Monthly Archives: March 2014

uber naïve initial wedding thoughts

halter dress front

I don’t have a Pinterest account, as I waste enough time on social media like Facebook, blogs, and sometimes Twitter. I’ve been getting random ideas, and taking my time, looking at other PF bloggers’ wedding planning posts and am especially loving NZ Muse’s series on being a “bullshit-free bride.” My kinda girl! I also bought a paper copy of the book based on the Broke-Ass Bride blog. (I like the book but have found the website a little overwhelming with all the ads and affiliate links.) Some people really do get married for under $5,000! There’s hope yet!

After getting engaged on New Year’s day, then becoming completely overwhelmed with new job responsibilities, deciding to move, and undergoing the actual moving process, somewhere in the middle there I signed up, bought some wedding magazines, then promptly freaked out from the huge list of things to do and crazy expenses. Along with everybody and their brother’s ideas on where we should get married and what we should do. Ugh.

We aren’t fancy high maintenance folks and have no intentions of becoming that type, so after stepping back, we’ve started putting some thoughts together on what we wanted, and when, and where, etc.

cliff point

Who: Me and Mr. Bacon, and 50 guests

What: small waterfront backyard wedding

When: April 2015 (possible the 18th as it’s a Saturday and 8 is a lucky number in Chinese)

Where: Somewhere on the Eastern Shore of MD, a “neutral-ish” location.

How Much: Under $5000!

Ok, so maybe the “50 guests” and “under $5k” price tag are uber naïve, but we all gotta start somewhere, right? The hardest part has been picking a location. His family’s in Delaware, mine is in California, but the two of us live just outside DC. We wanted it on “neutral territory”, i.e. not DE and not CA, as it wouldn’t be fair for one side of the family. We even thought of doing something kinda in the middle like Galveston Island, Texas, as we both want something on the beach.

The first concept we had was renting a huge beach house at the Outer Banks–like a huge 10-12 bedroom vacation rental, where we could have our immediate family members and wedding party all stay together, and we’d just get married in the backyard on the beach. They haven’t met each other yet, and it’s about bringing the families together. But it’s kinda expensive and about a 4.5-hour drive from us. It’d cost us money just to take trips out there for the recon and planning, so we thought closer to home–our home.

So then there’s the Eastern Shore. It’s about a 75-90min drive from us, depending on traffic, and pretty close to Baltimore’s airport. There are a bunch of beautiful vacation rentals on the waterfront, some for $300-$500 per night, but none that are both beautiful and huge. So maybe we won’t have everyone stay at the house, as that might just be too chaotic and full of drama. (Trying to be drama-free here, folks!)

Initial thoughts are to rent a place for two or three nights (Friday, Saturday, and maybe Sunday). Have a Friday night reunion dinner, Saturday wedding and reception, and Sunday brunch! Notice I didn’t say rehearsal dinner. What would we be rehearsing anyway?! The venue would be the rental house, which is where we would stay and host the events and hang out and catch up with everyone. I don’t like how at many weddings I’ve been to, you only get to talk to the couple for maybe 10 seconds.

Food would be a BBQ buffet (he’s redneck), with maybe some Southeast Asian food as well (my side of the family, obviously), and most definitely our wedding cake is going to be ICE CREAM CAKE! The ice cream cake is non-negotiable. 😉 (No photos here, I just googled “ice cream wedding cake” and had to shut that browser to stop the drool.) Maybe we’ll do something like disposable bibs with our names on them so people won’t worry about getting BBQ all over their pretty clothes. 🙂

As for the dress, I’ve been perusing Amazon and wondering if it’s a terrible idea to order from a company with factories in Asia (aren’t most made in Asian factories anyway but just priced ridiculously higher?). I mean, I’m pretty sure my mom and aunts worked at a sweatshop in Chinatown when they first immigrated to San Francisco (she didn’t call it a sweatshop, but mentioned they got paid by each piece they made). My mom actually made her own wedding dress along with me and my sister’s prom dresses, along with many Halloween costumes. I’d possibly have her make me one if we lived closer…

Here’s the back to the one I’ve been eyeing. First picture at the top is the front…

halter back

I’m a small-chested girl, so no strapless gowns for me. And it’d be under $142 after shipping! Totally within my budget!

And another photo of one of the vacation rentals I’ve been ogling…same place as the sunset photo above. It’s $285/night if you rent it before April 30, for a 3-bedroom, 3-bath place that sleeps 8. All vacation rentals seem to go up after that point, which is one of the reasons we wanted to do mid-April!

cliff point 2

Anyway, just some initial thoughts. We also still want to throw post-wedding parties in Delaware, California, and DC for the other friends and families that won’t be able to make the actual wedding (or that we won’t invite as we’re trying to keep it small). Which probably won’t be too fancy either but will be excluded from the $5k budget.

We’ll see what actually happens a year from now! So what do you think? Am I naïve to think we’ll keep it small and relatively inexpensive??

The planned stall is over!

I just sent a $1500 payment to Sallie Mae Thursday night and got paid yesterday. Whoop whoop! I’m going to keep most of yesterday’s paycheck for April rent and then the next one (April 4th) can be diverted for the taxes I probably owe. 😦 One of them is the “extra paycheck”! (I get paid biweekly so two months out of the year are “extra paycheck months”.)

Yeah, I still need to do my taxes! I also gotta change all my addresses (at least I did the USPS one), but we also still need to clear out of the apartment completely and then hang up all our pictures up here in the new place. And maaaaybe get a couple new furniture pieces… I know I blogged a week ago about being almost done moving out of the old place, but then we took a break from moving out and instead got settled in. And by “got settled in” I mean, battled it out on the phone with Verion FiOS for an average of an hour each night, grrrrrg. :X

It’s been a debacle that I’ll chronicle in another post, but hey, at least we are up and running with cable and internet again! And even a landline if we actually want to purchase a home phone…weird! It’s been an exhausting last couple weeks, what with moving and then arguing with the cable company every night, but back on topic about being back on track…

Yeah! I was impressed with my checking account balance as I had run the numbers a month ago and had thought my loan payments would be stalled for at least two months with all the latest life changes (mainly the move and the taxes). I think it’s thanks to getting the $900-ish retro-pay post-bonus, along with having an emergency fund! So I went ahead and diverted $1500 over to the evil mistress Sallie Mae, which was my monthly goal amount when I made the Original Game Plan. I won’t get to divert the extra paycheck to the loans as it’ll get delegated to taxes, but considering that I’ve only made one other $1500-ish monthly payoff since this blog was born (excluding the ridiculous $6k I paid in December from the Christmas bonus), let me give myself a genuine pat on the back. Which we all need to do more of; I think most of us PF bloggers are pretty hard on ourselves! More pats on the backs, please!

So if I can then transition to the “More Aggressive Post-Raise Game Plan”, or the “Aggro Game Plan” for short, starting next month, I’ll actually be under $80k by June, not July as the “planned stall” had guesstimated. Man, I can’t wait! Every $10k is such a big milestone. I also just re-enrolled in automatic debit on my federal student loans (that’s the $224 minimum payment per month). This gives me back my 0.25% decrease in interest, huzzah!

We’ll see how the Aggro Game Plan works out soon enough. If I can follow it starting next month, I’ll be down to under $50k by next April…which is when we want to get married! More wedding-planning posts coming up soon. I’ll have to put down my very naïve (?) ideas of getting married on a budget so that I can possibly laugh at them years and years later. Or not!

Anyone else got good finance news this month to displace the upcoming bad news of possible late March snow again???

the new place vs. the old place: pleasant surprises!

Hey PF kids! We got our keys a whole week early. WOW–that means we got them last Saturday on March 8th, not coincidentally the day after my last post as I’ve been in Crazy Moving Mode and will be internet-less until tomorrow. Our lease at the old place isn’t actually up until April 12th so that gives us a whole 5 weeks to get moved out. However, we’re trying our darnedest to hand in the old keys well before April 1st on the chance they can rent out our old studio and we won’t have to owe any April rent. So far so good, I’m in between the two places again and thought I’d take a dinner & blogging break (with free wifi!) from spackling all the huge holes we left in the walls. 😕

So we’ve transferred 95% of all our stuff over to the new place and have been sleeping there since last Sunday night. Unfortunately, it was on an air mattress until Thursday, when Mr. Bacon’s dad, two sisters, and nephew came to the rescue and made a 2-hour road trip to help move the big furniture while I was at work. (MUCH APPRECIATED!!! I had done a good deal of the grunt work in packing up all the boxes and moving them over in the days prior and was sleep deprived and exhausted all week.)

I thought I’d write up a recap about the many cool new things that I’ve been discovering (and the obvious) about our new place that make us love it so much!

  • We’re in a 3-level townhouse-ish building. Our one-bedroom condo is actually two levels and we go up two short flights of stairs to our place. Previously we were on the 14th story of a 15-story high rise building. That means…
  • No more freakin’ elevator! The worst was hauling your dirty clothes down to the first floor laundry room, and of course you would always forget something–the access card, or the laundry money card, or of course, detergent. ARGH.
  • Now we have our own laundry machines! Two full size machines, not the stackable small variety, including storage above it.
  • The bathroom has a curved shower rod like in hotels! Which makes the shower/bathtub area seem way bigger. I always wanted one in our old studio but realized we weren’t allowed to swap it out since it requires drilling holes.
  • The bathroom has a fan! Yessss!
  • The kitchen has all new granite countertops and stainless steel appliances! (Fridge, oven, dishwasher.) Which leads to all of the following:
  • Our new refrigerator is REALLY SWEET. It’s one of those that have the fridge part on top, and the freezer is a huge drawer that pulls out from the bottom. It also has an ICE MACHINE!!! After over a year of making ice with ice trays, I’m super psyched about this!
  • The tap water (and ice from the ice machine) actually tastes good and isn’t cloudy. This means we can save money from those stupid Brita filters!
  • The kitchen sink is a huge two-compartment sink with a bigger, deeper section. I’m one of those folks that hand-washes a bunch of stuff so this is great! It also has a spray button and the tap comes out like a hose. Neat!
  • The stove is actually one of those fancy ceramic smoothtop ranges. Wow! This will cut down on cleaning time from a gas or electric coil type.
  • The new place is only 50% bigger than our old place (900 sq ft vs. 600) but feels TWICE as big because it’s split in two levels.
  • There’s more storage everywhere, overall. We’ve got an outside storage closet, TWO coat closets, a bigger pantry, the storage above the laundry machines, the storage above the toilet in the bathroom. The walk-in closet is actually quite smaller than our old one, but we’ve got so much more elsewhere in the condo.
  • Parking is super easy and plentiful. Although it’s outside and uncovered, there’s many free spots right by our building. Previously we had covered parking (great for all the winter snowstorms), but it was in an underground garage and I had to go round-and-round down 6 levels just to get my car. Of course I was on the bottom-most floor. The garage was also really narrow (barely enough room for two cars to pass each other going opposite directions) and I was convinced I’d crash into someone, or vice versa.
  • Did I mention we’re paying $305 LESS each month in rent?!

Overall, it feels more like a real grown-up home rather than living in a hotel room or a dorm room in college. Mr. Bacon seems especially happier despite being very anti-moving, but I always knew he was against the moving process and not actually the new neighborhood and new condo!

All right, back to work clearing out the old studio…so close. Next post may be about unexpected costs affiliated with the move. Like breaking contract with Dish Network and switching to Verizon FiOS!

Why I don’t side hustle…

AKA hooray, my raise just kicked in!! Along with a bit over $900 in retro pay since they activated the raise as of January 1st. Cha-ching!! That should take care of the overlapping rent this month as we move. Then the extra paycheck coming up in two weeks should cover the taxes I owe and maybe, just maybe I will actually be back on track this month. fingers crossed! 🙂

So why don’t I side hustle? I’ve got enough potential for growth in my current career field as is (year #2 has only just begun in my specialty and you get paid more and more depending on experience) and so little free time with how busy they keep me that it doesn’t make sense. I’d rather have my spare time spent towards running or biking, or dates with the fiancé…or more sleep!

Anyone else in the PF community *not* a side hustler?

the once-in-a-leap-year excuse AKA February debt goes (slightly) up!

Another snow day. Which used to be fun, a time to procrastinate, exercise a bit and catch up on blogging, but now that work has gotten busier, it means I’m getting more and more behind and that kind of pisses me off!

Ok, on that note, just a little more procrastinating and why not put up the February update? Yup…so with the planned stall in debt repayment, I only paid the $242 minimum payment for the private loans. As of yesterday (March 2nd) my balance was $85,265.95. The only time my balance will go up, folks! Let’s say once in a leap year, since I’ll definitely be out of debt by the time it’s February 28, 2018. Surprisingly my balance only went up by $1.29 since last month. BOO HISS, yeah I know, but it is what it is and I’m happy it wasn’t much more. I’m thinking that with getting some retro-pay for January and February I can get back to paying off some debt in March. We’ll find out Friday, my next payday.

So February was a short month, 28 days for this leap year or exactly 4 weeks. I actually did well in the regular budget categories…$397 for groceries. Sweet. That means we really do average about $100 per week in groceries? My auto & transport budget was -$17 out of $120. I got a negative number from work reimbursement. Nice! I’m submitting my mileage once a month and I’m getting back at least $120 (some months more, some less), so that helps defer some costs right there. February was a big driving month for work and I should get over $200 back.

The $100 “fun fund” went to date stuff with Mr. Bacon, like a personalized Valentine’s gift from Mandy’s Moon (cheap cute and affordable!), and a movie date to see The Lego Movie in 3D (totally my choice). Damn, movies are so expensive! I couldn’t find an old AMC gift card I had (it’ll show up during the moving process I’m sure) and keep forgetting to get the discounted movie vouchers from Costco. Oh well. Next time.

Unexpected costs came from ponying up $1500 for the security deposit for our new place–this is what would’ve gone towards the student loan debt last month. I also put out $200 to get my mom a purse she really wanted. Mom never asks for anything, so I was more than willing to splurge for her, even though she insists on paying me back. I think it’s cute because she was always my biggest triathlon fan and this is a designer purse with little triathlon cartoons all over it (no, she doesn’t compete at all, but she was always my #1 spectator).

Next up, March! This is moving month! I’m really looking forward to this move as we definitely need a bigger space. At this very moment I’ve temporarily converted our walk-in closet to an impromptu office as me and Mr. Bacon are both home for a snow day. He worked until 3am this morning (see, he’s getting those overtime hours now that he has his own car again, cha-ching!) and turning the lights on in our studio for me to do my work wakes him up.

I’m hoping to keep our moving costs down–other than the obvious security deposit and overlapping rent, we’re having a DIY move with renting a U-Haul for under $100 and recruiting friends. I have lots of boxes at work. We caught a TV commercial for moving our Dish Network for free ( as they originally said it would cost $100 to move everything and reinstall in a new place. But we also might actually have to pay for internet…hmmm. (Comcast installed my internet over a year ago and I never got a bill. I looked into it and apparently my account doesn’t exist! Doot dee doo…) And I really should do my taxes this month. Maybe it won’t be as bad as I’m anticipating? 😦

Hope your February went well and let’s hope this is the last of the Polar Bear Vortexes! If this is the last snow day ever, I won’t be too sad–it’s freakin’ March, Mother Nature! How goes debt repayment and weather in your neck of the woods?