Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Dash of Advice

I am Jayme and I approve this message.

I cannot recommend living with your fiance highly enough. Joe and I moved in together in August last year, and yes at first, we drove each other crazy. This lasted for about two weeks, and then it has been smooth sailing ever since. For the other two and a half years of our relationship, we've lived separately. This led to constant fights over stupid, minute things and arguments with each others' roommates. We thought living together would solve all our problems, and strangely enough, that's exactly what happened.

Not only did this opportunity fix a previously broken living situation, but I recommend it for everyone who is in a long-term relationship for many reasons. Staying the night at each others' places frequently (or even every night) does not equal living together. It's very different. Living together means being in the same space at almost all times (outside of work and class). It also means paying the bills together, making important financial decisions together, and - most importantly - learning if you can actually stand living together.

I am very afraid of divorce. My parents divorced when I was very small, and it was hard growing up in that environment - and I'm sure all children from divorced families know exactly what I'm saying. I firmly believe that living together before marriage can prevent divorce. There are a lot of other things I believe can help prevent divorce, but this post could turn political quickly. If the first experience you and your intended have living together is after the wedding, neither of you really know what it will be like - if it ends up being terrible, odds are the marriage will be too. If Person A has certain tics and habits that Person B just can't stand, living together gives you the opportunity to work through these problems or just realize that maybe it wasn't meant to be.

I'm not discrediting traditionalists that believe this is considered 'living in sin' or that a groom shouldn't see a bride in the dress before the ceremony begins. I'm merely stating that these are not laws - no one is going to burn in a fiery pit over living together for a couple years before marriage and that a first look on the wedding day can be one of the most emotional and private moments the bride and groom get on their wedding day. That's a different post, however. I'm just asserting that living together can be both very eye-opening and very rewarding. It's like taking a couple classes at community college before going on to get your bachelor's degree... It's preparation, and a lot of fun.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Little Spiel About Money...

My blog maintenance skills could probably use some refining... Not to mention this theme setup is really dark and depressing - definitely not the taste I want from wedding talk!

So here's a little bit about finances. We've been saving like madmen since September (when we decided engagement would be in our future at some point), which has been incredibly difficult. We don't make a lot of money, as you can imagine. I have a job, Joe doesn't, and at my job I make approximately butt. It's a joke. I make maybe $400/month? That's really not enough to live on. My parents supplement my income with $200/month, which is super generous of them, and definitely helps us with our finances.

Our winter saving skills were hit hard by my getting a credit card. I spend judiciously and take care to make payments on time, but I've found that having to throw money at that every month has made it very difficult to put anything aside. On our meager income, we set aside about $3000 between September and February, which has been incredible. It feels really great to have a healthy savings. However, that comes with its own set of evils, including the virtually living-off-Ramen lifestyle. It's nothing we can't handle, especially considering we both have a fond spot for those silly plastic-wrapped noodles, and we never go without.

This past weekend, my darling Mac took its last sip of battery juice and decided to hit the road. It is now in a state of permanent rest (because it just won't turn on!) under the guest bed at my parents' house. So, we had to buy me a new computer. There really isn't the option of not having a computer when you're in college. So, we stopped by Best Buy, and priced some shiny new computers. We decided to go with a PC for many reasons (cheaper, Windows 7 is less suck, when we get an iMac we'd like to have both OS without having to run Boot Camp, etc...) and that set us back about $700. That's really not bad compared to what my first laptop was (Dell XPS M1710 - $2000), or even my second (Mac - $1100... also I can't believe this is my third laptop - am I really that bad with gadgets?)

So, we are in a budgetary lockdown now. Our savings has been taking a lot of big hits lately. Considering Joe has no job, we've found ourselves dipping into the savings to pay his credit card bills or using it to buy groceries (his parents give him $200/month for groceries, but sometimes that money doesn't find its way to the store...). So, this whole summer I am not taking classes and hoping to work as much as I can to rebuild our little nest egg. While most of our wedding costs will (thankfully) be caught by our parents (because we are trying to keep a trim an tiny budget, not because parents' pockets are stuffed!), we're still going to need money for incidentals and eventually, a house. It is never, ever, ever too early to save.