Just because your BFF just bought a smokin’ hot pair of $150 jeans doesn’t mean you need to too! Just because your brother bought a brand new truck doesn’t mean you need to do that either–what is YOUR financial reality?
The weather is so beautiful right now…pretty much throughout the country! I don’t know about you, but at 78 degrees for a high…I pretty much wish it would stay at this temperature the whole year ’round!
Since it won’t, I want to make sure I make plans to enjoy the heat of the summer–wherever that maybe, home, abroad, or on a trip.
In this segment of MomsEveryday, we talk about tips to keep summer vacations in check–have you started saving for your summer break yet?
Spring Break is coming quickly…or is already here depending on where you live.
Down here in Georgia, Spring Break is the first full week in April–which allows those who live in Augusta to escape the craziness that is Masters’ Week! Currently, I’m on “Spring Break” for school (Kansas State)–I put it in quotes because as a PhD student, there really is no such thing as a break, LOL.
In this segment I talk with Penny about some tips for this year’s AND next year’s Spring Break excitement!
Do you have any tips for ways to make Spring Break fun but that don’t break the bank? I’d love to hear from you!
SAVINGS…is not a 4-letter word. Nor is SPENDING. However, we need to find a balance that allows us to meet our needs, provide for our wants, AND put money aside for an emergency, a rainy day, a vacation, a deductible, a car repair, gifts, retirement…the list is potentially endless. How do your spending habits shape up? Even more importantly, how are you doing with your savings?
Everyone needs savings…unlike Oreos (sad but true), everyone has some sort of need to have some money set aside. Many of us make grand resolutions to be better at saving in the New Year, but now that we’re eight weeks in, are you still on track? If you’re not—or even if you are—February 23-28 is the week for you!
America Saves Week (http://www.americasaves.org/for-savers/pledge), February 23-28, is a time specifically dedicated to helping Americans make better spending and SAVINGS decisions–take the pledge! If you don’t know how to start, or if starting seems to be an insurmountable challenge, this week is for you. If you’re on track with your savings, but you want to improve what you’re doing, this week is for you! If you want to inspire others (your children, siblings, parents, friends, etc.) to save more, this week is for you. Long story short—if you have even the slightest, most negligible interest in savings, America Saves week and the tools at America Saves will help you get started and stay on track throughout the year.
I can come up with plenty of reasons that “I just can’t save anything this month”…the dog ate my shoes, so I have to go shopping. I don’t want to cook, so let’s take everyone out. My daughter’s birthday is next month, so I have to start buying party supplies, presents, and favors. I could easily continue this list—but it’s really just a set of excuses that prevent me from investing in my own future.
Do I legitimately need new shoes? Yes…but when I say “shoe-shopping” I don’t think inexpensively. I don’t think sale. I think I NEED, I NEED NOW, and who cares about the cost. We all have days where the last thing we want to do is fix dinner. Sometimes just that one task is the very last straw. However, planning for those days will allow us to…yes, save…for when those days crop up every month without wrecking the budget. My daughter is only going to be little for so long, but dropping $300-500 on a few hours of fun and frivolity is really not the best use of my money. I’m not going to avoid the presents, the fun, the theme that she wants, but scaling it down—because, really, is she even going to remember this party ten years from now?—means that I can get a jump start on saving for Easter, my son’s birthday, my anniversary, my husband’s birthday…you get the point.
We all live life. Life isn’t always convenient, and it tends to be expensive. America Saves Week and the tips and tools provided from the team at America Saves help us get a handle on our savings and spending habits so that we can handle the fun, as well as the inconveniences, on an affordable, cash basis.
Have you ever had one of those weeks where SO MUCH has gone SO RIGHT? I mean, hour after hour, day after day life was just coming up ROSES?!?! That was this week for me.
Have you ever had one of those weeks where SO MUCH has gone SO…well, not so right? Again, I mean hour after hour, day after day, life just seemed to be the FERTILIZER for the aforementioned roses? That, too, was this week for me.
Truly, it’s all about perspective. I know some people who would focus on the negative and anything positive would’ve just been chalked up to “Well, now I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop…” or “Things can’t go this well for much longer, something bad is going to happen soon.” And I gotta tell you, this week was SO PERFECTLY balanced of AWESOMENESS and sub-awesomeness I wasn’t sure some days what was up and what was down. But, again–perspective.
AWESOMENESS: Skinny jeans ALL.WEEK.LONG; I got FREE workout tanks; I had AWESOME Spin and other classes at the gym; I ate a brownie for breakfast today; I ran over 4 miles and didn’t break myself; I was able to get some studying done before the semester officially started; I got an e-mail back from a research/professional contact that I’d been waiting on; a job offer to provide financial literacy education; excellent participation in class from my students this week; excellent reviews from my students this week; I got the preliminary “Okay” on a subject I want to submit for an ethics fellowship application; a suggestion that I prepare some research I’m working on now to submit a paper to the AFCPE conference; told that someone wants to work FOR me; new followers on FB; new followers on Twitter; I made the #FridayFive on the America Saves blog; the invitation to submit an interest in guest blogging for America Saves…truly, I could even continue.
Sub-awesomeness: The person who told our property manager that he would sign RIGHT THEN if we would take $775/month decided not to rent the house; my husband and I had a rather significant disagreement about money and fun; I had to order ANOTHER textbook because what I thought was confirmation of a book was just a comment of “yes, we’re only using a book” (so $101 wasted on a book and now $170 spent on the right book), a pipe burst in the wall of our house in Texas (the same one we’re trying to rent out) and we have to cough up $1430 to pay the deductible, which pretty much wipes our savings.
The Sub-awesomeness almost…almost…took the joy out of my entire week.
What’s funny…not ha ha funny, well kind of ha ha funny in a warped way…is that all the sub-awesomeness had to do with money.
Here’s the balance, the perspective, the reason that the AWESOMENESS outranks what could’ve been serious ugliness:
1. My husband and I cleared the air (again)–FYI, even professionals have differences of opinions with their spouses as to how to use money, what’s best, what’s most fun, and who should make what decision. We don’t disagree often, but when we do it can be a real humdinger.
2. The property manager told me today that there is someone else interested in our house–so much so that she is asking for room dimensions and won’t move to town until the 20th…after the house repairs are done.
3. The house repairs are completely covered by insurance except our deductible (to be expected).
4. We had money in savings to cover (granted, it doesn’t get to be used for what we were hoping to use it for, but at least it was there and liquid and we don’t have to put anything on the credit card).
5. Payday is next week so we get to immediately begin rebuilding savings. (Well, kind of. The dog has to have her annual check-up and my husband wants to take a quick family trip out of town…but we’ll still be able to put a few bucks aside…I think…).
What I’m saying is…LIFE HAPPENS. When it rains, sometimes it drizzles, sometimes it POURS. It’s all about perspective.
It’s only money.
WHAT? IS SHE SERIOUS?
I tell my students–men who are transitioning from incarceration into a work release program–I tell my students in every.single.class that while it’s not always easy, there’s ALWAYS a way to find savings…in this case to RE-build our savings, but even if you’re starting for the very first time.
I NEVER say it’s going to be comfortable. I never say there won’t be sacrifice, but it can be done.
Do we HAVE to take the short trip out of town? No. Will we? It depends on how much we have left over after the bills are paid, the dog is to the vet, and at least $100 is put back into savings. Do we have to eat out if we take the trip? Nope. We’ve got our cooler…so, we may be able to have our cake and eat it too.
I could cut cable. The new semester is here, Kaden has started basketball, we’re SWAMPED with things to do…that’d save us $50 easy…I’ll have to broach that as an option.
The heat is already down, but I could go one more degree without anyone noticing…and I could limit showers to 5 minutes and Slaeda could take a shower instead of a bath.
I don’t coupon NEARLY like I should. I could stop going to the store (except for milk for the next couple of weeks) and just use what we have at home. It’s not as if the pantry and freezer aren’t sufficiently stocked. I may not want the danged brussel sprouts, but I can eat them. Slade may have to go without soda for a few weeks–that’s quick money to put into savings–but he has a coffee pot and plenty of coffee, so no harm, no foul.
I could have let a few–yes just a few in number, but big in terms of financial and emotional impact–less than awesome things really affect my perspective on this week. But, I’ve worked too hard to fix the mistakes I’ve made in the past (i.e. using my almost maxed out credit card to be my emergency fund, not having ANY savings to speak of, paying my rent via a cash advance off of a credit card, putting groceries on a credit card, shopping when I’m stressed or sad)…I’ve worked too hard to get out of those situations and stay out to let a few hits get me down.
Listen. If money woes have you in their grasp, take a step back. Separate your emotion from your money–much easier said than done, believe me, I know. Look at ONLY the numbers. Where can you cut? Don’t sacrifice any needs (roof over the head, food on the table, utilities paid, clothes on your back, transportation), but cut back where you can and buckle down for a few weeks or months until you get back to where you want/need to be.
When it rains, sometimes it pours…but look for that rainbow too!
You’ve probably seen it via your friends and family on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+…maybe even on the news…the “52 Week Money Challenge”. In fact, numerous other financial bloggers are talking about it, listing it’s pros and it’s cons…and there are so many different twists you can take on this challenge. Here’s my 52 week challenge to you: JUST SAVE. Every week. Every pay period.
Step 1: START SMALL…or Start Large…whatever works for you, but TYPICALLY, start with something you KNOW you can maintain and once you’ve done it for a few weeks/few pay periods, you get adjusted and then you can start to see where you may be able to cut back on expenses and add more money to your pot.
Step 2: WRITE IT DOWN. Yes, writing it down is the second step because today is probably pay day (last day of the month, tomorrow is a holiday)…so take a few bucks, put it in savings, write it on your “To-Do List” and then cross it off. Wow, that was pretty cool to get something on there and off there so quickly wasn’t it?!
Step 3: WRITE IT DOWN…AGAIN…just for next pay period and the pay period after that. You should have one budget sheet per pay period that shows how your money gets disburse each pay period. Make sure that whatever you’re going to pay out is WRITTEN DOWN. There are a jillion budget/spending plan forms out there. I have one I can share if you’d like, just let me know. FIND ONE THAT WORKS FOR YOU–AND USE IT!
Step 3.5: You should create a budget sheet for the following two pay periods every time you get paid. Money goes in your account, you sit down to pay bills, you write out your budget sheet for the next two pay periods. Now, this may be as simple as copy and paste–but use your critical thinking skills about what’s coming up. What changes do you need to account for the next time you get paid? Is there a birthday coming? A holiday? A school field trip? Do you need to add an additional line item for ANOTHER savings purpose (car repair, new appliance, furniture, etc.)?
Step 4: HOLD YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE. It is so dang easy to make excuses as to why it can’t be saved this month. Been there done that. Will probably do it again (I’m human). But since we’re starting small and we’re not stretching ourselves thin, why make excuses? Hold yourself accountable and SAVE. I’m not asking you to save the world, the whales, or even a million bucks. I’m asking you to make a small positive change in your savings habits so that you can see that you can, indeed, do it.
Step 5: KEEP MOVING FORWARD! Don’t give up. There will be some months when it will be difficult to get even the smallest amount into savings–life happens and the car never breaks down at the most convenient time, the kids never need new shoes when there’s “money to burn”…I get that. But don’t give up and if you can’t do the whole amount you have pledged to your savings plan, then do at least some of it.
I happen to LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the “52 Week Money Challenge”. I prefer it in reverse ($52 the first week, $51 the second, and so on…) because as I continue to pay myself, my commitment, my requirement, decreases. I like to see what I HAVE to do get smaller and smaller. Besides, who wants to have to put over $200 in savings next Christmas when we’ll be all distracted by the sales and buying of presents for the holiday season?
And, here’s what’s REALLY neat–you can use this “52 Week Money Challenge” to pay down debt too! (ABSOLUTELY get at least $1000 in emergency savings to take that monkey off your back!!) If you have credit cards, or other unsecured debt, on which you are paying a higher interest rate than you are getting in savings, you’re losing money–use this technique to pay down your debt!! If the interest rate on your car is high or you financed it for more than 5 years, use the “52 Week Money Challenge” to pay additional to the principal–which will decrease the overall amount you pay in interest–and will allow you to pay off the vehicle faster!
New Year’s Resolutions can be very difficult to maintain. SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS and start small. If you can do it according to the “52 Week Money Challenge” and you want to, GO FOR IT. If you can’t, or you aren’t sure, DO WHAT YOU CAN and then increase your commitment after you’ve gotten used to the change in your budget.
2015 is going to be an amazing year and I’m excited to share the ride with you!
Please let me know your favorite savings, spending, debt reduction techniques and let’s generate some conversation!
Happy New Year!
This year? This year we’re not having turkey. Nope.
Last year, my oh so brilliant husband (actually he is, but kind of not really…) decided that a 20 lb. turkey (for two adults, a 7 year old and a 2 year old) was appropriate.
Now, lest you think I was horrified–which I was–solely for the size of the turkey–which I kind of was–it was more that I had to think about cleaning up after it was cooked. I’m a great cook, but Slade handles the turkey every year. That man makes DAMN. EXCELLENT. TURKEY. Well, usually.
Last year, he set the oven on fire.
Every year (except last, of course) we pride ourselves on using the stainless steel roaster Slade brought home from Germany 15 years ago. It keeps the heat even, the turkey is never dry, the clean-up is really quite easy. Also, we save the cost of buying a new aluminum roaster (yes, just a couple of bucks, but every dollar adds up and this is, after all, a money blog ;)). The 20 lb. fowl monstrosity (pun intended) was too big for our roaster. For the record, **whispering** The fire was caused by the turkey juices spilling over out of an aluminum roaster that was also too small…even though he swears it should’ve been big enough. Uh huh.
For the record, baking soda puts out grease fires quite well and assists in the clean-up of the grease when the oven has cooled.
This year, we’re going with Chicken Nuggets. Yes, Tyson breaded chicken nuggets–deliciousness in nugget form, will be our protein for Thanksgiving dinner.
To make sure we cover the appropriate financial focus of this blog…we saved at least $10 on the turkey by not opting for the traditional bird this year. (I frequently combine coupons to get $$ off the turkey…the two weeks prior to Thanksgiving, though the lines are a little extra insane, are sooooo worth the effort for the cost savings.) This is also a great time to cross-check your coupon stash for spices/seasoning, flour, and believe it or not, I’ve found great prices on chocolate chips at this time. Baking season is upon us, so if you find them discounted, it might be a good time to stock up!
Now that we have the business out of the way…
I want to say that I am THANKFUL for YOU!
There are thousands, hundreds of thousands probably, of blogs out there, and right now you’re reading mine. Thank you.
I am also thankful for my supportive husband, for my beautiful and amazing children, my part psychotic dog, my parents and brother and sister, all my nieces and nephews, my friends, my classmates, my professors, my students, and so many others. I am thankful for the ability to read, write, color (I can’t draw), and express my creativity in baking. I am thankful for social medias that not only allow me to keep in touch with friends, but that also allow me to make new friends and professional contacts. I am thankful for running water, electricity, heat, my smartphone, my computer, and online classes. I am thankful for my injuries, which allow me to put into perspective just how well I’ve done over the past year–and to really appreciate my athletic/exercise efforts even if they’ve had to temporarily come to a standstill. I am thankful that I have the opportunity to dream–because my husband defends our freedoms as a United States Army Soldier–but also that I have the opportunity to not achieve everything I want to, because it reminds me that I have a Father who is watching out for me and guiding my every move. I am thankful that while I am no longer gainfully employed, as I was last year, I am out of a miserable job. I am thankful that while we currently do not have renters in our Texas house, we can still afford to pay the mortgage. I am thankful that while we’ve lost $3200 (net)/month we can still make ends meet and put a few dollars (literally some months) in savings. I am thankful that I can look back at the money we’re now doing without and not beat myself senseless for not having more to show for it. I am thankful for coupons, sales, and knowing that just because the neighbor, friend, guy down the street has it, doesn’t mean that I have to have it too.
The list, of course, could go on and on and on and on…you get my point.
One last thankful thought…I am thankful that (my) money (or lack thereof) does not define me.
Please, as we enter into one of the most “spend-focused” seasons, I encourage you to look at what you DO have, to look at the needs that you are meeting, even if the wants sometimes don’t get to happen. I encourage you to give what you can, when you can, but not to the detriment of yourself, your family, your savings, or your budget.
I hope you have the Happiest of Thanksgivings and would love to hear what you are particularly thankful for this year.
P.S. I am thankful that there is no turkey to set the oven on fire this year…because, yes, of course it was the turkey’s fault.