Graduated Learning: Life after College

I got my degree, I got a job…now what?

Major life event update August 25, 2013

Filed under: General Blogging,Personal Finance — Stephanie @ 2:39 pm
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I haven’t posted in a while.  But I’m sure you’re used to that by now.

I wasn’t quite sure how to tell you guys this exciting news:

This happened:

Engaged!

Yep, we’re engaged!  Very happy 🙂

You may have already heard through twitter.  Or if you’re a friend in real life.  I guess it’s been about a month since we got engaged.  Sorry it took me so long to tell you guys!

Yes, I’ve started planning.  And trying to keep costs down!  I know how quickly wedding expenses can build up, so I’ll try to be careful!  We’ve already got a few things figured out (ceremony location, reception location, wedding date), but there’s plenty of things we still need to deal with (guest list? flowers? music? honeymoon?)

I know there will be some up and downs.  And lots of opinions.  But come our wedding day, it’s going to be AWESOME.

The one book keeping me sane right now is A Practical Wedding, written by Meg Keene, the woman behind apractialwedding.com.  I first heard about the book/website from Revanche (A Gai Shan Life)  awhile back.  And so right after I got engaged, I bought myself a copy of the book.  And apparently the book is so good that my good friend Sarah (of Sarah and Michael fame) also ordered me a copy! (I thanked her for it and returned the extra copy)  She said it really helped keep things in perspective for her.

So, I’ll probably be blogging a bit about my wedding planning.  And my attempts to keep costs under control without making things look cheap or tacky!

What are your favorite wedding planning books/blogs/websites?  What advice did you hear a lot?  And what advice did you actually take?

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How much would you spend on an engagement ring? April 5, 2011

Filed under: Personal Finance — Stephanie @ 11:01 pm
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The whole discussion about engagement rings started last night, when I saw this post on Savvy Sugar (now known as PopSugar Smart Living)  about the average cost of an engagement ring for 2010.  Their number?  $5,392.  This comes from a big list of average wedding expenses compiled by theknot.com and WeddingChannel.com.  I feel like that list could fuel a few more posts on its own!  We could touch on the individual costs mentioned, or even how they compiled and analyzed the data.  Either way, I was blown away.  You know I’m not keen on the idea of spending a lot on a wedding.  To be honest, I have no good concept of how much engagement rings cost.  But that number seemed really high.

So, I shared that article on Google Reader, which also means it showed up in my Google Buzz.   And then so many friends started commenting.  Some friends thought the number looked about right, some too high, some too low.  We’d heard the rule of thumb being 1 month’s salary, 3 months’ salary, or Michael Scott’s confused 3 years in “The Office”.

There was a discussion about not wanting “blood diamonds”, and one friend suggested conflict-free diamonds that he bought for his fiancée through Brilliant Earth.

The discussion was among single, coupled/dating, engaged, and married people.  We didn’t come to one solid conclusion on what you should spend.  Rather, we seemed to agree that it is up to the individual on what to spend.  Some would rather spend the money on a honeymoon or a house.  A nice ring is important to some people.

It really was quite the discussion.  I think that’s the longest discussion I’ve seen among my friends on Buzz.  Definitely the longest non-politics discussion!

So, how much would you spend (or did you spend)?  Do you think an expensive ring is an important part of the wedding and/or the marriage?  Would you skip the diamond all together and opt for a nontraditional engagement ring?

 

Weddings are expensive for everyone March 20, 2011

Filed under: Personal Finance — Stephanie @ 11:30 pm
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First:  No, I am not engaged.  Just wanted to calm everyone down.

Whenever I read a personal finance book/blog/website, I am warned that I better save up for my wedding.  I’m quoted figures like $20k, or more, for even a small wedding.  I’ve thought, “Well, I love my friends and family and everything, but $20k for one day?  Are you serious?”  Even though I’m not planning a wedding or anything, I’ve already made a few ( financial) decisions about if/when I get married.

My dress will NOT cost thousands of dollars. I’ve seen episodes of Say Yes to the Dress (I admit, I watch it from time to time!) where the girls have a price goal of $5k, or more, or sometimes the father announces “Price is no object, I just want my little girl to be happy”.  At which point I yell at the TV.  I want to look good, but I’m pretty sure I can look pretty good without spending a fortune.  Plus, I’d only wear the dress one day.  And knowing my luck, I’d probably spill something down the front of it.

My cake will be amazing. I don’t need it super fancy.  I need it super tasty.  I also don’t need it in the shape of something ridiculous and difficult to make.  I might even go with cupcakes.  Haven’t really thought farther than “delicious cake”.

Other than that, haven’t really given much thought to what I’d want for my wedding.  So, we’ll just cross that bridge when we get to it.

But my other realization about weddings?  They’re not just expensive for the Bride and Groom (or their parents, depending on the situation).  They’re also pretty expensive for the guests.

I’m planning on attending two weddings this year.  I’m glad to be going, because I love the couples that are getting married, and it will be great to be there on their big day, and share it with them and a lot of other friends.  But these are the first weddings I’ve been invited to that require travel.  All other weddings that I’ve been to (with the exception of my older sister’s) have been local.  A GPS-guided drive to a town outside of Boston.  No flights.  No hotel stays.  Just a drive to a beautiful wedding.

So, I’m realizing that, besides saving up for my wedding, I need to save up money for my friends’ weddings.  Airfare isn’t cheap.  Round trips tickets could be upwards of $500.  And even with a group rate, the hotels are still $100 or more per night.  Plus, there’s the wedding gift, and I’m probably going to need a new dress.  Yes, I want to buy some new dresses.  And so maybe I’m using my friends’ weddings as an excuse for new dresses.

So, I am going to have to start two different wedding funds:  the one for my own wedding, and the one for my friends’ weddings.  They’re going to keep getting married, I can’t stop them!  And I want to go.  I don’t want anyone to think I’m not willing to go to a friend’s wedding.  Now I just need to figure out which flights to get.  I’m really bad at shopping for flights, through all those online sites.  Where do you go to find cheap flights?  I’ve tried a lot of the aggregated sites like Kayak, Expedia, and Travelocity, but I also know that not all airlines are searched by those sites.  So, suggestions would be greatly appreciated on that front!

Also, I’m curious…those of you out there that have gotten married, or are getting married soon:  how much did your wedding cost?  Is that $20k figure books keep throwing around accurate?  Did you spend a lot less or a lot more than that amount?  And how did you keep your costs low?

How much will you spend?  And do you have any definites like my dress and cake plans?  Is cost no object?  Or will you be trying to get by spending as little as possible?

 

 
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