Top Five Tax Refund Splurges for Brides

We’ve all got our W-2s back, all we’ve got to do now is file and wait. If you’re on your tax refund game like we are, you’re all kinds of excited for a nice check from Uncle Sam. You shouldn’t count on your tax refund to get you out of a hole or cover any part of your wedding budget, but you should count on it to treat yourself. You worked hard for the money, you deserve to enjoy the kick back you get from it. So keep that tax refund to yourself and treat yourself- you earned it!

Massage it Out

What’s more relaxing than a massage? Yeah, we can’t think of anything either. There are a multitude of health benefits that are associated with getting a massage such as easing anxiety or depression, pain relief, and even in certain cases weight loss. Often times your medical insurance will help you get discounts or even cover (!!!) your massages at certain locations. If you’re planning a wedding you definitely deserve a good massage.

Blow Out

Want to feel fancy immediately? Cruise by your hair salon and get yourself a blow out just for fun. You don’t need an occasion (other than for some serious selfie action), you just need to enjoy yourself. Right now there are a ton of blow out-only salons popping up for you to come by and just do a blow out-  no other treatments required. It’s such a fun way to have insta-fab hair, and good hair really brings out the sparkle in your engagement ring.

Get the Big Girl Package

You may already have your bi-weekly mani/pedis scheduled, but for your next round go for the gold (or platinum). It’s time to splurge for the best package you can do at your salon! Seriously spring for the paraffin wax, the extra long massage, and the cuticle softeners. If you have a ring on your finger, consider it an investment. If people are looking at your ring, you want to make sure your hands look good too!

Upgrade You

Check your phone plan and if you’re up- go get that upgrade! We’re iPhone fans and the six is such a fun splurge. If you’re a droid kind of gal, the newest Galaxy has amazing reviews and a gorgeous screen. Since you’ve got friends and family coming out soon to celebrate your love, you’re going to need a more powerful phone to contact them all! Plus if your phone camera is a little shaky or pixelated, you need to upgrade ASAP. With so many exciting changes on the way, you’re going to want an awesome camera at your fingertips.

Sweet Day

This one is selfishly our favorite splurge, be forewarned. Take that tax refund and a girlfriend and have a complete guilt-free food day. Go cupcake hopping, have those bottomless mimosas, curl up and watch Netflix with as much ice cream as you can eat. One day won’t throw off your wedding diet, and you worked hard in 2014 so you could enjoy the things you eat! If you want to be good, you can double up your guilt-free day with Valentine’s Day and ease your chocolate cravings all at once. If you do want to have one guilt-free day AND do chocolate on Valentine’s Day though, we won’t judge you!


Top Five 2015 Resolutions for Brides

Happy New Year! Now that you’re caught up and have cleaned all the 2015 confetti out of your NYE outfit, it’s time to get down to business. If 2015 is your year to tie the knot, you’ve got a whole lot of fun ahead of you, and we’re here to help. We’ve got our resolutions that are extra important for you to follow this year to have an amazing year, wedding, and rest of your life!

Go to the Dentist

I know, I know- it’s scary. It’s not fun. It’s kind of the stuff of nightmares and it usually can cause some pain. But you know what’s more painful? Yellow, crooked teeth full of tartar and cavities in your wedding photos. Now that the year has reset, many insurance plans reset so this is the best time to get back into the groove of things. If it makes you feel better, take off work and leave mid-Friday to go to the dentist and treat yourself to a slightly longer weekend. If you’re too nervous to go alone (or anticipate some laughing gas or pain killers), task one of your bridesmaids to tag along. The dentist is always a must- and if you find a good one it can seriously make the chore really easy. While you’re there, be sure to schedule a whitening a few days before your big day too.

Drink More Water

This is such an easy win you’ll wonder why it’s not on your resolution list to begin with. Water flushes all the icky stuff out of your system, clear up your skin, slim your waist, and overall just make your life better. You’ll even save money when you go out! If you hit the town at night and drink, have a glass of water to match your adult drinks and it’ll keep you from feeling icky or dehydrated the next day. It’s a lifesaver and it’ll get your body into an amazing place for your big day.

Ditch the Tan

You should NEVER hit the tanning booths (it will destroy your skin, and seriously put a dent in your health!), and this year you should try to stop doing the fake tan thing too. Enjoy your regular skin and keep it real! Fake tans can be pricey, and if you’ve got a wedding and a honeymoon coming up you’re going to need to save up some cash. Fake tans can also get everywhere and stain your clothes- that’s no fun. Skip the skin tints and enjoy your natural glow!

Say ‘Thank You’ More

This may have been the big buzz in November, but we feel like it should be a year-round state of mind. If you’re not sure how to resolve to do this, start by committing to sending thank you notes once a week. These can be little hand-written cards or a phone call, but just make sure that they are personal. Saying thank you more will instantly remind you of everything that you have and how awesome the people in your life are. Also be sure to say thank you to your vendors and everyone you’re working with for the big day! They’re doing a lot to help your perfect day be perfect- that’s definitely worth being thankful for.

Stack Cash When you Can

Weddings are expensive (duh) so when you can, save money! That can be a big range of things like not picking up that extra pack of gum or soda at the grocery store, or skipping a cab and calling an uber instead. If you have some time during the day, call your bank and credit card companies and ask for lower APR rates (it works- try it!) and higher credit limits. Reassess what you own and sell off or donate what you don’t need anymore. Save as much money as you can this year and you’ll be surprised what you’ll be able to afford by the end of it (hello upgraded honeymoon suite!).


Top Five Ways to Earn Extra Wedding Cash

Budgeting can be super hard and frustrating, and it can only get more stressful the closer you get to your wedding. All that fun stuff you’ve been planning for can seriously add up, but that’s okay. There’s no reason to do your wedding on the cheap, you totally deserve to have the wedding you want! There comes the problem of having to pay for it all. If you’re looking over the bill and realizing you could use a few extra dollars here and there, we’ve got the top five best tips for making that happen!

Save Receipts to Save Paper

You’re going to spend money on food and groceries regardless of your budget situation, make use of it! The basic bride will keep an eye on what’s on sale and look for coupons, the advanced bride will hang on to receipts and look for rebates. There are smartphone apps like Checkout 51 and Ibotta that will give you actual money in exchange for pictures of your receipts. If you’re grabbing fun stuff for a bachelorette brunch or even just stocking your fridge for a long night of signing thank you notes, you might as well make a little money back. You won’t get rich but it’s a quick, easy, and non-invasive way to make a little bit of money on the side.

Plan for a Merge-Have an E-Yard Sale!

If you’re going to merge furniture and household goods soon with your fiance, take a serious look at what you both have in stock. Since it’s late August now, the ‘college move’ has started everywhere. College kids are moving in and need furniture and appliances quickly! This is the best time of the year to be selling furniture and appliances for quick cash. If you realize you’ll have a couch you don’t know what to do with or an extra toaster, take a few pictures and put them online and let the highest offer have at it. Selling your items online is much easier than doing a yard sale nowadays. You save yourself the time spent sitting on your lawn hoping to flag down someone, you reach a wider audience, and you get more serious offers. If you’re a part of a college group page on social media, try posting on there as well to promote your sale- it seriously works!

Shop Secretly (and Get Paid)

Secret shopping may seem like a silly pipe dream, but it’s a serious way to get paid to eat or shop. Do searches for credible secret shopping services (Market Force is a great one!), sign up, and look for secret shop assignments that work for you. You should never be asked to pay to be a secret shopper, you only have to file as an independent contractor (for tax purposes). If you’re a bride on the go, plan to meet friends at restaurants you have to secret shop- it’s killing two birds with one stone and you’ll get paid to be there! Doesn’t that make a lunch meeting about seating charts that much more gratifying?

Get a Side Gig

Scan your facebook feed for friends throwing events and ask if they need an extra hand. Look out for shows, events, parties, anything where you figure they could need another person to help out and ask if they’d need extra employees for the day. Helping out a friend with their event can make them much more likely to help out during yours (you know, like helping set up for a wedding…). You could also offer to help out with life events like moving or re-painting. If your newsfeed is a little dry, check out the day gigs on craigslist. There can be quick jobs you can do to help put together events that pay easy cash. If you’re in the Los Angeles area, attending tapings of shows on your days off is an easy way to make some money on the side. It won’t get you rich, but it’ll help that budget!

Upgrade your Appliances

Do you know how many rebates there are for having energy or water safe appliances? Way more than you realize! California is in the middle of a really rough drought and are working hard to encourage efficient water use. Nationwide, there are different programs by state that offer rebates on the actual appliance itself or discounts on your bill. Check to see if you’re missing out on rebates from appliances you already own- you may be missing out on some serious cash! If you’ll need new big appliances after the wedding, register for appliances that qualify for rebates. If you want to know what rebates are available in your area (sometimes, they can vary by county), check your county’s official .gov website. If you’re heading into a store to register for a big appliance, ask the salesperson about appliances that qualify for rebates. You can decrease your footprint and save some cash for a bridesmaid brunch. Everybody wins!


Five Simple Savings Tips for Your Wedding

It’s becoming more and more common for brides and grooms to pay for their own weddings, or at least big portions of it. While it is smart to save up, it can be hard to save up enough to pay for an entire wedding. We at Bridal Hot List are always here to help! We’re sharp on trends and sharp on savings, so take notes and stack up.

Re-Think Your Bills

Stack up all the bills you got last month and see where you can trim. If you’re paying for cable, do you really need to? If all you need cable tv for is ‘Game of Thrones’, maybe have GoT parties with your girlfriends and cancel your cable. Most shows are easy to watch on subscription services like Hulu which are a tiny fraction of the cost of cable subscriptions. If you have internet, you really don’t need to pay for cable. If you’re paying for a gym membership to run on treadmills, consider canceling and running in a park. If you’re going to work out classes, check out youtube to see if there are tutorials or videos that you could do instead of paying for classes. It’s free, and you can take breaks when you need to!

Negotiate Your Percentages

Do you know how high your interest rates are? Whatever they are, high or low, they are never set in stone. Call up whatever customer service lines you need to and don’t get off the phone until your interest rates are lower! It’s good to go in calm, be friendly, and ask for lower interest rates due to being a loyal customer, paying on time, etc.

Social Networking

Send out the beacon and see who can help! Be specific and ask for your friends and family for any suggestions for vendors or specialists. They may have a cousin or girlfriend you didn’t know about with great talents! Be sure to not straight out ask for a discount, but say that you are on a budget, and would love to work with a friend. The key to getting discounts is always to be pleasant and friendly.

Shopping Your Stash

Before you buy that ‘back-up’ mascara, go through your makeup kit to see if you really need it. If you don’t need it, don’t buy it! See what you have already before buying, or even worse- impulse buying anything. You can also go through all your clothes and create donate, toss, and keep piles. It’s a great way to clean out your closet and find old favorites! Just assess what you have and decide if it’s truly a need or a want. Needs are unavoidable, wants can be put off until everything else is paid off.

Let it Go

Have you been hanging on to something for a ‘rainy day’ forever? Maybe it’s the vintage white gold watch that you never wear or a signed poster, but if you’re not getting anything out of it maybe it’s time to. Even little things like old dvd’s could be worth a little bit here and there. Dvd’s are going on their way out to make room for blu-rays anyway, so now could be the perfect time to sell. If you don’t have any stores nearby that buy off old dvd’s, amazon has a great program where you mail in your old dvd’s, books, and cd’s in exchange for amazon credit. It may not always be a lot (that old one-disc copy of ‘The Notebook’ may not pay for the flowers by themselves…), but every bit counts! Stay in that mentality- every bit counts. You’ll see the savings stack up as long as you count every bit as you save it.

Five Tips for Charging Your Wedding Expenses

For many people their wedding will be one of the most expensive events in their life. Chances are, you may not have the cash on hand to pay for it all up front. If you do end up having to charge parts (or even, all) of your wedding, we have some tips on how to do it the smart way.

Pick Your Card Wisely

It’s easier to use a card that you already have rather than opening up a new one. Look at your cards and weigh out which ones have the highest limits. You may not use your entire credit line, but it’s good to have the cushioning of a high limit. If your cards don’t have limits as high as you’d like, go ahead and call your credit card company and ask for your limit to be raised. As long as you’re in good standing, there really shouldn’t be a big issue. You can even mention that you’re getting married soon and have lots of expenses coming up. If you do plan on opening a new card, shop what’s out there. It’s easiest to pick cards that don’t have annual fees, so you don’t get extra charges just to spend your money.

Know Your Extras

When you’re picking out your card, know what the card’s benefits are. Most cards have some form of rewards or cash back programs associated with them. If you play these rewards right, you can use your rewards for fun things (like a honeymoon!). For example, some cards do a higher cash back percentage when you spend money on gas than it does on groceries. If you use one specific card to pay for all your gas (or even offer to pay for gas as your cut for your bachelorette party), you can use those rewards later. There are lots of travel-based cards that offer great rewards that are redeemable on hotel stays and airfare. Just don’t get caught up charging everything because you get a percentage back- remember you’re not saving money by spending it. Before you pick a card to match with an expense, do some research on your card’s website to make sure your purchases will qualify for the most rewards possible. Some cash back rewards extras may also cut off after a certain amount (i.e., 5% cashback up to $1000 in purchases), so keep that in mind in your budget.

Be Realistic

Once you’ve shopped around for your wedding, you’ll probably have a ballpark idea of how much you’ll end up spending. With this budget in mind, realistically figure out how long it will take for you to pay off. By realistically, we mean give yourself some leeway in case you can’t always pay off as much as you’d like. If you have these numbers in mind you may be able to haggle with your bank for a better interest rate. Banks are most concerned with getting their money back, and if you are able to present a plan of action to get them paid, they will be more likely to help you out too (author’s note: by presenting a plan to my bank I was able to get my interest rates lowered before I put school charges on my credit card!).

Know What To Charge

Even if you have a high credit limit, try not to be tempted to max it out. Ideally, you want your credit utilization to be around 10-30% (if you have a credit card with $100 limit, you want to keep your spending on that card to $10-$30). That’s a safe range that won’t hurt your credit score. Plan what you will be paying for with plastic before you checkout. Stick to only charging the expenses that you planned on (and not that 2nd sugar-free energy drink of the day or spontaneous snack- all those charges really add up!) to keep your spending and payments on track.

Pay As You Go

If you can afford to pay off your credit cards a little more than you anticipated- go for it! If you plan on paying off $800 a month but have an extra few dollars lying around, put it towards the cause. You can even do little side projects to help pay off your credit cards, like selling your old clothes to consignment stores or old furniture on craigslist. Even small amounts like recycling cans can add up and over time take a serious chunk out of your credit card debt.