Money Troubles And My Attempts To Fix It

I am almost ashamed to write this post. It’s like I’ve failed. But here goes the admission: I cannot afford the rest of the wedding without help.

We have done so well! With our pinching pennies, and a little help from my parents, we have paid for so much but we couldn’t make it stretch to the end. The move and the fact that I am the only source of income for our family right now puts us really behind.

The other challenge is that the last large chunk I have to pay off is the venue, who doesn’t take credit cards. So today I answer the question: How do you get the money you need at the lowest cost to you.

1) Personal Loans from a credit union. Credit Unions typically have the lowest interest rates. However, this is for the couples with stellar credit, and not too many loans out already. If you are going to file for a personal loan, you may want to file together to strengthen your income, provided you both are squeaky clean in the financial department.

Sadly, because I just started my new job, and because of the loans I have out now, I was declined for a personal loan.

Tip: Do not apply for loans at a bunch of different places, it can’t lower your credit score and looks bad to future lenders.

2) Credit cards. This is where you have to be really savvy. The first thing you have to do is search for the best interest-free credit card you can find. I chose Citi Simplicity, no annual fee and 0% APR for 18 months on purchases and balance transfers. Second, ask tons of questions. Make sure you know exactly what you are signing up for.

No interest on balance transfers is key for me in my situation. You can get balance transfer checks in order to pay those vendors that cannot receive credit card payments.

I do not recommend putting a large sum on credit. Remember you do have to pay this sum off in the 18 month period and if you don’t, all the interest you would have accrued during the 18 months will be tacked on at the end!

These are the two best options, in my opinion, to get money at the lowest cost to you. Anyone else have any ideas? I would love to know what you think!

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I’m hoping this fortune means I’ll get gifted all the money I need! πŸ˜‰

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Saving Money…On A Move

I am beyond tired. I wasn’t sure I could reach this level of exhausted, but here I am. Moving is the worst. Getting all your affairs in order is probably one of the most difficult things.

Our latest challenge: can you fit 1,100 square feet into a 16 foot moving van? I really hope so, because I’m pretty sure we can’t afford the 24 footer. It might mean trashing some furniture, but the difference in price is huge.

A few tips on saving money for a move:

1) Do the hard work yourself. It sucks. It’s stressful. But it’s also cheap. Buy some pizza, invite your friends, and you have instant movers…and it will only cost you about $40. Movers help take the stress off you, but to me, the lifting of stress isn’t worth the $3000 the movers would charge.

2) Get quotes from all the truck company rentals. Budget seems to be the cheapest for us.

3) Look up coupon codes. It’s really easy, just Google “Truck rental coupon codes.” Different sites can probably provide you with different coupon codes. We got a coupon code for AARP…and of course we have AARP…yup…

We have to take a look at the 16 foot truck to make sure we can actually fit our stuff in it. Fingers crossed!
Pinspiration

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Mason Jars & Saving Money

I cannot have a rustic wedding without Mason Jars. It’s like an unwritten rule or something. The good thing is we’ve been able to *acquire* mason jars and have had to buy very few of them. We are using some as aisle decorations, but I think the best use for them is as drinking glasses.


If we do it this way we could end up saving some money in the long run. In order to have glasses for everyone at the wedding, we’re having to rent them from the venue. But I think we’ve acquired enough jars for everyone at the wedding to have their own, eliminating the rental expense. It’s not a huge drop in price or anything, but every little bit helps!

Now I’m not sure if any of you remember college parties with all those red cups? You would set your cup down, and since they all look the same, good luck finding it again! To eliminate such problems at the wedding we are going to have everyone put their name on their glass. I know this isn’t a new idea, but it is really simple.


We can even get some Martha Stewart chalkboard labels for each glass. They aren’t too expensive and since we don’t have as many guests, it’d be an easy thing to do.
Now to decide whether or not to get the colorful spiral straws…

Wedding Budget Woes (And Cheering Myself Up)

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the budget for the wedding. I have been having reservations of, “Did I really do all I could to keep down the cost?” The cost of the wedding is really expensive for an average couple making an average salary, so you can imagine why doubt has crept in. I really feel like I went to the ends of the earth to make absolutely certain that we got the wedding we wanted at the cheapest cost. Lately though, it feels like I either didn’t do my best, or didn’t sacrifice enough to keep costs down.

Fortunately this doubt can be solved with a little research. I went searching for the national average cost of a wedding, as well as the average cost of a wedding from the exact area of maine where we are getting married to see if I really did a good job. Spoiler Alert: I did πŸ™‚

To show you all the break down I made my very first Infographic!

Cost Infographic

 

Can you believe that national average cost? Whew! The cost to have a wedding in Maine is significantly cheaper, but certainly still a lot of money! So to the part that made me feel better: Our wedding costs SO MUCH less than the national average, AND even less than the Maine average, by thousands of dollars! So I breathed a sigh of relief, and those of you planning a Maine wedding, hopefully you can too. If not, check your wedding against the national average and see how you stack up!

Not too bad for my very fist infographic ever…seriously, I spent waayyy too much time on it. I will probably hang up my infographic hat for now.

Truth Time: People Apparently Judge Your Wedding

A mutual friend of ours was (rather rudely) inquiring about why we were spending so much money on one day and decided to offer that they thought it was ridiculous. First of all, thanks for your input and so glibly bashing what I’ve been working so hard on for months. Secondly, this is not about anyone else but us. We want to throw a big party and promise our love in front of our family and friends, that’s important to us and it’s worth spending the money on.

When I first started planning a wedding I had NO IDEA how much a wedding costs. I think my fiancΓ© had even less of an idea. We’ve had numerous discussions on the looming costs of this wedding and I’m pretty sure sometimes he was sure that some of the stuff I was getting was totally superfluous or an exaggerated cost.

I have to say, being a total penny pincher, I looked for every way possible to keep down the cost of this wedding. I found a relatively inexpensive venue, my mom is making gorgeous flowers, I am creating the decor mostly on my own and any vendors I hired I made sure to shop around to the best price. Even with all of that work, a wedding is still a very high cost and there really isn’t a way to get around it unless you have lots of favors you can call in.

Suffice it to say I worked my butt off to keep costs low and our wedding fun for our guests. And yet, people still judge the cost of our wedding. The fact is people who look at the money you are spending on a wedding have never had to plan one before.

I don’t want to discourage people from having the wedding of their dreams. I started this blog because I wanted to figure out how to keep costs low and share my journey with others, but at no point did I want to lie and tell you that “Oh you can definitely plan a wedding for $5000.” It is possible, but many times unrealistic for the masses. I want to be the voice of the middle-of-the-road, and what a realistic budget looks like.

At any rate, our wedding may not be the cheapest but it is not the most expensive either, it’s just right for our life and our budget. As long as you are spending what you are comfortable spending, don’t let anyone make you feel weird about it.

Ok I’m super sorry I don’t know how to end a rant…so now this:

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The results of Maine Maple Sunday! So okay has anyone else caught flack for the price of their wedding? What did you do about it?

Valentine’s Day Tomorrow!

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, and I was seriously going to make some adorable pink cookies and share them with you here…but again the broke factor in my life rears it’s ugly head, and I had no extra money for desserts this week. 😦

Since I work on Valentine’s Day, my hubby and I are celebrating on my days off. On my first day off he gave me my present.

Valentine's Day

He did a wonderful job! He picked his favorite photo from our engagement shoot, got it printed on canvas and, all by himself, put it on a frame that he built. I think that is my favorite part, that he put it together all by himself.

The next day he made me dinner with steak! What are you all doing for Valentine’s Day? Don’t know how to make it special on the cheap? Here are some thoughts:

1) Buy dinner items and cook for your significant other. Believe me, you can get a lot better food, and a lot more food for a lot cheaper if you make it yourself. Everyone loves having dinner made for them! Spice it up with a fancy table cloth and a few candles from the dollar store, make your dining room look like a romantic restaurant!

2) Redbox/Netflix/Borrow a movie you both have wanted to see. Obvious date idea, true, but sometimes, if your life is like ours, time together is so hard to find, that when we watch a movie together, it’s a special thing. Going out to a movie is kind of pricy now a days, but if you make going to a movie the only Valentine’s Day event, you can still spend very little, and get to go out. You can make it a special event and dress up! Sure you may be the only couple in the theater in a gown and a suit but who cares?

3) So if it’s freezing where you live, and you like that, try a day of freezing cold sports! Skiing can be relatively inexpensive, especially if you already own equipment. Even if you don’t own equipment, you can look for the best deals at the ski slopes around you and probably spend $100. It seems like a lot, at least to me, but it can actually be cheaper to have a day of fun at the ski slopes, than to go out to dinner and a movie. Another inexpensive freezing sport, ice skating. Even with rental skates, a few fun hours of ice skating can be pretty cheap!

4) Are you a gaming family? Why not challenge your hubby to a long game of Mario Kart? Make a day of it! A tournament death match battle with your favorite vs. video games! If you have a Kinect or a Wii, you can even get active while competing!

5) Geocaching. It’s like hunting for really crappy treasure. This is an idea for those of you who aren’t buried under 7 feet of snow. The idea is to go around your house and find a bunch of silly little things you don’t mind giving up (bouncy balls, pencils etc). After you’ve combined a pile of stuff you don’t want, go to http://www.geocaching.com/ and find some coordinates near you. Type those coordinates into an available GPS or download a Geocaching App to help with finding a cache. Once you have your coordinates, use the GPS to find the little treasure box. When you find the box, take a piece of junk from it, and replace it with a piece of junk you brought. Ok, it sounds lame, but I swear it’s fun!

Here’s hoping you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day with your special someone!

Something New On The Blog! AND The Most Important Wedding Planning Tip I’ve Learned So Far

Ok, is it just me, or are there now like 8 gagillion social media apps we are supposed to keep up with now? Does anyone else blog, and want others to read what they’ve blogged? I know that I don’t pay for my own domain or anything, but I’d still like my content to get out there to brides that are dealing with the same things I am. But, in order to do that, market myself (which is a very uncomfortable thing to do, as I am finding out more and more how much of a private person I am), I have to be on all these different social media outlets and use them regularly. Ok, maybe some people’s’ lives are so interesting they always have something to tweet about or a picture to instagram (which is now a verb?), but my life is nowhere near that cool. You either get my cats, or the Maine woods…that’s pretty much it. I’d love to tweet more…I just have nothing funny, witty or cool to say every moment of every day. I envy the people who can come up with fun things every few minutes.

Alright, rant over. It was only sparked by this new “Vine” app that seems to be taking off. To be honest, it’s cool, but yet again, I have nothing in my life worth making a stop-motion video about, nor do I have that much time on my hands.

So I guess you are all aware that January is over? And at the end of the month what do we all do? Pay bills…yay. Bill paying is always the most stressful thing for me! I am the finance manager in our house, which seems to be a thing now. More and more women are managing the household finances now a days. I grew up with my dad as an accountant, so he managed everything. I inherited some of his flair for finances so I guess that’s why I do it now. But, as my sister is always quick to point out, I am a very high-strung individual, and worry unnecessarily about, like, everything, so you can imagine why bill paying sucks for me.

Lately though, it hasn’t been so bad! My hubby-to-be got a promotion at work and so he is making a little bit more than he used to, leaving…EXTRA. :::gasp!::: So now I have a little extra to throw around.

So here it is: THE MOST IMPORTANT PLANNING TIP I’VE LEARNED SO FAR:

Pay people as you go! Every time someone says “Oh, you’re saving for a wedding.” In my head I’m thinking, “Yeah and very poorly.” That was because we would get a little extra money, and spend it immediately on deposits or crafting supplies, which is for the wedding, but that meant no money was saved. I didn’t see us as making progress because we kept depleting our savings.

Here is the thing, you are saving for a wedding when you don’t plan at all, you just put money away until you have enough then you plan. If you are in the process of planning you are no longer saving because, as I’m sure those of you planning have noticed, the money comes in, then goes right out. So when you do get a little extra at the end of each month, DON’T save it! Find a vendor you’d like to pay down and send them a check! Make sure to include a note with the total you owe them, and then the new remaining balance after they cash your check. You’ll be amazed what you can pay off a little at a time, and what once seemed like a daunting task is now a little bit easier.

AND I have a few bonus tips for you! (I feel like I’ve learned a lot)

1) If you are a bank account nazi like me, and want to send your vendors the money but not have to wait (sometimes up to a month) for the check to be cashed, then send a money order. Almost all business accept them, it’s a safe way to send money, and the total comes right out of your bank account. I discovered this with the last round of checks I sent. I’m still waiting on one to be cashed. I hate having to subtract that amount from my bank account every time!

2) Tax Returns are a wonderful thing. For most of America, tax returns are a happy time, when we receive a bunch of money back for doing our duty to the country. First I would suggest if you have the extra money, get an accountant. My daddy is a great one, if you want his information, just contact me! Really, though, get someone who knows the biz and can squeeze every last bit of money you deserve out of the government. Then, when that money comes into your account use ALL of it to pay for your wedding stuff. Not some, not half, ALL. If you budget each month as usual and don’t count your tax return, you won’t miss it when it’s gone!

But really, biggest thing: Pay as you go! When ever there is extra money that isn’t going to a bill, pay a vendor. Trust me, you’ll thank me when your wedding day comes!

AND NOW: THE NEW THING! πŸ™‚

Pinspiration

I know that sometimes I post on here with inspiration pictures, most of which I get from Pinterest. So I thought I would start something new! Every Friday I will have a new Pinspiration for you! Most of the time it will be wedding related, but sometimes it might be something I just find really cool or beautiful! I hope you enjoy this new Friday special!

This comes courtesy of a blog called PaperVine and it’s a DIY! I thought that with this being the month of Valentines, why not make your hubby an adorable gift like this! Happy Friday all!

I Am A Forgetful Bride

When I think about all that still has to be done, I cringe and/or have nightmares/panic attacks. I don’t even want to think about how it’s going to be a month, two weeks, a week before the wedding. There are so many details to plan and coordinate that I don’t know if I can remember it all! I decided to do some thinking and some research to make a list of things that brides typically forget.

1) Extra Money

Ok, I’ve budgeted for this one, but seriously, emergencies are going to arise that you are going to need extra cash for. I wish I could think of some circumstances right now, but I’m sure, once it happens to me, I will have plenty of examples! So budget for extra cash that day. It may be best just to have actual cash on hand, that way, if someone doesn’t take credit for some reason, you’re not totally out of luck. Also, it is customary to tip vendors, and cash is the best way to get that accomplished as well.

Trunk

2) Packing everything.

For me this means packing up all the decor and projects I’ve worked on in addition to that weeks’ clothing and toiletries. But packing for you could just mean an overnight bag for after the wedding, or packing for your honeymoon. In all the confusion don’t forget to pack what you need! I hate packing under pressure too, so don’t do it the night before, make like a pregnant lady and have a bag packed in advance!

3) Bringing your cell phone charger

I guess this goes along with packing, but that day you are going to need your cell phone and if it’s not charged because you forgot that all important item, your bridezilla moments may get worse! If you are a super forgetful person, you may want to have an extra charger on hand and packed in your bag. It’s always better to have more than less!

4) Remembering important documents

Ok so this is a HUGE one for me. Um, marriage license, bring it. This may seem like a “duh” to most of you, but I hate dealing with legalities and paperwork. I am super awesome with everything money, except the paperwork side of it. I throw out or lose my receipts, and I have important papers sort of strewn about the house. So going to the courthouse with all my “important papers” and filling out a marriage license is one of those big deals that I could very easily put off till the last-minute and forget to do.

Let’s also not forget, for those of you taking exotic vacations, Passports! This one can’t wait till the last-minute, it should be done A.S.A.P.! It takes a little while to process everything, so if you wait till the last-minute, you may not be able to go on your trip!

5) Emergency Kit

Courtesy o’ “The Knot” here is a great list of things to bring and fit into a small bridal emergency kit. Little snafus will happen on the big day, but putting together this little kit can really help. EXTRA bonus if you maid of honor gifts you with her own personal emergency kit made just for you!

  • Aspirin (or pain reliever of choice)
  • Band-Aids
  • Bottle of water
  • Chalk (to cover up any last minute smudges or smears on your wedding dress)
  • Clear nail polish (for stocking runs)
  • Corsage pins
  • Dental floss/toothpicks
  • Eye drops
  • Extra earring backs
  • Extra panty hose
  • Hair pins/ponytail holder
  • Hand towelettes
  • Hem tape
  • Matches
  • Mini sewing kit
  • Safety pins
  • Scotch tape
  • Sedatives (don’t ask!)
  • Small folding scissors
  • Smelling salts (while we don’t expect anyone to faint, it has been known to happen)
  • Spot remover
  • Static-cling spray
  • Straws (so the bride can stay hydrated without messing up her lipstick)
  • Tissues
  • Tweezers

6) Feeding your vendors

This actually factors into extra costs, so make sure to find out the vendors that will need food and count them as one of your guests when you give the final head count to the venue! Sometimes contracts stipulate that you have to feed their people, other times they say it doesn’t matter. I’d say, as a rule, feed your vendors, it’s just nice. πŸ™‚

7) Feed your bridal party

This doesn’t pertain to the reception dinner (I would HOPE you’d feed them at the reception) but I mean throughout the day. Have some food brought to the place you are all getting ready so everyone can snack. The beautify-ing process can be tough and your ladies need rations! Don’t forget about the men either! Boys DEFINITELY need food! Go grocery shopping a day or two before for some food, that way you are full stocked.

8) Feed yourself!

This seems like common sense to me, but I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that brides went through their day without eating a thing! Bad things happen when you don’t eat and drink! Take care of that gorgeous body of yours!

9) Someone to take care of the little details

There are things that are going to happen on your wedding day that are out of your control. Me, being the control freak I am, will want to fix all of these problems. So, in order to not be putting out little fires on the day of my wedding, I will, instead, have someone there to help me get everything accomplished that I need done. Make sure that the person knows the “who, what, when, where, why” of your day’s itinerary and has a copy, that way, if the DJ is playing the wrong song, or there isn’t enough seating for Aunt Sally and Uncle Albert, you have someone who can take care of that!

10) Commit it all to memory

As much as I am telling you all this advice, I’m taking it all down in my own head, and this is a big one. I have heard that the day goes by SO fast, and it is so important for you to remember everything and really enjoy it! So in that spirit, try to commit it all to memory as it’s happening, even the problem parts, because you’ll want to look back one day and remember it all.

Well those are all the important things I can think of. If you have any I should add to the list, please feel free to comment! Since I haven’t gone through it all, I don’t know what to expect!

Weird New Thing: Selling Your Wedding

I gotta say that I love getting comments on my blog posts! It’s great to know that I’m not just talking to myself (I do that too) but that there are others out there reading! I appreciate all your feedback, and if you have a wedding question or an interesting topic you’d like to see on the blog, just go to the “Keep In Touch” section and e-mail it to me! I’m always looking for awesome wedding/love/romance topics.

ALSO! If you got married or engaged recently, I’d love to share your story and photos, especially if you have some great money-saving tips! Please e-mail me!

So speaking of readers, this story I’m about to impart to you today was brought to my attention by a reader. It’s a new-ish business to the wedding industry, and it’s certainly an out-of-the-box idea. Selling your wedding. That’s right, selling the WHOLE thing. The band, the venue, the caterer, the photographer, all of it. The business is BridalBrokerage.com and through them you can buy and sell entire weddings for a discounted price.

Say the lovely couple wanted to get married on the beaches of Hawaii, and had a contract through a major hotel for all the food, photos, venue, everything, but in a sad turn of events the groom gets cold feet, or there is a death in the family so the wedding cannot take place. You can’t recoup all your losses, but if you hand your pre-packaged wedding over to BridalBrokerage.com, another bride who wants to have the dream destination wedding will be able to buy your wedding.

If you are looking to buy, BridalBrokerage.com provides people to help plan what’s left, and a graphic designer to help get out quick save-the-date cards or invitations. However, when it comes to buying one does not simply “walk into Mordor” (sorry geek reference…can’t help it sometimes) as it were. You provide them with the information on your dream wedding and they will contact you with options. However, if you make the effort to put in your info, you are under no obligation to buy, but you will be contacted by a representative.

This sort of operation made me a little uneasy at first. Why in the world would I want someone’s used wedding? What if the relationship ended badly? Does that mean I sort of inherit their bad luck? I’m not a huge believer in luck but it does seem like that kind of thing would be surrounded by bad juju. On top of that, is it more than just buying the contracts of the vendors? Do you buy the colors, the linens, the decor, the guest book? Call me crazy but even to non-planners, wouldn’t it seem a little weird to be using colors you didn’t pick out, or a photographer who doesn’t share your vision for your wedding?

Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not bashing their business. I think it’s a very interesting and smart business model. I mean, think of it from the other side! If you are the jilted bride, and there is a way to get back even some of your lost money, why wouldn’t you go for it?! I should also mention, this is not an “ebay” situation. You aren’t selling your own wedding. You sell your wedding to the company and they turn it around to buyers. Even better for you! Collect the money, dust off your hands, and move on! I give this business credit, I mean, what happens if no one buys the wedding in time? Are they out all that money?

I think where I land on it is, if I had to, I’d be a seller but never a buyer. It just gives me a weird feeling, like a guy who buys a used engagement ring from a pawn shop. I also think that I like planning my own personal day, and while I get why buying a pre-fab wedding would be the way to go for some, I just could never get past how personal it’s not.

So thumbs up to the business, I hope it works out! I should also mention, I didn’t get money or anything to post this, one of my readers showed it to me, and I wanted to share it with you all!

So what do you guys think? Would you buy a pre-fab wedding, or does it give you the same feeling it gives me?

All About (Real) Flowers

If you’ve been following along, you know my mom is being her awesome self, and making all my flowers from paper. And they’re super gorgeous, but paper flowers are not for everyone. Real flowers are always going to be the favored option among brides, so I thought I’d help my real flower brides save money and pick out some awesome flowers for your wedding!

I’m not super educated on real flower costs, so I didn’t realize that all the flowers can cost over $1000! However, it’s not exactly a little-known fact that picking flowers in season saves you money. But what flowers are in season when? Sometimes it’s hard to know, and those of you that want to feature a specific flower, you might want to pick the season in order to have a specific flower

Spring:

Calla lilies, Zinnias, the Dahlia, and the Amaryllis make gorgeous bouquet flowers. Cherry blossoms definitely make stunning center pieces! These are just a few of the options because spring (of course) is the blooming time for most flowers. If you want lots of different flowers, have a spring wedding. It could be the reason why most weddings are in June, late spring early summer allows for warm weather and gorgeous flowers!

Summer:

I saw Kangaroo Paw and had to go find pictures of it! It’s a really cool looking flower, that would be great in boutineers! Hydrangea can look beautiful in any part of a wedding because it’s such a full flower. Heather has a great “wild” look. My favorite flower here is Baby’s Breath. People use it as an accent a lot, but it looks gorgeous as a stand alone flower!

Fall:

My favorite flower is in this bunch! I love the Gerbera Daisies! They come in so many colors and they are just so big and fun! Speaking of big flowers, Sunflowers are a great fall flower. You can always tell the end of summer when the Sunflowers bloom. Irises make great bouquets and are another flower with a wide variety of colors. Queen Anne’s lace is everywhere, and I think it may even be considered a weed. It’s another great example of a rustic wildflower look!

Last but not least, Winter:

Winter may be sparse when it comes to flowers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have gorgeous greenery! Holly berries and different evergreens look great in bouquets. I’d be curious to know if using only evergreens is cheaper than regular flowers. Any thoughts? If its the beginning of winter you can sneak in some mums and pansies too!

I hope this helps categorize what’s in season for you! Enjoy picking out your flowers! And get yourself something special, order your bouquet in whatever flower you want!