Category Archives: money

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!

Don’t Let Dave Ramsey Kill Your Confidence: Being in Debt doesn’t Mean You’re Stupid.

Since I decided to get a super practical degree in English and go to a private liberal arts school, I ended up with a lot of student loan debt. I loved college, but I’d rather not spend half my income every month for the next 12 years paying it off. And I was lucky. I found a job where I write and get paid a decent amount. If I was making minimum wage, I’d probably not need to be making loan payments, but just keep accumulating interest.

Spending most of my days online, I find a lot of interesting information. I was writing for a client in the debt sector last year and I found a lot of articles about strategies for getting out of debt. Of course, I came across the name Dave Ramsey a lot. Lately, I’ve been coming across the name Suze Orman, who no one seems to like.

Dave Ramsey on the other hand, is very popular. 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.