Do we really need china?

Gentlemen, I have some words of wisdom to share with you: Pick and chose your battles wisely. I am no relationship expert, but I have definitely learned a few things. Particularly, when to wave the white flag and admit defeat.

Getting married is a pretty humbling experience. I am constantly reminded that life is not just about me anymore. I’m learning to be less selfish and more selfless. I am far from a”perfect” fiancé, but I do my part to love Girl Ninja as best I can. Sometimes that requires me to step outside of my comfort zone. The ability to compromise doesn’t always come easy, but it is an essential piece in any healthy relationship.

Here are a few areas were I had to learn to bite my tongue…

China

Apparently girl ninja is part Asian ’cause she has a strong affinity for china. No, not the country. The dishware. You know, the really expensive plates, bowls, and cups that you only use once a year. I’m willing to bet just about every dude out there (and probably a bunch of you women) don’t understand the concept of having extremely expensive dishes that only get used a handful of times. I’m right there with you. That said, it is extremely important to Girl Ninja that we have a set of china in our future home. Growing up she loved the days that family gathered around the formal dining room table and sat down to the fancy plate-ware (typically holidays and special occassions). To Girl Ninja, china is not just about expensive dishes. It has a much deeper meaning. China to Girl Ninja means enjoying a special meal with those that are most important to her. As silly as I think the expense may be, I can’t argue with the significance. Thus, we registered for this china set….

Our first place.

Yeah I know. I’ve blogged about it many times and I’m sure you are sick of hearing about it, but this is definitely an area where I have to learn to compromise. I’m currently paying 11% of my gross income towards rent each month. I have become so acclimated to minimal rent expenses that the idea of paying more for a place totally freaks me out. Although my cost of living is low for my income, it definitely has its downfalls. It’s not in the safest of locations. It’s pretty outdated. And it gets almost no natural light. It’s a total man cave and Girl Ninja would drop dead if she had to live here. We recently started apartment shopping and have been looking at places that are around 28% of my gross income. With the addition of Girl Ninja’s income it would really be about 21% of our household gross income. It’s nearly double the percentage I’m currently paying, but it’s still a totally reasonable number. If GN is going to feel more safe and comfortable in a place that costs a little more (but is within our budget) then you better believe I’m gonna provide for her.

Flowers

I know just about every guy out there reading this is shaking his head in agreement with me. What the heck is it about flowers that women love so much? Sure they smell nice, but so do brownies, and at least brownies taste yummy. Okay, maybe they can brighten a place up, but so can a 52″ flat screen TV. For as long as I live, I will never understand why Girl Ninja loves getting flowers as much as she does. She’s messed up in the head, but ya know what? If that’s how she feels loved, then I’m more than happy to drop $10 every now and again to make her day a little brighter. Do I like spending $10 on something that dies a week later? No. Do I like making Girl Ninja happy? Yes. Flowers it is then.

These are just a few of the areas of I’ve been learning to put Girl Ninja’s needs before mine. I’m slowly picking up on the art of compromise, but still have a long way to go. The old saying “Happy wife. Happy life” has never rang more true.

What are some areas of your life that you sacrificed for your partners benefit? Can one of you women please explain to me why you enjoy getting flowers so much? Ever seen a relationship fail due inability to compromise?

Girl Ninja always makes things difficult

Seriously. What’s her deal? We were having a little money talk yesterday, and I showed her a copy of my budget. I was explaining how it was configured and how all the different sections were calculated. We then started to play with the numbers a little bit, making our best guesses as to what we think OUR budget is going to look like. It was freakin’ tricky.

As I mentioned before, GN and myself, have different opinions as to how much of our income should go to rent. She would be totally comfortable paying a little more for a nicer pad, where as, I am all about finding the cheapest place we can live. I’ve blogged about this housing predicament before (here) so I need not bore you with it again.

That said, rent is the single largest monthly expense we have (except taxes) so we need to plan our budget accordingly. The only issue is … Girl Ninja makes my life difficult. Granted, there is nothing she can do about it, because it’s not her fault. No. It’s the stupid economies fault. She’s a credentialed K-6 teacher here in California, and if you aren’t aware let me tell you something… The California budget is jacked up beyond all belief! This means, Girl Ninja hasn’t been able to secure a contracted teaching position. Fortunately, she landed the next best thing: A long term substitute teaching job. She makes $150/day, but receives no benefits (no paid holidays, no insurance, etc).

Next school year is a different beast, however. We have no clue how many days a month she will be able to substitute teach. Seeing that we can’t anticipate how frequently she’ll be working, it gets rather frustrating trying to establish a budget. Variable incomes suck.

After our conversation, I came home and made my best guess as to what I think OUR budget will look like come marriage. Here are three possible outcomes…

As you can see, if Girl Ninja is able to work two days (out of 20+ possible school days each month), we scrape by with a $282 surplus. If she has the opportunity to work about half of the available school days, we should be sitting pretty with $1,582 in discretionary income. And lastly, if she is able to get a sub job every teaching day, I will pee my pants with excitement to the tune of $2,582/month.

I should also mention a few other things that help lighten the burden of her variable income…

You’ll notice towards the bottom of the spreadsheet I have a section called “Side Hustle“. This is all the money I bring in from tutoring, house sitting, and blogging. I was super conservative and only accounted for $240/month in extra income, when I have been averaging between $500-$1,000.

What’s more, 10 months a year I receive two paychecks. We decided to budget our expenses around those two checks, even though I actually get paid three times in April and October. This means, twice a year, we will have an additional $1,600 to put in to savings.

Although Girl Ninja’s income will is inconsistent, we should ALWAYS be able to get by. Even if she is practically unemployed, we should still be able to grow our savings account by $5,000yr (even after contributing to retirement). If she is able to land another long term sub job, or even better a contract job, we should be able to save $20,000 to $30,000 over the next year.

Of course all of this is based off a bunch of assumptions, but I did my best to make these assumptions pretty conservative. Barring a major unforeseen crisis, we should be able to start our first year of marriage with a positive financial outlook and that makes me happy. I’ll be sure to keep you posted as we actually start living these assumptions.

What assumptions did you make before combining money?

How do you, with variable incomes, do it?

Am I overlooking anything?

p.s. I did leave out the clothes/entertainment/etc from my budget, but I did so for a reason. I’ll have to explain it in tomorrow’s post. That’s my fault for not clarifying.

Wedding of a lifetime

So most of you know I’m getting married to this sexy little chica I know. Her name is Girl Ninja. She’s my BFF and I’m pretty stoked I tricked her in to marrying me (click here for the story). The big day is now less than 3 months away so I thought I would give you all a little insight in to the wedding process… from a dude’s perspective.

Unlike Girl Ninja, I never really thought about my wedding day. I never cared about my wedding colors. Where I’d be married. What our centerpieces would look like. Or even who I would have in my wedding party. When it came to my wedding day I only dreamed about two things: 1) That my wife would be hot and 2) That my wife would be hot. Lucky for me, both of those wishes will come true 🙂

Now that we are only a couple months out from Operation Marriage-4-Life, most of “the big stuff” has been planned and let me tell you all something. GETTING MARRIED IS CRAZY EXPENSIVE. Or at least in our case it is. I know many of you PF bloggers are having very modest weddings and I think that’s totally radical, but Girl Ninja’s parents gifted us a huge sum of money and had one requirement: We HAD to spend it on the wedding because that’s what they saved it for.

I asked GN if I could share our wedding budget with you, but she wasn’t super comfortable with that idea (she still thinks this blogging thing is kind of creepy). Although I can’t say what our “wedding” budget is, I got permission to give you the total cost of our marriage (wedding, rehearsal, honeymoon, rings, gifts, etc) and lets just say the number is SHOCKING. Are you ready for this? I don’t think you are. The total cost of this entire marital process is going to be a little more than…. drumroll please…. is the anticipation mounting?…. I hope so…

Did you just poop your pants a little? I do everytime I think about it. Praise the Lord a hefty chunk of this cost is subsidized by the in-laws. I know one thing is for sure. If GN and I were paying the way, that $50,000 would be more like $5,000 or maybe even $50 (Vegas anyone?).

I’m sure I’ll post more of the specifics about our wedding as it approaches, but being that I am a dude, I’m not really good at sharing the “cute” details. I can tell you our wedding colors are navy and champagne. We have lanterns with candles in them as our centerpieces. We plan to have 250 guests in attendance. And I’ve heard through the grape-vine, Girl Ninja looks smokin’ in her wedding dress (she wont let me see it).

I think with enough bullying from you female commenters, GN could be pressured in to writing a guest post about those smaller details . The only thing I pay attention to when it comes to “the big day” is the cost. She’s the one to talk with about what kind of napkin holders we are going to have 🙂

p.s. here are a few snapshots of our wedding venue…

Oh and here was our save the date I made in photoshop…

Okay, now proceed to bullying girl ninja below…

What are your financial commandments

As I mentioned before, Girl Ninja and I are going through premarital counseling. We are three weeks in and it has been totally awesome. We meet with a local couple that has been married for 25 years. At the end of each counseling session GN and myself are usually tasked with homework assignments. One of Girl Ninja’s  assignments, this last week, was to initiate a conversation about finances. Girl Ninja is not the biggest fan of talking money, so this was a GREAT exercise for her.

A few nights ago we had that talk, and it was absolutely wonderful. We shared with each other what financial commandments were most important to us. That’s right, financial commandments, kinda like the biblical ones (thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not murder, thou shalt not eat pop rocks and drink soda at the same time).

We each came up with a few of our own….

Girl Ninja’s Commandments:

  • Thou shalt tithe 10% of gross income before any spending occurs.
  • Thou shalt not take on any debt, except to purchase a home
  • Thou shalt let me take yoga classes even though the membership is $80/month

My Commandments:

  • Thou shalt not take on any debt besides a mortgage
  • Thou shalt put 15% of gross income in to retirement
  • Thou shalt talk about money together at least once a quarter

It was really cool to hear Girl Ninja’s commandments. Obviously there are other things that we think are important, but these commandments are CORE to our financial principles. The best thing about our commandments is that we are more than happy to embrace each others.

Girl Ninja is a dedicated tither. I, however, have always struggled letting go of ‘my’ money. I’m excited to learn from Girl Ninja how to become less emotionally attached to cash. She is going to encourage and model to me what a faithful giver really looks like and I can’t wait to delight in that with her.

I can’t tell you how sexy it was to hear her say that debt was not an option….purrrrr. Knowing that she hates debt just as much as I do, allows me to sleep easy at night. I don’t have to worry about her pressuring me to finance our next car or worry about her charging up a ton of money on the credit cards behind my back.

Lastly, she really wants to stay involved in yoga class, even though she knows it’s kind of pricey. Umm excuse me Girl Ninja….what’s that…. you want to know if I’m okay with you taking a class that is going to give you buns of steel and rock hard abs? Let me think about it…. YES PLEASE! If you want to spend a little money so you can get your sexy on, by all means GO FOR IT. It will be a cold day in hell before you see me take sexification away from the wifey 🙂

Like I said before, it was totally awesome getting to listen to GN as she shared her fundamental financial beliefs. I’m going to give those of you with significant others a task. I want you to ask your partner what their HONEST financial commandments would be, even if you weren’t a part of their life (I don’t want them feeling pressured to say things they think you want to hear, but only things they truly believe). You might be surprised by some of the things that come out of their mouth. I sure was.

So, reader, what are you financial commandments???

Money + Marriage = Honeymoon

I’ve possibly referenced my, and Girl Ninja’s, honeymoon destination in previous articles, but have never officially announced it. So today I make that announcement. We’re going to Aruba baby!!! I listed all my options in this post, but it really ended up coming down to Costa Rica and Aruba.

After some number crunching, deal hunting, and deciding what was important to us, we went with Aruba. I wish I could show you pictures of where we are staying because it’s off the hook!!! But I’m too scared one of you will show up at my hotel and try to murder girl ninja so you can take me as your husband/slave/lover. I like Girl Ninja too much to put her in such a situation where one of you could kill her.

Anywho, all said and done we will be honeymooning in Aruba for 8 days followed by another 4 days in Seattle. It’s going to be an epic time. Epic in terms of fun. Epic in terms of starting a marriage. And definitely epic in terms of finances.

For the airfare, hotel, airport shuttle, tours/activities, tax, etc we will be dropping $3,500. We will still have food costs and tips to account for. All said and done we should be looking at a $4,200 honeymoon extravaganza. Honestly, I can’t think of a better and more exciting way to spend that money.

We are a little over three months out from the big day and I’ve recently kicked Operation Sexy Body in to full gear. You know I’m not about to drop $4K on a vacation only to hate every honeymoon picture of myself. Girl Ninja is super duper fine, so I gotta be on my A-game if I want to keep her interested in me.

I think I’m going to print this picture of David Beckham and put it on my refrigerator for extra motivation to get ripped. Why Beckham you ask? Although I’m 100% in love with women, I’m not gonna lie, I may or may not have a tiny man crush on him

Now that I’ve updated you all a little bit on my honeymoon plans and my sexy body plans I’d be curious to hear…

1) If you had an unlimited budget where would you go on a honeymoon

2) Who is your celebrity same-sex crush

p.s. Did I mention I like women… a lot 🙂

The real issue with money

Last night, Girl Ninja and I completed another pre-marital counseling session (which I would recommend all couples do) and dabbled a little bit in the financial aspects of marriage. We have not yet gotten to the ‘finances’ section yet, so the BIG “money talk” is still looming.

One thing, though, did stand out to me during our conversation with the couple mentoring us. The husband said “Money is the number one cause of divorce in America.” Nothing shocking right? If you listen to Dave Ramsey, he spits that statistic out all the time. Call me crazy, but I’m going to have to disagree with Mr. Ramsey. I don’t believe “money” is the number one cause of divorce. I’m willing to bet behavioral issues, tied to money, are the real root of the problem.

I did a little internet research (I know the internet is not always the most reliable source) and here were a few of the most common reasons people have money issues….

Access: one family member feels another won’t allow enough access to shared financial assets and/or financial records.

Ownership: family members fight over ‘my money’ or ‘your money’ instead of ‘our money’. Variations are… who manages the family checkbooks and savings accounts, who’s responsible for paying bills

Incomes and earnings: a family member resents that another isn’t earning enough (or anything), and should ask for a raise, change jobs, or get a job. A variation is someone feeling chronically inferior (ashamed) and/or guilty because they’re earning or contributing less than a mate or other relative.

Lack of compromise: One person handles money one way, the other handles money differently. Instead of discuss things and meet in the middle, all anyone is concerned about is having things done THEIR way. The money discussions they have are not discussions, but debates. Where one person is trying to convince the other “My way is better.” Neither person is willing to sacrifice their financial preferences for the sake of a healthy relationship.

I don’t buy for one minute that money causes divorce. In fact, it’s impossible. Money is an inanimate object. It has no capacity to cause controversy. Instead, it is the differences in financial perspective, honesty, compromise, communication, and a whole slew of relational issues that are the real cause of divorce. I believe money is the symptom of divorce, but it’s definitely not the problem.

For those of you that are married, or in serious relationships, what have been the sources of your money fights? What means have you taken to work through those issues? Did you use LegalZoom for prenuptial expectations? Are there any freaks out there, that are in relationships, but have ZERO money issues? If you want to check out some of the most honest money problems I’ve ever heard, check out the comments on this post I did on financial secrets.

Girls are the cleverest creatures around

I’m at the point in my life where I’m starting to learn a lot of things about women. Many of my friends are newlyweds, and quite a few are new or expecting parents. If there is one thing I’ve learned about women it’s this… they are manipulative clever.

It’s possible I was completely naive to the ways of the world, but I honestly had no clue women were so sly. They can take just about any life experience and scheme a way to get gifts out of it.

Take for example a wedding. Pretty big deal right? After all, it is the day most women have dreamed about since their child hood. I’m totally in support of letting the bride have the wedding of her dreams. But it wasn’t until recently that I learned women have found a way to milk their pending marriage for all it’s worth. One bridal shower isn’t enough, they often have two (personal and registry), and sometimes three or more, showers. Seems like a pretty clever way to get gifts if you ask me. Oh and don’t forget the groom is typically expected to provide another gift (typically jewelery) on the day of the wedding. Huh, isn’t that convenient?

You’d think a few bridal showers, the wedding, a gift from future hubby, and a honeymoon would be enough to hold the bride-to-be over right? Not quite. Do you know what a trousseau is? Yeah, I didn’t either. It’s the possessions, such as clothing and linens, that a bride assembles for her marriage, but more specifically the honeymoon. That’s right boys. This trousseau thingy is really an excuse for the girl to go buy ANOTHER bathing suit, ANOTHER dress, ANOTHER purse, ANOTHER blah blah blah, that she doesn’t really need (and will probably never use again).

Now that we’ve knocked weddings out of the way, let’s move on to babies. Have you ever heard of a newborn referred to as “the perfect gift”? I have. Sadly, women don’t really mean it. When they say “I’m so glad I’m pregnant”, what they really mean is “I’m so glad I’m pregnant…. cause now I can buy new clothes and have more showers.”

That’s right, women get pregnant just so they can go shopping!!! Even before future mom starts to show, she stops by the store to pick up a few new pairs of Hudson jeans, because “She felt fat in her other jeans”. Umm excuse me, you’ve been pregnant for 4 weeks, I think you’ve actually lost weight from all the vomiting you’ve been doing in the morning (lol for morning sickness). You don’t need no stinkin’ jeans.

Just like the wedding, the mom-to-be will usually have at least one baby shower thrown for her, so she can get all sorts of crappy clothes she wont actually want to put her child in. Like this outfit….

But here comes the real kicker. Did you know there is such a thing as a babymoon? The babymoon is when the woman demands asks her husband to take her on a vacation so they can have “one last romantic getaway” before kids enter the picture. Excuse me woman, I paid a lot of money for this here house and bedroom set, and now you are telling me we have to travel to Hawaii just so we can be “romantic”… I’m on to your clever tricks! But okay, Hawaii it is. You win this round.

I don’t know how you do it ladies, but I have to give credit where credit is due… you are one sly creature. Do guys have any equivalent parties/showers? I’ve heard of a tool shower (grooms version of bridal shower) and of diaper showers (husbands version of baby shower), but I’m pretty sure those are pretty rare occurrences. What other aspects of a woman’s cleverness (is that the right word?) am I leaving out? I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a million more reasons they “deserve” gifts and parties.

p.s. I want it to be clear these are not things Girl Ninja has had, requested, or even mentioned. The following are just a few things I’ve noticed in various relationships.

p.p.s. I also want to note this article is written tongue in cheek. I know I’ve exaggerated the expectations of many future brides/moms. Don’t get mad, get even 🙂