Happy Halloween….errrrr Wedding Day!!!

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Hi Friends!!

Today is my friend’s wedding day I’ve been talking about for the past several months!

Exciting stuff!

I don’t have a lot of time but I wanted to pop in and say – Good news!!! I was so worried about our “night out” yesterday night (thinking it would probably be $$$, see the post I wrote about here) but I ended up spending ZERO dollars! Woohoo!!!

How, you might ask?

Well she baked her own wedding cake and the plan was to do that during the day yesterday. What we THOUGHT would be a 3 hour process ended up taking NINE HOURS!!! (Now I know why wedding cakes are so dang expensive!) She made a four-layer, three-teir cake (that’s 3 tiers of four layers each) and the baking, alone, took 7 hours before even factoring in the frosting and decorating.

Aaaaaanyway, long story short, we were at the house working on the cake until 10pm and never went out. We ended up grazing on food at her house (I’d offered to pay for a pizza, but she wasn’t in the mood), s0 the night was 100% free!

There will still be a couple smaller expenses today (I’m picking up pre-ceremony mimosa supplies for the girls), but this will still turn out to be SUBSTANTIALLY less than I’d originally anticipated.

HUGE breath of relief!

Today is the wedding and reception and tomorrow is a second smaller “family” reception (which I’m also attending), so this weekend is pretty packed. I’ll be back on Monday and should hopefully have my budget updated to show you how October turned out and what the plan is for November.

Have a great weekend, everyone!


The Costs of a Trip to Texas

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The comments section on this post were all over the place! I’d talked about making a trip back to Texas and about half of you were supportive of the decision….

Yes, a trip back home would be a good thing!

You can’t place a value on time spent with family.

There are no guarantees in life – spend time with your loved ones while you can!

….and the other half of commenters were not. In particular, many people voiced that they thought this was an impulsive and not well thought out decision. And guess what guys…..you’re right!!!

You are absolutely right that this was a knee-jerk reaction to having just seen my family and being dissatisfied with our visit (not the visit itself, mind you, but the lack of time I actually got to spend with my family). I was sad and mopey and my husband caved and agreed we could go back to our hometown (Austin) for a visit.

But after reading your comments (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: thank you for all of your comments – particularly the dissenting opinions! You give me a different perspective and force me to examine my thought process and behavior), I’ve decided an analysis of costs is in order.

But before I dive into the analysis, let me give you a little info on the timing of this visit so you have a fuller scope of information. First, we’ve decided not to go back for Thanksgiving. It’s simply too soon and we need a good solid month of work (for the hubs in particular) to try to build up some cash reserves. So Christmas time, it is. Several people suggested waiting until the Spring so we could visit at a non-peak travel time. Unfortunately, Spring doesn’t work as well with husband’s business. No one (very few people) wants to get his or her floors done during the holidays. It’s messy and dirty and costly and people just don’t want to deal with it. But as soon as the holidays end, the Spring season gets busy! So it makes sense for us to go during the holiday time because it’s already a time that’s slow anyway so there’s less of a missed opportunity cost in terms of missed income. In contrast, there’s a HUGE missed opportunity cost in the Spring because being gone for 7-10 days could translate to a missed job that would have netted us a thousand dollars or more! It’s not a chance we want to take.

So here’s my trip cost analysis:

Gasoline would be the biggest expense in this trip. In the past, my Mom has generously helped us to offset some of the gas costs, but I want to do my analysis without this added help because it is not a guaranteed thing.

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I did all the math and, as you can see, we’re looking at about $400 in gasoline costs for the trip. Just FYI, at each step of the equation I was making conservative estimates (i.e., conservative estimate for price of gasoline, number of fill ups, miles per gallon, etc.).

The only other costs would be for food and if we decide to stop in the middle and get a hotel for a night.

In terms of the hotel, we should be able to find someplace for $100/night. One overnight on the way to Austin and one overnight on the way back to Tucson = a total hotel cost of $200

I think we could bring snacks and pack a breakfast and plan to only stop for lunch and dinner on the first day; breakfast and lunch on the second day. I would estimate these costs at about $60 (x 2 for the round trip = a total food cost of $120.

Here’s a summary for everything included:

Gasoline = $400

Hotel = $200

Food = $120

Total Expense = $720

All of these estimates are on the conservative side and there are so many ways that we could try to bring these expenses down (e.g., pack lunches so we only have to eat out for dinner; do something similar to our Utah trip and only stay in a hotel one-way, while opting to drive straight through the other way). If we work hard, and particularly if we end up being gifted with some gasoline money, I would think we can make the full round-trip for $500 or less.

A few people said not to travel at Christmas because we would then have to purchase gifts that we might not otherwise. This isn’t true in our case. Our families tend to shower the kiddos with gifts, but not as much with the adults (which is as I prefer it) so there’s not an expectation of gifts. Plus, we have an (albeit meager) Christmas fund, so we have some money saved up for any expenses that arise. This aside, anything we do while in Austin would come out of our regular budget. If we’re there for a week, for instance, we would use our grocery budget that week on food and/or entertainment while in Austin. In this way, we’re not saving money (which would, of course, be nice) but at least we’re not spending over and above our regular budget.

So there you have it.

I know many will still say that this is not a wise idea and should wait a few months. It’s fair for us to have differing opinions. But what I want to take from this is that I have really thought through all of the expenses and know in advance what type of investment we’ll be looking at. I’m a little embarrassed to say that we have NEVER EVER done this in the past! Even with our Utah trip this summer – we just kind of go and “wing it.” This is the first time I’ve sat down ahead of time to do some research and really figured out the costs of things up front. It seems so obvious and, yet, it’s just not something I’ve ever bothered with.

So this has been another learning lesson for me. Even for those who remain steadfast that this trip should not be happening, I hope you take some solace in the fact that you still rubbed off on me at least a little. Maybe I didn’t take your advice 100%, but now I’m not entering into this trip blindly. Instead of it simply being an impulsive knee-jerk reaction to being homesick, I’ve taken the time to really think things through on a financial level and to weigh the pros and cons ahead of time.

For that, I thank you!

How do you budget for travel when you go out of town?



The Part Time Job

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I’ve bitten off more than I can chew…so this past weekend I resigned my part time job, and I felt horrible about it.  One because I really enjoyed just getting out of the house and my typical routine and being around other adults and just doing mundane tasks that I didn’t have to bring home.  Oh, and the bi-weekly deposits into my newer emergency fund were nice.

I went in for what I assumed would be my last day this past Friday, and realized just how much I appreciate and respect my boss there.  She is rock steady, a micro manager without being a micro manager and I didn’t want to lose that relationship I’ve started to build with her.  I didn’t want to quit.  So I let her know the circumstances and offered to just come in on Fridays and do project work.  And she took me up on it!

So what was a part time job, is now really only going to be a few hours per week, but I think it’s a good compromise and I’m glad it worked out for both of us.

Since this money really only funded my EF it won’t really affect my  debt payoff journey, but will continue to contribute to my baby steps to become more financially sound in the long run.  Baby steps!


Making Do: Family Picture

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Full disclosure:  I actually wrote this post back in August. I have no idea how/why I forgot about it until now, but I wanted to publish it as part of my “making do” series (see others here, here and here). So, as you read, sorry about the dated language (i.e., I mention October being “almost a year ago” when….clearly its been a full year at this point since last October, lol). At any rate, enjoy!

The first week of preschool the teacher sent notes home with our girls asking for us to bring a recent family photo to school for a special project. It turns out that the kids used the pictures to draw their own versions and each was hung on the wall side-by-side for parents to see.

You should have seen the photos that the other parents had sent with their kids. They were beautiful! All professionally done family portraits that I’m sure will be held onto and looked back on for years to come.

Us? We’ve only had 2 professional photos done with the girls in their whole lives. The first was a “newborn” photo shoot (I say “newborn” in quotations because the girls were born very prematurely, so they spent the first month of their lives in the NICU. As a result the newborn shoot that is usually done in the first week of life was actually done when they were 3 months old).

The second professional photo was taken last October at the Sears studio (using a Groupon) for our family Christmas card.  I suppose that was recent enough, though its nearly a year old at this point and we’re all wearing our “Sunday best” in a very posed position, so I wasn’t fond of using it as our “recent family photo.”

Instead I decided to select a photo that my mother-in-law had taken with her iPhone when she was in town visiting last month. We had gone to a local ostrich farm and let the girls feed the animals. In the photo, Chris and I are each holding a girl and there are ostriches all behind us.

There are so many imperfections about that photo:  we’re all hot and sweaty, Chris and I are wearing sunglasses, and the girls aren’t even facing the camera. But its the real “us.” And I love it.

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I don’t have a digital copy of the family photo since my MIL had sent us a printed version only, but enjoy this photo of Bailey from the same day at the Ostrich farm.

I’m so glad that we used this for our recent family photo.

We’ll have our turn to get professional photos down the road. Right now I’m putting more monetary value on trying to find us a reasonable kitchen table to accommodate our whole family. Professional photos really aren’t making the top of the list. And you know what? We’ll survive just fine.

Hey now, remember that goal to get a suitable kitchen table to accommodate our whole family? Wow, almost forgot all about that! Needs to happen ASAP!


Modified Money Envelope System

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Well the month is almost over and I wanted to report on how my modified money envelope system has gone.

Remember, I decided to do a modified money envelope with only 2 categories: groceries and eating out. Instead of a traditional envelope I used the two compartments in my wallet and designated one for each of these purposes.

How did it go?

Well, as with anything new, I think there were a bit of some growing pains.

Cons:

There’s really only one. Because the money was stored in my regular wallet (instead of a big, bulky envelope), at the beginning of the month I would sometimes forget it was there! Twice I went to the grocery store and paid with a debit card out of habit, then got out to the parking lot and face-palmed over not using my cash!! This was frustrating and annoying to try to reconcile with the cash I had on hand (by subtracting odd dollar amounts when I didn’t have correct change, etc.). Just a bit of a learning curve as I tried to re-learn to use CASH ONLY instead of debit.

Pros:

I really, really paid attention to that money dwindling! These are categories that I usually go over on and this month I basically told myself that this cash was all I have in the world (even though we obviously have more money in the bank). So when the money started running low I had to get creative with making meals at home and using ingredients we had on hand. Instead of just putting it on debit and worrying about how I’d gone over budget later, I was forced to really work with ONLY the cash that I had allotted to these categories, no more.

Overall, I think the system worked great! After learning to spend my cash instead of automatically defaulting to debit, I didn’t have any problems. I’m definitely going to keep it up next month.

One potentially negative in terms of my grocery budget……I don’t know how but last month and this month I’ve run out of money well before the month was over. In both cases I’ve been forced to eat out of our freezer and pantry. That’s all well and good and helped me from going over our grocery budget. BUT, our freezer and pantry are both looking pretty darn bare right now. Our freezer, in particular, has rarely been so low on food! I’m hoping that with Thanksgiving next month I’ll be able to stock up on a lot of sale-priced meat (turkey is at a once-a-year low in November); and on the bright side of things, I have the room in my freezer to spare fore stocking up on some meat and other freezable food. However, I’m going to have to get crafty on how to stock up since I still don’t want to increase my grocery budget. That will be a challenge for next month. Fun times!

 


The House

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My house sold!  The signed contract isn’t in hand yet, but we got the offer on Monday and on Thursday we came to terms.  It will close next month.

What a total and complete blessing!

For those of you into numbers, this means the house sold in 1 week and we got almost what we asking for it.  I have no idea what this means for me monetarily, and am not ready to ask my dad that question but in terms of psychology and stress, this has lifted a huge burden off my shoulders.  Now I can look forward without worrying about how my decisions affect anyone but me and my kids.

Thank you for all your support and encouragement and even gentle nudges to do better as I walk this path.

I will be posting a new budget this week, but in reality it won’t really take affect until December since I need to finish paying bills from getting the house ready, etc.  More on that later…just wanted to share this exciting news.


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