Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday Savings: When to Hire Out Help

Not going to lie--today I'm going to be preaching to the biggest sinner in the congregation, myself! Since I'm trying to sell my house to move several hundred miles away, we've called a gazillion movers looking at options of how to get a 3 bedroom house full of {stuff} to another 3 bedroom house already full of other {stuff}.

I've looked at having someone pack us, drive it down, unload it. I've looked at packing it some myself, having movers do some, them drive it down, and us unload it. I've looked at renting a simple U-Haul and doing all the work ourselves. You just won't believe this, but packing and moving ourselves with a U-Haul was not just cheaper. It was cheaper by several thousand dollars. That is NOT what I wanted to find out.

A couple hundred and even I might have splurged to have someone else pack my house. Six thousand more dollars? Even my scrawny arms can get to packing on that note.

So I did some research on hiring out help and what the ratio should be. I found a really good measuring tool. If you get paid hourly, you get to skip a step. If you are on salary, divide that number by half. For example, if you make $50,000/year you would be at 25,000 now. Put that in dollars (not thousands), and that is about your hourly pay. So a $50,000/year salary would be about $25.00/hour.

Considering your hourly pay, then you can decide if hiring out help is worth the price for you. Want someone to mow your lawn? I suggest doing it yourself if your hourly pay is LESS than what you are paying someone to do the work. If you make $50,000/year and it takes someone 1 hour to mow your entire lawn, I say go for it if you're paying $20-25. If you're paying $50-75, that's probably a waste of your money. But if you make $100,000/year, then by all means pay someone $50/hour. Make sense?

This simple plan goes for anything you can hire out: cutting wood, house cleaning, manicures (guilty!), honey do chores, and even moving fees (and so so so many more). I think we'd be super hard pressed to justify paying about $7,000 for a moving company; those numbers don't really add up according to this schedule. Guess I better roll the ol' sleeves up and get those cardboard boxes out...and maybe even the lawn mower and dusting cloths.

Stay smart. Be savvy. Save money...
Avery Jane

Thursday, April 26, 2012

What I've Learned From Wedding Planning

What a fun past month and some odd days!! I've had a blast planning our wedding (or the little bit I've gotten to do), and I'm pumped that a week from today I'll be loosed from the bonds of grad school for the summer. And that means one thing: I get to focus on getting marriedddddd!!!!!

I'm a little bit excited about July 14 if you can't tell.

With all the things going on, I was bound to learn something. And you know what that means--I'm bound to share it with the blog world. Because a girl who met her soon to be husband on a blog can't plan their wedding without some sort of blogging about it. Right? Right.
  1. There are approximately 7,391 ways to word invitations, RSVPs, and programs. Out of these 7,391 ways you have to choose 1. Good luck.
  2. When frog tape doesn't do what it's designed to and instead rips off all the painting you've already done (maybe this has happened. maybe it has not.) on your altar decor, well, then you have one solution left: Her name is Mom. My mom seriously is a genius. I was almost in tears last night as we just couldn't get the painting on the decor to work. I mean, it was bad. We had white paint all over blue paint which was chipping off. It was bad. What does my mom think up? Let's try press 'n seal. And wa-lah!! Y'all, it's magic. Patent pending.
  3. If you're in grad school and get engaged, you really can plan a wedding, write a 15 page literature review on religion and politics, give a 3 hour presentation on presidential elections from 1980-2008, and complete your final. Well, you may have to set back the wedding planning for a few weeks. But it can be done--where there's a will, there's a way.
  4. It's okay to take pictures of yourself in every possible engagement outfit and send them to your fiance so you match. If you have one like I do, he'll tell you you're not dressed up enough.
  5. It's also okay to take pictures of yourself to see if your ring is visible in day-to-day operations. Proof:
Just making sure the blue on blue was seeable. :)
      6.   I suggest going with a solid realtor, and more preferably a solid real estate market. Hello, Alma, Arkansas?! Anyone needing a house out there? Someone please buy this house. It really is a wonderful place!!! And I admit I got teary eyed in the realtor's office--both when I bought it and when I put it on the market. ha.

     7.    Sure, take a trip to your parents' house every single weekend of your life. They won't care, especially when you are about to move 600 miles away. AHHHHHH!!!!!!!
my one friend in Jethro, Arkansas
     8.    When you have your hair on top of your head all day (first picture) and literally pull it down after a solid 12 hour run at it. Well, you look like Medusa. (Words straight from the fiance. Sweet, huh?)
    9. If you're relocating and wanting to find a job, go to an area that has 2 of the 13 top cities with the best market to find a job. Read that article today. Guess who 2 of these 13 cities were? Midland and Odessa. Guess where I am moving? Yep, there. Guess who can't find a job? Me. And do you know why? The only thing I know about oil is that I spend about $70 every time I fill up my 4Runner. That's a start though, right?

   10.  And for crying outloud go get yourself a manicure, a massage, a new dress, dinner out, a movie ticket, a dance show ticket, all of the above!! Oh, and of course, take a day off work to take your grandpa to an appointment (while there make sure to remind him your wedding is definitely on a Saturday and not a Tuesday or else he'll tell your entire kin you are getting married on Tuesday, July 24 in which all named kin will respond with, "That's odd. I have to work."). It's medicine for the mind. You will not be sorry. Oh...and catch up on that oil business. Because after the wedding is over, you will need a job.

Avery Jane

Friday, April 20, 2012

With these 2 spare minutes...

I just wanted to announce that I'm still alive and kickin'. Last weekend Cash flew in, and we got to take him turkey hunting for his first time! I love turkey camp, but it was even better getting to have Cash there! Plus, it was my family's first time to get to see him since we've been engaged. Crazy.

Sunday afternoon we just went around Fort Smith waiting for him to catch his plane, then I noticed the flight got delayed. Then it got cancelled. My prayers were answered!! :)

So he got to stay in Arkansas for another night. The next day he brought me lunch to work, and it was a nice little break in the day. Most couples probably get that privilege whenever they want, but we never get to see each other during the work week. A few more months though. A few more months!!!

I delivered my presentation at school last night. Let's just say that we have a 3 hour class in which we are the sole presenter. Most of the classes this semester we have gotten out in an hour and a half. Last night we got out twenty minutes early. Either an epic fail at keeping my classmates really long or an epic success on giving them their money's worth for their education. I choose the latter. Or as my fiance said, "I can barely even believe you talked that long."


Yesterday I also spent the day at the Arkansas City Manager's Meeting. It was eye-opening and informative. All in all I learned A TON about how to deal with constituents as well as emergency management. Plus, I got to meet some neat people. I was hoping to do the social hour touring the Naturals ballpark and getting in the batting cages, but it started at 5. My class was at 6. So bummer. My professor said I should've skipped. ha. I don't think he would've really said that had I actually done it.

Instead I went and got my hair cut by the wonderful Natalie Jo. I'm a little biased since she has been one of my greatest friends since high school. And I just love her to death. She put a toner in my hair that made it all one color again. Remember when I dyed my hair red last summer? You could still see a sting of it, so she made it all natural for the upcoming nuptials.

So it's crazy around here right now. Next week my literature review is due. What?! I have spent several nights taking notes on various texts, but I have to hit it hard this weekend. Oh my lanta. I can do this.

To add to that we have State History Day in central Arkansas tomorrow. Maaa....we are leaving at 6 in the morning. I'm hoping I get to do some work while waiting for the kids to finish their presentations. It's going to be a busy weekend in my neck of the woods.

After my paper I have a take-home final to finish by May 3. And then it's off to celebrate, celebrate, celebrate!! The school is doing a little wedding shower that afternoon and then the next day Cash and his parents are coming into town to check out some rehearsal venues. And we have engagement pictures that weekend!

Basically, once I wrap up grad school for the semester I'll have just a few weeks of work left. Most of that will just be end of year activities and programs. Woop! Woop! Off to start that paper on this drizzly Friday night.

Avery Jane

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

What a Day to be a Republican and a Razorback

As a Republican it was almost a day of closure for this primary season. I've been a complete onlooker and living room analyst, but I still have felt the sting of competition. Now that Santorum has officially dropped out, it's assumed that Romney is going to be the Republican nominee. So...let's rest. And then let's drop the ball on Obama in November.


Here in Arkansas we are without a head football coach. Just tonight our AD announced he terminated Bobby Petrino, effective immediately. I'm not going to lie. I was a Petrino fan. But before and after he came along I was a Razorback fan...and a morals fan.

I couldn't be more proud of AD Jeff Long and his decision. To know our university is being run by men and women who uphold moral obligations within their staff makes me even more proud to be a Razorback. Of course many factors played into this final outcome, but one of the main factors was the inappropriateness of the relationship. Long said it perfectly when asked why he was so emotional during the press conference, "People's lives have been affected." Forget Petrino. Forget his 25 year old mistress. The athletes, the assistant coaches, the families--those are people who have had their lives turned upside down all because 2 other people were selfish. That's all I'm saying. That and...


Avery Jane

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sunday Savings: Restaurants vs Cooking

I hope y'all are having a wonderful Easter! It just doesn't even seem like it's that time of year again. With Easter also comes turkey season, and in my family that is the biggest time of the year! Next weekend Cash and I are headed out to the woods of rural Arkansas to smoke a big gobbler and enjoy the entertainment of Rocky Joe and Uncle Travis. The week can't pass soon enough!

Tonight I got to thinking about how often I go out to eat. Knowing the costs of this, I have purposefully tried to stay in more and actually learn how to cook. For one person it seems almost as wasteful to cook and have all these leftovers, so I decided to put pen and paper to it.


Going out to eat at a restaurant like Chili's:
If you are like me, you actually want to eat something filling once you go out to eat. True I often have leftovers, but assuming it's one of those nights I scarf down a rack of ribs (this has been known to be true), I would end up spending between $15-20 after getting a soft drink and tip.

Now, you could save money by drinking water adult dessert, eating the special. But you know as well as I do that once you have decided to spend the money on going out to eat, you don't want to think about the money aspect. *But I do suggest drinking water at restaurants often. It'll save you a bundle.*

So we'll say $17 for 1 at a chain restaurant like Chili's.

Cooking at home:
Let's say for the sake of saying that whatever you decide to cook you already have the little things like salt, butter, etc. since those are typically once in a blue moon purchases. What would you cook? Me--hot dogs. I am the worst cook in America, and my fiance is fully aware of this and chose to propose to me anyway. But let's say I chose to do the one recipe I know I can do, in a crock pot nonethless. I'd probably put pulled pork in the crock pot, and this is a recipe you don't want to forget!

~2 lbs of Boston Pork Butt--$6
20 oz. of root beer--$1.50
BBQ sauce--$4

Get original bbq sauce; I think it tastes the best. But make sure you get a bbq sauce you really like. That will definitely make a difference. W'ell also want some other items with our meal.

fresh green beans--$3
2 lt Dr. Pepper (holler!)--$1.50 (or you can go with Dr. Thunder like I do and get a steal at $.87)

So to eat alone after cooking at home, we're looking at $22. Initially, we would think this is more expensive. However, realizing we could eat our pulled pork meal at least 3 times, this averages out to $7.33 each meal.

Cooking at home takes home the blue prize here.

                                                                          For TWO

Going out to eat:
Let's take a place like Chili's again. They do have 2 for $20 deals, which is probably a good price and better than what a single person could do by themselves. After tip and everything, we'll have spent upwards to $30.

Cooking at home:
Same meal, same price. $22.

Again, cooking at home takes the prize. You will find the more people in a group or family, the cheaper it will become to eat at home. The test is if you can cook! Well, that's my test anyway.

Some people might ask: what if you decide to cook a nice meal at home with a bottle of wine, etc? Well, you would probably be eating a similar meal at a restaurant. Therefore, we assume our charts would be parallel to what we've already found.

So...Get out those cookbooks, find one online, or look on backs of packages at stores. Plenty of recipes are out there. And enjoy a dinner with your family or friends. You won't even have to leave a tip afterwards!

Stay smart. Be savvy. Save money...
Avery Jane

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Fast and the Furious

We have a total of 4 months to get this wedding planned and the I Do's said. (And 2 weeks of it is already gone!! What?!) It's been a whirlwind, especially considering all that has to happen.

  • resign from my job
  • get a new job
  • sell my house
  • call moving companies to compare prices
  • move my entire belongings from a 3 bedroom house all the way to West Texas
  • finish the semester of grad school
  • work 40+ hours a week
  • register
  • do all the pictures we want
  • find outfits for all attendants
  • plan the wedding and rehearsal plus reserve church, etc.
  • all the fittings, hair and make-up tries, yada yada yada
  • 2-3 pre-marital counseling sessions
  • book a honeymoon
  • everything else that planning a wedding consists of
  • oh, yeah, and do it 600 miles apart
We booked the church I grew up in, and I'm so excited to be going home to get married. This church has meant so much to me my entire life. Although I'm not a "member" there anymore, it's still home in my heart. I remember planning a fairytale wedding as a little girl and looking around during Sunday mornings and thinking, "One day I'll get married here!!!" I stood as the Maid of Honor in the same church when my sister and BIL said their vows and was a bridesmaid in 3 other weddings there. Those walls sure hold a lot of precious memories.

I resigned from my job and already received a packet of goodies from the superintendent's office. Before we go getting too excited about these goodies, I'll have you know it's just my teacher licensure and official transcripts and other boring paperwork. But this sweet letter from our Sup was pretty neat. I got to know him better last year when I was analyzing the school's budget for grad school. I definitely have been blessed with a sweet, sweet school district the past 3 years. As the kids have been asking me about leaving and not teaching anymore, I like to tell them I just knew no students would ever be better so I'm going to end with them. Very possibly a true story. :)

And boy do we have wedding folders galore in my purse! Sticky notes, excel spreadsheets, to do lists, timelines. The list will go on and on and on until we are settled back into Midland. But I'm trying to keep my head, remember that no one is going to notice that the napkins don't match the invitations (or whatever!), realize Cash and I care way more than everyone else, and at the end of the day we'll be married. I am constantly reminding myself that or it would be so overwhelming with all that's going on. Just marry Cash--that's really #1 and everything else will fall into place.

Plus, I have seriously the most wonderful fiance in the world. He's already booked the entire honeymoon, helped me register (or should I say I helped him), and deals with the constant e-mails throughout the day that read, "Ahh!!! We need 125.7 cubes of ice!!!" Okay, it's not really that dramatic. But he doesn't act too tired of my never-ending to do lists. Add to that he and his family are helping me find a job since I know NO ONE down there.

And one more thing that makes him so remarkable--yesterday I was a little upset that I didn't just have the money to really help him with our honeymoon, so I said, "I don't want you to think I won't help..." His reply? "When we board the plane to go, it'll be both of ours anyway." It's moments like those you stop the fast, the furious, and the madness of wedding planning and just give a crying burst of thankfulness that God made someone for you that will be there when you need them the most. I couldn't marry anyone else in the world. Okay, sappy moment over.

Off to read 50 more pages of why the Democratic Party is now in the North. Be jealous.

Avery Jane

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sunday Savings: Coupons

If you're like me, you love watching the Kardashians. This past season when Kourtney and Kim took, err partied, New York Kourtney found an addiction to coupons. It was comical to watch a millionaire fall into this trap, but the sad thing is that I see mostly people in my salary bracket getting on the coupon train.

Maybe that's you. If it is, be careful! I'm not against using a coupon--at all. If I need some Drano, and I have a 50 cent coupon for Drano then I get myself some 50 cent off Drano. However, the thing to watch out for is using a coupon for the sake of using a coupon. I don't know the statistics, but I would venture to say MOST people using coupons are spending more money by doing so. This is because you buy something just because there's a coupon...not a need. So even though you save 30 cents on Cheerios, you spent $3 and don't eat them; and you just lost $3.

What I've witnessed through friends and family is that they will have 32 packages of toilet paper due to racking up on 5 cent coupons. True that toilet paper will always be used, but this is just taking up space. And I see this in other commodities not as often used as well, especially food that will go bad.

I've never been one to cut a lot of coupons. If I buy something that has a coupon on it, then I might keep the coupon on my dresser until I actually need it. But I just don't have that habit. One thing I've seen a friend do is keep a coupon book with "chapters" of different types of coupon. I think it's a great idea if you have time! Just make sure you're using coupons for only SOMETHING YOU WILL BUY ANYWAY.

Tonight was fairly short, but I thought it was important because so many equate couponing to saving money when it really makes you buy products you wouldn't have...and you end up spending more. Moral of the story: don't get trapped into couponing. Use them only when you already had plans to buy that product. And don't hoard, or I'll call you into the show Hoarders. Gross.

Stay smart. Be savvy. Save money...
Avery Jane