In today’s latest installment of The Money Diaries, Christine is paying down tens of thousands of dollars in student loans and paying for her upcoming wedding and planning ahead for a down payment on a house.
Read today’s diary and share your #1 tip for Christine in the comments below.
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09:00 a.m.: “Breakfast” = Slim Fast shake. I have 2 months till the wedding and I am going to do my best to not gain weight. Losing a few pounds wouldn’t be bad either. I don’t need to loose any, but everyone wants to look best for their wedding day. Working from home today so I don’t think I will have too many temptations to eat out, but how to motivate myself to actually work out is another matter.
12:30 p.m.: $40 for deposit for wedding dress alternations, cash only and will have to remember to bring the rest of the bill when I come for my second fitting ($148 on Sept 8th). Never have cash on me, so it takes a big effort for me to actually remember to get out of the ATM. It semi makes me feel like this not the most legitimate business when they only accept cash.
04:00 p.m.: $138 for wedding favors, Tea Forte for everyone and another thing I can check off of my wedding list. Thank goodness Amazon has free shipping. We will print our own labels so we don’t have to go through an overpriced wedding website. Those places seem to love to gouge you whenever you specifically look for anything for a wedding.
05:00 p.m.: Utilities due ($51.73). My fiancée (MF) and I split the bills, but I usually cover the utilities and electric and we split the cost at later.
05:00 p.m.: Yet more yeses on the response cards for the wedding. Is it bad that I want more people to start saying no to coming to the wedding? I just would like to keep it smaller, but my mother added quite a few guests before the invites went out. I had wanted a 100-120 person wedding, but it might be closer to 150. Thank goodness my parents are taking care of the reception. Still, I need to cover the flowers and décor so I hope I have enough!
08:00 p.m.: MF and I discuss getting a house after the wedding. Frankly, I could live in an apartment for a couple more years and be fine, but he is two years older then me and feels it is time for a house. He does make some good arguments for a house, and supposedly the market is good for buyers. We do decide to live in the apartment for another 1 ½ after marriage so that will give us time to save, and find a good deal.
10:00 a.m.: Out running errands, had to do a detour so decided to pick up an iced latte and some more coffee from the roaster. I am not a huge coffee drinker but when I do have some I like have some good beans on hand. ($7.25). I don’t feel bad paying extra for good beans, since I will have this during the week and it will prevent me from grabbing coffee on the way to the office.
06:00 p.m.: My turn to pick up dinner and since I have been doing nominally good on the diet it is time for a splurge, so it is off to the golden arches ($9.07).
07:00 p.m.: Grocery shopping for the week ($43.59). We switch off making dinner each night. We are both trying to eat healthier so we don’t eat red meat too often, and I try to sneak in some vegetarian meals into to mix.
09:00 a.m.: Still trying to find a pianist for the ceremony, I know this is a bit late to still be looking but my other musician I had booked can’t do it anymore. So I have a dilemma I can pay about $300 for a professional I found online, or keep looking for maybe a cheaper option such as a teacher or college student. Hmmm seems like this is going to be a quality over price debate.
11:45 a.m.: Looking over my budget (MF and I have separate budgets and maybe this will change when we get married) at lunch (leftovers) and looks like I am doing good. I have pretty much all my finances automatic (thanks Ramit) so there really isn’t much for me to do besides check and make sure everything is on track. My IRA, savings and wedding savings went through last week, and the only thing I need to manually do is my student loan payment. I have $13,000 outstanding student loan debt, but otherwise I’m debt free. I’ve already paid down the debt from $24,000 in 4 years and I’ve also paid off my car. I’ve got plenty of leeway in my budget, so I do a double payment on my student loan payment this month ($327.04).
11:30 a.m.: Had an early meeting and now I am starving. Leftovers are just not going to cut it. I feel a bit guilty about buying lunch but the office cafeteria really isn’t too pricey. $3.50 for a chicken sandwich and veggies. Most days I bring leftovers, but lately I have been feeling kinda isolated because I then tend to eat at my desk. I think that I am going to start scheduling some more time and budget to eating out, so I get more time with my coworkers.
10:00 a.m.: My friends and I want to start a long distance book club using webcams but my laptop webcam is not functional so I will have to get one for my desktop. CNET gives plenty of highly rated choices, but do I really need true HD for google chat? Decide to go with a decent webcam on the lower price range end and also pick up a new mouse because mine has been really skippy lately ($43.05).
01:00 p.m.: Checked the checking account because it’s pay day ($1506 on 15th and 30th). I usually only check in on my account to make sure everything is running ok. Back when I first got out of college, I used to have worry about the amount in my account and if it was getting too low, but nowadays with my budget and automated withdrawals, I can keep a good eye on it without checking in all the time.
05:00 p.m.: Coworkers going away party at the local bar. Good networking opportunity plus a lot of former coworkers were around. It is always nice to see some of the guys who I used to work with. Just $4.29 for a beer + tip, I do like hitting the bars but I am just at a place where paying close to $5 for one beer seems a bit ridiculous.
Total Credit: $667.52
Total Debit: $1506
I actually feel I did good this week. One of my trouble spots is impulse online shopping, and being an Amazon prime member doesn’t help be with this problem. I probably didn’t need a new mouse; the old one still works but it is getting to a point where it is getting difficult to use.
I am still pretty nervous about having too large of wedding, the food will cost more, and I don’t know if I have enough decorations. MF keeps on reminding me to look at the big picture, and as long as all our family and friends have a great time that is all that matters. I am at a point savings and budget wise that I am flexible if any sort of emergency comes up, but I know that if MF and I are going to be getting a house in a year or so I have to step it up so we can put a good chunk down on a down payment.
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The Money Diaries series is based off New York Magazine’s Sex Diaries. We collect stories from real people about their spending habits over seven days, anonymize them, and post them here. To be featured anonymously in a future Money Diary, click here.
What would you do if you were in Christine’s shoes?
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