American Express

Cash & Carry by Liz

So I think I've mentioned or maybe you've just noticed that I can be a bit of a control freak sometimes. But there's always been one aspect of my life that I've had no control of... My spending habits.

Yes, I can calculate the calories in those chips and guacamole in an instant but am unable to balance my checkbook properly.  I have the willpower to completely cut out food groups(cheese? Who needs it?) but cannot resist the Nordstrom half-yearly sale.  Or that adorable Calvin Klein dress.  Or ANYTHING at The Container Store. (Damn that place! Who really needs a onion saver??!!!?)

And I don't need to pay a therapist $300/hour to tell me that I buy things to make myself feel better.  Having a bad week? Shaking my ass in that new little black dress will make the world feel right again. Feeling fat? Buying all those pink acrylic glasses at Target made me feel light and dainty. Bored? Nothing like online shopping to fill the hours.  For me, there was no better high than a shopping one.

Until that damn American Express bill showed up.  Was I actually supposed to pay that freakin' thing off each month?  Oops.

But that ginormous monthly statement never seemed to stop my love affair with my gold card.  No matter how much we made, we would somehow manage to outspend it by ALOT.  And all along I told myself that it would be IMPOSSIBLE to cut one thing out of our budget. That there's no way I could live without sushi, Starbucks or a Brazillian Blowout.

I was wrong.

I don't remember exactly when it hit me.  Maybe it was what seemed the millionth time the hubs and I were having the same conversation about money.  We always look and each other and stupidly ask Where does it all go? without ever having the balls to actually look and SEE WHERE THE MONEY ACTUALLY GOES. Because it's much easier just to buy what you want and pretend that living within your means is just impossible than to try to cut back.  And we had so many things to blame!

The cost of living is so high in Southern California!

I could buy a BMW for what we pay for daycare each year!

I have to get my hair done every month-I'm going gray! (Sad to say this one actually very true...)

But most of it was bullshit.  Yes, it is ridiculously expensive to live here and I dream for the day we don't have to pay for daycare anymore.  But the real problem was not with those things.  It was with us.

My issue was living like I was a millionaire.  And my hubs?  His problem was saying NO to my spending.  He had been my YES man for a long time.  And as much as I loved him for always telling me I deserved that new pair of shoes, I finally had to admit that he was just enabling a terrible habit. But was was the solution?

Cash  & Carry, yo.

I had always been a cashless wonder.  I was the girl who always took your cash for the meal and paid with my credit card.  Parked in a parking structure?  I'm the one begging for five bucks so I can get out.  And I'd always have to avoid eye contact with the homeless people holding signs by the freeway.

Now I would be given a cash allotment each week.  And and I had to learn to *gasp* THINK about what I was spending.  Groceries, Starbucks, happy hour.  It all had to come out of my piggy bank.  But if I was able to hold my shit together and not overspend, we would only spend what we made. (Novel concept, right?)  And then, if we could do that for awhile, then we could do this other thing we never do.  Save money.

It was tough at first.  My Starbucks baristas just couldn't get over the fact that I was paying them in cash and I had to save for three weeks before I could get a mani-pedi.(And forget about any extra massage!)  But as sad as I was not to buy that adorable dress at Loehmann's, the feeling of gaining control over my finances was exhilarating.  Spending was one area of my life that always felt out-of-control-like a addiction I couldn't shake.  And each week that I was able to stay in my new budget felt like a small victory.  I finally came to realize that the world was not going to END if I didn't buy Hanky Pankys in every color.  (Although having them in every color would be really awesome.)

And even though we got a bit off track with the holidays(The Coach boots were on sale, I SWEAR!), I'm actually looking forward to getting back to our cash & carry routine.  Because when you don't buy every damn thing that you want, it makes the things you do buy seem that much sweeter.

How about you?  How do you save money?

xo, Liz

The Bride Card By Lisa

Some might say the President of the United States is the most powerful man in the world. Others might argue its celebrities like Madonna, Elton John or Brad Pitt who dominate. I say there’s no doubt those people are all important, but there’s someone with a lot more influence and authority. Someone who red carpets roll out for, champagne constantly appears for and anyone will do anything for.

The bride.

For one day, more important than any other uniform in the world is the white dress and veil. And more exclusive and powerful than even the elusive black American Express is another card. A card you only get to carry for one day. A card that you can milk for access to anyone and anything. A card that gets you a yes to any question you ask. A card that allows you to act however you want and still get whatever you want.

The bride card.

Even my award-winning Matron of Honor, Liz, (more on that in a minute) used it. In fact, I might even argue she became drunk with power as the words bridal suite rolled off her tongue with such ease you’d think she’d lived in the 650 square foot space all of her life. If I so much as blinked or even slightly furrowed my brow, Liz was on the phone faster than you can say bridezilla expertly using some combination of the words, “the bride wants”, “the bride needs” or “the bride is REALLY, REALLY thirsty and will ONLY drink White Star champagne.”

Or even when the bride card wasn’t being used for me, but was not so secretly being used for her (um, like rush ordering a hamburger the night before my wedding because the “bride was hungry”) as far as I’m concerned, she was entitled to use it. She deserved to whip out the card because she blocked and tackled like there was no tomorrow. Forget that dude from The Blind Side, Liz may as well have been 6'7" and 350 pounds of rippling muscle as she watched my back.

Like when she offered to kick the asses of certain people who got a little over excited about the concept of an open bar or when she promised to personally rip the wildly inappropriate ensemble off a certain someone and replace it with something far more acceptable like a burlap sack or when my photographer asked us to “dolphin kiss” (not Matt and me—Liz and me!) for the second time (the first was traumatic enough) and she whispered through her toothless smile, “if he even infers we should hold hands, I’ll shove his camera where the sun don’t shine.”

And all the while, I got to float along behind her with a huge toothy smile on my face- wondering if this was what the Queen of England or a mob boss felt like- having someone else to do their dirty work for them.

I’d like to take a moment to give Liz the Matron of Honor of the Year award and thank her for:

  • Wearing four-inch heels during the ceremony even though the highest she ever goes is 1.5.
  • Reminding me to keep things in perspective. Most notably when I called her in a heated panic over a mysterious rash that had appeared on my back and she sternly yet softly warned me that I’d better get it together and realize there were people out there with real problems- like in Haiti.
  • Telling me it was okay that I cried with joy when I saw and loved myself in my wedding dress.
  • And also that it was okay to say out loud that as a producer I thought my wedding was a damn. Good. Show.
  • Sticking her entire head under my wedding dress to put on my “something borrowed” garter and smiling bravely as she got more up close and personal than even my Russian bikini waxer, Tatiana, and saw things she should’ve never had to see. In. Her. Entire. Life. (We’re close, but not that close!)
  • For doing her bride proud and giving a kick ass, laugh out loud MOH speech. (Hilarious highlights include, but are not limited to, the reminder of the pure bred cat I came dangerously close to ordering in the height of my singledom, the list of former metrosexual boyfriends including the Ryan Seacrest wannabe and the very astute and simultaneously frightening observation that my husband, Matt is practically Liz in a wig.)

Thank you, MOH!!!!

Well, I'm happy to report that my wedding day was the best day of my life. And it's not because I got to play the bride card (okay maybe that was a tiny part of it) but because I have the best friends and family anyone could ask for! And I married the best man I could ever ask for.

Oh, and I wore the best. damn. dress. evuh!

On that note-would it be weird if I arbitrarily decided to wear my wedding dress, say, out to dinner or even to run errands? The thought of packing her away makes me too sad for words and the thought of not being the bride anymore, well, I can't even talk about it!