depth of focus

by lizzie & isaiah on October 5, 2011 · 20 comments

We’ve been talking about building a budget for years. In the end, we’ve built automatic withdrawals to savings accounts and set up our bills to be paid automatically instead of building an actual budget with dollar amounts and percentages.

You can tell I don’t know a lot about building a budget? Cool…it’s clear to everyone then.

The point is we didn’t have a lot of money. So thinking about how to manage not-a-lot-of-money just reminded us how little money we had. Eventually, after looking at numbers we didn’t love looking at, we would treat ourselves to King Tut’s chicken shawarma and call it a night. You see the problem, right?


We built a budget in our heads. But if you have ever looked at your itemized statements every month, you’ll see that time you found Moose Drool at the grocery store and had to have it along with Woodchuck and before you knew it you spent $125 on groceries that didn’t fill the fridge or actually feed you.

I never thought I had enough money to manage, but my mom always reminds me, “If you can’t manage a little bit of money, you can’t manage a lot of money.” 

So this weekend we sat down and actually pinned down a budget that we’ll stick to. Because before we have a decent amount of money to lose, before a year goes by and we are marveling at the ridiculous things we’ve spent our money on in 12 months of ugly, honest itemized lists, we have to plan how we’re going to handle not being severely strapped for cash.

We might have done it over a 6-pack of Moose Drool, but that’s because the budget didn’t…really…count until after…it was made.


dude…where’s my money?

by lizzie & isaiah on May 13, 2011 · 25 comments

Last summer in a rented cabin overlooking downtown Branson, Missouri, my grandpa sat down with Isaiah and I and helped us figure out a budget. It was simple; he made it using pen and paper. I was sure our financial woes were over.

We both grew up in upper middle class suburbia where we had what we needed and a lot of what we wanted. I started working when I was 14 and didn’t take a break until my last two semesters of college, both of which had more than 18 credit hours each. While I wasn’t working, Isaiah landed a job as a graphic designer in a sign shop and everything was dandy. I had about $1,500 in savings left when I left for study abroad and damn it if I didn’t spend $1,000 of it in 3 weeks. While I was on the trip, Isaiah was laid off. The day after I got back, we all packed it in and left for Branson, where again, we were in the throes of the third or fourth wave in our relationship where we were flat broke and didn’t understand how we got there. My mom paid for us most of the trip.

So there we were, with a combined $570-something dollars to our names, learning how to budget the old-fashioned way. It helped for a while.

Isaiah and I don’t spend a lot of money. We don’t make a lot of money either. Our main problem is that we can’t even say those two things with confidence because we don’t know how much money we have or make. More often than not, you’ll see us double checking the balance of our respective bank accounts before going out to lunch…double checking before we make a purchase…because we have no idea if we’ve got enough green or if we’re in the red.

And so, our biggest financial problem actually shows a few symptoms: We think about what we need now and don’t save for the future, we have absolutely no plan in place for financial security and bills are sometimes late or forgotten because we simply forget they’re due.

We have ad hoc financial security practices. We’re pissing on the American dream. We’ll be doomed to work until we’re 85 if we don’t shape up, wouldn’t you say?

I was reading Angie’s post on saving money yesterday and I got thinking about our financial situation. Then I found this article from Forbes called “Priceless Financial Advice for Recent Graduates.” Then I remembered we’ll have to start the budget sometime soon, but not now…we have a fridge to buy. We have a new place to decorate! We have bare walls, people! BARE WALLS!

I need two new tires, Isaiah needs new brakes, we both need oil changes, we need groceries, we have two kitties who need to go to the vet this weekend, we need hundreds of dollars in organization tools from The Container Store, we need a media center, we need a bedroom set…

My uncle always told my mom and she always told me, “If you can’t manage a little bit of money, you can’t manage a lot of money.” Ain’t that the truth.

I always used to think that meant to live in moderation, beneath your means (which we need to renew our commitment to) and learn to budget your money so you can manage it effectively.

I was a little desperate this weekend to find out where the f*ck all of our money was going, because we make more than enough to save and have all of our needs covered. I didn’t see the $2,000 a month hidden drug habit or shopping addiction I was expecting. Instead, $5 here, $3.85 there, $29.16 here, $Right Arm, $Left Leg for gas…

Instead, it was clear that we weren’t aware of our financial impact on one another and we were just spending money when we saw fit. We didn’t have any control or method to our financial method at all.

I also realized the root of our financial insecurity is that we are insatiable. The cats scratched the old sofa, which worked fine, but we needed NEW sofas! I’m already wishing I wasn’t riddled with my 4-year-old car’s issues and Isaiah’s been wanting a new car since he got his. We haven’t thought about a home. We haven’t thought about paying off the minor amount of debt we have. We haven’t thought about controlling our money at all. Financial security isn’t on the horizon as long as we are insatiable.

Now I hear, “If you can’t manage a little bit of money, you can’t manage a lot of money” and I hear, “Don’t you dare elevate your lifestyle to meet your income,” “Plan for the future,” and “If you can’t be satisfied with what you have, you won’t be satisfied with anything.”

Sometimes you need new things, obviously. We actually did need a new couch because the wooden plank that held our entire couch together was snapping little fragments off of our tailbones every time we sat down. But if you can’t learn to be satisfied with things, you’ll always be wanting. I want to try needing for a while, re-prioritize and get my financial act together for the both of us.

We have been moderately-extreme-couponing…I saved more than $80 on last week’s groceries for a few hours of work. I got a second job. I’m eager to sit down this weekend and put together a proactive budget that will help us manage our money better. I’m also excited to learn to be satisfied with what we have, to hunt and thrift for good deals for what we need and start saving for our future. Mainly, I’m really excited to hear what my dad (a financial planner) has to say about making our money work for us. Get a job, dollar bill…you think you just get to sit around all day?

Any tips?

Image: 101 Unusual, Impressive and Illegal Pieces of Defaced Currency


Geek Out: Let's Get Real Edition

by lizzie & isaiah on November 3, 2010 · 18 comments

All wedding inspiration aside, because that stuff is fun, but that’s not what we’re here for, really, is it? For most of us, it’s all of the real inspiration on getting, being and staying married. So this week’s Geek Out post will be for all of the Let’s Get Real inspiration I’ve found really helpful over the course of (pseudo-)planning. Obviously there a flobbity-gillion amazing posts out there about how to keep your head screwed on tight during the planning process and long after. These are just the ones that especially caught my eye in the last couple of months.

I loved this DIY Wedding Website Tutorial found on Budget Savvy Bride. Isaiah and I both love graphic design for print. Oh, by that I mean = we know nothing about web design. I can mess with html, css and SQL – but I could never create something from scratch. A cheap and completely customizable way to do a beautiful wedding website was exactly what we were looking for.

Yes, You Can Have a Rock’n Roll Wedding is a guest post by Britt of Bowie Bride on Rock’n Roll Bride that I loved the moment I saw it. I struggle with this – finding my rock’n roll-ness. I know that I feel rock’n roll. But at times, I don’t so much feel like I can pull off rock’n roll. I love Britt’s comparison of the bride she wanted to be with the bride she really was inside. Definitely check it out.

10 Ways to Turn Your Backyard into Your Venue from Wedding Fanatic is another favorite. Turning your backyard or a blank space into an awesome venue is a daunting thing to think of.  Wedding Fanatic outlined 10 great tips to get you started with turning your backyard into an awesome, totally budget-friendly wedding.

If you’re trying to decide “DIY or not-to-DIY” – check this post from (again) Britt of Bowie Bride on Broke-Ass Bride first. Confessions of a Nervous DIY Bride was one of the first pseudo-skeptical articles I read on DIY-ing a wedding, so it has a sentimental place in my heart, at least. Seeing the stacks of project after project that need to be completed in someone else’s living room is a reality-check-in-a-box.

Sara’s collection of wedding scripts from 2000 Dollar Wedding is awesomely comprehensive. I loved reading through all of the couples’ ceremonies and reading exactly how you can customize your ceremony, not just the wedding, to you and your partner.

I loved this bride’s journey to a $6,000 wedding on Brave Bride. She kept it real and a half and had a beautiful wedding for $6K. This post also has a sweet spot in my heart because it’s one of the first awesomely low budget weddings that I saw that matched our style quite a bit. Check it out.

Angie & Josh’s (One Cat Per Person) Wedding Pillars inspired by the post “Conception to Reception” by Sara of 2000 Dollar Wedding (also an excellent read). Isaiah and I have a couple of guidelines and outlines we set for how we want our day to unfold, but when we’re ready to write the pillars for real, you can bet I’ll be referencing both of those posts.

The Partnership Mission Statement from A Practical Wedding. Having a marriage mission statement is brilliant. I’ll let Meg tell you why, but I think it’s safe to say that (at least in the divorces I’ve seen) divorce always has a similar root – one or both partners fail to make the marriage a priority. They stop thinking and living and loving deliberately. Anyways, Meg said it much better than I could.

The symbolic marriage contract found on Serving Thirty-Nine to Wife is beautiful, so lovely and authentic, and I even love the specific contract design that Karen made via an awesome calligrapher on Etsy. She has all the history and symbolism behind it on her blog…no need to paraphrase when she’s already done it so well.

A combination of pretty and practical, this “honeyversary” shoot the couple took themselves is…maybe my favorite shoot of all time. I love when couples can make something themselves that is beautiful, trendy and authentic without breaking the budget. I loved this couple’s story as well, though…so it’s worth the read. Don’t just get distracted by the awesome photos.

Okay, so I know…I’m guilty of adding a little bit of pretty into the Let’s Get Real edition…but there’s no reason that practical can’t blow your mind-hole visually. Please share your favorite “Let’s Get Real” posts from any blog that you think are staples in the planning process or even after.

Hope you enjoy!


From Her Fridays: Perspective

by lizzie & isaiah on July 9, 2010 · 35 comments

I had an interesting run-in with perspective this week. For a week, I didn’t drink any pop. I am a fiend for some soda. Same as, for a week I didn’t have any cigarettes. I reintroduced pop, for some reason. I was doing great with only water, and it has been a goal of mine to cut soda {however faint and undetermined}. I spent an entire week dreaming about when I would next have a pop, instead of focusing on and rewarding myself that I hadn’t. Fecking perspective.

So while my body has been readjusting to caffeine again, my sleep schedule got turned upside down. Like its happened before, my head was a swirly vortex of everything I felt inadequate about lately, culminating one night at 2am. I sat up, dead set to make Isaiah pay for making me feel this way. I poked him hard in the shoulder and was all mild-voiced FREAKOUT! on him. Why wasn’t he doing this? Why was he doing this? Isaiah woke up in a haze with me wanting to talk serious about our relationship. Not a good scene. There were a few things that were on my mind lately about how we were treating each other for the last week. However. 90% of it was my new separation from nicotine and a lack of sleep. I was convinced that we couldn’t wait another minute to talk about it and went a little nuts. I was 48 hours without a normal sleep routine, in my defense. Fecking perspective.

I’m looking at a flobbity-jillion weddings online, convinced that I want them all. I can have bunting, crepe paper, ribbons, pom-poms, moss, ivy, balloons, AND garland decorating the altar! I’ve kept a pretty level head looking through weddings, but I do geek-out about details, convinced I will be able to recreate them with ease. My first thought, before I ever thought of another wedding for us was a pavilion in a  city park, doing a pig-roast decked out with some decorations, great music and good beer. Barrels of good beer. We talked about what we wanted for our wedding and the monstrosity that was going to put us way over budget was born in our minds. We can totally do the rest of the wedding with X-tinysum left after venue-rental! Yadda, yadda. Fecking perspective.

I also had a chance to check in with the couple whose wedding I went to about a week ago. She thought the wedding was a dream, it was everything she hoped for and more. I thought it was one of the most boring events I’ve been to in recent years. Fecking perspective.

Chances are, your wedding is not going to be everything you dreamed of if you are not focused on perspective. We never got together anything like Angie’s wedding pillars or goals or anything really that would serve as a place to catch our wedding-related-bearings. Luckily, our wedding has never been out-of-control because we haven’t made any decisions yet. Nothing has been signed. We do need perspective. We need something that will ensure the day is a success to us. I didn’t love that wedding recently, but they did? I have been to weddings that I thought were perfect. Every little detail went as planned, I thought! Meanwhile, in the bathroom getting pinned is a teary-eyed bride, “Mom, did you hear the harpist miss that damn note?! How could she, is she trying to destroy the wedding?!”

We talked today about going back to our pig-roast. Isaiah’s family has one annually, and I don’t see why we shouldn’t throw in a second. It’s everything I picture for the wedding, and I’m not sure why. It may have something to do with the fact that my family doesn’t have any traditions and his does. I love traditions. I guess we have some goals to write out for the wedding. How do you keep a clear head with all of these beautiful weddings around? Jeez.


GP: Dealing with Wedding Expectations

June 30, 2010

I am pumped to have Angie and Josh from One Cat Per Person (I’m down with OCPP, yeah, you know me) as co-guest bloggers today. If you haven’t checked out her blog, don’t waste any time, go now! Oh wait…read the guest post…and then go….you know…get on with it, then! Weddings are hard. Damn hard. [...]

30 comments you know you wanna read more..

From Him Mondays: Brokalope.

June 29, 2010

Shh…We’re here observing the brokalope in his natural habitat. Do you see how the majestic brokalope moves very swiftly and frugally so as not to disturb his bank account. Notice the empty bags of dollar menu items…And pay close attention to the way he drives only within two miles of his apartment. We decided a [...]

18 comments you know you wanna read more..

Venue Freakout

June 22, 2010

A.K.A. What kind of wedding do we really want? Isaiah and I have been so torn on what kind of wedding we want, and in turn, what venue should the wedding be held in. So far, the only decision we have set in stone is the venue, but wait…not really. We have two very distinct [...]

17 comments you know you wanna read more..

The Plunge Project on Saving Money

June 15, 2010

Sometimes it’s easy to get wrapped up in the snowball effect of a blog and forget that there are new visitors who are all, “How do I jump in?!” I’ve had that experience on many blogs before (especially those, like this, of bride’s documenting the journey to “I do”) where I can’t tell where to [...]

23 comments you know you wanna read more..


May 20, 2010

So there are only a certain amount of elements when it comes to a wedding, and when you are planning on a budget, you have to prioritize. You can’t splurge on everything. By narrowing down our priorities to make the most important things as kickass as possible, the whole wedding will be rad to us. [...]

2 comments you know you wanna read more..