally would, simply because I am competing against my fiance and several other friends and relatives.

The competitive-factor has actually added many other benefits to my life. So, without further ado, here are the ways wearing a Fitbit has improved my quality of life:

1. Obviously, walking more is healthy. I am moving more, which research shows is important not just in working out, but in spending less time sitting down. So, this is the most important and most obvious benefit.
2. My house is cleaner, because when I want to get more steps in at the end of the night I go from room to room tidying up. I can get in a couple of hundred steps just by taking things from room to room to put them away.
3. I take out the trash a lot more. That's around 100 steps by itself. I used to avoid taking out the trash like the plague, but now I see it as an opportunity to squeeze in a few more steps.
4. I walk around my classroom more. This makes me a better teacher, since I am more aware of what all the students are doing and I am able to stop and help them when needed.
5. I watch less TV because I want to get steps in. Last week I went on several short walks and even went on a hike after work, simply because I like to win.
6. I have been walking on more of my errands (grocery store, post office, library, etc.) This is also a benefit for my wallet, since I save on gas.

Anyone else have a Fitbit? If so, let's be friends! I can't wait to beat you compete with you!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Re-embracing Frugality

Over the last nine months or so (since I've been debt-free) I've definitely relaxed in the area of frugality. I'm sure I'm still more careful with money than many people out there, but I let loose in a lot of areas. I buy myself clothes, joined boot camp, went to some concerts, and just generally relaxed about money. I don't stick with a budget anymore, though I do keep an eye on my accounts. I am still contributing to my Roth IRA, my house down-payment fund, and saving an additional couple hundred dollars a month to my emergency fund.

Sounds pretty good, right? Enjoying the fruits of my labor, but still making some good choices.

But lately I've realized a few things that have made me realize it's time to get back to some of my more frugal ways.

Realization Number One: Even a budget wedding is still going to cost me quite a bit of money.
In order to pay deposits, pay for our honeymoon, buy my dress, etc. I've used all of the extra money I've stocked away in my e-fund each month, as well as my tax return and a financial gift from my grandma. I still have the same amount I started with when I got engaged, but I haven't been able to save any extra. This would be fine, except that the day of the wedding we are going to owe quite a bit of money to different vendors. As in, I need to have a couple of grand ready to spend on the big day. If I don't start aggressively saving each month, I'm going to have to tap into my savings (e-fund) in order to pay for it. No, it wouldn't drain it completely, but my goal is to keep three months of expenses in there.

Realization Number Two: I really, really want to buy a house.
For a while, I was content to take my time in saving for a house and just see what happens. But, prices are starting to creep up again, and I don't want to get boxed out of the market. I also would like a bigger place for entertaining/having family over for holidays. We're also talking about starting a family, and it would be great to get into a house before we have a kid. So, I definitely don't want to stop contributing to my house down-payment fund, or my Roth IRA (which could also be used to supplement a down payment).

Soooo...back to frugality. Here are a list of things I am going to go back to in order to save more money each month:
1. Make an effort to have ten "no-spend" days per month. This stops me from the little purchases that add up throughout the month.
2. No buying clothes (exceptions include wedding-related events like showers and bachelorette party, but I am going to try to borrow clothes for those). I legitimately need some new clothes since I've lost weight, but I am going to try to hold off on that until after the wedding.
3. No stopping for coffee on the way to work. I want to work on making coffee at home, or--even better--just not drinking it.
4. Rather than buying new shoes for the wedding, I am going to try to get my white wedges repaired and use those. They are super comfy, and just need new insoles.
5. Cook from the pantry...I have a lot of stuff in there, and this would cut down on my grocery bill.

I also called T-Mobile and got my bill lowered, and I am working on being more diligent about my electricity use (though this has never been a huge expense for us).

What other frugal things am I forgetting? It's been a while!