Christmas Cards and Matching Outfits

This past weekend, John’s family got together to take pictures for Christmas cards. Admittedly, I fretted a bit too much about what our little family would wear. When you take photos, does everyone match? Or at least coordinate? I just purchased that Banana Republic plaid shirt; so I planned the outfits (in my head) around that. I ran to the mall over lunch to buy Monica that red skirt. Unfortunately, I wasn’t clear in my intentions to coordinate, so John wore his favorite argyle sweater. The one he’s known longer than me and wears to a majority of holidays. It’s neutral in gray, brown, and tan, and didn’t clash with my plaid, but it didn’t match my overall Christmas card vision. As I said, I thought a little too hard about this.

Christmas card roundup

All cards can be found on Shutterfly!

As for the photos themselves, wrangling three 17 month olds was no small task. Thanks to a little Miss Nina playing on the iPad and a myriad of other distractions, all families were able to take Christmas card-worthy photos. Now the tough part will be deciding which Christmas card to order!

Fortunately, Shutterfly is running some great promotions right now! ALL customers are eligible to save 40% on everything with promo code “SHAREIT” through Monday November 24, 2014. In addition to ordering Christmas cards, I might take advantage of the promotion to buy a few photo gifts for doting family members (I’m looking at you mugs, magnets, and more!). If you’re a new customer, with every 50 cards purchased, you’ll receive an additional 10 free of the same size with promo code “SCORECARDS” through Wednesday November 26, 2014.

Do you send out Christmas cards? This will be our first year of doing it (officially). Thank goodness Shutterfly and all the other online greeting card sites can address, stamp, and mail the cards for you!

(PS – This blog post contains affiliate links. Thanks for supporting Fiscally Chic!)

My New Favorite Piece of Marriage Advice

my favorite marriage tip

Back in September, I heard a great interview with Mary DeTurris Poust on Relevant Radio. In it, she talked about marriage and the Catholic faith. Seeing as it’s the date of our anniversary (our anniversary is September 13) I want to share this wonderful piece of advice with you, as expanded up in her blog post Marriage: It’s hard work, if it’s done right:

Sister Anne suggested that couples make their anniversary date special every month, not necessarily with a dinner out or an expensive gift but with a heart-to-heart conversation about where you are at that moment and where you’re hoping to go next— together and individually. It’s a great idea and an easy way to remember to turn your attention toward your spouse on a regular basis. And by using your wedding date as a springboard, you’ll get to experience a little of that original joy and anticipation month after month, year after year, for as long as you both shall live.

As new parents, it can be a challenge to make time to work on our marriage, let alone get out for a date night. So even if we don’t have “us” time like we did in the past, at least we have the 13th of each month to look forward to :)

How do you keep your marriage fresh?

 

PS: If you want to hear Mary’s interview in its entirety, it starts around the 29 minute mark:

Are You Practicing These 10 Habits of Rich People?

10 habits of rich people

Last week, my friend Andy shared this post from MarketWatch on the “10 things rich people know that you don’t.” Naturally, I wanted to see if I knew these 10 things. Mom and Dad – I’m happy to report that your good financial habits rubbed off and I’m aware of all 10 habits. The bigger question is whether I’m taking action on these habits or not. Well, let’s just say there’s always room for improvement:

Start early

Check! From an early age, I made sure to put a portion of birthday/Christmas/Easter/etc. money into savings. And once I started working full-time, I made sure to contribute to my 401(k) from Day 1.

Pro tip: At a minimum, you should contribute the amount your employer will match. For example, if your employer matches 50% of the first 6% you have withheld from your paycheck, you’ll want to have 6% of each paycheck withheld and deposited in your 401(k) (or 403(b) plan if you work at a school, hospital, or tax-exempt organization). Otherwise, you’ll be leaving free money on the table! Don’t work at a traditional office job? You can always contribute to a solo (one-participant) 401(k), IRA, or Roth IRA, among other options.

Automate

Check! This is super easy with my employer’s 401(k). We also have automatic transfers set up for our savings account, Roth IRA’s, and brokerage account. We also have our mortgage and some bills set to pay automatically. That way, we don’t wake in cold sweat thinking we forgot to pay our cell phone bill.

Maximize contributions

Kind of. For 2014, the maximum amount you can contribute to a 401(k) is $17,500 or $23,000 if age 50 or over (provided you have earned income of this much). These amounts increase to $18,000 and $24,000, respectively, in 2015. While I’m making more than $17,500, and contributing more than my employer will match, I’m not quite maxed out.

As for traditional and Roth IRAs, the maximum you can contribute to all of your traditional and Roth IRAs in 2014 and 2015 is the smaller of: $5,500 ($6,500 if you’re age 50 or older), or your taxable compensation for the year. Done!

Pro tip: Not sure how much to contribute to each account? Money Under 30 has you covered with this fancy flow chart.

Never carry credit card balances

Check! We pay off our credit card balance each month. End of story.

Pro tip: If you accidentally missed a payment, use Ramit’s script to have the late fee and interest charge reversed.

Live like you’re poor

I’d say “Check!” if you rephrase the habit as “living below your means.” One easy way to do this is to automatically transfer funds to savings and retirement accounts. That way, we don’t miss the money and aren’t tempted to spend it. Sure, we splurged a little on cable, but negotiated lower rates. Plus, we bought a reasonably priced house, refinanced our mortgage, and do many other things to be responsible with our money.

Avoid temptation

Check (a majority of the time). Temptation comes in all sorts of forms: Pinterest, Instagram, blogs, TV, magazines, promotional emails, and on and on. Once you determine your priorities (i.e., family and financial freedom), it’s easier to cut out the things that don’t matter and avoid temptation. That’s not to say I’m not tempted by cupcakes and a good latte, on occasion ;)

Be goal-oriented

Check! Goals should be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Our last really big goal was buying a house. Now we have longer-term goals to pay off our mortgage, save for retirement, and save for Monica’s college education. Curious about how much you need to save for a particular goal? Bankrate probably has a calculator for that!

Get educated

Check! My financial education began in the home with my parents. I learned more of the nitty gritty financial knowledge in college with a Masters in Accounting, accounting major, and finance minor. Couple that with a CPA, a lengthy personal finance blogroll, a future Series 65, and I’m quite the financial nerd. (And proud of it!)

Diversify your portfolio

Check, but probably not at the level of a high net worth individual. The original post talks about “spread[ing] their wealth across a variety of investments, from stocks, mutual funds, ETFs and bonds, to real estate, collectibles and startups.”

Spend money to make money

Check. The original post talks about hiring a financial planner. I also interpret this habit as investing in my professional career and post-college education. For Fiscally Chic in particular, I’ve been to FinCon to network and learn more about blogging and invested in a site redesign.

How did you do? Are you practicing some or all of these habits?

Fall 2014 Collage

Life Lately

Hi friends! How’s it going? Admittedly, things have been a little quiet in this part of the Internet. We’ve been busy making Fall memories: cheering for John’s sister in the Chicago Marathon, enjoying cupcakes in St. Louis after our friend’s wedding, going to the pumpkin patch, and obviously Halloween! Monica was a pineapple and yes,…

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Pool Safety Starts With Swim Lessons

Pool Safety Starts With Swim Lessons

Today I’m sharing a guest post from Kaitlin Gardner of An Apple Per Day. As a fellow former college swimmer, we both love the water and want to pass that on to our kids. At the same time, we want our family to be safe in and around the water. Kaitlin shares the “why” as well as how to…

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DIY Trick or Treat Tote

DIY Halloween Trick or Treat Bag

With Halloween two weeks away, I’m finally starting to get in the spirit of the season. Which is an improvement on last year when I made Monica’s dinosaur costume only a few days before the big day. And yes, this year’s costume is still a work in process. However, I found the time to sew…

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royal blue fall wedding guest dress

Dressing for a Fall Wedding with Rent the Runway

It’s no secret that I love me some Rent the Runway. Having rented two dresses and written many a blog post featuring their dresses and accessories, Rent the Runway is my “saving money with style” dream come true. I love that a gorgeous dress can be yours for 4 days, starting at $30 (or up…

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marble potatoes, herbs, and onions

Herb Roasted Potatoes and Onions

As I said in my last post, I was just in New Orleans for #FinCon14. As expected, I learned so much about blogging (and got a much needed kick in the pants), but my biggest takeaway from the conference was growing my network of financial bloggers. I wasn’t going with anyone in particular (besides John…

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wedding photo

On Holding Each Other Accountable

Over the weekend, John and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary. It was a low-key day as we donated blood in the morning and later went out to dinner with Monica. In past anniversary posts, I shared discussion points and tips for merging finances and wedding planning tips. This year (with #FinCon14 happening now!) I can’t help…

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quick refrigerator dill pickles

We Can Pickle That

A couple weeks ago, I shared that we’ve been trying our hand at pickling. Each year, it seems like we have an over-abundance of one vegetable. The first year, it was zucchini. Last year was tomatoes. And 2014 is the year of the cucumber (and dill). One weekend we picked 14 cucumbers! We’ve probably picked…

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how to start saving for college

How to Start Saving for College

Last week, Monica started in the toddler room at daycare. And while we’re several years away from paying for college, we also started to make some progress on her college savings fund. Up to this point, any money given to Monica sat in her savings account, accumulating a few pennies of interest income at a time….

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new scarf outfit

7 Tips for Building a New Wardrobe

In addition to my blog redesign, I feel like my wardrobe needs a little redesigning and refreshing. Things I wore in college aren’t exactly (cool) mom-appropriate. And some of my business casual clothes are gathering dust since I can now wear jeans everyday to work, though I wore an outfit extremely similar to the one…

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pink shoes

Little Happies: Pink Shoes Edition

My friend Stephanie hosts a lovely little link-up called Little Happies where bloggers can share the little happy things going on in their everyday life. I thought I’d finally join in and share some of the happiness in my life: For the longest time, I’ve been on the hunt for new black flats. I looked online…

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