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?


Ruesink Update – House Hacking

Jake and I are doing exciting things!…and no, tiny humans are not involved.

If you follow me on social media, you may have heard already that Jake and I are embarking on our next big adventure! And no, it does not involve a tiny human.

This week, Jake and I closed on our second home, a house just a few minutes South West of our condo in Austin. We absolutely love our condo and are sad to be leaving it but we’re very excited about our new adventure. Now, you may be thinking, “Jackie, didn’t you just get your condo? Haven’t you been married less than a year? How and why are you buying a second home already?” Well, my curious friend, I’m happy to answer all of your questions!

Jake and I bought our condo in November of 2016. It’s small, cute, and in a fantastic location in Austin, within walking distance of a Torchy’s Tacos. It’s in a quiet community, on a bus line, and is no more or less space than we’ve needed for just the two of us and Stella. We really hit the jackpot with this one.

But Jake has spent the last few years studying the real estate philosophy made popular by BiggerPockets called House Hacking. The idea behind house hacking is that instead of buying a single-family home, you buy a multi-family home (duplex, triplex, or 4-plex) and live in one unit while renting out the rest. This allows you to essentially live for free and even make a profit. So using this philosophy, we’ll be renting out our sweet little condo and learning how to be awesome landlords.

“But, Jackie, you bought a single-family home…that doesn’t count, does it?”

Well, no, not exactly. Single-family homes aren’t exactly what BiggerPockets suggests as ideal for house hacking. Jake and I tried to buy a duplex but ran into some tricky financial boundaries that we just couldn’t commit to right now. We tried and learned and now we know some of the restrictions we’ll face if we attempt to buy a multi-family property again in the future.

The current plan for our new adventure is to live in this house for the next few years, fixing it up, and renting out rooms on Airbnb to help fund our home improvement projects. Once we’ve saved enough and are ready to move on, we’ll rent this house out just like we’re renting the condo and move on to Property #3. We’ll continue this process until either managing multiple properties gets to be too much or until we decide we actually hate moving and should really stop.

While Jake and I may not be following the ideal house hacking model, ideally we’ll be setting ourselves up for a secure financial future that will allow us the freedom to spend our lives doing what we feel is most important: loving God and serving others.

“But Jackie, you know nothing about being a landlord. What on earth makes you think you’ll be able to do this?”

You’re absolutely right. As of maybe a month ago, I knew nothing about what it takes to be a great landlord. But I’m learning. BiggerPockets literally wrote the book on managing rental properties and Jake and I have been studying like college students who care. We’re approaching this whole management thing like a business, and as such Jake is putting his degree to work while I’m getting some hands-on experience setting up efficient business processes. We have a lot to learn and I’m sure we’ll find in this process that we don’t know nearly as much as we think we do but we are nevertheless positively pumped to fail and learn and succeed.

All of this to say, the Ruesinks really are up to something big and we would love your prayers as we take on this new challenge. Ultimately, we’re hoping that God uses this adventure as an opportunity to minister for His kingdom. However, we’d also appreciate prayers for our marriage as we’re basically going into business together which certainly adds a new dynamic to our relationship.

Finally, we’d like prayers for our hearts to resist the compulsion of greed. Yes, financial security would be great but God does not say that Christian’s lives will be financially secure. We are repeatedly told that as believers, we can expect to encounter hard times. While the financial benefits of our plan are appealing, we want to focus our hearts not on money (which God can take away whenever He so desires) but on the lives we’ll have a chance to impact through the doors this adventure opens.

Jake and I recognize that God has given us more than we need in this life and we want to be good stewards of everything that he’s given us. We want to enter into this adventure with the intentional mindset that what resources we have are God’s first and we’re just taking care of things for Him. We appreciate your prayers as we move into this exciting next phase of life and we cannot wait to see what’s in store for us!

Kids: A Psa

No, I’m not pregnant. Yes, we’re planning to have kids, but when that happens is not your concern.

As Jake and I close in on our first marriage anniversary, it has not escaped my notice that one question seems to permeate so many of my discussions lately: “when are you guys having kids?” While most people are genuinely just trying to make conversation or mean the question to tease, I’m becoming more and more annoyed by it. I expect this question from my parents, in-laws, and grandparents, but if that’s not you, I honestly don’t want to hear it.

Yes, Jake and I would love to have kids. But our timing and intentions are not really anyone’s business but our own. We have ideas and plans for how we would like to spend our limited time together before parenthood and we’d like to accomplish as much on our list as possible.

We know our plans and lives are not our own and if God chooses to bless us with a baby earlier than expected, we’ll welcome him or her with open, loving arms. But we’d also like to enjoy our time together before that happens.

So please, before you ask a friend/coworker/sibling/couple/stranger when they’re planning to have kids, remember that it’s not really your business. If and when they choose to produce offspring, they’ll let you know. Until then, pray that their marriage will be strengthened in this time without children and kindly keep your mouth shut.

When Your Husband Bleeds Maroon

Why are you whooping?

When Your Husband Bleeds MaroonMy husband Jake is my favorite person on this planet. But he’s also an Aggie.

If, like me, you grew up in the great state of Texas, you know that there are two kinds of Aggies, two-percenters and those who bleed maroon. My husband is the latter. Sometimes I think he is the spirit of Aggieland here in Austin.

Growing up, many of my friends were Aggies. Most people in my church and a lot from my school went to Texas A&M and my best friend is a proud member of the fightin’ Texas Aggie class of 2011. Aggies have been everywhere in my life but not once has their cult-like brand of enthusiasm rubbed off on me. I’ve never gotten into the spirit of Aggieland.

Funny how that happens, right?

One of the things I’ve learned being married to Jake is that to him, being an Aggie isn’t just about where he got his degree, it’s a huge part of his identity. It’s safe to say his parents brainwashed him from an early age so he’s literally been an Aggie all his life. As such, he doesn’t (like to) miss football games (though sometimes that’s unavoidable) and he’s equally dedicated to the A&M basketball team as well. He even follows baseball in the spring. This kid is committed, let me tell ya.

While I really don’t understand it, I’ve learned that one of the best ways I can love Jake is by prioritizing Aggie [insert sport here] when I can. Recently he had some friends who were kind enough to invite us to a football game on the spur of a whim. He asked me Saturday morning if I would like to go to the game that night and I agreed. While the height of our seats nearly made me throw up, I know how much it meant to my sweet husband to be there. I will probably never get into Aggie sports the way Jake probably wishes I would. But I’ve figured out that making them important in my life (even when I think they’re dumb) is a quick way to my husband’s heart.

Jake and I at Kyle Field

I don’t know if you are married (or will be) to someone like my Jake. But just a quick word of marriage advice: your spouse is not going to change who they are but you can change how you love them. We will always run into things about our spouses that we don’t like whether it’s the way they do the dishes, or how much time they spend watching sports, or that they say “remote” instead of “switch” when referring to the device that changes the channels on a TV. None of that matters, really, but letting these things bother us isn’t loving them, it’s letting the enemy break apart your marriage.

I will never understand my husband’s Aggie-hood but I will not let it be a barrier to our marriage. It’s going to take humility and patience at times but I want to love this man the very best that I can.

Anyways, maybe you have an Aggie in your life that you struggle to relate to (you probably do, they’re everywhere). I hope this little story helps.

If you have no idea about the spirit of Texas A&M, that’s fine too, thanks for reading my really long rant. Let’s be friends!