Author Archives: Meredith Rines

How To Budget For Your Pets

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Not that long ago I shared over on Youtube Live all about budgeting for your pets.  I get asked ALL THE TIME if we include our three dogs in our grocery budget or if they have a budget all their own.  Well… watch the video to find out what we do to cover vet bills, food costs and boarding fees.

You can watch online or down below.

How do you budget for your pets?  Do you keep it separate or lump it all together in your other monthly categories?  You have to find what works best for your family.  We played around with our budgets until we found a system that worked for us.

If you need more help with budgeting, check out the posts below:

How To Create A Budget in Under 10 Minutes

how to create a budget in 10 minutes

How To Create A Sinking Fund

What is a sinking fund

Why Amazon is Mom’s Best Friend

amazon is mom's best friend

How To Save Extra Tomato Sauce

Save Extra Tomato Sauce, how to Save Extra Tomato Sauce, tomato sauce, freeze food, how to freeze tomato sauce, how to freeze tomato, meredith rines, meredithrines, merelynne

Friends,

I have a confession to make. I posted this dinner tip to my youtube channel awhile back and I totally forgot to share it on my blog (shame on me!). So I figured today was a good day to do that.

Do you ever create a dinner to look over and discover extra tomato sauce, pasta sauce, tomato paste leftover? Well we do and it happens way too often. I just hate throwing good food away (which is why we have a weekly leftover night). It just bothers me.

I discovered something amazing after doing an experiment one night. You can freeze all that leftover sauce and tomato paste. Yep! It’s amazing.

All you do is distribute the leftovers into an ice cube tray or a muffin tray then place directly in the freezer. By next morning you’ll be able to pop them out of the tray and place in a freezer bag. Just label and you’re good to go.

Perfect.

Now if you really want to help with dinnertime you can even season the sauce before freezing. If you typically use the sauce with the same spices then go for it.

You can watch my quick video online or below:

 

Why You Should Have Your Accounts on Auto Pay

Why You Should Have Your Accounts on Auto Pay, auto pay, meredith rines, merelynne, meredithrines, streamline your life, streamline your budget, streamline bill paying, auto bill pay

Today, I’m popping in to share with you a quick video that will transform your budget.  I am all about being efficient and streamline with my life.  I love helping families that want to get out of the scarcity mentality so they can start paying down debt.  The first step I share with clients and anyone willing to listen is why you should setup your bills on auto pay. 

This one feature can help minimize (or completely stop) late payments.  It can also help decrease your monthly cost of paying bills (watch the video to find out how) and so much more.

You can watch the video online or down below.  For more helpful posts, check out below.

How to Streamline Your Life

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How To Afford Paying Off Your Credit Card

How to Afford Paying Off Credit Card Debt

Why We Have So Many Different Bank Accounts

multiple bank accounts, why we have 6 accounts, cash budgeting, cash envelope, the easier cash envelope, dave ramsey, meredithrines, merelynne

How To Set The Right Financial Goals

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One of the biggest issues I see with families is not knowing how to set perfect financial goals.  Goals need to be specific and measurable, as well as what is best for your situation.  Don’t get me wrong, I love having big goals.  My husband and I have some pretty big dreams and goals that we are working towards, but the first step with any goal is breaking it down into smaller ones.

You can watch this video online or below to learn more about creating the right financial goals for your family.

Creating the right financial goals doesn’t have to be complicated or overwhelming.  You just have to do some research to know how much you can afford each month and how much the final goal is going to cost you.

For instance, if you want to save money for a down payment on your dream home that’s great.  However, it can be overwhelming to say I want to save 20% of a $200,000 home – that’s $40,000 you’re trying to save.  When you look at $40,000 that can feel almost impossible, which is why so many families struggle with the paycheck-to-paycheck mentality.  You see a big number and are immediately discouraged.  You result in giving up before even trying.

Instead what you should be doing is setting your $40,000 goal with a realistic time period.  For example, you want to save 20% for a down payment and you would like to do it in 4 years.  Well now you need to save $10,000 a year or $833 a month.  Once you see the smaller number it becomes much more manageable.

BUT if that smaller, monthly amount is still too high then there are a few options you can pick from.  First – spread out your goal.  Instead of 4 years, try 5 years.  Now you’re talking about only $667 a month to reach your goal.  

Second – re-prioritize your goal.  Do you really want a $200,000 home?  Can you reduce any current expenses so you can put back even more towards your goal?

It’s all about making your goal more manageable and then having an honest conversation with yourself and your spouse.  Maybe you realize there is a better option than a $200,000 home – perhaps you could get $150,000 home that’s a bit more out of town so it’s the same size.  Or maybe you realize you don’t need a new car every 3 years and can work on paying off your car loan so you can have more spending cash each month to put towards your goal.

I’ve been talking a lot about a house, but your goals are anything you want to accomplish.  A vacation, a new car, buying a boat, saving for your children’s college costs, remodeling your home, etc.  

To set the right financial goals you need to make sure you are following this formula:

  1. Decide on the final amount for your goal
  2. Decide on a time frame to reach your goal
  3. Break it down into a monthly (or weekly) payment
  4. Re-prioritize your goal if it’s not feasible to save that amount or reach your goal in that time frame
  5. Don’t be afraid to re-evaluate because goals change with time

 

Q&A About Me

q&a about me, meredithrines, merelynne, meredith rines

Recently I shared this Budget Q&A video where I talked about how much we spend on groceries each month, do we meal plan for every night and how much we spend on eating out in a month (plus more!).  However, I started thinking that I haven’t really shared a lot about me… who I am, why I love budgeting so much and my passion behind living a debt free life.

Well have no fear! I finally put together a quick Q&A all about me.  I know I’m not much different than you – I’m a mom who would do anything for her son to succeed.  I work hard every single day helping clients with their money goals.  So take a look and find out a little bit more about who I am.

 

Fun Fall Activities

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Since this month’s theme is Focus on Family, I thought it was time to update our fall bucket list from last year.  This year our little man can walk (even though he usually runs everywhere) and he’s learning to be more independent.  I was such a stubborn, determined little girl and our son is just like that – he always wants to do everything himself without any help from Mom and Dad.  He takes it upon himself to figure something out and he usually doesn’t give up without a fight.  We figured we might as well keep him busy this Fall so he can keep learning and trying new things.

This year we plan on doing a lot of fun stuff this fall.  I wanted to share with you some fall fun activities that you can do, too.  I put together a bucket list for our family, you can download it here.

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One of the biggest questions I get this time of year is how do you afford doing all of these things… well the truth is we plan for it and budget for them.  There a couple different ways you can budget for any day trip or fun outing.  First you can create a sinking fund, which means you decide on an amount you want to spend a month or so before it happens.  Then you put money back each week tor each your goal.  

The next way is to use any leftover money from your previous month’s budget.  For instance, let’s say you didn’t eat out one week and didn’t need all of your grocery budget.  Well you can use that for any day trips or things you want to buy that are outside your normal budgeting.  Finally, you can always take from your current budget category, too.  I don’t love doing it this way because it could leave you having to go without until your next budget period, but it’s a possibility. If you choose to take from your current budget then I recommend taking from your eating out category.  That way it’s easier to go without and you can always prepare one more dinner that week to help make up for it.

We typically try to find places that don’t charge to get into or they have a discount for a specific weekend.  If they have a petting zoo then we sometimes will buy food for our son to feed them, but that’s usually not more than $1 or $2.  Now if you love carving pumpkins, like we do then we prefer to buy them at the local pumpkin patches.  They are typically a better price than you can find at the grocery store, plus we like supporting local farmers and business owners.  But we usually only buy one pumpkin since our little one is too young to actually carve yet.  

 

What are some of your favorite fall activities to do with your family?  Leave a comment letting me know!

Focus on Family Month

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Happy October! They say winter is the most magical time of the year, but I think Fall is a very close second. This month since the temperatures will be starting to drop we’ll be spending lots of time outside.  There are a few pumpkin patches, corn mazes and other fun stuff we are going to try to do.

I figured this would be a great time to have another focus month.  If you remember, back in February I typically have a Focus On Finances month.  I always planned on having another focus month, but it never happened.  I guess that’s what happens when you’re a Mom – your brain is going a mile a minute, all the time and if you don’t write it down then it just won’t happen.

Anyways, I realized that October would be perfect for a Focus on Family month.  I put together a bucket list last year, but now that our little boy is older we’ll be able to do a lot more.  Last year we went to the pumpkin patch and he was barely 6 months old so there was a lot he just wasn’t able to do.  But now he is 18 months and is full of energy.  He runs, never walks.  Our sitter’s husband calls him Mouth of the South, which is some former wrestler that apparently never stopped running his mouth.

This month will be all about spending time together.  Fall is a great time to be outside, it’s not too hot and it’s not too cold yet.  Where we live pumpkin patches pop up about this time of year, so there is always a fun (and cheap) activity we can go do on the weekend.  I’m planning on putting together a new fall bucket list of things we are most excited about doing this year with our little man.  

But to get you started with the Focus on Family month, here’s a list of a few fall fun activities you can do with your family:

spend time together at the local pumpkin patch
go apple picking
attend a fall festival
plan a family themed Halloween outfit
have a few picnics outside
go to the park
have a movie night

What are some of your favorite things to do as a family?  Leave a comment letting me know!

DIY Dog Emergency Kit

DIY dog emergency kit

With three dogs running around our house at all times, J and I have finally learned what we need to have on hand.  You see, if all of our dogs were like our sweet Maggie then we would have no problems.  They would sleep under the bed all day, eat their dinner like a good girl and then cuddle up next to you on the couch.  

DIY Dog emergency kit

dog emergency kit

But the other two dogs….

Well let’s just say they are the complete opposite of our Maggie girl.

….oh Tiny and Bud.  Those two are a bit crazier than most.  They run, they tackle each other, they slide into the door and then they run around outside.  So it’s inevitable that these two would get hurt.  We like to keep a dog emergency kit on hand to be prepared for those little emergencies.

One of the last time we left town, we dropped the dogs off with this amazing lady who takes care of them.  Each dog had a great time and she even spent time with Bud on doing some training.  He was doing great.  I got to work with him and see which command words worked for him.  Then I took all three dogs home.  We get in the door and I realized Tiny was missing her collar.  Normally that isn’t a big deal until I noticed Bud was expelling the neon green collar from a not so pretty place.  Then he started choking and coughing, a lot.  We rushed him to the vet and after a few X-Rays we learned it was in small pieces and nothing was wrapped around any organs.  He would naturally expel the collar.  Yay!

Okay, okay so that story really had nothing to do with a DIY dog emergency kit and why you need one, but it is a reminder to always pay attention to your dog.  I’m adamant about making sure everything is okay and their habits are running like clockwork.  Bud is still a bit young and has a lot of learning to do.  He’s not afraid of anything, which is not always a good thing.  He’s more curious than anything.  So with him, I’m especially careful when he starts acting a little different.  

The little emergencies are the ones we can treat at home.  A nip here, a scratch there, etc.  I talk so great about Maggie, but when she was a young pup she got into a whole brand new container of birth control pills.  Plastic, foil wrapping, pills and all.  I called the emergency vet clinic and luckily because she was female and I could find majority of the pills they weren’t too worried about the pill ingestion.  They knew and warned me it would make her sick, but not fatal.  They were more concerned about the consumption of plastic and foil.  So I had to induce vomiting.  Thankfully they talked me through it and all was fine, nasty, but fine.  

Around our house, we see quite a bit of these little accidents, especially in the summer.  Something about the warmer weather has our dogs stir-crazy so they end up outside a lot more.  We put together this easy to use dog emergency kit that has really paid off.

Here’s what we have in our DIY dog emergency kit:

  • antiseptic wipes
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • gauze pads
  • medical tape
  • self-cling bandage wraps
  • q-tips
  • cotton balls
  • disposable gloves
  • tweezers
  • phone numbers to your local veterinarian’s office.  Ours even has an after hours line for emergencies, that’s in there too
  • ASPCA poison-control center hotline, which is 1-800-426-4435
  • leash – we use the freebie we received from the vet awhile back.  It’s not the nicest, but with the loop that goes around the neck, it’ll be the easiest to use in case of an emergency.

I went to the Humane Society’s website and found this article.  Luckily, I had most of what they were recommending on my list.  They do have other items too that would be great to have on hand.

dog emergency kit

I would highly recommend creating a dog emergency kit for yourself to have.  I mean, with some adjustments this would work for your cat, too.  We just don’t have any cats – darn allergies!  These little guys can fit nicely into a small plastic tote and then be sealed, labeled and stowed away until they are actually needed.  

I would also suggest setting a reminder to go through your kit each year.  Throw away anything that is out of date and replace any used or old product.  I have a alert in our Google Calendar for each January to go through ours.  

Why We Have So Many Different Bank Accounts

multiple bank accounts, why we have 6 accounts, cash budgeting, cash envelope, the easier cash envelope, dave ramsey, meredithrines, merelynne

Today is the day. I’m finally going to explain why we have so many different bank accounts. 

I shared this post not too long ago and I received so many questions about how we handle our family’s finances.  Then I thought I was going to clarify everything with this video about how we follow the easier cash envelope system, but I think I just got you even more confused.  

For that I’m sorry. I didn’t want to sound too complicated or overwhelming.  That was never my intention.  Because you should easily be able to control your money.  When you find a system that works for your family then it’s golden.  I had questions about how we manage our banking, but I didn’t answer them very clearly.  

Apparently the number of bank accounts we have is abnormal. Like, most people don’t get it. I wanted to explain maybe a little bit better to why we have so many different bank accounts and how we use them. I decided to make it a lot easier to understand once and for all.  I created another video.  

Don’t worry!

This video is a lot more visual to make it clear.  I don’t know why I didn’t do this the first time around.  I am such a visual person I should have realized this is what’s needed.  Even in high school, college and even during my Certified Financial Planner classes I prefer to watch videos or the professor’s lecture while I take notes.  For some reason I understand so much more when I can visualize when I heard it or what my notes looked like.  Reading from a book or post doesn’t really do much for me.  

I created some helpful diagrams and pictures to make the whole process of all different bank accounts make sense.

Now before I get into the video, please note that this is how our family handles money.  This does not mean your family should adopt what we do.  It’s just another way to organize finances and keep track of spending.  If what you’re doing works for you then that is great!  The traditional way – 1 checking and 1 savings was not working for us.  I found something that kept us within our budget while making it easy to follow.  

Remember the reason you want to have a control on your finances is

You need to control your money. Don’t let your money control you. (Click to tweet)

Watch the video online or below and leave a comment with any questions you have.  I’ll be happy to answer what I can.

What do you think? Does this make more sense now? If the way your family is handling money isn’t working then don’t be afraid to switch it out.  My advice though – whatever you try you must commit to at least 60 days to work out any kinks.  Now the doesn’t mean don’t make adjustments along the way.  We’re still making adjustments to the way we handle our money.  However, you have to be committed to not make any major, drastic changes for at least 2 months.  That is a good time frame to pay bills a few times, put money into savings, and to work on your budget. 

Maybe the best solution is to think outside the box when it comes to getting ahead.

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. 

Easy Hair Ideas for Moms

Affiliate Disclosure: please note that when you click links and purchase items, in most (not all) cases I will receive a referral commission. You will not pay more when buying a product through my link. 

easy hair ideas for mom, hair for mom, easy hair styles, meredith rines, merelynne

How do you wear your hair most days?  I have a few tried-and-true methods that I rotate through.  I like changing up my look for work.  I think it’s a little something extra I can do when it comes to my appearance for client appointments.  To me, hair is an extension of the day’s outfit so I like to make sure it looks somewhat presentable. Plus, I was never one to shy away from a bold hair look.  Even though I probably should have had a professional’s opinion on some of my looks back in high school, but that’s for another post!  

For me, I’m all about ease and speed.  I don’t want to spend too long in the bathroom getting ready in the morning.  I only have so much time before our little one wakes up and then it’s time for a quick breakfast before running out the door.  Here are my go to hair ideas for moms:

Messy Bun

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Most days, my hair is in a messy bun like so.  I found this great video tutorial on how to do the perfect messy bun.  I’m lucky that my hair is long enough that I only require two hair ties and about two bobby pins.

Down and natural

easy mom hair, easy hairstyles, hair for busy moms

Before my son was born I had perfectly straight hair.  No need to ever straighten it!  Like ever.  Then with all the pregnancy hormones running through my body, my hair decided to revolt. Now it’s wavy in the front and curly (like whoa!) in the back.  If my hair is down this is how I wear it 9 times out of 10.  It’s very little maintenance, which is perfect for busy mornings.

Down and straight

easy mom hair, easy hairstyles, hair for busy moms

On days my son sleeps in then that usually gives me just enough time to straighten my hair.  I have so much stinking hair that it takes a lot of arm strength, time and patience to get this hair straight.  I would say it takes me about 45 minutes to an hour to dry my hair and then straighten it.  A lot of days my hair is straight are the days I washed my hair the night before so I just have to spend about 20 minutes or so straightening it.  Here is a similar straightener to the one I use.  I love it because I can adjust the temperature on it.  It really comes in handy with all this hair!

Half-Up

easy mom hair, easy hairstyles, hair for busy moms

Once I straighten my hair, I don’t typically wash it for at least 2 or 3 days.  It sounds gross, but my hair doesn’t get greasy.  I think it’s because it’s so thick and I have so much of it.  Washing it every day actually dries it out and makes it frizzy, so I try to avoid that.  But usually on day three I like to wear it half back since I tend to touch the hair around my face a lot more and then it starts to look a little oily.

Styled

 

braid hair tutorial

Before my son was born I created this twisty braided half-up look.  I really loved it and I have even started doing it a lot of mornings before work.  It doesn’t take too long and it doesn’t have to be perfect.  

What are some of your quick and easy ways to wear your hair?  I am always looking for something new to try, especially if it doesn’t have to be perfect!