Monthly Review, Personal Finance 
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January ’07 Net Worth Monthly Review

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Near the end of January, I’d decided that I’d be removing hard numbers from my net worth reviews because I felt that it was nothing more than chest-thumping that added nothing to the discussion. I know some of you mentioned that you enjoyed watching the progress of one of your peers or that you wanted to see whether the personal finance stuff I believed in were actually working, unfortunately neither argument (or any of the others presented) were strong enough to convince me that listing a dollar figure was better than not listing one. The plan now is that after a few months of not even discussing the net worth numbers, I’ll move towards percentages (that way none of you math wizards can figure out the hard numbers).

That being said, I have to say that January was another strong month financially for various reasons:

  • My fiancee was promoted again (it’s like her second promotion in six months, I’ve actually never been promoted). Her meteoric rise from a “technician” (I don’t really know their job titles but this was essentially a temp job) working second shift to project manager of that product line took little more than a year. While I don’t talk much about what she does, I figure this is as good a place as any to celebrate!
  • Blogging income is still growing, thank you everyone for reading and commenting (I just went full feeds too). It was exciting seeing this site mentioned in the New York Times this past weekend, I always get excited when cool things like that happen.
  • I began dabbling in PPC (I spent less than $10 in January) so affiliate income may become a more significant source of revenue in the future once I get my tracking down.

Some things on the horizon that I might be talking more about in the near future:

  • Taxes naturally, specifically all the taxes I’ll need to pay on the self-employment income. I’ll also be investigating the use of a tax professional in the area so that will make for some thrilling reading if you’re into taxes.
  • While I won’t blog much about the wedding planning, it’s certainly on the brain. While expensive, everything seems to be priced within reason with the exception of freaking photographers. Why does it cost $3000+ to get someone to spend 4-6 hours taking photos and the end product being a 24 page book and some blown up shots? $3000 for a really nice reception hall rent, sure I’ll buy it (you have all sorts of costs), but getting me to shell out three large for the photographer is going to be a little tough.
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17 Responses to “January ’07 Net Worth Monthly Review”

  1. F2O says:

    Something to keep in mind…
    Quite a few wedding photographers are like used car salesmen or jewlers. Their prices are 100% negotiable. We’re going through the same thing and have noticed that some will cut their prices by as much as 50% when told that they have been eliminated from consideration.

  2. CK says:

    Jim-
    I was previously a picture tightwad like you, spend the money trust me it’s worth it if you get quality stuff.

  3. jim says:

    Thanks for the tip F20, I’ll keep that in mind.

    CK… me? a picture tightwad? :)

    I’m not saying they’re not giving you quality stuff… but considering the ubiquity of exceptionally high quality digital cameras… argh.

    I’ll eventually relent but I’d like to think I put up a fight before I buy some schmoe a new plasma television. :)

  4. FMF says:

    Buy me a plane ticket, hotel, and food, and I’ll come and take pics for you. Yeah, they may be crappy, but they’ll be done with love. ;-)

  5. Him says:

    “Why does it cost $3000+ to get someone to spend 4-6 hours taking photos and the end product being a 24 page book and some blown up shots?”

    Well, because in addition to the 4-6 of actual shoot time, there is the commute, and day of prep time. That’s +2 hours.

    Looking over your proofs and doing their photoshop magic that may actually make you look good in photos ;) – 5-10 hours. If your photographer is shooting film, add 5+ hours.

    Layout and design of wedding album – another 2+ hours.

    Out of pocket costs for proofs, the wedding album, and other stuff can range in price depending on the printer costs.

    Unless your photographer has been in the business for a long time and does 2+ weddings a weekend, I’m severely underestimating the time spent.

    You’re looking at $200/hour MAX for professional and creative services. That’s on par with what my company charges its client per hour just for our junior level people.

    Of course, not all photographers are equal in talent and execution, so of course be careful of who you choose, get references, and do your research.

    “I’m not saying they’re not giving you quality stuff… but considering the ubiquity of exceptionally high quality digital cameras… argh.”

    An expensive digital camera != good photographer.

  6. Congrats on the promo, and you’re welcome for the visits.

  7. MoneyFwd says:

    Paying for a good photographer is well worth it. After seeing my brother-in-law’s pictures compared to just the proofs of mine, I know we spent our money well. Plus I know our photographer has already put in at least 40+ hours on our stuff, and we haven’t had her make the album yet. Since pictures will show you what happened, you’re best off paying for the best.

  8. nelson says:

    ugh…don’t get me started on wedding photographers. There is some serious price fixing going on where my fiancee and I are getting married. My biggest grief was that NO ONE would give us the rights to the pictures. The only way we ever see our pictures (outside of the proofs and album we receive) is if we purchase more through them and their very high markup.

    One place went as far to say that if our friends and family bought enough pictures from them ($3,000 worth, outside of what we spent) we would own the pictures. They hold them hostage and unless you meet their crazy demands, you can NEVER get the originals.

    I understand that it’s a big money-maker for them…but what happens to the originals if the company goes out of business? What if they lose the originals? Do they back up their customer’s images as well as I back up my data?

    Most places didn’t have an answer to these questions.

  9. Kimberly says:

    Weddings are expensive because they can afford to be expensive. Think about Debeers and how overinflated the cost of diamonds are; a person is made to feel guilty unless buying some overly elaborate piece of jewelry — the same goes for weddings, a normal photographic capture would likely suffice, but the wedding photographer throws a lot of options in to make it pricier.

    Here’s a thought for you: do wedding cakes taste any better than birthday cakes? :)

  10. Foobarista says:

    One point: if you have a Chinese or Indian bakery in your area, they are often vastly cheaper for wedding cakes than many other bakeries. When we had our reception, we got our wedding cake from “Sheng Kee” (the bakery that works with Ranch 99 Chinese grocery stores) and got a three layer, 120 person cake, each layer with different filling, for about $250, including delivery and setup on-site. It was also quite good cake.

    This was a few years ago, but even then it was less than half what we were getting quoted from other bakeries.

  11. J A says:

    No, don’t spend the “$3000+” for a wedding photographer. All of our friends think our wedding pictures are MUCH better than theirs, and my wife and I agree… the pictures of our wedding ARE much better than almost everyone else we know. Why? Because we spent MORE THAN TWICE the normal $3000+ going rate for the average wedding photographer. Well, ok, my in-laws spent the money on the photographer, but it was worth it, in our opinion. We worked with a TRUE professional who actually was the most non-obtrusive, easiest part of the entire wedding day for us – she was WORTH IT! Yes, her expertise in photography and in how to handle herself and her equipment on such a stress-filled day cost us a boatload, but it was certainly worth every penny.

    Barring in-laws capable of paying for such extravagances, why not just get a local photography student in college or high school that is reliable and can be depended upon to show up for your special day? My sister took photography classes in high school, and had a good eye for it, so she probably could have done it for us if she wasn’t in the wedding party and had we been tight on cash. I guess the easiest thing I can relate a purchase like this to is the purchase of an mp3 player. Yes, an iPod will set you back over $300 – almost the cost of a cheap computer! – but you’ll get high quality, reliability, and ease-of-use for that $300, whereas yes, you can get an mp3 player for $150, but the quality, reliability, and ease-of-use are all going to be suspect. An iPod just outclasses them all, generally.

    Either spend A LOT of money to make every penny last, or just hire a budding photographer that’s willing to take some decent pictures for a drastically reduced price and the ability to build their portfolio of work. Keep in mind also that the true professional will demand top dollar for their work, or will be super-excited to be building towards that professional level by taking your job for super cheap while they’re learning. 90% of everyone else in-between these two levels of experience are going to be sub-par.

  12. Savvy Steward says:

    Have any friends that are amateur photographers? You can probably get them for a few hundred dollars. If they have had experience shooting a wedding before, I think its pretty low risk.

    Btw, congrats on your engagement. When are you getting married?

  13. Scott says:

    $3000 sounds like it’s a bit much to me but then again I’m still single ;-)

    I would check if any friends of friends are photographers too and call in a favor – they may be able to do something for you for quite a bit less and still be professional. I know several in my area but that doesn’t really help you.

    And I would question just how valuable photographs are to you and anyone else. In my personal opinion, photographs are for people with bad memories. The wedding pics are something you look at once after the wedding, maybe a couple more times on a special anniversary or two, a couple more times when your kids get married, and the rest of the time they just sit on a shelf collecting dust. $3000 for a memorable paperweight is too much in my book. But maybe you and others share a different opinion on what you want in a photograph. And maybe I’ll change mine once I’m engaged.

  14. Kellie says:

    $3,000 is how much the photographer probably paid for their camera (not including lenses, etc)! If you think a cheap camera makes for good pictures (you don’t notice pixalization, blurriness, over exposure, etc) than by all means go have your friend take your pictures. If you have a friend, or a friend of a friend, who’s a professional photographer I’d seriously sit down with them and ask them why they spent so much on their camera if high quality cameras are so abundant and why their pictures are better than a picture from a lower costing camera.

    Also, you are not factoring in any of the stress that photographer has to go through during “your special, once in a life time (hopefully), day” where you want everything to be perfect. My friend recently had a wedding where she didn’t use a professional photographer to save money. After she had spent 2+ hours before the wedding getting pictures taken, her friend came up to her after the wedding and told her something happened and she lost all their pictures. Oops!

    Also, with professional cameras, they don’t do a lot of “post processing” which a lot of consumer grade camera’s do. So the photographer goes in and touches up red eye by hand, etc etc.

  15. Star Money Articles for the Week of Feb. 5

    Here are interesting posts and news this week from the MoneyBlogNetwork members and beyond: Blueprint for Financial Prosperity details his January net worth. Consumerism Commentary gives some thoughts on the debt to income ratio. He’s also starting a …

  16. Matt says:

    I’d split the difference on the advice about photographers. If you have a friend who’s a professional or semi-pro photographer, ask them to do it either in lieu of a gift or at mates-rates. But don’t rely for your wedding pictures on anyone who has never shot pictures for money or had pictures published in a selective medium. Amateur shutterbug friends are welcome to take pictures for their own collections, but don’t count on them to supply you with yours. They’re unlikely to have either the experience or the equipment they’d need in order to get proper quality, and if your pictures don’t come out well, you’re not going to get another chance.

    My fiancee and I have something of an embarassment of riches in this department…at least a dozen of the friends we’ll be inviting to the wedding are pro or semi-pro photographers, to any of whom we’d happily trust this crucial responsibility, and now we have to figure out which one to ask. But if we didn’t have such friends, I’d say that $3000 is not a bad price to pay for a professional photographer who doesn’t know you well enough to owe you favors.

    I’ve sometimes semi-seriously thought about the prospect of a “friendship favor exchange” market for weddings, so we could offer up our professional photographer friend-points to people who don’t know any such people but need one, and use the revenue from such a transaction to buy caterer friend-points from people with an overabundance of friends skilled in preparing good food for a _crowd_ (which, make no mistake, is a VERY different skill than preparing good food for a _family_). But maybe that’s just my borderline-autistic-economist side talking. :)

  17. Morydd says:

    High quality digital cameras may be common, but they are not cheap and they’re not what you’re paying for anyway. If you’re hiring a professional photographer, you’re hiring someone who has invested a lot, not just in equipment, but training and experience. They’re going to have at least 2 high-quality camera bodies, several lenses (and good lenses cost more than good camera bodies). They will probably have lighting equipment as well. Then they’ll spend at least 3 hours on processing for every hour they spend shooting. When they get the prints made, they’ll be sending them somewhere where a real human being looks at the prints and confirms that they look the way their supposed to.
    Also, a professional is going to have arrangements existing so that if they break their leg a week before your wedding, you’ll still have a photographer.
    This isn’t to say you won’t get fantastic pictures from your friend or a student. You may very well get better pictures from them. But there is a lot more risk. To draw the personal finance analogy, you can buy stocks or you can buy bonds, it all depends on how much risk you’re willing to take. There is a reason that professionals charge what they do.


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