Budgeting for That Pretty White Dress

Paying for anything “wedding” is insane. Learn how I saved for my pretty white dress over ten years!

wedding-Ruesink-6783Oh, friends, it is officially winter wedding season! With that and my own wedding anniversary coming up, I’ve been reminiscing about our special day quite a bit lately and thought I’d share the story of how I paid for my wedding dress because it’s a great one.

When I was fourteen, I dated a guy whose parents threw their spare change into a box in their closet at the end of the day. Instead of exchanging the coins for cash, they would use it as a savings system for things they new they would need in the future. I took this idea and ran with it.

I took a large jar that my parents had laying around the house and cut a slot in the lid for coins. I created a label, glued it onto the jar, and put this impromptu piggy bank in my parents’ living room. Whenever my parents would entertain, their friends and family would see “Jackie’s Wedding Dress Fund” and add in their spare change or loose one dollar bills. My parents added as they could and I poured ever spare cent I had into the jar as often as I could. Occasionally, the very generous soul would slip in a $20 bill because they thought the idea was so clever.

At least once a year, my dad and I would total it up and deposit the coins and cash, leaving scraps of paper with the total amount we deposited as an IOU for the future, and watched as our spare change really started to add up!

By the time Jake proposed, I was 24 and had been collecting spare change and loose bills for ten years! As you can imagine, totaling up the jar was one of the first things I did when I went home after getting engaged. From 2006 to 2016, I collected over $1100 in my wedding dress fund and was able to afford the most perfect dress I could imagine for our wedding.

Not wanting to let this brilliant savings idea end, I created a new label for my jar and it has since become Jake and Jackie’s Adventure Jar and will hopefully have much more success than Carl and Ellie’s from Up.

I’m so appreciative to each and every person who contributed to my little jar. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to name each and every person who slipped in a quarter or two but I’m very grateful that they found the idea clever enough to generously donate. I can’t wait to pass on the jar if I ever have a daughter and I hope you’ve found inspiration for your own dreams savings plan!

Did you have an out-of-the-norm payment plan for your wedding? How did you pay for the dress of your dreams?


Meal Hacking for the Reluctant Chef

You could describe my cooking style as…reluctant. Here’s how I keep Jake and I fed with healthy meals throughout the week.

Adobe Spark (11)One of the things I discovered very quickly in my marriage is that cooking is not quite what I thought it would be. Did anyone else run into this scenario?

Before I married Jake in January, I honestly did not cook for myself. Eating out and microwaving meals was about all I could do while planning a wedding, moving, and getting used to my new job. Plus, since it was just me, leftovers from restaurants seemed like they could last me forever so why worry about making my own meals?

I knew that living with Jake, we’d want to eat at home to save money and have better control over our diets. And even now, though I still dislike cooking, I see it as a way to love and serve my husband when he gets home from a long day. So how have I managed to decrease eating out and start making healthy meals at home? Meal Prepping!

And no, I don’t spend an entire weekend day cooking for the week like a lot of fellow meal preppers might. I like my weekends to be filled with friends, family, adventures, and naps, NOT cooking.

So here’s how I do it:

  • Grocery Shopping: Jake and I typically shop for groceries on Sundays after church like what seems like the rest of all mankind. During this trip, we buy ingredients for two meals that I will make and sometimes a frozen family skillet meals or pizza to allow ourselves some wiggle room for the week.
  • Cooking: I make these one or two large meals usually on Monday and Wednesday. Because I just hate cooking, I use my crockpot as often as possible to have food cooking while I’m at work or asleep so that’s even less work on me!
  • Freezing: Depending on when the meal is done cooking, I pack some up in a container for lunch or dinner/leftovers and freeze the rest in individual tupperware that I take for lunch all throughout the week.

Making two large meals a week helps break up the monotony of eating the same things every day but can create a space problem in our freezer. When this happens, I try to either space them out as much as I can or make a larger serving of one that I know Jake and I will love and smaller serving of the other.

Anyone else have any meal hacks to share? I’d love to hear how you make healthy meals last in your house! Ideas are welcome in the comments below!