Christmas Break

My Christmas break started out with a bang. Instead of spending the first day of it sleeping in Mj and I were up at 7 am to go to Home Depot. You see, I accidentally flushed something quite large down the toilet. It fell from the overhead cabinet just as I was flushing and I was just like....oh CRAP! I went to the bathroom that morning at Home Depot where we picked up supplies and tools so that he could take the whole toilet apart and get the darn thing out. He is so handy. Thank goodness he was here. He hadn't done it before but watched a video on You Tube and handled the whole thing like a pro. I felt so bad.

I had a wonderful Christmas and am just thrilled to be on Christmas break. I feel so free! We spent Christmas Eve at mom's house and spent the night. I didn't really want to spend the night at first but I am so glad that we did. It was fun and I love my family. I love this time of year. My little sis was in town from school. Mom, Mj, little sis and I went to the movies to see Brother's. Good movie. Mom made a simple dinner of lasagna, salad and bread for dinner and it was delicious. We had some family and friends over. Mj and I spent the night on the tiny twin day bed that I begged my parents for when I was in middle school and woke up Christmas day to my Dad making breakfast which is pretty much the only meal he will cook. Then we all opened gifts. It was such a relaxing day. So relaxing that we all spent the whole day in our pajamas! We just hung around talking and doing a whole lot of nothing. I love it that Mj is comfortable just hanging out with my family also. He fits right in. It was a really nice day. We left around 5pm because we needed to get home to pack.

At my job break begins the day before Christmas Eve and we don't have to go back until January 4th. Definitely one of the perks of the job. It's so nice to have this time off. It is giving me the chance to travel to meet Mj's family and save my vacation days which I have been holding onto as much as possible so I will have enough for our wedding and honey moon.

We are in Delaware right now. We got here yesterday and will be heading back home just in time to spend New Year's Eve at home. Hopefully the visit with his family goes well. They all live far away but of course I want them to like me.

More about the trip later.

Mean People Suck

I was so determined to skip the whole angry and irritated phase and not allow myself to waste any energy on being upset. Bad things happen. They just do. There is nothing you can do about it so keep moving forward and don't let it get to you right? But after a day of looking at the two ugly rows of deep grooves that run along the driver side of my new car hitting three different panels I finally got angry. I last saw my car on Saturday so it happened sometime between Saturday night and Monday morning. Although I didn't notice it until I walked out to my car on Monday after work, I am pretty sure it happened at home during that time. It is obvious that it was an intentional act. Someone literally walked along the side of my car with a key or some other sharp object and dug it along the side for probably no good reason at all. I have no enemies that I am aware of. Why would someone do that? And now I am left with another expense that I don't really have the money let alone the time to spend on fixing it.

Yesterday was just one of those days. It started off fine. I did a bit of going back and forth with some different wedding location people. They are all booked for Saturday viewings until next year and the only other time to go is when I am at work. I don't want to miss out on available dates for the other locations but don't want to make a decision until we explore these other options. I already know that once the holidays are over all kinds of brides to be are going to come out of the wood works and start booking dates during the ever popular July.

I got a call from Chrysler demanding their $425 dollars that unbeknownst to me is apparently 14 days past due. When I turned in my lease I was never asked for money but it's in very tiny tiny print in my four foot long lease agreement so I should have insisted on site that the woman who collected my car take my money even though she didn't ask or tell me it was due immediately. I assumed I should wait until I get an invoice. I went to pick up my two prescriptions after a long day of work and find that only one had been approved so now I have to e mail my doctor and hopefully go back again and pick it up between today and Friday. I have some packages I need to mail but with the holidays I am not sure I can fit it in on lunch and by the time I get off work it's too late.

Just a bunch of little irritations and frustrations on top of the car vandalism and by the time I got home I was just really tired and upset. That much hated out of control feeling that there are things to do and no time to do it and that recurring stress about money got the best of me. But this time instead of an empty house and being left alone with my sad thoughts I had Mj to greet me at the door. He wraps his arms around me and tells me that everything is going to be OK and because he is there I know that it is. He reminds me that I don't have to handle everything on my own anymore and that he is there to help.

So, I tried to skip the whole getting upset about the fact that some mean person who sucks decided to vandalize my property but instead had a delayed reaction and got upset the day after. I have had my little meltdown moment so now I am OK. I will deal with the car damage next year. Mj has so kindly offered to go view the 3 military base wedding locations today so that we can make a final decision. He is also going to take care of mailing my packages.

Moving on.

Clueless Christmas Shopping

I didn't necessarily plan on doing my Christmas shopping yesterday. I just knew I needed to do it and I figured Monday was as good a day as any because the crowds are only going to get worse as we get closer to the big day. I only buy gifts for my immediate family so I don't ever usually do a lot of shopping which is simple. I just don't feel the need to buy something for every single friend and they don't either so it works. I am doing secret santa but I don't do cards or do co worker gifts. Am I a scrooge? Anyhow.

I walked into the mall already feeling frustrated because I honestly didn't know what to get everyone and I just didn't want to be at the mall. My first stop was Victoria's Secret and the line was half way through the store almost making me not want to find anything I want for anyone there. I got my little sis some soft lacy Angel's by VS panties from there and used a $10 off coupon (1 of 2!!) that I have. Then I went to Macy's. I knew I was going to get dad some cologne. He loves cologne and for years and years we refused to get it for him because that's all he ever wanted and for a while that is all we got him but it dawned on me that I hadn't gotten it for him in a long time. So, that was pretty easy. I got him a Hugo Boss cologne and body gel set. Hubby mentioned that he wanted a robe. I knew the Alfani ones were going to be on door buster clearance today but I looked at them and they just seemed a bit flimsy so I got him a nice Black Nautica Robe one which was on sale and I was able to use my coupon for it. I feel the most frustrated about my mom's gift. She has tons of jewelry, clothes upon clothes, and there wasn't any one thing that told me, "Yes, get that for mom." So, I did the Macy's gift card thing which I kind of hate. She does love to shop and she loves Macy's. I was going to do the same for my big sis but when I got to Walgreen's to pick up that Visa gift card I decided to get her a snuggie instead. I know, I know, those things are so weird but sometime earlier this year she was talking about how she thought they were cool and I literally thought she was joking but she wasn't. All of the snuggie colors are kind of awful but they have a leopard print one out. It's a stylish snuggie if there ever was one and so like my sister!! I got her an i tunes gift card to go with it.

So that's that. Mission accomplished in about 2 1/2 hours and I stayed within a reasonable budget which is always a huge factor in everything. I love gift giving and I really wish I could spend much, much more on the people that I love. It's so much fun buying something for someone that you just know they will love. I think that everyone will like the gifts that I chose but because I just didn't know what to get them I kept putting it off and it was turning into a chore instead of a joy. Oh, and I did get something for myself. I had a $15 off coupon at Express so as usual my goal is to go in and find one of their $19.50 items which is usually the cheapest item they carry. I found a great scarf and I only had to pay about $5 for it. Love it!!

We have no room for a tree and decorations inside such a small space seems kind of ridiculous so there is no decorating to be done. I am hoping that next year we will have a house and an actual living room and then I will be more excited about holiday decorations but for now it is so not happening. I will need to mail my sister's gift but now that the shopping is out of the way I can just sit back and enjoy the holidays.

Location, Location, Location

Saturday was very exciting because it was our first step on getting this wedding planned. I didn't really think that I would care too much about all of this. I mean, I never thought I would ever be able to have a wedding in the first place so it's not something I had previously put too much thought into. I am also not a picky bride. If anything I would refer to myself as a sensible bride on a budget and accordingly my main focus going into this was just to get this thing done and at or below budget.

Well, the budget bride part of me is still there and I will never be a bridezilla but I am finding that this is all so much fun and I am really enjoying it! I scoured the Internet for the last two weeks and came up with four potential locations that fit into our budget. I knew it was going to be raining all day Saturday which kind of sucked but rain or shine I knew this was something we were going to get taken care of. I hate rain but even that couldn't quell my excitement as we hit the very wet road at 9:30am.

Our first stop was Zosa. They offer all inclusive wedding packages that fit very nicely into our budget. It's a bed and breakfast with lots of green grass and trees all around it. The ceremony site is a gorgeous gazebo like structure with a water fountain in front of it and a bridge leading over it. There is a nice poolside area for cocktail hour and the reception room itself is pretty nice too. As I drove up to it and saw Zosa written on the wrought iron gate my first thought was how cute this place is. It is so quaint and homey. We did like the location but are having second thoughts because it is about 1 hour away from where we live and the rooms are very expensive. This would make things kind of complicated for our out of town guests.

Next stop. Walmart, just because we had a little bit of time between appointments then off to MVR. This one is the next most affordable location. They have very flexible bar/beverage options and low pricing on the per person plate fee. There is a nice white gazebo for the ceremony and an upstairs room for the reception. I wasn't that crazy about the maroon drapes or the maroon chairs so I'd definitely have to get chair covers which would really make the room pop and they do provide nice floral center pieces which no other locations does.

We stopped to eat at a mall overloaded with traffic and people reminding me that I have not done ANY Christmas shopping and then off to the 3rd location. The H Hotel apparently is undergoing renovation so the coordinator showed us around with carpet and drape swatches in hand so we can see what the rooms are going to look like. The rooms were stripped down to concrete floors and walls but I think it's going to be very nice. There is a beautiful outdoor ceremony location with lots of green lush grass and the reception rooms have lovely floor to ceiling windows with a nice view of the garden area where the ceremony is set up. This is the most expensive so far, but Mj really likes this one and so I am going to play around with the packages offered and see if I can make it work.

The last location was a restaurant. It was more of a quick see just to find out what the set up is and if we can make it work. It didn't bowl us over. There was a nice view of the racetrack and we would have to bring in tables and chairs. The entire event would be outdoors.

I was really hoping Zosa would totally win us over to the point that the out of the way location and expensive room prices would not matter so much because their all inclusive package (including unlimited alcohol for 4 hours) gave us a lot of bang for our buck. We like the package that only has us have to arrange the photographer, flowers and cake. The MVR resort is nice enough and more affordably priced but The Handlery is a bit more scenic and the fact that it is just that much nicer makes it a bit more appealing. There are some very scenic military base options near the ocean with affordable catering that I am going to look into this week and hopefully we will be able to make the decision by next week.

We didn't get home until about 4:30 pm. It was a long, wet, but very exciting day. Mj was a trouper.

I've been doing all of this wedding stuff but I really need to get on the whole Christmas bandwagon because that is....OMG NEXT WEEK!!!

Living In A Studio With My Fiance

So, Mj has been back for two weeks and it has been absolutely wonderful. It is so nice having someone to come home to every night. Someone to hang out with and laugh with at home instead of just being alone all the time. He is my cuddle bear and it's so nice to have him by my side and in my bed at night! He's taking a break and doesn't go back to work until next month making it that much harder for me to get out of bed in the morning. Who wants to go to work when there is a cuddly snuggle bear in your bed?
He fixed the garbage disposal. I thought I'd have to replace my door lock because it gets so tight every year when it gets cold so that sometimes I am afraid that I won't be able to even get in my house. Mj figured out that all it needed was just a little WD-40. It's nice having a man around! They just know things. Things that I as a kinda girly girly never would.

The man can cook and I must say that I find it very sexy. He can throw together all kinds of things without using a cook book. He [we sort of] have made some delicious meals. I am basically his assistant seeing as how I am and always have been pretty clueless when it comes to that but he makes me want to do better. I want to be able to cook a nice dinner for my husband and maybe I'll start out with cook books.  I won't be as good as him but I will do it. We went grocery shopping this week. My cupboards have never been so stocked in the almost five years that I have lived here.

There are now two people, two people's stuff, and only about 397 square feet between us in my little studio. We have a new flat screen TV now, I have a new white desk, and the futon is on the other side of the room and the bed is where the futon is, and there is an extra closet now but you get the idea. Before he got here I'd look around and wonder, how in the world are we going to be able to make this work? I outgrew this place with just me and my stuff years ago. There is basically no storage and I've had to bring in two additional portable closets and utilize a lot of under bed storage bins to make space for my clothes. I did what I could to create additional space for him with the extra closet, clearing drawers, throwing stuff away and just hoped for the best. His entire apartment was put in storage before he went to Kosovo and he has with him the stuff he brought there and any additional things he's accumulated while there so it's been OK so far. There are about 5 storage bins of various other items that my parents are letting us store in their garage and this will just have to do for now.

I can be a bit of a neat freak about certain things but I am finding that I am doing OK with the set up. Mj has just a couple little messy habits as many of us do but they are very minor and he is just such a spectacular guy that it doesn't even bother me that much. I can get a bit particular when it comes to wanting clear table tops. Mj has a tendency to come in and empty his pockets and put stuff down haphazardly so I have used baskets for him to put miscellaneous items in that I just don't like to see scattered about. The reality is, that there really just isn't much space to put things but I think that we are going to be OK.

The anxiety and depression that I could feel creeping into my soul is gone. This may sound corny and yes it is straight from the movie Jerry Maguire, but he completes me. He really does. He is my rock. I am a better and happier person because he is around. Somehow nothing seems as frightening or impossible when he is by my side.
If we can manage to live in less then 400 square feet of space for however long it takes us to end up in a new home then that's just one more thing in addition to the whole eleven months apart that we have managed to get through together. These things will only make us stronger and I can think of no one else that I would want to go through any of this with other then Mj.

The Saver and The Spender

In every relationship there is usually a spender and a saver. It seems like some force of nature that draws opposites in this category to one another. Each person has their designated role and the silent and sometimes not so silent tug of war ensues as the pair makes their way through a life together where the subject of money is simply impossible to ignore. Just one more thing to keep things interesting and although it can be annoying at times I do think it can be a good thing. Guess which one I am? Yes, the saver.

The Sunday after Thanksgiving we went to a store to catch some of the Black Friday deals but without the massive crowds. Mj picks out a navigation system for his car. Now that I have one in my car of course he wants to be like me. After checking out the cameras and the flat screen TV's he decides on a flat screen as a Christmas present for his mom. The total for both purchases is around $750 and while my eyes are bugging out of my head he barely bats an eye.

The next day while I am at work I get an e mail from him saying that he's decided to keep the TV. What!! I can't understand this because although my TV is very small it is only temporary until we move and he has a large flat screen TV in storage and purchased a projector while he was overseas. Additionally, he has a regular TV in storage as well. Why in the world do we need essentially, 5 TVs between us? What is he going to get his mother now on top of this huge purchase?

I walk in the door after work and find that not only has he decided to keep it but it is already neatly set up and displaying Monday night football. The old TV has been relegated to a sliver of space between the wall and the closet. I look at it and him in stunned silence. I am even more confused when he tells me that he kept the TV because he has decided that he wants to get his mother a camera instead. why isn't the TV still in the box ready to go back to the store I ask. His reply is basically that instead of taking it all the way back to the store he just decided to keep it. Just for the heck of it.

I cannot comprehend such things. You see, I am a saver. If I have extra money which is rarely these days I prefer to save it rather then indulge it. A penny saved is a penny earned and although I really really wish that some day I could walk outside and pluck a dollar off of my own personal money tree I know that is never going to happen. My last major purchases came when I moved into my place almost five years ago and was forced to by a new computer when the old one died on me and some other things to get set up in my new place. Oh, and who could forget the Ugg Boot meltdown in October and the dominoe effect of anxiety my car purchase set off last month. I plan and save for my little mini trips here and there and I do buy clothes with coupons here and there when I can. Next year I will likely have to spend a hundred or so on a new cell phone and I don't even want to think about how much my wedding dress is going to cost.

In no uncertain terms I told him this was very upsetting for me considering all of our expenses we have coming up and the fact that he isn't going back to work until mid January. I can't afford to go to Vegas with him and am agonizing over a clothing purchase I made yesterday. I don't even know how I am going to pay for some of my upcoming expenses and he just decides to keep a $400 TV just for the hell of it. "It's not fair," I basically whined. Once I got him to acknowledge my feelings then I pretty much had to get over it. I trust him not to behave recklessly and spend beyond his means and when it comes down to it his means are different then mine. I have to take that into account. The more money you have the more you can spend. Just because my strained budget can't stretch to accommodate certain luxuries doesn't mean that I have to hold him accountable to the same tight standard.

That being said, we are going to sit down come January and work on our finances together. I am good at saving and budgeting and he pretty much buys what he wants. Mostly because he can. He is not out of control but to keep him on track I want to come up with a reasonable budget for him based on his expenses and income. Not mine. It's only fair. As a couple, we need to work together by discussing big purchases-not that I will ever make any!! We also need to settle on a system of savings and managing our joint finances that is comfortable for both of us. We have the joint savings which we do deposit money in and we have a joint checking account but haven't really done too much with it. I think it's always best for partners to still have their own individual accounts too.

When you think about it two savers together would have NO fun. Life would be filled with cheap low budget trips and stress over every penny. Two spenders together would find themselves in a world of financial trouble highlighted by way too many things and a life that depends solely on credit cards and debt. Don't get me wrong. If you make a lot of money by all means spend it. It's the spending AT OR BELOW YOUR MEANS part and putting money aside into savings that is key. Whatever those means may be and like it or not, that determines how much you are able to spend. You might be able to spend more if you make more but that also means you should be saving more!! Oh, and having credit cards does not count as having money.

Instead of fighting about these differences we can communicate, take a little from each, balance each other out and hopefully have the best of both worlds. Well, that's the plan anyways.

*Frugalista Money Tip: Spend at or below your means and save at or above your means*