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January 24, 2014

Hi Readers! I have definitely taken a hiatus for a while and I’m hoping to make a comeback! While I was gone, I finished my MBA, had a miscarriage, celebrated the holidays, went on a fabulous vacation to Disney World, got promoted, and started renovating our guest bathroom. As you can surmise, it has been a very busy and emotional few weeks since I last posted. Here’s a quick update of the financial implications of all this craziness:1. MBA: Let’s start with the awesomeness that comes from finishing my MBA! AMAZING – it is so awesome to finally be done. Just a few short weeks after finishing and I’m not sure how I actually managed to do it. Financially, this means that we have stopped wracking up the student loans (yippeee) and the focus is on paying off the interest while I’m still in the deferment period. It also means I got some gifts that I actually used on myself. I probably should have put them towards loans, but it was around the holidays, I was feeling emotional from the miscarriage and just needed to give a little something to myself for a change.

2. Miscarriage: This one was not so exciting. In fact, it was down right devastating. Luckily I have amazing midwives and amazing insurance so the only financial impact was a $25 copay for an emergency ultrasound.  Emotionally it was much more draining, and I think talking about it with close friends has helped a lot.  We have come to terms with it though and are grateful that it at least happened very early in the pregnancy (like I hadn’t even gone in for my first appointment early).   We are excited for what 2014 may bring though and have been looking at it as a fresh start.

3. The Holidays: I love the holidays and we had an amazing time this year. We set a limit on the price of gifts we exchanged with my husbands family which meant that we only spent about $150. We did not exchange gifts with my family since we all went to Disney World and the hubs and I also did not exchange gifts. Because the kiddo is royally spoiled, we ended up only spending about $30 on him total (don’t worry – he was not deprived! He got some awesome stuff from us and from both sets of grandparents). We did buy tickets to see a light display with my family and the hubs’ family with ended up being just under $100. We did have a little bit of an added grocery expense to get all the ingredients necessary to bake holiday goodies and ship some of them, but all in all, not a super expensive holiday in and of itself.

4. Disney World: All I have to say about this is Best. Vacation. Ever. Well, maybe not ever, but amazing nonetheless! We had already paid for our hotel and plane tickets as well as breakfast at Cinderella’s castle  in advance so we didn’t incur those costs. We did, however, give ourselves the freedom to just do what we wanted. We didn’t worry about the money and just did/bought what we wanted. Now this was partially made possible by my parents who paid for family dinners together and virtually every souvenir our dear child wanted. Like to the point where they took him into a store at Magic Kingdom and told him to pick out whatever he wanted. Bless his heart, all he wanted was a pair of Mickey Ears and a tub of plastic Disney characters. In terms of purchases we made,  I bought a special souvenir for a friend who is in love with Mickey and getting married in October, a pair of Minnie Ears for me, some souvenirs for my in-laws (selected by the kiddo), a Mickey stuffed animal for the kiddo, and a picture of the family with Mickey. Not too bad when you think about it. Plus it was truly a magical experience – we had an amazing time and I got to have the Disney World trip that I always wanted (sorry Mom and Dad – you guys get an A for thoughtfulness and effort, but Disney really isn’t Disney without breakfast at Cinderella’s Castle and breakfast with Mickey). Even the hubby, who was very skeptical of the uber-expensive breakfast with Cinderella became a believer after the experience. The kiddo had an amazing time and is so excited to go back. He still talks about it and even pointed out “cinderella’s castle” ( the skyline of office buildings) when we were driving to school.  I was super surprised at how relatively uncrowded Magic Kingdom was in the mornings, especially since we went during the busiest time of the year. We got there at 7 am for the extra magic hours and did not have to wait in a single line for more than 10-15 minutes until about 11:30 am. By then, we had already gone on almost all the rides the kiddo could go on, then enjoyed wandering around the park and taking in some of the shows/parades.

5. Got Promoted: This was kind of anti-climatic to be sure. I was pretty confident I was going to get the promotion but I was expecting a way bigger jump in my salary. Obviously, I am a bit disappointed about the raise that I did get, but it works for now as I know that something better is happening in the very near future.

6. Bathroom Renovation: Now this one was totally unexpected and happened shortly after the start of the new year. My husband has been wanting to renovate our guest bathroom since we moved in. I get it – the tub is yellow, the toilet is yellow. the sink is yellow, the light fixture is dated – it’s a hot mess to be sure.  However, I know that renovating a bathroom is not really cheap, even if you are doing it all yourself. Given that, I had negotiated putting it on the back burner until we got our main floor to where we wanted it (i.e. buy some new furniture, paint, add a backsplash to the kitchen, and put up railings and ballisters). But, things don’t always go as you plan and early in the year our darling son broke the toilet seat off of the hideous yellow toilet. Given that a toilet seat is about $40 and a new toilet is about $100, and that we were planning on replacing the toilet anyway, we decided to just buy a new white toilet. While shopping for said toilet, we found a gorgeous vanity on sale for $160. Since it was half the price of the ones we had seen before, we decided that we might as well change the vanity. That then tailspinned, and we thought “if we have the toilet and vanity out, we might as well redo the floors (which are laminate and not suitable for a bathroom).”  That then led to us deciding that we needed to retile the shower and get the tub sprayed white, b/c we would be tiling anyway and everything would be out of the way, etc. Getting a new light fixture was also clearly necessary b/c the one in there is hideous and who wants to do all that work just to have an ugly light. And that, my dear friends, is how we decided to gut the whole bathroom.

Now, we are doing everything ourselves except for the tub respray, and it has been so much fun and such a rewarding experience. So far we have taken out all the fixtures, ripped up the floor, leveled it (it was off by about 1.5″), laid cement backerboard on the floor, patched and sanded the walls, ripped out the tiles and drywall from the shower, added studs, put up cement backerboard, changed the water shutoff valves that were leaky, and hung a new light fixture! Not bad when you consider we’ve only been at this for less than two full weekends!

The big question I know you all have is: how much is it going to cost!?!? Well, our original budget projected a spend of around $2,500. Right now, it’s looking like we’ll come in at around $3000. There were some things that we just didn’t budget for or think about when we made the original plan. However, given that a bathroom reno like this will add between $5000-$10,000 to the value of a home, I think we are making a good investment.  Our total cost includes some nice upgrades including marble tile for the floor, beveled subway tile for the surround as well as a high end glass/metallic mosaic accent tile for the shower and as a backsplash behind the vanity.

We’ve been taking pictures of the reno as we go, and I’ll have a separate blog post about it at some point. I’m very new to the DIY world – we never even painted walls in my family. However, thanks to my super handy husband that fixes everything by himself, I’m quickly learning the awesomeness of the DIY life (like to the point where I want to buy an old dump of a house and gut it just for fun:) It also doesn’t hurt that it is much more cost effective when you don’t have to hire someone!

All this unplanned renovation does mean that paying back loans has to take more of a middle burner for the time being. We are still paying extra on the hubs’ student loans, but not nearly as much as we projected. Hoping to get back on track by March and use some tax refund money to make up the difference on where we should have been. The good news is that this entire project has come directly out of our monthly budget and has not required us to dip into our savings – go us for being able to compensate so well!

I promise that by early next week I’ll post a complete update of December’s spend and you can see for yourselves the damage that we did with all of our activities:)

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4 Comments
  1. Congratulations on your promotion and finishing MBA!!! I can’t wait for my hubby to be done with it too. He’s looking forward to a vacation we’ll finally have after he’s done in one year.
    I’m truly sorry about the miscarriage. I hope you’re healed all around well form that experience and your family is much more close.
    I’ve never been to Disney World and although it’s not on the top of to go list, it’s definitely on there. What a generous family you have. I didn’t know they have breakfast with Cinderella. I bet it was magical~

    • Thanks so much! I would highly recommend a post-MBA vacation, although your hubby may have a hard time just relaxing (for me it felt weird to not feel guilty doing something fun, and I was worried that I was forgetting some massive deadline). Disney was definitely magical and it was nice to get away with the family:)

  2. SO sorry to hear about the miscarriage. I can only imagine how painful that was. Congrats on everything else, though. You are a champion, Farah!

    • Thanks, Liz! It was really a trying time, but I am so thankful that it at least happened early in the pregnancy. It’s one of those experiences that totally suck, but really truly make you thankful for what you have and puts things in perspective. Looking for the positives (i.e. that my body knows to only accept a viable pregnancy,and we know that we have no issues with fertility since we had just started trying that month) helped me to find some sort of reasoning/closure as well. It’s been nice to start the year on a positive note and with hope that 2014 will be a fresh start!

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