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?


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!

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!


When Shelves Ruin the Day

When shelves strike…

When Shelves Ruin the DayJake and I have been married for almost a year now and most days we shake our heads and wonder why people kept (and continue to keep) telling us that marriage is hard. Almost the second we got engaged that was the warning friends and family would leave us with, which, when you think about it, is pretty depressing.

I appreciate the warnings and I fully believe that marriage will only get harder with kids and life changes and all sorts of things we’ve yet to encounter but, for the moment at least, life has been good…except when we hang shelves in our condo.

We’ve done a lot of small, DIY home improvement projects to our tiny little home in the year that we’ve had it and every single one of them has turned out perfectly. Except, recently we bought some shelves to hang over the bed.

Because our bedroom is so small and our bed so large, the most functional place to put the bed is in the corner, and Jake has been sleeping against the wall with no bedside table since he moved in after our wedding in January. And because he codes late into the night, he had no safe place to leave his laptop when he eventually wanted to sleep. So for months, I was sleeping next to a man who unconsciously tries to claim the whole bed for himself…and his laptop.

Fed up, we went to Target to invest in some shelving to resolve the situation. Now, in my brain, we’re not only getting shelves that Jake can safely store his laptop on at night, but that I can display photos and store some of the books that have been piling up on my side of the bed. We could center these shelves above the bed and have both a beautiful and efficient storage solution.

Now, Target is great but they don’t typically sell just one long shelf to center above the bed. But they do have very nice shorter shelves that are the perfect finish to match the rest of our bedroom set. So, in my brain, I’m thinking we get one shorter and one longer and center them above the bed. The shorter shelf can hold my books and the longer one can be Jake’s bedside shelf for his computer and whatever else he needs to store.

My sweet, loving, kind husband, however, had a very different idea to put up the shelves in an L shape in the corner over his side of the bed. Much to my dismay, he proceeded to hang the shelves as he saw in his brain without really talking through my idea first. This put me in a bad mood most of the day which obviously put him in a bad mood, too, and ruined what could have been a lovely day.

Marriage isn’t hard until it is. Until you realize that you’re this person who has their own brain living with another person who has an entirely different brain and the two brains don’t have some kind of Google technology telling them everything that’s happening with the other one. (That would be cool, though. Get on that, Google.)

I know marriage will get harder than putting up shelves because so much of life is harder than putting up shelves. But I also know that God used that experience to teach Jake and I about expectations, communication, and not being selfish and expecting to get our way.
So maybe marriage is harder than I think it is because the little things like putting up shelves are shaping our character, making us more like Christ in small doses, rather than sanctifying us in one fail swoop. Hard or easy, baby steps or one big leap, I’m grateful to be married to Jake.

Just got to remember that we’re not Chip and Joanna Gaines.