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Budgeting

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!

 

In Budgeting, Guest Posts on
July 5, 2017

Proven methods to pay off debt fast

Debt can be overwhelming. Can’t it? Do you find yourself stuck paying the interest every month and not seeing that loan number lessen? You’re not alone! Thousands of Americans are finding themselves in the same situation. I want to share with you some proven methods to help pay off debt as soon as possible – because, let’s face it, debt makes you a slave to the lender. That’s a hard pill to swallow. Let’s get you out of debt and on your want to freedom, shall we?

I want to share with you the 3 methods I used to help pay off $21,000 in 15 months. It’s all things you can do – kids or not. I promise!

 

Budget, budget, budget. Oh, did I mention budget?

If you want to get out of debt as soon as possible, it’s crucial to stick to a monthly budget. Budgets are usually looked at as constraining, but I think about it as a tool that I leverage to gain my freedom. You can still get coffee every now and then, simply put it in your budget. By utilizing a budget, it allows you to see how much money you actually spend a month and out of that what you may or may not need to buy. Most of the time, you don’t need that extra pair of shoes unless they are falling apart on you. Budgeting allows you to see how much money you can throw at debt at the end of the month instead of buying $100 worth of clothes that will most likely sit in your closet.

 

Live Off of 25% of Your Monthly Income

I know this sounds insane. I do! By cutting back and simply living on the bare necessities, you’ll be able to throw 75% of your income towards debt! How amazing is that?! We utilize this method and that’s one way that we’re planning on paying off $150,000 in student loan debt in about 3 years. It’s not like we’re living life missing out either! Not at all. We still go out to the movies every now and then. I get to have a latte once in awhile. It’s just not every day. There’s also a ton of free things you can do around your community. So, we’re still living life to the fullest and having a blast doing it! Don’t think you can’t use this method because it sounds crazy. I think you’ll realize it’s a lot easier than you initially thought. Once you’re on a good routine, you don’t even notice it.

 

Debt Snowball Method

This method is by far the best method I’ve ever read when it comes to paying off debt quickly. The Debt Snowball Method is for those of you who may have large families and can’t live off of 25% of your income. But, it’s a proven method (that I’ve used) to roll your money into one giant debt payment at the end of it.
For this method, you need to focus on your smallest debt while paying off the minimums on all your debt. Once that small debt is paid off, take that payment and roll it into your next smallest debt.

For example, let’s say that I have $500 in credit card debt with a minimum payment of $50 a month. I also have $1500 student loan debt which totals $150 a month and I bought a car right after I graduated college and now I have $13,000 in car debt with a monthly payment of $250.

So, I’ll pay the minimum amount on all my loans. But, if I have any extra money each month – I’ll put it towards my credit card debt to try and pay off that debt as soon as possible. Once that is paid off, I’ll take the $50 that I used to put towards my credit card debt and put it towards my student loan debt. Now I’m making monthly payments of $200 a month. Once your student loan debt is paid off, I’ll take that $200 I used to pay for my student loan debt and add it to my monthly payment for my car debt. Now I’m paying $450 towards my car instead of just $250. Which will allow you to pay off that debt sooner than you ever thought!

You’ll be paying off your debt without even noticing it because you’re so used to paying off all those minimums nothing really changes in your budget and you become debt free sooner which gives you  an additional $450 back a month to invest in yourself!

 

Those are the three proven methods that I used to pay off $21,000 in 15 months and that’s the same method that will allow me to pay off $150,000 in 3 years. To follow along on my debt journey, feel free to head over to my blog and I share with you more tips, tricks, and resources you can use to help you pay off your debt sooner than you ever thought possible!

 

In Budgeting on
June 3, 2017

20 ways to have fun this summer without breaking the bank

summer fun

Summer is finally here and I am more than ready, are you with me? When you end up getting time off of school or work, it can be hard to find ways to occupy your time that don’t involve binge watching (and binge eating.) Lucky for you, I have done the work for you when it comes to planning an amazing summer, offering my insight on the best ways to spend your time!

The best part? It will hardly cost you anything!

 

1. Start a garden. Go to your local garden center, grab some cheap pots and soil and get your hands dirty. Plant some pretty flowers or even herbs if you are feeling adventurous! Whatever tickles your fancy. 

2. Take a trip to the beach. Who doesn’t love sun and surf? Not everyone has access to a beach, I get that, but if you have a few days free- make it a girl’s getaway. Don’t forget the wine (and the sunscreen!)

3. Host a Bocce Ball tourney. Boccee Balls range from $15-30, a great investment for your summer. Ask your friends to bring a dish to eat, since you are providing the game. Not only will you have great company, but yummy post-game snacks to go along with it. If you know me well, bocce is my favorite summer sport!

4. Become an artist for a day. Have some fun painting, doodling or creating a collage. If you aren’t feeling inspired, check out Pinterest for ideas. You could start simple with a quote, or try and recreate one of your favorite places on canvas.

5. Have a picnic. Nothing says summer like a picnic with your bestie, so shoot her a text and grab ingredients for some sandwiches and sangria. Lay out your blanket at your favorite park and then go for a hike after. 

6. Bake some cookies. It’s finally time to use your new KitchenAid for some summer baking! Bake up some goodies for your new neighbors or close friends. I love to bake cookies and deliver them fresh to my husband’s job! They are always a hit and it makes TJ look good 😉

7. Have a pizza party. And yes, we mean actually making the pizzas yourself. Gather some friends and your favorite pizza toppings for a “create your own” pizza night. I recommend Boboli pizza crust, but it’s even more fun to make your own.

8. Take up photography. Whether you are creative or not, photography can be a great way to capture what you find most beautiful. Go for a nature walk and take pictures of what inspires you, or grab a disposable camera and hit the town for some photogenic fun. I am also loving the portrait mode on the new iphone- it works wonders!

9. Head to your neighborhood tennis court. You don’t play tennis? Oh well! Sometimes it’s less about technique and more about the experience. The winner pays for ice-cream! 

10. Start a blog. You have thoughts in your head, and it’s time to share them with the world. To get started check out free blogging websites like WordPressBlogger or Wix, and browse the internet for tips on how to start your own blog!

11. Volunteer. Find a local food pantry or church that may need your assistance, and spend time lending a hand. Nothing feels better than helping out someone in need. This can help keep you committed to something bigger than yourself.

12. Visit a nearby aquarium. Whether you go with your kiddos or your friends, the aquarium can provide hours of entertainment. It is pretty affordable to spend the day admiring all the aquarium has to offer, especially if you can use a student discount- but if you can’t, be sure to look on Groupon for some deals. 

13. Do your dreaded summer cleaning. Still haven’t worn that party dress you bought three years ago? Donate it. Feeling cluttered? Do a little re-organizing. Haven’t cleaned your baseboards in a year? Now may be the time. If you need a little extra cash, try selling your clothes to a consignment store or on an app like Poshmark.

14. Sign up for an obstacle race. Even if you aren’t in peak athletic condition, signing up for an obstacle race can be a really good time. Some to check out are the Dirty Girl Mud RunSpartan Race and Tough Mudder. Gather a team together and get dirty!

15. Pitch a tent … in your backyard. Pitch a tent and fill it with pillows, blankets and a wireless speaker. Spend the night stargazing and making s’mores with your closest friends or significant other.

16. Host a ’90s game night. One word: Jumanji. Round up old board games (we know you still have a few) and invite your friends over for drinks and friendly competition. Don’t lie, you totally want an excuse to play Mall Madness again!

17. Start a chain reaction. It always feels great making someone smile. Next time you are out and about, pay for the person behind you. It could be at Starbucks, the Dollar Store or even your local Drive in. You’ll be making their day, but making yourself happier as well! 

18. Host a Sunday night dinner for your friends. It’s always good to have everyone together in one place, especially when there’s food involved. Sunday nights are the perfect time to have a dinner for your friend family, because the weekend is winding down and Monday’s work commitments haven’t yet started.

19. Car wash. Get your best girl friends together, blast some old pop music and give your car a good scrub. All you need is some soap, sponges and a bucket of water. Oh, and some tanning oil as well.

20. Take a sunset bike ride. If you don’t have a bike, consider renting one — most big cities offer bike renting services. It’s a chance to exercise while enjoying a great view at the same time! Sunset is the most peaceful time of the day, so relax and take it all in.

 

Got any other fun ideas? Feel free to leave them in the comment section below!

 

This post was first published by Jess on Society Letters, found here.

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