Archive: Aug 2010

August, not April, is the cruelest month

This originally appeared at ING’s blog.

The prompt: We asked our Customer Bloggers to share how often they think about money and saving. Alicia reflects on the August heat and its slow drain on her savings.

How often do you think about money and saving? Do you ever escape it, or is it always lodged in your subconscious?

August is always the worst. Not only is it the hottest month of the year. I’m seriously sitting here hoping for a heat index of less than 105 degrees so I can go for an evening run tonight.

It’s also the worst bill month. It’s the one regular time of year I transfer money from savings into checking as the deluge of needs knocks our increasingly less adequate income mercilessly down.

August means:

  • $800: The start of school, otherwise known as the 29% of my husband’s tuition and fees not covered by his assistantship.
  • $1100: The “it seems inexpensive until you’re writing a lump sum check for it” student insurance
  • $300: Car insurance
  • $790: Rent, utilities, cell, and internet

To be brief: August is really a thirsty vampire fang deep in my finances. Even more so this year, with involuntary increases to the retirement plan (20 bucks a paycheck) and yet another increase to the parking decals for campus ($190).

I start dreading August in April for all the known and unknown bills waiting for me. I think about it all summer. I decline trips because I have to save for August. I check my account balances and think, will we be ready for August? I don’t even count the money in my savings for August as money. August expenses not including gas, food, or entertainment are coming close to exceeding our take home pay.

Despite all my good work, planning and saving and being able to pay all we need to pay in August, I always feel really terrible about money from our income to our savings. I find myself looking at want ads, wondering how much longer my husband’s PhD can really take. I become very superstitious, knocking on wood, tossing salt, carrying around pictures of my rabbit’s feet, hoping that nothing will go wrong with the cars and that there are no emergency surgeries, like when my husband’s appendix became very angry in 2007.

I curse that we will never be able to have children living like this, well not if we want to clothed, eating, or alive. Those silly details.

Oh August, you’re definitely the cruelest month, despite what T.S. Eliot thinks. My tomatoes are dying. The chickens think it’s much too hot to do anything other than sit in the shade under the coop. And me, the supersaver I am, just wants to drink lemonade in the shade and wait for September.

Dancing, debt free and in love

This blog originally appeared at ING’s


aliciacupcakecloseupWalking down the aisle doesn’t have to be a drain on your bank account. There’s no reason to dip into the red, unless we’re talking about a fab pair of kitten heels that match the sash around your waist. Despite what every bridal magazine, website, and movie tells you, having an awesome wedding has very little to do with how much money you spend.

I can’t say, like many little girls, that I dreamed of my special day in a big white dress. Though I do love bridal magazines for the style, beauty, and glamour, I have a rule that can only be broken for a house and, in dire circumstances, a car.

The Rule: Never buy anything you cannot pay for in cash.

Never. Anything. Not even the gorgeous dress I had seen in a magazine and despite one of my bridesmaids cooing, “Ooh Alicia, this is the one day it’s okay to splurge,” I put it back on the rack and kept shopping.

While I’m not aiming to convince you to give up your dreams, here are some highlights of my debt-free dream wedding:

alicia-weddingThe Dress: $99

Despite shopping in Europe during the summer, I purchased my dress from a small local store. I took it off a mannequin. It fit me and my budget perfectly, and I was sold. Some people call that fate.

The Venue: $300

Ocean Springs Community Center is a work of art, literally. Artist Walter Anderson painted a giant mural on the walls. Because this work of art is worth millions, you’re not allowed to hang anything. So besides some poinsettias on the stage, we didn’t have to spend money decorating, nor did we have to rent tables and chairs as they were included with the venue rental. We were also not bound to use a caterer, even for the alcohol, so my in-laws gave us a glorious present of supplying alcohol for the wedding via a store in town.

The Cakes: Homeade and delicious

The night before the wedding I held a cupcake decorating party. My bridesmaids and I had baked several batches of cupcakes, and then we gathered together with family to decorate them. This ended up being a wonderful way for the children to be included in the wedding preparation. Everyone got a few cupcakes to decorate however they wished, and we were done in less than an hour. As a wedding present to us, my parents bought the cakes that sat on top of the platters as well as the platters themselves.

aliciabulkflowersThe Flowers: $90

I ordered the flowers online in bulk. They were delivered the day before the wedding. I bought the ribbons, pins, floral wire, and floral tape at a craft store. In the sleepy haze following my bachelorette party at the Hard Rock Casino the night before, I easy made almost all of the bouquets myself with help from my maid of honor.

I won’t say we made compromises because we had way too much fun for the negativity “compromise” implies. We simply made choices that were bank account friendly—and also created one of the most fun and meaningful nights of our lives.

To the beat of an iPod, we danced all night long. And a whopping two and a half years later, we’re still dancing, debt free and in love.

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