Weekend Re-Cap

This past weekend was a little busy. JP and I headed to our venue to finalize some planning and details of the layout of our wedding reception and then headed to the town’s square because I wanted to spot some places we can take our pictures at.  They have an adorable little “downtown” area, so I’m super excited to see how our pictures come out! After that we ran around and did some errands. I headed to the mall to waste some time while JP was getting her hair done. She needed a change and spent some time with her hair stylist to get a new cut and even some color. She looks great!

While she was getting beautified, I went to the mall where I spotted Dolvett Quince from the Biggest Loser. He was doing a small meet and greet for something in the middle of the mall. Most of the people who walked past didn’t know who he was – but I knew immediately! He looks exactly the same as on TV and had a big smile on his face the entire time, even though his line of people was about 5-10 people at time. Not so crazy.

dolvett

On Sunday, we lounged around the house until I had to head to the city for softball where my team won by slaughter rule 17-1. I had a homerun at my first at bat of the season which felt great! But rounding those bases was a reminder that I’m still not in the best of shape. So, I still have some work to do. At least I was able to make it around the bases without getting thrown out!

This week will be a fun and busy week though! We have 2 showers coming up (one for my work and one for our fam and friends) and the most exciting thing – our cake tasting! How fun! Have a great week everyone!

Plus and Minus

So this past week I was able to meet my own goal of running at least 6 miles during the week. I actually conquered that feat in 2 days – so maybe I should have a higher goal. I always lifted some weights and got in a walking adventure with JP after work one day. One thing that’s not the best though? My eating habits. They are still terrible and all the exercise in the world isn’t going to work off a lemon loaf from Starbucks (guilty pleasure).  So I’m working on being more conscious of what I’m putting in my mouth and how much I’m consuming.

We’ve had a lot going on this past week. I went shopping for my wedding dress with some of my bridesmaids and my cousin. One of my bridesmaids was so sweet and flew in from Texas for the day! I had an appointment for David’s Bridal but wasn’t really awed with anything I found. The one dress I did “like” wouldn’t be able to come in until the last week of June at the earliest – a no-go when my wedding is the first week of July! So we found another place on Yelp and headed over there to see (and pray) if we could do a drop-in with no appointment. The lady at the receptionist desk was ultra rude and squeezed me in for a 2:30 pm appointment with a consultant that was open. I almost had a Julia Roberts moment, walking away from that lady. But I contained myself – well, semi-contained myself.

When I arrived later for my appointment, luckily my consultant was ultra nice and she was also a fellow American-Serb! So we bonded. She also had a few dresses for me to try on and the best part? Their rush order would get my dress in by early June! Sweet! I was able to find a dress there that fit perfectly, looked great and had all my bridesmaids beam with joy – which was a super happy moment for me. I knew it was the dress as soon as I put it on. What a great feeling.

A dress that didn’t make it?

akwedding

We took this shot to trick JP into thinking that I completely changed my mind with what we agreed upon (ie. a relaxed vibe) and decided upon a big poofy wedding dress. I felt like Scarlet OHare in that mega dress and can’t imagine walking around with it on all day – especially in July. What are you women thinking?!

Re-Store Visit

JP and I ventured out to our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore shop a few weeks ago in search of some items we can use to decorate for our wedding. I’ve heard about ReStore from John + Sherry over at Young House Love  as they have purchased items from here before and refurbed them for renovation projects around their house. A ReStore is basically like a thrift shop for home-related items (think: doors, windows, sinks, potties, etc.) and all the proceeds go back to HFH’s efforts to build sustainable housing for those in need.

sinks at restore

sinks at restore

We were stoked to find out that a location was a mere few miles from our home and decided to scope them out to see what goods they had on hand. When you walk in, it kind of like a mini-Home Depot. Stark cement floors, items grouped by function, employees in aprons. We ventured over to the section that housed used doors because we want to use that for our ceremony and saw a plethora of doors to choose from! It would be a great place for someone looking to revamp a door for their house! They had wood-filled (think: HEAVY) doors, but we had the non-filled doors in mind for our use. Much lighter! And score! We found a matching pair for $10 a pop! WHAT! So excited!

door selection at restore

door selection at restore

They also had tons of other items including cabinets and cabinet doors, various handles, light bulbs, old appliances, etc. Most of their items were a steal of a deal and if you just put a little love into them, they would clean up quite nicely!

Have you ever been to a ReStore? What’s your favorite place to score great deals?

Buying a Car After Bankruptcy (and Foreclosure) – Part 2

Part 1 covered t he beginning process and pain points of trying to re-establish new credit after my bankruptcy in 2011 and foreclosure (March 2012). The whole reason behind even venturing into this territory before I’m even a year removed from my bankruptcy discharge is because of my car, which I lovingly refer to as Sophie. I owned a 2006 Volkswagen Jetta, which was purchased from a VW dealer as a used car – it was previously a leased vehicle with 1 owner. Almost immediately after purchasing the car, I began to experience tons of problems. Luckily, I was covered under the original warranty for a bit and then covered under my extended warranty for about 20,000 miles over the expired original warranty.

Sophie has had her share of issues – malfunctioning air bag (x3), malfunctioning trunk lock, malfunctioning car door locks, bald tires (when it was sold to me, the tires were bald!), rumbling in the engine (I call them my “squirrels”), an emissions issue (even though it passed it’s emissions test), and a handful of other issues. Needless to say, that not only was my patience worn thin with monthly visits to the dealership to have my vehicle serviced, but it also started to get expensive with quotes from $800-$1,200 to fix it after the warranties expired. I did not want to keep shelling out money for this car, so I started to investigate and research what I needed to do to get my hands on a brand new, more reliable vehicle.

Sure, the thought of taking on a larger car payment, more debt (I was down to a balance of $6,500 on my VW) and the worry of having a beautiful new car freaked me out a bit since I went through the bankruptcy and foreclosure in the past year. You don’t realize how much you’re hit emotionally when you go through something like that – and I’m pretty good at hiding how it really made me feel. Right now, it’s just a whole lot of avoidance.

So, after researching vehicles, JP and I started test driving in June/July this past year. We went to Honda first because I had my eye on a CRV, and we test drove that vehicle and an Accord. Immediately after that test drive, we realized that we wanted a small SUV and not a car, so we scratched cars off of our wishlist. We then went to Hyundai to test drive a Tucson, which had a ton of neat features in it’s basic model and a great warranty (10 years/100,000 miles), but thought the vehicle was small compared to the CRV and wasn’t a brand that was as reliable as Honda. After our Hyundai test drive, we hopped on over to Kia where we had a terrible experience. We walked in to the showroom, which was really busy, and two salespeople just looked at us. I had to ask if they worked there because no one was apparently making the move to help us.

We got paired up with a brand new salesman who was ending the first week on the job. He knew NOTHING about the vehicle and sat in the back seat of our test drive, super quiet, the entire time. It was so weird and awkward that as soon as we realized the vehicle wasn’t for us – we ran out of the showroom and hit the road in the Jetta.

We decided to cool our jets for a few months, especially since my dog (a 14 lb min pin) digested some fudge in August and was rushed to the animal ER, which that visit cost me over $900. Yikes! The biggest (and most obvious) problem of trying to make any purchase after a foreclosure or bankruptcy is that your credit score and history take such a big hit that it takes a long time to work on building that back up. And even if you manage to get your score back up to a normal amount, banks and other financial institutions will likely flee from you in horror because of the big financial mistake you have on your history for the next 10 years. You’re a risk and they know it.

The way I was able to secure a big car loan isn’t conventional, so I really can’t even give you great advice on that. I worked with a credit union that I had done business with in the past (and that I had declared bankruptcy against) to pay back the amount I had discharged. Even then though, you’re not guaranteed to get a credit union to work with you but I do think you have better luck with them than a large bank. I was able to not only get a loan but get a loan with a reasonable APR (no 20% + for me!), which is amazing because I really needed to get a new car. We ended up getting a 2013 Honda CRV EXL model, which is great because we weren’t expecting to get a 2013! We also have a Costco discount, and that took some haggling pressure off of us (especially since we’ve heard that Honda doesn’t work with customers). We had a great experience and are in love with our new car!

This is Vivian … ain’t she purty?

If you can wait, some credit unions (and possibly banks) will work with you about 2 years out from your bankruptcy discharge. Just remember to keep building your credit, and stay wary of credit card offers that are too good to be true. I’ve struggled with “when is the right time to get a credit card,” which many credit unions and banks will tell you is needed to rebuild your credit history before they will work with you. Just be careful with that, especially if that’s what got you into trouble in the first place!