Holy canoli, I actually finished a July challenge – bring on August!

Check out my crazy efficient fridge organization system in Five Ways to Avoid Food Waste!

So much like everyone else, I can’t believe July is already over!  This past month, I signed up for a 30 day squat challenge with some FB friends, where I start of with 50 squats a day and work my way up to 250 squats a day.  I’ve fully embraced that I’m at times awful with follow through, but I actually completed this one (and a day ahead)!  It affected my running since the tuckus was so sore once I started getting into the 200 range, but I loved it so much that I’m also joining their next August challenge – the 30 Day Plank Challenge, where on the last day I hold on for five minutes.  Wowser!

Speaking of challenge and goals, I need to get back on track with some goals for August.  In July, I managed to get my debt down by $1k so I have $5k left to go, but the kicker is that I had an extra pay period so I should have reduced it down even further.  I confess, I went a little cray-cray on wedding stuff, my mom’s birthday gift, and B’s birthday gift, as well as had a lot of friends over which meant going out a lot.  For my mom’s gift especially, I bought her something a bit over the budget I had set since it’s a milestone birthday for her, and when she reached her last milestone I was struggling too much financially and personally to give her something really special.  I wanted to make sure that I got her an extra special gift, not only as an expression of thanks for being a single mom throughout most of my growing up years, but also because she’s worth it and so much more.  Her reaction to the gift and my card was utterly priceless and, to be honest, setting my debt freedom back by a month or so by doing this for her now was well worth it. (let the throwing of PF-rocks commence! j/k)

However, for August I don’t want to lose traction with my debt payoff, and have set these goals for the month:

1) Complete 60 miles of running

2) Complete the 30 day Squat Challenge again, this time while using a 10-25 pound plate (reduce weight as I increase the number of squats), as well as the 30 Day Plank Challenge

3) Pay off $800 of my debt

4) Pay for the invites (materials) and second Pre-Cana class, start looking for a dress and photographer (tons of references, just need to buckle down and see which ones I like the most)

5) Spend 15 hours on Spanish

6) Write 5 “love letters” to loved ones – I’ve found myself unhappy lately at times, and to regroup I used to write “love letters” of gratitude and appreciation to loved ones that have impacted my life and/or made it more meaningful.  Though I know they probably know how much they mean to me, sometimes it’s just nice to convey and express it since it helps puts life in perspective, so I plan on writing at least 5 during the month.

I hope everyone has a strong July finish for any goals you may have set for yourself, and a kick-bum start to August!

Liebster Award

Liebster Award

A couple of few months ago, Ashley over at The Broccoli Blog nominated me for the Liebster Award, and most recently awhile ago E.M. at Journey to Saving and DebtFreeOneDay at Disease Called Debt did, as well.  Thanks for thinking of me, lovelies!

I was curious to know who this Liebster character was and how I can hit him/her up for my schwag bag like they have in the Oscars, but alas I’ve discovered it simply means “dearest” in German, and it’s a way for new bloggers to get to know other bloggers.  Since y’all know I love talking about myself, I’m all sorts of honored!  Here are the rules, and my answers from the first four questions of each blogger that nominated me are below:

– post 11 facts about yourself and answer the 11 questions posed by the person who nominated you (I’ve technically answered 12, since I’ve always been a fan of extra credit)

– pass the award onto 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 questions of your own

– select blogs with 200 or less followers (but not the blogger who nominated you)

11 Random Facts:

1) I like that my name is a palindrome.

2) I like waking up while it’s still dark outside.

3) I’m not a good person when I’m hungry.

4) I was two weeks late coming out, and have been a late bloomer ever since.

5) I’d like to have kids, but pregnancy kind of freaks me out.

6) I’m pretty shy in person, but once I know you I don’t shut up (much to B’s dismay haha)

7) Even though I don’t think it really does anything, I use apple cider vinegar for most ailments since a lot of old wives’ tails suggest that.

8) I want to explore as much of South America and Asia as I possibly can.

9) I don’t understand mean or malicious people, nor do I want to.

10) I love stand-up comedy and have a high respect for people in the business.

11) If I ever catch myself getting frustrated in first world problems, I check myself before I wreck myself and practice gratitude.

12 Questions from my fellow nominators (in order, from Ashley, E.M., and Debt Free One Day:
1. What is your favorite movie soundtrack?
I’m a musicals geek and love “Guys and Dolls.”

2. What is your favorite workout?
Running!

3. Do you have any pets?
No, and even the responsibilities of watering plants have been given to B (and we mostly have cacti, awesome!)

4. What’s your favorite city that you’ve been to?
Nothing but love for my San Diego!

5) Why did you start blogging, what topic do you blog about, and why do you blog about it?
I mostly talk about personal finance-ish stuff, because I figured publicly humiliating myself making myself accountable with my debt would make me more motivated to get rid of it once and for all.  I would have never thought that I would meet such amazing and supporting people, but I’m glad I have!

6) What is your favorite place to vacation in?
I loved Costa Rica and Thailand.

7) What is your favorite meal to eat?  Care to share a recipe?
I love Mexican and Thai, but a fan of this one-skillet pasta dish (I use spicy chicken or turkey sausage, use two cans of tomatoes, and skip the cream).

8) Do you enjoy doing household tasks like laundry, cleaning the dishes, and vacuuming?
Yes, I think cooking and washing dishes/clothes is relaxing.

9) What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done?
I loved it, but people seem to think skydiving (even tandem) was scary.

10) Where were you five hours ago?
Getting my gym on.

11) What is your life’s ambition?
To travel as much as possible, and to hopefully have kids with my sidekick.

12) What is the worst injury you’ve ever had?

I’ve had stitches galore, but secretly like the scars from them and wear them like badges of accident-prone honor.

Here are my 11 questions:

1) What do you mostly write about and what has been your experience with it?
2) What are your goals in life?
3) What’s your favorite kind of food?
4) If you were able to take a month off and travel, where would you go and why?
5) Are you more of a cat person or dog person?
6) Describe yourself in 3 words.
7) What is your favorite book?
8) What is a piece of advice you would give your 18-year old self?
9) Do you like where you live?
10) On a scale of 1-10, how adventurous are you?
11) Do you have any financial advice for me and/or others?

And here’s who I nominate (I’m totally cheating as I’m pretty sure they have way more than 200 followers… it’s not like Liebster’s going to call me out since he’s nonexistent and all):

Wedding Stuff Part 2 – Reception Booked and Things Are Coming Along

Happy Friday, everyone!  I thought I’d share some wedding updates since 1) I’m pretty excited that things are coming along and 2) I think B’s sick of me talking about it so I’ll just write about it instead.

1) Reception booked!  The deposit has been placed on our venue, which has been a huge relief.  I decided to not reveal the place until after the fact since I didn’t want it so publicly displayed on the weird world web, but I’m happy to email or DM it.

2) The Homey Hook-up!  Though I’ll have to pay for the nice quality paper (though at really discounted prices), my friend who makes invitations as her side hustle has kindly agreed to create, custom design (depending on the guest), and assemble my invites, place cards, and announcements for me!  Not only that, but she’s making it thematic with the venue, and the first run is so incredibly fun without being kitschy since the materials are so nice.  It’s just below the budget I set for invites (since I was initially going with a simple DIY version), plus they’re so cute, I love them!

3) The Homey Hook-up Part Two.  My wedding planner friend is giving me the hook up with photographers, dj’s (if our one friend doesn’t pan out), and florist, which I couldn’t be more thankful for since I like having a personal reference to a vendor.  Plus, I’m hoping to at least get some sort of discount, though we’ll see how successful I am in this realm.  He’s also given me (a lot) of solid advice and creative alternatives,  since he knows I’m cheap trying to keep things simple.  I’m surprised he hasn’t unfriended me on FB with my barrage of questions, but I’m thankful he’s there for support.

4) Centerpieces and aesthetic stuff make me not so excited.  I do not have one decorating bone in my body (our place is spartan in nature due to my lack of creativity and aversion to dusting), so when my mom offered to help I was all too happy to give that girly-girl the centerpieces duty.  Her house is beautifully decorated so it was the perfect fit, and she’s been all about it with her frequent text and email updates.  Her enthusiasm is pretty adorable.

5) Wedding website almost complete.  I signed up for a wedding website for our guests, and it’s been fun writing our story, bridal party stories, etc., plus B liked what I wrote so that’s a good feeling.  B and my dad have mostly been taking care of the logistical portions like accommodations and sites to see, so it should be ready to launch once we send out the invitations.

6) Budget.  I’m not going to lie, my parents are funding the venue and catering for the reception, and I am all too eternally grateful for this.  This is the biggest chunk of the budget, and it’s really lifted some serious financial worries (at least for me).  I know I am blessed with this extremely generous gift.

Hrm, when I write it all down, it doesn’t seem like a lot, but I guess with all the driving, researching, paying deposits, etc., it feels like a lot.  More updates as they develop, but any tips or words of wisdom are appreciated!

Combining Finances

Happy Monday, everyone!  Consider checking out my other new post: Five Similarities with Weight and Debt Loss.

Ronald

I’m convinced Ronald wouldn’t have pulled such a mean trick!

For the most part, I admit that I’m fairly mistrusting.  I think it stems from when I was 6 or 7, and my mom picked up dinner for us at a McDonald’s drive-thru.  The Happy Meal promo at the time was a container in the shape of a McDonald’s character, and when you lift the lid open the burger and fries were inside.  So my mom handed me my Happy Meal, which was shaped as Grimace, and since she didn’t like “fast food smell” in the car I had to keep it closed for the drive.  During the drive, I just kept looking at Grimace’s jovial smile and outstretched arms like he was ready to give me a hug, and I smiled back at my new friend.  When we got home, I lifted the lid to find out the container was empty!  Instantly, what I mistook for a jovial smile was really one of menace and mischief, and my level of trust and faith in humanity plummeted at that point (well, not really, but I did cry).

So okay, perhaps it wasn’t Grimace but the employee’s oversight, and perhaps there were a few things to avoid this – why we didn’t notice the Happy Meal was hella light, why were we at McDonald’s in the first place, etc.  But with instances like these, I kind of have a general mistrust of people, especially when it comes to my belongings and money.  I have no shame in counting the change back from a cashier, especially when they lift my see-through bag of mangoes and ask how many is in there (the answer, if you’re curious, was three… three).  I periodically check my wallet to make sure all my credit cards are in their proper place, that no monetary bills magically fell (even though there’s a zipper), etc.  It also becomes heightened when we travel, as I check every pocket that I dispersed my money in, to the point where it looks like I’m doing a little upper body jig.

So when it comes to “my” money and B’s money turning into “our” money as we start the process of joint accounts, I get a little apprehensive.  I love and trust B wholeheartedly, but I guess because I’ve been doing this on my own for more than a decade (we mostly split the bills), I come from a divorced home, and there’s a lot of divorces going on around me, it’s been more of a challenging process than I thought.  I think a reasonable first step is any prospective monetary gifts from the wedding, since it only makes sense that this goes into a joint account since it is both of ours.  But in figuring out things beyond that, we’ll have to do a little trial and error.  I think our ideal is to have a joint account, but still keep personal accounts since we’ve both been independent for so long and pretty autonomous.

It was kind of validating to know KK also thought this was nerve-wracking at first, at least when it came to combined money management.  And honestly, I don’t really have any reason to not trust him, considering he’s more financially responsible than me.  I guess I’m a bit of a cynic, and think of the worst case scenarios… but, I guess that’s where faith and trust will have to step in!  I am pretty sure most PF’ers have combined accounts, but I’m curious how long it took to configure and implement your financial systems.

Wedding Stuff Part 1: Church Ceremony

Happy Wednesday, everyone, I hope all are doing well!  I’m not going to lie – I’m still basking in the official engagement phase and loving it.  I never thought I was a jewelry kind of person since at most I wear earrings occasionally, but I’m now finding out – yes, yes I am!  I totally have “pretty shiny object” syndrome these days.

So I think I might have mentioned this before, but B and I were raised Catholics and want to get married in a Catholic church.  There’s been a lot of stuff I’m learning on how a Catholic wedding works, and I wanted to share some of my findings based on the past couple of months:

1) BYOP?! – B and I go to this one church in our neighborhood but we’re not registered parishioners.  I emailed them and asked if our tentative date was free, to which they replied yes, but we’d have to bring our own priest.  This initially caught me off-guard, though I’ve learned some friends had to do the same thing.  Thankfully, this wasn’t too challenging to figure out, since a family member is a priest and he graciously accepted to officiate.

2) Pre-Cana classes and weekend retreat – I was aware that B and I had to take a weekend class where Catholic couples go to discuss about preparing for a marriage.  Based on feedback from my friends, it seems like a positive experience since it helps get the conversations going about raising kids, finances, addictions (if any), and other things that probably should be discussed before marrying, but might not be.  However, I have since learned that we have to take two different classes – a Pre-Cana class which is an all day Saturday meeting, and a weekend retreat (Friday night – Sunday).  B’s concern was that the timing of these retreats is during football season, but one pursed-lips glance from me and he’s quick to say “just kidding.” lol

3) Sacraments records – we need updated baptismal, communion, and confirmation records, as the updated baptismal record in particular verifies that we haven’t been married in the church yet (if we have, then it needs to be officially annulled, which can take some time).  It’s easier for B since he grew up in the same area since he was -9 months old and all of his sacraments took place from one church, but it is a bit more challenging for me since I lived everywhere.  This has been a little costlier than anticipated due to the calls and shipping charges, though I’m thoroughly impressed with how organized this process is.

4) Organist – the church has an organist and, though it’s not like I’m homies with any organists to ask, anyway, this was a bit costlier than anticipated.  I have seen him perform at Mass, though, and think he’s wonderful.

Budget-wise, I put an uneducated budget of less than a thousand for the ceremony, since I knew how much it was to reserve the church and added pew decorations, handouts, the weekend retreat, etc.  However, the actual costs are now 1.5 times that amount without pew decorations and handouts, which makes me slightly concerned about what else I under-budgeted for the wedding.  I’ll have to figure out how to make the decorations and handouts more economical (I’m actually thinking they’re not all that necessary since I planned to put the schedule on our wedding website, but I’m getting some feedback that there should be something tangible, especially for guests that might not have internet access beforehand).

I’ll do a budget breakdown at the end, and I admit our overall wedding budget makes me slightly anxious when I see the numbers creep up.  However, B and I are on the same page at least about what’s important and what’s not, and thankfully our families are playing a hands-on role which I am all too grateful for, which I’ll delve into in future posts.

4th of July Proposal

Happy Friday, everyone!  I hope everyone had a fun and safe 4th of July for those who celebrate – I had a pretty chill time, lounging by the pool, and gabbing/texting to my friends because B proposed yesterday morning!  I had absolutely no idea!!

Honest.

Really.

Okay, so obviously my nose grew a few notches, but I was excited nonetheless.  He’s actually had the ring for a bit of time, so how this man didn’t just give it to me prior due to my nagging curious inquiries says a lot about his patience – he’s a keeper, indeed!

We’ve also decided we don’t really like calling each other fiance/fiancee, so we’ve reached consensus in calling each other our sidekick. 😉

The icing on the cake is that earlier this week, I went ahead and sent my prospective bridesmaids some homemade cookies to “sweeten the deal” when I asked them if they’d be my bridesmaid, and the two friends that I thought might say no since their due dates are pretty close to my prospective wedding date replied with a resounding yes!  So I was pretty stoked and felt completely loved.

So I actually have a question that I thought I would ask the PF community about, and that’s ring insurance.  Is this really necessary, and do PF’ers insure their rings/jewelry (or would you)?  On one hand, I suppose I should since I would be really bummed if it was lost or stolen.  But on the other, at times things like ring insurance seems like these over the top things in life that just seems… well, it’s just perplexing to me.  A shining example is when I heard on the radio that this kid had a birthday party at his house, there was a bouncy house and one of the guests injured him/herself, the parent of the injured kid sued, and they won the case.  So a lawyer came on and said that liability waivers and umbrella insurance would be a good idea to avoid cases like these.  Has the world gone mad?!  I just don’t remember having to worry about stuff like this back in my day.

Anyway, I’m curious to know what your take is on ring insurance.  I hope everyone has a nice weekend!