Wedding Stuff and the Half-Marathon Awaits!

Hi everyone!  First off, thank you so much for all your thoughts on my last post – it seriously helped me reconsider some situations that could have ended up really sticky, so thank you!  As An Exacting Life mentioned, at least when people do ask, I can do so with enthusiasm, so there’s that ray of hope!

Anyway, I have the half-marathon this Sunday with the lovely Tonya (so the highlight of the weekend!).  My training has been meh overall, but I think I’ll at least be able to complete it, and I’m glad I had this training since it seemed to give me more life balance and helped with my efficiency with the projects on my plate (my Spanish and reading goals for 2014 are another story, though, but it’s only January, right?).  Speaking of stuff on my plate, here’s more wedding updates!

1) Venue/ catering/ coordinator walk-through completed.  B and I met with the venue director, catering lead, and day-of coordinator to set the plan for where the bar, tables, and stations will go.  It was pretty easy since the catering has been at that venue before, so they were able to offer suggestions that made the area flow and become cohesive.

IMG_20140127_170050_5382) Card box selected!  My friends that went to the bridal shower know I’m cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs Etsy so they hooked me up with this rotating wedding card box from one of the vendors.  We’ll replace our travel pics  (we didn’t do engagement pics) with wedding pictures and have as decoration for our place (with our wedding cards inside).

3) Ceremony verses/music selected!  We decided on having a full Mass, and we made our verses and music selections (Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring for bridesmaids, Canon in D for when I walk down with my parents).  Since I selected the procession music, I asked B to choose the one after – he selected Hornpipe which wasn’t my first selection since it’s a little fast-paced and I’ll be wearing heels (plus he’s a fast walker to begin with), but I’ll just cling on to him for dear life when we leave. 🙂

4) Airport transportation – I don’t know if I ever mentioned this, but we were able to reduce our airfare by over $2k by flying out of TJ (flying out of SD internationally is always crazy expensive, and it was still $1k cheaper than flying out of LAX).  There’s shuttles that offer pick-up services, but I think one of our guests will drive us to and fro as our wedding gift – hope this works out, but if it doesn’t, I’m pretty sure it was still the most cost effective route.

5) Bridal shower thank-you’s – since I type more often than not, my handwriting has become atrocious!  I’ll have to see if I can buy the wedding thank you’s prior to our honeymoon if my 2-3 cards a day is any indication.

6) Lots of get-togethers – there’s a lot of events going on than just the wedding, what with our parents/siblings meeting that week, the rehearsal/rehearsal dinner the night prior, and then a brunch the day after (my dad’s idea, he’s so sociable).  It’s taken some time coordinating all those things and sending out the Evite with the rehearsal dinner, but thankfully they’re well on their way.

7) Ceremony programs and reception menus – initially I wasn’t going to give hand outs at the church, but thought it might be useful to know our ties to the ceremony participants, and for directions to the reception.  We might also do menus at the reception, which I didn’t initially want, but I’d like guests to know what each station is, that there’s a “Quiet Room” in case they have infants that need a mellow space, and to send phone pictures to us so we can feel part of their table.  We figured we’d only need 3 or so per table, though, rather than each person.

Alright, friends, I hope you have a great weekend, and since B is a die-hard Seahawks fan – Go Hawks! 🙂

Discussing Personal Finance IRL

For the most part, people in ‘real life’ don’t really know about my blog and particular interest with personal finance – B and my parents have an idea about it, but they’re not regular readers or anything.  While I’m happy to talk about personal finance when the opportunity arises outside of this blog, rarely do I divulge any information or advice about it unless 1) I know the other person is also interested in personal finance or 2) they ask for advice.  Even with the latter, I will give my opinion (“no, you should not buy that 2014 luxury car because it will depreciate dramatically next fall, plus you have a lot of student debt to take into account”), but I often find it falls on deaf ears since the person has pretty much made up his/her mind at that point, and/or they will justify away at the reasons for the purchase.  I know, I was one of them, and still am occasionally (thankfully, B often tells me to slow my roll and reconsider, which almost always leads to a non-purchase).

Anyway, I wonder if this passivity in real life is actually hurting some loved ones who make poor choices (at least in my opinion) when it comes to purchases.  It seems a lot of loved ones are major spenders, whether it be buying the latest and greatest gadget and having every intention of purchasing the next iPhone despite having the most current version, or buying for the temporary emotional satiation of buying since they’ve had a rough week.  They’re little purchases in the bigger scheme, but can add up to a lot in the long run.  Well, and sometimes, they’re really big purchases that can add up to even more in the long run.

While I try to get them to reconsider, at times the opportunity isn’t there since I don’t really feel they’re open to the process (well, and at times their partner is there who I know has the same views as me, but I feel uncomfortable with chiming in as to not intrude or feel like the other person is being ganged up on).  I often feel in order to make changes in life, one not only has to make the positive behavior a habit, but be open to the process in order for said positive behavior to become instilled then ingrained.  Whether it be becoming fitter, getting out of debt, building wealth, or changing self-defeating attitudes, being open to the process (and realizing there might be some setbacks or downright failures but forging on despite them) is key in making sustainable and progressive changes.  Sometimes it takes awhile for that openness to occur since it can be a pretty vulnerable position to be in – but until someone is ready to take that step, then any reasonable words of advice just goes down the drain since the person is not in that mindset.  No words, either soft spoken with concern or outright (and unproductive) berating, can truly change a person’s mind – the person has to make up his or her own mind.

However, I do wonder if, at times, I should push or advocate a little more.  While I do my best to not say it in a condescending or know-it-all manner, I do feel at times that I just want people to know what I know because it’s said with the best intentions, and because I think it’s pretty enlightening to not get caught up in this constant cycle of debt that a lot of people are in because they deem it ‘normal.’  But, I guess I also have some difficulty with it because I’m not as outspoken about it unless asked, and more often than not, I usually offer different scenarios but ultimately have people reach their own conclusion (even if it’s one that wasn’t an option. :)).

So I’m curious – what do you do?  Does all this knowledge about personal finance infiltrate in real life, and if so, how much or how often do you talk about it, especially if you want to help a person?

Wedding/ Honeymoon – Bridal Shower and Getting Into the Details

Hi everyone – lots went down the last couple of weeks with wedding stuff, so let’s cut to the chase and get on with the updates!

My lovely ladies

Some of my lovely friends

1) I had my bridal shower!  My mom and bridesmaids did an amazing job, and it was the perfect amount to really catch up with my friends and family.  It was Parisian-themed so there were macarons galore (oh man, such a fan now!), and all the games were super fun.  At the end, my sis-in-law had a video of B where he was asked a few questions and I was asked to guess his answers.  For the most part we were on the same wavelength since I knew what his childhood nickname was and how many kids we’d like, but he’s so practical and literal that when I answered “buy a house!” to “what’s the first thing you would do if you won the lottery,” he answered with “go out to dinner.” lol

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My mom was completely hilarious and all my friends loved her, not only because she has a cute personality all-around, but when it came to the gifts, she gave me the two-sided eye mask in the picture, a really elegant night wear outfit, and a really racy one that 1) should really come with instructions and 2) I’d probably need to stretch and warm up before trying it on.  I get it mom, you want grandkids stat. lol  Love her! 🙂

2) Air BnB is pretty darn amazing for our honeymoon lodging!  I started trolling around Air BnB and found a really cool place in one city with great views and lots of positive reviews (plus two adorable kitties).  Not only that, but once I booked, the owner already gave me information on reciprocity fees and the best/ least expensive way to get to her digs.  I’m super impressed and can’t wait to meet her and check out the living situation!

After this stop, we’re going to another section where it’s kind of a package deal (hotel/tours), and after that we’re going to our final destination.  The hotel prices are reasonable, but we checked out Air BnB again and found a sweet looking trendy studio that pretty much looks like a hotel but at a lesser price, and with the convenience of having a kitchen (since we don’t like to eat out all the time), a gym, rooftop pool, washer/dryer (coin-operated), and in a cool area with easy transport access.

3) Must-have shots list.  We’re meeting with the photographer at the end of the month, and after reading Kali’s post about her photographer, I’d like to work on the ‘must have’ list our photog recommended to ensure we have lots of shots of our loved ones.  If anyone has any recommendations (or horror stories), I’d love to hear any ideas I might not have thought of!

4) Seating arrangements is 90% done – it was actually pretty fun since it was like playing a game of who knew whom, and people I’d like to get to know for either networking or romantic purposes (I only have a 50% success rate with the latter, but hey, when you know two people who are so amazing, you just want them to meet!).  We’re going to hand out our lists to our parents so they can figure out their guests’ arrangements, and it will be complete.

5) Church readings and meeting with the wedding coordinator.  We’ve selected most of our church readings (I know the “Love is kind…” is pretty overplayed, but it’s the best one from the selections, and I still have to choose one from the Old Testament – any suggestions?), and we’re meeting with the cantor/organist this weekend to discuss the music.  The church also has a wedding coordinator (didn’t know until last week), who we have to schedule with to discuss the ceremony walk-through, give us ideas on announcements, etc.

6) Final fitting done!  I loved the cinching at the hips since it gave me a bit more form, and I didn’t know beforehand but it’s a good idea to have a bridesmaid (or someone) with you at the final fitting so she/he can learn how to bustle the train afterward.  Mine has a 7-point bustle, and while it seems easy enough, she did a great job with making it really seamless so I just hope they can find it the day of (looking underneath the lace helps, though).  I also ended up buying my veil on Ebay since, even at 50% off, the veils at the store were pretty ridiculous.  It’s not the greatest quality, but I’m only wearing it for an hour or so, so it didn’t seem worth it to spend a lot.

7) Reception walk-through tomorrow – I’m meeting with the venue director, catering lead, and my coordinator tomorrow to do a run-through of where things will go, so I’ll update in the next round!

dessertsAlright friends, I’ll part with a pic of the yummy desserts from the shower – I hope you have a wonderful week and let me know what’s going on in your corner of the world. 🙂

No Debt is Boring

Though in a good way, so before you get your knickers in a bunch, let me explain. 🙂

Hi everyone!  I hope you’re having a great January so far and staying warm to those in colder climates.  I’ve been keeping busy with trying to get my long runs in for my half-marathon with Tonya and, of course, planning my wedding (tangent: does anyone remember the Seinfeld episode with Susan Chang?  I kind of had that moment when I was writing my name with B’s last name on the marriage license application – like what if people see my name and envision a tall German goddess and then I come strolling in with my vertically-challenged Asian self??).

Anyway, I tried to think of something more PF-esque to write about, but now that there’s no debt to take care of – I’m all sorts of boring now!  Well.. not that I was so incredibly exciting before, but I suppose this is what peace of mind and security is about.  Kinda boring, but it’s not a bad thing.  I remember a friend telling me (during my ‘bad decisions era’ when I would constantly date bad boys) that just because a guy might seem boring, doesn’t mean that it’s a bad thing – it just means there’s no drama or stress.  Well, I suppose the same can be said for what I’m feeling now – the fleeting courtship phase where I was all excited about not having debt is gone, and in comes this kind of mellow comfortable phase, I suppose.  It’s boring in the sense that it doesn’t preoccupy my mind or stress me out, which are obviously very good things!

I have also noticed some worry has diminished now that I have a realistic budget set in place backed by last year’s data (B and I’s first full year of co-habitating).  It’s still challenging to balance at times since, admittedly, being frugal and not buying things impulsively still takes some work for me, but at least now I don’t get frustrated when I don’t meet a previously unreasonable budget metric (say, $400 for groceries since realistically ours is at $500 – he’s a big Mungo eater!  Well… and, okay, so am I).  I’m still working on fine-tuning the budget since we’re starting to co-mingle funds, but this year has definitely been easier to manage (though I do realize it’s constantly changing/evolving, especially if we hopefully have little ones).

I do think it will get more exciting once I start looking into maximizing my investments more (right now I only really invest in index and P2P, he invests more).  But for the time being, at least through Quarter 1, I’ve decided to just relax a little in terms of PF stuff (though still keeping in line with a budget!) since wedding stuff and training are taking up a lot of my free time.  I will confess that now that I’m physically making these tail-end payments to wedding vendors and having that fund source whittle away, I do at times get a tinge of remorse at having such a big (well, medium-sized when compared to others) wedding.  However, I do believe that these tinges will be squashed once the day arrives since it’s going to be one heckuva reunion, and it at least keeps me in line with not impulsively buying ‘little’ touches that can add up to a lot.  So I just gotta keep going with that belief (and if there is remorse, I’ll admit it, pinky swear 😉 ).

Have a great rest of the week and let me know how your personal finance progress/goals are starting off for you in 2014!

Confessions of a Somewhat-Procastinating Early Bird with a Love-Hate Fitness Relationship

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One of my favorite running spots

Jefferson’s post on his typical run was so awesome, I decided to go ahead and plagiarize become inspired by it and create a timeline of what a usual weekday morning workout routine looks like for me.

4:34 a.m.* – Yes!  I’ve woken up before the alarm goes off at 4:45, I’ve already “won” for the day – suck it, technology!  Now time to sneak out the room ninja-style as to not waken the grumpy bear.

4:35 a.m. – 4:50 a.m. – brushed my teeth and hair, changed, prepped my work clothes, and chopped up our morning fruit with a quickness – just call me butter, cuz I’m on a roll!

4:50 a.m. – 5:10 a.m. – I know I should be leaving, but what human tornado entered this place (I’m looking at you, B!)??  Can’t. Stop. Organizing. And. Wiping. Things. Down.

5:10 a.m. – 6 a.m. – Okay, arrived at the gym and ready to get my buff on!  Dangit, someone’s on the cables, time for Plan B.  Okay, first set – one, two, three, four, five, *mind wanders*, dangit, what rep am I on?  Let’s just say eight… (Continue at least 2-3 times with various exercises).

6 a.m. – 6:15 a.m. – Time to run outside!  Hrm, still dark out, better chill a bit so it gets a little lighter and better pack my pepper spray.  Please Sweet Baby Jesus, don’t let there be wandering coyotes/strays or creepers because, as you’re aware, I’m not fast by any stretch of the imagination.

6:15 – 6:20 a.m. – Alright, start of the run – set my iPod to a 45 minute run, let’s do this!  Bones creaking, not yet in my groove, shuffling my feet until I warm up… what do you mean it’s only been 5 minutes, Lady who lives in my iPod??  You’re a b!tch!

6:20 – 6:30 a.m. – Okay, I’ve got my groove now!  Starting to get light out, look at the cool kayakers on the bay!  My shuffle is starting to get into prance-mode**.  Life is good!  Wow, it’s already been 15 minutes, Lady in my iPod?  Time flies!

6:30 a.m. – 6:40 a.m. – Nuts, the cars are starting to come around… hey, share the road, busters!  *Motions with my hands* Go around, go around…

6:40 a.m. – 6:50 a.m. – Ah, my favorite part – the extra segment that cars/bikers/runners usually don’t frequent since most take the short loop.  Savor this because it’s a nice place of solitude.  What a great view of the water, palm trees, and… wtf, is that a skunk?!  Ruuuunnnn!!!***

6:50 a.m. – 7 a.m. – Last leg and you can go home, you got this – let’s put on some happy music like Black Eyed Peas to set the pace right!  Oh crap, a pack of morning runners going the opposite direction of me, finish strong, yo, do-not-walk, do-not-walk!

7 a.m. – Yay, back to my car!  Thanks for congratulating me, Lady in my iPod, you’re my BFF!  Now time to race home and shower… and subsequently have an energy crash around 10 a.m. 😉

*This could also have the reverse effect of me snoozing the alarm and not waking up until 5:15 or so.  In that case, then I usually say “dangit, well I can run a couple of miles at least!  You won this time, technology!”

**Allegedly, I prance instead of run according to gym and runner friends alike.  I’ve come to embrace and accept this.

***Only happened once, but it did happen!

And to be honest – I don’t do this every day!  It’s my favorite routine, but I do more or less time (or only do weights or only run) depending on what time I wake up.

What’s your morning (or workout) routine thought process? 🙂

Wedding update – two month countdown!

Hi everyone – I hope your 2014 is starting out amazing so far!  This lady sure is – not only did she pay off over $5k of debt in December, but she also got engaged – congrats again, girl!  Anyway, shall I continue with more wedding updates?  Don’t mind if I do.

1) Make-up booked!  I love the person I chose – she used airbrush make-up which looked really nice, and she combined fake lashes with my real lashes that looked fantastic so I’ve decided against eyelash extensions (which after some research, I guess it ruins your real lashes so this is probably a good thing).  I booked trial before an all day outing, and it kept up so long as I powdered in regular intervals to avoid looking Dali-melted. 🙂

2) Bridesmaids gifts completed!  I’m inept at picking out jewelry, so I opted to give them cute clutches, a heart-shaped purse holder with their name personalized on it, and make-up.  I took advantage of some sales, as well as double rewards on Ebates (thanks Roger, for letting me know about it!).  The readers are my brother and my best friend from high school (a guy), so I have to still figure what to get them.  Any ideas?

My ever-so-helpful coworkers decided to show their Spanish support by labeling my supplies en espanol! lol

My ever-so-helpful coworkers decided to show their Spanish support by labeling things around my desk en espanol! lol

3) Honeymoon flights booked!  Despite having to be on the phone for over 4 hours since going online wasn’t working out, they’re booked and I’m beyond thrilled that we’ll be paying a visit to South America!   We’re only doing one tour package for one region for 3-4 days, and the rest we’ll try to wing it, as well as do a mix of Air BnB and hotels since one area is pricier than the other.

4) Guest list almost confirmed.  I’m starting to plan out the seating arrangements (originally I was opposed to this and thought I would give guests free reign, but I’d like super special loved ones to have the best seats in the house… plus I may or may not be trying to play cupid with a few people going as singles ;)).  Our attendance rate is in the range of what we expected, though there’s going to be a ton of kids/babies.  I love how they boogie down on the dance floor, though, so I’m excited!

5) Wedding bands chosen!  We went with Blue Nile (no affiliate) and chose a semi-eternity for myself and tungsten carbide for B since this sounds harder to scratch.  Not gonna lie, his hand has never looked sexier as it did when he tried it on! 😉

6) Reception timeline somewhat set.  We spoke with the DJ for hours last night, and she was really thorough with a Q&A period about us, speaking with us individually, talking about our parents and every member of the bridal party, talked a lot about music genres and what percentage of each, and what we envision.  It was challenging to think of anecdotes on the fly, but I’m sure we’ll finalize things down the line.

dress17) Bridal shower and probably rehearsal dinner dress picked.  I chose this dress, which was a bit more sequin-y in person than online, but I think I can pull it off for day wear with the right shoes.  I love it, don’t even have to make alterations like usual, got a great deal online, will probably just wear it to both the shower and rehearsal/dinner, as well as my friend’s annual black and white party in a few months to get the most bang out of my cost per use.

Now that it’s coming to a head, I’ll probably write more frequent updates so feel free to tune these out if you’re over it.  It helps me figure out what still needs to be done, and the way these next couple of months are looking, it’s going to take some time coordinating with vendors, figuring out readings/songs for the ceremony, and making time for logistics like getting the license, follow ups, and walk-throughs.  Overall, I’m pretty excited that it’s coming, though! 🙂

Are you planning any big events for 2014?