june tuition update

well, bryan quit his summer job. haha. so much for him working as much as possible to boost our savings.

normally, i'd be stressing about how we're actually going to pay cash for the rest of his college tuition. but God is good and He is with us. fareway wasn't giving bryan more than 20 or so hours, so it was a little worthless anyway. for the record, he is looking for a new one. : )

bryan was also able to be very involved in the adoleo (formally anthem) recordings that have been taking place in des moines over the last three weeks. he absolutely loved being there everyday and to fully enjoy the recording experience. he was working fulltime during the last two albums he's recorded so he literally just recorded his bass parts and left. on this album he laid down all of the bass tracks obviously, but also used his skills on the tenor sax and banjo. he even recording some gang vocals, which i personally think is hilarious. i love my husband and he has tons of musical talent, but he can't sing to save his life.

so there was a little adoleo update for you. i'm so excited for you all to hear this upcoming album, it's really really good!

meanwhile, i worked a lot of hours in june. between the coffee shop and my work at home job, i traveled to ames once a week to train my replacement. a lot of hours means a lot of money. but it mostly went to the cost of convenience. you couldn't force me to eat any more pizza if you tried.

in the end we still banked some money towards that ever-present tuition fund. here's our update!

tuition for 2011-2012 school year: $9,654.00
savings at the end of june: $3,161.66
difference: $6,492.34
percentage saved: 32.75%
percentage left to save: 67.25%


the engaged budget

calculating kids

when we got engaged, i knew we had to start actually planning out how we spent our money. we both made enough as single people to not really think about it that much. neither one of us were crazy spenders, so we just lived paycheck to paycheck and that worked fine for us.

but we were engaged. we were supposed to be grown-ups. sure i was only 19, but i was going to act like an adult and no one could stop me.

the first major financial decision we made as a couple? buying a car from bryan's parents without any money to do so. [did i mention i was 19 and bryan was 20?] bryan's parents have the gift of generosity and they were happy to give us the car with the agreement that we would pay them back as we could.

the first 8 months or so we started to communicate about finances. we talked about goals, did some tentative budgeting and began to check with each other before spending our money. i specifically remember that we both spoiled each other with tons of nice and expensive christmas gifts because we knew that it was the last year we'd be able to do so without thinking the better of it.

at the beginning of 2009, we had close to $13,000 in debt. most of it was for my car loan which we were paying interest on and the rest was what we owed to bryan's parents.

having many good ideas about money management, and being self-controlled and decently wise with our money, we also enrolled in financial peace university which is a dave ramsey program.

i'll be writing more about what we learned from f.p.u. next week, but until then, i'll leave with this hilarious comparison showing how similar my father-in-law and dave ramsey look.


the month of june

it's rather normal to desire that the month of june last as long as possible. but this year, i wanted it to go as fast as possible. i've been waiting all month to start my new job! i've been waiting to not have a crazy schedule and to not be so busy with work that i don't even have time to grocery shop. i've been waiting!

and just as a watched pot never boils, time moved slowly this month.

here's what i've been thinking about:

i've been complaining a lot this month. and when i say a lot, i mean pretty much everything i've said to bryan has been some form of a complaint. it's been ugly. i've been pretty convicted about it lately, and i've found it's one of those things that is like a can of pringles. once you pop, you just can't stop. it's been so difficult to stop the flow nasty comments coming out of my mouth! i guess i gave myself a lot of excuses because it has been a rather stressful month. so that's the sin issue i'm working on right now, "do everything without arguing and complaining."

i have been so encouraged about my replacement at my job in ames, she's doing such a great job! she's picking up on everything so quickly and smartly, especially considering the somewhat choppy training she's getting from me as i'm in iowa city. i feel so great about leaving everything in her hands after this friday!

i love our connection group. we had a few new people join our group and it was as if they weren't new at all. it was awesome! i'm also insanely thankful for holly, who is always willing to talk pride and prejudice or good deals with me.

i'm eager to be fulltime with veritas. i have so much to learn, so many ideas, and haven't been able to really do much for the past month! yay for starting next tuesday!

i think that's all, so there you go!


'member that time?

'member that time when my husband looked closely at my face and said, "whoa, you really would have a unibrow if you didn't pluck your eyebrows!"

yeah, i know. 

[it's 'member that time monday at the van voorst's blog!]



mom, what is an alsbury anyway?
-noel boettger, a 6-year-old who formally knew me as "mrs. rasberry."

i completely understand the confusion.


the honeymoon budget

calculating kids

being engaged for 13 months wasn't exactly our preference, but it was our choice. it was long, believe me, but i've never regretted our decision. there were lots of great things about a long engagement, but i'll stick to one for this post. we were able to pay cash for our awesome honeymoon.

amelia island
elizabeth point lodge, amelia island, fl

so how'd we do it?

a couple months after we got engaged, after some of the initial wedding planning craziness was behind us, we started thinking about the honeymoon. we looked at some different options: cruises, resorts, hotels, airfare. we talked about what the ideal honeymoon for us looked like. i knew that i wanted a beach, a comfortable room, and no planned activities. bryan agreed so that ruled out a disney honeymoon or a cruise. we wanted something remote, but not so remote that there was nothing to do.

amelia island2
our view of the beach

after we had an idea of what we wanted, we discussed how much we'd be able to save before the wedding. bryan's parents were so generous to give us a sum of money for our honeymoon as a wedding gift. thanks again mom & dad! they were even more generous to give us our gift early, and we used it to book our flights early and pay for the deposit on our lodging.

we searched through many options and decided that while an all-inclusive resort might be nice, it was likely going to be more expensive than booking our own lodging and eating out. in the end, we spent about 2/3rds of our budget on lodging and travel expenses and saved the rest for food and fun.

amelia island1
yummy room service!

we put a monthly amount into a savings account over the course of the next year and had all the money we needed for tons of food, fun and all those unexpected travel expenses. and we didn't have any credit card debt after we got home! in this, we were able to truly start fresh financially as a newly married couple. God is so good to us!

i'm sure you're wondering, what was the most fun thing about our honeymoon?

amelia island3

mini golf, of course!

click here to start at the beginning of this series!


'member that time?

hey guys, 'member that time i went to camp with my church and i peed my pants on the floor because i was laughing so hard?

'member how i was so embarassed but everyone thought it was hilarious and somehow everyone in my cabin started this inside joke that a frog had peed on the floor even though it was me? and 'member how all week we kept saying, the frog peed in our cabin! and giggled like crazy?

thank the Good Lord for nice church girls.

[it's 'member that time monday at the van voorst's blog!]


what would ROLF do?

he, being a 6'4" tall, 300lb, former football player, would sit at his 5-year-old daughters tiny tea party table with her, and enjoy a relaxing afternoon of tea and crumpets.

he would remind her that the proper way to hold a tea cup would be with her pinky out.

he would call her princess, and insist that she was the prettiest little girl he ever knew.

we both get a little emotional at weddings.

happy father's day to the best dad in the world! love you!


corey the servanthearted

i love this guy. obviously, i'm married. but i still love this brother. he absolutely made my day on sunday morning [story below]!

corey moved to iowa city from ames like many of us to plant the church. he actually lived with us for a few weeks before he could move into his apartment. he was an awesome guest in our house! we especially loved that he grilled out for us.

anyway, he has been one of the several super committed servants to wake up at 5am on sundays and start loading up our "portable church." he's always lifting something super heavy or something like that. corey is setting up, ushering, passing out programs, tearing down, pretty much every week. he's there, he's consistent, and my favorite thing about him is that he's on the ball.

last sunday was our second week in the marriott and clint (i call him our producer) was out of town. needless to say, it was a little rough. corey calls me while i'm at work at the coffee shop and leaves me a message. he was wondering where the programs were so he could make sure they were folded and ready to go for church.

i can't think of a single other person (volunteer, nonetheless) who would be so on top of everything that he would notice the programs were missing.

that's how awesome this guy is! i am so thankful for him! i had already folded the programs and had them with me, so i called him and told him there was nothing to worry about. he was relieved.

i was telling bryan how awesome corey was and he responded with this golden nugget of truth: "there are some people, who have the same work ethic all the time. corey is like that. so even though corey is a volunteer, he takes it just as seriously as his job."

truer words were never spoken.

so, thanks corey, for challenging bryan and i to be awesome like you. and thanks for all you do for veritas, we're a blessed church!


[serious] question

did you know that i once asked a [christian] guy if i was pretty?
and he said, "well, you're not as pretty as some other girls, but, yeah, you're pretty."

check out this article where i read this quote:
“The more you are in love with the beauty of Jesus Christ, the more you will be attracted to what you see of Him in the woman you’re dating and the more important it will be to you. The less you love Him, the more important other things about her will become, things like her figure or style.”

[thanks, james for the link]

i was troubled by all sorts of the same insecurities that all high school girls have. that looming question, am i pretty?

i didn't think so. in fact, when i met bryan, i didn't think he would even take a second glance at me. he is out of my league, i thought. but the transformation spoken of in the above quote happened to bryan and he married me. and he makes me feel like the most drop-dead gorgeous woman in the world. my prayer is the same for all other christian men.


the wedding budget

calculating kids

bryan got a great deal on my engagement ring. he ordered it the day after valentine's day so it was on sale. it's beautiful. a simple white gold band with a round cut diamond in a six-prong setting. the diamond is color e, and you can't see any imperfection with the naked eye, which they tell me is a good thing.

i loved the ring, i loved him and loved that he got a great deal on it. that's my kind-of man. : )

that's how our financial journey as an engaged couple started.

with the excitement of starting a new life with bryan and being the nerdy financially-minded person i was, my mind began to reel with budgets, paying off debt, and planning for the future. for some reason, the fact that i was going to be married made it much more important. but we had a different budget to be worried about: the wedding budget.

and so begins the story of one of the greatest acts of generosity we've ever received.

first of all, my dad was so generous and gave me a figure to work with. we were engaged for 13 months so he gave me the money in small increments as he could. i booked the cheapest, biggest reception hall i could find, booked the church, bought the dress and found cheap photography. i spent very little money on the save-the-dates, invitations, and other things like programs and decorations. we borrowed a lot of things from friends.

i didn't really budget as much as i purchased everything cheaply. our wedding was near and i had spent about half of the original figure. that was pretty good considering all we had left to pay for was food for everyone!

we had already found a great and incredibly cheap caterer and had booked her for the day. she ran a very small catering company so she didn't even require a deposit! which was good news when we found out the bad news:

my dad was layed-off from his job. 

just like many other dads and workers, he was one of those affected by the economy slump a couple years ago. that was it. there was no more wedding money to be had. 

at first i was angry. then i was sad. then i resolved to make it work. i told my parents that we would just do cake. our guests would understand. the invitations had been sent, so should we send postcards so they know there won't be a meal? how do you politely say: sorry, you won't be getting a free meal, even though you were expecting to?

and then.

my mom called me and said, "someone just called me and asked if they could pay for all of the catering." yes. you read that right. someone wanted to pay for about 1/2 of my wedding. who the heck loves me that much?

i was immediately in tears. so was my mom. we were so happy, but so confused. should we accept such a huge gift? i wasn't so sure. but the giver insisted and my mom accepted on both of our behalves. they wanted to be kept anonymous and my mom has kept a huge secret from me and everyone else ever since. and she's not good at keeping secrets. so that's a big deal too.

it's still crazy to me. i mean, it's just a wedding. it's just food for our guests. but it was important to me that our guests felt loved by us in that way. a simple meal can say a lot. and whoever gave us all that money knew how important it was to me.

that act of generosity has shaped bryan and i so much and will continue to inspire us to give of our money freely. when we are asked to give, i think of all i have been given. and the ways that God has blessed us through anonymous givers or our parents or friends. i [literally] can't thank the giver enough. it wasn't just money or food. it was love, it was God's work, and it will affect our lives for a long time.

click here to start at the beginning of this series!


california dorks

i like katy perry just as much as everyone else, but seriously, this is so good.


'member that time?

'member that time i went to a movie?

'member how after the movie i went to my car and realized i locked my keys inside? 'member how i called bryan to bring me my spare key and while i was waiting i noticed that the car next to mine was running? 'member how after i looked around for the owner and thought of ways i could let the owner of the car know i realized it was my car that was running? and that not only had i locked my keys in the car, but that i had left my car running during the entire movie.

good thing it wasn't lotr or something.

[it's 'member that time monday at the van voorst's blog!]


old picture, good friend


world, meet leah. she's amazing. she's an awesome wife, mom, friend, singer, worshiper, servant, designer, and sister in Christ.

i stumbled upon this picture from way back in 2008-leah, this really made me miss you!


falling apart, it's a good thing

i really love my husband. he's the best.

he's spending his last of three days in des moines recording an album right now, which means i get to see him tonight. yay!

my mom came over to my apartment sometime last year, looked around, looked at me and said: "you really do just fall apart when bryan's gone, don't you?"

i sheepishly replied, "i guess so."

i haven't changed after another year of marriage.

bryan was gone for just a couple days then, and it's only been since tuesday morning he's been gone this time, but i can't seem to be responsible for much when he's not here.

i don't sleep in our bed when he's gone. i feel sad when he's not there to snuggle me to sleep. i have trouble remembering to eat too. it's an accomplishment if i shower.

i should clean and do productive things while i have some time to myself, but i don't.

i usually just watch chick flicks and buy myself some chocolate and fall asleep on the couch, tired and hungry and missing the love of my life.

i don't why i felt you should know how much i fall apart when my best friend is gone, but now you know i'm human. : ) nothing to worry about either, it's not as though i completely neglect the things i must accomplish. it's just that, i really love living life with this man and it's hard to have fun without him.


i can't wait for the rest of our lives!


the single budget

calculating kids

hopefully it's obvious that this is just one of many stories about our financial journey as husband and wife. but if i had to just write one post, neigh, one sentence about our journey it would be this:

God has done a great work in us, blessed us much and always provided. 

hopefully that sets the tone i'm going for. i take no credit for the way that God created bryan and i, nor the protection, wisdom, and blessing He's given us to make wise financial decisions throughout our lives. while we've worked hard and learned a lot and have had great luck in our financial decisions, God has been in charge and leading the way.

so i'll try to start in the beginning. ish.

i married an amazing man. he is the hardest worker i know. he's always been like that too. he always had a job in high school, he paid for a lot of his own possessions. he got good grades too! he's amazing. i remember him working 60+ hours a week the summer after we graduated high school. he worked hard and he was never tight on cash, because he never let himself spend too much of that money. he planned on going to iowa state in the fall. i was so impressed by that 18-year-old.

meanwhile, i got a great job right after i graduated high school. i loved it so much that i decided to skip the typical college route. i didn't have a car at the time, but had a steady and decently paying job, so i bought a brand new car and took out my first loan. a friend helped me get a pretty good rate, and i didn't mind a car payment. i didn't know how else i was going to get around.

i also applied for the first credit card offer i got in the mail. i thought it might come in handy and i could get a cool picture on it. yep, that's how a 17-year-old thinks.

by God's grace, i knew that i shouldn't carry a balance on my credit card, so while i forgot to pay it off on time once or twice, i never got charged any interest or had outstanding credit card debt. i'm so thankful for that!

bryan went to iowa state for a couple weeks. after learning he didn't have as much savings as he thought, he dropped out. he decided he didn't want to rely on his parents money or student loans to get through school at that point, so he just worked and applied to go to dmacc, our local community college.

bryan worked around 30-40 hours per week and took 2 or 3 classes at dmacc each semester. he always paid with cash. i continued to work, got a few raises and lived stress free. both bryan and i pretty much lived paycheck to paycheck as we navigated the adult world. but we never bounced checks or went into consumer debt.

and that gives you a picture what we were like in our single years. then we got engaged.

more next week!


an interesting take on college these days


read the full article here.

let me start out by saying that i didn't go to college. therefore, in a lot of ways, i agree with mr. stephens. and in my series about our financial journey, i'll be writing about how much of a blessing it had been to us [not just financially] that i never went to college.

here are a few of my thoughts on the article:

first of all, not everyone can start their own business, or website or invention, etc. and that's pretty much all he offers for options if you don't go to college. on the other hand, i can honestly say that i have become a pretty great administrative assistant with no formal training. so i can see what he means by "other options."

second of all, i would definitely drop out of college at 19 if i received $100,000.00 for the next two years. i'm sure receiving that fellowship took a lot of work and involves a lot of continual work, but really, why would any 19-year-old consider college over that?

third of all, i believe there are a lot of great reasons to get a college education and that it's possible to do so without debt. we're living proof. and i would highly recommend striving to pay cash for college, it makes your education that much more worth it.

what do you think?


'member that time?

'member that time when i tripped up the stairs at my church, fell flat on my face, rolled over into an folded, upright table, knocked it over and was crushed, face-first, underneath of it?

'member how my forehead just kind-of popped open and was gushing blood everywhere and i had to get 17 stitches on my face?

good thing i have bangs.

[it's 'member that time monday at the van voorst's blog!]


aaaaaand we have a graphic

calculating kids

i mentioned in an earlier post that i'm going to be documenting our financial journey of 3+ years on the ol' blog this summer. i'm always trying to move toward the title of 'legit blogger' and i was bound to start having graphics one of these days.

so, there you have it, folks. a graphic for my next blog series! i designed it myself, with the help of the most state-of-the-art technology of course: ms paint. beautiful stuff.

look forward to next wednesday for the introduction to the series. i'm actually really excited to write about all of this. we've had a lot of fun, learned a lot of good lessons and most importantly, God has proved Himself an amazing provider over and over again. all of these make for super fun stories for me to tell!



can my family be like this but with red hair?


dream job

hopefully, the title of this post will convince you that my exciting news is not that i'm pregnant! seriously, readers, you've got to quit guessing that! : )

this is a different kind-of life change. the kind-of change where i go from working two great jobs to working one absolutely amazing job. the kind-of change where i go from working 50-60 hours a week to working a solid 40 with some extra time on the weekends. the kind-of change where i go from not having time to do simple things like grocery shop to having time to be a good wife again, not just a bacon-bringer.

this is the kind-of life change that will make it hard to quit my job and have a family someday.

[okay, it won't be that hard, you all know by now how much i want a vanload of kids someday, but hey, i'm only 22!]

now, there are some skeptics [ahem, erik] out there that think i have a habit of getting a new job every couple of months...trust me, i'm sticking with this one as long as i can.

readers, i have been offered my dream job. and i have accepted.

i get the privilege of becoming veritas' new full-time coordinator!

can you tell i'm excited?! i wanted to scream, but thankfully, i have a mother for that. she did scream. by the way. both of my bosses know [i would not be posting this if they didn't], and they were both so awesome to talk to. i'm so thankful for believing bosses!

God has been more than good to bryan and me this past year since we moved to iowa city. and He continues to dump on the goodness. thanks God!