Monthly Archives: August 2017

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How To Balance Life When Your Have Kids and a Career

How To Balance Life, work life balance, mom balance, how to stay sane as a mom

I had been working on this post about how to balance life for a very long time.  I’ve had the idea scribbled in a notebook for months.  I’ve had a draft started, but not finished for weeks.  Yet here I am completely changing the whole premise of this topic.  

Let’s get real for a second – when you have kids there is no balance.  Sure you can feel like everything is rocking and rolling for a few days, maybe even a few weeks, but it will come crashing down at some point.  I don’t mean to sound dramatic, but it does.

For instance, I started this post off (then deleted it) talking about how to find balance you need to be a planner.  You need to have a list of everything that needs to get done, be able to know when to delegate and when to say no, and you need help.  But that was before our little boy spent the better part of 3 hours nonstop crying last night.  No idea why.  He just did.

I’m tired.  I’m dragging and I sure know that today is going to be rough.

It’s 8 am and I’m already sipping on a Diet Mountain Dew (it’s my version of coffee).  This post was supposed to be finished last night so it could go live this morning, but that didn’t happen.  Because no matter how hard I try to plan, prepare and schedule my day – it doesn’t always play out like I hope.  So instead of finishing this post last night, I sat in complete darkness holding my crying boy in my arms until he fell asleep.

And there is no place I would have rather been.

Truth.

So maybe work life balance isn’t a fine balance act.  Maybe it’s having the ability to say no to some things so you can say yes to more important ones.

My son, my family and my well-being comes before anything else.  So on days like yesterday, I have to reschedule everything I had planned for the last 3 hours of my day, I have to go to bed later than I normally do and I have to wake up earlier than I thought was possible.

But to me balance isn’t doing it all and being perfect, it’s choosing what’s perfect for me.

I may not get it all done in the time frame I dreamed of and that’s okay.

You may not either and you have to be willing to accept it.  There are a few things you can do to help you not feel pressure to do things you HAVE to do when things you WANT to do come up.

  1. Plan your day.  I use Google calendar to plan out my family’s life.  Everything task, appointment, and reminder are scheduled in my calendar.
  2. Keep a running to-do list.  I am someone who will obsess over something until it’s done.  I have found that when I write a task or an idea down, then I can turn my brain off and focus on what I was supposed to be doing.
  3. Be okay with change.  Days don’t always go as planned and you have to be willing to accept it.  Let’s face it as Moms no two days are the same.  And if you think they can be, then just spend time with a toddler because they will correct your thought process in less than an hour.
  4. Build in buffers.  For me that means going to be later or getting up earlier (preferably not within a 12 hour period, but that’s mom life).  I also try to keep my lunch hour free to do other work.  I work full time so when my lunch break comes I usually run home to write posts, record videos or edit them.  This gives me some flexibility when my evenings or mornings don’t go as I hope. 
  5. Know your priorities.  Sometimes we get wrapped up in the hustle of life.  We get frustrated when we have to stop mid-thought to dig a toy out from under the couch just for your little one to do it all over again.  At those moments, just stop and remind yourself every day they are learning something new and one day they will be able to reach for a toy under the couch themselves and that day will be hard.  You may not realize it at the time, but it will be.  When our little one could finally hold his own bottle, I was happy until the day came that I wanted to rock him to sleep for nap time and he didn’t need me to any longer.  He could hold his own bottle and lay down on his own.

I may not be perfect with work life balance, but I don’t think anyone can be perfect when they’re a mom.  No matter if you’re a mom who works away from home, works from home or in between.  Any woman who mothers a child, runs a household and is making a difference will never have a perfect balance act.  And at the end of the day when you watch your little one sleep you realize that it’s okay because they are more perfect than you could ever imagine.

Changing My Wealth Mindset

wealth mindset, changing mindset, being wealthy, making money, mindset on wealth, money tips, budget help

What is your wealth mindset?

For so many the first thing that pops in their head is money.  And I was one of those people.  Being wealthy used to mean 

Wealth is so much more than the money you spend on stuff.  The stuff that fills your house and the toys in your garage doesn’t mean you’re wealthy.  I had this realization not that long ago when I was looking around my family room watching our little boy play.  He was so happy and in that moment life was perfect.  Those moments are so amazing and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.  

I know that’s a cliche example of being wealthy, but it’s the truth.  I also started thinking how wealth isn’t what the commercial standard of wealth is.  Being wealthy is a personal thing – what’s important to you and you alone.  Of course I started relating everything to our finances and family budgeting.  

I think of our family’s financial goals as a path.  We want to measure our wealth on how we’re doing reaching our goals.  I talk so much about goals and financial journeys, but how do you know when you’ve made it?  I guess when you actually reach your goals, but then those goals are replaced with bigger ones.  That’s life.  So now being wealthy is the good progress we’re making towards those goals.  

Wealth is having the ability to bounce back from an emergency without sacrifice.  Wealth is seeing my child play in a yard with our dogs chasing after him.  It’s the ability to not have to worry about debt or not having enough in our bank account to do the things we want.  Wealth is reaching our financial goals and then setting new ones.  

We’re already wealthy even though we haven’t reached our bigger goals.  We’re wealthy because we’ve made so much progress to get towards those goals.  My wealth mindset has shifted to not be so concerned with the amount in our bank accounts and more focused on the bigger picture.  It’s a great feeling!

20 Ways To Make $100 Fast

20 ways to make $100 fast, make $100 fast, make money fast, how to sell items online, how to host a yard sale, how to become a ghost writer

Are you looking for quick ways to make a buck?  Well you’re in luck!  I have put together a great list of 20 ways to make $100 fast.  

Now most of these on the list are things I have personally done and can share with you my opinion.  But before you take on any job or sell anything, please do your research.  Make sure it’s from a reputable company or from someone you personally know.  There are too many times people are taken advantage of and you should protect yourself.

Alright, now that my little disclaimer is out of the way let’s dive in.  Here are my 20 ways to make $100 fast:

Sell old phones, laptops and tablets

You can find different online companies, like gazelle.com that offer to buy old electronics (I have never used gazelle before, so please do your research).  You can also sell old phones, computers and such online through craigslist and Facebook swap shops.  A lot of times people are looking for parts and are willing to pay for an older phone.  

Sell old clothes

This is one of my favorite ways to make extra money!  All you have to do is clean out your closet, your husband’s closet and your kids’ closets.  You can sell on Facebook Swap Shops or create an Ebay account to sell.  I have sold older coats that I no longer wear on Ebay before and it’s super easy.  Plus Ebay will give you a few credits each month so you can list quite a few items at no cost.  Now you will pay a processing fee for selling, but it was minimal in my experience.  

Have a Yard Sale

I’ll admit I have a love/hate relationship with Yard Sales.  Here’s why – you can put so much work into them and then end having a dud.  Plus during the summer when it’s so hot, the last thing I want to do is sit outside most of the day.  However, with that being said I still love yard sales.  It forces us to clean out closets, get rid of items we no longer use and then we try to make some money off of them.  You can even come together with another family or with your neighborhood to hose a giant yard sale.  When you offer a multi-family yard sale then you typically end up with more buyers, which means increased number of eyes looking at your items.  If you’re looking for some great tips on how to host a successful yard sale then check out this post from Money Crashers.  

Sell Items You Don’t Use

This goes right along with selling old clothes and having a yard sale.  If you aren’t using something and haven’t used it in a long time then get rid of it.  You could easily make some cash and make more room in your house.  For instance, our old bassinet we had just sitting in our little guy’s room.  We hadn’t used it in months (I’m pretty sure we stopped using it before he was even three months old) and our little guy was over a year old.  We decided it was finally time to sell it.  We made back over half of what we paid for it, which was awesome.  Now we cleared a corner in his nursery for the growing pile of toys.

Volunteer for Overtime

If you work in a service industry type field then you may be able to volunteer for a few hours.  I know in the tax and accounting field a lot of overtime is earned during tax season, which is a great way to make some extra cash.  So just keep you eyes and ears open to see if any extra help is needed.  You can score some brownie points with the boss and make some money too!

Take Part in Your Company’s Customer Referral Program

A lot of workplaces offer a referral program – either refer a new client or a new employee.  This is a great way for you to earn money on the side, just by promoting what you do for a living. 

Offer Baby Sitting

I know a lot of parents are afraid of leaving their children with people they don’t know.  So offer babysitting to people you trust and who trust you.  You can put up flyers around your church or work to offer babysitting a few times each month.  You could make some serious cash!

Start Pet Sitting

Not that I want to compare a child to a pet, but people will do some crazy things to keep their pets comfortable.  Offer to some friends who are planning a vacation to take care of their dogs while they’re away.  More than likely it will be a lot more cost effective then a kennel for your friends and you could earn some money while doing it.

Sell Your Photography Skills

Are you an avid photographer?  Well you could be making money.  If you’re willing to upload your pictures to a site like shutterstock then you could turn your hobby into a side job.  Online photography sites typically offer a way for you to sell good, quality images without much of a startup cost.  

Apply for extra work 

There are so many websites and job boards online that are looking for someone to edit images, grammar check posts, and even ghost write a few posts.  By joining a place like Upwork, you can put together an online resume and then bid on different jobs.  I actually use to write on Upwork quite a bit.  I would put together articles for other finance sites and even created a handout for a gym owner in Australia once.  

Clean Houses

Put together flyers to put around town, at your church or online to offer some cleaning skills.  Cleaning houses could turn into a regular side job that makes some pretty consistent money for you.

Detail Cars

How many people do you know that actually enjoy cleaning their car?  And it’s so hard to find a decent person who can detail a car without overcharging.  Put together a weekend job where you detail cars.  The startup cost is minimal and you can earn some serious money for the time you put 

Create on Fiverr

Can you quickly proofread a short document or have a simple way to create an image?  Well then you could be making some money over at Fiverr.  It’s a cool site that you can sell your services or products for $5.00.  Now you can offer an upcharge for any special add-ons, which is great.  I have personally used Fiverr on several different occassions and always end up with great service.  

Offer Tutoring

If you are profecient in a subject at the local high school or college then you can turn it into a weekend gig.  Offer tutoring to local students on the weekends or one evening a week.

Ghost Writer on a Blog

If you have some writing skills then you can easily turn that into a gig.  A lot of sites that publish articles multiples times a day are always looking for ghost writers.

Offer your Editing Skills

Along with becoming a ghost writer, you can offer your editing skills as an on-going job to websites and bloggers.

Become a Social Media Manager

If you know you’re way around the major social media platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest then you can easily offer yourself to bloggers and smaller companies.  They are always looking for a strong social media presence, but may not have the budget to hire some in-house full-time.  So offer your services on a small hourly or flat rate fee.

Donate Plasma

If you don’t mind donating blood then you can try your hand at plasma.  There are quite a few places that will actually pay you to donate.  

Give Up Cable

I know this one might be a bit harder to do because you probably have a show (or two) that you love, plus you may be a sports fanactic like my husband.  But if you’re willing to go with out your cable then that could potentially save you MORE than a $100 a month.  There are other services available to help with cutting the cord.  You can get the Amazon Fire Stick (affiliate link), you can try Hulu and Netflix to make sure that you still have some entertainment for the little ones.  We love our Fire Stick and have discovered a ton of great shows – for us and for our little guy for free.

Stop Eating Out for a few weeks

If you find yourself eating out way too often then try taking my No Eating Out Challenge.  You will be surprised by how much you save just by eating at home and taking your lunch with you for a week.

Which ones are you going to try to make $100 fast?  I know we love selling old items online and through yard sales as a quick way to get rid of junk while making money.  

How To Set Your Grocery Budget

How To Set The Perfect Grocery Budget, how to set your budget, grocery budget help

Do you know how much your monthly grocery budget should be?  I have received so many questions from you and I thought it was time to answer.  Setting the right budget each month is a cornerstone in reaching your financial goals.  You need a money plan, a realistic one at that.  

On the expenses that are only paid once a month, it’s a lot easier to not overspend.  It’s the things like running to a store or going out to eat that can really mess up our plan.  That’s where we tend to spend more than we realize.  Even if you’re tracking your spending (which you totally should), mistakes can still happen.  You need to have a plan set in stone (or at least flexible stone) so that you can make sure you’re on the right path.  

In the video below, we’re diving in just how much you should be spending each month for your groceries.  Learn how to set your grocery budget – the right way! 

 

If you’re looking for help on what all to include in your grocery budget, check out this video.  I’ll help you figure out a good plan of what to include, and not include each month.  Remember you’re family is not just like mine, so you need to be open and flexible to creating a money plan that works best for you.  If you set your grocery budget and it doesn’t work then make the right adjustments.  

How much do you spend each month on groceries for your family?  Leave a comment and let me know!

Need More Help?

If you’re looking for a great tool to help keep your family on budget, then check out out my budget spreadsheet.  Each month is laid out right in front of you where you can keep track of what you budget and what you actually spend. Now you’ll know in real time how you’re doing each month.

 

No Eating Out Challenge – How To Save Over $2,000 a Year

no eating out challenge, eat at home more, meal planning, spending freeze, how to do a spending freeze

I don’t know about you, but I like to eat out.  There is just something about someone else cooking dinner for my family and doing the dishes that’s hard to resist. But lately we have found ourselves splurging a little too often on our dinners.  We haven’t gone crazy overboard on our spending, because I have been tracking pretty consistently.  But we could be saving more money just by eating at home and I know that.

Do you need a break from eating out?  I know we do!  Over this past week I came to the realization we needed a break from the easy option.  So I created a simple a challenge… I call it the…

No Eating Out Challenge

It’s similar to the idea of a spending freeze, but it only applies to eating out.  Basically it is going to force us to sit at home around the kitchen table a bit more for the next 7 days.  We can reconnect and just spend more time together – the three of us.  I encourage you to join in on the (fun) challenge with us.  We plan on starting Monday morning, but you can start anytime you want.  

The Rules:

No eating out for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
No quick pick-ups at the gas station, including drinks.
No easy runs to the grocery store to by an already (or almost) prepared meal.
Eat at home every night this week.
Take lunch with us to work or school every day this week.

The Goal:

Save money.  Reconnect as a family.  Start utilizing the meal plan that is created each week so food is not wasted. 

Are you in?  If so, leave a comment letting me know when you planning on starting.  Let’s encourage each other during this no eating out challenge!

Watch my latest Facebook Live video where I talk all about the savings from taking this challenge.

How To Stay Motivated

How to stay motivated, how to motivate yourself to pay off debt, budget motivation, get motivated to budget, how to stay motivated to pay off debt, debt pay off motivation

Today, I want to share with you how to stay motivated when it comes to budgeting and paying down your debt.  Let’s be honest for a second, talking about money all the time with your spouse or thinking about it can be draining.  Very draining.  Eventually you just want to throw your spreadsheets down and say screw it!  We’ve all be there.  But you have to hang on. 

Just for a bit longer.

You totally understand the importance of tracking your spending so you can finally start making a dent in your debt.  You get it when you hear how important it is to have an emergency fund built up so you don’t have to be completely shaken when a financial setback happens.  You are a rock star.  And it’s okay that sometimes you loose a little bit of focus, but you have to stay motivated with your eyes on the prize.

It’s going to be so worth it.

To jump ahead check out my video with my TOP THREE motivation tips when it comes to budgeting.

However, when those moments strike and you find yourself so completely unmotivated, you need to remember these few tips:

Know your strengths and your weaknesses.

More than likely one of you is probably more of a saver while the other one is more of a spender.  So during times you find yourself struggling or pulling the reigns back a bit too tight then take a step back.  Allow your partner to take over for a bit so you can recharge.  I know in our house I am more of the saver while J is more of the spender (not crazy, out of control spending).  So when I find myself obsessing over the budget and draining all the fun our of our lives, J is perfectly able to step in.  He lightens the mood and gets us back on track with enjoying life while paying down debt.

Talk with your partner.

When you find yourself some uninspired and just want to give up then talk it out.  You may be surprised with how your spouse feels and it can change your whole outlook.  Just have an honest conversation about what’s going, your thoughts and concerns then you can have a real conversation about what to do as a team.

Set small, easily reach goals.

Sometimes it’s hard to stay motivated when you’re staring at a huge goal that seems way too far in the future.  So break it down.  Create small goals that can be reached in a week, a month or even 3 months from now.  You will feel like you’re making headway and that can be a huge motivator.  For instance, you’re trying to save for a down payment on your first home.  You’re goal is to put 20% down, which means you need about $30,000 in the bank.  Set smaller goals and then reward yourself.  Create a goal sheet where there is an increment of $5,000 all the way up.  Each time you hit a new $5,000 goal then you can color it in.  Now you can visualize yourself actually reaching your big goal and those $5,000 increments seems so much more attainable. 

Don’t be afraid to re-evaluate.

Sometimes goals change.  What you wanted a year ago may not be a good fit today.  You can’t be afraid to allow yourself to make changes to your goals – no matter their size.  It’s okay to remove something from your wish list and replace it with something new.  Let’s say you dreamed of owning a loft in the city by the time you were 35.  Now here you are at 30 years old and find yourself married with a toddler.  Well your new goal may be a small house with a yard so you can have room to play.  That’s okay.  Goals are fluid and constantly shifting.

Know it’s okay to make mistakes.

Most mistakes won’t be the end of the world, so allow yourself the freedom to make mistakes.  Each mistake is just a learning opportunity.  If you make misplace a $100 bill by accident don’t beat yourself up.  I know it can be really frustrating and depressing to lose money, but it’s not the end of the world.  Just take a deep breath and count the blessings that you do have in those situations.  It will put it into a better perspective for you.

Stay strong.

Know that it will all be worth it.  You have to have will power to reach your final goals.  You can just give up when things get tough because you will never make any progress.  So remember it’s worth fighting for.

Remember the end goal.

When things get really tough and you find yourself just wanting to pull the sheets over your head then it’s time to remember why.  Why are you working so hard.  What goal are you striving to achieve.  Is is so you can pay for your children’s college costs without them having to take out any loans?  Well why?  Why are you working to do that?  It might be because you graduated with some serious debt and know how much of a head start your kids will get if they are debt free.  Or maybe you want to pay off your credit card debt so you can finally start taking the extra $500 a month and use it to buy your dream home.  

Just remember what the end goal is and you will keep focused.

20 Easy Ways to Save Money

20 easy ways to save money, ways to save money, how to save money fast, ways to save money fast

Are you looking for some easy ways to save money?  

Well you’re in luck!  I am putting together my best list of ideas, tips and methods that will help you save money fast.  I don’t know about you, but Summer is usually a bit harder for me to save money.  Maybe it’s because there are a lot of fun things you can do with your family during the warm months or maybe you have school-aged children that you’re desperate to entertain for a few hours (I know I will be there soon!).  I had a realization the other night, if I made sure my budget was on track for the big stuff – groceries and eating out then that would give us a little more wiggle room for the fun fund.  So I put together a list of 20 really easy and simple ways to save money.  

No matter if you follow all 20 of these tips or just a few, you will find yourself saving money and being able to do more with your kids.  

Cash Back Rewards

If you use a credit card then make sure it’s one that offers cash back rewards.  We typically use a credit card for gas or really large purchases (our debit card has a $300 max per day).  Now we can build some cash back to use on vacation, Christmas shopping or just because type fun.

Ebates

I am preached before about how much I love Ebates.  I do so much shopping online – clothes, toys, diapers, wipes, dog food and more that by using Ebates I can get cashback.  It’s simple.  I start at Ebates.com and then click on the store I want to head to.  Then I shop normally and Ebates takes care of all the rest.  Then I get an email saying I earned money from my recent trip.  Afterwards you can get a check in the mail for the amount credited back to you or you can link your Paypal account.  If you don’t have an Ebates account yet, use my referral code to get signed up!

Money Saving Apps

Again, I have shared about how much I love apps on my smartphone that give me money back.  I have to admit though, I mainly use Ibotta these days thanks to the way I shop now.  I still use the Walmart Savings Catcher App, but ever since Walmart got rid of their price matching I don’t shop there nearly as much.  If you live in a bigger city or have more grocery store options then some of the other savings apps I talked about in this post can really help you.  

Stick to Your Grocery List

This one sounds so simple, but how m any times do you find yourself putting items in your cart that aren’t on your list.  My guess is probably at least 3-5 times each shopping trip.  That can really add up.  You need to be strong and have a plan when you step into the grocery store.  Let’s think about how much extra money you’re spending by not sticking to your list.  Say you buy on average 5 items that aren’t on your list and they have an average price of $7 each.  If you shop twice a month and are consistently adding 5 items to your basket then you’re spending about $900 extra each year.  Seriously! That’s a mortgage payment or a huge dent on your credit card bill.

Check Deals at the Store

I am not a huge fan of shopping at multiple stores in one week just to buy my groceries.  I don’t really like spending too much time at the store and for me, it’s not convenient.  Especially with a 15 month old – at some point he’s so over getting in and out of the car.  However, I am a fan of deals.  If there is a deal that it’s just too good to pass up then I buy it.  And I might even buy extra to freeze or put up for later.  You have to know what works for you and your family.  If it’s easy for you to shop at multiple stores then do it!  You can save money by doing that way.  However, if you’re like me and just find grocery stores to be super annoying then just keep an eye out for the killer deals to buy.

Loyalty Cards

Most stores have loyalty cards or rewards cards they offer.  The cards are typically free and give you some sort of point for each dollar you spend.  I have one for a few grocery stores I shop at and even one for my gas station I frequent.  Once we spend so much then we get free sodas and food, which is awesome when you’re craving a fountain diet mountain dew after a long weekend.  

Pay Less for Gas for Your Car

Speaking about gas, have you heard of Gas Buddy.  It’s a free app you can download then search your area for cheap gas prices.  We use it a lot when we’re traveling to make sure we’re getting the best deals on gas.

Take Your Lunch To Work

If you typically eat out during the week then try bringing your lunch a few days.  The savings can really add up.  For instance, you eat out 5 days a week and spend about $8 for food.  That’s $40 a week and if you do that all year long you’re spending over $2,000 a year on lunch.  Let’s face it though, $8 is being conservative.  Most lunch places cost on average $10-$15 per person if you include a drink, tax and tip.  By taking your lunch to work just three days a week then you could be saving over $1,200 a year in eating out costs.  

Eat Leftovers One Night A Week

In our home we tend to eat leftovers at least once a week, sometimes twice.  This way no food goes to waste and we can clean out our fridge.  If you have small children around then you might do this more often, because once you find a food your kid likes you keep feeding it to them night after night.  We made some chicken and rice the other night, our little guy loved it so for three nights we ate it because we knew he would eat it.  Yep!  It’s also a huge money saver because you don’t have to spend more at the grocery store and one night a week your meal plan is already done for you.

Eat At Home More

This kind of goes with eating leftovers, but you can really save some money by cutting your eating out budget.  Typically during the summer we cut our eating out budget by over half.  That way we spend more time at home either cooking in the kitchen or grilling outside.  Think about how much it costs your family to eat out, we’re not talking about a fast food place or even a nice sit down restaurant.  But something in between.  For our family of three that can easily cost around $35-$45 dollars per meal.  If you’re eating out twice a week then that can really sky rocket.  

Install a Programmable Thermostat

Have you seen those thermostats you can control with your smartphone?  I love them!  You can totally program them to save you money.  When you’re home, it knows and starts cooling (or heating) for you.  Then you can set it to kick off or not run as much when you’re not home.  It’s a total game changer when it comes to utility costs.  

Wash Laundry in Cold Water

Most washing machines and detergents these days work just as good in cold water as they do in hot.  So for us, we wash everything on cold.  It saves money because our hot water heater isn’t having to work overtime and the electricity it uses is cut proportionally.  I would recommend buying better laundry detergent (generic is fine still) to make sure you’re getting a good clean though.  I even put together these free dryer balls that have been a huger saver for our family.

Start Working Out

This one might seem a little off, but trust me on it.  People that work out and stay healthy are less likely to get sick.  When you get sick you (should) visit the doctor, which means you have a copay, prescriptions to fill and maybe time off work.  So by taking the time to work out, even if it’s just going for a nightly walk then you will be better off for it… and so will your wallet!

Start a Vegetable Garden

Growing your own vegetables is a great source of saving money.  Produce can be expensive at the grocery store, plus you never know exactly what pesticides they use on the product.  So by growing your own you can control what is being out on the food and you don’t have to pay the large store mark up prices.  

Buy Generic When Possible

If you pay attention to most generic brand items they are usually made with the same ingredients as name brand.  Sometimes name brand factories even make the generic items themselves!  Crazy, I know!  When our little guy was on formula our doctor mentioned how it has to go through so much testing that when it comes down to it most formulas are the same.  You need to find one that agrees with your little one’s stomach, but honestly there isn’t one that’s on the market that isn’t safe.  So I use that same philosophy with most of the items we purchase.  If I can find a generic brand for less then I am going to give it a try.

Shop Around

Did you get multiple quotes on your auto insurance, homeowners insurance or life insurance?  Maybe, but probably not.  You might have just went with the guy down the street or used the same guy your parents’ used forever (I was guilty of this one!).  You should take a few minutes to call around and compare prices.  You could be paying a lot more for the same type of coverage as what someone else offers.  Make sure though when you’re comparing quotes, you’re comparing the same coverage.  Check to make sure you’re asking about the same liability, medical and personal property coverage amounts.

Stay On Budget

I know this one seems easy, but we all know it’s not.  Sticking to your budget can be difficult, but it can be so helpful.  I created a budget spreadsheet that has helped my family and others know exactly what’s left in their categories so they stop overspending.  I highly, highly recommend using a budget spreadsheet or some technique of saying here’s how much I have to spend and here’s what I’ve already spent.  That way you know without a doubt what you have left before your next pay period.  It can help you from overspending, which can help you save money.

Keep Track of What You Spend

This goes along with keeping a budget, but doesn’t have to be too sophisticated.  It’s important to know where you’re money is going that way you don’t spend too much and you can make sure you have enough to cover the important areas – like rent, groceries and car payments.  I recently shared my favorite technique for tacking what you spend.  All it uses is an envelope and a pen – it’s simple and effective.  

Set Priorities

You need to know what’s important to you and your family.  This is where money dates come in really handy because you’re able to talk it out with your spouse.  Finding out what’s a priority will help keep you focused to reach your goals.  Your priorities can change too, so talking about them regularly and reevaluating them is key.

Find Free Activities To Do

No matter what time of year it is, you can always find free stuff to do with your family.  Check out my post for free summer activities and free fall activities.  In all honesty, you just need to keep your eyes open to advertising and special deals.  Most places have days where they don’t charge admittance, which is awesome.  Find a few places your family loves and follow them on Facebook.  Then you can check their page for any free days or special deals they have running.

What are some of your favorite ways to save money?  Leave a comment sharing your tip!  

Need More Help?

If you’re looking for a great tool to help keep your family on budget, then check out out my budget spreadsheet.  Each month is laid out right in front of you where you can keep track of what you budget and what you actually spend. Now you’ll know in real time how you’re doing each month.

 

Why I’m Glad Our Son is Growing Up With Dogs

growing up with dogs, dogs and kids, dogs and babies, kids and dogs

Before getting into the many, many reasons why I’m glad our little boy has three dogs to call his best friends I want to tell you a story.  This story took place when I was only nine.  My best friend in the entire world was a Rottweiler named Storm.  We did everything together – played in the mud, laid in the grass, played ball, and he even watched over me as I rode my bike up and down our street.  The best thing Storm did for me every day was walk me to and from the bus stop.  Each morning I would load up my backpack and head out the door with Storm right beside me.  He would wag his little stump of a tail as I talked about all the fun things I was going to do in school.  He would sit patiently at the end of the street until the school bus came, then he would walk home to wait until it was time to pick me up again.  No matter the temperature or weather conditions, Storm never failed.  He was always by my side.  

One day while waiting for the bus like we had done hundreds of times before, a man in a red SUV pulled up.  He didn’t live down my street and I had never saw him before.  He rolled down his window and started talking to me.  I wasn’t sure what to do.  There was no one else around, so I answered.  He complimented by dog and me.  At this point Storm was now standing a little in front of me with my hand on his back.  He was keeping a close eye on this new stranger.  He told me he liked to take pictures and would love to get one of me and my dog some day.  I replied with the fact the school bus should be pulling up any minute.  He then asked if I would go with him to get his camera so we could come back to take pictures.  All the red flags and alarms were going off in my head.  This was a BAD man.  

Within moments he had started opening his door.  My hand left Storm’s back and next thing I know my protector had jumped through the car window towards this man.  I took off.  I ran as fast as I could back to my house.  Screaming for my Mom and Dad.  By the time I reached the front porch Storm was by my side.  

I told my parents what had happened and they immediately called the sheriff’s office.  To this day I’m not sure exactly what happened next, but the man did live in the neighboring subdivision and within a few months he moved out of town.  

Storm saved my life.  I truly believe he saved me.  I know I couldn’t have out ran this grown man at only 9 years old, but because of Storm I got away.  

That story is the main reason I want our son growing up with dogs.  Dogs that will protect him, walk with him and keep an eye on him.  Just like Storm did for me all those years ago.  

Now there are many other reasons I want our son growing up with dogs, which aren’t as scary as my story.  

growing up with dogs, dogs and kids, dogs and babies

Dogs are loyal.  The moment we brought our son home our three dogs knew he was theirs to take care of.  They get up through out the night to sleep by his crib or just to peek their head in to make sure he’s okay.  Tiny, who is my scared-of-everything dog has to be near him at all times.  She follows him, and if he cries she’s the first on by his side – often pushing me out of the way.

Dogs teach responsibility.  Dogs are a huge commitment.  It’s important for our son to learn to care for another being.  He is learning how to pet gently, play with them and will eventually learn how to feed and take care of their water bowl.  At an early age it can help your child feel needed and they can learn the importance of having a few small jobs around the house.

Dogs help with learning new skills.  I can remember sitting on the front porch until it was too dark to see reading a new book to Storm or one of my other dogs.  Reading out loud to your dog can help your child learn new cognitive skills.  Kids who talk to their pets show improved cognitive skills and imagination.

Dogs can help your child be healthier.  Dogs want to play, a lot.  Chase toys, run in the backyard or just keep your child moving around the house.  By having a dog (or in our case three) we’re never short of a dog wanting to play.  Taking our son outside in the backyard with a bunch of dog toys will keep him and our dogs occupied.  This give him a chance to be outside in the fresh air, play with more than just those annoyingly loud baby toys and shows the dogs just how great their new human brother is.

growing up with dogs, dogs and kids, dogs and babies

growing up with dogs, dogs and kids, dogs and babies

Dogs can boost a child’s self-esteem.  This goes back to teaching responsibility.  By having our son help with a few tasks each day he can feel proud of what he has accomplished.  Not only is he taking care of a living being, but he’s helping out Mommy and Daddy around the house.  I can think back to where my job growing up was cleaning up the yard (you know what I mean….).  It was dirty and smelly, but I knew it had to be done.  I felt proud knowing my dogs yard was clean and healthy for him to be in.  My parents were proud because I helped (and because they no longer had to do it).  I knew what it mean to pitch in and help out, and that was pretty great.

I know it’s important for our little man to have dogs in his life, just like I did growing up and just like J did.  To me a dog is a best friend, someone who knows all of your secrets and never judges you.  Someone you saved the last bite of your grilled cheese for and laugh when you get slobbered with kisses after being gone all day.  That’s the love I want our son to know and feel.  The protection at the bus stop will just be an added benefit and will give me a peace of mind.  

growing up with dogs, dogs and kids, dogs and babies

Why You Should Be Checking Your Monthly Statements

Why You Should Be Checking Your Online Statements

Are you checking your monthly statements on a regular basis?  

I’m talking about not just your bank statements, but also your credit card statements, too.  All of your monthly statements.  My guess is you’re probably not checking them often, well at least not consistently.  So many of us forget to reconcile our accounts with our statements, and it’s not completely our fault.  We just were really taught how to do it quickly.  Plus, we always find excuses… right?  We just don’t have the time and we feel since we’re tracking our spending then everything is okay.

But I am here to tell you – it’s not okay.  Because you could be missing a lot of mistakes that are costing you money.  Recently I discovered a huge mistake and it could have cost my family about $200.  I’m sure you can relate when I say $200 is a lot of money and we really could be using that somewhere else, like paying down debt.  By checking your monthly statements you can make sure to catch any forgotten charges and mistakes retailers can make.

Watch the video below to learn what mistake I caught on our monthly statement that was costing us $200.  I’ll share with you what we did to get the error corrected, too.  I also have quick tips on how you can streamline your budgeting process from tracking your spending, checking your statements and paying bills.

How often are you checking your statements regularly?  Leave a comment letting me know!

Need More Help?

If you’re looking for a great tool to help keep your family on budget, then check out out my budget spreadsheet.  Each month is laid out right in front of you where you can keep track of what you budget and what you actually spend. Now you’ll know in real time how you’re doing each month.