Monthly Archives: November 2014

Well, it’s that day of the week again. How was your weekend? Ours was pretty uneventful, which is just how we like it. Along with the usual routine of gym, laundry, grocery shopping, and cleaning, we made a short trip over to the Iwo Jima memorial, which Adam hadn’t visited before.

Iwo Jima/Monument

It was a cold but beautiful day. The USMC Memorial borders Arlington Cemetery, so I feel like it usually gets overlooked. But it’s a powerful site and shouldn’t be missed, especially if you’re already visiting the Cemetery. 

Iwo Jima - Shadow

I hadn’t been to the memorial since I was in DC for a high school trip, so I’m glad we went out to see it before we move. We only have a month to check everything off our DC must-see list; then we’re out of here!

Mondays are usually pretty rough, but today’s not so bad because of the short week! How excited are y’all for THANKSGIVING?!?! As you can tell, I can’t wait. It’s hard to go wrong with a day centered around eating, drinking, and a giant parade. Usually, it’s just Adam and I and entirely too much food. This year, though, it’ll be us and two of our best friends, and still entirely too much food. I predict great times and great naps ahead.

Here are some of my favorite things from around the interwebs! Click the link to be taken to the image source.

Favorite unique gift: duck fat caramels. Color me intrigued. These sound delicious – perfect for the person who avoids overly sweet desserts. Definitely not for everyone, but I’d love to try them!

Duck Fat Caramels

 

Favorite photo: Autumn in Aomori. I adore the fall foliage; ours here seems to have come and gone in the blink of an eye, with the temperatures in the 20s we’ve been having. Where did fall go?!

Autumn in Aomori - Nat Geo

 

Favorite splurge: Menara bed from Anthropologie. Adam and I are still sharing the double bed I’ve had since college, which is sliiiightly less than ideal. We’re in the market for a queen size bed, and if we happen to win the lottery any time soon, my vote is for this one. I showed it to Adam, who shrugged. He loves it, clearly.

Menara Bed - Anthropologie

 

Favorite lounge: fair isle knit leggings. I received these leggings as a “stay warm” present from my mother a week ago, and ever since, if I’m not at work or the gym, I’m wearing these. I wore them for 3 nights, washed them, pulled them out of the dryer, and put them right back on. They are so comfortable and make me happy, even when the sun sets at 4:45.

 

Favorite treat: Dutch butter cake from kevinandamanda.com. Yum. That’s all I can say. It looks  gooey and rich and insanely delicious. And only four ingredients! I need this in my life.

 

Favorite fashion: black and white outfit from Esther fromthesticks. I recently discovered Esther’s blog and proceeded to spend an entire day reading through her archives (sorry, Boss Man). She is so talented at all the things – fashion design, sewing, crafting, painting, photography, modeling – and she’s only 19! We’re not going to talk about the things I was doing when I was 19, but it certainly didn’t involve running an incredible blog and designing gorgeous clothes.

 

Favorite sparkle: Night Lounge Studs by Kate Spade. I have a few pairs of Kate Spade studs I snapped up when they went on sale last year and I wear them all the time. The older I get, the more I gravitate towards simple jewelry that I can wear with everything. These are just the right amount of fancy without being too much for daytime wear.

 

Favorite learn: When Thanksgiving Was Weird from NPR. Apparently, just over 100 years ago, Americans treated Thanksgiving like a second, even more popular,  Halloween. Rather than sitting around a table full of food, people dressed up in costumes and roamed the streets, asking for apples, pennies, or other candy. Who knew?! This article is a fascinating look at how drastically our observance of Thanksgiving has changed, in a relatively short amount of time.

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On marriage and money

Want to know what our first fun activity as a married couple was (aside from the honeymoon, of course)?

Making a budget.

Yep, we’re that nerdy accounting couple. But seriously, y’all, I’m so surprised at how many of my friends either don’t have a budget or don’t know how to make a budget. It’s easy and so, so important, especially for newlyweds. Getting on the same page financially was crucial in helping us avoid constantly fighting over money (which, as “everyone” likes to say, is the top cause of divorce).

Our budget is simple and flexible, because, thankfully, we both have well-paying jobs and don’t have a lot of debt (with the exception of my student loans, thank you out-of-state tuition). Therefore, our budgeting process went a little like this –

  1. How much money we do we have in our checking, savings, investment, and retirement accounts?  How much money do we owe (total debt)?
  2. How much money do we make each month (after taxes, but before 401(k), health, and public transportation deductions)?
  3. What do we need to pay for every month (i.e. rent, utilities, food, student loan payment, car insurance, health insurance, transportation costs, cell phone bills).
  4. How much can we save for retirement? How much can we save for big purchases? Because we no longer receive a tax deduction for contributions to our IRA accounts (yay, marriage tax penalty), our goal was to contribute as much as possible to our 401(k) accounts (IRS limit is $17,500 per person for 2014). We also wanted to set enough money aside to be able to afford a two week vacation to London and Paris at the end of the year.
  5. Lastly, we allocated a certain amount of money to other expenses (i.e. entertainment, date nights, eating out, gym membership, clothes, other non-necessities). Dividing up our disposable income between saving and spending meant we could work on our long-term financial goals (having enough for retirement) without feeling like paupers.

Overall, we tried to prioritize non-necessities that were more important to us, and focus on our goal of saving for our London/Paris trip. I’d rather be able to pay for a gym membership than buy Starbucks every day. I’d rather be able to eat at one nice restaurant a month than a medium-quality restaurant each week. I’d rather spend less on new clothes and save more towards London and Paris. That’s not to say that I never bought Starbucks, only that I made sure I really wanted that latte before I ordered it.

Everything in moderation, my friends.

So how has that budget worked out for us so far? Well, we’ll both come close to maxing out contributions to our 401(k) accounts, we have 6 months’ of living expenses in liquid savings in case of an emergency, and we were able to afford our trip to London and Paris, which we took a month ago. But most importantly, after 9 months of marriage, we have yet to have a fight about money, which leaves us plenty of time to fight about other things, like whose turn it is to unload the dishwasher 🙂

One last note…I’m certainly not an expert in marriage or personal finance, so this is not meant to be interpreted as explicit advice. This budget process worked for us, but that’s not to say that it will work for everyone. 

Do you have a budget? What are your tips for staying on track? Or are you more of a “spender”?

The prodigal returns

This is my first time logging into WordPress in 115 days. This is my first new post in over 7 months. It’s weird to be back, and it took a lot of self-persuasion to open up this blog, rather than starting from a totally new place.

I don’t have any good excuses to explain my absence. Mostly, it was a lot of little things (isn’t it always?). I was working late, and after spending 10+ hours in front of a computer, the last thing I wanted to do was open up another computer at home, even if it was to do something I enjoyed. I felt guilty coming home late and spending time at my laptop, rather than with my new husband. I also had a sense of resignation, that because I hadn’t posted in a week, then two weeks, then three weeks, I was a failure at this whole blogging thing, so might as well ignore it. It seemed easier to just let it lapse into oblivion.

But then I realized how much I missed blogging. I missed writing, I missed the sense of community, I missed being inspired from all the other writers. When I started drafting posts in my head while doing the dishes, I realized I needed to come back. And try again. Second chances are what life’s all about, right?

I know I have a lot of catching up to do. Fortunately, my last day of work will be December 12 (more details on that to come), so I’ll have a lot of extra time to spend on the computer 😉