Archive for the ‘Marriage’ Category

Making a married budget

Last week, we sat down and hammered it out: our married budget. The decision was made, it just made the most sense all around to fully combine our finances. Josh’s job will be coming to a close at the end of the year, and it makes more sense to combine now so it won’t feel so much like a loss of a job as much as a reduction in salary, when the time comes (in terms of the budget, at least). It also means that changes in W4 withholdings and health insurance won’t have to be resolved “fairly” through each separate paycheck. Just combine it all before everything changes and get used to the way it turns out as a whole instead.

The major hurdle in combining our money and making our monthly budget was different pay dates. As I mentioned in a previous post, I get paid twice a month on consistent dates, and Josh gets paid twice a month on totally unknown dates anywhere from a week to 13 days after me. This makes allocating the checks problematic, and the obvious solution was to simply allocate each check individually, right?

Wrong. Then we wouldn’t have a married budget – we would have 2 separate budgets that both people happen to look at. We had to plan it as though each of our checks came at the same time, and simply kept on the way we each had previously, allocating each twice-monthly check to the budgeted items.

Well, the first thing I thought was “wow – we’re rich!”. But that pretty much happens anytime you suddenly tack on an entire other salary. Really we just took a look at each of our previous budgets, adjusted for bills that we hadn’t been budgeting evenly (nice…), and tried to make our savings goals match as closely to our previous separate budgets combined (though we both come out with less money each check now that we’re married and get to pay the marriage penalty – a post for another time).

One thing this meant was adding a debt payment back into my (now “our”) budget :( We both ended college with a hefty amount of student loans. We had both decided that our debts would be our individual responsibilities, back in the day. I paid off my student loans last year, 2 years after starting repayment. Josh paid his down by half, but understandably could not pay them off entirely (I make the higher salary in our household). Combining all of our finances meant that I would assume responsibility for his debt (yes, I know that legally I assumed that responsibility when we said I Do since California is a common law state, but that really only comes into play if it goes into collections and/or we were to separate).

And then my first thought? Let’s get this thing off of the budget again!!! So really, I was happy to be able to contribute some of my salary to his debt. I mean, I could have always done that anyway…but probably would not have unless he asked for help. I was not willing to put our savings goals on hold in order to really pay it off ASAP, but I’m hoping it will be paid off in less time than it would have been without combined finances.

Today was our first combined budget paycheck (mine)! Things didn’t go exactly as planned…even though I had sent my updated W4 in on the 2nd of the month, it was not processed in time for this paycheck, which meant I still had single withholdings which are all kinds of wrong now (and by “now”, I mean for all of 2010, since the filing status affects the entire year and not just the portion of the year you are married – annoying for some [me], beneficial to others [supposedly this is true]). Sooo this meant it was bigger than we expected, which is nice…but it means we probably won’t have enough withheld, and we also have to wait another month to get a good grasp of what our married salaries will look like net.

I also encountered the “how do I allocate the full budget when I only have 1 check so far” problem. My solution was to simply allocate the entire budget, and put in a negative line item in my super-massive-black-hole-bank-breakdown spreadsheet to hold the amounts we were waiting on from Josh’s first check of the month (which won’t come until Monday – and I don’t mean the Monday in 3 days!!!). I’m not sure how much I liked this solution. I mean… it kind of worked…but it’s totally inaccurate with regard to what we have available, which is bothersome. But there doesn’t seem to really be a better way. I’ll see if I come up with anything better as we continue.

More chores, with pizza

Today was much like yesterday – lots of chores. In fact, we got the place pretty clean. It was a huge mess around the time of the wedding, and that had barely changed until this weekend. Now the mess is manageable, and I’m hoping to be rid of it entirely soon enough. My legs ache as though I had been running all day. Hopefully an entire’s day of cleaning = a workout.

We had the same breakfast as yesterday, the pancakes were just too good! We didn’t get any photos though.

For dinner, Josh tested out the new All-Clad pizza stone! We got a peel at Sur La Table last week, since previous pizza failures had been blamed on the lack of one. Tonight’s pizza featured Alton Brown’s original crust (though we did not do the rise overnight – but we have another ball of dough in the fridge that is taking that trip), Ragu’s “no sugar added” tomato and basil sauce, because I can’t stand the sweetness of commercial sauces these days and didn’t feel like cooking up my own batch of sauce, mozzarella, mushrooms and green pepper.

IMG_9184 I am le tasty!

It’s hard to tell from the picture, but it was just slightly larger than personal pizzas. We each had half of this one – and we each complained of being too full after! Good thing we didn’t each have a “personal” pizza.

I really enjoyed the mushrooms and green peppers, but I feel like it needs some kind of cheese mix rather than just mozzarella. I’m trying to think what other Italian cheeses are used on pizzas – provolone, parmesan? I’m not even sure. But I think a bit of a cheese blend would be nice. I’m also not totally sold on the sauce we used. I think if I would have made some fresh, it would have been better. But it worked well enough.

What I really liked was the crust!!! I’m not sure if it was the recipe or the stone or both, but this was far superior to previous pizzas. Previously we had done a mock Pizza Hut personal pan pizza, and it was delicious but it was also reaaaaally greasy, and we undercooked it a bit. After that, we had done some that I believe were the pizza dough version of “pain perdue”, a rustic French style bread – and those were nice but they were too crispy and not enough flavor. This one though, it had good flavor, good chew, AND a nice crisp bottom on it. It was great!!! Even though when making it, the dough refused to come together based on the measurements given. I should also note that pizza is another of Josh’s dishes – he’s the one who made all aforementioned pizzas (though I was the sauce maker, and I frequently help in prepping the toppings as well as doing the actual topping).

Yesterday, my new Social Security card came in the mail! This means I can finally change my name at work! How absurd that work is the last place to get the update. This also means that I am ready for my DMV appointment in 3 weeks. One thing that is weird, is my first name has been misspelled at work since I started there, despite me trying to get them to fix it (well, it’s right everywhere except on my checks and tax documents!). My last paycheck came on Friday, I had not sent them anything (no name change, no new W4 yet), and yet they fixed my name. What is that all about?! All of the sudden, 3 full years later. Hopefully sending in my new W4 with my new name does not cause confusion as they take over 1 month to change my name in the work system.

Planning our lives (or year)

Yesterday, we sat down and wrote down everything that we want to do in our lives. Let me rephrase. Yesterday, I sat down and forced Josh to participate as well, and wrote down everything that we want to do for the next year, that we currently know of. One more rephrase. Yesterday, I sat down with Josh who was not forced to participate, and wrote down everything that we want to do for the next year, that we currently know of. There, I think that was about as accurate as I can get. (Josh has now approved this sentence.)

I was inspired to do this after reading an article from The Simple Dollar, from which I basically took away that I needed to write down all of those little things that I knew in my head I wanted to do, that I meant to do, but that I just never seemed to get done. They’re not big projects, they’re nothing amazing, but they are things that will improve my happiness (even if it doesn’t make me that happy to actually do the task, the outcome will).

I invited Josh to play along with a list of his own, just to keep everyone motivated. I didn’t tell him the reason behind my wanting to do this, but he was willing to participate just for the sake of writing things down. I think it will be good for us to have lists to refer back to, so we don’t overlook anything that we had once thought of. Another benefit is that by writing it down, we can take that information out of our minds, which removes clutter from the brain.

The way I started it was by asking Josh, “What do you want to do in life?”. His first answer was “have kids”, so I was quick to refine the scope of “in life” to mean just “in the next year”. I wanted these lists to be specific things that we could just pick and decide to work on that day or that weekend.

I think we came up with a good list of things whose predicted end times range from this weekend to sometime next year. Now we just have to make an effort to not be totally lazy!

Today is a Friday, and Friday is Chipotle night! In college it used to be Movie & Chipotle night, and it was just me alone on a bean bag chair, inches away from my 42” plasma TV. But back then, I had a Blockbuster across the street from my apartment. Now the closest one was a few miles away, but they closed, and now the closest one is farther than I care to go. I also decided I didn’t much care to eat in the dark when I’m a good 4’ away from the glow of the TV. So it is now just Chipotle night, and usually we just watch TV. Actually, for the last year or so, we’ve watched Say Yes To The Dress with our burritos. I have a very, very strong association between wedding dresses and Chipotle burritos!!

I used to always get the steak burrito. Then, I started getting the barbacoa burrito regularly for the last month or 2. But I’ve become disgusted with the bits of gristle or LARGE chunks of unrendered fat, and so I decided that this week I would try the vegetarian burrito.


This is not the veggie burrito, but this is vegging!

I decided that I did enjoy the veggie burrito (you get guac on it in place of meat, for no additional charge, which I gladly took advantage of). It did, however, kind of end up tasting like a giant nacho. Maybe I need to get extra beans when I get vegetarian? I wish I could get half meat, half guac. Even when there wasn’t gristle, there were always overwhelming patches of nothing but meat, and it was just too much. I also noticed that the burrito ends up pretty cold without meat – the only hot items in it are rice and beans. This wasn’t a bad thing, and will make leftovers easier, but it also contributed to the nacho feeling.

I gobbled it up so quickly that I forgot to get a picture! Just imagine the big silver burrito – now cut it in half. That’s what I ate. Along with a cream soda. Mmmm cream soda. How did I used to eat the entire burrito + soda?! I don’t even know. Sometimes I would have the entire burrito and still feel hungry! Oh the damage.

I am looking forward to Josh and I starting on our tasks this weekend! I emphasized that these are not things we NEED to do, they are things we WANT to do – and if we don’t actually want to do them, then take them off the list – but also stop thinking that you will do it. If it’s removed from the list, it’s not something that will be done, by choice, and should no longer be dwelled upon. We’ll see how it goes!

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