Monday, July 11, 2011

A Lean Year

Our first year of marriage has been one of excesses.  Not that we lived excessively, per se, but our lifestyle was definitely a step up from what we were used to, and wasn’t necessarily one that we can sustain (at least for now).  As we move on to our second year together, we plan to liver a bit leaner, both financially and physically.  Let us explain:

The first excesses started before we even got married, as we moved in together as we began receiving house-warming and wedding gifts, which only continued to pile up after we got back from our honeymoon. Who knew two people could accumulate so much STUFF in so short a time?!  In addition, after we moved in together we had the obligatory trips to Target and IKEA to stock our home with things we didn’t already have (i.e. furniture).

Here is a list of some of the one-time purchases we’ve made in the last year:
  • Honeymoon
  • New couch
  • Dining room chairs
  • Bar cart
  • Robin's desk chair
  • Living room side tables
  • Bedroom lamps
  • Wedding Expenses
    • Rings
    • Wedding attendant gifts
    • other random (like new party dresses & shoes for events like rehearsal dinner)
  • Monthly eating out @ nice restaurant x 1 year (A gift we gave ourselves was that we were going to treat ourselves to one nice meal per month.  We wanted to experience the local restaurant scene, and to celebrate.)
  • Travel expenses (friends' weddings, graduations, holidays & other trips etc.)
    • We went to 8 weddings and got invites to 5 additional ones
    • We traveled out of town to most of them and of course bought gifts
    • Our parents & siblings all live out of state and we like to spend some holidays together ie. flights & road trips.
  • Two cars! 

total exaggerating.  We were not thinking about money
on this sunny San Francisco Day.  But you get the idea.
We thought about money before and afterwards.

We blogged about our car hunting here and here.  We were afraid that since both our cars were the same year & model (1997 Honda Civics) they were both going to die at about the same time.  We didn’t want that to happen while Tony was in school and have to make car payments on top of other expenses.  We used our tax returns and Tony’s tuition reimbursement bonus to pay for the Scion, and we currently have two new(ish) cars totally paid off.  No auto debt = awesome!

Speaking of debt.  This is the main reason we're going lean.  Tony's graduate program will be all paid for by student loans.  There are no stipents or paying you to attend.  Only a small glimpse of a (or a few) scholarship after the 1st year for the lucky few.  We will take out student loans to pay for all his expenses - tutition, books, etc but the #1 CRNA program in the country aint cheap!  We'll be living off of my income.  Cutting our incomes in half is pretty drastic.  Living more simply and cheaply just makes sense.  It's a temporary situation for the next few years until he graduates and we get back to a 2 income household at a higher rate!  It will be a challenge but something we're both ready for. 

All this spending and debt is fun and all but as we embark to Richmond soon, we’re reflecting on our lifestyle and how we can live more simply, or to use another word: Leaner.  Which brings us to point number 2: We have both put on a little weight since we’ve been married and the excesses of those monthly eating out expeditions, combined with horrible work schedules (we normally don’t eat dinner until after 8:15pm since we don’t get home until around 7:30 to 8pm) and lack of access to good running (Tony normally has to run through an industrial park, and it’s often too dark, too hot or too early when you work from 7a-7p).  We eat very healthily but sometimes it’s hard to exercise enough, and dessert has definitely not been off limits; there is a lot of room for improvement.

So how do we plan on living a simpler, leaner life this next year? Here are some of our ideas:

  • Going public: We’ve all seen the studies that say if you advertise your weigh loss goals/efforts, then you are more likely to succeed. This means posting on facebook, twitter, telling friends and family, with the idea that they can help coach you (or chastise you if you cheat!)
  • Moving to a neighborhood that has easy access to running trails/sidewalks with new & interesting routes.  This is a big priority!  More hopefully updated soon!
  • Mutual support: Even though at the time it can get annoying, we will rely on each other for motivation, encouragement, working out together, and coaching. “Can we have dessert?  Nope!” “I’m just going to sleep in” “No, you’re going for a run.”
  • Eating dinner earlier
    • Continue to eat vegetarian in our house, sticking to the mantra “Eat food, mostly plants, not too much.”
    • Cutting out desserts (not entirely, but smaller portions and less often)
    • And perhaps what will be most difficult will be no longer dining out fancily (especially since we’re moving to a new city!), but this will be much easier on our waists & our wallet (we were averaging $100/meal with drinks and tips)

  • No more cable; just netflix on our roku
  • No more magazine subscriptions
  • Checking car & renters insurances
  • No more buying cars/furniture/vacations
  • Selling our stuff (See this post and this one)
  • Coupons
  • Cooking at home (which we already do)
  • Others??

We have absolutely no regrets on how we spent our first year of marriage.  We wouldn't change a thing.  It was a beautiful year while it lasted and we know with our changing lifestyles thing will have to change.  We really enjoyed being able to go out to dinner every month, go on many small and even 1 large vacation, buy new 'us' things and overall have a great time with no guilt.  I won't say we're being more responsible from now on since we're were always conscious and responsible about purchases and how we budgeted our money.  We both worked and made enough to have a semi indulgent first year of marriage.  It gave us a great foundation.  Now we have a lean year ahead. 


  1. This is fantastic!!! And I agree. Jen and I have been living quite freely money wise for the last four years. After our sudden job loss, apartment loss AND car loss, we're in so much debt it ain't even funny. We're working on getting out of it and living a bit more carefully with money, while still getting what we need and want!

  2. Sounds like a plan:-) We definitely like watching that savings account grow too, and living debt-free! You can definitely still live well and have everything you need! xoxo

  3. Great post! I feel inspired to cut a few unnecessary expenses out of our lives now. What we do to save money is make a huge trip to Costco every couple months and plan out exactly what we need. It lasts us forever without having to eat out. Good luck!

  4. simply a great post and motivating!

  5. Great post...and thanks for all the helpful honesty!! I can't wait for my first year of marriage :)

  6. Love this post! There are a ton of great ideas! I think I may steal a few!


Leave your lovely thoughts below!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...