Tried and True Tips for Spending Less

31
May
2016

Tried and True Tips for Spending Less

Last week I shared how you can begin to tackle debt with some simple steps. This week I want to share with you more of the “how to” – what it actually looks like.  

Now, remember that each and every family situation is different, but if you are all in and truly want to experience the freedom that comes when you aren’t carrying debt, it takes precise strategies and intentional decisions – which are not easy.

Over the past month we have hammered our budget down – cutting the fat out (fat being anything that truly is not necessary). You may think of our steps as pretty drastic, but honestly, we’ve lived with many of these strategies for years and I think they have served us well.

Reducing Family Entertainment Expenses 

This is one where we have been incredibly intentional with our spending. To be honest, many of these philosophies really came out of true necessity when I was a single mom. There were no funds for movies with snacks and adventures to theme parks and such.

As a family of six, it is a big treat and something we budget for in order to enjoy a large entertainment expense. We do love baseball, so we may attend one major league baseball game during the summer. That is all. It is a considerable expense and we have chosen to make it a very special occasion rather than a normal activity that tends to not have as much impact for the money spent. We do not attend movies at the theater either. The last one was four years ago.

Taking that “fat” and placing it in other areas of our budget (paying off a car payment or putting toward our mortgage) has a much better return. If we owe money, we really have no business sowing into more waste. On the other hand, you can be creative and find very low cost family entertainment or even FREE activities! We love hiking, day trips, and small group activities with friends.

Dining Out

Here is another area we intentionally restrict. We may eat out once a month as a family – period. It is planned and not done in haste or last minute. I am sure you can relate. We often spend way more on these items when we fail to plan for dinner and then end up over spending and sowing into more waste. Rather than do that, why not truly take the time needed to plan meals so that you can efficiently spend your money and sow into being frugal and wise rather then wasteful?

Dining out is a very special occasion for us, and even when we do, we typically always have a coupon! And it has been budgeted for.

Owing for Vehicles

If you are paying a car payment – stop! This one is a hard one for many because we live in such a “want it now” society, but this is the biggest waste of money ever. For us, we were so close in paying off the second car we had owed on that it was better for us to keep it and attack that debt rather then sell it and buy a car we had the money to afford. However, if you have months and months of payments, I highly suggest you determine if paying out that money is the best thing for you. 

Caring for Yourself

This may be an area you don’t really give much consideration to, however over the past three years I have learned a lot of food choices that can help our bodies stay healthy and choices that will deteriorate our health. We have changed up our food budget in order to accommodate better choices at the grocery store – more fresh vegetables and fruits, locally sourced meat, raw milk, and less and less processed food. Processed food is certainly much cheaper, but it is literally making an investment in poor health.

We’ve also taken greater care with making choices using natural alternatives to support our immune systems as well as our emotions, which results in many great benefits. Less time sitting at a doctor’s office, less money paid to medical facilities, we feel better, miss less school and/or work, and our schedules run smoother. It’s an investment in ourselves which will pay huge dividends in the years to come.

Eating from Your Pantry

This is a huge one. We are a society of choices and excess. I am sure if you looked in your pantry you could find at least a week’s worth of meals to fix without having to go to the grocery store. When I returned from a conference a few months ago, I took the challenge and began using more of the items we had in our pantry instead of just planning all meals with new ingredients. I can tell you we don’t always eat exactly what I might be in the mood for, but it has been a great experience on using what we have and not wasting. I challenge you to do that same. Use that extra money that remains in your food budget at the end of the month to go towards paying off a bill you have!

I share a lot of my saving secrets in my Become a Frugalista eBook too. If you need some steps and some encouragement, go over and grab it now!  

So, what area is your first to attack? I would love to hear your strategies and goals.

Shifting to a Frugal Mindset: Paying Off Debt NOW!

24
May
2016

Shifting to a Frugal Mindset: Paying Off Debt NOW!

Debt robs us of freedom. It robs us of possibilities. It robs us of joy.

I have had many years of my life where I overspent and did not mange money well. In fact, it sadly managed me – my moods, my choices, my future. I had to use a debt consolidation company to help me escape patterns of bad choices and bad habits.

When I re-married I was so blessed to have a husband who was very frugally minded – and we started our marriage off having a budget. This was a FIRST for me, and to be honest, we followed it loosely until we began to wonder, where was our money really going?

We couldn’t really say.

About five years ago we got down to the nitty gritty and set up a budget using Mint.com – which we found to be simple as well as a completely secure way to help us track our spending. We had not done any financial training, but with age and past mistakes, we knew we needed to be focused on knowing exactly where we spent our money.

It was during that transition I wrote down a lot of my frugally minded ideas in my book, Becoming a Frugalista – Money Saving Secrets for the Family Manager. It was fabulous to place them all in one spot to share with my readers, and I still use many of those tips today.

Fast-forward a few years and my husband and I are tackling our debt even further. We are determined to be free from debt that ultimately makes us feel trapped. Our situation is a bit different. We have worked hard to not carry debt, however we have a car payment that will be paid off in just a few months and then our mortgage.  

The thought of our mortgage being our only debt is exhilarating. I am thankful for my work at home businesses, both my blog and my Young Living sharing bringing in additional income, which is a bonus in helping with our family budget and paying down debt – plus blessing many organizations we would not otherwise have had the opportunity to give to.

Do you wonder what it would be like to have no debt? 

Are you finding your debt suffocating and stealing your joy?  

Today, I will share some ways to shift your thinking, which will hopefully begin to change your perspective on how you are spending your money. Next week I will cover exact examples on how you can find FAT in your budget and put that towards your bills. I recently watched, War on Debt by Dani Johnson. It hit me between the eyes. So much of what I do in my home shows a spirit of indulging and excessive behavior. OUCH! There is a better way. Let’s start changing our thinking.

Asking, “Do I Really Need That?”

You’ve heard this one before I am sure. We often get into habits of just buying because we can. Because we have the money (or at least we think we have the money) to buy more of something, when in reality we may not even truly need it. It is a habit. It’s time to ask that before you purchase everything – from the grocery store, to Amazon, to Old Navy. Do I really need that? If you can truly answer YES to that question, then go ahead – as long as you have funds in your budget. Otherwise, don’t do it.

But, We Think Differently

Do you and your husband think about money in the same way? For many in marriage, the answer is no. Is there a way you can meet in the middle and be somewhere near the same page with spending? This can be a common issue, however even if you can’t agree, I don’t think you should use it as an excuse. Be responsible for the choices you are making on spending money. You cannot control anyone else, but you can make better choices yourself. I can tell you what you do matters and it will be seen, even when you don’t think it is.

Monthly Check-Ins

Schedule, on your calendar – yes, just like any other appointment – to have a family business meeting. You can spend time going through your bills, what was spent, areas you maybe overspent, and where you underspent. This gives both people a chance to see exactly where money is being spent. There is no, “Oh, I didn’t know” phrases that can say ignorance. Be smart, empowered, and have no excuses.

Look to Trim Your Fat

I’ll share more on this next week, but finding ways to trim excessive spending is what you can be looking at now. Do you eat out often? Do you go to the coffee drive thru on a regular basis? Do you find yourself charging basic necessities? When you owe money to others, you need to truly be evaluating where you are spending your money and determine if you are sowing into your finances in order to reap benefits or if you are spending carelessly and reaping what you are sowing.

Do not throw your money away, allow it to work for you. You work hard to get it, right?

5 Mistakes That Will Bust Your Budget

2
Nov
2015

5 Mistakes That Will Bust Your Budget

Last week my husband and I had the wonderful opportunity to speak with a group of ladies about our personal experience with family finances. We are by no means financial wizards, however we do have some lessons we have learned over the years which I feel have helped us manage our finances better (I shared some of my savings tips and ways to be financially frugal in this eBook). Financial issues is one of the major issues in a marriage and causes many to divorce, which is extremely disheartening.

We are not financial experts, nor do the things we choose to do necessarily match your desires, but I wanted to share with you our biggest mistakes we have made in the past.

Here are five of the mistakes we shared that will surely bust your budget.

#1: Not Paying God First

As a Christian, this is one of the acts of obedience we are asked to do. In the years when I was a single mom I did not tithe, or I gave very little. Once I remarried, this was an area that both my husband and I agreed on, yet – it is still hard to FIRST give that money away, even before you have paid anything else. I will tell you, through our act of obedience and trusting that God will provide, He has shown himself faithful time and time again. You will bless others and will be blessed when you choose to trust God.

#2: Not Paying Yourself

This is another area where I didn’t practice “saving” until later in my life. When you choose to purposefully put money aside to plan for a “rainy day” or for back up spending that you may need, it will set you up for success. I lived paycheck to paycheck for many years and. honestly, overspent and borrowed to pay bills. Not the way to live. Learning to save was critical to maturing in managing finances.

#3: Secret Spending

Do you ever buy something without letting your spouse know? Do you hide clothes or household purchases so you don’t have to answer questions, and then bring them out later? Perhaps you have a secret bank account or keep cash stashed away. These are all signs that there is not complete financial honesty with your spouse and that is a recipe for trouble.

I did this to a small extent for a few years, but as soon as both my husband and I were set to move forward, it was no more.

#4: No Personal Funny Money

“Married couples should budget for each person to have a little pocket money and the freedom to have fun.” – Dave Ramsey

No matter how you structure your budget, both you and your spouse need to have some discretionary money that you can choose to spend however you like. Both my husband and I have a set amount per month that we get to spend on our own. What is included in this for me? My monthly massage, any music I purchase, lunch with friends, any outside beverage/food purchases that are exclusively mine, books, activities that are on my own, and similar. My husband has the same and we are held accountable for staying within that budget.

#5: Not Planning Meals

This is a BIG budget buster. When you do not have dinner planned and it is 4:00 in the afternoon and have no idea what you’re putting on the table, you have a higher chance of going out to eat or picking up expensive take-out! Planning is key to keep within the budget.

I love this Organic Meal Plan with ingredients purchased from Costco (10 Meals for $100), from $5 Dinners. I will be sharing a blog post on it soon! I am all about slow cooker meals to save time and they’re also friendly on the budget.

Emeals is also a true-tested friend with me, where you can get weekly meal plans delivered right to your inbox with menus, recipes, and a shopping list. You can choose from over 50 meal plan options too – all for pennies a day. You can even try it for FREE for two weeks!

BONUS #6: No Common Goals

No matter what season of life you are in, it is a huge help to have some type of common goal for your financial health for your family. Whether it is striving to get a 6 months back up savings in place, saving for a family vacation, or paying off your mortgage – these type of goals are important to remember when there will be times you choose to not do certain activities or spend in certain areas because you remember your larger plan. I encourage you to sit down with your spouse and set some financial goals and begin working – small baby steps. It starts there!

If you missed this wonderful collection of eBooks, eCourses, and bonuses on Homemaking earlier this year – for TWO days only you can grab it again in this FLASH sale! I have loved my copy and if you are interested in getting your finances in order, there are several great resources, including a copy of my eBook, Becoming a Frugalista.

Ultimate Homemaking Bundle

It’s Amazon Prime Day!!!

15
Jul
2015

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What is Amazon Prime Day?

I am so glad you asked…..

Prime Day is a global shopping event, offering more deals than Black Friday, exclusively for Prime members. On Wednesday, July 15 new and existing members will be able to shop thousands of Lightning Deals, Deals of the Day, and will receive unlimited Free Two-Day Shipping. Members will find deals starting at midnight PDT, with new deals starting throughout the day, as often as every ten minutes. Not a Prime member? Try Prime FREE for 30 days today and get immediate access to deals on July 15.  

Sign Up for the Amazon Prime Free Trial

Prime members can find deals on products across categories including electronics, toys, video games, movies, clothing, patio, lawn and garden, sports and outdoor items and more. Members will enjoy deals on items perfect for summer adventures, their to-do list, family road trips, back to school supplies, and everyday essentials. Prime members can shop on any device, including smartphones and tablets and enjoy deals anytime, and anywhere.

It’s like Christmas in July!!

I am a big fan of my amazon prime membership and love being able to order things for delivery to my home, to family members out of town and we have amazon prime on our TV, so we can watch great shows without commercials, like our recent favorite, Mr. Selfridge.  It’s the best!

Sign Up for the Amazon Prime Free Trial

You can win prizes!!

#PrimeLiving Photo Contest

Prime opens the possibilities to save time and money, have more fun, and most importantly, make you happy. Show us what #PrimeLiving means to you – whether that is putting your feet up, sharing time with loved ones, or curling up on the beach with your Kindle.

$10,000 in amazon gift cards

Prime Pantry

Prime Pantry is a unique shopping experience on Amazon.com. Prime members can shop popular household essentials and have them conveniently delivered.

Adding your first Prime Pantry item to Cart starts a Prime Pantry box. As you shop, you see that each Pantry item tells you what percentage of a Pantry box it fills based on its size and weight. Pantry boxes are large and can hold up to 45 pounds or four cubic feet of household products. As you check items off your list, we continuously track and show you how full your box is.

You can buy as much or as little as you want for a flat $5.99 delivery fee per Prime Pantry box. Save gas, save money, save time.

All Pantry Boxes over $50 will ship for only $1.99 using code:  BUYPANTRY

So go over and check it out…… I know the deals will be flying all day and there will surely be some good grocery deals – I hope some of my favorite items are on sale – Larabar Gluten Free Fruit & Nut Food Bar, Peanut Butter Cookie,  KIND Nuts & Spices, Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea SaltJASON Kids Only, Daily Detangling Shampoo – just to name a few.

Plus when you purchase on amazon – and use my affiliate link, you are contributing to the sponsorship of these amazing girls in India!  Thank you for making a difference in their lives!

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My Five Favorite Finds for May

28
May
2015

When a friend finds something they really like, well…. they share!  So that is what this post is all about.  Every few months I tip you off to what I’ve found to be some favorite items I’ve recently discovered.  I typically try to link to amazon, so you can use the affiliate link if you so desire and contribute to our sponsorship of our Compassion girls – but often times you can find some of the items locally.

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I love the ease and variety of things found on amazon, so I will be keeping up with my monthly subscribe and save orders (love getting an additional 15% off when I have 5 items!) and using my FREE Prime shipping too!  Now off to share my goodies with you all!

Theo Organic Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
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OH MY WORD!   ORGANIC DARK CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CUPS.    Now, I am not a huge chocolate lover – meaning I can have a bit here and there and that is enough…… but I am picky on what chocolate I eat since I have been more conscious of my food choices.  I love these peanut butter cups – no GMO, Organic, Palm Free and Soy Free and they are a local Seattle company.

I admit, they are spendy – but I eat one at a time normally – and keep them in my freezer.  One or two a week are a perfect “self-care” treat for me!  I get them locally at my Co-Op for $1.99 a pack…… so worth it for this mama!

4950Nature’s Sunshines Silver Shield Gel

I purchase this perfect skin gel several months ago to have in my mama wellness cabinet, since we are weeding out all the unnecessary toxic filled items we’ve used in the past to care for many common health and skin issues.  This gel is amazing for helping skin issues – I love it!   It is a great cleansing agent, perfect for scrapes, irritated skin, and bug bites.  

I love my Essential Oils for supporting our family wellness, but it is always good to have back up items to help as well, and this does the trick.  Do not leave home with out it!  Check out the amazing reviews on amazon!

Philips Sonicare Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush for Kids
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This kids toothbrush is an investment and one of the best yet!  My five year old was needing some encouragement with his brushing, so we decided since all of the other family members use Sonicare brushes, it was time to introduce him as well.  Let me just say, he has been so excited to brush his teeth and get some magical stickers!  It is fun for him and I really love a few thing about the brush.  It has a beeper that tells him when to switch quadrants in his mouth – brilliant, as well as a 2 minute timer – which is the time dentist recommend kids brush for.

You can change the skins of the toothbrush, which gives personality and best of all – he looks forward to brushing his teeth, at least for now!

61DA7MAZ-eL._SL1500_Bose Sound True In-Ear Headphones

Good headphones are hard to come by – and when I find a pair that are exceptional – I know.  I us these headphones talking on my phone (love the built in mic), listening to music while running, both outside and on the treadmill and the sound is excellent.  There is nothing more frustrating than not being able to hear some good bass sounds and crisp tones.

I really love that when I am out for a run and I get a call (that I want to take!) I can easily click to answer and I don’t have to fumble around – it is very easy.  I saved up for these head phones and it was so worth it!  I have used these while traveling too, and they are perfect – lightweight and easy to keep in my purse.

MIU Color 500 ml Aroma Diffuser 
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I can’t believe I have not posted in a FAVORITES post about this diffuser gem!  We are all about diffusing Young Living essential oils in our home, it is amazing for changing everyone’s attitude and keeping breathing free and easy!

This ultrasonic diffuser is a work horse!  It runs all night, you can turn the light off or have it on, it changes colors and has several timers and speed options.  The price is what gets me, $39.99.  It is a great value!  I have had two in our home for over a year and a half.  After people in my oily community have purchased their Premium Starter Kit that comes with a diffuser, they always want more.  I suggest this diffuser – always!  

It is perfect for the family room or on your beside table.  The output is full and effective – just what you need.

What other fun finds do you have to share?  This mom would love to hear

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