Saturday, September 20, 2014

Setting a Wedding Budget

The first, and probably most important, thing to do when starting to plan a wedding is to figure out your budget.  This can be difficult to do, but you have to make an estimate so you know what you can work with.  Things always end up costing more, and there are things you generally don't think about, but having an idea is important.

I always say to start by researching what your dream wedding (well dream wedding in a realistic way) would be.  See what that ends up costing, and what each individual thing costs, and you can decide if you need to cut back, what the most important things are, and you can work around that.

For those people that are budget conscious, these are the areas that I found affect price the most:

Guest Count
This is by far the biggest expense factor.  There are so many things that cost per head, not just the food and drink which is pricey, but many other things.

Time of Year
Everyone gets married between the months of May and August.  That means the prices are high.  Even if you're not into the winter wedding idea, spring and fall can be beautiful, and maybe even nicer weather.  You'll save thousands.

Day of the Week
Saturday is the highest price for a wedding.  Friday and Sunday are slightly cheaper.  And weekdays are even cheaper.  You'll save at least $1,000 just by changing to a Friday or Sunday and double or triple that during the week.

While general areas are more expensive, don't let that deter you from one area.  There are smaller or lesser-known places that are cheaper.  This just requires a lot of research.  Just know that places that you know about before you start wedding research are probably going to be insanely expensive.  Find places that are hidden gems, believe me, they do exist.

Food and Drink
Wedding CateringFood usually starts at $30 per person and can go as high as $100 per person.  Buffet option is usually cheaper than seated courses.  But if you don't mind forgoing the normal catering for a wedding, there can be other fun options to save money like having an afternoon picnic wedding or renting food trucks.

Drink prices can vary greatly depending on what amount of alcohol you want to pay for.  Obviously having your guests pay for their own drinks is the cheapest option, but it is a bit tacky.  There are usually three payment options for drinks: bring your own, per person, and per bottle/drink.  Bringing your own can save money by ordering in bulk directly from a distributor but be aware of corkage fees at your venue.  I found that the per person option was the easiest to determine your drink budget because it can be nearly impossible to figure out how many drinks will be ordered.  By paying per person, you can guarantee that your guests will have all they can drink for a set amount.  This doesn't have to be all alcohol.  You can pay for just beer and wine and have your guests pay for hard liquor, etc.

These are the areas that I found most influential in the budget.  As I said before, it is important to figure out what is most important to you.  If you really want good food, it's okay to spend a little more on that and cut back in other areas that aren't as important to you.  Although I'm all about saving money, it is your one chance (hopefully) to have the day you've always dreamed of.  There will have to be some compromises but make sure that there many things that you are very excited about so you don't mind compromising in other things.

Learn about saving money on wedding flowers here

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Back From a Hiatus . . . . And Now I'm Married!

So I took an unexpected break from blogging, because I got engaged and was planning a wedding!  It took a lot more of my time than I had thought and things became very crazy, so I kind of put this on the back-burner.  I got married on August 24, 2014 and it was the most wonderful day of my life!  We went on a honeymoon to Ireland for 8 days, got back and started moving into our new apartment the very next day!  We are still getting stuff and settling into our home together, but I thought I would try and start this back up.

Because I've spent so much of my time lately planning a wedding (needless to say on a somewhat smaller budget) I'm going to dedicate the next few of my posts about how to save money while planning a wedding.  If it's popular enough, or I realize I have so many posts about that, I may just have to separate it out into it's own new blog.  But we'll see where the future takes us!  Glad to be back!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Never Ending Dryer Sheets

This is something I saw on Facebook for a way to save by never having to purchase dryer sheets again.

1 Container with an airtight lid (grabbed out of my pantry)
4 sponges cut in half ($1.00 for a 4pk at the dollar store) 
1 cup of your favorite fabric softener ($0.30 worth of fabric softener) 
2 cups water (free from my tap) 

Mix the water and fabric softener into a plastic container. Add the cut sponges so they can soak in the mixture. When ready to use, squeeze the excess liquid from 1 sponge and place into the dryer with your wet clothes. Run the dryer cycle as normal. Once complete place the now dry sponge back into the container of liquid for use next time. Clothes smell good, are soft and have no static just like the expensive non-reusable dryer sheets.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Free Oil Change . . . And Then Some

So it was about time to get my oil changed in my car.  As with most people, I hate shelling out money towards my car because cars are expensive and a necessary evil where I live.  BUT I told myself I would keep better care of my new car which helps save money in the long run.  Anyway, I searched the internet for deals to find the cheapest oil change around because you can't really screw that up.

I decided upon Meineke which had a great deal for an oil change and tire rotation for $29.99.  I was going to go on Friday, which is my day off, and since it was Valentine's day, I figured it wasn't very busy so I put it off until later on in the day to do wedding stuff on the internet.  Time flew away and it was getting close to 5:00, oh no!  But I checked and they closed at 6:00.  Good, that should be fine, an oil change doesn't take long.

I get there and it's packed.  The manager behind the desk asked if he could help me.  I said I wanted an oil change but it looked like they were a little busy.  He said, "Yes we're busy and we're about to close."  I asked about the other location and he called and said the same for them.

"Okay," I said as I was about to leave.  Oh well I'll try and go somewhere else or do it another day, my fault for waiting until the end of the day.  But before I could leave he said, "I'll tell you what I'll do."  He took out his card, flipped it over and started writing something.  "Give me a call tomorrow and we'll fit you in."

I figured he just wrote his name and number on it but when I checked as I was leaving, it said Free Basic Oil Change.  Wow.  He gave me a free oil change just because they were busy?  All right, I'll take it.

So a couple days later, I go in to redeem the coupon.  I said I also wanted my tires rotated and the clerk said that would be complementary too.  Okay fine, don't take my business.  I don't care.  I also asked if they could replace my right headlight bulb, I had tried myself but it was too difficult.  He said it was no problem.

A minute or two later he came back and said, "The technician says that Beetles' headlights are complicated in it will take a half hour of labor.  That's $70."  Yikes!  (At least I no longer felt like an idiot for not being able to replace it myself when the instructions seemed very simple)  Ugh I need it though.  "Alright."

"So that will be two hours then."  What?!  How would an extra half hour make the whole thing two hours?  Mind you I had an appointment but they were already behind.

"I can't do that," I said.  "I have to leave for work in an hour.  Just do the oil change."

As they were changing the oil, I called my normal mechanics.  I asked about the headlight and they said to drop by anytime.  "Does it take a while?" I asked.  "Nah just 10 to 15 minutes."  (They specialize in German cars.)

So the next day I dropped in to my mechanics to get the headlight replaced.  They did it quickly and I asked if they wanted anything for it and they said no.

HAH!  Oil change, tire rotation, and headlight bulb replacement (that was going to be $70) all for free!  And why?  No reason except I am a procrastinator.  Boom.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Make Money With Credit Cards, Part 2: My Favorite Cards

Because so many people are interested in my post, Make Money With Credit Cards, I decided to make a second part about my top 3 favorite credit cards.

#3: Discover

credit card
Signup Bonus: When I signed up for Discover, I had a special offer for a signup bonus which I can't really seem to find anywhere online.  This is part of why I ranked it at number three.  You may get a special offer in the mail if you've already signed up for a lot of cards, otherwise you won't get a signup bonus but it's still a good card.

Why I like it: It has a normal 1% cash back on most purchases but the thing I really like is each quarter there is a 5% cash back bonus on select categories.  I don't use this card for normal purchases, but I only use it in areas where I will get the 5% bonus.  Make sure you sign up each quarter for the new bonus!

Negatives: It's not as widely accepted as Visa.  It's gotten better over the years but there are still some places that don't accept it.

Sign up here:

#2: Chase Freedom

Signup Bonus: Right now if you sign up for a Chase Freedom card you can earn a $100 Bonus after you make just $500 in purchases in your first 3 months.

Why I Like It: This card is the same as Discover, 1% cash back on most purchases, and a special 5% cash back on special categories each quarter.

Sign up here:

**Update 12/2/14: Sign up with this link to get a $200 Bonus!  Signup before 12/18/14! 

$1: BankAmericard Cash Rewards

Signup Bonus: Online-exclusive $100 cash rewards bonus after making at least $500 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening.

Why I Like It: This is the card I use for most of my purchases because it gives you more cash back in the areas where you do the most spending.  You earn 2% at grocery stores and 3% on gas and 1% on everything else.  And, if you don't mind waiting, you get an extra $75 if you let your cash back accumulate to $300 before redeeming them.

Sing up here: 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Inexpensive Valentine's Day Ideas

So Valentine's is coming up, which means a lot of anxiety in the gift-giving and planning departments.  There can be a lot of pressure to make this day special which most people think takes a lot of money.  I am here to tell you that is not true at all!  Here are a few ideas:


This is something my fiance and I like to do a lot at the beach but it can also be done in a nice park.  They key to making it special is having a fun meal all ready to go.  My fiance says things like this are lame as a gift or date, but I say it's nice not to have to plan or prepare anything.  Fun food ideas are: cheese, salami, and crackers or bread; veggies; fruit; dip; and a fun drink like pink lemonade or sparkling juice.  And go to a nicer store like World Market or Whole Foods that has more unique flavors of things instead of name brands.

Unique Movie

This is something I talked about in my article, Cheap Ways to See Movies.  The drive-in, old movie house, or there might be special screenings on Valentine's in a square or other public area.  Do a search in your area, there are generally going to be romantic classics playing that night.

Make a Nice Meal at Home

One of the things that I loved about my fiance when we first started dating is that on Valentine's day, he cooked for me.  At 21 (and myself 19), it was very nice to see that the guy already knew his way around the kitchen.  But no matter what age, or what gender, cooking a nice meal that's different from your normal food habits makes the evening special.  Find a fun wine to go along with it that holds some significance.  My fiance and I found a wine called Sweet Pea which is his nickname for me.



What are your plans for Valentine's Day?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Redeeming Rewards

I apologize for not posting last week, it was quite a busy weekend for me.  So to make up for it, I'm going to post two this weekend.

This week I redeemed two awesome things from two of the rewards programs I already talked about in this blog.  I was so happy to finally redeem something from them that I wanted to share it with everyone!

Bing Rewards

I finally reached my goal for a $5 Amazon Gift Card!  I signed up in the middle of December, so it took about a month and a half to earn $5.  Not too shabby.  And it will only get easier once I reach Gold status which I have a little way to go still.  But it's still exciting nonetheless!

For those of you who want to read more about the Bing Rewards program, check out my article: Bing Rewards.
 For those of you who still need to sign up, here's the link to sign up: Sign Up for Bing Rewards.

Disney Movie Rewards

I only just talked about this program a couple weeks ago and I have some very exciting news about my reward for this one . . . I got a $250 Delta Gift Card!  The rewards program was having a sale for the month of February that this reward was half the points (4175 instead of 8350)!  I was only a few hundred points shy of that so I finally went through my fiance's family's massive movie collection and was able to redeem enough points in a matter of moments! 

For those of you who want to read more about the Disney Movie Rewards program, check out my article: Disney Movie Rewards.