Thursday, June 28, 2012

How to fund your wedding

The best approaches for paying for your wedding is to have a wedding fund.

Once you've decided on how much your wedding budget is, the next step is to plan on how to save for it.  Obviously, the longer you have to save, the better.  Make a list of potential wedding expenses, such as:

Bridal gown
Groom's tuxedo
Reception Music
Reception Venue
Beauty Services

Now, let's say you've totaled up your budget and come to a total of $12,000.  Right now you have $2,000 in a savings account.  If your wedding is 18 months away, you'll need to save $555 a month in order to come up to your $12,000 total.

What if your budget is $12,000 and you can only save $350 a month (and you have only $1,000 saved so far)?  That comes up to $7,300 during the same 18-month period.  Think about what areas to cut, in order to lower the budget on your wedding.  It may not be easy.  Then again, with limited resources and sheer determination, you can find some creative ways in order to lower the cost on various wedding services.

For tips on how to do this, please check out my ebook 99 Ways To Have A Memorable Wedding On A Shoestring Budget, available on the Amazon Kindle.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The first step in planning any wedding is this

The first thing to decide on, in planning your wedding, is how much to spend.
Are either of your parents paying for it?  Are you?  The average wedding today costs between $20-$30K, but there are plenty of ways to do it for less, if you are so motivated and have a limited budget.  Be realistic about your incomes.  And, above all else, avoid debt.  There is no reason to put $25,000 on a credit card for a one-day shindig that could take 10 or more years to pay off.

Come to an agreement on how much to spend.  Both of you have a vote in this process--men, pay attention at this point, because the decisions you make now will affect you for years to come.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Sports Fund 2.0

Last month, I posted a blog regarding having a sports fund to help pay for the sporting activities your children are in.

I'd like to expand on it a little, based on a few messages I received which stated, "Starting one is fine, and is a great idea, but what if you're already in the middle of the sports season?  Also, there always seems to be something going on all the time.  What do I do about that?"

There's a saying that the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.  The second best time is right now.  Putting off saving for your children's sporting events will only get your further down the hole into debt, so make a commitment to yourself to start one now.  Even if you can only save a little each month to get you started, it's better than nothing.

Also, do you have anything you can sell?  Put on a garage sale or sell a few items on eBay or Craigslist to get you a sudden influx of cash to put towards your sports fund.  Even if you could pick up a few extra hours of overtime, put that extra cash aside.  Don't think that you just hit the lottery.  Refrain from spending it unless it's being used for its intended purpose.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Guesthouse International Inn and Suites, Rochester, MN

Last year, when my wife was down in Rochester, MN, due to her treatment of Acute Myeloid Leukamia, I stayed several times at the Guesthouse International Inn and Suites.

If you're going to the Mayo Clinic, there are reduced rates available, as well as reduced rates for those staying a week or more.  There is also a shuttle service going to and from the Mayo Clinic Monday through Friday.

It's a nice hotel, with a complimentary breakfast, and a good-sized pool.  There is also a hot tub.  Here is a video of my children jumping into the pool one day last summer, which gives you an idea of how big the pool is.

From the first phone call to the first time arriving at the hotel, I knew the front clerk (who I believe his name was Jerry), was a first-class salesperson.  He knew how to treat guests extremely well.  In fact, the moment I arrived the first time, it was around 11:30pm.  He said that normally the pool closed at midnight but liked to keep it open later to accomodate the late-arrivals.  Also, he said he always kept the coffee on--which I didn't quite need at the time but admired the gesture.

The one drawback, which I even hate to mention, is the slight smoky smell to the carpet.  I had been told there had been some remodeling done but the carpet hadn't been touched yet.  Because of it, there was a hint of smoke along the halls.  This didn't bother me, even though I'm a non-smoker, but my wife was extremely sensitive to it.

Here's a picture of the front--this is from their website.

Because of the drawback, I give the Guesthouse a 4 out of 5 stars.  If I just took into account the level of service, it would be 5 out of 5.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

When sending correspondence or money to a collector

Whenever you need to send any correspondence or money to a collection agency, ALWAYS send it certified mail, return receipt requested.

Not only will you have proof that you sent whatever it is that you sent them, the US Postal Service also provides a tracking number so you can be certain that the collection agency received it (it might be a good idea to even print this page, for future reference).

This may cost a few dollars, and you may think it might not be worth the hassle, but trust me, it's worth it.  I've listened to too many callers on  Dave Ramsey's radio show who didn't follow this advice and were screwed over.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Hampton Inn and Suites (Rochester, MN) - A world-class facility

For the past 14 months, since my wife was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, we've stayed in Rochester, MN in a few various hotels.  In one stretch, my wife spent from April through December 2011 in Rochester, and every 2-3 weekends, I'd bring the kids down to see her.

She is now at home and has appointments every 4-6 weeks.

One of our favorite places to stay is the Hampton Inn and Suites.

The Hampton Inn is located on the north side, and has shuttle services running quite regularily to the Mayo Clinic.

Their staff is world-class, greeting me by name, and even greeting me in the same manner when I just spent 7-8 hours in the car and am half-asleep.

Their continental breakfast is outstanding.  After about the tenth time I've stayed there, I've only seen a hot menu item more than twice.  They have so much variety, it's amazing.  They even have an assortment of muffins, bagels, and english muffins.

They have an exercise area and even a pool, accessible through the second floor.  It's typically open until midnight, and there is both a regular pool and a sizeable hot-tub.

The manager, Dan, is the epitome of world-class, always friendly and is a very hands-on manager.  I've seen him many times out sweeping the parking lot or driving the shuttle van.  On one occasion, my youngest daughter was acting up.  Dan came up to us, asked if she was alright, and offered her a small piece of candy.  She immediately smiled.  The gesture made her day.

The Hampton Inn and Suites is located just off of the main Highway 52 North.  There are plenty of places to eat nearby, as well as a Target and Wal-mart.

Out of five stars, I give them a full five.