Thursday, 18 April 2013

How the Hutches got Hitched, Part 2: The Ceremony

Mr. Hutch had popped the question, and now it was time to get down to the business of getting married. And that shit is a business. I wanted to avoid as much of it as possible.

Mr. Hutch would have liked to elope just the two of us, but it was important to me to celebrate with our friends and family in some way. I don't know how to describe the feeling exactly, but I felt like the declaration we were about make should be said out loud. To people other than ourselves. Like it had more gravity that way or something. And that it warranted acknowledgement from the wider world.

So we settled on having an intimate ceremony in our backyard before just our immediate family (parents, siblings and their spouses and children). That was 18 people total. It was on a beautiful Sunday morning, Mother's Day in fact.  The only cost to getting married in our backyard was the champagne and orange juice that we toasted with.

We then headed to a local brewpub, where we hosted brunch for 50 people. After brunch, everyone was invited to move to another brewpub (is there a theme here?) for a no-host afterparty. Then Mr. Hutch and I sailed off into the sunset or something.

The entire event came in just under the budget of $5000. Which is still a lot of money. There are ways to do it for a lot less, but I feel like we struck a good balance of saving where it counted while still hosting our friends and family. So where did we save?

I think it starts with the ring. I still don't understand the whole engagement ring/wedding ring thing. Who needs two rings stacked on top of one another? I just gave Mr. Hutch the engagement ring before the ceremony and he put it back on me. One is enough. Mr. Hutch doesn't even wear a ring, so no cost there.

Next was the dress. I started looking for simply a white dress, not a wedding dress per se. It was Sunday brunch after all. In the end I actually surprised myself by buying a designer wedding dress, but it was off the clearance rack because it was a buttery yellow color rather than the standard white. And marked down from $760 to $350. Again, still a lot of money, but I have since sold it for $200 so I think it was a pretty good deal. I loved it, and felt beautiful in it.

Our biggest cost was all the food and booze at our brunch. It was important to me that we provide everything for our guests and I'm so happy we did. It was amazing. I think that hosting a brunch rather than an evening event really helped keep the cost down. I think people ate and drank less than they would have at an evening wedding, but were just as satisfied. I believe the final tally came in around $50 per person for unlimited food and drinks.

Limiting our number of guests was by far the biggest thing that we could have done to keep on budget. This is not easy to do, and is a very personal choice. I had a few bouts of guilt over excluding people, but I felt strongly that it was what we had to do. I also had the overwhelming sense of wanting to be surrounded by people that we were very close to and that we knew supported our marriage. I did not want to look around the room and feel indifferent about any face that I saw. In that sense, limiting our guests was incredibly freeing. We did not invite our single friends and family to bring a +1, and we asked that no children (other than infants who couldn't be away from their mamas) attend. This won't work for everyone, but it did for us.

We also really did away with almost all of the little extras that go into a wedding. We had no attendants (our mothers signed the registry as our witnesses - it was Mother's Day after all) so there were no costs associated with that, though I did pay for my mom and my sister-in-law to have their hair done with me. We didn't have any flowers or other decoration for the reception since the site itself is so beautiful anyway. It was a nice surprise though, to walk into the reception and see that the brewpub had put some flowers on each table. I wasn't expecting that. We made jam with raspberries from our garden for our guests to take home as favours. A very talented friend made our invitations as our wedding gift, which was awesome. They were simply postcards - no envelope, no extra anything enclosed. We directed people to our free wedding website for all the details and to RSVP. I did carry a bouquet but purchased the flowers wholesale and just wrapped them in some ribbon that I already had. As an aside, I tied my dad's wedding ring on there to carry him with me that day too.

I really tried not to buy too much into the business of getting married. Sure, I had a ring, flowers, a new dress, a party and all kinds of other things that were really not necessary to get married, but I feel we struck a decent balance by not having too much else. I'm just thankful that I got married before Pinterest.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Thank Heavens...

For two-year olds that still fit into clothing meant for 6-9 month olds. Particularly when the item of clothing in question is this stunner:

Friday, 14 December 2012

How the Hutches got Hitched, Part 1: The Engagement

I believe my frugal streak is innate. It’s always there, even when it comes to getting married.  I laugh at how it was even there when I feel like the story really starts, 8 months before Mr. Hutch actually popped the question.
It was New Year’s eve, 2008. I had the most cheap-tastic date night planned for Mr. Hutch and I. We took the bus (free that night!) to a lovely Irish pub in one of Victoria’s most beautiful heritage buildings downtown. I usually think of this place as a bit of a tourist trap (by virtue of its location, and its overpriced drinks) but the Mr. and I were flush with gift cards that I had earned on travel points. We headed there early in the evening and had a wonderful meal and a few drinks, and left before the beginning of their “New Years Eve” party started (I think around 10pm), thereby saving ourselves the $25 cover charge. I seriously still pride myself on this lovely date that cost zero dollars.
We rang in the new year quietly at home, just the two of us. At midnight, I asked Mr. Hutch what he hoped for in the upcoming year. I was utterly shocked when he answered, “I’m going to marry you in 2009”. Yes, we may have already bought our house together, and marriage was probably a foregone conclusion, but still, I was speechless and incredibly touched.
This is where, to my own surprise, I turned into a raging girl. I am not one for jewellery, and before this point would have said I had no interest in a diamond ring. That all changed. Suddenly, I was on the hunt for an engagement ring. Mr. Hutch and I looked around, and I pointed out a few that I liked and left it to my Mr.-to-be to make the final pick. 
In August, Mr. Hutch and I took our summer vacation on one of the incredibly idyllic local islands. We rode our bikes to the beach one night with a bottle of champagne to watch the sunset. I was pretty sure what was coming. But what I didn’t see coming was the sweetest way I think a man could ask a woman to be his wife (sniff). I’m obviously biased now because of its special place in my heart, but man, Savary Island is incredible.
Mr. Hutch had chosen an exceptionally beautiful, if not unique, art-deco style dinner ring. I say that because I noticed later that the same ring was selling at a different jewellery store than from where he had purchased it. For a lower price. So I went in there and asked for them to price match, which they did, to the tune of a couple hundred bucks if I recall.
So there you have it. I may have been about to become a blushing bride, but still I had no shame.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Mrs. Hutch's Sweet New Cell Phone Plan

I've had something in the neighborhood of 4 or 5 cell phone numbers in the last 7 years. I was a holdout for a long time, and was one of the last people I know to actually get a cell phone. I thought not having once gave me some kind of street cred. Eventually, it just made me an outcast. Have you ever realized that no one meets at a a pre-arranged time and place anymore?

My last phone was a blackberry for work. I ditched my own phone just paid for any personal calls I made over and above the monthly corporate plan, which was never much. That worked just fine for me, and was incredibly cheap. But when I went on my maternity leave in 2010, I threw that phone out my driver's side window at the office as I sped away from the building. Figuratively speaking. I took the bus back then.

I honestly didn't want to get a phone of my own while I was on maternity leave. But Mr. Hutch, ever the pragmatist, insisted. Something about going into premature labour with the twins. I relented.

Me: "Hi, I need a phone. I really like those flip-phones."

Phone Guy: "Uh, they don't make flip-phones anymore."

I got the closest thing to a flip-phone that I could, and told Phone Guy to sign me up for the most basic plan he had. No fancy stuff, thank you. I got a one year contract for $20/month, but ended up adding a texting plan for another $15. With taxes and fees it came in at around $40-$45 a month, not really an amount that I enjoyed paying.

Fast forward sixteen months and I was back at work with a new blackberry and yet another new number. As tempting as it was to ditch my own phone and go back to just paying for personal calls on my work phone, I just didn't want to inform every one of my contacts of yet another change in number. So I kept paying more than was necessary to keep my own phone. But a couple of months ago, while surfing through the internal employee website, I came the awesome corporate reates for  personal cell phones offered through my employer.

Here's what I got:

I went with the most basic plan of $13.50 per month. This gives me free evenings and weekends, free local calls any time to any phone on the same carrier (which includes Mr. Hutch), free unlimited incoming text messages and 1500 outgoing text messages (which for me, might as well be unlimted). I get no weekday minutes, but that suits me just fine as I'm usually sitting right beside my landline at work during that time anyway. Any calls I do make during the weekdays are only 4 cents per minute, so the very few daytime call that I do make do not add up to much. I also got the $35 activation fee waived, and a $50 credit to my bill (that's like three months free!). PLUS, because I was already a client of this carrier and not tied into a contract (I was just going month to month following the expiration of my one-year contract) I was eligible for a free super-fancy Samsung smartphone. Granted, it has no data plan, but at least I look cool in front of my friends. Just kidding! I have no friends.

Not only that, but I use it to record my mustachian meal plans in the calendar. Next stop: financial independence!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Net Rental Income: $600 per month

So, what was the net result of all this work putting in a rental suite? We took on a bigger mortgage, have had to up our house insurance and will be paying more for hydroelectic. But we get to collect monthly rent cheques. But we have to pay tax on that income. But wait, there are tax deductions we'll get too...
So where does that leave us? By my calculation we're clearing about $600 per month. Here's my breakdown:

Monthly Cost                    Pre-Suite          Post-Suite
Mortgage + Prop Tax       $1768              $2332
House Insurance               $86                  $103
Van Payment                    $338                $0
Hydro (electricity)             $118                $218 (est)
Water                               $30                  $42 (est)
    - Rental Income (net -   $0                    $959
    accounts for income
    tax and deductions)
Total                                $2337             $1736
Net Profit: $601
Now, out of this monthly profit of $600 will have to come any upkeep/repairs to the suite and any months that the unit sits vacant. In our market, there is a general vacancy rate of 1.5%, which means we can expect an average loss of $200 per year due to vacancy, or about $17 per month. Since the suite is brand new, I think it's reasonable that our repair costs will be fairly low in the short term.
I think we didn't do too badly!

Friday, 26 October 2012

Financial Update: October 2012

There have been lots of financial happenings around casa Hutch since I last posted. I've attempted to sum it up a few times but it just felt like things were too unsettled yet to log a post.  It's high time I put metaphorical pen to paper though and laid out where we're at.

First of all, the suite is DONE. Done and rented, yo. In just a few days our tenants will be moving in and monthly rent cheques in the amount of $1100 will start to flow. Awesome.

Second, the renovation has been fully financed with the equity in our home. Our mortgage now stands at $452,000 at 3.29%, bringing our monthly payment including property taxed to just over $2300. Ouch.

Third, we used some of that equity to pay out our car loan, to the tune of $8500. Both vehicles we now own free and clear. That feels pretty good, and we're no longer make the $340 payment every month.

Fourth, we have managed to pay down a big chunk of our line of credit and the balance stands at around $6000. Paying this remaining balance is now priority number one. I'm hoping to do it in about 4-5 months.

That brings me to my fifth point. I made a pretty major executive decision yesterday and shut down our biweekly RRSP contributions. Where previously we had been socking away $867 per month between the two of us, we will now be directing that towards the afore-mentioned line of credit debt. Because we're paying 5.75% interest, I'm willing to take the hit on retirement contributions in the short-term. Once the line of credit is paid off, we'll restart the RRSP contributions, hopefully at a higher amount.

And that is where I'm going next. Now that our financial situation has settled down and Mr. Hutch is back to his regular full-time gig, I can start some serious planning for the future. I have a (free) consultation with a fee-only financial planner in a couple of weeks. I've got a handle on where we stand financially and now I need an idea of where we want to go, and a map of how we're going to get there.

There's going to be lots more to write about in the coming weeks and months.

Monday, 24 September 2012


This really has nothing to do with anything, but I made this cake and holy crap, it was amazing!