Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wedding Dress Update

Tuesday afternoon, my fiance and I meet up with a couple in the parking lot of the public library, who had advertised their wedding dress on Craig's list. I am happy to say, that we liked the wedding dress very much. The dress, which was bought a few months ago by the other couple (for their June 2009 wedding) for $600 was sold to us for only $100.

My fiance absolutely loves the dress. Now that we have the dress, we will have to find a seamstress to make the necessary alterations to shorten it, so that it will fit her.

For now, it is hanging in the closet, but for now we are one step closer and we paid cash for that item.

As for my tux, that will be another post, as I don't need to buy the whole suit.

go ahead share your thoughts with me now, my ears are open. I'm always eager to hear what you think.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Should You Be Debt Free Before Getting Married?

Since, I announced my engagement there has been one or two people commenting anonymously that my fiance and I should become completely debt free before walking down the aisle. However, is that what most readers feel to? More importantly, what do the financial experts think?

I started my research, with a search of Google. During that search I found the following article on the LA Times website.

To hear Summer Brown and Briana Biddle talk about it, their upcoming wedding and civil commitment will be a fairy tale, complete with happily ever after.

But fairy tales can turn dark pretty quickly, and a look at the couple's finances shows that the poisoned apple in this story could be money.

Let's start with the wedding: Brown has a $986 wedding dress and a $2,600 engagement ring, both bought on credit. Then there are older debts: a $20,000 time share on which Biddle is not making payments and $17,000 in student loans for Brown, among others.

To the rescue rides financial planner Alfred McIntosh, who has agreed to look at the couple's finances as part of The Times' Money Makeover series.

Before the wedding, couple need to cut debts and stop overspending -- LA Times

As the article correctly pointed out latter in the article, domestic partnerships between two people of the same sex is not legally considered to be a marriage in California, but this couple would assume many of the same risks that married couples run, such as the higher earner potentially becoming responsible for spousal support of the other.

Now to the real issue. The debt going into marriage. This particular couple has a combined income of $79,000. Besides the money borrowed for the wedding items mentioned above there is more debt that was revealed to the financial counselor.

Brown has saved $2,200 in a retirement account, and they have $57 in their joint savings account. But their balance sheet is dominated by debt.

Biddle carries about $11,250 in debt on two credit cards, at interest rates of 25% and 30%, and $553 in a line of credit associated with her checking account. Brown carries about $1,450 on one card at a 7.23% interest rate.

They're racking up 45.2% interest on the credit line they took out to buy the engagement ring because they stopped making payments and the rate jumped. And they owe $3,000 on two more credit cards that they hold together.

Brown also has $17,000 in student loans at 2.48% and a $21,000 car loan at 4.99%.

It was during the discussion of debt that the meeting with the financial planner became tense. With a hollow look on her face, Biddle confessed that she hadn't been completely straightforward about her debts and spending.

Brown became upset.

"I'm bitter now," Brown said, "because I've done everything I was supposed to do financially and she didn't."

McIntosh slipped into his therapist role.

"Since you don't like letting her down," he told Biddle, "and you want to do better at this, you have one choice: to get better at this."

All that debt -- and its continued accumulation -- is the most pressing problem and the first thing the pair need to address, McIntosh said. "Stop using those cards," he told them.
I agree 100%, it is a problem that the pair must address and address now. However, does that mean that you have to be totally debt free before entering into the bonds of marriage?
McIntosh told them to pay for their wedding with money earned outside of their regular salaries. Brown believes she can bring in about $1,000 a month by throwing parties to sell products out of her home. Biddle predicts she can bring in $1,300 extra a month by doing freelance interpreting for the deaf.

"You should get married only at the time that you can pay for your wedding without taking out any more debt," he said. "This is making a dream come true."

Again, I agree totally with this financial counselor, but what to do with debt accumulated before marriage?

Since the LA Times article really didn't answer this question, I turn to another page. This time I land on a document from Utah State University.
Debt can be addressed prior to getting married or after you get married, but either way it must be addressed. But remember that the less debt you have going into marriage, the greater your chances for success and happiness in marriage (Schramm & Lee, 2003). So consider paying off your debt before tying the knot. Here’s how one person did it.

I think, we finally have an answer. A couple should reduce as much debt as possible. Yes being totally debt free is best, but is not the answer. The most important thing is that the entire wedding (and honeymoon) needs to be paid in cash. The other thing is that e couple should set down together and discuss their finances, being totally open about what debt they are bringing into this relationship. To quote one of the best known financial gurus, Dave Ramsey, "plan your work, work your plan." To help you (and Pat and I) with this USU has included a worksheet in the linked pdf file to print off so you can list all of the debts that you would be bring into the marriage. In so doing you can have complete knowledge of each others debts. Which is very important, because the last thing you want is to accumulate more debt. Rather, you and your new spouse want to build wealth so that you can fulfill your dreams together.

Steve Bayer, the local representative (in Topeka, KS) for Crown Financial Ministries, had this to say, "I saw a survey that said 86% of divorces listed finances as the #1 or 2 reason for that divorce...hmmm. In this case Kevin you describe that they are continuing not only to apparently ignore their debt but they are adding more to it based on the dollars being spent on the planned wedding.

God's Word has 2,350 verses in the bible on money and possessions...that's a lot! It must be important based on the volume contained there!

So, do they value God's opinion? See Joshua 1:8, Prov 11:28, Prv 28:25, Lk 16:2, 11-13
Let's not forget Luke 16:10 "He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much ..."
By the way Psalm 37:21 is a pretty direct verse about not paying ones debt."

go ahead share your thoughts with me now, my ears are open. I'm always eager to hear what you think.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Walnut Pumpkin Pie

A slightly different pumpkin pie as it has a crumb topping. Prep time does not include making a homemade pie crust.



* 1 (9 inch) unbaked pie shells


* 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin

* 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk)
* 1 egg
* 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
* 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
* 1/2 teaspoon salt


* 1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
* 2 tablespoons unsifted flour
* 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
* 2 tablespoons butter, cold
* 3/4 cup walnuts, chopped


1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
2. In large mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, milk, egg, 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt; mix well. Pour into 9-inch, unbaked pie crust.
3. Bake 15 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, in small bowl, combine sugar, flour and remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon; using a pastry blender, cut in butter (as you would for biscuits) until crumbly. Stir in walnuts.
5. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.
6. Sprinkle walnut mixture evenly over pie.
7. Bake 40 minutes or until knife inserted 1 inch from edge comes out clean.
8. Cool. Garnish as desired.
9. Refrigerate leftovers.

go ahead share your thoughts with me now, my ears are open. I'm always eager to hear what you think.

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Sweet Potato Pie With Walnut Crunch Topping

This pie is so good, I had to share it.

1 9″ unbaked pie crust
2 16 oz. cans sweet potatoes, drained
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
2 T butter or margarine
2 T lemon juice
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Walnut crunch topping:

2 T butter or margarine
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup packed brown sugar

In large bowl with potato masher, mix sweet potatoes with the remaining pie ingredients until smooth; spoon mixture into pie crust.

Bake 45 minutes at 400°F or until knife inserted comes out clean. Remove to wire rack to cool.

Prepare walnut topping; In pan over low heat, melt butter. Remove from heat, stir in walnuts and brown sugar.

Preheat broiler; spoon walnut crunch topping evenly over pie. Broil for 2 minutes. Cool on rack.
Share and Enjoy

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Wedding Dress

My fiance and I are committed to paying cash for our entire wedding. I have already mentioned looking at the possibility of putting a tux on layaway to make this happen. Yesterday, she and I went and looked wedding dresses at the Salvation Army Thrift Shop. One of the three was beautiful and would really need to altered a lot to fit her (as any dress we looked at would). The problem is the store was selling any one of the dresses for $200. Even the crummiest one that looks like it has a stain on it. On the other hand a new dress at David's Bridal start at $249. Would buying a used one for almost the same price as a new one, really be economical? Besides, the alterations for her should be included, if we went the new route. Still though, there might be someplace to find a used one much cheaper then those at the Salvation Army Thrift Shop.

go ahead share your thoughts with me now, my ears are open. I'm always eager to hear what you think.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bathroom Repairs

For some time, my bathroom has needed a bunch of repairs. Keeping to my goal of paying for cash (including my wedding), I went to Lowe's to look for a new toilet last Wednesday. My fiance and I found one that was clearance for $46, however when we got to the register with the toilet, lid and wax ring, the toilet rang up for $29. Not only that the lid rang up as on sale for $1.88 off to. So over all, I got the entire toilet set for less then the marked toilet price on the shelf (including tax).

I also had a tub faucet that no longer diverted the water to the shower head like it was suppose to. So today, I went out and bought a replacement faucet for $16, while there I also bought the two additional pieces to install on the shower arm, so that a hand-held could be used by the fiance. Preparing for when she actually moves into this house. All in all I spent an additional $57 cash today to get the bathroom closer to completion. I still need to paint, tile and put in new vinyl flooring. Thankfully the bathroom is getting closer to being done. All with cash.

go ahead share your thoughts with me now, my ears are open. I'm always eager to hear what you think.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

More Wedding Thoughts - Tux and Dress

The other day, my fiance and I went to Mens Warehouse to look at
Tuxedos. We actually found one that was only $199. However, that was just for the suit. The shirt and vest are extra. Since we had decided red, black and white would be the wedding colors, we briefly looked at the ties, which are also extra, but decided since we both liked a full tie rather then a bow tie, that we really didn't need a tie. Especially, since I already own a solid red tie. The nice thing is they do offer a layaway option. So, Tuesday, after I pay my regular bills, I think I may go back out and start the layaway process. Which is 20% down now, and the rest paid off in the next 60 days. That will also give me something to those occasional formal dinners that I get invitations to.

As for the wedding dress, we are not sure where or what to do there. We heard about a giveaway in Florida for brides like her that are unemployed. However, neither of us live in Florida or anywhere close. So that doesn't seem to be an option. Though, it would be nice, that option seems to be only a pipe dream.

Currently though, we have $1.44 saved up for the wedding and honeymoon. Our plans are for a simple wedding, without anything to extravagant. In fact, the planned honeymoon destination, would cost more then the planed wedding.

Current Weddings Savings: $1.44
go ahead share your thoughts with me now, my ears are open. I'm always eager to hear what you think.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Lost Your Job? Wait 11 Weeks For a Check

State and federal unemployment systems are facing rock-bottom funding, forcing states to distribute benefit checks with money they do not have. According to the New York Times, sixteen states are relying on borrowed money to fund their unemployment programs. That number is expected to double by the end of the year.

The unemployment system also is failing to comply with federal standards. Thirty-eight states have failed to make jobless benefits decisions by the federal deadline.
- New York Daily News

I first became aware of how serious of a problem our unemployment system was having, when my fiance became unemployed about two days, before we got engaged. When she called to get her benifits started, she was told that they were 11-weeks behind.

Eleven weeks? Almost 3 months, how is a person to survive that long with no resources of any kind? Obviously, her best bet is to find a job before her unemployment even begins. Still though, that is way to long to make the unemployed wait.

Sure, once the unemployment starts, there is 26-weeks of payments, but what good is that if you are homeless by the time the checks start.

Of course there is another angle to look at this to. One which, Dave Ramsey preaches relentlessly. That is having an emergency fund of 3-6 months saved up. If she had that savings, she would have that to fall on while she waits on the unemployment office and looks for the new job. Unfortunately she finds herself in the same boat as millions of others, with no savings, due in large part because of their spend now, pay later lifestyles that have left them deeply in debt.

go ahead share your thoughts with me now, my ears are open. I'm always eager to hear what you think.

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Friday, October 9, 2009

Economic Crash

I received my quarterly statement from TransAmerica yesterday. It shows that I have not fully recovered from the crash yet, in that fund. The fund, which I have not added any additional funds to since, I rolled over my 401k, at one point $4,761.93, but as of 9/30/2009 it was only $3817.19, which is up from the last quarterly statement by $512.48. Which is good, but still a long way from where it should be.

go ahead share your thoughts with me now, my ears are open. I'm always eager to hear what you think.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Royal Courtship: How We Meet & More

Cheryl commented on my engagement announcement, asking,
Where did you meet her?
What does she do?
How long were you dating?
How about a picture?
Inquiring minds want to know!
So I guess, I should tell the story of our "Royal Courtship."

Where did we meet?

As many of you know I am the assistant manager in a local grocery store. I had seen this cute lady several times and on numerous occasions had talked with her about many things. Fast forward to Labor Day weekend 2008. She came in to shop like every other weekend, and she needed buns on the top shelf. She seen me and told me, "I need some buns up there on the top shelf." For some reason, I didn't just grab them for her. Instead, I mad a funny comment, that became the first of a number of weekly flirts back and forth. I asked her if she wanted me to lift her up, so she could reach them. Smiling (really big) she just looks up at me and says, "noooooo."

Fast forward again, it was now June of this year. I had won tickets to the movie, Land of the Lost. I decided to heck with, my self-imposed order of not asking customers out and was going to go for it. Wouldn't you, that was the day that she came in to shop and we totally missed each other. Neither of us seen the other. So when she got back home, she called the store and asked for me. Asking me, if I wanted her number or not. Since then we have been together like glue.

I guess that answered several of the other questions that Cheryl asked. As for what she does. She is currently unemployed and is looking for a new job. We both hope that it will be a short process. A picture will be forthcoming, in the near future. As for the honeymoon plans, my thoughts is going to New York (her 1st trip, my 2nd) but I still have to get her thoughts about that.

Wedding Plans

We have not set a wedding date, but have began to actively save every penny we can to pay for the wedding. From the from the Tux and dress, to the small wedding itself, to the reception and caterer. In fact just like Dollars For a Wedding and Wedding on a Penny, we have set up a paypal account for those who wish to contribute a few pennies (or dollars) to the wedding savings.

Current Weddings Savings: $0

  • Julie Cook has volunteered her Photography services as her wedding present to us.

  • ---
    go ahead share your thoughts with me now, my ears are open. I'm always eager to hear what you think.

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    Monday, October 5, 2009

    Royal Engagement

    This past Saturday was the big day. The day I asked my girlfriend to marry me. Here is how it went down.

    After work, I slipped out of the work clothes and quickly went to her place (in my Jeans & t-shirt) to pick her up for the big night. We started by having dinner at Speck's Bar and Grill, a Topeka landmark for many years. After dinner, we headed to the Topeka Roadrunners Hockey game. Half way through the third period, during what they call the media time-out (when the radio station broadcasting the game goes to commercial break), the announcer came over under the guise that I was going to be a contestant on their trivia contest. When the appointed time came, the announcer announced that it was time for Roadrunner Trivia.

    "We don't have a question though," he said, "but we think Kevin might." Handing me me mic i got down on one knee as best as I could and asked Pat, if she would marry me. As I opened the box containing the ring. (The question was also displayed on the message board, which most of the crowd could see, though it wasn't visable to our section).

    Her reaction was one of surprise and shock. After, what seemed like an eternity, the announcer took the mic back and announced that she was in a little bit of shock. Then asked her if we had an answer. At which point she replied into the microphone a strong and happy, Yes."

    After which several fans, who we didn't know came up and congratulated us. In addition, her best friend happened to be in the stands and came over to hug and congratulate us both.

    Even as we left, with the Runners having won 8-2, people were still congratulating us. It was most certainly the happiest day of my life. I look forward to introducing the future Princess of Thrift in the near future.

    go ahead share your thoughts with me now, my ears are open. I'm always eager to hear what you think.

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    Friday, October 2, 2009

    Get An Easy 150 Free American Airlines Miles

    Hey, I just found this link to get an easy 150 American (AA) frequent flier miles. Do use American Airlines? You can get 150 free frequent flier miles from American Airlines just by watching a two-minute video for Bose headphones.

    This is great way to reset the expiration date of miles if you don’t fly frequently. Currently, AA miles expire after 18 months of non-activity. So any way you can create activity is great, because it will extend the life of those miles. Not to mention, you will be that much closer to a free flight, by building your mileage balance (for free this time).

    go ahead share your thoughts with me now, my ears are open. I'm always eager to hear what you think.

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