Tuesday, May 31, 2011

To Grandmother's House We Go- Our Memorial Day Weekend.

Memorial Day weekend was spent in an extremely special place this year. We drove 5 hours  upstate to Rochester, NY to visit Nick's Grandma Tanya. We left early Saturday morning (and by we left, I mean Nick drove, and by early, I mean at the crack of dawn) and we returned home late Monday evening. It was so nice to spend time with Tanya since we don't see her that often during the year. We spent the long weekend by taking in a regional performance of "The Music Man" at Rochester's Geva Center, spent a day in Niagara Falls and spent a lot of time talking about Tanya's life growing up, as well as hearing stories about Nick as a little kid. Being Memorial Day weekend, Tanya also shared stories of her late husband and his time spent in England during WW2. The stories were especially nice for Nick to hear because he never had the chance to meet his grandfather. This trip was so relaxing and just what we needed. 

Nick and his Grandma Tanya

Niagara Falls, NY
Nick at the Falls

Me at the Falls
So beautiful!

**Thank you to all past and present service men and women who  risk their lives every day, so that we have the privilege of being free**

Friday, May 27, 2011

Newlywed Nutrition - The (Gained) Weight of Love

Hi, Anne here! Back in September of 2010, Nick and I took a trip to LA to visit some of his friends. When we were there we took tons of photos and we obviously put them on Facebook the second we got back home. Looking through the pictures, both Nick and I got really quiet when we came upon a photo of him and me in front of some rocks in Malibu. Why did we get quiet you ask? Because looking at that photo we realized that Nick had gained some quite a bit of weight. It wasn't just the weight that made us quiet...he just looked unhealthy. Now, if you know anything about the two of us, you know we are both crazy about working out and eating right so it came as a shock to see that he had let that slip. Before when I met him, he was a personal trainer for goodness sake! But between moving, stress of his work, and the start up of his new business ventures (to name a few things), he just hadn't had the time to keep himself in shape. This got us talking- why do people tend to gain weight when they get married?

Think about it, before you start dating someone you try your hardest to look good. Let's face it, we are a country that is based on looks first and most people, whether they admit it or not, people care about what they look like. Not only do you want to feel good about yourself when you are single, you want to attract other singles. Now, when you find that person and start dating, you stay looking good because you want to look your best for them, impress their friends and family, or whatever the reason may be. But once you are in the comfort of a relationship, things can start to slip a bit. Then you get engaged, you want to look good for your big day so you bulk up and/or shed some lbs. Then you're married and you know your secure,  you move in together (if you haven't already), you start cooking hearty meals, you get busy with life, and before you know it...BAM, you're 30 lbs heavier than you were on your wedding day. For most couples life gets in the way and the feeling of comfort and normalcy overrides that of being in tip-top shape.

Let's look at the anatomy of wedding weight gain:

    2007 in Miami a few weeks after meeting- Nick was in tip-top shape. I on the other hand, had a broken foot.

    2008 in Greece, Had too look good for those Grecian beaches!

                       2009, Nick with his best man at our wedding, had started gaining.          

                             Nick on our trip to LA last year. One of the turning points.

                   2010 the pic that sparked Nick's weight loss. 40lbs gained since 2007.

                                           2011, Nick now after 7 months, 50lbs shed...

                                                                ...and muscle gained!

So, for all of you newlyweds out there - getting married does not have to equal getting fat! Take pride in your health, your body, your mind, and keep that partner of yours happy (because looks are all that matter, duh). There are SO many great recipes, easy meals,  and easy workouts that you both can do together to stay fit. Plus there are perks- you'll keep your physical attraction alive and maybe even create a new spark!

Gaining even 10lbs of extra fat is not good for you emotionally or physically and can add so many negatives to your short and long term health. Keep an eye open for another Newlywed Nutrition blog post on how Nick shed his 50lbs of ''wedded weight'' in 7 months and how he is keeping it off!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

In This Corner: Owning! In That Corner: Renting!

I work with a lot of people that start out looking for a rental apartment, but then when they realize that moving in to a rental may end up costing the same as a down-payment on a new home, they sometimes opt towards a purchase.

There are many benefits of owning a home, especially as a newly-hitched couple. These benefits include: building wealth, equity, and stability; freedom from a rental; and most importantly - independence as a couple. No more doing laundry at mommy's house. Although it's cyclical, real estate will appreciate over time so you can make a profit when you sell. There are tax breaks, and of course more room to grow your family. Home owners with fixed-rate mortgages will have the same mortgage payment for 30 years, so there are no surprises. Renters are constantly seeing increases every year that can escalate and force them to move when they are not ready.

The feeling of home ownership is unlike any other. There is no restrictive lease to keep you from making a new place your own. You don't have to worry about whether or not you will be getting your rental deposit back in the end. You want to paint a wall bright pink? Go right ahead. You want to turn your living room into a game room? No one is going to stop you. You want to build a roller coaster in your back yard? It's all you! Your neighbors may not be too happy about that, but it’s your yard! There are also financial pluses, such as deducting the cost of your mortgage loan interest from your federal income taxes, and usually from your state taxes. This can add up to huge savings by years end. If you rent, you write a check on the first of the month and it goes right into someone else's pocket, and vanishes to who-knows-where? 

I know what you're thinking. "I don't have enough for a down-payment." With FHA loans which are backed by the government, all you need is 3.5% down. Banks are also doing 95% and 94% financing which is credit score driven (Click here to read my post about credit scores). 

In a nutshell, the pros of owning definitely outweigh the cons, especially when you're starting your new life together. I think buying is a TKO in this fight!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Real Weddings: Elisa and Justin

Hey, it's Anne! 

This past weekend we traveled back to my hometown of Clarkston, MI for one of my closest friends weddings. The sun was shining, the ceremony was filled with love, and the reception was amazing. Not to mention, Elisa looked STUNNING! They are a couple that really are meant to be together. When you are with them you really see the special bond and love that their share. It warms my heart that my friend met someone who makes her happier than I've ever seen her. He's a great guy and I couldn't be happier for them.
 Nick and me on the way to the wedding.
While being able to celebrate the marriage of friends is lots of fun, it's also a great time for Nick and me to remember our wedding vows and to sort of relive those promises we made to each other 18 months ago. 

 The beautiful bride and handsome groom!

Friends forever!
Congratulations Elisa and Justin, enjoy your newlywed bliss!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Maybe I Can Afford Katy Perry's House...in My (Teenage) Dreams!

Hi, Nick here.

Newbies, Russel Brand & Katy Perry, have put their 4BR/5 bathroom, 4,700 sq. ft., Mediterranean-style home on the housing block. Guess these honeymooners want to move on to a bigger & better love nest.

Built in 1922 and located in Los Feliz, California, the house can be yours for the everyday low price of $3.395 million. Perry reportedly added some of her own personal touches to the home. Like, she turned the 3-car garage into every woman's fantasy - a giant closet for her massive wardrobe. Why? Because she's Katy Perry and she can! From the pictures below the house looks modest, in my opinion. But in a good way, so don't get me wrong. Her style is subtle and classy. Not too rock star flashy.

Perry may lose money from the sale, being that she purchased the home in 2009 for $3.25 million, and it's listed now for $3.395 million. If her commission pay out is 6%, she may have to bring as much as $60,000 to the closing table (if she sells the house for the asking price, that is). Chart topping songs aren't the only hits Katy has these days. It seems even our favorite celebs are feeling the declining real estate market as well.

Pictures courtesy of Realtor.com.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Chores Galore...how to split up the housework!

There always seems to be a never ending list of chores to be done- laundry, dishes, vacuuming, garbage, and the list goes on and on. Now, if this were the 60's, chances are that I would be doing all of this work by myself (that's all while tending to the screaming children and having a pipping hot meal on the table for when hubby comes home). Yeeeah, um, not so much anymore.

Welcome to the 21st century where ladies work 9-5s and men have taken an equal role in housekeeping land. This can be one of the biggest challenges that newlyweds/Soon-to-be-newlywed couples face when moving in together. So just how do you decide who does what without starting WW3? Keep reading and you shall find out...

When Nick and I moved in together, I figured that we would have no problem figuring out who does what. Nick's apartment seemed clean enough so I was confident that this would be an easy transition. Yeah, I was wrong. I quickly learned that the nice apartment that hubby lived in by himself was just a facade. When knowing I would be over, he would quickly clean and throw things under beds, into closets, and out of sight (think Monica's scary closet in Friends) to make it look like he was all tidy. So big surprise to me when we move in together and **GASP** he's a typical male (I know, the horror, right?). Dirty socks on the floor, toothbrush not in the holder, and milk left out on the counter were just a few of the offenses that he would commit. I knew that a compromise on chores would have to happen fast.
**As a disclaimer, I am not by any means the tidiest most organized chick on the block, but I do make sure everything looks presentable at all times. I go by what I call the "In-law drop in test". I keep the house so that if the in-laws drop by unexpectedly, I won't be embarrassed**

This is how we divided up our chores-
First, we sat down individually and wrote down all of the chores that we didn't mind doing and those we absolutely hated. This is what mine looked like -

From there, we divided up the chores based on our lists and than divided up those we absolutely hated. In the end our list looked like this-

The list is not set in stone and we help each other out when needed, that's what compromise is all about!
I know what you're thinking, and yes, I do wear heels every time I clean.

On the rare occasion, I will even clean the litter box -this is rare, like reeeeally rare, but I will do it if needed.

This list system isn't for everyone, but it has really helped us with sorting out who does what. You and your spouse will most likely come up with a system that works for the two of you, but if you really are stumped with how to split up chores, this is a great place to start!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Check Your Score Before You Wreck Your Score!

Hey, Nick here!

The saying, “Money talks,” doesn’t always ring true. You could be Donald Trump and not be able to get a mortgage if your credit rating is in the (diamond studded) toilet. Your salary isn’t the only factor when trying to get financing for your new McMansion. Your FICO score, AKA credit rating, plays a major part in that as well. If your credit is less than stellar, then you are going to want to read my tips on how to get those numbers up.

Trying to understand how credit ratings work will give you a headache bigger than your credit card debt. Basically, anything above 700 is considered excellent and is extremely attractive when applying for a mortgage. It’s definitely a score that you would want to bring home to mom. Only a select few are in that range so don’t worry, 620 – 699 is considered just fine as well. Whew! A score lower than 620 is going to be a tough. So, my best advice for you in that case would be to increase your score slowly but surely. 40% of your score is derived from your payment history, so make sure that you at least get all your minimum payments in on time. It also couldn’t hurt to sacrifice a latte or two a week and put a few extra $$$ towards your payments every month. If you happen to miss a payment it only takes 30 days for it to show up on your credit report, so don’t go getting other credit cards to help boost your score until you pay off the old ones. Focus on past debts that you owe first, because those can linger on your credit report for upwards of 7 years. YIKES! Don’t throw your credit cards out the window just yet. If you do that, some passer-by may pick them up and go on a shopping spree in your honor and not pay it off. That would really bring your score down.

You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Oh no, I’ll never be able to get a mortgage!” That’s not true. If you’re reading this blog post, then you’re probably married (or soon-to-be), so if your spouse has better credit (like mine does) you can always apply for a loan with the better score. True, your buying power won’t be as high with only one salary on the books, but just like using your credit cards, it’s best to buy a home below your means.