Budgeting & the Like.

September 30, 2009

Note: This might be a really boring post for some of you. But for others, it might be really helpful. So I’m just throwing it out there in case it helps someone…

Today is the last day of September. You know what that means? Tomorrow is the first day of October. Which means… tomorrow we get new monies! Taha, not literally. But every first day of the month, I distribute a set amount of money from our main fund into each of our budgeting categories: Rent/Utilities, Car, Groceries, Eating Out, Missions, Gifts, Entertainment, Shopping, and Savings. I heart financial budgeting. I’m not saying it’s the only way (my parents never budgeted–they were just wise with their money, and it worked for them)… but it definitely works for us! And helps us–God knows how much money we would spend on shopping and food if we had no budget.

Maybe about a year ago, Steven & I went to Peter Lim’s house for a “financial seminar”, which included: a delicious home cooked meal with the Lim family, play time with the Lim girls, and a full-on powerpoint presentation and lecture on finances–everything from investing, buying and saving, all the way down to everyday budgeting. I can’t say that I remember everything he taught us, but I am so glad we went, because I finally got a budgeting system that worked & a template that I could use to get started.  It. Is. Most. Awesome.

This is the same system he’s used for his family since he & Jinny got married, and the same system he uses to record all of Lighthouse’s finances as the church treasurer (pretty cool, huh?). I posted a template of the excel sheet on my googledocs here. FYI, I used fake numbers to protect the privacy of… myself haha. The monthly distributions are similar to how I budgeted when I was single, so it’s obviously changed some since I got married. What I did was to basically break up my monthly paycheck into categories and try to set aside some money for savings every month. Each tab of my finance worksheet represents each category of my budget. From my main fund “HONG” (which wasn’t HONG at the time haha), I do monthly distributions into each category. I subtract that amount from my main fund and then add it into each respective category. If you click on “Rent”, you can see how checks are displayed. I wrote a check to Brenda Hom–my roommate and kind of landlord at the time–for $300 for rent (ahha, I know, what the cheap?). The first x in the “verify” column shows that I gave her the check, but she hasn’t deposited it yet. If you look right below for the check I wrote to the Gas Company, the two x’s show that I sent it to them & they deposited it. It’s a good way to keep track of all the checks you write and is a safeguard against overdrafting. If you click on the “Car” tab, you can see how credit card transactions are displayed. The first time I got gas, I paid with my VISA, and the x shows that it has appeared on my credit card statement. The second time, I paid with my American Express, but it has not shown up on my statement yet. This is also a great way to make sure that you don’t get billed (or over-billed) for something you didn’t purchase. I actually just found a false transaction on my credit card statement last month: $50-some at Freshia Market. BOFA has awesome customer service & gave me my monies back, but I never would have noticed it otherwise, since I shop at Freshia pretty regularly. Yay for my trusty dusty budget sheet! Lastly you can record cash transactions as well. If you look under the “Eating Out” tab, you can see that I put “CASH” for the lunch that Steven & I ate at Croutons. You don’t have to put the details about who you went with, but I like to. You know, just in cases.

That’s pretty much it. Easy peasy pie. It’s neat, cause if you want to save up to buy an expensive coat or something, you can refrain from shopping for a couple months & then have $150 in your shopping budget to make a large purchase. You don’t have to feel guilty about buying something expensive, because you know you have intentionally exercised self-control in order to purchase it. And it definitely helps us in our early years of marriage to feel freedom in eating out or buying something nice once in awhile, because our budget gives us that cushion & helps us to know how much we are saving as well. NEAT, huh. I’ve been using this for I guess exactly one year now, and I love love love it. Thanks Peter!

Along a similar vein, Steven is all about finding good deals and signing up to win free sweepstakes. I don’t think I ever signed up for any sweepstakes before I got married (or if I did, it was very rare). What are the odds that I’ll win? But my husband is an optimistic man, so I’ve been signing up for things left and right. And who knows–one day we just may win a free trip to Maui or Manhattan… But in the meantime, we are content with our small wins, one being a free $25 gift card to Champagne bakery! Pretty cool, huh? He found a photo contest on their fb page, saw that all of the entries were pretty whatevs, and pretty much forced me to go with him to our local Champagne’s to take photos. Here are a few photos from our excursion:

Champagne French Bakery

Champagne French Bakery

Playing with props

Playing with props

Steve really likes this photo he took of me. Interesting how he only likes the photos HE takes.

Steve really likes this photo he took of me. Interesting how he only likes the photos HE takes.

Contest-winning photo by Steven again. Obviously.

Contest-winning photo by Steven again. Obviously.

Raspberry topper from our black forest cake.

Raspberry topper from our black forest cake.

In front of our local Champagne's.

In front of our local Champagne's.

Too bright, but I love him laughing!

Too bright, but I love him laughing!

Yes, we wore cute clothes on purpose. Don’t you love that cardi on him? It took me forever to convince him that he looks good in cardigans. But he does–so charming!

Yikes man, I was supposed to go to the gym this morning… and now it’s almost time for lunch. Till next time :]

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Home.

September 20, 2009

Back when I was engaged, I was super immersed in the blog world (and by blog world, I mean the girly, wedding, decorating, homemaking blog world). The world is seriously a different place from what it once was… there are so many creative and artistic people out there–makes me feel like I’ve got nothing special to offer haha. Towards the end of our engagement, we signed the lease for our cozy one bedroom loft apartment, and all of a sudden, I didn’t care about wedding planning anymore–I wanted to decorate our new home! I had to put those plans on hold while I finalized all the wedding stuff, but now that we’re nearly 4 months into married life, I’d say it’s about time…

No promises that I’ll keep decorating (it is a serious time & energy investment, man). But just wanted to share a couple things that we’ve done so far. And by we, I mean I. He helps by smiling & saying “looks good, baby!”

Paper Butterfly Wall

Paper Butterfly Wall

Close-up

Close-up

Closer Close-up

Closer Close-up

Flower Sill

Flower Sill

Flowers. Assortment from Steven & Tamara.

Flowers. Assortment from Steven & Tamara.

HONG Entrance

HONG Entrance

Paper daisies that I love love love.

Paper daisies that I love love love.

New beverage board coasters from Anthro. Note: Do not register for the glass photo coasters from C&B--no good.

New beverage board coasters from Anthro. Note: Do not register for the glass photo coasters from C&B--no good.

New cush for our couch.

New cush for our couch.

The end. Goodbye. Goodnight!

Mandy Lynne.

September 17, 2009

I know I said I was going to post about the apartment, but I haven’t had a chance to edit photos on Steve’s macbook, with him working during the day & taking classes at night. So in the meantime, I want to introduce you to the wonderfully talented and artistic Mandy Lynne, photographer extraordinaire! I wish she were my friend so I could get lessons from her, but since I can’t, I will admire her from afar…

admitone

apple tree

bike

boy

il_430xN.86297711

mailbox2

math

photo

scrabble

xoxo

strawberry

thread

typewriter

umbrella girl

Tell me those aren’t some of the cutest images you’ve ever seen. CUTE, huh. Great colors, great composition, great settings, & of course, great subjects. Believe it or not, these are only a couple of the many beautiful pieces she has in her portfolio. Unforch, most of them aren’t save-able (word? idk.) so you will have to go see the rest for yourself!! Check out her original website, her flickr, and her etsy shop! SO PRETTY.

Pat & Alice are home now (we were babysitting their kids), so time to go! Until next time…

Ten A Day.

September 3, 2009

So. My camera has been getting lots of action lately. Not because I know how to use it any better (I don’t). Not because there’s anything particularly exciting to photograph (there isn’t). But Steven and I made a little bet a few weeks ago. My camera had been getting very cozy (and neglected) in the corner of our living room since we got back from our honeymoon. And his blog had been gathering cobwebs for some time now. So on one of our date nights, he proposed that we make a friendly wager.

I have to take 10 pictures a day; he has to blog every weekday. Now, I am not a betting person. I’m not a competitive person actually… I don’t much like games, care much for winning, and really don’t care much for losing haha. But. The stakes are high. If he loses, he makes dinner for me every night for one week (which, now that I think about it, actually doesn’t seem like SUCH a great feat since he’s been taking care of me for the past two weeks haha). If I lose, however, he gets to watch every Dodger game on TV for a week. Honestly I don’t mind making dinner for him at all… but the thought of him watching every Dodger game drives me crazy!

All that to say, I’ll try to post some of those pictures up little by little. Today = babies. I heart babies, and luckily there is no shortage of them around me!

Eden Cassie Cho. Her eyes are definitely starting to take after Pat's. And I love the bokeh!

Eden Cassie Cho. Her eyes are definitely starting to take after Pat's. And I love the bokeh!

Kaia. She always looks like a little Asian doll--so cute!

Kaia. She always looks like a little Asian doll--so cute!

Baby Christian, how we love him! Come play with us soon!

Baby Christian, how we love him! Come play with us soon!

Jonas, who is not really a baby anymore. Jonas hates me, but I still think he's adorable.

Jonas, who is not really a baby anymore. Jonas hates me, but I still think he's adorable.

Baby Elijah, Jonas' little brother. Mini Angella--his little eyebrows are so cute!

Baby Elijah, Jonas' little brother. Mini Angella--his little eyebrows are so cute!

Introducing Caleb Chung, my newest baby friend! He is the sweetest little baby boy & has the sweetest parents!

Introducing Caleb Chung, my newest baby friend! He is the sweetest little baby boy & has the sweetest parents!

One more of Caleb, just cause I see him more than I see anyone else now. I love how he always drools haha.

One more of Caleb, just cause I see him more than I see anyone else now. I love how he always drools haha.

Okay that’s all for today. Next up: decorating the apartment.