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 emigrantdirect.com. 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.
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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