2 months and a first

2 days ago marked our 2 month anniversary of getting married! It’s kind of crazy how fast the 2nd month went by. The first month was filled with honeymoon and getting back into the swing of things at work, and was highly anticipated. The 2nd month just kind of snuck up on us. I realized it that morning, and messaged Josh “oh hey – happy 2 month anniversary” at work and he replied “Ya :O”, that’s how much we noticed it!

Needless to say, nothing special was planned, unless you count Movie and Chipotle Night. It’s actually the first time in a long, long time that we saw a movie with our Chipotle instead of a TV show (we saw Bedtime Stories – produced by Adam Shankman of SYTYCD and Step Up fame, who knew?). It also marked us being LATE with our thank you notes!!! Ahhh!!! Etiquette dictates that they all be sent out within 2 months of the wedding. I would say we have about 70% left unsent and unwritten….but I’ve also learned that most people don’t know a darn thing about etiquette, especially when it comes to weddings, so perhaps no one will notice or care.

For breakfast on our 2-months-and-1-day anniversary (yeah I know these aren’t all “anniversaries” but it’s fun to say) we tried something brand new: buttermilk pancakes! We’ve had buttermilk before, I want to say for the purpose of making biscuits except for the part where I remember I had to find a recipe that specifically did not use buttermilk, but we’ve never made our own buttermilk pancakes. Now, Josh makes a good non-buttermilk pancake, and I’ve blogged about it before, but this was the first time we tried to match the magic of the buttermilk pancakes from Original Pancake House.

We used this recipe to create them. I actually never tasted buttermilk on its own before – the last time I used it in a recipe (which I can only presume were biscuits), it smelled weird and was really lumpy and I was pretty terrified of it, and thought perhaps it’s not meant to be tasted alone (the end product made from that stuff was fine). Yesterday, I tasted it! It also smelled weird (though not “EWWWW” weird as it had before), and seemed kinda lumpy (though it actually turned out to just be thickness causing it to galumph out of the container [I’ve just learned that “galumph” is an actual word! It didn’t underline it when I typed it and I thought, no way that’s a real word?? It is!]). The taste, however, was that of sour cream (aka not bad at all!). After they finished cooking (which took FOREVER at 1/2 cup per 5-inch pancake! Like 10 minutes per pancake and I could only fit 1 in the pan at a time!), I kept thinking I could taste sour cream – but that was also the case for about an hour afterwards, so I must have tricked myself by trying the buttermilk alone.

Today we have 3 leftover pancakes (they are HUGE!!!). Yesterday we each had 2. The nice thing about these is they seem to be really light – both in terms of texture and in terms of not weighing you down. When I have a reasonable portion (2-3 of 1/4-cup-each pancakes) of the non-buttermilk variety, I feel totally stuffed and heavy afterwards. Having 2 of the 1/2-cup-each pancakes did not make me feel that way at all. And they were soft and moist and fabulous. I quite enjoyed them! Unfortunately, nobody grabbed any photos :(

Off to enjoy the breakfast of leftovers…and hopefully writing some thank you notes!

Name change nearing completion

Yes, yes, my name change is still not done! But I have received my social security card, updated my work’s payroll AND display name (on email and the inter-employee chat we use), got back my new passport, and went to the DMV to update my driver license. It actually was really easy to change my name on payroll. Changing it on my work email and chat? Took forever! And it’s still not updated on my work computer login.

I’m glad I got the passport back, and proud of myself for mailing it in ASAP so that 1) I wouldn’t have to pay again since I got it within the last year, and 2) so I would have it back right away and not drag this out any longer. The very last place I went was the DMV, and that’s because there’s a 1 month wait for an appointment! And it’s pretty much impossible to go without an appointment, unless you want to take the day off work. The actual change was easy enough – they didn’t even want to see the social security card! But they did say that they electronically verify it with them, so it needs to already be changed there.

I now have an interim license again for the first time in 9 years. I was surprised by the amount of people also getting interim licenses….people I seriously doubt were getting their first license OR changing their name. I wonder what else would cause that? Also, when I had my permit, it had my picture attached, so you knew right away how your license would look. But the interim license has no picture, so it will just be a big surprise to me how it looks! I didn’t like that I had to get a new photo (thought at least I knew in advance so I could try to look good), my old photo is one of the best pics of me ever (somehow!).

Once I get my new driver license in 2-4 weeks, and my work computer login changed, I think I’ll be all done with my name change! I bet I’ll discover some other crucial area that needs updating that I’ve forgotten, but I really hope not!

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.