It’s About That Time Again..

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Well, here we are, it’s almost time for high school graduation, and you know what that means? A lot of graduates moving onto college and moving into their dorms over the summer months. With the help of my mother, who taught me how to save, we started collecting items for my dorm halfway through my senior year in high school – it’s a lot more budget conscious to keep your eye out for savings on non-perishable food items and things like sheets for your dorm bed, towels, and cleaning products throughout the year rather than trying to collect everything up all at once the week before you’re ready to move. Now, my baby cousin is starting college in the fall, and we have taught her well – passing down our saving tips to her. Good luck to all of the seniors in high school who are moving onto college and making a new home in your college dorm. Here’s to being budget conscious!

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Love Is In The Air

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Well, the flowers are blooming and the weather is getting warmer…and now that you’re in your twenties, you know what that means. It’s wedding season. I can’t seem to go a day anymore without logging onto Facebook or Instagram and seeing someone showing off their engagement ring.

My best friend is getting married next summer and was gracious enough to ask me to be her maid of honor. I was elated, so excited to be asked to be such a special part of her special day. Then, I started thinking, “Dress, shoes, jewelry, hair, makeup, gifts, bridal shower..I better start saving money.” Then, I was like, “Well, I can find a way to save money and follow a budget for all of this, too, just like I do for everything else in my life.”

If you are lucky enough to be asked to be part of someone’s special day, there’s a lot you can do to save a few dollars here and there – be smart with your money and still enjoy a beautiful day to celebrate the bride and groom.

I went to a beautiful wedding this past December for my cousin Michael and his wife Leigha. Everything was classy and beautiful, and I found out later that they did everything budget consciously .

I talked to an inside source, to see how to be budget conscious for a wedding – the Groom’s sister and one of the bridesmaids in the wedding, Kelly Moore. She worked hard to help plan a beautiful bridal shower, fun bachelorette party, and helped make favors and decor for the wedding day festivities.

Q: How much did you spend, collectively, for your dress, shoes, and accessories for the wedding?

A: I probably spent around $150 on everything altogether.

According to Mint.Com, the average cost of being a bridesmaid is $1, 695wow! Kelly and I are both lucky enough to be in weddings with budget conscious brides, because so far, my best friend has picked out our bridesmaids’ dresses, and they’re $150, and our shoes were only about $15! So good, so far.

Q: What all was handmade for the wedding?

A: Many things were borrowed and handmade for the wedding. The cookie bar at the wedding had cookies that were all baked by friends and family. The centerpieces were made by Leigha with help. The wood center blocks were all cut by Harry, Leigha’s step-father. All of the rest of the decorations were borrowed from others or slowly collected by the wedding party and family. We had a woman from church,Terry, who was a great help in everything! She hand made all the silk flowers for the girls bouquets and the boys boutonnieres, bought all of the decorations for the tree and around the fireplace, free of charge – she said it was a wedding present.

It’s okay to ask for help and accept help when offered when planning a wedding or taking part in planning a wedding. How great was it that Terry helped so much with decorations for the wedding as a wedding present? I don’t think the centerpieces could have been more beautiful if a professional made them. My best friend plans on making a lot of decorations for her wedding, as well, and the bridesmaids and I are planning on making the decor for the wedding shower by ourselves or borrowing from friends who have already  had weddings and still have their supplies stashed away.

In 2012, according to an article by MSN Money, the average cost of floral centerpieces was around $2,000. By making centerpieces yourself, according to WeddingWire.com, you should be able to decorate each table for under $20, cutting your decor costs in half.

Q: Do you think a lot of money was saved by having so many handmade elements?

A: Leigha definitely saved a lot of money by doing so many things handmade. I also forgot that all of the invitations were handmade, too, by Kevin and Erica (brother-in-law and sister of the groom), for the bridal shower and the wedding.

On CostOfWedding.net, it says that invitations usually cost a total of $659 for a wedding. If you’re lucky enough to be a crafty person or have a crafty person in your family and know how to work a computer, you can make elegant invitations for your wedding at a fraction of the cost.

Q: What sites or stores do you recommend for a DIY bride or bridesmaid?

A: As for what stores, that’s tricky. You kind of have to be smart and shop around at a bunch of different places!

If you watch for sales, like you would when you’re shopping for groceries or clothing, then you will make out much better in the end. Watch for sales at the end of seasons to collect different pieces for your wedding. Sign up for email alerts to receive coupons from stores like Michael’s and A.C. Moore.

Q: When you get married someday, will you follow suit to save money?

A: For my wedding I will do many things as Leigha and Mike had. The biggest thing that I support doing yourself is invitations! It’s fun to do and makes everything more personal.

Rather than having all of your decor look run of the mill, give it your own touch and personality. It will make for better memories in the long run when you pull out pictures to show your kids someday and can say, “your grandmother helped me make that beautiful flower arrangement.” It will also be better for your wallet.

Q: Any other tips when trying to save a few dollars as a member of a wedding part?

A: Although planning for a wedding is very crazy and hectic, take all the help that people offer. It may be annoying and hard to organize with different people from everywhere giving their two cents, but in the end it’s very true that many hands make a light load. So go ahead and let old Aunt Marg bake a dozen chocolate crazies and knit your guarder! (Okay maybe don’t get a knitted guarder hehe).

So there you have it. If you’re going to be part of a wedding or planning your own wedding and want to be budget conscious, follow a few simple rules.

1: Accept all of the help that is offered. In the end, you’ll appreciate it, even if it’s a little crazy initially.

2: You can do it yourself. Believe in yourself and your inner-crafter. If you think you can make it yourself, you probably can.

3: Borrow. If you have friends or family members who have recently gotten married, and they made a lot of their decorations themselves, chances are they have some vases and silk flowers to lend you for your special day.

And as far as being a bridesmaid or another member of the wedding party, be supportive, but don’t be afraid to say, “Hey, lets look for a dress that’s a little more affordable for everyone,” or, “We don’t need the $100 chocolate fountain at the bridal shower, we will be just fine with a fruit tray and some chocolates.”

Happy Planning!

And There’s the Problem..

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Have you ever felt this way in class? I know I have, more than once. I think that’s half of our problem – and by our, I mean college kids. We learn algebra and trig, but they don’t teach us how to balance a checkbook or budget, so we are forced to learn on our own. That’s why I’m here, to help!

A Night In

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Okay, as young twenty-somethings, you may have the urge to go out and party on the weekends – which isn’t cheap. You figure, you spend gas money to drive to the clubs or taxi fair, a cover charge depending on where you go, you drink like a fish all night (at probably $5 a pop for drinkson a good night), and if you’re anything like me, you want some food at some point during the night. So…how many of us can actually afford to do this on a regular basis? Not me. I cannot bring myself to drop close to $100 on a night out just to feel blah and drained the next day.

Here’s an alternative. Spend the night in for once – I know, crazy talk. You don’t need to go out and drop a pretty penny just to have some fun and unwind. A lazy night in, in sweatpants and a hoodie, curled up on the couch with a coffee table full of yummy snacks, a cold beer, and a great movie playing on the TV sounds good to me. 

Let’s start with what to wear for your relaxing night in – I love sweatpants. They’re comfy and cozy and they don’t restrict my body when I’m laying in various positions on the couch while I try to get comfy. If you don’t feel like sporting sweatpants, at least consider a nice, fluffy blanket for your own comfort, because it makes the night more enjoyable.

Snacks, snacks, and more snacks, please. It’s okay to snack to your heart’s content sometimes. Don’t go overboard though – remember, we are being budget conscious. What’s a movie without popcorn? Nothing, if you ask me. You can pick up a box of popcorn for somewhere around $3, I never pay much for it. Another great food item to have for your night in is pizza, and you don’t have to order out. Yes, I can see where people are skeptical of frozen pizzasome of it does taste like cardboard – but, I’ve tried Digiorno, and it is very yummy. The best part? You can pick up a Digiorno Pizza for around $5. Pizza and popcorn, and now we need something sweet to balance them. I’m thinking Sour Patch Watermelon gummy candies or Swedish Fish – you can pick up either one for $1 at most grocery stores. There you go, now you have all the snacks you need for the night for about $10so good, so far.

Now for drinks – beer, soda, juice, or whatever your heart desires. When I have pizza and sit down to watch a good movie, I like to crack open a cold beer (my favorite is Bud Light). If you buy a six pack of beer, you usually spend around $7, give or take depending on what kind you like. If you get a two liter of soda instead, you’re only going to be looking at $2 max. So, with food and drinks, you’re still under $20.

Time to pick the entertainment. Should you go with a new release that won a bunch of awards this past award season, or should you stick with a favorite that you’ve watched at least a dozen times now? It’s all about preference. If you think Dallas Buyers Club looks good, go for it. You love Jennifer Lawrence, so you’re leaning towards American Hustle – great choice. However, I’m a softie for flicks that are a little older. My favorites you ask? Mean Girls, Easy A, or She’s the Man.

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Okay, if you’re in your twenties and you haven’t seen Mean Girls before, then you’ve been living under a rock. I’ve seen it at least 20 times at this point – it never gets old. Mean Girls scored 83% on Rotten Tomatoes – the average rating was a 9/10. It’s Lindsay Lohan at her finest – before she got into the drugs and went crazy. It’s full of quotes that will remain in your brain for eternity and lots of ‘oh my god’ moments. This movie is so fetch.

You can rent Mean Girls on Amazon or Google Play for $2.99. If you’re a Netflix subscriber, you’re in luck, because they just added Mean Girls back to their lineup.

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If you like Mean Girls, you should also check out Just My Luck and Freaky Friday – two other movies that Lindsay Lohan was very entertaining in.

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Oh, Emma Stone, how I love you. Easy A is another movie that I just can’t get enough of. Is it the hilarious ways of Emma Stone, or the points in the movie where you can say, “wow, yes, that’s totally how high school is”? It’s just everything. The cast is fabulous – including favorites from my teen years like Penn Badgley, Amanda Bynes, and Aly Michalka. Easy A got an 85% on Rotten Tomatoes.

You can rent Easy A on Amazon or Google Play for $2.99 – I was lucky enough to buy it on special from Google Play for $4.99 back in December, because it’s worth watching again and again.

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Did I mention Stanley Tucci is in it? That takes it up another ten points. If you enjoy Easy A, then you should also check out Zombieland and House Bunny, because Emma Stone is just infectious – she’s awesome.

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She’s The Man came out when Amanda Bynes was still sane and at the peak of her acting career – you know, before the car accidents and tweets about Drake. There’s still hope she will go back into acting and bang out a few more great movies. Anyway, She’s The Man will keep you laughing with all the hilarious antics of Amanda’s character – Oh, and did I mention there’s a young Channing Tatum in it? He gets sweaty and takes his shirt off. Surprisingly, She’s The Man only scored a mere 43% on Rotten Tomatoes, but don’t let that discourage you.

Unfortunately, Amazon only offer She’s The Man for purchase, not rental – luckily though, it’s only $9.99. You can rent it through Google Play for $2.99.

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I have always been an Amanda Bynes fan, ever since her Nickelodeon days. If you like She’s The Man, I recommend What A Girl Wants or Hairspray (especially Hairspray, because you’ve gotta love a good, catchy musical).

Alright, so lets recap the must-haves for your night in. You’ve got your comfy clothes or blanket, your array of yummy snacks, and most importantly, your awesome choice of a movie, or two. And the best part? You can enjoy a night in for no more than $30.

Be right back, I’m going to go watch She’s The Man now!