Friday, March 28, 2014

Some Things Shouldn't Change ...When You Get Married

Marriage is a huge step. As you enter into a new chapter in your life, you'll find it changes you in some ways and your lifestyle in others. But just because you're married doesn't mean you have to give up some of the things you love. In fact, continuing to participate in some of the activities you did as a single woman, even if it's without your partner, may help strengthen your marriage. Consider these ways to keep yourself happily married and feeling good about yourself at the same time:
For starters, keep up hobbies or activities you enjoy, even if you're husband doesn't. If prior to marriage, you enjoyed biking, scrapbooking, volunteering or some other hobby, keep up with it. Doing what you enjoy, makes you feel confident and happier. Your husband may have his hobbies that he needs to participate in too. By mutually agreeing to support each other's activities, you strengthen yourself and your relationship.
Next, have your girl time out. Whether it's once a week or once a month, getting together with other gals is important. Let's face it, men don't always get women; to have a supportive girlfriend network is a good way to stay in tuned with your emotional side and talk about things you might not discuss with your hubby. You'll likely have those "aha" moments and come to realize that you're not alone facing certain issues. That fact alone makes ladies night out so helpful. One caveat: be careful what you say, as words usually get around.
Third, continue your day job. If you work outside the home and enjoy doing it, keep at it. Working can build confidence and a sense of accomplishment. It can also make you feel more financially sound. It's a great feeling of satisfaction when you earn money and hopefully, have a little spending cash for yourself at the end of the month.
Finally, date nights out with your husband. Consider it like a pre-marriage date. That means not talking about responsibilities, finances, family, or other household roles you generally discuss on a daily basis. Go out and have fun. Enjoy each other's company, learn new things together, or ask questions you haven't thought about before. The purpose of these dates is to grow physically, emotionally, and spiritually together. When you constantly talk about what needs to get done and other every day details, marriage can start to feel like a job. There is a time for everything. Yes, you need to know who's paying the mortgage or picking up the dry cleaning, but save your dates for relationship building conversations and activities.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

It's All About the Bride...or is it?

Now that you're engaged you'll be hearing a lot about how the wedding is your special day and it's all about you as the bride. But is it really? Lately, I've been getting some questions about that attitude, as well as remarks that making the wedding all about the bride is quite selfish. Like most things in life, there is no simple response to such chatter.
Weddings are a wonderfully joyous occasion for everybody. The bride is generally the center of attention on the day itself and has been for decades. Everyone, groom included, can't wait to catch a glimpse of you, the bride. They want to see not only your beauty, but the radiance about you as you prepare to wed. And while it is your time to shine, the wedding day is always about the union of two people and the love you share and commit to for a lifetime.
So why the "it's all about you" talk? For starters, brides are usually the ones taking care of much of the wedding planning details. And since you are making many of the decisions, it tends to become about things you wish for at the wedding. Nowadays more grooms are helping with wedding preparations too, so it may become more evident that the day is about him too (which, of course, it always has been). A wedding is also a once in a lifetime event, so it makes sense that the day be about the happy couple, your wishes, and dreams.
What about the family, friends, and guests? Many of them have been waiting for your wedding day too. Don't they have some say as to how you celebrate? Here is where the disagreement might creep in. How much say others have in your wedding planning depends on your situation. Relationship, financial, geographic and other factors are important to weigh when making decisions. But keep in mind, that just because you have a unique vision for your wedding day, doesn't mean you are being selfish. How you express yourself, your attitudes and actions will reflect your character, hopefully in the best light. There are always ways to incorporate important traditions or requests of others, while keeping your wedding day vision alive. But always show respect, even when you disagree. In the end, you and your groom deserve to have a special day where your love will be celebrated, regardless of all the details.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Spring Into Organization with these Easy Steps!

Happy Spring!  What better time to get yourself more organized so you can function optimally and manage your wedding planning more effectively. Here are five ways to get you started:
1)Create a Grab-and-Go Spot: All of us, at one point or other, have misplaced our keys, glasses, wallet, phone, or other essentials you leave the house with on a daily basis. The best way to stop the "where did I put it" syndrome is to designate an area for all of your key items. A small table, shelf, or wall mounted shelf near the entry is ideal so you can drop everything there when you come home and collect it on your way out the door. Not only will it save you valuable time each day, it will help you feel a lot less scattered.
2) Have Separate Wedding Detail Folders or Files:Keeping your wedding related material and research separate from your other paperwork is necessary for optimal organization. Every bride-to-be needs to have a wedding file to collect vendor information, contacts, receipts, contracts, etc. You can have several different files or folders for different vendors or categories. This makes wedding planning a whole lot easier since you can locate pertinent information fast. It keeps you on top of things and will be helpful when communicating with the wedding professionals you hired.
3) Create a Speadsheet: This may be a little more time consuming, but will be quite useful in the long run. Create a spreadsheet of all your wedding guests. Include names, numbers, addresses, and other contact information. Also include columns for invitations sent, gift received, and thank you note sent. You may also want to indicate engagement and bridal shower gifts, as well as their attendance at your wedding, shower or other celebration. This is a good way to make sure you have the details you need to contact guests if necessary (surprise, surprise some guests may forget to RSVP and you'll need to know who and how to get in touch), know the numbers, send thank you notes, etc. Hold onto your list after your wedding too. You may want to refresh your memory of your guest's gifts if they get married in the future, for example.
4) Take Action as Stuff Comes In:This is another one that may seem more challenging, but it's well worth it in time management. Between RSVP's, cards, and gifts, you may be receiving a lot more mail than you are used to. The best way to handle the new influx is to deal with it as it comes. Don't stack response cards to worry about later unless you have absolutely no time or energy. Same for gifts. Noting RSVP's or writing your thank you's as they come in means you'll be spending much less time doing so in the future. Think about it this way: would you rather spend ten minutes writing a couple letters or hours writing a stack of them? Your guests will appreciate your promptness and your hand will thank you too!
5) Toss it Out:Already found your wedding dress, but still have piles of images laying around? Don't hold onto things you don't need. Once you've made a decision on something, stick with it and remove anything that doesn't serve a purpose. It will relieve you of any clutter that might be piling up and help you focus on the tasks at hand.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

5 Little Ways to Cut Daily Spending & Save More for Your Wedding!

Let's face it. Every bride wants to know where she can cut costs while planning her wedding. Financial stress is one of the greatest challenges brides and grooms face today. So what can you do about it? Start by looking at where you might spend less on a general basis so you can get into a good financial routine. Here are five things you can do to cut costs regularly. Keep in mind that though these might seem like little things, they do add up; and the amount you save can be put towards one of your smaller budget wedding costs, like guest gift bags, place cards, or tips!
1) Kick a Habit: What little things do you spend on weekly or even daily? Do you have to have your Starbucks to get you going every morning? Or maybe you take bottled water with you to work every day? Do you smoke cigarettes or buy lottery tickets? Find yourself buying all the latest cool apps? Ask yourself, what are you spending on that you might not necessarily need? As an alternative, brew your own coffee, carry a Thermos of water, and definitely kick any unhealthy habits. The cost of all of these things add up. It may not seem like a lot each day, but tally it up per month and see what you've been spending. It could be over $100! If you have another ten months before your wedding, that's $1000.00 extra for you to put toward the big day!
2) Pack a Lunch: In addition to eating healthier and smarter, packing a lunch can help you save money you might be spending buying lunch out. And even if you don't necessarily go out to eat, maybe you pick up a quick snack or protein bar at the local convenience store. Those prices are going to be higher than the ones at a general supermarket or wholesale warehouse. It might take a little extra time to plan ahead and pack something to eat, but the difference of even a few dollars a day can add up quickly.
3) Use Cash: Credit cards have a funny way of making people think they have more money than they actually do. That means people who use credit often spend much more than if they had used cash. When you have money in your hands, you can see what you're spending. It makes everything more of a reality. So go ahead and pocket your credit cards and only use cash for the next week. Note if your spending habits change.
4) Think Before You Buy: This may sound obvious, but sometimes we are so excited about something and are convinced we need it that we jump in head first and purchase an item before we've had time to seriously consider it. This is especially true for pricier things. Give yourself a "figure to consider." Let's say fifty dollars. From now on, any item that you want to purchase that's fifty dollars or above, you go home and sleep on it for a couple days. Ask yourself if you really need it, can it wait for the future, can you find it somewhere else for a better price, is it something you can borrow instead of buy, or can you buy it used? Answering these questions will help you make better decisions when it comes to purchasing more expensive items and can save you in the long run.
5) Do it Yourself: Are there services you pay for that you can do yourself? Think car washing, shirt pressing, and house cleaning? Sure it's convenient and time saving to have someone else do stuff for you, but if you skipped it once a month and did it yourself, you can pocket some serious change. Car washes can cost fifteen bucks and up depending on the package. Dry cleaning can also add up. And skipping a maid service even once can save you fifty dollars or more. Remember these aren't things you have to give up completely, but by decreasing the number of times you pay for a service, you can increase the amount you put towards your wedding.
There you have it. Try any one of these suggestions and put the money you save into a wedding jar fund.  Want to see your money grow quicker? Practice all five ways of spending less, so you can keep more for your wedding day!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Creating a Wedding Day Vision Board that Works

You've heard all the hype about creating a vision board. People create them for their work, personal life, financial goals. And now that you're engaged, it may be a good idea to start working on your wedding day vision board.
Vision boards are a great tool to visualize your dreams for your wedding day. It can include anything from pictures of your favorite gown and hairstyle to your centerpieces and honeymoon. It doesn't have to be photos only either. You can include inspiring words or motivational quotes that touch on the emotions you want to be feeling during the planning stages and on your wedding itself. It truly is whatever you make it and is meant to capture the essence of your big day.
You might be thinking, "Isn't that what something like Pinterest is for?" The answer is, it can be. But more often than not, it's probably more effective to create your own personal wedding vision board outside of social media. Sharing on social media is a wonderful way to find neat ideas or styles you like. The more you look at, the more you find you like. And before you know it, you have an abundance of pictures of pretty bouquets, wedding gowns, cakes, and everything else. And while you might think that lots of images of fun wedding details are a good thing, it's not ideal when creating your vision board.
One of the key aspects of an effective vision board is that it's not too overwhelming or cluttered. A dozen good photos and/or inspiring words is enough to capture your ideas for a dream wedding. Vision boards need to be clear and easy to read and see. Too much stuff interferes with your ability to visualize it, since there are so many images competing for your attention. It's also a nice idea to keep your board private. Inviting friends and family to comment on your hopes and dreams, opens the door for feedback that can be positive or negative. It may also trigger an influx of additional photos that could potentially blur the vision you initially intended. That's not to say you shouldn't ask for feedback or ideas from others. Everything comes in stages. Before you create your board, is your "research" phase, where you might solicit input from others. But once you know what you want, put it on your board and stick to it. Making too many changes too often, will just wear you down. Spend that time instead on soaking up the images on your vision board and feeling confident that you are working towards making your wedding day dreams a reality.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Newlyweds? Don't Let Your Taxes Surprise You.

Just married? Now that it's tax season, you may want to prep yourself on how your nuptials will affect your taxes. Same sex couples take note too. Your filing may be a bit more challenging. We've done some research to give you the basics.
For starters, if you changed your name when you got married, make sure you completed the appropriate name change form with the Social Security Administration. If your name and social security number don't match up when you're filing your taxes and you expect a refund, it will likely be delayed until you make the correction.  Next, all couples who marry December 31st or before are considered married for the year and have to file their taxes as such. You can still decide whether or not you want to file jointly or file separately as married. In either case, how both of your incomes compare to each other will determine if you face a marriage penalty or not.
Married same sex couples must file their federal tax returns as married. If you're living in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage as legal, then you will also file your state taxes as married. If you're not residing in a state that allows for such a union, you continue to file as single. The tricky part is that many states base some of their tax on federal returns, so definitely speak to your accountant who can help you file correctly.
Finally, as a newly married couple, you may want to revisit your withholdings on your paycheck. Tweaking your allowances will help you get your withholdings as close to the amount you might owe in taxes for the year. This way you don't end up owing a lot or receiving a huge refund, which might serve you better throughout the year. To get the most out of your financial situation, it's always a good idea to have an expert weigh in. And with taxes due next month, what better time to schedule an appointment with your accountant!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Patience as You Plan

As you plan your wedding, there will be times you feel you are being pulled in many directions. Your family, work, friends, and fiancé demand different commitments and it will be difficult to please everyone. Now is the time to tap into the virtue of patience.
Patience is the ability to step away from an unpleasant situation so you don’t become too overwhelmed and end up doing or saying something you may regret later. It means that no matter how overwhelming life becomes, you are able to address each area in a calm and practical manner. Of course, the more stressful life becomes, and it will in the weeks or months ahead of your wedding, the harder it will be to find patience within.
Start practicing patience now. You’re in a shop and no one is available to assist you or they are on the phone with another customer. You wait calmly, until ten minutes, becomes, twenty or more, and by this point you’re ready to storm out an unhappy camper. If a situation such as this agitates you and there is nothing you can immediately do to solve the problem, then choose to put yourself in a better situation. You always have choices. If your wait time is too long in the store, then leave the store and do something more productive if possible. If you’re waiting for a pre-scheduled meeting, then rely on good communication skills to get your message across. When it comes to communicating with others, choose your words wisely in every situation. Listen attentively and give yourself a few minutes to think about your response. Those few minutes of reflection could mean the difference between a happy or unhappy ending.
It can be challenging dealing with other people because everybody has a different personality or work ethic and they don’t always match your own. It is probably most difficult when it comes to people you are closest to, like relatives or even your fiancĂ©. They expect a lot from you and vice versa. They may not understand how you’re feeling, so be sure to let them know.  Assess each situation in a calm, rational manner before drawing any conclusions. And approach everything with a cool and level head. The more you work on it, the more patience you will find. And that will serve you well as you enter into marriage, where occasionally your limits will be tested again.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Timing Your Honeymoon

Congratulations! You're married. The big day has come and gone and hopefully you and your new husband have your honeymoon planned and set within the next several weeks. Aside from the passion, romance, and intimate connection, there are additional reasons to honeymoon sooner rather than later.
You've just planned a major event, which took a great deal of time and energy. It can be emotional, overwhelming, and stressful to prepare for a wedding. Now you and your husband need some time to wash away any lingering stress and enjoy each other. It's time to relax and go somewhere you both can feel comfortable and no pressure from your surroundings. That means being somewhere you can leave work, family, financial, and other commitments behind so you can focus on your relationship and building your physical and emotional bond with each other. Taking time to renew, grow together, and be in a positive state of mind is a good way to start your new life together.
Another reason you want to have your honeymoon soon after your wedding day is that you never know what life brings. Hold off on planning a honeymoon, and all sorts of things could get in the way. New job, new house, baby on the way. Any number of life events could delay your honeymoon. And the more you push it off the more likely it may not happen. So ideally you want to plan your honeymoon while you're planning your wedding. This way you have something to look forward to and know you will follow through.
Finally, going away on a vacation can make the transition to living together as husband and wife easier. While you're away, you don't have to concern yourselves with household responsibilities and other new routines. Instead of jumping into husband and wife roles, you can simply have fun with each vacation day. Having a honeymoon reminds you that marriage is multifaceted and includes time together to just be and enjoy.