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Amazon tips and tricks

December 15th, 2009 at 03:40 pm

Being 8.5 months pregnant, I'm doing most of my Xmas shopping online this year. I'm too tired to scour the sales and and paranoid of sick people.

I'm usually thrifstoring gifts, but this year I also wanted some new things and had great luck with Amazon daily deals.

I bought hubby two magazine subscriptions that normally go for $25 only $5 each.

The board games I bought as gifts were all 1/2 of the price than Target or Walmart wanted for them, with free shipping.

Getting a trial Amazon Prime subscription and canceling within 30 days will let you get free shipping on everything for the month.

Filler Item Finder
is great for when you're really, really close to $25 on your order total and want to get that free shipping.

There are also tons of sites like spendfish.com that list all the most marked down items on amazon that day.

Luckily I have a clear idea of what I want to get beforehand, because if you end up buying a bunch of stuff just cause it's on sale, obviously that defeats the purpose.

Craiglist sales update

December 10th, 2009 at 03:35 pm

I've been nesting and cleaning out things out of the basement and the guest room which we're turning into a nursery.

I've got a huge pile of stuff to give my parents, a big pile of stuff for Goodwill and a large bag of clothes for consignment which I need to drop off next week.

Craigslist This week

Dresser - Sold $35
Metal Bed Frame - Sold $30
Laundry Hamper / Sorter - Asking $10
Coffee Table - Asking $30

I usually just save all the cash in an envelope and take out of it before heading to the thrift store looking for baby bargains. This makes me feel a whole lot better about shopping even if it is for second hand goods.

In baby news - one of the few things we're going to be buying new is a carseat. And the best rated one goes for $160, eeek! But the basic ones get horrible reviews so I think we will have to pay for some good quality on this purchase. So that will be going on the Amazon Christmas wishlist that I'm going to send to the in-laws and hope for the best. Smile

Back from a long hybernation

December 1st, 2009 at 10:59 am

Well I'm back to perusing the PF blogs after a long hiatus. We've been so busy with home remodeling, getting new jobs and getting ready for a baby that I've just left all the finances on autopilot.

Well after some long and hard consideration, and realizing that daycare in Denver costs $1500-2000 for an infant, we've decided that I will be staying home after the baby is born. Right now we're thinking it will be a temporary 1-2 yr situation, but considering we want more kids it might hopefully turn into something closer to 5 with me freelancing on the side.

This will cut our income in half, and really test all the budgeting and thrifting habits that I've been trying to learn and follow. But I can't think of a more worthwhile reason - family - to do this for.

So far so good. No going out to eat in ages, I've been inviting all my friends over for lunches and making them myself. No extraneous spending, almost everything baby is coming second hand or through thrift stores and I've been selling anything and everything on craiglist and have an Ebay list too.

Now I have to catch up on everyone's posts for the past few months!

Do you get a deal at dollar stores?

July 20th, 2009 at 12:15 pm

Do you get a Deal at the Dollar Store? - Blogging For Change

Reading this article made me think if the trips I make there are worth it? Not so much.

Food/toiletries/plastic products are not safe, electronics are of poor quality, and we use only natural cleaning products (vinegar/baking soda/elbow grease).

Some things I have/do pick up there:
> A quick gift(candle, etc) and a gift bag
> microfiber cleaning cloths
> dishwashing gloves
> glass dishware (bowls, etc)
> dish sponges

Do you get a Deal at the Dollar Store?

Got my consignment check!

July 16th, 2009 at 03:33 pm

Well it's not much, only $33 bucks (4 things), but it's something. These are items that are not worth the hassle of listing on ebay and are still too nice for the Goodwill.

I've got another bag of summer things I am going to take in next month, and two more full of fall stuff sitting in the back of the closet for later on.

This is the first time I've dropped items off at this particular store, but it's 5 min from work so I figured, why not? I'm honestly surprised by their turnover, they are way overpriced! But this is posh Boulder and many rich people seem to shop there and there are also no reasonable thrift stores around. This works in my favor as long as I walk out of there with my money and not instead with a pair of gorgeous, red, lacquered, Nine West ballet flats. (I had to hold myself back, it was hard)

I often come across name brand items that are not in my size at the local thrift store during their 99c sale days. I need to start buying them and bringing in to consign, everything sells and for 10 times what I paid for it!

If only I had the extra time to clean, press and mend everything. Maybe it's just something else I could do instead of watching TV after work, which has been a hard habit to kick, even after we got rid of all the channels but the local ones, I still rely on Netflix too much!

I guess consignment stores are doing great in our economy, so if you have something that's not worth the ebay hassle, it's another great way to get a little extra cash.

Where does the money go?

July 14th, 2009 at 12:53 pm

I'm a sucker for infographics, and this one from April 2009, is pretty good:

How The Average U.S. Consumer Spends Their Paycheck

The top 4 are obvious: housing, car, food and insurance. But it was interesting to see that people spend almost as much on groceries as going out (7% vs 5.4%) and that cash contributions (I'm assuming savings) is only at 3.7% of the total monthly budget.

We spend .02% of our income on reading but 3 times that amount on alcohol? I bet that most of the entertainment cost is TV, Cable, movies, video games...anesthesia for the masses.

What does it say that Americans only spend 12.4% of their income on food, but spend 5.7% on Healthcare? If you buy high quality food (healthy organic fats and proteins, fruits and veggies) then you will not have to spend anywhere near that much on healthcare.

Unexpected Car Repair

July 13th, 2009 at 09:27 am

There we were, all packed and ready to drive to the airport for our Portland vacation. We loaded up the car, grabbed all the snacks and water, locked up the house and..... DH's car wouldn't start. It made a weird clicking sound, and nothing. He tried it a few more times, and still nothing. At this point he was starting to get sweat on his brow, we were already running late for the airport!

Thank God for our second car! We quickly shuffled everything into my car which was sitting in the garage, she started up like a champ (should hope so, she's a 2008) and off we went. Not the best way to start a vacation, worrying about how much that surprise is going to cost you when you get back.

I was convinced it was the starter, but DH tinkered with it and decided the battery just bit the dust, brought on by the strong storms we've been having and the car sitting out overnight. That and I think I've let it drain completely a few years back by leaving the dome light on for the weekend. Off to Walmarts he went, and luckily a new one was only 70 bucks, and we get 10 of it back when we bring in the old one. It was a snap to put it in, and she started up like a champ. Whew!

Considering this is a 92 Honda civic, and the first and only car I've owned throughout highschool and college and my 20s, we should consider ourselves lucky. Aside from regular maintenance: replacing break pads, filters, alignment, etc she has had no major problems since we got her. And now my husband uses her as a very gas efficient commuter car. That's probably the reason we own nothing but Hondas, and neither do my parents, they've served us too well! Smile

Back from vacation, and UNDER budget!

July 10th, 2009 at 10:34 am

DH and I had a wonderful 5 days in Portland!
We had an amazing time. We stayed in a beautiful Victorian guesthouse in the heart of Nob hill, ate and explored to our content, and took several roadtrips to the Willamette valley and to the coast stopping at small towns along the Pacific Coast Highway (101).

Pictures coming soon!

This is what we spent overall:

Roundtrip tix Denver-Portland : $308
4 nights lodging in Nob Hill(inc all taxes): $300
Car rental 4 days (compact): $62
Gas: $38
Food, attractions, etc: $260

Grand total: $970 (rounding up)

We were hoping to stay under $1500, that was about how much we spent in Seattle last year, so we must be getting better and better with each trip Smile

Portland or bust

July 1st, 2009 at 12:06 pm

Today is the end of a three day week for me, and tomorrow my DH and I leave for Portland for a mini 5 day vacation. I am actually getting 5 days off with only having to take of 1 from work, thanks to the holiday!

I am absolutely enamored with the Pacific NorthWest, and my recent trips to Northern California (driving the PCH, visiting wineries, staying at b&bs) and Seattle(best chowder in the world) have only made me love it more. I'm really looking forward to the moisture, the tall redwoods, the smells and sounds of the coast, and all the greenery. Summer in Colorado is arid, desert like and the unrelenting sun tends to turn everything brown and crunchy with dryness, so it'll be a nice change.

The bills are paid, the house is pretty clean and I've got a little packing left to do after work today. I wish you all a fun and festive 4th, see you next week!

At a crossroads with our house

June 30th, 2009 at 10:11 am

I've been a bit antsy over making a decision about what we're going to do with the house over the next few years and what our 5 year plan is. As I've mentioned before on here, I bought this house in 2003, before I met my husband and when I worked about 5 minutes away, it made perfect sense and it's in a very nice, safe area of town along the Rocky Mountain foothills.

A lot of things have changed in the following 5 years. I went from being single and fabulous with roommates, to meeting my husband and getting married and from having a cushy local job to now both of us working in a nearby university town, 45 minutes away. We're also not near our family who live in another large town 1.5 hours south of Denver. So currently we're comfortable but neither close to work nor to family, and not in a place where we would want to raise a family long term, hence all the speculating about what we should do.

While our home is nice, roomy and a great couple's home, it doesn't meet our main requirements for when we start a family hopefully in the next couple of years:

*being closer to family
*being near a park so the kids don't have to play in the street like all the neighbor kids do
*more backyard privacy, currently we on a low-maintenance, but very small lot, and can hear our neighbors sneeze because we're so close, and have no place for a garden.
*a larger kitchen with more counterspace

I also have a dream of downsizing to a smaller home, putting the sizable equity we have in our house now (approx. 70K) towards the smaller mortgage and paying it off in 5-10 years. It that case it makes sense to plan to sell the house soon and start saving money. To throw a wrench into that plan is the fact that this house would make a good rental over the next 5-10 years too.

*It is near major roads and close to I70. You can be isolated in the mountains in 10 minutes, or downtown in less than 30.
*it is very close to a large Federal Center compound employing approx. 8000 people
*a huge new hospital is currently being built approx 3 miles away which will employ close to 2000 people
*a lightrail station is slated to be built and operational by 2012 within a 5 minute drive of the home, allowing people to commute into downtown and tech center of Denver with ease.
*current rental prices for comprables (via craigslist) would cover our 30yr 5.5 mortgage payments.

I am definitely not in a bad position, the homes in our neighborhood are selling within a few weeks and for almost full asking price, and the home would also make a good rental should we decide to go that route. I think I need to research more on what renting and being a landlord would entail, from other posts on here it sounds like no walk in the park and we would have to prepare to do it over long term, since the house will get trashed and will be harder to sell. While we have no plans to move out of state, I'm not sure we're cut out to be landlords. Decisions, decisions!

Starting up the ROTH, again.

June 29th, 2009 at 12:43 pm

When I got laid off last October, the economy was bombing and I stopped my ROTH contributions. I've been gainfully employed for 5 months now and I'm a little embarrassed to say I haven't picked them up. My thinking was that with the market the way it was it made more sense to invest in things that will have more tangible return on investment, like topping off our emergency fund and making some good headway on our goals savings account, and completing our badly needed master bath remodel.

While I am still very reluctant to do so, I do have faith that the economy will start to come back up in the next few years, and obviously missing out on the growth would be missing out on the whole point of investing. We're mostly a target date fund kinda family when it comes to retirement investments so I am going to re-start contributing to the Vanguard 2040 once again and try not to obsessively watch it month to month like I tend to do.

Cancelled TV today

June 26th, 2009 at 10:43 am

And I feel so much better already! I've had an exhausting couple of months, and have gotten into the rotten habit of plopping onto the couch when I got home and numbing out in front of the tube for the evening, consequently feeling pretty worthless. I'll even admit to eating takeout for dinner off our coffee table, a new personal low.

There are really just a few shows we watch most of which we get online. We own the dish and the TiVo box, so local channels are still available and free, and we still have Netflix for movies, so I'm weaning myself off it slowly. But it had to be done, and the cost savings is a nice bonus.

Now I just hope that I don't substitute browsing time for my previous TV watching time. Better stock up on some books and get a home to-do list to chip away at.

iPhone mania and a free lunch

June 25th, 2009 at 10:01 am

I would not be overestimating when I say that about 80% of the people on my floor purchased or upgraded to the new iPhones last week. I've put up with weeks of nerd talk about all their great features and how they will change everyone's lives.

Now everyone is busy playing and showing off their new toys. Coworkers are whipping them out in meetings, videotaping semi-funny stuff and sending it to each other, using the Star Wars lightsaber app to run around the cubefarm swinging them around.

No, I don't have one, and no I don't want one! I don't want to pay $200 bucks for it (assuming a contract) plus $100/month(data + text + voice).

Ofcourse new toys are fun, and cool, but cmon! I work with mostly guys in their 30s with lots and lots of toys: $1K+ bikes, 42" flatscreens, new iPhones, and all the top notch gear their little heart desires. They are also making payments, on the toys, on their cars, on their apartments, and most have no savings.

To each his own: we all have our own goals and reasons for doing things that we think will make us happy in the long run. I wish, however, that I had some more like-minded friends at work that I could talk to.

On another note, we had a company picnic yesterday and the weather was gorgeous. I skipped my packed lunch and went out to socialize and get some sunshine.

I'm surprised how a catering company can change a couple grand to feed a couple hundred people shredded meat, canned baked beans, velveta cheese with frozen corn in it, and some chips. Why do people oooh and ahhh over this stuff just cause they get a free lunch? With a little imagination they could have had a local/organic, delicious spread for everyone that would have been gourmet! But I'm just ranting, a free lunch is a free lunch I guess..

$1109 spent on gas commuting to work

June 24th, 2009 at 03:13 pm

This math is very depressing, so is my commute: 32mi each way. At least it's to a job I like..

2.50($/gal) * 1/30 (gal/mi) * 64 (mi) = $5.33

4 (days a week ) * 52 (weeks/ year) = $1109

the boss is cool and lets me work from home one day a week
my favorite job I've had so far
the scenery is quite beautiful since I don't have to drive through town

extremely expensive
exhausting, by Friday I'm dreaming of selling our house
wear and tear on my car

There is noone to carpool with and a bus pass would cost around 500 and take twice as long to get there. I just get bummed out thinking about it.

Trying not to pay attention to appraisals

June 23rd, 2009 at 02:38 pm

I logged in to mint today to update all my transactions and low and behold our house value dropped to 211K. I almost had a panic attack until I remembered a house 2 doors down and smaller than ours sold for 250K a week ago.

I gave my two weeks notice

January 22nd, 2009 at 09:11 am

Yes, I know, I must be crazy. But is it ever a good time to realize you're doing something that makes you miserable and no amount of accolades or money is ever going to be worth it in the end?

October 2008
Get laid off from cushy, dream job.
Get hired back as an independent contractor and work from home full time.

December 2008
Get another full-time position, probably out of economical fear, without taking the time to think if this is what I really want. Start to loathe my work and get pretty depressed. Go through some heart-wrenching soul searching and decide on a new and different career path, which at least leverages all my previous experience. Go on honeymoon and relax!

January 2009
Make sure emergency fund is 2 years solid. Scale back all spending to almost nothing. Sell anything and everything on ebay and craiglist. Become total miser, but try to keep a semblance of a social life. Give my two weeks notice, work on two freelance projects, apply for more fitting full-time jobs. Feel free, excited, nervous, hopeful and happy!!

*The disclaimer here is that when DH and I got married in Oct, we made a budget which allowed us to live on one income and save the other. Anything I missed buying with my salary could not even compare to the freedom I felt knowing I could leave a job that made me miserable because of that decision. This month I really got to take advantage of that and I consider myself lucky!

Prepaid cell phones - Do you use them?

January 21st, 2009 at 03:39 pm

Pre-paid cellphones aren't just for loosers anymore

Hmmm, 80minutes for $10 a month? If I wasn't on a family plan I might consider it, especially if I could keep my number. There are also plans that only kick in on the days you actually use your phone.

Does anyone use this? And if so is it working? The comments on the article seem to say that many people do.

Photos of the Last Depression

January 16th, 2009 at 09:44 am

I thought these photos from the Smithsonian collection were very moving.

Photographs of the Great Depression

Seeing kids without shoes, families living in shanties, and driving across country with all of their possessions piled on top of a car is humbling. After listening to the talking heads on TV going bananas over our current state of the economy images like these really put things into perspective.

Inexpensive Dinner Party

November 26th, 2008 at 07:58 am

I decided to have a small, impromptu pre-Thanksgiving dinner party last night for a few of my close friends and it was a great success. I'm a battling perfectionist and it's hard for me to have people over since I believe my house is never clean, organized, decorated well enough. I will stress myself out preparing for it that I will avoid doing it for a long time afterward.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays and I decided that I have to get over it and have dinner with my friends since we're going out of town to visit family too. That, and because they are always asking why I never invite them over!

The key was keeping the menu simple and focusing on the company and not the planning stresses. I basically had the variation of this party:

Dinner Party Menu

I worked with what was on sale and freshest at the store and the ingredients were less than $35. Guests brought wine and desert. I cleaned up the house and put out some fall decorations which were still the in Rubbermaid containers in storage. There were hours of laughter and fun and everyone loved the food. Success!

Entertaining can be so enjoyable when you keep it simple and don't try to make it like something out of a magazine : )

Cutting back on home insurance

November 21st, 2008 at 01:46 pm

I received my home owners insurance bill today. $818 Ugh. As always American Family bumps up all my values by $5000, just because they can even though the amount of my mortgage goes down. Every year I have to call and have them bump the numbers back down and even still I've seen the premium somehow climb up from around $550 in just a matter of few years.

Since you're always advised not to file any small claims for the risk of driving premiums even higher, I just want a barebones policy with a high deductible that covers the big-item essentials.

Doing a little research looks like both Allstate and Western Mutual can offer similar policies as AmFam without all the extras for around $400. I can't believe I didn't shop around sooner!

Profits Up 10% for Walmarts

November 13th, 2008 at 10:02 am

Looks like the recession isn't making people live more simply and buy less. It just makes them buy cheaper Chinese crap.

I know it's good for the economy and my portfolio, but a little sad for the soul. I think it's more encouraging reading about people consuming less of the high quality goods rather than buying more of the cheap ones.

All Americans have a reason to celebrate.

November 5th, 2008 at 10:42 am

Even if your candidate didn't win tonight, you have reason to celebrate. We all do. Barack Obama's impressive victory says a lot about America and what is possible in this country.

Hearing of Obama's win last night Dad proudly flew his American flag, which he hasn't done for years. My parents emigrated to this country when I was still young, worked hard and long to build a successful life and to become citizens. My parents made so many sacrifices because Dad believed in the ideals and freedoms of this country. The mis-administration of the past 8 years managed to turn his optimism to disillusionment and cynicism.

In America's journey toward a more just and truly democratic society, last night was a big milestone. Last night's outcome is a declaration that we are once again a nation more driven by hope and promise than a nation driven by fear.

Obama's victory holds up a mirror, reflecting the country we are: a young country, an optimistic country, a forward-looking country, a country not afraid to take risks or to dream big. That is what my father believed in when he left everything he knew to move his family here. Last night, his faith in America was renewed.


October 31st, 2008 at 03:13 pm

Happy Halloween everyone!

DH and I are getting ready for my best-friend's annual bash and I'm in charge of the music this year. He plans these parties way in advance and they are always the talk of the town, and I'm excited!

I've totally procrastinated coming up with a costume, so looks like it's just some devil horns for me. My perfectionism rares it's ugly head: unless I have a perfect costume idea worthy of a door prize, I won't even try.

Halloween used to involve driving around town looking for and purchasing a costly costume. Sushi with all of my friends downtown. Favors and booze for a couple parties and a cab ride home. This year I'm trying to keep all the holidays simpler and cheaper.

Even Dave Ramsey is Wrong Sometimes

October 30th, 2008 at 10:27 am

I was half-listening to Dave Ramsey's podcast on ITunes yesterday while getting some work done. My ears perked up when a caller asked whether he should roll-over his TSP into an IRA at Vanguard after separating from Federal Service.

This is my exact situation, and my TSP is the only account I haven't consolidated into my Vanguard Target Retirement Fund.
Dave told the guy to roll it over, since you have more choices at Vanguard, and the choices in the TSP are very limited. I went and did a little research on my own.

Here is a breakdown of TSP(Barclays) vs Vanguard fund fees:

0.15% G Fund -
0.15% F Fund - 0.20 (VBMFX) Total Bond Market Index
0.15% C Fund - 0.15% (VFINX) S&P 500 Index
0.15% S Fund - 0.24% (VEXMX) Extended Market Index
0.15% I Fund - 0.22% (VDMIX) Developed Markets Index
0.15% L2040 - 0.19% (VTIVX) Target retirement 2045

Barclays gets a subsidy for managing the TSP, hence the really low fees. Considering the near identical 5/10 year returns I don't really see the point of switching unless you're 100% in the C fund.

Am I missing something here?

How Lenders Lure You To Borrow

October 29th, 2008 at 09:41 am

I know that credit cards are evil, and that I'm paying with snakes. I just love my 3% cash back to give up completely, so articles like this while appalling, are not too surprising:

Banks Mine Data and Woo Troubled Borrowers

* you might need to register for free if you've never read articles on nytimes.com before

Although I firmly believe that the responsibility for every penny of debt ultimately rests with the borrower, we should all be aware of baits the lenders use to lure us into their traps.

The lenders don't just use existing information about your life to inundate you with custom offers, they use sophisticated predictive models to precisely know who will or will not take the bait. They hone their algorithms, making each pitch more effective, getting more people to borrow and spend.

These companies think they are doing a consumer a service, instead they are contributing to the credit collapse of this country.

The whole "Debt Trap" series which explores the surge in consumer debt and the lenders who made it possible, is an interesting read.

Working at home and saving money

October 28th, 2008 at 02:24 pm

This week is the third week I'm working at home full time. It has been an adjustment and there are definitely pros and cons to the arrangement but looking at my credit card activity, it has been great for my pocketbook.

I'm not making the 40 mile round-trip commute everyday, saving approx $70 a month even with today's lower prices.

I'm not driving past Target, Home Depot and an entire outlet mall on the way home from work, curtailing another $100-200 of spending.

I'm not swinging by the grocery store on the way home, so I've been really good at eating through the pantry and the freezer. Last month our food bill was down another $30-50 bucks a week.

I've been much more productive since I'm well rested after getting more sleep in the mornings. It's amazing how being your own boss focuses your mind. Nobody to blame but yours truly and you are directly answerable to your clients. I also have more time to catch up on home projects, make lunches for my husband, and free time in general.

Distraction have been hard to deal with, but I've set up a private work area that is dedicated to work only. Also because I don't want to end up a loopy, sweats-clad newlywed I've made more of an effort to go out to lunch dates and email and visit my friends. I'm also working on getting out of the house more, for a walk during lunch, or a workout or errands in the afternoon.

I have plans to turn my downstairs bedroom into a proper office with a larger table, shelving, and storage for my printer, scanner, etc. I also need to upgrade my really uncomfortable dining room chair that I am currently using, to something more ergonomic. This will all have to wait until my current roommate moves out. Oh well, a girl can dream...

Should I take money out of my house?

October 24th, 2008 at 10:38 am

I plan to finish some remodeling projects in my house in 2009. Namely the master and guest bathrooms, the kitchen countertops/lighting and putting in new carpet or possibly hardwood floors.

I received about 5K towards these updates from the previous owner when I bought in 2003, but I chose to invest it at the time and not use it for renovation. I just recently got married, and I see myself selling this home in the next two years, so that we can possibly purchase something together. I'd need to finish these outstanding projects before I can put the house on the market.

Since we are living on one income I have the option to save and pay for these projects in cash. I bought it in 2003, and if I were to sell it now, I'd probably get the same price that I bought it for. 5 years and it's been a totally lousy non-investment! So I'm considering getting a HELOC because I really hate to tie up even more cash in this home.

I guess I am thinking worst case scenario. If the house market tanks hard, and continues to do so, I would just stop payments and short-sale, or deed-in-lieu-of it along with all the repercussions that would go along with doing that. They predict that Denver home prices will fall about 10% next year, and if there are no govmt programs in place to help people to redo their loans when the homes appraise for way less, I think this trend will continue for years to come.

I know this is crazy, fatalistic thinking, but when companies walk away from their commitments left and right without even a slap on the wrist, I wonder why the consumers can't either.

Sure the housing market will rebound, somewhat, someday. But how long will that take 5, 10 years? I hate to put my life on hold for that long.

This was the article I read this morning that made me think about the whole thing:

Many Consider Foreclosure as Home Values Drop

Getting Married and Combining Money

October 23rd, 2008 at 12:00 pm

One of my and my husband's financial goals after marriage is living on one income and saving the other. The first step to that is starting to combine our finances, and it's a headache!

I've been reading this blog post and seeing if I could get some insight on the best way to do this:

Should Married Couples Combine Finances?

I have friends who are married and still keep all their finances separate. Then again, combining everything is not a feasible option either bc I have so many different accounts and investments and property in my name.

I think for now the yours, mine and our approach would work best. We decided to start out with a joint household account to which we will both contribute. We will pay the mortgage, utilities and food out of it, and also contribute savings into the linked savings account.

We decided to go with ING Electric Orange and the linked Money Market for this. I was interested in this account since I've read about it a while back. I gladly trade the ability to write paper checks for earning even a small interest on my checking account balance.

I'm taking charge of the bill paying ofcourse, bc I'm a nerd like that. We do discuss what we're doing and what we're spending, and he is very thrifty like me, so that helps.

How do you manage money in your marriage, and does it work for you? Do you have any advice on for a young couple just starting out together?

Our wedding budget

October 20th, 2008 at 11:42 am

I finally sat down and updated our wedding budget now that all expenses have been paid. Here is a run down of how we did it with a guest list of 45:

Invitations, thank-yous,programs, website: $150
I designed and printed our own, and created our website myself. Cost was of paper materials, and hosting.

My dress, vail, shoes : $920
got my designer dress for 1/2 off. My mom made my vail since I wanted something simple. Found perfectly matching shoes on final clearance

Hair, makeup, jewelry : $80
went to two of the finest salons in town for trials and was absolutely disappointed. Ended up trying a lady at a local cost cutters who has been doing hair for 30 years. She was amazing, and what a steal!

His suit and shoes : $270
got his 100% wool Ralph Lauren dark steel gray suit at final clearance

Flowers : $980
for church, centerpieces, bouquet, boutonniere, with orchids, calla lilies, roses

Photographers: $1000
included 2 photographers shooting a 2 hour engagement session and 6 hours on the wedding day.

Decorations: $300
large custom frames for wedding photos of both of our parents and grandparents. Flower petals and rice. Photo mat. About 500 candles.

Reception: $7500 (partially gifted)
Total splurge. Held at the most pricey place in town, but also the most elegant and beautiful. Had two separate rooms, the patio and lawn reserved. About 10 hours of hors douvres, dinner, desert, cake, open bar, dancing, etc.

Rehearsal dinner: approx $1000 (gifted)
Also a splurge for the best french place in town.

Music $20
We had monster speakers and a large dance hall. I spent this money on itunes, and many hours creating just the right playlists for the ipod. It worked, people danced for 5+ hours!

Church donation: $600
Our service was held at our family church where I grew up, and was extremely special.

Out of pocket total: $10000

We came out right at our budget, and paid cash for our event. The day was so warm and elegant and full of laughter and tears and toasts and good food and dancing: worth absolutely every penny!

We didn't register, since we're trying to pair down, simplify and downsize. Because of that we received cash and some gift cards worth a bit over $15000. We are putting all of it into savings and will use a part of it to pay for our honeymoon over the holidays.

And also:

Now that I've graduated from theknot.com to thenest.com, I've been reading a lot of articles like this one:

8 things noone tells you about marriage - via Redbook

Where should I roll over my 401K?

October 17th, 2008 at 12:09 pm

I've got a question for all you readers out there, I could really use your advice...

I've just received my rollover forms from Principal Investors, the company that handled 401k for my previous employer. What I've done in the past with all my errand, abandoned 401k accounts was rollover and consolidate them all into one Vanguard IRA. The amounts were pretty small and having them all under one roof with a lot more funds to choose from were huge benefits.

At Vanguard everything is invested in the TargetRetirementFund2045 (VTIVX). That fund is 90% stocks and 10% bonds and has fallen -33.00 this year, and -4.10 the past three years. My rational mind tells me to buy low and sell high, and that it has time to rebound since I won't need that money for a long time, but I'm still scared. Should I be buying bonds, treasuries or commodities instead of this fund? Should I leave it at Principal in case one of these guys folds, even though their choices are meager and the performance just as bad?

I'd like to know what you would do if faced with the same situation... (as long as it doesn't involve cashing it out and stashing it in my mattress)

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