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In Budgeting, Guest Posts on
February 15, 2018

14 ways to save on everyday household expenses

Article written by Sarah Smith. Edited by Jessica Speer

People are always talking about how difficult it is to save money. But for me, with little guidance and self-control, I believe it is possible to save more than you think.

In this world we live in, saving is becoming more of a ‘should’ than a ‘have.’ It seems that it would make no such difference without saving, but in the long run, you will always find yourself either being happy you did or end up regretting why you didn’t.

One of the biggest concerns in our lives is how to save more and spend less. To accomplish this task, we will need to cut down our monthly expenditures for the best results. Some of our bills may seem to be small, but if you calculate their yearly effect, you may be surprised by what you find.

Allocating or saving money can be hard sometimes or seem unimportant in the moment, but saving just a small amount can do wonders for you in the long run.

Even if you are not mounting with debts right now, do not be the one who waits for the storm to hit. Be someone who is prepared to fight all the battles ahead of them.

Below are 14 ways to save on everyday household expenses:

  1. BUDGET YOUR MONEY

Always and always, budget your money. I have always loved the 50/30/20 idea. It suggests spending 50% of your income on your needs, 30% on your wants and 20% on saving or paying off your debts. For me, this is the perfect balance. You can maintain your finances without depriving yourself of anything and saving up too. You just need to know what to do when.

  1. INSTALL ENERGY EFFICIENT APPLIANCES

Often times we forget the impact of an appliance or even a bulb, can have on our expenditure. Installing compact fluorescent light bulbs instead of standard incandescent bulbs can lower your monthly expenses and electric bill.

  1. MAINTAINING YOUR BILLS + PAY ON TIME

Now that our life without mobiles and internet is becoming impossible, it is so important that we pay close attention to our bills and the dates that we are due. Late bills can add up and are unnecessary if we are paying on time and in full at the end of every month.

  1. SHOP ON SALE DAYS

To shop on better days means to look out for the sales (all year round). For instance, around Christmas or when a certain season is ending, most brands offer a clearance sale.

I suggest that you make up a list of things that you want, but not at that very instant. Wait for the sale to come and take advantage of the extra savings.

Also, keep an eye on the weekly brochures these superstores publish and buy from the one which is offering the best discount.

  1. BUY SECOND HAND

Buying a brand new product is exciting, until you see your bank account empty. Technology is changing almost every day and we need every new gadget on our shelf. Take advantage of Facebook marketplace or the Let it go apps, to find great ‘used items’ for cheap!

As Dave Ramsey said,

You can typically rebuild a car two or three times for the amount of money you save by buying used.

By buying something at cheap rate, we can always upgrade it at a lower rate.

  1. USE COUPONS

We all get coupons every now and then in the mail, but let’s be honest- half the time we throw them out! Keep them tucked away in your car and use them next time your at the Dunkin Donut drive through 😉 These little savings add up big-time.

  1. CUT DOWN ON TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES

Most of us have to travel a lot, may it be for college or work. If you can take public transportation, that is great. But some of us are not a big fan of public transport. Well, in that case you can also look out for people on your route to carpool with.

  1. FIND OTHER MEANS OF ENTERTAINMENT

You don’t have to go out every weekend. Now, I am not asking you to become a couch potato or anything. I am only asking you to keep it a little low, for a while at least. For all the extroverts out there, being home and doing nothing is scarier than anything else, after all, what is life without a little fun.

All I am saying for now is, if you are going out for two movies in a month- try to go for just one and you will see what impact that will bring to your finances eventually.

  1. AVOID MEMBERSHIP FEES

We all have been there, we all have done that. We have memberships to a gym or club that we never go to, so why do we even bother keeping it?

If you find that you are not using your membership fees to their full potentials, cancel them. You are basically throwing money down the drain.

  1. MAKE YOUR OWN FOOD

When I was a student, I had no idea how to cook. Being away from my mother, I had no choice but to find a way to fill my belly. Those were the worst few years for my health and budget. I spent almost 50% more than my friends were spending on food, just because I used to order out all the time and they use to cook themselves.

Try to cook for yourself to live a healthy and wealthy life. Also, plan your meals ahead to make sure to stay on budget and to set a healthy lifestyle.

  1. SET YOUR THERMOSTAT

I know compromising on the room temperature can be difficult for some of us 😉 but to agree to change it (even just a little) can reduce your bill by so much.

  1. STAY IN MORE

Instead of going out and spending money, suggest ‘staying in.’ Grab a movie, some popcorn and make a night of it. You don’t always have to spend money to have fun. A game night even sounds like a fun option!

  1. GROW SOME GREENERY

Sounds crazy? It isn’t. Trust me- growing some food-related plants in your backyard will not just give your garden or your terrace a pretty look, it will save you on spending money on herbs and now you may just have a new hobby 😉

  1. QUIT UNHEALTHY HABITS

Unhealthy habits are bad for our life and our financial life both. As smoking, drinking or any other habit of this kind can make us unhealthy, it can also make an impact on our budget. Take care of you body and mind and you will avoid unnecessary hospital and doctor costs.

 

 

Author Bio: Sarah Smith has been a personal finance author for the last five years. She is also an independent and very passionate finance and investment advisor. She regularly posts at www.personalincome.org.

 

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 Guest Posts, Motherhood on
June 21, 2017

How I was able to work from home and raise our baby

Working from home jobs, tips & ideas are easy to find but what if you have no experience? What companies, opportunities and business can you run part time with kids? Here’s how one woman did it and how you can too!!! Awesome stuff everyone who wants to work from home needs to read!

Now, more than ever, people are tired of the 9-5 grind. I especially was! Job security is out the window and more people are looking for other options to work from home, be their own boss, hit the alarm clock when they want, stay at home with their kids and travel freely. Today, the American spirit of free enterprise is on the rise and with the access of online resources, the options are just about endless.

Related: Work from home and be your own boss. Start a blog and learn how here: Blogging for beginners: How To Start Your Own Blog.

 

If you are a new mom, the idea of staying at home and giving your new baby endless kisses (witnessing their first smile, laugh, word, steps…) may sound better than being at work.
My husband and I prepared ahead of time in order to give me the choice of staying home or being an employee when the time came.

 

Here’s how I was able to work form home and raise our baby:

 

Dig your well before you’re thirsty

We started a savings plan before we decided to have kids. Even $10 here or there added up. When the time came to start having kids, I got on the phone with our insurance and the hospital to calculate the cost of delivery and prenatal appointments. Now that I had a goal number to hit, we got on a strict budget and split my entire salary three ways: baby savings, savings and paying off debt. We wanted to get as much debt out of the way as possible, save the rest of what we needed for the cost of having our baby and build up a few months worth of my salary in savings.

 

Related:  The first step towards achieving your financial dreams is creating a budget. Get on the right track: Budget + Free Printable, For Beginners

 

Have a plan B – ALWAYS

In addition to a savings plan, we started a side stream of income outside of our jobs (a plan B) before we got pregnant.

Here’s an interesting story for you: shortly after my husband and I were married, the company we were working for stopped giving us paychecks, we found other jobs and I landed an awesome opportunity for my career in Denver, CO. After spending every penny we had on the move and leaving our families behind, they let me go three months later due to lack of funds; last one in, first one out. Almost the exact same situation happened to my husband at two other agencies he worked for shortly after.

After the fourth teary phone call, we decided that depending on someone else for our income was not the way to go. We wanted to be financially stable now and set for retirement, so we looked for other options. We did our research on many, many options and got fully educated before deciding on our course of action. We kept our goals in the forefront as we made our decisions. I was skeptical about everything because the norm was getting a good education, getting a job, buying a house, going into debt, and retiring if possible. That’s what we were trying to do but it wasn’t working for us and I desperately wanted a plan B.

There are many options out there of side hustles, alternative means of income, work from home jobs etc. All you have to do is Google or Pinterest your way through them. I was shocked at the alternative options to the 9-5. You really do have your pick! We could have chosen from many but we landed on an MLM business, and on the side…side, I started a blog and Thomas flips products via ebay for fun. MLM stands for multi-level marketing. I am not going to go into all the details about MLMs (because there are so many out there!) but they can be an incredible turn-key business opportunity like franchising without the huge financial portfolio and investments required. Do your research if you plan to look into a MLM! Find a company that has been around for a LONG time, offers a variety of products (not just a few genre-specific miracle things), has a great incentive package (compare them to others), the sponsor does not profit from your sign-up, and most importantly, has easily (daily) accessible, personal mentors (who are where you want to be) focused authentically for your success.

 

Get mentorship from others who have success

Whatever you choose to do, the biggest thing I learned is to take advice and get mentorship from others who were successful in doing what I wanted to do. Everybody had an opinion but one of the biggest keys to our success was listening only to those who were where we wanted to be.

There are so many amazing resources out there. Decide what you want to do. Decide how you want to live. Look for people who live that lifestyle and do what you want to do. Learn from them in any way you can. If you want to work from home and earn X income, find those who have done it. Consume the information you find.

For example, now I run a blog on the side and every day I read up on how other bloggers (who make thousands each month minimum) do what they do. I take classes online of those bloggers who have been there, done that and got the t-shirt. Yes, I have friends and relatives (who don’t even have blogs) give me advice. Do I listen? Yes. I respect them as human beings but I only DO what those who have been successful before me have done.

 

Put in the work

“I just don’t have time for that.” This is the most common excuse I hear from solo plan A people even if they say they may be interested in having a plan B and eventually working for themselves.

Here’s the deal. You probably do have time. You can achieve your goal, if you really want it. Everyone has 24 hours in a day and there is a reason why some people are more successful than others. Cut the TV out, get up two hours early, put in time over your lunch break, make your goal a priority over wine night with the girls and keep doing it day in and day out till you reach your goal.

Have goals. Know where you are going and don’t be afraid to put in the work. When you are so frustrated that you want to throw in the towel and scream aloud on your balcony so all the world can hear, push through and welcome yourself to success. It does get easier but only for those who put in the work, aren’t afraid to live out of their comfort zone, welcome failure, learn with all of their might and push for their goals.

 

How to be a work-from-home success

There are three things that will allow you to achieve your goal:

  1. Have a big why: this is the goal you are reaching for. Have the idea of staying at home and seeing your baby take their first steps motivate you. Whatever will push you to get up at 5 am when you hate to or put in the hours to achieve that goal. If you don’t have a big why, you will lack the motivation to get you through the hurdles that come from any entrepreneurial endeavor.
  2. Learn. Learn. Learn. Follow others who have achieved what you want to achieve. Don’t be afraid to set big goals. Believe in yourself. Push yourself. Most importantly: be real with yourself. I’ve seen bloggers say to an e-course group, “I did everything the course told me to do. I’ve tried every trick in the books for the last six months. I’m ready to give up.” They received a slew of comments about all the things they weren’t doing on their blog that the course clearly laid out. Be real with yourself.
  3. Have a good work habit. Day in and day out, set goals and put in the work.

 

“Whatever Your Mind Can Conceive And Believe, It Can Achieve.” – Napoleon Hill

 

Alice at A Silver Lined Life

 

 

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