The less glamorous side of marriage

I’m gonna be completely honest. There are a few things about getting married that kind of stress me out.  I get so caught up in the fantasy of marriage, that I sometimes forget to take a good hard look at the reality of marriage. And the reality is, marriage isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. Here are a few of the things that will change once I get married, that I’m not super excited about…

Cell Phone…

Word on the street has it cell phones can cost a pretty penny. I’ve been fortunate enough to leach off my parents’ family plan, meaning I have never paid for my cell phone. Girl Ninja is also on a plan with her family. Apparently once I get married, Mom Ninja thinks it’s time to give me the boot. She thinks that because I’m old enough to get married, this MUST mean I’m also old enough to pay for my cell phone bill. She’s crazy right? You hear that Mom, you are sick in the head (I still love you though and can’t wait to see what snarky comment you will leave on today’s post). Being that I basically have a huge crush on my iPhone, I couldn’t imagine giving it up. After some intense research, I’ve concluded an iPhone family plan for GN and myself would run just shy of $200/month, an expense I’m not excited about taking on. (side note: family plans only allow 5 lines per plan and GN and my family are both too large to just join on with one of them)


I thought it was only dogs that shed their hair, but I’ve learned that’s not exactly true. Girl Ninja has the most beautiful NATURAL blonde hair. I’m talking like real blonde, not dirty blonde. Here’s a picture of the top of Girl Ninja’s head…

While I do love her hair. It seems to also love me. I have black interior in my car and every time Girl Ninja sits in the passenger seat, her hair tends to “stick” around (haha, get it…STICK around!). I don’t know if I’m quite prepared to share a living space with her and her hair. Just about any guy I’ve asked (that lives with a girl) has told me their S.O.s hair ends up everywhere. The shower, the counter, the carpet, the kitchen, the milk carton. Their is no escaping it. Maybe one night, while GN is sleeping, I will replace her shampoo with some super glue. You know, to ensure her hair stays on her head…where it belongs. Ladies, can’t you control your shedding issues?

Growing up…

I guess when I get married I’m going to become something I’ve dreaded for a very long time… an adult! If you haven’t noticed, I tend to be slightly EXTREMELY immature. I still thinking farting is funny. I laugh at really dumb videos on youtube, like this one. And this is a shirt from my closet…

I’m doing my best to face the reality of marriage. I mean, I’m going to be responsible for another person’s well being. That’s a huge freakin’ deal. While growing up is definitely intimidating, I know that I’m at a place in my life where I can do just that. I have a good job (with benefits), a decent financial footing, a desire to provide for my family, and a love for GN that I have never experienced with anyone else. I guess I need to start getting my news from the newspaper and not MTV.

Okay, I think my list ends here. These are a few areas of marriage that I’m not quite yet prepared to face. I have five months left before the big day, hopefully I can figure something out before then.

For the married folks, What are some other “not so glamorous” aspects of marriage you have faced? If you aren’t married, what would be on your list?

Who pays $4,000 for a honeymoon!?

As Girl Ninja and I approach our wedding day, we have began the honeymoon planning phase. I have alluded to the honeymoon cost ($4K) in a few posts and have received my fair share of criticism. Especially after this article got picked up by the Consumerist. After reading some of the “not-so-nice” comments I can’t help but think this is what some people are saying….

Pam: Ninja must be off his rocker. Who does he think he is, spending $4,000 on a honeymoon?

Deb: I know. It’s like he thinks he’s one of those millionaires or something. Seems pretty stupid to me.

Pam: Yeah. I totally agree. I can’t believe he thinks he’s qualified to have a personal finance blog when he clearly lives a life of luxury.

Deb: I know right. He’s totally hypocritical. Plus, he probably smells weird.

Am I planning on spending $4,000 on a honeymoon? Yes. Do I care if some think that is too much money for a vacation? No. Sorry, but I don’t. Girl Ninja and I are looking to head somewhere in the Caribbean, possibly Aruba or Puerto Rico. I have made a spreadsheet with some of our favorite places, and the cost of each trip….

As you can see, the estimates run from $3,500-$4,200 for a seven day vacation. Now that you know how much we are looking at spending and where we are planning on going, it’s time to roll my sleeves up and put the boxing gloves on.

Here’s why I’m okay “blowing” 20% of my savings on a “silly” vacation…

1) Girl Ninja and I both have a relatively limited exposure to the world. Mexico, Canada, and the Marshal Islands are the only places I’ve been. GN’s experiences are pretty similar. We figure our honeymoon is the perfect excuse to gain some insight in to a different culture. Sure we could probably spend $2,500 and a cash advance on a week long vacation in Hawaii, but we aren’t just taking a honeymoon to sit on a beach all day and do nothing. We want to interact with the locals, go on some tours, and take advantage of all that a foreign country has to offer.

2) I have the money to do it. I don’t think anyone who reads my blog regularly, would say I have a problem saving money. In fact I’ve increased my net worth by over $30,000 in the last year. I save diligently, so that I can afford to do fun things when the opportunity arises. Yes, my savings account will take an 18% hit, but at my current savings rate, I will be able to recoup the loss in a couple of months. I bet if I said I had a $10,000 emergency fund and a $10,000 vacation/fun fund, instead of $20K in savings, people wouldn’t give me any grief. Sometimes people, including myself, forget it’s okay to spend money. I think I’m due for a little treat.

3) This honeymoon is going to be a big deal for our relationship. Our honeymoon will be a time of many firsts. I’ve shared reasons why GN and I do not live together, but I should also note, we have never even stayed the night in the same room. Thus, we have never vacationed together, not even a weekend get-away. The honeymoon would be the first time Girl Ninja and I sleep in the same bed together, the first time we wake up next to each other, the first time I have to remember to put the toilet seat down after going potty. It will be our first taste of the married life, and we want it to be AMAZING. If you haven’t caught on by now, let me spell it out for you…

Even though we have been together for 3.5 years, we made a choice early in our relationship to NOT participate in any “adult” activities until we got hitched. (wow that felt awkward to type)

I know some of my critics have my best interest at heart, and don’t want to watch me throw away a good chunk of change on a one week trip, but I hope you see that this is much more than “a vacation”. It’s going to be a time of many firsts and I’m totally fine splurging for a nicer vacation to ensure the week is awesome.

Okay, now that I feel totally awkward for sharing point 3, let’s open the floor for discussion.

1) Where do you think I should go on my honeymoon?

2) Where did you go (or want to go) on your honeymoon?

3) Do you think I’m spending too much on “a vacation”?

4) What’s the coolest thing about the honeymoon experience?

Do I have to change the name of my blog?

What situation would you rather be in…

Situation Uno: You could have $20,000 in savings, but also have $15,000 in mid-interest debt (7%).

Situation Dos: You could have $5,000 in savings, but zero debt.

I’m currently sticking with situation uno. I have $22K in the bank and a little over $15K in debt. I could pay off my student loan tomorrow, be truly debt free, and still have a small emergency fund. I chose not to. Dave Ramsey would be pissed! My blog’s title is Punch Debt In The Face, but by choosing to remain in debt, perhaps I should change the name to Punch Debt In The Face When You Feel Like It. It doesn’t quite have the same ring, does it?

I would be all about transitioning to situation dos if not for one small detail. I’m getting married. There are a lot of unknowns at this point in my life. I know I will be paying for a honeymoon (probably around $4K) and will face other wedding related costs over the next few months. Not having to pay for the actual wedding day has been a huge blessing, but I will still have some financial obligations.

I have no clue what to expect for monthly expenses as Girl Ninja and I move in together. I’ve never lived with a girl before, but word on the street has it those things can be expensive. It’s also unclear what Girl Ninja’s income will be. She is a substitute teacher in California, and we all know the California government can’t manage money.

Maintaining a rather large savings account keeps me from stressing out about the “unknowns” of marriage. Personally, if I paid off my student loan, and only had a few grand in the bank, I would be super anxious about our stability. So for the time being, I plan to continue operating in situation uno until, at least, the end of the year. After a few moths of the married life, and once I have a better handle on our future, I will strongly consider paying off my loan.

So what would you do? Does the security of having a large amount of cash in the bank keep you from stressing about your debt? Or does debt overwhelm you, and you would get rid of it in an instant. I have a feeling there will be a pretty even split.

Wedding Registry, from a Man’s perspective

Girl Ninja and I have embarked on an epic journey. A journey in to the world of pots, pans, and garbage cans. That’s right my friends, it’s wedding registry time. Registering is no child’s play, this is serious business. It’s my one and only chance to get a lot of nice crap without having to pay a cent for it. Being new to this whole registry game, I thought I would share a few of the things I have learned.

1) It’s okay to register for really nice things. I was having issues adding All-Clad pans to the registry. Those things are freaking expensive and I felt terrible asking for them. We are talking upwards of $200 bucks for a pot. For a rather crappy chef, like myself, I doubt I’ll notice the difference between a $20 pot and a $200 pot… after all, they’ll both boil water the same wont they? I wrote a few weeks back about my internal battle with accepting generous gifts. In an attempt to combat my awkward frugality, we have registered for quite a few “luxury” items. I realize that just because we want the $200 skillet, doesn’t mean someone HAS to buy us the $200 skillet. I was treating every item we registered for as a “is-this-really-necessary” item instead of a “how-sweet-would-it-be-if-someone-got-us-this” item. In the world of wedding registry, quality is what’s important.

2) Register at places with AWESOME return policies. Girl Ninja and I have registered at Crate and Barrel and Macy’s. These two stores both have amazing, and I mean amazing, return policies. Since Girl Ninja and I both live in San Diego, are getting married in Seattle, and have no clue where we will be living after we get married, there is a good chance we will need to return 99% of the gifts people get for us. It’s kind of a bummer and will probably be a headache, but there isn’t much we can do about it except register at places with good return policies. Crate and Barrel, for example, will give you straight up CASH for all items purchased through your registry. How epic is that, most stores will give you gift cards or store credit, but C&B would hook me up with Benjamins. That gives GN and I a ton of flexibility in our shopping. While Macy’s only provides store credit, they still allow up to a year to make the return and have some pretty sweet perks if you register through them. The coolest perk is that Girl Ninja and I will get a 5% store credit bonus on every dollar someone else spends on our registry. If people buy $2,000 worth of Macy’s product, Girl Ninja and I walk away with a $100 gift card. Boo to the Ya for free money.

3) There is a lot of crap to be bought. I’m a guy. We don’t need a lot. Give me one bowl, one plate, a spork, and maybe some toilet paper, and I will consider myself adequately provided for. Apparently Girl Ninja has different plans. We registered for cupcake tins, cupcake trees, cupcake carrying cases, and a whole slew of other things I never knew existed (mostly baking goods). I’m overwhelmed by the shear quantity of items we have registered for, especially knowing that we are only about 50% through the registering process. There is some crazy stuff out there, for example, I have no idea what the heck this kitchen thingy majigger is…There ya have it, three things that stood out to me as I embark on this wedding registry process. I can tell ya right now, it’s totally a chick thing as I haven’t met too many guys that get excited about picking out what color hand towels they want.

And now, as always, I leave with some questions…primarily for the femALIENS out there. What are some things you wished you would have registered for, but didn’t? I have heard it’s always better to ask for too much than not enough (i.e. dinnerware for 12 instead of 10). Is it against proper etiquette to register for things like tools and a BBQ? If you could do one thing over again with your wedding registry what would it be? ANY AND ALL ADVICE IS HIGHLY APPRECIATED! I definitely want to take advantage of as much “free” crap stuff as I can

p.s. if you didn’t get a chance to see all the comments people posted up yesterday about their financial secrets, I highly encourage you to do so…there are some interesting one’s in the bunch!!!!

I suck at accepting gifts

As Girl Ninja and I continue planning our wedding, I’m learning all sorts of crazy things about myself. One of the lessons I have learned thus far: I suck at accepting gifts.

Girl Ninja’s parents have been totally awesome and gave us a very generous wedding budget. I don’t know if Girl Ninja wants me posting up the amount, so I’ll just give ya’ll a ball park…it’s between $10 and $100,000 ;). In all honesty, it is the largest sum of money we have ever been gifted.

I think I might be a terrible human being, because my initial reaction was not necessarily excitement and gratitude. My first thought was “Thank goodness I don’t have to wipe out my life savings for this thing beautiful day.” But then my second reaction was “We can’t accept that, and if we do accept it, we aren’t going to spend it all.”

I’m genetically frugal, it is in my DNA, so I became slightly uncomfortable with the thought of spending so much money on one single day. I found myself trying to convince Girl Ninja to reduce costs, cut corners, and ultimately sacrifice the quality of our wedding, even though everything we want is within our budget.

Girl Ninja said something to me last night that helped put me at ease. She said, “Ninja, You need to understand that this wedding is a party that my parents want to throw for us. It is a gift and we need to be grateful for it.” (No she didn’t actually call me Ninja, but I would be so happy inside if she did).

How many times have we been given a bday or xmas gift, only to respond “I can’t possibly accept this.”? Ya know what? Girl Ninja has a point. Sometimes we need to shut up, and accept generosity. I may be frugal by nature, but I need to be careful not to offend, or at least appear unappreciative of this gift.

Sometimes frugality can be a curse, and this my friends might be one of those situations. Have you found yourself struggling to accept a gift? Why is it so hard to let people do nice things for us? Am I a total douche for having an initial feeling of discomfort instead of excitement?

p.s. the wedding allotment was given to us with no strings attached, except one…the money is for a wedding, and a wedding only. Many of you may be thinking “Cheap out on the wedding and pocket the leftover.” Not an option, and not what Girl Ninja and I would want to do 🙂

The story….

You all are gonna have to bear with me. I’m a guy and guys are not very good at telling stories. I’m gonna give my best attempt to appear romantic and fill ya’ll in on how the proposal went down two days ago. Here goes nothing…

The backstory…

Girl Ninja and I are both originally from the Seattle area. We also both currently live in San Diego (not together). I decided in August that I wanted to wait until Christmas time to propose because we would both be in Washington with family and friends. I bought the diamond in June, and for six months kept that sucker hidden in my desk. Needless to say, I was really excited for December 28th to come.

The Proposal…

I picked Girl Ninja up at 12:00 on Monday, for what she thought was 12:30 lunch reservations at the Barking Frog. The restaurant is part of a really beautiful winery/lodge and was the perfect spot….

Inside the Barking Frog

Now Girl Ninja, was under the impression that we were meeting friends for lunch (a double date), little did she know that was never the plan. As I pulled in to the lodge’s parking lot, I called my friend that we were suppose to meet up with and pretended like we were a half hour early. Girl Ninja and I decided it would be cool to walk around and check out the lodge, while we waited for our friends to arrive.

As we walked around, through the various gardens and fountains, I became increasingly more nervous as I knew we were nearing the proposal spot. As we approached the final courtyard, my hand began shaking uncontrollably from anxiety/excitement. I began to drag Girl Ninja to the table set up with the ring. As my hand was shaking, reality started sinking in, and Girl Ninja realized what was about to happen.

She looked at the table, then looked at me and said “No!” Still walking towards the table, I looked back at her and said “Yea!” We approached the table where I had the ring, some flowers, a Bible, and a scrapbook waiting for us….

The proposal table, next to a fountain (Girl Ninja LOVES fountains!)

We arrived at the table and it was time for me to put my game face on. I picked up the Bible and read this verse from Genesis…

But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

The man said,

“This is now bone of my bones

and flesh of my flesh;

she shall be called ‘woman,’

for she was taken out of man.”

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

I then got on my knee and said something like “I’ve been waiting a really long time to do this, Will you marry me?” I don’t really remember what happened after that because I was so freakin’ nervous/happy/excited/anxious that the next couple minutes were all a blur. I do remember one thing though…. SHE SAID YES!!!!!

Immediately after she said yes!!!

After some celebrating and chatter my friend and brother, that had been snapping pictures from the distance, came up to congratulate us and continue taking some AWESOME pictures. We then flipped through the scrap book I made which had a list of my Top Ten Favorite Moments together. Here is a picture from the scrapbook (the bottom left corner is empty so we can include a picture from the proposal)….

The last page of the scrapbook (aka my most favorite moment with Girl Ninja)

We took some more pictures and then headed over to the restaurant for our actual lunch reservations. I told Girl Ninja, there was no double date and that it would just be her and I. I could tell she was a little sad she had not been able to share the big moment with her parents, but little did she know I had some tricks up my sleeve. About 10min into our lunch reservations her parents surprised her and had lunch with us. Girl Ninja began crying and we had some great conversations.

At 2:15, it was time to leave lunch and head over to the Willow’s Lodge Spa so she could her nails done (I had to make sure her hands were looking pretty when she showed off her ring!). From the Spa we headed to Downtown Seattle and went to Starbucks so she could begin calling friends and family and sharing the exciting news with them. After an hour or so at Starbucks we headed to Pike’s Market to buy some flowers to bring back to her parents.

At 5:30, we left Seattle so we could make it back to Girl Ninja’s house for dinner plans with her family. Little did she know, there was more suprises to come!!!! We arrived to her house at 6:00 sharp to be welcomed by 40 of our closest friends and family. Getting to share the most exciting day in our lives with those closest to us truly amazing. I could tell that Girl Ninja was a little sad that one of her best friends, who lives in New Mexico, was not at the party. We mingled with our friends for about 15 minutes, before I pulled out my last surprise…. I had secretly flown her friend up to Seattle to be there for our celebration. I called for Girl Ninja’s attention and at the site of her best friend, tears and screams rang out.

The ring, with freshly painted nails, and our engagement cupcake!

We partied hard for a couple hours and overall had an amazing day. Here were my favorite parts…

1) Surprising Girl Ninja with a ring

2) Surprising her with lunch with her parents

3) Throwing a suprise party for us, when she thought we were just having dinner with her family

4) Flying her best friend up to Seattle to share in our special day

If you can’t tell I am a big fan of surprises and wanted to do as much as I could to let Girl Ninja know I love her. I can not believe I get to spend the rest of my life with such an amazing woman. The Lord has truly blessed me and for that I am thankful.

Thank you to all who have sent congratulatory comments and tweets. I have shared each and every one of them with Girl Ninja. I may not know any of you, but they still mean a lot 🙂

p.s. About six months ago I blogged about how I sold my motorcycle…that was to subsidize part of the cost of the diamond 🙂