Category Archives: Life

Keeping Wedding Costs Down

In planning our wedding, my fiance and I decided we wanted to have a big party where all of our family and friends can have a fun time. Neither of us are religious, and neither of us care about a lot of wedding traditions. This means that we can keep costs down by simply not including things in our wedding that we don’t care about. Here are choices we’ve made so far to keep prices low:

Venue- We chose a venue that includes tables and chairs in the price. This way we don’t have to rent them. The venue also sets up and tears down our tables at no extra cost, and allows us access to the building earlier in the week for a rehearsal.

Flowers- I’m not a flowers girl. I don’t need unnecessary plant death associated with my wedding. We’re going to decorate with paper flowers made from pages of books we like. I’m also doing a brooch bouquet with jewelry from family and friends, as well as some thrift store/yard sale finds.

The Dress- I found the perfect dress at a local wedding consignment shop! I knew I loved it before I even looked at the price, and I loved it even more when I saw it was only $150! I will be paying for it to be fitted, but it need minimal adjustments- taken in a little at the bosom, and possibly taken up an inch, depending on my shoes.

Other Dresses- My bridesmaids will pay for their dresses, but I’ve found some super nice dress options that run around $30. I’m not making the bridesmaids pay to have their hair and makeup done. They can if they want, but otherwise they can just do it themselves. I know they’ll be helping me a lot and I don’t want their out-of-pocket expenses to add up too much.

The Cake- I have a friend who is making the cake as my gift. I just have to pay for supplies! She is really skilled and has a lot of experience with cake decorating, so I know it will turn out great!

Photography- I feel super lucky with this one. I found a super affordable local photographer. Her wedding package is about half the price of other local photographers and her work is amazing. We already had our engagement shots, and they turned out beautifully!

Paper Goods- We make our own Christmas Cards every year, so there is no reason for us to pay for someone to design our invites. We’re designing our save the dates, invites, and programs ourselves and printing them either at Costco or through Vistaprint.

The Guest List- We have about 80 people who we are inviting to our wedding. Since we don’t have hundreds of people, we’re able to allow everyone a date (that’s included in the 80 number). I feel great about that. If we had more people, I would probably limit plus ones, because catering costs are by the person and that adds up fast!

The Food- We’re doing a buffet with two entree options and a few sides. This saves some money, but also eliminates a lot of hassles. We don’t need people to include food preferences with the RSVP. We don’t need to assign seats and make a seating chart, placement cards, or any of that crap.

The Bar- We’re doing a partial bar, meaning we’ll pay for a couple kegs of beer and a certain amount of wine. Other drinks will be available for our guests to purchase. I really wanted to have some complimentary alcohol available, but a full bar just isn’t feasible. So this option works great!

Things we’re not doing:

We’re not paying for a wedding planner. I have lots of people around me who are super organized and willing to help out.

We’re not paying for a videographer. I just don’t see paying thousands of dollars for something we would rarely watch.

We’re not having a flower girl or ring bearer, mainly because we don’t have kids that young in our lives. So that was a convenient decision that will end up saving a little in stress (dealing with kids) and money (for either us or the theoretical children’s parents).

We’re probably not doing a photobooth. I just think that’s super overdone right now. Work parties have photo booths. It’s not special enough to be in my wedding 😛

That’s what we’ve figured out so far! We still need to book an officiant, a deejay, and figure out a lot of the details, but we have just over six months so I feel like we’re in a good place!

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Happy Halloween Everyone!

Halloween CarIt’s Halloween, and those in U.S. States that adhere to Daylight savings get an extra hour to add to the late night/early tomorrow fun. I’ll probably be in bed already by that time, but an extra hour of sleep is nice too.

Tomorrow I plan on hitting the craft and specialty stores in the area for discounts on Halloween treats and decor. It’s my partner’s favorite day for home deco shopping, and it’s also the best day of the year to buy Christmas gifts for my roommate from college (she loves skulls).

Anyway, other than that, I’m spending the weekend preparing for my first ever craft fair! I’m selling lamps made of liquor and wine bottles, scrabble tile Christmas ornaments, and homemade bath fizzies! I plan on sharing pictures of these items in the coming days, so you can see what I’ve been up to! Have a happy and safe Halloween!

A different argument for “equal wages”

I ran across some articles today about whether or not a wage gap exist between men and women. While most agree that some sort of difference in wages exists, most often favoring men, there is a lot of debate as to how big that gap is. There is also a lot of speculation as to whether or not the gap is due to sexism, working habits, or career preferences.

This Daily Beast article argues that women are more likely to choose people-oriented jobs such as social services and education. These jobs pay less than fields that men are more prominent in, like engineering and computer sciences. The article goes on to argue that pushing women towards STEM jobs isn’t effective because women just don’t seem to want those jobs.

Well, I think that because those fields are male-saturated, that most of the efforts to give interested women the resources they need to be successful in those industries are great. But sure, I would never recommend that someone who wants to do social work choose engineering instead just because it pays more.

I’d rather focus on the question of why engineering jobs pay so much more than jobs that focus on improving people’s lives.

The pattern I see in the daily beast lists that outline which careers are more male-dominant and which are more female dominant are that most of the “male” jobs are engineering focused. These jobs are most likely for big companies that can have big budgets because they’re being paid by other companies.

The majority of the “female” jobs, on the other hand, are human services oriented. These jobs are for small companies paid directly by individuals. Social workers can’t be paid 150,000 a year, because their pay comes from their clients and from whatever government supplementation exists. You can’t use government money for large wages. If you charges patients and clients more, they would be less likely to afford it, and you’d end up helping a lot less people.

Now, I know most people don’t go into human services fields for the money. But it’s also bugged me for a long time that it often seems that you can’t help people and make a decent living.

This week, an entrepreneur from nampa, the city I live in, got a lot of press for announcing that he is rolling out a $70,000 minimum wage for his 120 employees. He reduced his own wage and dedicated a large percentage of his company’s projected profits for the next three years to make this happen.  He says he chose this number because he read studies that indicated that money makes a big difference in the lives of people who make less than $70,000 annually. He doesn’t want money to rule his employees’ lives, so he’s making sure they all make more than that.

I think that’s a great business move. When your employees aren’t stressed about money, they do a better job. They’re more likely to stay loyal to the company as well. I would also guess that this will make the company focus on efficiency when it comes to hiring as well, meaning that they’ll only increase their employee count when absolutely necessary. This means that management should focus on maximizing employee efficiency and minimizing unnecessary processes, overhead, and other superfluous expenses.

Now, wouldn’t it be great if social workers and teachers could focus on their jobs without stressing about money? Wouldn’t that benefit patients and students?

Well, raising tuition or patient costs isn’t the answer. And seeking government assistance often leads to more headache than benefit. I think that human-needs organizations that want to offer their patients, students, and clients the best possible services and resources, and also want to make sure their employees are well taken care of need to start looking for other streams of income.

I’m not talking fundraising. That’s not sustainable. I’m not talking advertising, as I don’t believe that commercial companies should be in the position to take advantage of services that are often for low-income individuals.

The answer will be different for every organization. But I do believe that answers are there. I think if the organizations in this situation hired one person responsible for implementing income-generating business strategies, they could start to raise their employee salaries. This could mean a new hire, or it could mean changing the job description of a current marketing person. Here are some ideas that have just popped into my head

  • Assisted living facilities could create ebooks and online resources to sell. These would be useful to potential patients and families, but also to anyone interested in the issues of their general field. These can also serve as marketing documents, as if implemented correctly, they could certainly attract more clientele.
  • Schools with gardening programs can work to maximize the output of their gardens (like those families who make great livings off of tiny farms.) Some of this food can be used in the school cafeteria or for educational purposes, while the rest can be sold. While some may question whether having children help in a garden that goes to raising teacher wages, I would return to the point that the idea behind these higher wages is that it benefits the students. Actually, this could be a good strategy for assisted living homes and any organization that has space that could be converted into a garden.
  • Organizations can work with local artists, growers, and other business owners to produce income. This could mean creating a retail space and charging a commission. It could mean advertising- though I would always recommend only advertising businesses you truly want to support). It could mean a lot of things. Community collaboration also means community attention, so this can also have multiple benefits.
  • Of course, any business looking to overhaul their salary system has to look at their entire employees structure. Is management set up efficiently, or is the organization too top-heavy? Are you employing the right amount of people? Could people be using time more efficiently? Could implementing different systems result in less employee time needed? I’m not suggesting firing people. I’m suggesting analyzing the current system and changing it so it’s efficient. If there is deadweight, cut it. If there isn’t, you still may benefit when an employee announces they’re moving on in life and you realize you don’t have to hire to replace them.

I’m not saying that the solution is simple. I’m just saying that I don’t think that caregivers and teachers should be so underpaid, whether they’re female or not. I know a lot of people that would have gone into those fields but they didn’t feel the student loans they would have to acquire would justify the money they would earn. These issues can’t be solved by relying on more government assistance, or future infrastructure change. They have to be addressed one business at a time.

Communication

One thing that has been irking me a lot lately is poor communication.

When someone is mad at you but won’t talk to you about it.

When someone tells you something hoping for a specific reaction, but not outright asking for what they want.

Example:

Friend “I’m going to the lake later.”

Me: “Cool.” Read the rest of this entry

January Progress

money goalsJanuary’s almost over, and most New Year’s Resolutions have been forgotten.  I didn’t really have any specific “New Year’s” resolutions, but I did find myself finding a lot of great things I wanted to accomplish this year, right around the last week of last year. I found an awesome yoga challenge. I found a really cool reading challenge. I made too many grand plans to have time for.

But my main goal this year is to pay off my highest interest student loan. That is a tangible goal that is really easy to track. I’d like to pay it off earlier in the year rather than later, but in order to meet my goal, that loan just needs to be at a zero balance by December 31, 2015. Read the rest of this entry

Give and Take

This year is already shaping up to be great- I have a lot of fun plans with friends, and some solid plans for paying off my student loans. I’m finally going to see my best friend after over two years of living in far-away states. So far I’ve approached this year organized, motivated, and optimistic.

My main focus in my planning has been paying off my debt without making my life focus “money”. I’m going to lessen miscellaneous expenses, but not at the cost of not spending time with the people I love. I’ll just seek to do so in budget-friendly ways. Read the rest of this entry

52 Week Savings Wrap Up

This last year, I really put a focus on saving money for my student loans. My goal was to pay $5000 on top of my minimum payments. This $5000 was to go to my loan with the highest interest rate.

As a strategy to get me in the habit of saving, I decided to do the 52 week challenge. It went pretty well- I made it until june before saving got difficult. Then, it got really hard to do as a weekly thing. The 52 week thing also wasn’t going to get me anywhere close to my goal of $5,000, so I decided to speed things up. I started putting any extra money from my paycheck toward my savings, but still kept track of the weeks. So when I got paid, I’d look at what week I was at, say, 35. Then I’d see how many weeks I could afford to pay. If I had $150 extra. I’d pay weeks 35-38 for a total of $146. This helped me finish the challenge early, and save some extra money.

As it turns out, I saved about $4000. Not quite my goal, but still pretty great. My goal this year is to pay off that high-interest loan, which has about $6000 left. My strategy is going to be different, based on what I learned this year.

At the beginning of the year, since I was only saving a couple dollars each week, I had a lot of extra spending money, which I spent, since I’d reached my weekly saving goal. But that wasn’t helping me reach my end goal. So this year, instead of having weekly goals, I’m going to make it a race to pay off that loan. The sooner I can do it, the better. This “sprint” method is motivating me to plan ways to get extra income now, rather than waiting til june to get strategic.

As far as how to get extra money, I have three main assets right now:

  • my writing
  • my editing skills
  • my craft-savvy

I tried this year to hire myself out as a freelance editor. I got a couple of jobs, and flaked spectacularly on them. I am still going to try to wrap those up and salvage the situations, but basically it boils down to me not prioritizing my freelance work, meaning (rightfully) unhappy clients.

As I finish up these long-overdue jobs, I’m also going to be submitting my writing to websites that pay for articles. Since most of these are direct-submit or sites you pitch too, I’m more confident I can just get the articles written, and not worry about putting things off and making people unhappy for waiting on me.

I won a pretty cool looking planner in a contest recently, so once that gets here, I plan on jotting down all the sites I’ve bookmarked that I want to submit to. I’ll set out a day to send pitches to all the sites that want them. Then I’ll set out a day to write each article, as well as a day to edit each piece. With this plan laid out, I’m less likely to just let the sites sit as an un-utilized resource.

This year, I’ve finally allowed my crafty side to shine. I’ve done a few great projects (which I’ll be posting pictures of soon), and I recently organized my craft room so that I have a work-space. I have a lot of work I want to do on it- adding shelves, and a bottle-rack for all the bottles I’ve accumulated (most of which will become lamps.)

Most of what I’ve made so far has been as gifts for friends. I’m thinking that I need to make some items that are worthy of sale and start up an Etsy store. I still need to look into how I want to do shipping- and how taxes work, but I definitely think I can get something going. I think I’m going to aim to get 10 items done and ready for sale before I open up a shop. A big item will be the bottle lamps, but I’ve also got some cool ideas for mirrors and other decor.

Anyway, that’s a little bit on how my savings goal went this last year, and my plans for 2015. Thanks for reading, and let me know what savings strategies have worked for you, and also if you have any experience with freelancing productivity tips, or how taxes and Etsy work.

Thrift Store Fate

Dairy Air

On Christmas Eve, I was going through thrift stores to find a few last minute additions to Christmas gifts I made, and I stumbled upon this cute picture! Given the name of my blog, I had to pick it up. I plan on painting the frame and maybe replacing the border. We’ll see how I can dress it up!

 

Hope everyone is having a safe and fun holiday season!

Good Choices I’ve Made Recently

Lately I’ve been trying to procrastinate less, be less lazy and focus on my health. These are things I’ve done in the last two weeks that have been beneficial decisions toward these goals:

I haven’t had any coffee this week. The last two weeks I had had it pretty much every day at work. I’ve been thinking I needed to stop drinking it so much, especially since I add so much cream and sugar to mine, but I didn’t really make a concious decision. I just said “I think I’ll have tea” on monday, and then tuesday did the same. Wednesday was a little more difficult since I was really groggy, but I decided it was worth it to keep the trend going.

I deleted the facebook app from my phone and downloaded the wordpress app. This way, when I’m using my phone just because I’m bored, i’m using it to read and comment on other people’s posts. Consequently, I’ve read more articles, stories, and poems this week than I had in the 2 months prior. This in turn gives me inspiration and ideas or my own posts.

I started taking lunches to work again. Recently I’ve just been snacking throughout the day, and I know that’s not good. Yay for eating on a regular basis.

I downloaded a pedometer app onto my phone so that I can better track how active I am throughout the day. Surprisingly, on days I work, where I sit in front of the computer for 10 hours, I walk more than I do on my days off. This is due to the fact that when I take breaks at work, I make it a point to walk around. At home, I never really think about getting up and moving around. Now that I’m more aware of this, I can figure out how to best combat it.

I’m pretty proud of myself for making some good choices lately. How about you? Make any good decisions or break any bad habits recently?

Balancing work and pleasure

Balancing Work and Pleasure

Since I’m trying to start my own business, I’ve been thinking a lot about the balance between work and pleasure.

There’s this trend going around of making your work your life. Work 18 a day, have little to no social life, and never really have your mind off the job. This is almost seen as a requirement for entrepreneurs. After all, you can’t start a business if you’re not willing to put everything into it.

I can’t do that. I love the people in my life too much to blow them off for my publishing company. Right now I’m working full time and trying to start this business on the side. I realize that I will have to make schedule adjustments. I will probably have to sleep less. I will miss out on things I would otherwise do. And I think that’s worth it. I just can’t miss out on everything.

I have a great work ethic, but I am not a workaholic. When I’m working, I give it my all. But when I’m not, I don’t want to be focused on work.

I don’t think this has to hinder my entrepreneurial goals. What I have to do in order to get this project off the ground is the following:

Develop a work schedule.

I’ve tried saying that I’m going to work a certain number of hours a week (but I didn’t specify when I would complete them). This resulted in me simply not reaching my hours goals.

Then I tried specifying certain tasks I wanted to complete. This was even worse, as I would schedule way too many other things to do (social, housework, etc.), and maybe only get one or two tasks done (out of an ever-growing to-do list).

I’ve decided the only way I’m going to be able to turn this into a paying job is to treat it like one. So I’m creating a work schedule. I’ll have shifts that I will be required to work, and if something that comes up and I cannot make them, I will have to make up the time within 24 hours.

Create a work environment.

If I’m going to be “going to work”, I’m going to have to act like I’m at work. My boyfriend and I are working on making one of our extra rooms into an office. I’m going to complete my twisted willow tasks in this room and follow certain “rules” that I’ve established.

In this way, I am segmenting my personality. As an entrepreneur and boss, I am setting rules and standards. As an employee, I have to live up to them. I will be a stricter boss on myself at first than I would probably be for other employees, and stricter than my day-job bosses are to me. I will not be allowed to have my cell phone in my office, and I will not be allowed to be on personal social media.

Follow through.

Each week I will create a goal list, as well as a “completed tasks” list. If I don’t reach a goal, I’ll need to justify what happened, whether the goal is still important, and if it is, how and when I will reach it in the future.

Keep my work ethic.

I say I have a strong work ethic, and on some levels, that is true. I always want to put my best foot forward and deliver the best results for my employers. When I work where there are customers, I strive to give them excellent service. I always want my work to be worth the money being paid for it.

But I can’t say that this is all for “ethics” reasons. I like to impress people. I want my bosses to appreciate and like me, and I want the rewards that come with excellent performance. I want to be worthy of higher pay, higher positions, and great recommendations. I want to be worthy of these things so that I can acquire them.

So when I don’t have a boss, that work ethic is a lot harder to come by. I then have to create accountability for myself. This comes partially from the previous mentioned strategy of implementing myself as both boss and employee. It also comes from being accountable to my clients. The authors I work with rely on me to excel so that all parties can succeed. I just need to figure out the best way to make my accountability a real thing and not just a vague concept.

So those are the strategies I am implementing in order to make my business strive and still maintain an acceptable work-life balance. I love editing and marketing and everything I will be doing with my publishing company, but I don’t want it to be my entire life.

If you run a business, how do you handle work-life balance? Is your company your whole life? Do you want it to be? Share your views and strategies below!