Monday, December 16, 2013

Looking Back (the mushy gushy)

Last night with Jake's family, we played a game a lot like the Newlywed Game. One of the questions, "Where was your first date?" was really difficult for us to answer. We had known each other for 3 years before we ever went on an official date. But even then we had had so many "dates" before that that we have NO idea what counts. So this subject got us talking late last night about everything that has brought us to where we are now. It's amazing to see where our lives have led us, and how they continually brought us closer.

That cute boy who was sitting behind me on my first day of high school 
in Coach Fletcher's Spanish class is now my husband. 

We were talking about our High School lives and I really feel like there is so much that kept us close, and obviously for a reason. I can truly see God's hand in our relationship and now in our marriage. I am so blessed.

Though we are the same age, we were in different grades in High School. It wasn't likely that we would have classes together, but some how, each year we were given more opportunities to become closer. During our Spanish class, we became really good friends and I can admit now that I had a huge crush on him. When the school year ended I was really sad that I wouldn't have the chance to spend much time with him after that.

The next year however, I was sitting in my calligraphy class, waiting for it to start, and in walks J. He sat down with his friend, and when he noticed me, he motioned to the seat next to him. I got up and enjoyed the rest of the semester next to my (now) husband. At the time, we were both dating other people so it was fine just being friends. We talked ALL the time and were able to really grow close and this is when Jake became my best friend. I will always cherish the time that I spent with him there. (Don't ask him about the time I spilled ink on his sweatshirt though, he's still mad).

After that he was always there for me, and I for him. We helped each other through every situation and spent a lot of great times together. During my last year of high school, I realized that I was falling in love with Jake. He was still in a relationship at the time, so I just stopped talking to him. One night I was up late talking to our really good friend Joe. Joe knew my feelings for Jake and told me, "You are going to marry him one day anyway, so just tell him already." A few days later Joe was in an accident and passed away a few days after that. It was Jake that took me to the hospital that day to say goodbye.

That moment and that accident completely changed my life. Life suddenly became fragile and short and so real. I realized from that moment that there was a lot in my life that I wanted to change. And I knew that I wanted to become a better person so that I could live with no regrets. And when our personal lives lined up and we finally started dating, I knew that I wanted to do everything in my power to never lose Jake and to be the best person I could be, for him.

Even after we started dating, there was so much we needed to work through, and so much we had to overcome. Every moment, and every trial we have gone through was worth the pain in order to be where we are now. God sees us. He knows us and He loves us. He knew, long before I did, that the biggest blessing of my life was sitting right next to me all those years ago in Calligraphy class. It took me a while, but I figured it out too.

It has been 7 years and 4 months since I first met Jacob. Almost 5 years since our first kiss, and 1 year and 4 months since we were  married. No matter how we measure our time together, God has given us the best time frame for our lives together, and that is eternity. I am so grateful for every moment that I have had to spend with my husband. He is the best person I know. He is my best friend and the love of my life. And I could never thank our Heavenly Father enough for everything He has given me.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


As of late we have had a lot going on at our house. But thanks to Pass of All Passes and Groupons we've also had some great date nights as well.

FYI If you have pass of all passes- Gold's Gym is free for the month of December!
So happy about that.

Well, I will back track to Thanksgiving.We had dinner with my family. It was so much fun and I loved spending time with everyone. We haven't all had Thanksgiving in years, so I'm happy we all got together. 

We ended up buying a camera online for Black Friday as well. So, I might start posting 1543542 pictures a day. Sorry in advanced! Long story short about that, we will never go to Walmart for Black Friday again. They officially lost our business and whoever I can take with me. They are liars. 

Other exciting things we've been up to, first we went ice skating one Friday night. The Olympic Oval was free with PoAP in November. I hadn't been ice skating in a long time and was really scared to fall. So I was a semi-wimp. Also, there was a hockey game going on in the middle of the oval, so when we'd skate over to that half we'd skate away as fast as possible because of the smell. I will never put a child in hockey simply because of that. We had lots of fun though!

Oh and also, I hate wearing those pants and feel super awkward in them. But they're Jake's favorite and he begs me to wear them everywhere! Maybe I'll get used to them... 

Of course we have started decorating and getting ready for Christmas. We're getting presents together and shopping around. It's really difficult shopping for my husband because he just buys everything he wants. What do you get someone like that? Really, I need some help!

For Christmas we went to a "Latin Christmas" celebration in the Salt Lake Tabernacle. Two of the girls I lived with in Peru were dancing in it. It was fantastic! I really plan making it a tradition. They perform dances and songs and throw such a great performance. And even if you don't speak Spanish there are translating devices you can wear. But even then, Jake just watched without understanding and still loved it. 
And of course, these two beauties did amazing.

This past weekend we went to Momentum (indoor rock climbing in Sandy). It was fun as ever and we did a bunch of climbs. But my muscles are still recovering. It's pathetic. 

On Sunday our nephew was blessed. He is adorable. We love him, and it was great spending time with our family and all the kids.

We got some big snow storms around here this past week as well. One morning we measured 14 inches. It's also finals week so there's been no time for snow shoveling, except at midnight. Yes. On Friday night Jake went out with the shovel and I ran around the neighborhood with the dog. I wish I had videos of this. It was so funny! He had to hop through the foot of snow and kept running with his head buried so he could sniff. It was the middle of the night and we just ran a muck in the neighborhood. Well it was fun!

Lastly, on that note, we're having two female dogs over this weekend for Cooper. I feel like I'm prostituting my dog. But either way, it's going to happen. SO, hopefully in a few months we'll have some Beagle puppies for sale. All purebred, so just give it a thought if any of you are wanting one. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Family, Dance and Halloween.

This month is my Mother's birthday, so one Sunday we all got together to spend time with her and celebrate. We had a family friend visiting from Glasgow as well, so he was able to come spend time with us all that night too. 

Later in October, I made my dancing debut once again at a local Utah competition. I keep telling people that I'm completely done competing and then I just get this strong desire to keep doing it, even though it's SO hard on my body now. Well, I worked for a month to get my endurance up to the point where I could make it through a dance, and I competed at the First Presbyterian Church in Salt Lake City. I had a lot of fun being a part of the competition again rather than organizing it. My niece and nephews were there to watch as well. After the awards I gave each of them a first place medal. Now I'm officially retired from competition again. Maybe. Maybe not.

For Halloween we went for a Life of Pi theme. This is started because we wanted to dress up our dog. Yes, our costumes revolved around our dog. We found a cheap Tiger costume online and decided he would be Richard Parker, then naturally Jake was Pi, so I was left to be the Zebra. The ears are the only indication.
Jake ended up looking like and Muslim- Buddhist, but it fits! That's what you get when you throw together a costume using old clothes and bed sheets. 

We were going to dress up and go to a party or something the weekend before Halloween, but I ended up being really sick during that time. So we stayed home and watched movies while Jake placed me in quarantine on the other side of the room. On Halloween we went to the Deklerk's house. We hung out with everyone and just ate lots of food and candy. The dolphins (my team) were playing the Bengals, so we watched that. Coincidentally, Cooper was dressed up as the opposing team.

Oh yeah, and then this happened.
Jake bought a motorcycle. He is in love. We got a really great deal on it. Jake will be using it for commuting in warm weather since he car gets such terrible gas mileage. However, he has a great winter vehicle so we didn't see the point in getting rid of it yet. We might as well get as much use out of it as possible, but also get good gas mileage while we can. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Benefits of Marriage- His Perspective

You may have read my "Benefits of Marriage" post here. These are my opinion of what have been the biggest blessings associated with marriage in my mind. There are so many great experiences that come from being married and spending my life with my husband. Now I'm passing the torch to him and it's his turn to tell you the benefits he sees in marriage.

Kelsey may have touched on some of these already, so hopefully this will not be too repetitive. But here it goes. The benefits of marriage- his perspective.

  1. Making love :)
    • (My wife told me not to say sex)
  2. Having someone to talk to that understands you and your situations
    • She lives with me 24/7 and knows what's going on in my life. My wife is someone you can talk to about EVERYTHING. With your friends or even family, you may leave some things out. It may not feel comfortable to talk through certain things. Your wife is someone who can hear and give advice for all things and you can always trust her. 
  3. Having a wife while also being in school
    • Most people think school might be more difficult being married, but it's the complete opposite. I don't worry about my social life as much because mine revolves around my wife. While this is a huge distraction for most college students, I'm to bed on time every night, my assignments are turned in on time and not rushed. And I live in a peaceful house with a wife that understands I need quiet time alone to study. Plus, my wife has a full time job, making it easier to pay for school and take days off when I need to study. It doesn't hurt that she's a great school counselor too.
  4. Having a live-in Woman's intuition
    • Sometimes in comes in very useful.
  5. Having a woman roommate
    • She is clean, smells nice, and cooks food. If it weren't for her, I'd have a lot of microwaved burritos and McDonald's.
  6. Not having to worry about the bills
    • I know this is very specific to MY wife. But I don't know what I'd do without her! She enjoys taking care of the bills, checking the bank account, and managing our money. I on the other hand just have to hand her my check every week. 
  7. Working on projects together
    • Or should I say, she tells me what she wants, I build it. Then when I secretly don't like her idea, I can make up an excuse of why it won't work, and she's none the wiser. 
  8. Having two incomes and a bigger bank account
    • With two of us working right now, and Kelsey's money management skills, we're both better off than ever.
  9. Having a travel buddy
    • Our honeymoon was my first time out of the country. Kelsey has years of world traveling experience and loves to share with me and we're already planning many more vacations. Traveling is more fun when you have somebody enjoyable to share it with and new places to see.
  10. Having two families
    • We have more great examples of relationships and family structures. They give us ideas on how we want to raise our family. I  am grateful for the experiences we get to share with each of our families.  
  11. Having someone to torment 
    • It's so entertaining. And the play fighting might lead to better things...
  12. Having someone who knows where you've been and how far you've come
  13. Having someone to do nothing with
    • Being lazy when you're alone means sitting on the couch like a slob. Being lazy when you're married means talking with someone else and enjoying someone's company. You never have to feel lonely when you have your spouse there with you.
  14. Having security and commitment
    • It's good to know nobody else can take my lady, and she wouldn't have them if they tried.
  15. Having someone who expects more from you to bring out your better side
    • Yes, it's frustrating sometimes when I don't want to go the extra mile. But when it comes down to it, my wife knows when people need us to visit or call. She knows when I need to make more of an effort with some aspect of my life. She pushes me to be better and helps me recognize my weaknesses. 
  16. Having an "important days reminder"
    • She's great at it. I'm terrible. I take the credit for thinking I remember all my siblings birthdays, but it's really her reminding me. Every time. 
  17. Having pets together
    • Yes, pets. Just pets. We love our beagle.
  18. Living with my best friend
    • Really, it's a lot of fun. And she has boobs.
  19. Having someone to complain to
  20. Making decisions together
    • I think people perceive marriage as the end of your freedom, and you suddenly become "tied down". In reality, your life becomes more meaningful and decisions are made by both parties, not just your wife.
  21. Having a better half who is good at math
    • I can't math
  22. Having a Friday Night date
    • I never have to worry about being turned down again. (even though I probably never was)
  23. Buying your first home together
    • Going through new experiences together helps strengthen your relationship and understanding of one another. 
  24. My wife happens to likes sports...
    • No matter who you marry, it obviously makes it better if you both love the same things.
  25. Seeing the bigger picture
    • I feel like when you're just dating and going to school you mainly think about yourself and the now. After marriage, things become a lot more significant. You take on a new perspective and think about the future and what you want from your life and your relationships.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What I've learned from Highland Dance

I'm sure that all of those who know me, know that I have been highly involved in Highland Dance and the Scottish culture since I was about 5 years old. I know that to most people, this seems random, but to me it meant everything.

For those of you who are friends with me on facebook, you've probably seen that I am also starting a dance school. Crane School of Highland Dance. This isn't necessarily anything new as I've taught dance for many years. But I've decided it's time to make it official and pass on what I've learned through dance to others. I want other dancers to experience the amazing things that I have. I want to help Utah's dance community to grow like it never has before. I feel like it's now my turn to push this strenuous and incredibly rewarding art forward as much as I can. Whether that be by helping one dancer to push themselves, or 1000.

I have been thinking about my history with Highland dancing and how blessed I was to have it a part of my life growing up. I realize now how many of the amazing things I've experienced and accomplished that I took for granted at the time. I had so many wonderful times and friendships due to Scottish dancing. I am so blessed to have a Mother so involved in anything dance that wanted me to try this unique style. I am blessed to have a family that followed me around for each competition and performance. A teacher that gave everything to push me to my best. And the friends that gave me the motivation and desire to always keep going. Even when I started on different dance teams and other forms of dance, Scottish was always my favorite to come back to. Even after I quit for 3 years and got out of shape, I couldn't give it up. (I'm still trying to get back into shape). So I've decided to talk a little bit about some of the truly amazing things I was able to do, see and learn because of dance. And of course, the incredible friendships that I have made along the way.

Because of dance I was able to get scholarships for school and help with my education. I was also a better student and a harder worker because of all of the skills I have learned from dance. I learned to be persistent, I learned how to be a hard worker, how to push myself. I learned the importance of dedication. I learned failure, and I learned triumph. I learned what it meant to have passion and to love. I learned how to find friendships through competition and how to care. And I learned and discovered who I am. Dance has been such a blessing in my life and I realize now how much it gave me. Looking back on everything, it is kind of surreal.There was always someone better than me who I looked up to that motivated me to practice. There was always something coming up that made me want to be the best. I learned so much from my dance friends, the incredible instructors and judges that took the time to mentor and teach me, and my teacher, Heather. I'm so grateful for all they gave me, and of course, all that dance gave me.

Every year from the time I was 11, I competed in the Northwest Regional Championships. Each age group took the top 3 dancers and would send them to U.S. Championships (USIR). Each year, USIR was held in a different location all over the U.S. The top 95 dancers in the nation, from the 6 different regions, would meet to compete for the title.

The years that I competed in USIR I was able to travel to Denver, North Carolina, Mall of America in Minnesota, Washington, New York, California, and Maryland. During the time the finalist were treated with a week of gifts, sightseeing, outings, competition and friendship. This was a time where I would get to see all of my friends from all over the Nation again, and share the stage with the best dancers in the U.S. I won my first national title when I was 13 in the Mall of America. My sister, Mom, Grandma and dance teacher were there to celebrate with me. This was probably one of the most unreal moments of my life. It was so exciting, yet so unbelievable. It was so fun to share the moment with the loved ones there. I won U.S. Champion again when I was 14, 15, and 17. My dad saw me win in 2007 and I'm pretty sure this is still one of his favorite moments with me. He tells everyone the story about how I ran off stage to throw up. Thanks Dad. I quit dancing when I was 18 for college and then competed one more time in Maryland in 2012.

I've loved every opportunity that I've had to travel! Dancing has given me so much. I've grown and experienced things that nobody gets to do. I used to spend my summers living in Scotland with friends and family. I was able to qualify for world championships while there and place a 3rd in the World. I will never forget the feeling of dancing on stage with the top 20 dancers in the world, and to be able to consider myself one of them. And then to place top 3 among these dancers was like nothing I could ever have imagined. I won trophies from Scotland which I got to bring back to the States with me for a year. (I brought them home so that I would have to take them back the following year).
In 2007, I was asked to do a performance in Utah for a big gathering. After my performance I was surprised to be awarded with the "MacGregor of the Year Award". I didn't know I was going to be receiving this there, and I had family members from all over show up to see this happen. The two previous people to receive the award before me were a U.S. Senator and a member of the English Parliament  It was an honor to be held to such high standards. I never expected to receive the recognition from dancing that I have. I did it because I loved it, not because I wanted the recognition. But none-the-less, it was a privilege to be awarded, and in front of so many people that I love.

I would not trade a moment of my dancing career. The triumphs or the upsets. Dance pushed me to the limits in all aspects of life. Through my lessons, practices, struggles and persistence, I have learned to be a better dancer, a better teacher, a better student, daughter, sister, friend, wife, and an all around better, harder working, and tougher person. I am who I am today because of the lessons I've learned from Highland Dance.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Family Moment

Can I just take a moment to mention how much I love my beautiful families. 
Yes I have two. 

Two wonderful, caring, and completely loving families, always there for both Jake and I, no matter what is going on in our lives.

We have two strong, intelligent, endlessly loving mothers.

Two selfless, helpful, and sturdy fathers.

7 hilarious, and thoughtful brothers.

6 tender, devoted and stunning sisters.  

And 13 (and a half) of the cutest nieces and nephews that anyone could ever ask for.

My siblings have always been a foundation of strength and motivation in my life. They have loved me through thick and thin and supported me through the highs and lows. I am who I am because of them. 

Now, to add to my two amazing brothers and sister, I now get their spouses and Jake's siblings to add to my unmatched support system. I don't know what I did to deserve these astonishingly remarkable individuals in my life. They have done more for me than they could ever know. 

So let me just take this mushy moment to say that we love our families with all our hearts. Nobody could ever come close in our minds to replacing or even matching their part in our lives. 

Mom, Dad, Todd, Jill, Benji, Melissa, John, Kara, Heather, Josh, Aaron, Ileana, Trevor, Madalyn, Preston, Lily, Savannah, Hayden, Kayden, Jordan, Amelia, Sam, Tiernan, Hannah, Hunter, Ronin, Porter, Davis (and Myreka). We love you all. 

Thank you for everything.

And Cooper.

(Thanks for letting me steal all your pictures!)

<a href="">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Monday, September 30, 2013

Vacation Fund

A little something about Jake and I is we LOVE to travel. We are very frugal people and it's never hard for us to save money. We are never willing to spend lots of money, unless it means we're traveling the world. In order to do so, we've come up with our own way to save money for travel.

We call it our Vacation Fund.

(I'll including MANY picture of examples of trips I have taken using this technique)

Here's how we do it.

My company pays me twice a month. Every time I get paid we set aside $100 for vacation. (lately it's been more) But $100 is really not that much from each check. I have an account with This account is just a savings account, and you can transfer money in and out as you please. But by using a separate account, we never even think about that money after it has left our primary account. 

After a year, we have $2400 to spend as we please on a vacation!

Keep in mind, this money is ONLY coming out of my paychecks. Not Jake's. 

Here is another way we do it. 

We picked a trip that we REALLY wanted to go on. In our case, it was a holy land cruise/ trip to Italy. We figured how much money it was going to cost us when we were to book it. We then took the total amount and divided it by the number of paychecks I had left until then and were saving that much each paycheck. Like so;

Say a trip was going to cost $6000 for both of us. Now today's date is Sept. 30. We want to go next September, and we want to book it by July. From now until July, I have 20 paychecks. That means each paycheck I will save $300 and the trip will be paid in full two months before we even leave. $300 may seem like a lot out of each check, but it's a heck of a lot better than $6000 all at once. 

The reason we are able to do this is because I plan like it's nobody's business. I figure out everything months in advance and plan everything. I'm not much of the spontaneous traveler, and because of that, I'm able to save and have it all paid beforehand. 

However, even if we do decide to go on a spontaneous trip. We already have the money set aside from saving each month.

For our next big vacation we are going to China. (yay!) We've wanted to go for a while and have been shopping around for good deals. We found the one and decided to book it. We're not going until Spring Break... MARCH! See what I mean about my planning addiction. But the trip is already paid in full with money to spend all thanks to our vacation fund!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Bathroom Remodel and Plumbing Problems

This picture, though it is the "before we started doing anything" and "after we finished with the bathroom" does not do the entire remodel justice. It does not show what took place in between.

When we bought our house we knew that we had some pipes that we were going to have to replace. There was quite an extensive bit of work that needed to be done which turned into tearing down the ceiling of this bathroom. Not only that, the original builders had used regular sheet rock as opposed to water proof. So we decided to replace all the walls and tore them all out as well. Before our actual remodel began we were looking and a wall-less, ceiling-less, laminate floored bathroom.

So let me go back to the Plumbing Problems.

We knew we had issues. This is what we knew;

  • We had a hole or two in our pipe behind the downstairs shower
  • Our shut off valve in the house was broken off
What we found out we also had to deal with;
  • We had holes in almost every pipe throughout our entire house
  • We had no pressure gauge from the outside water coming in
  • We had a broken water heater 
Of course it was super frustrating. But in all honesty, our burdens were completely lifted by the plumber we found. (Duncan Plumbing of Utah) They are not paying me to say this. I'm saying this because I was genuinely impressed by their service and they completely saved us from all the other nasty plumbers we had dealt with. If anyone is in need of a plumber, I seriously recommend them. I only have a link to their facebook page here, but really, get a hold of them. Let me tell you why we picked them.

We had a "specialist" come in and do an air compression test on our pipes before we closed on our home. He promised us the only thing internally we would need repaired was one small hole in a pipe that could be fixed with an inch wide hole in the wall behind our toilet. 

So we closed on the house. Then we called this "specialist" back who had promised he could fix it easily. He didn't answer, he wouldn't return our calls. He knew we would NOT be happy when he told us the truth.

So we called another plumber who came in. We still didn't know the extent of the pipe damage, but he proceeds to go through our home telling us we weren't safe here, that he needed to spend days on repairs. Basically everything was completely terrible. We were furious. He was SO arrogant, insulting and unprofessional. 

We called plumber after plumber, for high bid after high bid. We finally did a search online and found Duncan Plumbing. They came in, tested, and found that we had WAY more holes than we had been told and quite a bit of work to be done. He gave us a bid and we were sold! They sold us a great new water heater, installed to code (which our previous one wasn't), replaced ALL of the pipes in our entire house, replaced and installed a new shut off valve, and installed a water pressure gauge leading into our home, all for $2600. This was $4000 less than the next closest bid for less work! He even came back and helped us installed our kitchen sink when we were ready without a charge. Besides that, he was in and out in less than 2 days. 

Since then, my in-laws have used them for everything. We've recommended them to everyone and I will never use another plumber. They were fantastic.

Now back to the Bathroom Remodel
Back to the point of this post. Obviously to replace all our pipes, a large hole had to be cut into the ceiling of the basement. This happened to be in the bathroom shower. So this is where the remodel started. 

We first (by we I just mean Jake) had to replace the ceiling and then mud it to match the rest of the ceiling which hadn't been pulled out. We also replaced all the walls with waterproof sheet rock. 

Instead of buying a new bathroom vanity, we refurbished the one already there and painted it black. The counter-top is original as well, and was just deep cleaned. 

Then all that had to be done was paint and floor. I ripped out the laminate, my father tiled and Jake painted and we re-installed the toilet. In all it was really actually very simple and only took us a weekend to complete. 

I'm just happy to have the neon yellow paint gone from the entire house for good! I'm also happy to finally have another working bathroom in our home.

The price of this remodel was;
          • Sheet rock-  $80
          • Tile- $12
          • Mud- $20
          • Paint- $10 ("oops" paint from Home Depot which we also used to paint our laundry room, and paint for the vanity)
          • Parts for toilet installation- $15
          • Blinds - $15
                • Total cost of Bathroom Remodel- $152

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Vegas Baby!

Let me just start by saying I have always hated Vegas. I never thought it was that great and way too overrated. Mind you, I still think it's a little overrated. But I now have a much better opinion on the city. It was kind of awesome while we were there.

We went on this trip to get away for our anniversary. ONE YEAR! And as Jake puts it, "I'm STILL not sick of you!" That's the amazing part. But on a serious note, marriage has been the best thing to EVER happen to me. I love my husband with all my heart. I couldn't have found a person better for me. He is everything I could have hoped for. He is kind, loving, hard working, hilarious, and so much more. I realize every day how blessed I am to have him and so grateful for the decision we made and the opportunity we had to be sealed together and married 1 year and 11 days ago.

We left Friday after work and drove down to St. George, Utah. J's grandparents own a little place down there and so kindly let us stay whenever we want. Saturday was actually Jake's birthday as well and all he wanted was to go golfing. So we did! We stayed in St. George just for that reason. We knew it would be hot while he golfed, but little did we know that it would be 110 degrees.. None-the-less, he loved it all the same. I just hid myself in the shade as much as possible and he may or may not have golfed half naked. We also hung out around the city, we went to Tuachan and other places we'd never seen. It was pretty amazing.

Next, we were on to Vegas. One of our goals during the trip was to gamble, of course. Neither of us had ever legitimately gambled and we HAD TO try it. I just had the notion that we'd each take $20 and come away from Vegas $40 short. I wasn't ready to drop $100's, but I was willing to throw away a little money. Well, we went to the Palace Station casino for their buffet. When we were in line they told us that if we signed up for their club membership then we'd get half off the buffet. So we did. The membership was free and basically used to get people to gamble in their hotel. With the membership, they gave us 3 dollars in slot money. We took it to a penny slot machine and low an behold.. We won $50 on the 1 cent machine!

Well, we both had been dying to play craps. We'd prepared ourselves with youtube videos and were ready to lose some cash. But hey, it's fun! So we took $30 of the $50 we had won and took it over to the craps table. We played and won another $100! We probably could have kept playing and kept winning, but neither of us were there to risk losing $150 of free money. So we just cashed out and decided we are NEVER gambling again. You only get beginners luck once right?

We stayed at the Palms resort. If we ever go back to Vegas, I don't think we'll stay anywhere else now. We had an awesome pool, free breakfast buffet, free entrance to all events and clubs at the hotel, which includes concerts and entrance to the #1 club in Vegas. Better believe we hit that up. 

Naturally we went down Freemont Street and saw all the performers and casinos and whatever else they have. We bought ourselves some dollar margaritas while we were there as well. I threw mine in the trash long before this picture.

Our last night there we went to one of the clubs in the Palms. It was AWESOME! They take you up to the 55th floor where you have this amazing view of the entire city. There's a big dance floor, plus a balcony outside. The balcony had a glass floor! So when you're standing there, you can see down 55 floors to the street. It's terrifying. The roof on the club was also retractable, so halfway through the night, they open it up and you're now looking at the stars. It was so fun! But Jake lost his mind with excitement. I have never, in the 7 years that I have known my husband, seen him as excited as he was in the club. He was dancing his little heart out. I eventually was exhausted and had to leave. I had to drag Jake out, and he danced by himself the whole way back to our hotel room. All he wants to do now is go dancing. 

This is the view from the club. Pretty great right?

The best thing we did in Vegas? Cirque de Soleil. Handsdown. (Though Jake just might say the club.)We went to Mystere, which we picked merely because it was the cheapest Cirque show. My goodness. It was incredible. I had fairly high expectations given the price and what we had been hearing. But it blew all my expectations out of the water. If you get the chance to go, do it! It's worth every penny.

Finally, our last day before we drove home, we did a session at the Vegas temple. Yes, we went from gambling and clubbing to the temple. It was fine. But this temple really was SO beautiful outside, and even prettier on the inside. I'm really happy we were able to do this before we went home, and it was a great end to the trip.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Home Buying Tips for your 20's

Jake and I bought our home a over a year ago now. We were both 21 at the time. This never seemed strange to me as we had been in the market and playing with the idea of purchasing a home long before this. However, after we signed, I heard a lot of feedback regarding our age, and the responsibility of home ownership. We also got a lot of questions on how we were able to buy at this time. So we have some advice for anyone our age interested in looking. These also include factors for deciding on purchasing vs. renting.

Take whatever advice you find useful, but remember that we are nothing near experts. We've just been through the process is all.
This picture is after we realized all we were getting ourselves into. :)
  • Shop based on your monthly budget, not a purchase price
Start with how much you can afford each month. Now take out how much of that will be Mortgage insurance, home insurance, HOA, and other added costs. Once you determine how much your principle and interest will be each month only, then determine how much house you can afford for that amount.
  • Don't be stuck on finding a "move in ready" home
When we first started looking, we were determined to find a home that was updated, clean, and ready for us to move into it, without us lifting a finger. We passed up so many opportunities because we didn't want to replace the carpet, and we didn't want to fix up the yard. In our budget we were looking at older home, or new townhouses. We had already decided we didn't want a townhouse, so that limited us to only fixer-uppers. Now the first homes we passed up may have just not seemed worth the price for the amount of work that needed to be done. When we found ours we knew. It had WAY more work to be done than any other home we'd seen, but for half the price.

With the money we saved by buying a fixer-upper, we were able to remodel the ENTIRE home, AND have money left over.


By this I mean ALL your expenses. Don't live out of your means. If you really want a home, you are going to have to put a lot of money up front. Save like crazy and spend frugally. It will cost you money, and you're going to be hurting if you don't have some money set aside in a savings account.
  • Determine where you will be in your future and how long you will be there
A house is a commitment. If you know you're going to be moving away in a year, you might want to rethink your decision. If something comes up, you can always sell your home and move on. But don't put yourself through paying the costs of purchasing (and selling) a home if you're not going to be there long enough to reap the rewards.

When we bought, I was done with college and accepted to grad school close by. Jake was going to school close by. We both had established jobs and family nearby. There are also many opportunities in Jake's field so close to this home. We were pretty set that we'd be staying. There is still a chance that Jake will get work somewhere else, but for now, it's perfect.

There are more options however. If you want to buy for the equity and are willing to rent out your place in the future as well.
  • Never base your house shopping on paint color!
Exhibit A; Our walls looked like this when we first saw our home.

Yes, that is blue on one side, white on the other, and not pictured, the back wall is bright pink. I'm sure the previous owners had fun... but we got rid of it immediately. The point being; wall color is the absolute easiest thing to change in your home. Don't stress if it's not what you like. 

Oh and if you haven't seen any of my previous posts on our home. We did remodel it completely. It doesn't all look like this still. The fireplace remodel is shown here. Any other projects that I've actually taken the time to blog about can be found under the "Our Projects" tab.
  • Be ready to work HARD
I don't just mean to make your home move in ready. The work on your house NEVER ends. Never. Don't forget you now have a yard to take care of, appliances to maintain, the home to upkeep. The list goes on and on. The thing is, it's worth it because it's yours. Just be prepared to put in A LOT of time and energy into making your home comfortable and just how you want it.
  • Budget in expenses you wouldn't have were you to rent
Example; with most rentals you will be provided with laundry facilities and kitchen appliances. This may not be the case when you are buying a home. Take into account the fact that you may need to put more down for these expenses. 
  • Shop around for interest rates
Don't swoon over the first quote you receive. Don't go with your bank because you've done a lot of business with them, or because they'll give you and I-Pod touch for signing with them. One of the biggest factors determining your mortgage is going to be your interest rate. Sign the best rate. This factor alone can save or cost you hundreds of dollars monthly.

The best bid we got happened to be through an outside agency who sold our loan to a bank after we signed. We dealt with the agency during closing and made all our agreements with them. After we closed, they sold the loan to a bank, who then had to abide by all the terms. I thought this was great way of doing it. But again, I would have gone through someone else had we gotten a better interest rate.
  • Try to put down the 20% where possible
The standard downpayment when buying a home is 20%. It's important that if you can put this down, you do it. Without 20% you are required to now pay mortgage insurance premium. We didn't put down 20 and our mortgage insurance is about an extra $110 a month. Yes, an extra $1320 a year, and an extra $39600 for the life of our loan. 

However, keep in mind. You can get rid of your mortgage insurance, BUT to do so you must; have paid it for at least 5 years AND paid down 20% of your initial loan amount. Once you sign for your house you are promising to pay that 5 years. It doesn't matter if you pay the 20% the next day. You still must pay it for 5 years. For us, that's a guaranteed $6600. It might be worth it depending on your situation. That's what we had to do.

After 5 years if you are ready, and would like to get rid of the mortgage insurance, you must refinance your loan to do so. For us that will probably mean a higher interest rate. We were lucky enough to get an interest rate of 3.5%. I'm pretty sure 4 years from now, the rates will be higher.
  • Take into account the additional costs onto your mortgage
I mentioned this before when you are determining how much you can afford each month. When doing this, you're going to have to consider all the monthly costs of your loan and owning a home. 

These include; the principle and interest, mortgage insurance, home insurance, HOA fees, property tax and any other costs. 

We used those online calculators to determine how much home we could afford. Those didn't include everything though. On average we found that we were really going to be paying about $200 a month more than what it would calculate. Just keep in mind that you have more to pay for. 
  • Determine what you're willing to pay for
I only have one example of what this meant for us. That is, we weren't willing to pay any HOA fee. HOA stands for Home Owners Association and is usually an added fee in communities of houses with a park, pool, yard upkeep, etc. This fee just pays for the upkeep of public areas in the community. It would be great to have someone taking care of our yard, but we decided we could do it ourselves for a lot less than the fee. It's also cheaper for us to buy passes to our city rec center for the pool, gym and tennis courts than paying this. Our neighborhood also has a park that is up-kept by the church rather than the home owners. You might be able to find some neighborhoods like this.

Some HOA fees pay to have your community gated, or for security. This may be worth it for some of you, but really it's completely up to your discretion.  In the future I don't think we would mind having a pool in walking distance and whatnot. But when we were shopping we preferred to spend that $100-200 dollars a month on our home rather than the neighborhood amenities.
  • Don't be afraid to make a big purchase!
If done right, a home is equity that you will always have. You are making a huge investment, but also gaining lots of equity and property that you own in the mean time.

  • Don't Skip the Home Inspection
Just from the horror stories we've heard, don't try to rush the process by skipping the inspection. You'll feel a lot more secure with your purchase and have some peace of mind. It can also save you a great deal of stress and money.
  • Be patient
Be patient in the fact that, you're probably going to have to look at TONS of homes. I kid you not, we looked at over 100 easy. You are looking for YOUR home. Don't take that lightly, and shop around.

You will also have to be patient in the fact that, some of the most incredible, you can't pass that up, deals come in the form of a short sale. Despite it's name, short sales can take sometimes years to close on. The deals are so great though and sometimes that time is so worth it.


So how did this all work out for us? I will be the first to admit that Jake and I got EXTREMELY lucky. Our house was a HUD home in the Salt Lake Valley that we purchased for $100,000. Yes. $100,000. Our monthly payment looks something like this.

      • $470- principle and interest
      • $110- property tax
      • $110- mortgage insurance premium
      • $50- home insurance
      • -----------Grand TOTAL of $740 a month
Yes, this is cheaper than what we could find most 1 bedroom apartments to rent. When we bought the home there was SO much work to be done, but suddenly, we could put as much into the house as we wanted because we had the budget for it. $740 is a lot cheaper than what we had planned on paying monthly when we started shopping. But again, our patience paid off when we saw our home. We also had a general idea of how much it was worth because we had seen so many homes before the one.

We purchased the house and ended up remodeling the entire thing (like I said earlier). We put in about $20,000 and we now have over $90,000 of equity in our house. Meaning, if we sold right now, we could pocket an extra $90,000 of cash after we paid off the loan. We love owning a home and the benefits have been so amazing.