Finding A Wedding Venue

When starting to plan for your wedding one of the biggest choices you have to make is the venue. Venues come in all shapes and sizes and determine when, where, and how you get to celebrate your wedding day and reception. When picking a venue Richard and I knew we did not want to break the bank but since we were going to be inviting about 60-70 people we knew we needed space. We also knew that cost was our greatest concern. To start we definitely, for s’s and g’s, looked at your more traditionally utilized spaces for weddings. They were: $10,000, $15,000, $20,000 and often they didn’t include everything unless you want to pay even more!

*Dead*

So, once we reinforced our gut feelings we sought out alternatives. We knew that we were not looking for an all-inclusive venue because food, alcohol, decorations, cake, flowers, ect. we could and wanted to do ourselves; besides knowing we could find it much cheaper than if we had it included in the venue. We went with a basic, bare community center in Texas knowing we could turn it into something all our own. All for the great big price of, $350. There are many community resources out there that offer spaces indoor and outdoor to hold your event and for a fraction of the cost of most wedding venues.

Before: Venue

Some alternatives can be, depending on size and what you are wanting to do, are:

1.) A local or even destination park – You can often rent spaces at community parks for almost nothing. You might not even have to pay if it is super small.

2.) A beach – Just do your research early on for potential permit requirements or restrictions.

3.) Community centers -They offer spaces that are sometimes really basic and bare and other times quite beautiful. They almost always will be many times cheaper than a true wedding venue.

4.) Have a backyard wedding – If you, family or friends have a nice house that wouldn’t mind offering up their home for your big day you could make it an extremely budget friendly wedding.

5.) The great outdoors – Even some National Parks offer the ability to hold your event in beautiful locations. Check out some of these suggestions, here.

6.) Have your wedding on an off-peak day (during the week) or during the off season.

7.) Use your creativity! You can get married almost literally anywhere! Use venue search terms that don’t include “wedding” and you might find something perfect that you may have missed otherwise.

The greatest key here is start doing your research early. Some of these ideas fill up swiftly like normal wedding venues so getting the process started early is important. Some don’t require as much prep or any permits but you should make sure you find out ahead of time so you know what you are getting yourself into.

Find out the requirements and restrictions when you are researching so you know what you can and cannot expect from a particular site. You don’t want to have paid for particular elements like a band, decorations, alcohol, ect to find out the day of they are not allowed. Know what you want and what you are willing to do without. Not every THING is as important as it may seem. Save money and just enjoy spending time with the people you are sharing this all with.

Remember it is supposed to be an experience of a life time not an experience you end up paying for for a whole life time. What are some unique ideas you have for a wedding ceremony, reception, or both? How were you able to save money planning your wedding? Let us know in the comments; we love hearing about your experiences. Til next time Pengminions!

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The Gym Isn’t the Only Way to Workout

~Kristen Furleigh

Don’t give up your dreams of being healthy and strong just because you can’t afford a gym membership. Money or lack thereof can have a negative impact on our ability to believe we can still achieve. When funds get tight one of the first things to go straight to a wish list is a gym membership, and with it our willingness to think beyond to what we will do in it’s place. The whole possibility of being fit seemingly vanishes but it does not have to.

There a plethora of tools out there you can utilize that won’t cost you money but can still give you the health benefits of having a gym membership; so don’t fret. You can make things happen if you are willing to do the slightly unconventional. Richard and I haven’t ever budgeted for a gym membership because we would rather put that money towards an experience or artistic materials which often don’t come cheap. We are still able make working out fun and beneficial for us.

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The great outdoors is a typically free resource available to you almost anywhere you live. Weather can be an obstacle here depending on where you live but for most of us we can suck it up when its a bit warmer or colder than our preferred state of comfort. Go for a run to get your cardio in and utilize the space in a park that has workout stations along the course. You can usually find out where your city parks are by visiting your city website or GoogleMaps works well too. Go scope them out to find out which one offers what you are looking for. We even saw an outdoor workout facility in San Francisco that looked like a crossfit gym!

Did you know that YouTube, besides offering music and cute cat videos, is also a hub for countless exercise videos? You can find workout videos for just about anything you can imagine. From Yoga to full length exercise classes to short, specific muscle focused instruction. If you get bored you can always switch it up with something else.

On the topic of video instruction, if you can rely on yourself to cancel, BeachBody offers free 30-day access to a large number of their programs that you can stream on just about any device. Just remember to schedule a reminder in your phone before your offer expires to avoid being charged! This can be great to get you started with an at home routine. If you are afraid you will forget the steps of the work out you can write them down to reference after your trial period.

If you can find a gym buddy! If you have a friend who has a gym at their apartment complex see if you can join them. Many don’t require a sign in so as long as you have the access code or card to get in you can use their equipment. We did this when my parents lived in an apartment complex that offered these amenities. Remember to always be respectful of others and the equipment in the gym.

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If you are in college or live in an active community be on the look out for free events. We were able to learn acroyoga by joining a club on campus. Summer is a great time to find free outdoor events where they offer instruction that gets you moving. Take advantage of these opportunities and write down what you learn so you can workout on your own.

Investing in yourself will always take time but it doesn’t always have to cost you money. What are some things you do to stay fit on a fitness budget of $0? We would love to try our hand at your approach. Leave your thoughts in the comments; we love to hear from you! Til next time Pengminions!

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Budget Chandelier for our Living Room

by Richard Furleigh

Come with me on a DIY/Home improvement story in electrical work!

*Disclaimer! I am not a professional electrician, I’ve acquired skills over the years through practice and learning from others that I feel confident enough to do these things and try to teach you. If at any point it feels like it’s too much call a certified electrician! That being said I promise this isn’t complicated and is about as simple as basic safety and color matching and can be done with very simple tools.

Moving into our most recent apartment we found the lighting situation to be lacking to say the least. No ceiling fans, no hanging lights, just an outlet that worked based on the light switch and a hook to suspend a light from. Kristen had wanted a simple hanging light and in previous explorations had found a Habitat for Humanity resale store that had extras they couldn’t use as well as donated materials to sell and raise money with.

We ended up coming across a rather nice looking chandelier that was small enough to fit and with a quick internet search saw it going for up to $100 new. So since it was $20? Score! The only small problem was that as a chandelier it was made to be permanently wired in, not plugged into the outlet we needed it to go into. Since I’ve worked lighting crew for some of my theatre shows as well as done other minor electrical repairs at other places I’ve lived this wasn’t particularly daunting (ask Kristen though, she was less than certain!). So along with the chandelier I picked up a $1 appliance that had a longer cable on it and headed home to get started.

Since nothing was already wired in or plugged in the safety check was already done, so using a pair of scissors I gently cut through the housing for the wire to expose a little more (they make special tools for this, but since I don’t do this often it would be a waste of money).

Second I matched up the wires from the chandelier and my cord according to color. Red to red, black to black, green to green, and twisted them together. Some wires aren’t color coded, but have ridges to indicate which one is the “hot” wire and which isn’t, and in my case the chandelier used this method. So for me it was ridged housing to red, smooth housing to black, and exposed to green. Check on the packaging of anything you buy as it should guide you if you aren’t sure.

Third I secured the twisted wires together one at a time with electrical tape back to the cord. Because this was a patch job in the middle of the cable it wasn’t pretty, but you have to make sure there is a good layer of electrical tape in between the wires so you don’t risk a slew of awful problems later.

Lastly for aesthetic I wrapped white duct tape around the whole thing to help the two different colored wires blend in with the wall better and cover the massive black lump in the middle.

So there you go! For $21 and about 20 minutes of work we got a very nice light for our living room area that we can take with us anywhere else we move to! As I said be careful when dealing with electricity, but simple steps mean you can make simple repairs or fix up your own place for a lot less than you might have thought!

Any questions on my steps here? Let us know below and I’ll try to clarify for you, and I hope this encourages you to try things out for yourself next time something around your place isn’t working too well. Until next time Pengminions!

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The Magic of the Thrift Store Pt. 2: Housewares

~Kristen Furleigh

Thrifting part dos! Richard and I have been able to furnish our rental primarily with finds from the thrift stores around town. It takes time and you have to be patient. You have to be willing to go without for a little bit when what you are searching for isn’t readily available. The pay off for you patience is grand!

Some of your finds will take a bit of elbow grease to turn it into something you will like in your home but the upside is you won’t pay nearly as much as a brand new item and you can tailor it to your specific home decor. Here is an example of a couple of my favorite pieces I happened to find separately.

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$7 thrift store dresser

I had found the dresser for around $7 and when I stumbled upon the night stand for a whopping $2.50 I had to have it. The styles were just too similar. Both were originally a cream and gold color when I bought them and I was able to turn them into what you see now for an additional $10 in re-purposing materials.

 

night stand

$2.50!

 

The savings compared to new are astounding. You can find pieces like this too if you take the time to go look and are willing to put in a bit of elbow grease!

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Thrift store finds

Not all items need work though. I found this red piece for under $5 and felt the vintage look was perfect and now we use it as a bar/liquor cabinet. It also keeps my candy too but that’s another story…

 

When you allow yourself to open up to all the possibilities thrift stores can offer you there are thousands that can be saved by buying used items. Outside of furniture you can buy many other housewares if you can get out of the mindset of needing brand new things or needing things to come in perfectly matched sets.

Silverware and kitchen items can be found at pennies instead of dollars. Do your forks, knives, and spoons really need to match??? You need them to transfer food from your plate to your mouth and whether or not they match honestly is trivial. If someone is going to judge you for not having matching plates you can just wave your plane ticket at them as you jet off on yet another adventure with all the money you save by thrifting.

Now not all thrift store furniture is under $10 bucks, but their prices will be a fraction their traditional cost. Our couch was the most expensive purchase, it was a 5-piece sectional in exceptional condition for $150, but had we bought that same exact couch new it would have cost over $1,000 easily.

It takes patience and a long term outlook to get exactly what you’re looking for, but that will be worth it for your bank account and as we talked about in our previous blog the environment since you will be utilizing things that would otherwise end up at the dump.

The next time you need a new dresser or something small like a food processor I challenge you to check out your local thrift store first and see what you can save! Are there any questions you have about thrifting? Leave us a comment below and we would love to answer them for you. Til next time Pengminions!

 

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The Magic of the Thrift Store Pt. 1: Clothes

~Kristen Furleigh

How much do you think you spend on new clothes? Where do you get them? In my experience clothes can get really expensive, really fast, even if you shop at clothing discounters like Ross, Marshalls, or T.J. Maxx. Most people don’t shop there though. They shop at Target, department stores in the mall, or even outlets.

Thrift stores have become my best friend. You can get clothing from top end designers at a FRACTION of the cost. There are plenty of times where I find brand new clothing with tags still attached!

When I got hired on as a Graduate Assistant at the University of Nevada-Reno for the College of Business I had to purchase a brand new business casual wardrobe; for some reason yoga pants weren’t acceptable attire. So I spent about $100. This might seem like a lot of money but I bought enough attire that it will last me my career here at UNR. Jackets, button up shirts, blouses, skirts, slacks. I even bought a couple new pairs of shoes to boot. For the same brands of clothing I would have spent well over $500 at any regular retailer brand new.

Why spend such an exorbitant amount of money on things you can find used at a much lower cost? Bonus, you are helping out the environment by keeping these items out of landfills and giving them a new life!

Two of my favorite places here in Reno are any of the Savers in town and the Bargain Bin Goodwill on Oddie Blvd. Savers thrift stores are a bit more pricey compared to other thrift stores but the quality of the clothes they sell is higher as well. One of the coolest things about Savers is when you donate your unwanted items they give you a discount card that you can earn up to 30% off at checkout. When you are done with them give your old things an opportunity to find a new home you could even save some extra bucks.

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Decked out in Thrift Store finds!

 

The Bargain Bin Goodwill store is a special resale shop because they sell their clothing not based on a price for each individual item but by weight. You buy clothing for $1.49 per pound. You read that right! Since their clothing is sold by weight, in most cases it is extremely cheap; especially for women’s clothing which is often made out of lighter materials. You do have to search through because just as the store’s name implies everything is piled into large bins. I’ve found everything from basics and casuals all the way up to formal dresses.

If either of these don’t strike your fancy you can try your traditional Goodwill, SPCA, Salvation Army, St. Vincent’s, and Thrift Depot to name a few.

This is mostly about clothing but you can even find great quality shoes for amazing prices if you are willing to take the time to look. My favorite purchase was a pair of hiking boots that looked as if they were used less than a handful of times; when I price checked them online they retailed for $150 and were being sold for $15. Score!

For some it might seem weird wearing clothing that someone else wore but all you have to do is give them a good wash in the washing machine or take the fancier items for dry cleaning before wearing and you are good to go.  I challenge you to go out and find a thrift store near you the next time you are in need of some new clothing; you just might be surprised at what you can find. There are times you will strike out but the hunt is a fun game you can play. Share with us what you think or some of your favorite thrift store finds! We look forward to hearing your thoughts. Til next time Pengminions.

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Your morning coffee says more than you think

by Richard Furleigh

Think back to one of the last purchases you made, what were some of the reasons behind it? Was it a trendy piece of clothing that you got because it looked good, groceries you needed to stock up on, coffee at one of the many roastery options out there because you needed a pick me up? Think harder for a moment about why you  actually chose that particular item however and you may find that it has a little more to do with the influences of those around you than your own thoughts.

In exploring Living Creatively we repeatedly have to reexamine the reasons behind our choices, even the everyday answers to why we buy one product and not another at the store, or even what store we went to in the first place! Sometimes the reasons we make certain choices seems benign and inconsequential, but sometimes they are subversive and over time will hurt us more than we realize if not caught early on. Social influences on our purchase choices account for an astounding proportion of the reasoning for… Well…. Everything. Check out this article written by Dr. Ahmad Chaudhry talking briefly about the extent to which this is present.

Personally I will ask myself what is it I’m actually searching for in a product or service I can break it down and find the real reasons rather than allow how people may perceive me for my choices to affect me. When searching for a good quality mug for coffee and tea I came across the RTIC tumbler. Not as well known, but their stainless steel cups are identical to their much more expensive and popular cousin Yeti. The price difference for doing my research and choosing function over everything else saved me $28; for almost ¼ the cost of the Yeti my Earl Grey stays quite hot all day.

It can be choices as small as a $1 coffee at Mc. D’s vs $4 at Starbucks. The green mermaid has a certain status associated with her, but in more recent years McCafe drip coffees rank just as good or even better than Starbucks. So if you stop and ask yourself, if what you really want from your coffee is good taste then oddly enough you’d be better off going to McDonald’s for your daily dose of caffeine.

These may seem inconsequential, but it is small actions and decisions that will in the end add up to bigger and better changes. Questioning the small things in your life will build up into strength that allows you to look deeply into your own life. Everything from relationships, to your job, to your own purpose, to as a man changing my own last name when I got married.

Have you begun to question some small things in life or have some tips on other ways to make those shifts happen? Let us know in the comments below and get out there to make some positive changes in your life today!