Bridal Beauty on a Budget.

It’s Friday which means another wedding this weekend for me. We have four in the matter of three months and one is in the Bahamas, so you can imagine how our budget is feeling lately. This weekend I am in the actual bridal party so I think you can all feel me on the added expense of supporting your nearest & dearest. So how did I budgetista this wedding? Well, I used my MIL’s seamstress to take in and hem my dress which only cost me $25 vs $100. I also do my own spray tan, makeup and hair to save a ton of money and have it down to a science now – I even did it myself for my own elopement (see pic below). So here are all my DIY bridal tips & tricks, whether you are just supporting the bride or you are the bride (congrats!).

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The night before any event I am attending I use Fake Bake’s Flawless tanner and spray it on my body in the shower to catch all the overspray. Whatever is left on the mit at the end I use on my face. I sleep in a black tshirt and yoga pants so I don’t transfer onto the sheets and then I shower in the morning to rinse off the bronzer. Sometimes I leave it on dependent on the event and what I am wearing like if I am in a bikini I want to look as tan as possible. You can even put on this tanner right before an event (if you aren’t wearing white), let it dry for a few minutes and then get dressed – the bronzer shows up right away.

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Let’s Get Frugal in February.

With February being a short month I thought it would be fun to talk about how we can be extra frugal this month since there are only three full weeks left in the month. This would be a good test month to try to save as much money as possible by not spending very much. Here are my top tips and tricks to help us save this February:

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Meal Prep. They always say “Fail to plan, plan to fail” and it couldn’t be more true. We always spend more money making multiple trips to the store for groceries vs. planning our meals for the week and prepping our food on Sundays. You can even prep your coffee so you don’t feel you are missing out from your Starbucks run you won’t be making this month. Sometimes it is as simple as the act of having coffee in your car while you are driving that you crave so why not set yourself up for it at home? Also, make the crockpot your friend and plan meals you can get more than one dinner from or make soups that you can bring every day to work.

Don’t Eat Out. If you have meal prepped you won’t need to really eat out at all so you will save a ton of money here. See if you can go three weeks without going out for dinner, eating out for lunch or grabbing cocktails. Just removing these items in three weeks will save you hundreds of dollars in February. Obviously you still want to have a social life, but invite the girls over for wine and The Bachelor instead of paying $10 per drink at a bar or have a potluck dinner with your friends where you can all leave with leftovers.

Get Creative on Valentine’s Day. Ah, the Hallmark holiday as my husband likes to call it. I love love so I can’t get enough of Vday, but there is no need to spend a ton of money on one day that isn’t even your anniversary. Create your Vday card (Pinterest has a million DIY ideas) and come up with a date idea that isn’t your standard overpriced fancy dinner. Make a picnic under the stars, walk on the beach, cozy up by the fireplace together, have a romantic movie marathon – just STAY IN and you will save. If you typically give gifts think of ideas that are more thoughtful and less expensive like love coupons. One year I made my hubby an Infographic with all of our relationship facts and he loved it (see below). You could even make this their card. Check out Easel.ly to make your own.

dating infographic

How do you plan to get frugal in February? Share in the comments with me. xx, Beth

How To Use the Dave Ramsey Debt Snowball Method.

Over the past year while we have been building our dream house we have accrued some credit card debt. Our only other debt is my student loans which I have paid $20k off of so far (yay!), but I wanted to get serious about our cc debt so I started researching which method was best to start tackling the debt. After running all the numbers I found that Dave Ramsey’s Debt Snowball is really the fastest way to pay off the debt. His theory is that you will stay encouraged to pay off the debt as you see the smaller debts fall away, as opposed to feeling that they aren’t moving at all. Luckily for us our smallest debt also has the highest interest so that will be the first card we attack. Wondering how the Debt Snowball works? Here’s how:

dave ramsey debt snowball thebudgetista

Dave Ramsey says that before you start aggressively paying down your debt ensure you have $1,000 saved for emergencies.

Once you have your emergency fund set aside, list all debts in order of smallest to highest regardless of interest rate. This should include all debts except your house and include your cars. Right now I am focusing on our credit cards only because the interest rates are SO HIGH and once they are wiped out I am going to do the Debt Snowball again with my student loans, which have interest rates pretty low around 2%.

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Alexa Jean Fitness Sore to the Core Review.

So if you follow me on Instagram (@hautehealthy) you know I love to switch up the workouts I am doing and usually partake in some sort of challenge every few months. I get bored pretty easily and the gym isn’t my thang so I love that there are so many fitness challenges that are either free or very inexpensive that you can find through social media. I have done Tone It Up’s 8 Week Challenges many times and I did Kayla Itsines’ BBG for the 12 weeks with good results, but the latest challenge I have been crushing on is the Alexa Jean Fitness Sore to the Core Challenge, which is 4 weeks but I have extended mine into a second round because I love it so much. Read on to find out what I love about Sore to the Core and to see my results!

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{Sore to the Core Results}

Quick & Easy. Each workout is under 15 minutes tops and you complete them 4 times a week with 3 rest days. The Sore to the Core workouts are mainly ab moves, but some days you also incorporate jumping jacks, burpees and other HIIT moves. On the off days (3 days a week) I would still do light cardio by either going for a walk, doing yoga or some other kind of workout like a Tone It Up workout. I would usually give myself one “off” day a week, usually Sundays.

Inexpensive. The Sore to the Core Ab Challenge was on sale for $6 and you can bundle it with her other workouts for under $20. They get emailed to you as PDFs so you look at them on your computer or device to follow along with the pictures. There are no video explanations and I had to look up some of the moves online as I had never heard of some of the Pilates ab moves she incorporates.

Results. Half of the first month I did the challenge was Christmas break so I was definitely indulging and drinking alcohol, so the fact that I saw results was surprising. I do follow a mainly plant based diet in general though so I do not want to mislead anyone that I was eating whatever I wanted during this time. To read more on what I eat on a daily basis, read Easing into a Plant Based Vegan Diet. I don’t weigh myself but I did feel like my clothing fit a little bit better or looser if you will.

I am now at the end of Round 2 of Alexa Jean Fitness’ Sore to the Core Challenge and it has maintained my body as the only workout I have been doing 4 times a week for the past month now. The picture above was taken at the end of Round 1 and my body hasn’t had any different results in the past 4 weeks but it has stayed the same so I would say it helps maintain for sure. You are obviously going to see the best results if you are following a clean and lean diet while you do the challenge as well. Overall I love it and am excited to try her other workouts once I finish this week!

Let me know any questions you have in the comments below. xx, Beth

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203K FULL HOME RENOVATION LOAN GUIDE: Picking Up the Pieces with a new GC.

So after my last post in October on 203k Loan Time Extensions and Termination our house just started moving again and it is January. Over the past three months we had to sort out the issues left from the old GC, get subs sorted and have the engineer come out to give us his review of changes that need to be made to bring the house to code to be able to pass inspection. Turns out the Engineer is God and their word is above the building inspector so what he says goes. Between waiting on the Engineer’s report which takes weeks and with the holidays, we lost over a month just waiting, but once we hit the new year work has begun again and it is exciting to drive by the house and see people actually working on it. For matters of transparency, the Engineer’s time, plan updates and report cost about $1,750 total this time. Every time he continues to come out to the property costs about $225 an hour. Fun times over here.

We ended up contacting the old GC on our own and negotiating how much he would receive from the 10% hold back check because we learned our lesson this year and knew it wasn’t worth going to court over $5k. If you are ever in this situation take my advice and try to settle outside of court at all costs because the justice system isn’t just and you will spend more fighting it with lawyers than what you are even fighting over.

Based on the Engineer’s report, the new GC had to fix all of the structural items raised in the report to bring the house to code which included rotted roof trusses, broken floor joists and sistering other beams in the house – none of which was included in our quote with the new GC or in the bank’s escrow account so it all comes out of our pocket. These are items the old GC was paid on that he said he would fix later and never did so there is no money left in those buckets to pay out against which means we pay. This week they are pouring concrete to infill two windows and a major beam in our house that we have been waiting many months for. Luckily the concrete beam was budgeted for, but the windows were not, so again, an additional cost for us mainly for the labor and supervision. Once this is all done an inspection will be called and hopefully everything passes (fingers crossed!). Once passed, the next step will be bringing in the trades to complete their work (AC, Electric & Plumbing) then the insulation and drywall can be put up! I am super excited about this part because I feel that once we have drywall up it will start to look like a real house and the end will be in sight. After drywall will come stucco, painting and finishes like flooring, tile and installing fixtures / appliances. The good news is we have everything picked out and almost everything is already purchased so no wait time on those items. Read my post on how we found everything to decorate and design our house on a budget here.

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Home Design & Decorating on a Budget.

As we have been building our 203k Loan Renovation house for one year and four months now (but who’s counting?!) you could say I’ve had A LOT of time to research how we want to design and decorate the house. Sometimes having too much time is a bad thing because you overthink and change your mind a few times, but we know our style and the look we are trying to achieve so we never ventured too far off course without coming back full circle. The issue actually became more that we have caviar taste on a Trader Joe’s budget, so I learned a lot over the past year on how to design and decorate a house on a budget. I hope some of these tips and tricks can help you along your home design journey.

Wayfair.com – I am the master of Google search and spend hours researching to compare the best prices on items and every item led me back to Wayfair.com every time for the lowest price. We ordered all of our plumbing and lighting fixtures from Wayfair, all items delivered quickly and without issue. They also have a great return policy we luckily didn’t have to use.

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2016 Update

After the most stressful year of my life I am happy to report that 2016 is already looking up. Construction has FINALLY begun again on our house this week, I got a raise at work and the contingency check from the bank arrived (they messed up the suite # on the envelope and then they put the old GC on the check) which will help us pay for our roof that has to be fixed. There is no way around fixing it unfortunately, but at least this contingency money exists and will pay for most of the work to be done. Driving by my house on the way to work and seeing workers on site makes me so happy I can’t express it in words. We are finally able to see light at the end of this very long tunnel. To read the entire 203k Full Renovation House saga check out these posts.

While we are still in the building phase for the next few months we have to continue to save as much money as possible so my husband’s overtime $ and my raise difference is going to go straight to savings. We want to make sure we have as much cash as possible to cover all our costs so we don’t have to put anything else on our credit cards. Not to mention our house money only covers the house, not a driveway, yard, fence, sprinklers, etc. so we will need to pay for all of that. Our plan is to round up or double our credit card payments during this time and then once we are in the house make a plan to start attacking our debt repayment. I have been reading a lot of finance blogs to get us in the savings & budgeting mindset like Blonde on a Budget / LBee and the Money Tree / And Then We Saved. I love to read financial articles and have started writing my own Finance section – if you have any topics you would like to read about just let me know.

In the meantime while we wait for our house to be finished and continue living with our in-laws, I have been binge watching Fixer Upper and Genevieve’s Renovation on Netflix which has really been putting me in a home design mood. I cannot wait to decorate our new house. The thing I enjoy most about Genevieve’s Renovation is that the numbers seem more accurate than a lot of HGTV shows, she runs into major issues along the way and she is very frugal. I feel that her show is the most accurately portrayed, but I also love Fixer Upper because I have a serious crush on the Gaines family. Maybe our next house can be a farm…

How is 2016 treating you so far and any design shows I should be watching? Have a great weekend. xx, Beth

How to Find Money in Your Current Budget.

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Staying in the New Year mindset of saving money and paying down debt I thought it would be fun to discuss the ways you can find money in your current budget without having to get a side gig or cut “fun” spending. Some of these are obvious while others are straight ghetto frugalista, because that’s how I roll…

Gym Membership: With so many inexpensive home workout options and Free Youtube videos there is really no reason to pay hundreds of dollars a month on going to the gym. Cutting the gym out for us saved $100 a month or $1,200 savings in one year. I now use Alexajean’s Fitness Guides which cost under $10, go for local walks or do free Tone It Up workouts on Youtube.

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Tips to Save Money in 2016.

Hope you had a very happy New Year’s Eve! I opted for a different route this year and stayed in with my hubs who is working 3 12-hr shifts in a row and picked up overtime to make us more money. I made an all plant-based dinner (first time making sprouts myself!) and we did a fun writing activity where you list your faves of 2015 and what your hopes for 2016 are including travel spots you want to visit, books you want to read, habits you want to break/learn, etc.

While we did the writing exercise, one of the biggest 2016 goals we kept mentioning was paying down debt, saving more and increasing our incomes. Obviously with paying to have a house built our finances are suffering this year but that doesn’t mean we can’t still take steps to thrive while we build. Here are my top tips & tricks to save money in 2016:

2016 Tips to Save Money

Replace online shopping with Money Mapping.
Learnvest is a great online tool that allows you to hook up all your accounts in one place to monitor your finances, show you where your money is going and help create savings goals. My bank also provides this tool and it is amazing to see how much you spend on groceries, eating out and shopping some months! If you are an OCD dork like me who loves spreadsheets you will adore Money Mapping each month and I believe it is the first step you should take to start saving more money in 2016.  Continue reading

Year in Review.

I am signing off for the year but I wanted to share the highs and lows of my 2015 because there can’t be sweet without the sour. Hope you have a fantastic holiday and cheers to a better & brighter year ahead for us all! xx, Beth

Buying and renovating our dream home. Read the whole saga here.

Ready for pour

Getting engaged in Fiji. Not only did he pop the question on an island shaped like a heart but we met Kelly Slater.

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Designing my handmade wedding dress with my oldest & dearest friend Elouise Couture.

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Eloping. Planning our secret behind everyone’s backs gave us some light in the darkness of our housing nightmare.

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Visiting Bali. Taking off a few weeks to travel Indonesia couldn’t have come at a better time + we got married! Check out my Bali post here.

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