FinCon14 Expenses & Experience

Hi everyone! My regularly scheduled September budget review will go live on Thursday, but for now, I figured I would break down the costs of our trip to FinCon. I know a lot of you are thinking of going next year, and if I have any advice, it’s to start saving now. Our last-minute trip went pretty well, but I’m planning on trying to travel hack my way there next year, so I don’t have to drive or pay for parking!

Before I go on, I’d really appreciate it if you stopped over to Young Adult Money after reading this post. I’m guest posting there today on 4 ways to avoid being pressured to spend at work. Please go ahead and leave a comment or share if you liked it! Thanks!

FinCon14 Expenses

FinCon14 Expenses | Journey to SavingWe were able to keep food costs pretty low since FinCon provided us with breakfast and lunch. We stopped a few times in the car as well, and then R had to eat while I was at the conference. I have to admit, our dining out budget was totally a bust this month. I did not expect food in NOLA to be so expensive!

Gas was pretty much what I expected it to be. I love my Civic! We came under budget overall on gas this month, which I’m really happy about.

Parking was steep, but I had to weigh this against the cost of a plane ticket, and subsequent transportation. We still came out ahead with gas and parking combined. Plane tickets were around $400!

The parking fee includes two nights at the hotel ($70) and then a “private” lot ($20) where we parked the car on Saturday, since we checked out of the hotel at noon.

We chose to stop at a hotel overnight after leaving NOLA as we were both tired. After scouring Trip Advisor, I found a Wingate at Wyndham nearby. The clerk was nice and gave us a discount! The hotel was actually very nice too – a welcome surprise after our stay in NOLA. I had wanted to book it with my credit card points, but as we were on the road going there, I wasn’t sure if it would register in time. I can still redeem my points if I want to. They at least had free breakfast and wifi there, so I think it was worth the stop.

I purchased my FinCon ticket for $263 from someone that couldn’t attend. It was originally an early bird ticket.

What do I plan on doing differently next time?

I had told you guys I would give you my perspective on the conference. I’d like to preface this by saying it was awesome, and well worth the money! I have to admit, when I first saw the ticket prices, I thought they were super expensive. So if you have any hesitations next year, just know that you’ll come away from the experience not even thinking about the price.

That sounds crazy coming from me, considering I don’t like paying full price for anything, but I think it’s appropriate to say you really get out of the conference what you’re willing to put in.

The hotel

First of all, I’m planning on staying in the conference hotel next year. As some of you might recall, I got a free stay elsewhere courtesy of a friend, and it worked out really well since the Marriott special for FinCon had expired. Regardless, I believe it was $130/night, and free beats that price! However, I was less than impressed with the hotel we stayed at. R absolutely hated it. I don’t want to complain because it was free, so let’s leave it at that.

I do feel as though I missed out on some impromptu get-togethers in the lobby and the bar as I wasn’t staying there. I felt a little out of the loop. It also would have been easier to check up with R. Instead, our hotel was about a 15 minute walk away, so it made it a little difficult to coordinate.

Driving or flying?

I feel like driving worked out for us. The drive there went by much faster than the drive back home. I have no clue how that happened! We got to see some states we’ve never been in, and that was pretty neat. I can see us driving again next year if there is a better parking situation, and if it’s within a 5 hour drive.

I would still like to try and travel hack my way there with the flight, though. It would probably be more convenient!

Bringing family/spouses

I know there were a few of you asking about bringing your family along, or your spouse. For the most part, R was happy to walk around the city and take in the sights. He’s very easy going that way! He’s not into blogging whatsoever, so the conference would have had zero value for him. If your Hotel Room | Journey to Savingspouse is interested in the blogging scene, it might make sense for them to attend the conference with you. Be sure to took at the sessions ahead of time!

As for making a family trip out of it, I don’t see why not, as long as the destination caters to it, and your spouse is okay staying with the kids.

Would I bring R with me next time? As much as we hate being apart (yeah, we’re that couple), probably not, unless we elect to drive. It’s ultimately up to him, and I’m very thankful he’s been so supportive, but sad he wasn’t able to take part in the fun.

All in all, I don’t have many regrets. It was the first conference that I’ve invested in, and it was a learning opportunity. I’ll be preparing in advance for next year by using Cat’s awesome advice: to hustle like crazy while you’re there to make back your FinCon investment. That is definitely my plan for next year! I’ve already purchased my ticket. And hey, if you’d like to help me make back my investment, feel free to check out my freelance writing and virtual assistant services.

How are you planning on doing FinCon15? If you attended FinCon14, what’s one thing you wish you did differently, or one thing you got right?

Being Grateful: Forty-Fifth Edition

Hi everyone! I have a special treat for you today. Something a little different…

In case you don’t want to watch the video, I’ll be transcribing everything. I don’t want anyone to miss out, especially if they’re browsing at work, or unable to listen.

I’ll only be publishing videos on Saturday for right now. I wanted to experiment and see how you all liked them. If you get a chance to watch, please leave a comment with your thoughts!

What led me to this experiment? FinCon + Melanie. Melanie and I had been talking at FinCon, and she shared with me that she didn’t think her personality came across strongly on her blog. (She’s even more quirky and lovely in real life! Hard to imagine, I know. =))

This is something I’ve been struggling with lately. I think I’ve found my voice, but there’s something to be said for actually being able to hear how I say things. Text doesn’t always convey tone the way we want.

So thanks, Mel, for planting that seed! I also attended a session by LaTisha on making videos for YouTube; she makes it seem like so much fun, I figured I would give it a try.

I have to admit, it was a little weird sitting there talking to the camera. I think it’s going to take me a little bit longer to really warm up to everything. To be honest, I normally analyze everything and try to get it perfect, but I’ve been learning that’s not always the best road to take. So I just went for it this time, and I apologize for the not-so-great quality!

Okay, onto the reasons I have for being grateful this week!

Being Grateful - Journey to Saving

The weather

As most of you know, I love fall, and when I saw that it was in the high 60’s/low 70’s, I was super happy! The apartment was actually 73 degrees a few days ago. I couldn’t believe it.

I got to wear a hoodie and boots for the first time since moving down here! Of course, the temperature is going back up this weekend, but hopefully in 2 weeks it will settle into the 70’s.

The only bad thing? It was cloudy all week. The sun came out today, and I am loving it!

Friends

Being Grateful - Cats! | Journey to SavingOne of my friends lives in SC, and we took the opportunity to go a little out of our way to visit him on our way back.

Unfortunately, my GPS was a little off, and we didn’t end up getting there until around 11:15pm. Thankfully he was off the next day! We grabbed a bite to eat, caught up, and left around 12:45am.

The main excuse for visiting was to see his cats, though. They’re part maine coon, and were so big and fluffy!

Posts!

First, I am very grateful that Melissa from Sunburnt Saver offered to guest post here! I hope you all enjoyed reading her post on how to split the household bills when moving in with your significant other. It was perfect timing, as I was a little busy getting caught up this week!

Second, my first post for Careful Cents went up. I’m honored to be sharing my journey to becoming a solopreneur over there, as it’s an amazing resource for freelancers. Please check it out if you have a moment! I’m not going to be posting any freelance-related topics here; all of that will be over at Careful Cents.

Third, I decided to send in a “Dear Debt” letter to Melanie. It was actually pretty cathartic to write! I don’t talk about debt as much as I should on here, but I knew Melanie’s blog serves as a great outlet. =) If you want to write one, you should!

Mystery shop

I joined a local focus group way back when we first moved here. They pay pretty being grateful - forty-fifth edition | Journey to Savingwell for just an hour or so, and I wanted to take advantage of that. Sadly, they hadn’t selected me…up until now!

You all can laugh, because it’s actually a mystery shop for a beauty store. Ironic, since I’ve drastically cut down on buying cosmetics. I’m doing it later today, so I can’t give you all the details, but I’m happy to be getting paid to shop. That’s the dream, right?

I would encourage all of you to see if there are any focus groups around you, especially if you work from home. Having a flexible schedule can help.

September is almost over

This is a weird thing to be grateful for, but I’m ready for fall to truly begin. September was also a super busy month, and I’m looking forward to calmer days!

I grossly underestimated how crazy FinCon was going to be, along with all the preparation that went into it. I plan on providing a more in-depth post for you all, but I have to second what Kassandra said the other day – plan now if you want to go to FinCon15! I understand if things are up in the air, but at least start thinking about it.

What am I looking forward to? R and I decided to take a day trip to Asheville for now, to see how we like it. The hotels there haven’t gone down in price, and for one night, it’s not worth it. It’s only 2 hours away, so we’re going to suck it up and drive there and back.

My mom also wants to go horseback riding. I’ve never been, and I’d love to try it, so we’re going to fit that in somewhere when they come to visit us.

There you have it! Those are my reasons for being grateful this week. I hope you all enjoy your weekend!

What are you being grateful for this week? Have you been bundling up already? What do you think about doing videos + blogging?

How to Split Your Household Bills After Moving In Together

Hi everyone! I hope your week is going well so far. I have a special treat for you today!

I’m still catching up after FinCon and being thankful that I haven’t been in a car for the past two days, so I am very glad to be introducing you all to the wonderful Melissa over at Sunburnt Saver

She is here to talk about how to split your household bills when you move in with your significant other! As some of you may recall, back in our old apartment, R and I split everything pretty much down the middle. We went with the “his and hers” option Melissa discusses.

However, when we relocated back in April, we made the decision to combine our finances. It has really simplified our lives (financially and otherwise), but I know it’s not a decision many come to early on.

That’s where Melissa comes in. She’s going to highlight 3 ways to split the household budget with your significant other, so read on to find out what she recommends! And then go check out her beautifully designed blog and show her some support, okay? 


 

How To Split Your Household Bills | Journey to SavingAre you thinking of moving in with your significant other, or are you planning on moving in with your spouse? It might not be the most romantic thing to think about, but before you take the leap, it’s time to have the money conversation. You two will need to talk about how to split your household bills after moving together, once you’ve determined what bills you two have and how much you both owe on a monthly basis.

First Step: Know Your Own Monthly Income and Expenses

The number one thing couples fight about in relationships is money. Unfortunately, much of this is because couples didn’t talk about their finances before moving in together. Don’t be a statistic! Take an hour or so out of your blissful day together to discuss finances now, before you have your first big fight (and trust me, you’ll have one. Just don’t let it be about money!).

The first thing you will want to do is determine your own monthly income and expenses. When B and I moved in together, I didn’t actually know how much I spent each month. Before we sat down, we both went over our individual expenses and came up with a ballpark estimate of how much we spent on our own ‘stuff.’ This includes the variable expenses, like gas, groceries, and personal products. For more information on structuring your budget, you can check out my post on how to set up a budget from scratch.

We then determined how much we brought in monthly. From there, subtract out the expenses and voila, you have savings! You can go further and determine if you want to have a joint savings account, but for the purpose of this post, we’ll stop and get on to determining who pays what.

At this point, you will have to make a decision that has plagued hundreds, if not thousands of couples before: do you combine your finances, keep them separate, or do a mixture of both?

Option One: Ours

Option one is generally seen as the option that (some) married couples choose: combining finances entirely. This is generally seen as good if you don’t have a whole lot of debt, or if one spouse is planning on being a stay-at-home-parent.

Ours - Option 1 to splitting household bills | Journey to SavingThis option is preferable if you don’t have a lot of debt (student, consumer, or other) because one person isn’t taking out, say, $400 a month for ‘his’ student loans or ‘her’ consumer debt. Taking that much out for one person’s debt can build resentment, so joining your finances completely is best seen as an option for those who are pretty much equal.

Tip: Before combining finances entirely, talk about everything. In fact, this method should probably be called ‘are you absolutely sure you’re on the same page? No seriously, check. Write it down.’ The thing about combining finances completely is that your spouse sees everything you buy. Everything. Every little hair tie, salon visit, iPhone 6 Plus purchase, hair gel, underwear, etc.

Again, this is fine, but you and your spouse/SO should discuss this ahead of time and either set up a ‘fun money’ amount that you can both spend, no questions asked, or you should determine how much you both want to save monthly.

By setting up a fun money maximum ($50, for example) or determining how much savings you have to have by the end of the month, this allows for a little ‘play’ in your budget to accommodate those one-off purchases (like hair ties or underwear that you randomly need), or for things you like to splurge on (like a visit to the salon or some new accessory for your gadget).

Option Two: His and Hers

The ‘his and hers’ option means you both keep your finances completely separate, but you split the household bills equally (or based on who makes more) and pay for your ‘assigned’ household bills.

This option is generally for couples that have just moved in together, or marriage isn’t on the horizon, but that’s not necessarily true anymore. More people are using the ‘his and her’ option, partly out of convenience (no opening a joint checking account) and partly because they just don’t want to combine finances.

His & Hers - Option 2 for splitting the household bills | Journey to SavingFor example, B and I have been together almost 5 years, and marriage is on the horizon, but we’re not sure we will ever combine finances. For me, I grew up watching one parent control the purse strings, because my Mom was the stay-at-home parent, and I told myself I wanted to control my own money, even if I made mistakes along the way.

For his part, B grew up with two working parents who combined finances and didn’t argue about money, and they taught him really great money skills from a young age. Due to our different, but complementary backgrounds, we came into the relationship wanting to retain our autonomy.

Tip: Prioritize who will pay bills, and still talk about how much money you want to save monthly. For us, B owns the house, so he pays the mortgage and all bills associated with owning a house (electricity, gas, water) – we split those bills equally, and I transfer money from my bank account to him electronically. B doesn’t care about owning a phone at all, while I love my phone and data plan, so I pay for our phones entirely. Since I make a bit more, I’m fine with that ‘extra’ expense, since it is one I’d have for myself regardless.

Caveat: With this option, you both have to be responsible for your bills, but especially the ‘big bills’ payer. B has a monthly reminder on his phone and computer that reminds him when the mortgage and electric bills are due (our two biggest expenses), and he reminds me to transfer the money over to him. This means I have to be extra responsible too, because as the one not actually paying the bill, it’s easy to forget to transfer over money. You have to think of it as another bill to pay.

Option Three: His, Hers, and Ours

Option three is the ‘Goldilocks’ version, and it can go one of two ways: either you both have a ‘his, hers, and ours’ checking account, or you have a ‘his, hers, and ours’ savings account. You can have both a savings and a checking account too – lots of options with this!

A lot of people find the ‘his, hers, ours’ option the easiest, and it is helpful because both people can see exactly how much things cost every month.

His, Hers, and Ours - Option 3 to splitting the household bills | Journey to SavingWith the joint checking account option, you and your spouse/SO transfer in however much your bills are that month. If your electric bill that month was $200, you would transfer in $100 and so would your spouse/SO. You can base the amount you transfer in on a percentage of how much you make, too – like the ‘his and hers’ option. If you make less, you and your spouse/SO may agree that you take on one fewer bill, or pay less to the rent or mortgage payment.

Tip: In addition to being helpful because both people can see how much the bills are every month, if both of you hate paying bills, this option lets you take turns paying bills out of the joint checking.

A joint savings account can be helpful too, and you can set it up for a variety of things: if you’re engaged, the joint savings account can be your wedding fund, or if you’re already married (or engaged/dating), it can be your emergency fund/emergency household repairs fund/travel fund. I’d advise against your joint savings account being a retirement fund, though, simply because you’ll want a better return on your retirement funds than what a bank savings account can offer you.

Melissa blogs at Sunburnt Saver about personal finance, with an emphasis on saving, for young adults. With a background in finance and budget, Melissa is passionate about using her skills to help other young adults make smart money choices. Join Melissa on her journey to avoid debt (and sunburns) and navigate life after college! Read more at www.sunburntsaver.com.

Which option do you and your spouse/SO use? If you’re single, what have you used in the past or which option would you want to use in the future?