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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 on
January 4, 2017

New Year – New You

It’s a new year! A new chance to kick your old bad habits to the curb. It’s a time to start fresh and show the world what you’ve got to offer! What are your goals for the New Year? Is it to go back to school to get that degree you’ve been dreaming of? Or are you planning to travel more this year? Is it to loose that extra 10 lbs. you’ve gained over the holidays? Or what about getting yourself into financial shape? It’s time to put that credit card away, stop overspending and starting saving in 2017! Consider me your new coach. Hi, I’m Jessica, nice to meet you ☺

I challenge you this year to take a leap of faith and get on the savings bandwagon with me. We are off to a great place- you won’t want to miss this train.

Before we begin, I want to ask you a few questions. Do you think that your finances are in good shape? Where exactly are you in your saving journey? Where do you see yourself in the next five or ten years? Do you foresee yourself buying a new car, purchasing your first home, paying off your mortgage faster, sending your kids off to college, or are you working on becoming debt free? Whatever the case may be, how do you plan to get there?

Getting into good financial shape means that you are starting to pay off your debt (credit cards, school loans, etc.), putting some money aside for savings (your emergency fund), as well as starting to invest for your future.

In order to whip you into the best shape possible, there will be three character traits that you will need to possess in order to succeed.

1. Sacrifice
Getting your finances in order will take a lot of sacrifice. It will not be easy and at times it will make you want to quit or give up. Just like when you are working out and trying to loose weight, it sucks the first few months and you have to work really hard at it (even when you don’t see instant results). But over time if you stick with it- it will get easier and you will build momentum.

2. Determination
You need to be determined to make the change. If you are the kind of person who always ‘says’ you are going to do something but never follow through with it, you will most likely fail. Put your goals in writing, it will keep you accountable and you will have a constant physical reminder of what you wish to accomplish.

3. Patience
As you know, it will take time to get ahead. It can take years of saving for your new house or investing into your retirement fund, but the outcome will be fully worth the wait. I wish I could grow $10,000 on a tree in my backyard, but unfortunately that isn’t possible. Start stocking up your cash, get in into the right places (ex: 401K or Roth Ira) and let it sit and grow. A little patience now, will go a long way.

My challenge to you this year is to take a closer look at your expenses. See if there is a way that you can ‘trim the fat’ and cut back on excess spending. I suggest that you to create a 5-year, 3-year and 1-year plan (in that order). Set your long-term goals and then work your way back, making manageable goals for each year until the ultimate goals are achieved. Take some time to think about what these goals are for the upcoming year and where you see yourself down the line. Write down these goals in a journal, with the date on the top, so that you can look back a year from now to see if you have accomplished them. My husband and I did this together and have found this to be such a great motivator. In fact, we even type up our financial plan and hang it up on the wall in our office for daily encouragement. As you accomplish certain tasks, cross them off so that you can see the progress being made. It has a domino effect, when you start to see progress it makes it easier to keep going- knowing that positive things are happening. Some of our goals this year are to pay off my student loans in full and to open a second Roth IRA. What are yours?

The goal this New Year is to get back on track and to commit yourself to a positive and profitable year ahead! All aboard the Financial Success Train, Choo Choo!

This post was first seen on Society Letters, here.

In Budgeting on
December 18, 2016

15 Ways To Make Christmas Shopping Affordable

It’s that crazy, fun, festive time of the year. Everyone’s out and about searching for the perfect gift to give their loved ones. Do you find this time of year to be relaxing and enjoyable or stressful and overwhelming? If you answered the latter, is it because you are wondering where the money will come from when buying all of these gifts? Well… you are not alone! I am here to give you some easy and practical tips so that you can save money this holiday season. Let the stress-free shopping begin!


If you are an online shopper, this website is now your new best friend. You will get cold hard cash back for shopping at some of your favorite stores, including Kohls, Amazon, Macys, Groupon, Ebay, to name a few. They give back up to 8% on purchases! It’s awesome!

2. Using coupons

Coupons really do help you save money! Save coupons from the Sunday paper or ones that come in the mail such as Bed Bath & Beyond or Buy Buy Baby. They can come in handy now! Or if you are more tech-savvy, you can use digital coupons. My favorite is the app SnipSnap. Always check for a coupon before paying. Chances are, there will be one available!

3. Shop the sales

Take advantage of those Black Friday deals! Most stores advertise their sales a few days early or can be found online the week before. Also take advantage of the free shipping offered on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

4. Write a list and stick to it

This will keep you accountable and on target. Remember the goal is to save money.

5. Start holiday shopping early

This way you aren’t rushing last minute and buying a gift that wasn’t thought through or was a rushed decision. But don’t buy too early or you can miss out on the good holiday sales.

6. Create a Christmas budget

Write out a list of whom you need to buy for and how much money you have to spend. Allocate a certain amount of money to each person that fits within your budget. Now make into a game/challenge: to get the best deal for that amount. If you spent under what you allotted, that’s more money in your pocket. (PS: Who said Christmas shopping can’t be fun)

7. Order holiday cards early

Prices tend to go up around Christmas. Shutterfly and other online sites tend to do discounts in October that you can take advantage of. If you are a Kohl’s credit card customer, every year around this time you will get a $20 free gift to Shutterfly. I use this to buy our cards or a personalized calendar for my mom!

8. Sign up for ShopKicks

This is one of my favorite mobile apps. You get free cash for walking into stores. Some stores allow you to scan items for extra points. This app really does work, believe me!

9. Use cash back credit cards

My husband and I use credit cards where we get back rewards. One of our cards gives us flight miles and the other card we have gives us back cash! Every few months we cash it in and do something fun! (Side note: if you have credit cards, make sure to pay them off every month in full)

10. Buy wrapping paper and gift wrap at the end of the season

I always buy gift-wrapping supplies after the holidays because they go on clearance. Buy them later and save them for next year! It will save you around 70%.

11. Cluster shop

Buy multiple things from one place. If you see that multiple items on your Christmas list can be purchased from the same place, order them all at once. This way you can take advantage of free shipping or sales such as $25 off $100 or more.

12. Cash back deals

Kohls is famous for this one! I love when they have their “for every $50 spent you get back $10” sales. These deals are great for big buys, such as Kitchen Aids or top appliances because you can get $60+ back. You can use this money to knock off the rest of your list!


If you budget on a 4 week schedule; use your fifth week paycheck as free cash! My husband and I have a budget based on 4 weeks so we take our last “free” paycheck and designate it to Christmas! This happens 4-5 times a year when there are 5 weeks that fall within the month. Score!

14. Use Groupon

Groupon has some great deals. They list items or deals that are up to 70% off. Sometimes, I get a little addicted. Speaking of, I just ordered two items off it tonight! Whoops…

15. Don’t go into debt

Did I have to go there? Of course I did! I’m the money guru after all 😉 But seriously, only buy what you have the money to buy! Everyone’s budget is different. Make the most of what you got! Remember it’s not about the money; it’s about the heart behind it.

Did you actually make it down to the end? Did I babble on too long? Haha, maybe so… but I hope you found these 15 tips to be helpful! I really do think that you will have a fun, easy and affordable Christmas shopping experience this year! Happy Holidays, everyone!


This post was first seen here on Society Letters.