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Budgeting

In Budgeting on
August 30, 2017

Practical ways to cut back on overspending

prevent overspending

Do you ever think to yourself, “where did all the money go this month?” …I’m with ya sister. It seems like every day something new is popping up, a baby shower, wedding, birthdays and it feels like you can never seem to get ahead! Well, I am here to tell you that you can! It will take time, persistence and some patience but if you follow these simple rules you will certainly be prepared for the ‘next big announcement’ that is going to drain your wallet even more…(or maybe not!)

In a previous post, found here, I talked about setting up a budget system where you can track your monthly expenses. Creating a budget is so important because it allows you to see, first hand, where your money is being spent. I also challenged you ladies to keep a running list of your ‘miscellaneous spending’ for the month. Did anyone try this? If so, pull out your list and let’s compare. Having a list or document with your ‘misc.’ spending will become a helpful tool, so that you can look back and visualize where your money was spent each month. My husband and I have a column in our excel budget where we write down this type of spending. The only items on our budget that actually fluctuate from month to month are our food budget and miscellaneous, so it is important to us to see which month(s) we spent more or less, and find out why so we can make adjustments to make things better. This is an example of what your list might look like.

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Once you have your list handy, take a look back and see if there was anything that you spent in the month that you didn’t need or something that you could have passed up on. When I started keeping track of my spending, my first few lists were so long (no, you are not the only one!) They were full of things we didn’t need and I realized how much I was spending on things that I should have said ‘no’ to. I also found myself spending almost all of our money in the beginning of the month (when we had it) and then realizing, “Oh crap, its August 15 and I have only $15 left for the month.” 

If you find yourself to be the type of person who is overspending and you want to change this habit, I’ve come up with four simple rules to help you SAVE money!

 

S– “Say no!” At some point, if you are trying to save, you need to be strict with yourself. Skip the impulse buys and stick to things that, when you look back at your budget at the end of the month, were buys that you found to be budget-worthy. For example; A trip to the movies with your kids, or a day out at the beach building memories with friends. 

A– Avoid temptation. Avoid stores or places that make you want to spend money or entice you to want to buy. If you’re a shop-a-haulic, avoid the mall….simple as that! Again, refer back to rule #1, say “no!”

V– Very important. Only buy items that are necessary. Do NOT skip on mom’s birthday gift; these are the things you should be spending your money on!

E– Earn your reward. Allow yourself one “splurge” item a month. Give yourself a ‘salary’ that you are allowed to spend each month that fits comfortably within your budget. Also, make sure you (and your spouse) get paid every month. To make it easier, you can “cash out” your money on the first of every month, and that is yours to spend without any questioning. GUILT FREE spending is the way to be!

I hope some of you found this post to be helpful and can see what I am getting at with all of this. I want to help you! My hope is that by taking some of this advice that you will be start to see some extra money left over each month. Once this happens, we can discuss what to do with it and how to wisely invest and save for your future.

This post was first seen on Society Letters here.

In Budgeting, Motherhood on
August 16, 2017

How to financially prepare for your new baby

There’s so many questions when preparing to have your first baby, as my husband and I quickly found out. You can predict some extra (and unexpected) costs when it comes to adding a new addition to your family, some of which may end up being a burden on your finances. I’m here to help give you some practical advice on how to plan your finances as a new mom-to-be, as well as advise you on what to prepare ahead of time so you can save a few bucks during your pregnancy. 

One of our biggest money savers when having Landon has been shopping secondhand for nursery furniture. Have you ever looked at the prices of crib sets? A full nursery set can cost you anywhere from $1,500 to $2,000. The dresser alone costs more than an adult dresser! If you’re having your first baby, I understand your wanting to have everything new. That’s totally fine (I’m right there with ya), but I would recommend re-furnishing secondhand items if you are open to the idea. My husband and I purchased a used bar table and after some planning, my husband extended the top part to make it into a baby changing table. It was a $30 find and only took a little labor, some new paint and cheap sandpaper to give it that rustic look we all lust after. We also purchased a secondhand dresser, which we re-painted to match our nursery. There are so many apps, websites and FB groups to use when it comes to finding some cool second hand stuff. We like to use the app Close5, which is where we found our second-hand purchases!

Another great way to save on pregnancy costs, such as copays or blood work is by signing up for a health spending account through your job. If you are planning ahead or thinking of starting a family, be sure to look into this option. An HSA account is a pre-tax account used to pay for eligible medical care expenses that aren’t covered by your insurance plan. If you can stash some money away into an account like this, you should have enough money to cover anything that the insurance doesn’t end up paying. My job offers a similar service, called a Flex Spending Account, where my company actually gives me money to keep healthy by going for routine physicals, dental exams, joining a gym, etc. They basically give out around $500 of free money in incentives to keep myself and my family healthy! It ends up saving insurance money in the long run, so look into what your job offers such as this.

Another piece of practical and pretty obvious advice would be to get to know your personal insurance plan. Do your research and shop around for the right insurance option for you and your family. Check into how much your deductible is and what you will need to pay out of pocket. By knowing your deductible ahead of time, you can anticipate the cost of your delivery and hospital stay. Another great perk of having insurance is that most companies (if not all), cover the cost of a breast pump. When you are in your third trimester you can get a script from your doctor which you can then submit to your insurance and in return receive a free breast bump — often times they will even deliver it to your local Target store. Breastfeeding is another way to save tons of money on milk and is beneficial to your baby’s health.

Finally, be prepared to save. Understand that taking your three-month maternity leave that you will not be paid at 100 percent of your current salary. Most moms only make up to 60% of their normal salary during this time. The best case scenario would be preparing ahead of time and putting aside some money every month to account for this loss of income. I didn’t do my research before I became pregnant, so I was unaware that you weren’t paid your full salary during maternity leave. We always have our savings, but didn’t set aside any extra money for this time. If you could have a special account set up beforehand, you will be better prepared financially and not blindsided by your lessened salary. If you are returning to work full-time after your pregnancy, keep in mind the cost of childcare and set up a plan for aftercare once the baby is born. Compare prices of local day cares or see if a close family member could watch your little one on the days you have to work.

There are so many money saving tips out there, but it can still feel overwhelming as you try and prepare for your first baby. Don’t let your pregnancy get ahead of your bank and make sure your savings are set before your kiddo arrives. 

Feel free to leave me a comment below with your best kept money secrets!

 

This post was written by Jess but first seen on Society Letters here

In Budgeting on
July 19, 2017

5 easy ways to save money on the fly

Are you making saving a priority in your life? Or do you find it “too hard” or that there “just isn’t enough money to go around?” I know exactly how you feel, I have been there! For that reason, I have been thinking what practical advice that I could offer to help answer these questions. Here is what I came up with.

 

1. Set reasonable goals and stick to them

2. Make saving a monthly bill

3. Only spend what you have

4. Cut back on unnecessary expenses

5. Pack your own food

 

  1. Setting realistic goals is super important. Yes, everyone would love to save $10,000 a year, but is that actually reasonable? Could you actually make that happen? You need to set goals that make sense for you and your family. What goals work for me are different than what may work for you. Everyone is different. People make different incomes and have different expenses. Goal setting is completely personalized to what fits YOUR needs. Make sure to set reasonable goals and then of course, stick to them! Building a hefty savings account does not happen overnight.

 

  1. I suggest treating saving as a monthly expense. Make saving just as important as paying your mortgage bill, rent, or purchasing food. If you put your bills first, then whatever is left over at the end of the month will be your allotted guilt free spending money. My husband and I put our savings right into our budget. It is something that is routine and doesn’t change. We don’t make excuses and make it a payment that has to be met every month. Since we started doing this, we have been able to contribute a significant amount per month into my student loans (on our way to tackling all of our debt!!)

 

  1. By only spending what you have left over at the end of the month, you will not be accruing more debt or racking up a large credit card bill. This is where you need to be in control of your spending and know when to say no. I struggle with this myself, especially when there is something extra that I want to buy that month or somewhere special I want to go. My husband and I set a monthly allowance that we both have to spend on miscellaneous items. It’s simple, if you don’t have the money, don’t spend it.

 

  1. I think most of us can relate to this. If you were to make a list of your monthly spending, would there be things that were non-essentials? Things that you could have passed up or said no to? Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you can’t have fun…but all in moderation. When you work hard, you should be able to spend your money. But I suggest being reasonable with your spending or splurges. Do you go to Starbucks 15 times a month? What if you cut back and only went 7? That would be an extra $25 every month just from cutting back on coffee. What else can you cut back on? Do you have a monthly gym membership that you don’t even use? Then get rid of it! Go for a walk or run outside. YouTube at home workouts. That would save you another $60 a month. If you are unsure if you are overspending in this area, write down a list of what you bought for an entire month. At the end of the month look over your list and decide what was necessary and what wasn’t. My husband and I do this every month. We keep track of our food receipts and our miscellaneous spending. At the end of the month we keep eachother accountable for our spending.

 

  1. It sounds so simple doesn’t it? This step alone can save you so much money. I know to many people who buy their food out everyday or order out every night. Do you know really how much you are spending on food every month? My husband and I are big on packing lunches, especially since we know how expensive food is! If you have a husband who eats as much as mine does, we would go broke if we didn’t pack our own lunches everyday.  Buying cold cuts at the grocery store will last you 5x more than the 1 sandwich you bought at the local deli for lunch one day. Make a list of what you like to eat and then go pick it up! Yes, it may require some food preparation late on your Sunday night…but the money you will save will be worth it. You will thank yourself later.

 

I hope you found some of these tips to be practical and helpful. Saving isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes time, patience and even practice! Make saving a routine bill and then pretty soon it will just become second nature. They say that it’s so much easier to save when you are young, so why not take advantage of our time? What do you have to loose? All you have is money to gain!

 

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