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.
I love social media. It’ll likely be the death of me, it’s true, but I love it. Facebook and Twitter keep me thinking forward–mostly because of random comments that friends make and I think “Oh, Shiz-nit! I need to be tracking on that too!”–and today is one of those days…sort of. This is more about what I did RIGHT than what I need to be remembering! Meagan, this is for you, and again, thanks for the props!
‘Tis the season to be jolly, fa la la la la la la la la, ‘Tis the season to be spending….
Christmas is coming. All the joy, the family, the Birth, the time together…the music!! Oh, it does my heart good.
Christmas is coming. All of the money, the presents, the stress, the money (yes, I know I already mentioned this part)…the music!! Oh, it drives me crazy!
You may fall in a combination of those camps. You may fall in one or the other. Whatever your current relationship with the upcoming Christmas season, I want it to be as stress-free and financially sound as possible.
It’s not even Halloween! I know. The big sales aren’t in place yet. I know that too. I have small children who like to get into things. Um, see the picture above.
Believe it or not, it is in no way, shape, or form too early to start Christmas shopping. I’m not saying that you should go out and buy the big things that are likely going to go on sale on Black Friday or the weeks immediately after. However, if you have some small things to pick up–Santa gifts, things for gift exchanges that will likely come up last minute, this is a great time to do that. Many smaller items hold their prices and don’t go on sale at all. Why? Because the stores know that people are going to run into last minute things they need to pick up and they can just hear the “cha-ching” allllllllll day/week/month/season long. Once or twice I’ve even seen mark-ups on music and movies the week before Christmas!
This is the time, before the humongous holiday rush, to do some research. Do a Google search for “Black Friday ads” for the past three years. Fat Wallet (http://www.fatwallet.com/black-friday/ads/) will get you started for last year…and you can see what went on sale. Look for things that ALWAYS go on sale the days immediately following Thanksgiving and the weeks leading up to Christmas. If something on your list for this year…you do have your list written, right? If something on your list for this year is going to go on sale, wait. Buy it when it’s on sale. Consumer Reports (http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2013/08/best-time-to-buy-things/index.htm) lists the best time to buy things–THROUGHOUT THE YEAR!! (Keep this link handy, save it to your task bar!!)
Kids like to get into everything. I get that. Sometimes my closet is a safe zone, sometimes it’s not. My husband has God only knows what going on in the garage–everyone stays clear of there, so that’s a safe place for us to hide gifts until it’s time to get them wrapped and under the tree. (Did you buy wrapping paper the day/week after Christmas last year? If not, put it on your list to do so this year. The savings are ASTRONOMICAL!!) Other clever hiding places include inside luggage, the box of pregnancy clothes you haven’t gotten rid of yet–donate the clothes if you’re done getting pregnant and hide the gifts in there, borrow a friend’s house/garage/closet. Where else? If you’ve got a good hiding place to share, please let me know!!
Take advantage of secondhand stores, Goodwill, Salvation Army and places that have gently used merchandise for gifts that hold their shape and wear well. If you want to frame pictures for family Christmas gifts this year, the pictures themselves cost a significant amount, so look for nice frames at a secondhand store. Clothes–if you have a pretty princess in your household, get her those skirts and bows at the secondhand stores too! What are other good finds at secondhand stores?
Yes, Halloween, and all it’s wonderful associated ghoulishness is upon us, then Thanksgiving, and THEN Christmas. But, don’t frighten your wallet this Halloween season by ignoring the opportunity to spread out the costs of the coming Christmas holiday season.
Have you ever started the day thinking, “Why couldn’t I have made a better decision last night?” I find typically this kind of discussion is related to food–yum, yum–but often times it also is related to money.
It’s not always the big expenses that throw us off. Sure, an unexpected trip to the mechanic, a forgotten annual check up for our pets, or a spur of the moment jaunt out of town “just to get away” can really put a monkey wrench in our budget–but so can “nickel and diming” ourselves.
The small expenses add up–sooooo dang quickly! A quick soda at the gas station here, a candy bar there, a new tube of mascara, little “I’m thinking of you” presents or cards for friends or relatives. My daughter is IN LOVE with Hello Kitty and My Little Pony. Today she wants me to pick up Hello Kitty Band-Aids for the ouchie on her toe. Is there an ouchie? She says there is. Is there something that I can see, something Band-Aid worthy? Um, yeah, no. Will I buy her the Band-Aids? Probably.
I set out every single month to have all my dollars and cents fall in particular areas. I have a plan to keep money in savings and keep us all entertained by doing things that don’t cost a lot–if anything at all. Even when we do take a quick trip “just to get away” I have a budget in mind for that event. Sometimes things fall right where I want them to. Other times I/we have an “Oh! That would be AWESOME” moment and realize that WHILE I HAVE THE CASH, while I am NOT in any way, shape, or form causing grievous harm to my family’s financial well-being–boy howdy do those dollars and cents just seem to disappear.
Case in point: I went to the Type-A Parent’s Blogging Convention this weekend. I had a budget, it was a good solid budget. Emphasis on “was”. I underestimated what I would need to spend on food. I went over my food budget by about $40. I went over my “gift” budget by $120. (Mostly because I didn’t plan on buying any gifts and I did.) I went over my “me” budget by $100. (Again, I didn’t plan on buying anything as a momento, but I did…a few things in fact.) So, $260. Gone. Is my family going to suffer for not having that money? No. It’s money I wish like hell I’d left in savings but by spending it I did not interrupt our regular flow of life. I would not classify this as “Buyer’s Remorse” as I do not regret the purchases I made. I do, however, classify it as “Spender’s Remorse”…I could’ve more effectively spent those dollars (or most of them anyway) if I’d said “No” to the frivolous stuff.
My husband and I plan for some flexibility in our spending budgets. He and I work very well together as a team to keep things flowing and adjust as necessary. Every pay day all the bills are paid before lunch time. What we have left goes to savings, groceries, gas, miscellaneous spending, pocket change, and date nights. We talk a bigger savings game than we play sometimes. It frustrates us both and we are working diligently to find ways to hold each other accountable and keep our spending down.
What I’m trying to get at here is that we are all HUMAN. We are going to make mistakes–but we HAVE TO PLAN for those mistakes/errors/snafus/changes in plans/last minute “oh, I want tos”. It’s kind of like I tell all my students when we’re working on Emergency Savings–it’s not if something happens, it’s when. It’s not IF my husband is going to want to eat out or get a soda, it’s when. It’s not IF I’m going to want to buy a spur of the moment gift for someone (whether that’s a card, buying them lunch, or actually buying a “thinking of you” gift), it’s when. It’s not IF my husband is going to take our daughter out for lunch…and then a movie because her behavior was so good at lunch…and then ice cream…because her behavior was so good during the movie…and then to the store to buy a toy…because they’ve been having so much fun together. It’s not IF I’m going to go to conferences for work or school…and then need a new blouse that will help me make the impression I want…or those great new heels…or new lipstick…or those highlights…I know you see where I’m going here.
Creating flexibility in your budget is absolutely key. Slade and I have spent over 11 years figuring out how to build in flexibility that works. It’s not always easy to build in that flexibility. Sometimes you just don’t have enough money left after all your needs are taken care of. Sometimes you’ve planned for flexibility, but then the electric bill is higher than you planned, or the car needs to be repaired, or the dog has to go to the vet.
I’m not going to provide any answers right now. I know what suggestions I would make to someone, I know how to make the changes I want to make (I just have to buckle down and say “No!” to myself…and my husband…and my kids) but what I want to know is HOW DO YOU PLAN FLEXIBILITY INTO YOUR BUDGET?
Let me know how you provide flexibility in your budget, or if you have a question about doing so…you can respond to this post, @KateMielitz on Twitter, or facebook.com/financialwellnesscoach.
I look forward to hearing from you and generating some discussion on this topic!
Time flies when you’re having fun…or avoiding your responsibilities…or letting the small stuff become much, much bigger than it has any right to be.
It’s been over a month since my last post. On one hand, I feel like a fool for not posting more, on the other hand I felt burdened by the things that were going on in my life. Well, a “burdened” life isn’t really much of an excuse…what better therapy than blogging? Get it out, get it off my chest…I did that a couple of posts ago and I felt awesome. But, even more than that, I let the small stuff take over.
Getting overwhelmed with life is just like getting overwhelmed by money. The best thing you can do is face the situation every day, stop avoiding it, and make progress. I made some progress, but when I reflect back on the past 30 days I look back with less joy than I should.
I worked out a lot, I was neurotic about food a lot, I studied some, I taught some, I had Spring Break with my kids–but there were so many opportunities to blog about good financial choices, bad financial choices–etc. I avoided facing not only what we did right, but what we did wrong. We overspent on food and gas the latter half of March…more than we’ve done in a long time! That combined with trying to make some healthier life choices I got overwhelmed and let the money, the food, the effort control me, rather than me controlling it.
I hate fighting about money. We had some disagreements in the past 30 days regarding money–I’d rather put money in savings and not have any spending cash, where my husband understands the necessity of savings, but prefers to have the cash in his pocket. Frankly, I understand that because we run all the money through me. I know what the balances are, I know what expenses are coming in the next couple of weeks, and so on. He gets really tired of having to ask for money/the opportunity to do something either as a couple or as a family and hearing “Well, we can’t because of …” It wasn’t ugly, but it wasn’t particularly pretty either.
This month, we’ve made some minor changes to what we’re doing–limiting the amount of money put towards gas on a weekly basis (making us more conscious of what trips we’re taking and how we can be more economical about them), having more discussion about what is and is not working for us financially, and looking at this summer, this fall (as I go back to school for my PhD) and the next couple of years as we plan for school-related travels, his MBA graduation, our drive home at retirement (cross-country), and just being more aware. We have (again) stopped complaining about money and instead have focused on what we can do and how we’re doing it better.
We’re making progress and I’m going to focus on growing myself through this personally as well as professionally, growing my family through this, and growing my marriage. Avoidance never gets us anywhere…and I’m looking forward to being more proactive with my money, my time, my studies, my blogging, and my ability to influence others!
Never give up. If there’s a list of twenty things you want to change financially, change one at a time and celebrate the change that you make. Reflect on the change (in writing, with a trusted friend) and use that to inspire you to make bigger and better financial choices. Be growth conscious (see John C. Maxwell’s Growth Book–The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth) for more information about how to become growth conscious.
If you save even just one more dollar per month than you did the month before…it’s a small step, but it’s at least a step forward. Grow into saving more the next month. If you pay off debt, either roll that payment towards another debt or put it into savings–make sure you have a base Emergency savings account before paying any extra towards debt, but even just a couple of extra dollars towards principal can make a difference in total amount paid in interest, as well as paying the account off early!
Stop Avoiding. Utilize your money–it’s a tool that YOU should control. Start Growing!