Together with you (and food)

Happy Valentine’s Day. :)

Andrew and I don’t normally do a big shebang for Valentine’s Day. As with most things we do, we keep things pretty chill. I bought a couple of bottles of wine, as well as some cheese and crackers, and chocolate to dip treats into. Last year we did a chocolate fondue night and it was a lot of fun, so I thought we’d continue that this year with cheese and wine!

It’s been a while since Andrew and I have had a night in together just us, so it was long overdue. He surprised me with flowers on Friday with a cheeky, “Flowers are more special not on Valentine’s Day.” And then yesterday he came home again with a bouquet of daisies. I couldn’t tell you the last time he bought me flowers, let alone twice in a week, so I was glowing.

I had bought him some candy, but I put a little bit more effort into our “dinner.” I wanted everything to look nice and it had been a long time since we had a date night, so I put out some candles and really made it look pretty. I was happy with how it turned out!

I’ve noticed recently that I really enjoy showing people my love or appreciation for them through food. My brownies are pretty famous at work, so I thought I would bring some in for my coworkers and also make a batch for Andrew to bring in to work just to say thanks for being great coworkers.  I even bough my roommate some chocolates and other goodies with flowers. She is always so busy with school and her field placement, I wanted to show her some love and support for all the hard work she’s putting in.

Baking and cooking are something that I really enjoy to do, so it’s easy for me to do those things for every when I know it can bring them joy. That in turn brings me joy.

In addition to the brownies and the dinner for us, I made some chocolate covered pretzels for Andrew. I bought more chocolate than I knew that we would use for our dinner, so I dipped some pretzels in the extra chocolate to have as treats for later.

I also planned on baking some Funfetti cookies, which I’ve made in the past and Andrew really liked. I bought the cake mixes, but the recipe wasn’t on the side like it usually is, so I looked up the recipe for it online and went from there. As I mixed the dough, it wasn’t very stiff like cookie dough normally is. It seemed too soft. Then I realized the package I bought was 15 oz, but the recipe called for a 19 oz box.

I baked them anyways to see how they would turn out, but they almost tasted like mini cakes, and not in a good way so I ended up throwing them out. But now I know for next time, and my brownies at least turned out!

Most holiday’s with me tend to revolve around food, and there was a lot for this one, so it was a good one in my books. ;)

Debt Free!

Last month, I made one last big payment on my car loan and one last big payment on my student loan. Which means… I’m debt-free!!

Paying off all my loans was my biggest goal after I graduated college (besides finding a job, obviously). Not quite knowing what our combined income would look like, I had a hope that Andrew and I could pay off our loans in about a year and a half. We beat that goal by almost a full year!

Andrew thankfully didn’t have any school loans so that was a big relief, but he still had a small loan for his car, so we started there. We paid off his car fairly quickly and by the end of last summer we started working on my student loans.

I graduated with under $10,000 in loans, which I was pretty proud of. I had several scholarships that helped with my tuition, but I also went to a state school which is cheaper. Additionally, I always made sure to at least pay the interest that was accruing each month so that my loans weren’t growing, but usually I paid more. I tried to pay between $50 or $100 each month, but if I had an extra pay check or received some money as a gift (or from tax returns) I would use that towards my loans as well.

I think we were able to pay off all our loans so quickly because we’ve always been mindful of our money. I wouldn’t consider us well-off by any means; we both currently have entry level jobs, but we have both worked as hard as we could right from the beginning. Andrew worked 50-hour weeks as a manager during college – in addition to his double degree – and I always worked part-time in addition to my schooling. My junior year, I even worked two jobs in addition to school full-time (which was absolutely miserable and I entirely do not recommend). I worked less than that my senior year because I learned my lesson, and also just made a bit more at my internship.

That’s not to say that all of our work didn’t come with a price. Andrew and I made a lot of sacrifices to work as much as we did. I wouldn’t say either of us had a typical college experience; I wasn’t as involved as I could have been and instead of going out on the weekends, I was working. I know that to some people, what we did wouldn’t be worth it, and that’s okay. Not  everyone’s situations are the same and not everyone’s goals are the same. My goal has always been to pay off my loans as fast as I can so that we could be financially sound, and that comes with sacrifices.

All that being said, it feels good to look back and see how far we’ve worked and to see it now, literally, pay off. Right now we are just saving that extra money we’re not spending on loans for future big purchases, like a house or a new car for Andrew, and tucking more away into our 401k.

I know that being debt free will be a temporary state for us once we get tied down into a mortgage, but I’m definitely savoring it while it lasts!

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